The Basics of Spiritual Safety & Wellbeing

A white tiger perched atop a pier of logs, surrounded by stonework and greenery.
(Image Credits: Phạm Quốc Nguyên via Pixabay)

When asked the most important place to begin as a newcomer to the craft, to energy work, or even to simply walking a more spiritual path, more experienced practitioners will often share the basics of their magickal tool cabinet, suggest a bouquet of book titles and YouTube channels, or state plainly that the only correct answer is to let your heart and soul guide you. Only occasionally do I see or hear these types of questions answered with the recommendation to familiarize oneself with spiritual safety and wellbeing prior to diving head-first. But matters of protection, I feel, are one of the most important things to study up on when starting out, and today, I’d like to share my own thoughts and advice on the topic.

Cleansing, Purification, & Banishing

As I define them in my practice: To cleanse is to rid a person, place, or thing of stagnant, unwanted, draining, counterproductive, or otherwise negative energies or entities (though positive energies will often accompany them), to purify is to return a person, place, or thing to its original energetic state, and to banish is to cleanse by authoritative expulsion or removal using an outward-pushing energy. You may find others who define these terms differently or use these words interchangeably, but this is how I have come to define them, each offering their own unique function in my workings. If you are looking at correspondences in my digital grimoire, these energetic properties can be found in items marked as cleansing, restoration, and banishment respectively.

A cleansing may be performed when you find that energies are stagnant, stuffy, or negative. Unpleasant energies like these can be responsible for inviting in equally unpleasant entities, hindering the results of energetic workings, creating a state of mental or emotional discomfort, brewing a heavy tension in the air, or even causing feelings of sickness in those who are particularly sensitive. As such, it is usually recommended that cleansings be performed on a regular basis – especially if you live in a space that is regularly exposed to more negative energies. Some common methods of cleansing utilize the smoke of cleansing herbs (alternatively, a spray), water infused with cleansing herbs, or simply a visualization of brilliant white light – and this is just barely scratching the surface. As with many rituals, there are hundreds of methods of cleansing out there for you to explore, and it is paramount to choose one – or even create one – that works for you. Let your intention – your goal – be your guiding force. As a general rule, if you are putting your intention into it and you are going about it in a way that feels intuitively compatible, you will more than likely see the results you are looking for.

Often, cleansing – similarly to banishing – will result in a feeling of emptiness. You are essentially scrubbing the present energies “clean”, including energies that may be more positive. On the other hand, you may wish to perform a purification, or restoration, of a person, place, or thing if the goal is to reverse any energetic damage that may have been done while still retaining those unique individual energies. For this, you would utilize restorative herbs instead of cleansing ones and focus your intention accordingly. It seems it is common for practitioners to opt for cleansing over purification – and even more common for the terms to be defined as one and the same – but I enjoy having this as a separate option when it is needed. In my practice, this process typically comes into play when I want to remove any absorbed energies from a crystal, charm, or tool but would like to preserve its core energies as much as possible.

Finally, banishment is used when you want to push an energy or entity out of a particular space, and in this case, the original energies seem to remain wholly unchanged. For this reason, some practitioners choose to also perform a cleansing beforehand. Like cleansing, there are many methods of banishment out there that you can give a try, though the most commonly passed-around is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (or LBRP) of ceremonial magick, sometimes given different flavors for different systems.

Enchanting & Blessing

The emptiness of a cleansing or banishing can feel pleasant enough, but I find that this sometimes allows unwanted energies to creep back in more easily. A blank slate becomes anyone’s game, so to speak. To mitigate this, you may choose to preemptively imbue the space with more intentionally – and typically positive – energies. For this, we use enchantment or blessings. To enchant is to fill a person, place, or thing with intentional (but not necessarily positive) energies, and to bless is to enchant with fresh, positive, and often divine energies.

