How to Clear Your Space with Botanicals
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
For years I worked as an interior designer. I noticed after moving furniture around or arranging bookshelves, my arms would often ache, and I would feel unusually tired. On the suggestion of one of my herbal teachers, I began using a homemade essential oil “clearing” spray on my arms and hands once I got into my car. Weirdly (so I thought at the time) this relieved all of my symptoms. I begin bringing the spray into people’s homes and using it before I moved things around and often left a bottle for my clients. This sparked the development of my first product…now called “Lighten Up” essential oil spray (a best seller at the shop)!
One thing leads to another, and I began exploring other herbal clearing techniques in my own home. As an interior designer, I spent so much time focusing on the physical aspects of a space. I never really knew how to formally address the spiritual side of a space, especially when something felt off or heavy. In working with the plants, I learned how to shift the energy in a space, and depending upon which plant I was working with, bring in a specific feeling or vibration that I wanted. It was truly transformational.
Digging deeper, I understood historically fragrant plants have been used since the beginning of civilization to clear space, heal the sick, and promote spiritual connection. Now science verifies that burning plant material does purify the air of bacteria, germs, viruses, unpleasant scents, and more. It’s a winning combination.
Here are my tips + tricks for energetically clearing your space, plus my favorite clearing botanicals.
Simple Space Clearing Steps
Begin with a simple grounding exercise. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and anchor yourself by feeling roots fall from your tailbone into the earth. Picture your roots intertwining with the roots of the trees. Watch your roots go deeper into the earth through layer after layer until they reach the center. Once connected, take several deep breaths pulling Earth energy up into your body.
Notice how this makes you feel. Next, pull that earth energy up into your heart center. Notice how it softens and expands your heart space. Offer gratitude for the tools you will be using to clear your space. Also, ask for help, support, or guidance from your guides or allies.
Set your intention. Why do you want to clear your space? It may be as simple as "to clear all stagnant or negative energies from my body or space."
Clear your space:
Light the end of your burnable bundle over a small bowl or plate (earthenware is recommended here). Blow out the flame and use the smoke as your clearing tool. It is common to have to relight the wand several times if passing around a circle or clearing an entire home
Place a charcoal round on a heatproof plate, bowl, or even a small coffee cup will work. The bottom will likely get hot, and the charcoal can stain…keep this in mind when choosing a dish. Light the charcoal with a lighter (it will spark, and heating up it will turn white). Place burning mixture or resins of the charcoal round, adding more as needed.
For personal cleansing, lightly breathe in the smoke. Start clearing above your head and go down and around your body to the ground your energy. Consider putting your dish on a solid surface and "pulling off" any heavy energy and transmuting it into the smoke. Do this until you feel clear. Use this same technique to clear another person.
Clearing Your Space
To clear your living space, consider opening at least one window or throw wide open many windows, if the weather allows.
Walk around each room with the smoke reciting a wish, prayer, or blessing (it can be as simple as cleanse & bless). Pay special attention to doors, windows, dark corners, and stagnant closets. Follow your intuition, and notice what you're feeling. There is no “right” way to do this. Just guidelines, so make it fun and try to perceive the energy shift.
Once space is cleared, call in the energy you want in your space. It can be the same for the entire space, or you can call in something different to each area, possibilities include: nourishment, joy, or connectedness in your eating space. In your sleeping space, call in rest, rejuvenation, and peace. Your bathroom might be about purification or letting go. Call in what you want in each space.
Once your home is complete, if you have not already (or you may feel like doing it again), clear your physical body. You may want to drink water and eat something grounding if you feel a bit jittery once you are complete.
I recommend clearing your space at least once-per-month. I prefer to do it when I have the house to myself. A clue to whether it's time to clear your space: things may feel heavy, or people are bickering or cranky. Get out your clearing tools (smudge, bowl, candle, or spray). See if you can shift the energy of your home! The results can be amazing.
Botanical options for clearing
As you begin working with the plants, you'll develop a feel for what each one does and how it leaves a space. Follow your intuition and experiment to see what suits you best.
White Sage (Salvia apiana) has been used by Native Americans for centuries in ceremony to clear and open up scared space. It is the most common smudging herb today. It is said to lift, clear, and dissolves both negative and stagnant energies. Used to bless, cleanse, and heal. It is often used as a smoke “wash” to banish unwanted energy. White sage is being over-harvested in the wild, so it should be used sparingly and with intention. Source from Native American vendors, if possible.
Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) grows on prairies here in MN, also throughout the US and Europe. It is considered sacred in every place it grows. The Latin name means “Fragrant holy grass." The three strands of the braid represent mind, body & spirit. Bless the heart, mind, body, and then heart again while asking for clearing & healing. Sweetgrass comforts, soothes, heals, and purifies while creating a space filled with the sweet vibe this plant carries.
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) is a perennial grass in tropical climates with a long history of use for its healing qualities. For smudging, the root is used for its grounding, sensual, and deeply calming attributes. Vetiver is said to smell like Tranquility! Think deep warm Earth with rootsy highlights. Use the smoke to purify and set sacred space. Great for personal work, writing, women’s circles, yoga + meditation practices, and healing work of all kinds. Burn before bed to clear the mind and soothe the body. Vetiver root is sustainable!
Cedar (Cedrus) is another sacred plant to the Native Americans. It is used in sweat lodges and ceremony to lift energy, clear negativity, and impart clarity. Trees are said to be the connection between Heaven and Earth and is honored as such. Cedar is also said to protect people from unwanted influences, call in good spirits & release unwanted energies. The wood of cedar was considered sacred by early Europeans who used it to make doors for churches & temples. Consider using the trimmings from your cedar trees to make burning wands.
Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens or Gonopterodendron sarmientoi) means “holy wood” in Spanish. It was sacred to the Incas and is still considered to be sacred by many in Central and South America. When burned, this wood is said to clear misfortune, negative thoughts, and evil spirits. You may find sacred handicrafts or relics made of this aromatic wood meant for home altars and sacred displays. Due to the popularity of this plant, it is being over-harvested and both species are considered to be endangered. Be sure to use this sparingly and consciously.
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) has a subtle sweet scent often called “dream weed.” Use it to clear bad energy and protect from “hexes." It can be used as a smudge or a sprig placed under your pillow to chase away nightmares and encourage dreaming. Makes a lovely garden plant and a great addition to homegrown smudge wands.
Resins (or gum collected from tree or shrub/burn on a charcoal round)
Copal was historically used by the Incas, Mayans, and Aztecs to opens the doorway to the otherworld while lifting, clearing, and dispelling negative energy. This is my favorite herb to use for a whole house clearing. I like to use a mix of the different grades of copal with dried rosemary. It leaves a clean, crisp feeling.
Frankincense was used throughout history not only in the Christian religion but in many other religions around the world. It was once valued equal to gold. It is a sacred resin that is said to clear, clarify, and calm, which aids in meditation and prayer. It is also said to bestow tranquility, insight, and awareness when it's scent surrounds you.
Myrrh I often think of as the sidekick to frankincense. Still, it is very powerful in its own right and was used for centuries for its soothing, clarifying, and grounding properties. The two burned together to make a timeless, sacred clearing formula.
Make your own clearing bundles and sprays
Garden plants for homegrown burnable plant bundles include rosemary, lavender, basil, yarrow, juniper, pine, mugwort, cedar, sweetgrass, and rose. Dry plants thoroughly and then wrap them securely with a natural string.
Making your own sacred clearing spray with essential oils is a smokeless way to clear space, plus it is simple and fun! Add 40 drops of essential oils to 4 oz. of distilled water in a glass spray bottle. See the list below and develop your own favorite formula. For an extra boost, add 4 drops stock flower essence or a little crystal.
Peppermint (Stimulating, Cleansing, Refreshing)
Cedarwood (Relaxing, Grounding, Reducing stress)
Rosemary (Stimulating, Cleansing, Invigorating)
Eucalyptus (Invigorating, Cleansing, Tonifying)
White Sage (Cleansing, Purifying)
Juniper (Purifying, Stimulating)
Palo Santo (Purifying, Grounding)
Lemon (Uplifting, Refreshing, Alertness)
Frankincense (Calming, Releasing fear)
Angelica (Lifting, Clearing, Lightening)
Myrrh (Strengthening, Inspiring)
Clary Sage (Purifying, Cleansing, Uplifting)
Hellebore (Pushing toxic people & influences out)
Bach Rescue Remedy (Basic all-around calming & centering)
Toad Lily (Cleansing of bad habits & people, moving on)
Mountain Pennyroyal (Clearing negative emotions)
Sagebrush (Emptying, Letting go, Moving on)
Crab Apple (Emotional & Physical release)
Chaparral (Emotional cleansing on deep levels)
Wood Betony (Grounding & Protection)
Burning botanicals is an ancient tradition that helps our modern lives clear, shift, and create sacred space. Get to know your options and let your intuition guide you.
For further study, check out our books and a large selection of burnables and essential oils in the shop.