Culture

Here Are Just Some Of The Ways My Abuela Taught Me How To Remove The Negative Energy From My Life

If you were lucky enough to have a loving, doting abuela who looked after you while your parents worked overtime, you may have faint memories of her doing strange things around the house. She may have placed a cup of water behind the door, propped a broom upside down in a corner, or shooed everyone out the house so she could clean. No ordinary cleaning, it could be that on those Sunday mornings full of loud music and earthy aromas, your abuela was cleansing the house of negative energy. Feelings of unending exhaustion, illness, frustration, stress, or worry are signs that your home could use a limpieza too.

When I was a child, I would accompany my gold-toothed grandmother to Newark Avenue on Saturday afternoons. She would put curtains on layaway at Woolworth’s, and stop by the meat market and the fish market. Some Saturdays, our last stop before heading home was at la botanica. More than a magic shop, this was a place to procure spiritual elements from statues of Catholic saints to potions guaranteeing love and money. My grandmother would move nimbly about the shop selecting Indian Spirit money spray, incense, frankincense, and myrrh. Pretty biblical, right? I recall watching Sunday morning cartoons as she cleaned the apartment from back to front, windows open, a ritual concluding with her swinging her tiny cast iron cauldron, resin smoldering inside, while wearing an iconic bata. You know the one!

If you asked Abuela, she wouldn’t say this was Santería or Brujería of any sort.

Credit: Karim MANJRA / Unsplash

Latinidad is abstract in the way it allows a constellation of diaspora to take cultural practices from here and there, creating our own interpretations according to our needs and resources.

While energy-cleansing rituals can be extremely complicated; like the one where you buy a coconut, bathe it in Florida Water, and gently kick it around your entire home while smudging sage then kicking the coconut of your house, picking it up with your left hand, walking far away from your house and throwing the coconut over your head, making sure it splits, otherwise you will need to start the ritual again with a new coconut.

If you’re short on coconuts and time, but would like to try simple ways of cleansing your home of negative energy, here are a few simple suggestions inspired by Abuela.

It all begins by cleaning your home.

Credit: JESHOOTS.COM / Unsplash

De-clutter, organize, and arrange items neatly. The science behind cleaning shows your space is a reflection of your mind. Marie Kondo your situation to clear away bad energy, calling forth peace of mind and calming spirit. A real-deal abuela would advise you to clean your floors with La Bomba, a spiritual floor cleaner. Mop from the back of your home to the front door, and throw away the mop head. You probably won’t find La Bomba in Target. Check online botanica retailers, and look for all-purpose La Bomba solutions that can be used to clean your car and other spaces where you may have experienced a bout of bad luck.

Channel the elements: earth, air, fire, and water in your energy cleansing enterprise, like Earth.

Credit: elementsofsage / Instagram

Boasting benefits like curing insomnia, boosting your mood, and neutralizing ions, smudging sage has been widely attributed to Native American tradition. Sage sticks, and smudge kits are widely available, but if you are into drying your own sage, consider adding dried roses, lavender, palo santo, and rosemary. If nothing else, it looks pretty and your home will smell lovely.

Air

Credit: JOHN TOWNER / Unsplash

Open the window. It’s as simple as that. Release stale air to remove negative energy, and in the spirit of my own abuela, take down your curtains, give them a wash while you put up beautiful new curtains. Maybe you don’t believe in negative energy, but you can’t deny the uplifting effect of getting some fresh air.

Fire

Credit: Theresa Vargas / Unsplash

Burn bay leaves. Also known as laurel, the practice of burning bay leaves dates back to Ancient Greece. Write down all the things you want to release directly on the leaves, burn the leaves in a fireproof bowl, and safely discard the ashes.

Lighting candles is a large part of the cleansing process for abuelas too. Light candles of your favorite saint, or cruise your botanica for some highly specific candles promising to banish the evil eye—if that’s your thing.

Water

Credit: Anita Austvika / Unsplash

Like my abuela, place a glass of water behind a door, or place a glass of water under your bed, which is said to absorb negative energy.

Bathing, a literal cleansing, can also serve to clear bad energy. Abuela would advise you to bathe in your favorite flowers, perfume, milk, and honey, an ancient tradition found around the world. Light a candle, turn the lights down and ask for the things you want to receive as you luxuriate in your bath. 

Last, but not least—Florida Water! Wipe some across your forehead when you have a headache. Add it to your La Bomba floor cleaner. Pour some in your bath. Use it to wipe down your altars, doorways, and wash your hands with it after meeting with people who harbor negative energy. Or, quite simply, dab it on mosquito bites.