Enchantment is one of those foundational things that is pretty crucial to get the hang of when first starting out in a magickal practice, and all it entails is focusing on an intention and willing the energy of that intention to fill the person, place, or thing being enchanted. To a beginner, this can be more difficult, which is why it is also important to learn what these subtle energies can feel like to you. Skipping this step can sometimes deter people away from magick altogether. Lady Gravedancer, one of my favorite witches on YouTube, has an excellent video on learning to work with and sense these subtle energies. If this is all new to you, I highly recommend it.

Typically, though, a blessing is more what we’re looking for post-cleansing – positive, even divine, energies that inspire a sense of wellbeing. If you work with deities, you may also like to ask them to bestow their own blessings in your stead or beside you. Otherwise, it’s just enchantment with a wholly positive intention, but if the idea of a blessing feels too religious for your comfort, stick with “enchantment” and don’t let semantics bog you down.

Warding, Shielding, & Cloaking

In all cases, I tend to feel that the energies we’re working through are not being totally destroyed, but are rather either transmuted, deterred, or even just fragmented. In my opinion, it is usually a good idea to follow up your cleansings or banishments with the re-energizing of your wards. To ward is to create an energetic protective barrier around a person, place, or thing as a semi-passive and long-term protective measure, to shield is to create a more short-term ward that surrounds a personal, place, or thing entirely and is envisioned as a bubble, and to cloak is to make a person, place, or thing energetically “invisible” or “irrelevant” to wandering energies or entities so that interests are directed elsewhere. You can find relevant correspondences in my digital grimoire marked as protection, security, and invisibility.

Warding can be thought of as the closing and locking of your spiritual entryway, though it is often done with the intention to protect from more than just matters of the spiritual. I’ve known people to create physical barriers around properties using salt and/or eggshells with protective herbs as a base and visualizing their wards rising from that barrier. You might also like to bury protective crystals at the four corners of the property for that additional kick. But once again, there are so many methods out there that it really comes down to personal preference.

I tend to think of shielding – or bubbling, as some call it – as a more short-term and active form of warding. Shielding is especially useful as an emergency layer of protection when out and about or as an additional layer over your personal wards in outings that you suspect will be energetically taxing. Where wards are thought of as great and powerful walls, shields are typically thought of as entire bubbles surrounding a person, place, or thing on all sides. If you’re an empath like me – which is a sometimes-misrepresented term I’ll get into in a future article – shielding is a good practice to have in your pocket for going out into crowded environments, whether that crowd is physical, as in a theme park, or spiritual, as in a hospital. Whatever visualization you choose to use for warding, your shielding process can tend to be similar, and much of it, again, comes down to the intention. It is often the case, though, that this process takes more energy to conduct, and thus, if you choose to keep up a more permanent shield, it may require more care and more frequent energetic charging than your wards do.

Cloaking is something I don’t see discussed very often, but it can be very useful to consider when you are trying to be energetically off the radar. And obviously, I am not suggesting you go about doing sneaky, unsavory things. Instead, cloaking may be more beneficial for avoiding unnecessary conflict with nosy neighbors, finding peace to work in a coffee shop, or subduing the attention that can come from large-scale energetic workings. And as always, you may choose to hand-pick some herbs, crystals, or other mystical tools for this purpose, but the recommended visualization varies a bit from that typical bright light you may be used to working with. In the case of invisibility, you may choose to envision the person, place, or thing fading out of view or to mentally play the situation at hand out exactly as you wish it to transpire.

Safety Tips for Spirit Work

Certainly, if you plan to do spirit work – a line of spiritual work in which will regularly involve energies and entities completely independent of you – these concepts may be more important to familiarize yourself with than with someone whose only spiritual endeavor is manifesting a little extra spending money every once in a while. Aspiring spirit worker, the following tips are for you:

• As per the point of this article, it’s a good idea to have your preferred protective methods at the ready prior to actively working with spirits. This, of course, does not mean that your methods cannot change over time – but when starting out, you should find a method that is compatible with you and gets you the results you need. Once chosen, try to become familiar enough with it that you can cast it off-book in the event of some sort of spiritual emergency.
• As a spirit worker, you’ll want to cleanse your tools, your space, and yourself very regularly. My preference in my practice is at least once a month and more frequently if I feel it is necessary. Even if you aren’t involved with spirit work, regular cleansings are a good habit to get into, but it is especially important for those inviting a large number of outside influences into their home.

