Cleansing Rituals and Closure

Not all paranormal teams follow their investigations with a ritual. In other cultures, where the belief in spirits is commonplace, it is not a strange concept at all.

In Japanese communities throughout the world, August is a time to celebrate the Obon festival. It is widely believed that during this time, the spirits of ancestors return to the real world to visit their relatives. The Japanese honor their ancestors in various ways, with festivals and food offerings, and by visiting graveyards and cleaning their ancestors' graves. They hang lanterns to invite the spirits into their homes. At the end of the festival, floating lanterns are placed in rivers, lakes, and seas to guide the spirits back to the otherworld.

It is a widespread belief that the spirits of people who were unhappy or met a violent end may linger on in the physical plane as spirits called yurei. As is the case in many other cultures, these spirits linger simply to find closure.

We hear this same tale over and over again, from the British Isles to ancient Greece. The practice of ritual cleansing before and after contact with the supernatural is known to many cultures.

Americans Get with It

As a society that was formed from the cultural blending of many nations, Americans have a diversity of opinions and practices concerning the afterlife and ghosts.

In cultures around the world, sage has been used as a cleansing herb for centuries. The dried leaves are rolled into a long bundle called a wand. When they are lit, they emit an incense-like smoke. The smoke of the sage plant can be used to cleanse both people and spaces.

Recently, a cultural consensus seems to have emerged, at least among those in the paranormal community, concerning what is deemed proper procedure after an investigation.

Most groups indicate that they think it is wise to bless the house, its inhabitants, and themselves at the end of an investigation. These rituals can range from the simplest to the most complex and differ widely from group to group and region to region.

THREE TYPES OF CLEANSING

  • Bathing. A bath with Epsom salts or cleansing herbs serves to remove the last traces of any physical contamination. The soothing scents of the herbs are grounding and make it easy for the investigator to achieve a focused state of mind.

  • Saging. A sort of bath without water, saging can be done either individually or in a group and has much the same function as a bath in water. The smoke from burning sage provides a physical barrier and the scent provides a mental clarity and relaxation that allow the investigator to erect a barrier of protection.

  • Prayer or spell. Often preceded by bathing or saging, a prayer or spell provides a clear channel of good intention and integrates the positive energies into a force for good.

  • House Cleansing Ritual

    Rituals of this sort are not to everyone's taste. The supplies you need and steps you should take follow. It is offered only as an example of a typical house cleansing ritual.

    Incense burner or censer (A censer is a brass incense burner on a metal chain, which can be carried around the house safely. Any other type of incense burner should be placed on a small tray.)

    Sea salt

    White candle in a candleholder

    Broom made from natural, not synthetic, materials (Willow or hazel make good homemade brooms.)

    Matches or lighters and a candlesnuffer

    Incense (Frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, lavender, or sage are good choices, either in stick form or powdered.)

    Charcoal block (for powdered incense)

    Plain ceramic bowl large enough to hold the crystal and the incense burner

    Large crystal

    Anointing oil (optional) (Frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, or lavender essential oils are good choices.)

    The most important thing about a cleansing ritual is that the intention of the people doing it is clear and strong. Minor elements, such as an essential oil, can be missing as long as the intention is uppermost in the participants' minds and the goal of the cleansing is positive.

    • Assemble your materials on a table or other flat surface. If several people are participating, gather them together near the table. Nonparticipants should leave the premises until the ritual is completed.

    • Place a few drops of oil on the candle. Light the candle and the incense.

    • Put the salt in the bottom of the bowl. Place a crystal an inch deep in the salt. If you do not have a censer, place the incense burner in the bowl as well. Place these items in the center of the table with the broom in front of them.

    • Concentrate on the broom, bowl, and candle, picturing them all surrounded by a cleansing, bright white light. Let this light expand outward to encompass the whole house. As it does so, it will permeate every corner, nook, and cranny.

    • Pick up the broom and sweep counterclockwise around the entire house, starting at the front door. Continue until you have completed a circle that brings you back to the front door. As you sweep, imagine all impurities being propelled out of the house and repeat, “By the power of all things holy and good, by the sea and the stars, by earth, air, fire, and water, be gone, all unclean things!”

    • Sweep the bad things out of the door and out of the house. Return to the candle and incense. Pick up the incense and walk clockwise around the interior of the house three times, allowing the smoke to pervade each corner. As you walk, offer a blessing: “May this house be filled with light, love, and laughter, so full that all else is driven out. By the power of all things holy and good, by the sea and the stars, by earth, air, fire, and water, be gone, all unclean things!”

    • An additional prayer may be offered, linked to the tradition of the practitioner, such as, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” Or “Blessed be!”

    • Conceal the crystal in the center of the home as a sort of ward against negative energy. Place a pinch of salt in four tiny bowls at each corner of the house. Snuff out the candle.

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