Whether it's sitting on your desk, around your neck, in your pocket, or in your bra (because, let's be real, we've all done that), many people believe crystals absorb the energy of their environment. In fact, it's not just crystals at the center of this belief, but also owned objects, rooms, buildings, outdoor spaces, and even people.
Ritualistic cleansing has been a part of human culture since the beginning, often blended with actual washing. Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, pagans of many varieties, and countless other religions and spiritualities practice physical cleansing prior to ceremonies or entering sacred spaces. The purpose of the ritual washing goes far beyond the removal of dirt, serving more as a ceremonial removal of negative energy and renewing oneself.
When using crystals to channel energy and intent, it makes sense that a spiritual cleansing is necessary to avoid any bad energy baggage, but what's the best method to use, and how often should we be cleansing?
Let's take a look at some of the most common methods:
It probably comes as no surprise that physically washing your crystal can be a great way to spiritually cleanse it as well, but washer beware - many types of crystals should not get wet.
Here's a quick list of crystals that you'll want to avoid washing:
Most stones with a Mohs Hardness Scale of 5 and lower should not be exposed to water as they may dissolve.
Angelite - Will eventually dissolve if repeatedly exposed to water.
Apatite - Okay for a quick rinse. Do not leave soaking.
Azurite - Emits sulfur when mixed with water.
Black Tourmaline - Okay for a quick rinse. Do not leave soaking.
Calcite - Okay for a quick rinse. Do not leave soaking.
Celestite - Will dissolve in water.
Cinnabar - Contains mercury. Water increases the risk of toxic exposure.
Desert Rose - Will dissolve in water.
Fluorite - Will dissolve in water.
Hematite - May rust if it comes in contact with water.
Jade - Okay for a quick rinse. Do not leave soaking.
Kyanite - May dissolve in water.
Labradorite - Okay for a quick rinse. Do not leave soaking.
Lapis Lazuli - Contains calcite and pyrite, which react with water.
Lepidolite - May flake apart in water.
Magnetite - May rust if exposed to water.
Malachite - May release toxic fumes when wet.
Ethiopian Opal - May become colorless after getting wet.
Pyrite - Can produce sulfuric acid in water.
Selenite - Will dissolve in water.
Turquoise - May crack or fade if it gets wet.
I prefer washing as my cleansing method of choice when it's safe for the stone, as I feel it best symbolizes my intent, and I like the idea that my stone is actually clean.
For water-safe stones and crystals, use dye-free and perfume-free hand soap and water, or just water by itself. While rinsing, focus on your intent in whatever way works best for you. I like to visualize the stone's aura changing from dark to light, or for a stone I know is particularly tainted, a crust of dark energy cracking and flaking away to avoid a bright surface beneath. You might also speak words aloud, or just think about their intent to cleanse the stone. There's no "right" method. Your own intent is the key in whatever way you channel it.
One of the most common methods, smoke cleansing is deeply rooted in many cultures and religions. Native Americans, Indigenous Australians, European pagans, some Christian sects, Hindus, Buddhists, Ancient Egyptians, and countless other cultures use smoke as a way of purification.
While sage is one of the most popular herbs to burn, white sage has been over-harvested, and may be close to becoming endangered. Unless you're practicing a religion or custom that requires white sage specifically, I highly recommend using another herb or wood. Bursera graveolens, known as "Palo Santo" or "holy wood," is another option, as is sandalwood, frankincense, myrrh, cedar, lavender, patchouli, clove, and star anise. These can be in their natural stick forms, or ground and burned as a cone, loose, or stick incense.
When cleansing with smoke, hold the crystal in the smoke as it rises. I prefer to make small counter-clockwise circles as a symbol of 'undoing' any energy present. As mentioned before, visualize, speak aloud, or simply focus on your intent to cleanse the stone.
Keep in mind that breathing in smoke isn't great for your lungs, and anyone can have an allergic reaction to a new herb. Take caution, and consider cleansing your stones and crystals outdoors to avoid health risks.
While singing bowls can be expensive, they are a beautiful and very satisfying way to cleanse a stone (and space) without any risks to your health or the stone. Signing bowls create an intense resonance when played. If you can find a bowl with perfect pitch, it's believed that the vibrations of the soundwaves work like a "sonic shower" for the stone, interrupting and washing away any negative energy that may be present. I recently received my very own bowl as a gift, and it's quickly become my favorite method, especially for stones that can't get wet.
Hold the crystal above the bowl while running the wand around the outside edge with the other hand. Ensure you play it long enough for the resonance to reach a notable volume. You can maintain the sound for as long as feels right. I usually give it about 10 seconds of max-volume resonance. As always, your intent is the most important part, so visualize, say aloud, or focus on your purpose as you work.
Selenite, also known as gypsum, or satin spar, is thought to have the properties to cleanse an area and other stones around it. It's said to be a high-vibration stone, and thus raise the energy of its environment, removing negative energies.
Placing stones on a selenite plate or around a selenite tower in a circle can help them to receive the most of the selenite's energy, but stones that have been exposed to very negative energies may need more of an active cleansing method.
Visualization and Intent
If it's not already apparent, your own power and intent is the key to each of the other cleansing methods listed here. So, it makes sense that this can be used on its own. The human mind has an amazing and outmatched ability to direct energy and manifest intention. The additional layers of water, smoke, or sound cleansing are just a method of symbolism to assist with visualization and intent.
In truth, any practices or symbols that helps you to manifest intent would work. In the same sense, using the other methods listed above without intent may not be very effective.
Projecting your intent to cleanse is a very personal process, and there is no 'wrong' or 'right' way to do it. When I cleanse, I like to put on spiritual music, make sure I'm in a clean space, sit on the floor with the stone in my hand, and spend a few minutes picturing the renewal of the stone. This sometimes looks like a "crust" of negativity falling away, or a dingy exterior turning bright. I usually pair this with charging the stone with my intent. (See Charging Your Crystals.)
If you take one thing away from this, I hope that it's a sense that you are a powerful being, and your own energy and will is the most important piece in a cleansing. There is no one way that works better than another, and you should choose the method that is best for the stone, and has the most resonance and symbolism for you.