• Get to know your spirit guide(s), and keep them close during any sort of spirit work. I’ve heard from many people who feel that the connection you have with your guide(s) has a sort of solidity to it that can override other communications the moment you ask for it, and I myself have not yet seen evidence to the contrary. If you ever feel uneasy about a communication and are in need of a second opinion on who or what you may be speaking to, ask your guide(s) to come through and communicate with you. Still, as we communicate between realms, discernment is a necessary skill to develop, and having protections in place is always a good idea, regardless of whether you choose to involve your guide(s) or work on your own. If you are completely new to the idea of spirit guides, I do plan to write an article on the topic in the future – but in the meantime, if you’re interested in meeting yours, Lady Gravedancer also has a wonderful video featuring a ritual for communicating with your guides for the first time.

• You may also want to look into the idea of casting a circle (another topic I’ll likely be discussing here in the future). While an entire ritual may not be in the cards for your practice, it may help you to develop some alternative ideas for shielding the space around you during active spirit work. In doing so, you maintain greater control over what is permitted to enter. Afterwards, be sure to say your goodbyes and to close up your circle and any portals you may have opened to avoid uninvited visitors outside of working hours. If you are someone who chooses to always leave your space open to visitation – and some people do – be aware that anything can enter and be prepared for the circumstances that could stem from this.

• If you are someone who allows certain spirits to reside in your home – what I refer to as my “spirit family” – I think it is a hospitable gesture to let those spirits know when you are going to be performing a cleansing or banishing. I can’t imagine that having your energy forcefully transmuted or shoved out the door would be a terribly comfortable thing to experience, so I think of it as a sort of courtesy that exhibits the respect I have for them. This will give them a chance to temporarily leave the space of their own volition while you go through your routine. Alternatively, if you have a special space set up for your spirit family like I do, you may choose to shield that space with the intention for their energies to remain unaffected by the cleansing. I’m not sure that it’s the most perfect method, but it’s one that I’ve found to work well for my spirit family thus far. In both cases, there are those who would argue that this gives unwanted entities a chance to temporarily leave or take shelter within the shield, as well, but I tend to feel that my spirit family would act accordingly to keep our home safe. It is their home, too, after all.

Despite popular Hollywood tropes, working with spirits doesn’t necessarily equate to “terrifying and dangerous” – but this does not mean it is without its risks. And just as you wouldn’t find your way into a dark alley in the middle of the night without some pepper spray, it’s likely not a good idea to invite spirits into your home without compatible defense measures in place.

Safety Tips for Energy Work

Energy work, in general, tends to have the odd side effect of making you a sort of beacon in the realm of the spiritual – and the more you do, the more your energy builds, the more your awareness expands, and the brighter your whole being shines. No matter the level you find yourself at spiritually, the following tips are for you (though feel absolutely free to read through the previous section, as well; the additional knowledge can only benefit you):

• Whether it be through tarot, runes, pendulums, spirit boards, prayer, or some other form of divination you find useful, it is wonderfully wise to seek guidance regarding any workings you do. This practice can help you to avoid unwanted outcomes, to avoid manifesting something you may not truly want, and to uncover exactly what it is you need to add or take away from your workings to bring you the results that you are looking for.

• Keep a journal of what works and what doesn’t in your practice and of any intuitive insights you receive that you feel may be important. Your spiritual path is a deeply personal one, and one person’s experience will likely never be perfectly identical to another’s. There is an abundance of wonderful advice out there. There are many methods out there that work very well for many as-is. But at the end of the day, you must discover what works best for you, even if that is different from the teachings of the majority. Be sure to keep track of it.