Finding peace in your home is imperative to your wellbeing. 

                                                Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Experimenting with energy cleansing practices can take you down a winding cultural, and traditional path that can prove to be effective in your life. It can also bring a sense of closeness with an abuela who is no longer with you. Even if energy cleansing is not your thing, actively taking steps toward peace of mind is great thing, and I’m sure your abuela would love nothing more than to see you at peace. 

READ: This Woman Found Brujería In Her Wall During A Home Renovation And How Is She Still Standing There?!

Your ‘Palo Santo-Burning’ Habit Is Causing The Deforestation Of What Indigenous Communities Consider A Sacred Tree

Culture

Your ‘Palo Santo-Burning’ Habit Is Causing The Deforestation Of What Indigenous Communities Consider A Sacred Tree

With #Selfcare culture in full swing, Palo Santo has become quite the sensation when it comes to wellness. Instagram users and influencers have been quick to popularize alternative methods of self-care and taking them to the masses —eg. “Cleanse yourself of bad vibes and let the good ones flow in.”

In recent years people have been flocking to crystal shops, yoga studios, shamans and whatnot, to grow their stash of healing and instagram-worthy veladoras, sage bundlescrystalsand other elements of ancient indigenous cultures’ traditions. Well, turns out that one of these ‘trendy’ items is Palo Santo, and the demand for it has started to affect communities and ecosystems —so how about we read about it before we keep ignorantly burning what is an ancient ‘holy’ plant to some communities.  

First off, what even is Palo Santo? 

Palo Santo, is a tree found in Ecuador and Peru. Other varieties of the tree are found in parts of Beazil. Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. Palo Santo, which is Spanish for ‘holy stick’, is a sacred tree for indigenous communities and their sacred practices. Shamans traditionally burn Palo Santo sticks in bundles, to cleanse their space and ward off spirits —a tradition which has been commodified and appropriated by self appointed shamans  in the west. 

The ‘holy stick’ has many therapeutic benefits.

The therapeutic benefits of Palo Santo are many— the tree is actually medicinal and healing. The only way to get the full benefit of this tree though, is by letting it die naturally, and allowing it a four to ten year resting period on the forest floor. The highest quality oils form in the aged heartwood, which is used in sacred ceremonies and to heal by specific local cultures.

Why is it a bad thing that we’re all burning it?

Credit: vidaconsciente / Instagram

“Cleanse yourself of bad vibes” read countless marketing emails announcing the cleansing properties of ‘Palo Santo’. For a few years now, wellness, beauty and homeware brands have been betting on the “good vibes” that are welcomed into your space by Palo Santo. 

What is a sacred and holy plant to some indigenous communities has now turned into an indie shop trinket. Sacred bundles of Palo Santo can be found everywhere from Urban Outfitters to farmer’s markets, and of course, your Instagram feed. It’s become commonplace to stop scrolling through selfies and vacation posts to see a photo of crystals, sage, and Palo Santo neatly arranged against some marble-top, basic af, backdrop. Sample caption: “Good Vibes Only.”

We should all know better by now. But if you don’t? Consider this your official notice: It’s time to stop burning Palo Santo. Here’s why.

1. It. Is. SACRED.

It is simply problematic to take an element of someone else’s culture simply because you like how it smells, it calms you or because everyone on instagram is doing it. It basically qualifies as cultural appropriation.

Not only are we picking and choosing part of Indigenous cultures that we like, while turning a blind eye to the things we don’t like, trends like this negate the actual importance behind the practice. We’ve turned something sacred into a commercial commodity. And ignoring the meaning that cultures have appointed to Palo Santo for hundreds of years further robs these sacred cultures of their revered traditions.

2.  The Palo Santo tree is currently endangered —and it’s on a watch-list. 

There are no more than 250 mature Palo Santo trees in the wild at the moment. And According to the United Plant Savers Medicinal Plant Conservation, those numbers are plummeting. While the tree is not extinct, it has been added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) list due to the over-harvesting that its been subjected to, which can lead to extinction. 

Fun fact: According to sacred beliefs; in order to gain the actual benefit of the tree, a Palo Santo tree should never be cut down, and it should not be sold as a commodity —LOL we’ve played ourselves. If you buy Palo Santo wood from ANY source, then you are contributing to the economic incentive that drives deforestation.

3. Burning the wood without being mindful of how it landed in your #selfcare kit, is the opposite of woke.

Acknowledging Indigenous communities, their traditions and rules when using the plant is key. Working with these communities, establishing a relationship and supporting their livelihood matters. However, most brands either don’t care about the process or have no idea where or how they get their Palo Santo.

