I personally tend to use widely available plants for most purposes, so using local plants for clearing is mainly what I prefer. I do, however, sometimes use exotic resins for specific applications. There is a long history of cultural use (over a thousand years) of these plants. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you some ideas.
These are all easy to get here in Massachusetts and in most of the Eastern US.
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). Mugwort is amazing and is one of my favorite plants. I love the way she smells! I make wreaths with the stalks, bundles to burn and different medicines with her.
Artemisias (the genus of plants that mugwort is in) in general have been used all around the world to dispel negativity (moxa, used in acupuncture, is made with mugwort). Mugwort is an old, European ally that came over to the lower continental US with European settlers. She is listed as one of the Anglo-Saxon’s 9 sacred herbs and considered both highly clearing and protective. She is also associated with divinatory dreaming.
I like mugwort as a bundle to burn, as a loose incense, as a brushing bundle, in the bath and as a spray – I even hang her around my house. Mugwort is what I use to clear the nastiest energies out of my healing space.
Mugwort is available from mid-summer through the fall and grows in along roadsides and in disturbed ground (waste place, abandoned lots, etc.). You can also grow here in your garden. She seeds herself profusely so no worries about having enough. Mugwort is also an excellent lady bug and butterfly nursery.
I’ve recently seen mugwort bundles marketed under the name of “black sage”. Just an FYI, there! And, yep, I do make mugwort bundles. I have tons of it in my yard. My own handwrapped bundles are available in my shop.
Photo credit: Hietaparta on Pixabay
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). The Greeks would keep Hypericum over their doors to keep nasty spirits out and I often use him like this today, too. I like SJW in the bath or as part of a brushing bundle/broom to help clear sad, stuck energy. Some tea as a finishing mop would both banish negative energy as well as bring in light. Nice! Also, I find the balsam-y fragrance of fresh Hypericum really enticing. Just thinking about it makes me feel safe and happy.
Harvest St. John’s wort when it flowers, around mid-summer through August.
photo credit: Alicja from Pixabey
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus). Especially in the winter, evergreens were used for both clearing and protection. That’s why we traditionally decorate with greenery at mid-Winter. I use our local pine species to clear negative energy. I gather white pine after storms and let it dry in my garage for a few days before trimming it into twiggy bundles that I wrap or snipping off the needles for loose incense. For both bundles and loose incense, dry thoroughly. When you burn pine bundles, make sure you have a bowl to catch the burnt material. You may have to relight the bundle often.
The resin of the white pine also makes a lovely incense. It smells like burning pine wood but a bit cleaner. If you collect your own resin, make sure you don’t scrape so much off the tree that the wound it covers is exposed. Dry thoroughly…this may take some months. Resins last years. To use see directions for burning resins.
Photo credit: Wikiwand
Kitchen Cabinet/Grocery Store Herbs
There are lots of herbs and spices that can be used for house clearing and protection. These are just a few. I’ll discuss more in December, when many of these blends were traditionally used.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Thyme makes a lovely space clearing finishing mop or spray. Thyme can also be burned as loose incense by itself or as part of a blend with rosemary. You can bundled fresh herbs from the grocery store then let them dry for a burning bundle or you can use loose, dried herbs. Thyme is also easily grown in a pot so it’s easy to grow your own even if you don’t have garden space.
photo credit WikimediaImages from Pixabey
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Another easy to obtain clearing plant. You can even make small bundles from store-bought rosemary. Dry them before burning. Already dried rosemary can be used as a loose incense all by itself. A tea can be used as part of a clearing bath. Rosemary clears negativity and brings in protection.
Rosemary also grows nicely in a pot on a deck or even in a sunny spot in the house. If she’s been outside first, give her a trim before you bring her in. Rosemary plants can live for years going outside in the summer and coming in during the winter – even here in Mass! Valuable tip - They do like to be misted with water in the winter along with regular watering. Trim them if they start getting leggy. I find it’s best to buy plants in the spring/summer. The nice, trimmed ones that are out in December look really neat but I’ve had a hard time keeping them alive through the winter. No problem with spring or summer bought plants.
photo credit andreas N from Pixabey
Bay leaves (Laurus nobilis). Going back to the ancient Greeks and Romans again here. Bay leaves have been used since then for clearing as well as medicine and decorating the heads of victors. I like to use bay leaves as part of a wash, a spray or in the bath for clearing. Mix lemon slices with a bay leaf, and some salt in hot water for a clearing spray or bath. Use about 3 big handfuls of salt for a clearing bath and about a tablespoon per quart of water for a spray. Wait until the mix cools before putting it in a spray bottle.
photo credit kropekk_pl from pixabey
For both of these resins, try to find organically grown or sustainably harvested suppliers. I buy both my frankincense and myrrh from Mountain Rose Herbs. They offer organic resins (so organically grown rather than wild harvested).
Frankincense (Boswellia, spp). Frankincense is a resin from a tree found in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula that has been used since at least biblical times. Frankincense’s uplifting aroma clears negativity and dispels sadness. I recommend burning frankincense when grieving the loss of anything. It helps keep the space from accumulating that grief as well as helps to lift the spirits of those who are grieving.
photo credit: xbqs42 on Pixabey
Myrrh (Comphora myrrha). Another tree resin used since ancient times, myrrh comes from a small thorny tree found in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, like frankincense. They’re often used together. Myrrh is a bit sweeter in fragrance than frankincense. This type of aromatic sweetness helps to bring in Light as well as banish heavier energies.
photo credit Leo_65 on Pixabey
Why not just use white sage, Saliva apiana?
It's what all the cool kids are using, right? Well, not well-informed cool kids.
This article from United Plant Savers, a plant conservation group details why we should be moving away from using this endangered plant. If you do want to continue using it, please source organically grown, rather than wildcrafted, white sage.
Another note about white sage. It’s lovely for light duty clearing, shifting emotional energies and for sanctifying - the ceremonial clearing, dedication and feeding of sacred or power objects. I do not use it for clearing really heavy negative energy - harmful non-human entities as well as non-corporeal yucky humans (aka ghosts). She just doesn’t have the oomfph.
If you have something nasty in your space and it's scaring you, Contact me!