Alternatives to Sage for Purification and Blessing

Sep 5, 2018

So, Sephora has a "witch kit," containing perfume, a deck of Tarot cards, a rose quartz, and sage.  Some people are amused, some people hate it, some are ambivalent.  I mostly fall into the last category, with the exception that I do not buy sage bundles or use them unless they are given to me, and I'm not a fan of people selling them.  That's because the Lakota and other Native folks I know whose people have traditionally used sage have said "don't," partially because they find commercialization of a sacred plant offensive and also because said commercialization has led to over-harvesting of domestic sage.  Another good reason not to use sage is that quite a few people are allergic to it; additionally, there are many venues where lighting something on fire is awkward or frowned upon, and using sage just isn't practical.

Sage is also not always the best thing to use.  It's sometimes too much (sort of the pressure washing of energetic cleansing) and sometimes not enough.  It's also not always available, and if you don't live where it grows wild, it can be expensive.  So here I offer a list of alternatives, burnable and otherwise.


Classic, ancient, easily available, plentiful, and cheap, salt is great for cleansing bad vibes and dissuading baneful spirits.  Use it plain to create barriers, mix with charcoal and red pepper and throw after malicious people to get them to leave and not come back, dissolve in water and sprinkle counterclockwise on the doors, windows, corners, mirrors, and water fixtures in your home, put it in your bath.  Like sage, salt tends to clear things out and it's a good idea to follow with something to "sweeten" and bless the energy.


I went into quite a bit of detail on the history and uses of cedar in a video I made a while back.  Cleansing and protective but also beneficent, cedar can be used as an incense or in a bundle of other plants to asperge with.  

Aromatic herbs

Speaking of which, there's a whole list of herbs I like to use for, lemon balm, basil, rosemary, lemongrass, citronella, lavender.  Make a bundle and dip them in spring water or salt water and sprinkle away.  You can also weave them into a wreath or put in your bath.

Florida water

Traditional to hoodoo and Espiritismo, this inexpensive perfume can be found on the shelf of most Hispanic groceries.  It's good for blessing and purifying when you don't want to use salt, which the dead traditionally dislike.

Essential oils 

A few drops in water (try it in a spray bottle) or a diffuser, especially lavender, sandalwood, frankincense, and cedar.

Frankincense and Myrrh

Frequently found as a mixture known as "Three Kings," sometimes with the addition of benzoin, styrax, or sandalwood, these resins purify and bless a space.  Use as essential oils in water to asperge, or on a charcoal block.

Camphor and Asafoetida

For when there's something big and nasty that won't leave, burn these on a charcoal block.  You can get a form of dried asafoetida used as a seasoning and labeled "hing" in Indian groceries.   Warning:  They don't smell good.  Imagine old gym socks, rotten onions, and kerosene as an incense.  But they will definitely clear the building.   


On the other end of the spectrum, white or yellow flowers and aromatic herbs in a vase or as petals and leaves sprinkled on the floor can gently brighten, clear and bless the energy of a space.


White ones in particular.  I frequently use them for house blessings, dressed with oil that I made.  Olive oil and salt are the simplest and easiest things to use for that purpose.

Rattles, drums, singing, spoken blessings

There's a reason traditional exorcisms include making lots of noise.  Sound alters the energy of a space, with an added layer of meaning possible when you sing or speak words of blessing and peace.

These options range from the relatively exotic and expensive (styrax is something you will definitely have to special order) to stuff you probably already have in your house or can find for free.  They also range from pleasantly benign to BAD THINGS GET OUT NOW.  They all work.  Use them well.

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