• Be mindful of loopholes, especially in manifestation workings. Being too specific can sometimes be ineffective, but not being specific enough has the potential to cause even bigger issues. Manifestation, I find, tends to take the path of least resistance, so when putting your energies out there, you want to be sure your intentions don’t put anyone in harm’s way. Again, divination can be a wonderful source of guidance prior to your workings.

If you are going to be working with negative intentions of any kind – which is something I don’t advise for a number of reasons, and especially not for beginners – be sure to deep-cleanse yourself and the space the spell or ritual took place in. In addition, it’s generally a good idea to not keep any items used in the working on or near your property. Also know that there are other options, like justice workings, that can be done in place of this. Sometimes when we feel very upset or very angry, we speak or act irrationally and come to regret it later. This can also be true for spellwork, but the results can sometimes be a lot more devastating. Ultimately, I cannot stop you from doing what you feel you must, but at the very least, I hope you’ll think things through.

• Finally, this may seem like common-sense, but don’t let your spiritual practice throw off balance in your life. The realm of the physical has its own value and importance, and that certainly includes your health and wellbeing. If you find yourself neglecting your health, your hygiene, your friends and family, your responsibilities, or your other hobbies, it may be necessary to take a break or dial it back until you’re able to find a good balance.

A Regular Cleansing Practice

You may have already seen this in my article on making the home more magickal, but I thought it would be good to include, here as well. The following are my two most often-used cleansing rituals – one which I perform monthly, and the other as-needed:

My Monthly Cleansing Ritual: I perform this ritual on the first of each month. Any cleansing tools to be charged on the altar should be set at least a day before performing the cleansing. The morning of, weather permitting, open windows and play uplifting music or cleansing affirmations, frequencies, or subliminals of choice. Take a cleansing shower. Clean the home as you normally would. When physical cleaning is complete, use a smoke or spray cleansing blend of choice, walking with intention from room-to-room. Pay special mind to corners and doorways. I like to use sound cleansing – bells, drums, or even snapping your fingers will do – in these spaces to really ensure the breaking up of any “stuck” energies. If you are someone who performs banishing rituals, you may choose to do so now. At this point, I also take a moment to cleanse myself, particularly as an empath. I then tend to my wards by first taking a blessed salt blend around the perimeter of the property, followed by sitting at the center of the property and funneling my own energy into the ward. If you would prefer to instead bless first and ward after, feel free to do so. It is your ritual, after all. Regardless of which order you perform the ritual in, the blessing process may be a deeply personal one, so this is a step I suggest thinking on a bit rather than following to the letter. In my ritual, I use a spray with positive energy-promoting herbs (as well as herbs that may promote the intention I wish to set for the month) and follow up with prayer to my deities. If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at my Monthly Cleansing Ritual, I do have detailed instructions available on my Monthly Blessings Patreon.

My As-Needed Cleansing Ritual: This is essentially a truncated version of my monthly ritual. If the energies are something I’ve tracked in or absorbed too much of, I will take a cleansing shower first. Following this, perform your usual smoke or spray cleansing, focusing especially on any room(s) that may be the most abundant in the energy that brought about this need for an emergency cleanse. You may also like to perform a shorter version of your regular blessing ritual. Unless the situation is really dire, I will generally stick to my spray in this case.

Just to reiterate, all of the information, including these rituals, are from my own practice and my own experience. You must do what works for you if you want to get the absolute best results and the most fulfilling experience. Take what serves you, and leave the rest. Much love and many blessings to you on your journey. Take care of yourself.

Ready to take the next steps on your spiritual, mystical, or magick path? Check out my Digital Grimoire which offers a plethora of information for beginner and intermediate practitioners and make sure to subscribe to The Witchy Housewife below to receive updates by e-mail whenever you release a new article. No spam – just updates! )O(

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