The autumn is certainly a time of change. Brilliant hues of yellow, orange, and red glow in the afternoon sunlight. This energizing color experience gives way to quiet stillness as nature takes a break and the earth goes to rest in the northern hemisphere. Many think of this time of year as very spiritual. This is a time when the separation between the physical world and the spiritual world is permeable. Some people describe it as the “veil between the physical and spiritual plane” becoming thin. We tend to be drawn to spiritual activities and practices in the autumn. Going within seems like a natural thing to do as autumn progresses. We are more sensitive to subtle energies and our intuitions.
Some cultures and spiritualities consider the end of October as the start of a new year. For example, the Hindu New Year Diwali is celebrated at this time and Samhain marks the Celtic New Year. This time is seen as the death of the old year and the conception of the new one. The idea that with death comes rebirth is one that is found in many cultures and spiritual practices. The cycle of life continues with the hope that the old will make way for the new. A new phase begins as an old one dissipates. This is a good time to renew your spiritual practice whether you are a solitary practitioner or worship with a group in a conventional way.
With the theme of rebirth comes the idea of purification. Why not start out fresh and new as you enter the beginning of a new cycle? Why not cleanse and purify the body, mind and spirit to make way for new and exciting experiences to come? Create your own purification ritual to help you to focus on the conception of new and better ways of being. The practice of purification on all levels is common across the globe and herbs are often part of a cleansing ceremony. Purification herbs are burned and used to cleanse places and auras. They are made into special soaps for ritual bathing and put into herbal bath mixtures for the purpose of cleansing the body, mind and spirit. Some popular purification herbs are discussed below as well as the recipe for a bath herb mixture that I like to use.
Herbs for Purification
Lavender flower is an important purification herb. Its scent is appreciated by most and it’s readily available as well as inexpensive. If you like to make herbal soaps, lavender is a classic ingredient. It heals your skin as it purifies the mind and spirit.
If you have lavender growing in your healing garden, you can make little smudge bundles out of it. Simply cut 10 to 12 flowers leaving at least three inches of the stem and tie some cotton thread around the bundle to secure. This lavender wand can be lit and waved around the room and around the body to clear away “bad” or stagnant energy. Use caution when smudging with herbs to prevent the glowing ash to cause injury or damage. I walk around with a large ceramic bowl to catch any stray ash from the smudge wand. Abalone shells are also commonly used for catching stray ash.
Sage is a classic smudging herb. Sage wands or bundles are available at most herb, health food and metaphysical shops. Smudging with sage is a very important ritual in many Native American cultures. It is used to cleanse and purify people, places and things. Sage is effective for eliminating the negative energy in our surroundings. It’s a good idea to smudge your sacred meditation space prior to your daily practice. Get rid of the lingering unwanted energy to make room for good vibrations. As a cleansing bath herb, sage is wonderful too.
Rosemary is another energy clearing herb. It has a long history of use For smokeless smudging you can add 2ml of rosemary essential oil to 4 ounces of purified water in a spray bottle (glass is best). Shake the contents well to disperse the essential oil particles evenly throughout the purified water. Spray and purify your sacred space, healing room or meditation station to enhance the quality of your meditation practice. Smokeless smudging spritz can be made of lavender, sage, and cedar essential oil as well. Use the same ratio of oil to water. Combinations of oils are nice too. Try lavender and rosemary or a combination of sage and cedar for a traditional Native American combination. Rosemary leaf is great for the skin when used as a bath herb. It is a wonderful skin healer.
Peppermint leaf can also be used in purification soaps. The invigorating effect of peppermint on the skin leaves you feeling cleansed and refreshed. For a simple ritual purification soap, add 15 drops of peppermint essential oil to one ounce of natural castile soap. Shake it well before use to prevent skin irritation. Unscented natural castile soap can be purchased at the health food store.
Valerian root is a traditional cleansing herb. It does have a peculiar odor, however. When combined with other aromatic herbs, like the ones mentioned previously, the scent of valerian is more acceptable. Known also for its relaxing effect, this root helps you to relax and get ready for your meditation session. If you are not “put off” by the pungent taste and odor of valerian root, a cup of valerian root tea is great stress-buster.
Ritual Cleansing Bath
A ritual cleansing bath prior to your meditation practice can help balance the energy in your aura. The herbal bath recipe below has a pleasant aroma and all of the ingredients are good spiritual cleansing herbs. Lavender, rosemary and valerian are cleansing and healing to the skin. Salt is added to the blend since it too is good for ridding the aura of “bad energy.” Get rid of the old undesirable energy around you prior to commencing your meditation. You may find that your practice is more centered, grounded and focused allowing you to get in better touch with your higher self and your guides.
Herbal Ritual Purification Bath Blend
In a large glass jar or canister combine:
- 1/2 cup dried lavender flower
- 1/2 cup dried rosemary leaf
- 1/2 cup dried peppermint leaf
- 1/4 cup dried sage leaf
- 1/4 cup dried valerian root, (optional)
- One cup sea salt
Use one-quarter cup of purification bath blend in a cotton herb bag for each bath. Drop your bath bag into the warm water as you are filling the tub to allow the wonderful herbs to infuse.
Photo by Jonas Kaiser