There are many alternatives you can use for space cleansing, or for creating a calming atmosphere —just steer clear of Palo Santo and Sage, another vastly appropriated plant. If you find that you want to burn herbs for their beneficial properties, look for alternatives that you can use that don’t affect Indigenous rituals or that harm the earth. 

You can always use herbs that are aligned with your unique heritage and ancestry. Look into your own heritage to participate and continue your rituals. The best thing to do is source herbs that are grown locally, or even better; grow your own!

From Glow Necklaces That Detect Ghosts To Prayer Beads, These Are The Items You Didn’t Think To Pack In Your Brujeria Kit

Culture

From Glow Necklaces That Detect Ghosts To Prayer Beads, These Are The Items You Didn’t Think To Pack In Your Brujeria Kit

When you’re a bruja, you know that a big part of your lifestyle is all about the swag. From the perfect incense to the best sage smudge sticks, brujas need it all. So, what’s on your brujeria kit wish list?    Here’s a list of 13 amazing and unique products for all your witchy needs, from finding ghosts to connecting with your inner self.  Let the magic begin!

A Unique Wooden Box to Carry All The Sacred Things

DharmObjects/Amazon

Every bruja-in-training needs a special box to hold all of her sacred objects and witchy tools, especially a bruja on the go. Keep all of your stones, card decks, herbs, and more safe and sound in a box that is both beautiful and useful. Not only is this one easy on the eye with a Tree of Life design, but it’s also good for the planet; it’s hand-carved in India by skilled artisans from eco-sustainable mango wood as well as recycled wood. Next time you’re headed to a seance or moon circle, you won’t have to wonder where your favorite crystal or special feather went. Just pick up your bruja box and go!

This “Ghost-Detecting” Stone That Turns Red If A Ghost Appears Nearby

BAKETAN / Amazon.com

If you’re into the paranormal, consider this stone that supposedly picks up on paranormal activity.

Songs To Raise Your Vibration and Connect With Your Inner Goddess

Loli Cosmica/Amazon

What better way to connect with the universe–and yourself–than through sacred song? Hailing from the southern end of the American continent, Loli Cosmica has been sharing her sweet sounds with the world for quite some time. Songs like “Yo Soy Diosa” and “Sagrado Feminino” are perfect to share during your next women’s circle or even simply while singing in the shower. You’ll be sure to fall in love with her pure voice and sacred message. 

Do Like Beyonce and Channel Yoruba Goddess Oshun

Gifts by Lulee/Amazon

Beyonce doesn’t have to be the only goddess channeling the powers of Yoruba orisha, Oshun. With this bright yellow necklace, you can do your part to honor the water goddess of female sensuality, love, and fertility. She was known to be both benevolent and malevolent, prone to a hot temper that Beyonce leaned into as she smashed cars and stores in her video, “Hold Up.” It’s up to you to choose: which side of Oshun do you want to honor today

A Candle For Haters to Shut Up

Indio Products/Amazon

There’s a candle for every day of the week– and every possible occasion. Light this blood-red candle when you need protection against the haters–people who are trying to bring you down with vicious rumors and gossip. Indio products also have candles to help a bruja out if you’re looking for Fast Money or sweet loving with their Come to Me candle. These candles will burn for 120 hours–plenty of time to get rid of the negative juju and conjure up the good stuff. Once you get your hands on these energetic bombshells, the haters will never mess with you again!

Dispel Negativity and Ground Your Soul With These Spiritual Cleansing Concoctions

Art of the Root/Amazon

Are you feeling dragged down by negativity or sapped of energy? It’s time to create a new self-love ritual with Art of the Root’s Cleansing Pure and Natural Ritual Kit. The kit comes with a smoky quartz infused soy candle and all-natural roll-on perfume that will be sure to purify and revive. But the most exciting part of this kit is the luxurious bath tea bags that are chock-full of everything you need for a deep soul reboot: herbs, dead sea salt, and oatmeal. Next time your nerves are feeling frazzled, slide into a tub infused with one of these Pure & Natural tea bags and watch your worries wash away. 

Inspiration for the Salty Brujas In Your Life

Roxan McDonald/Amazon

Not all brujas have to be holier-than-thou. Roxan McDonald, of the hit Instagram account @spiritual_AF, created these “super-salty, ultra-inspiring” cards to help you make your life go from sh*tty to shiny in no time flat! With cards like “LOOK AT THE F***IN’ MOON”  and “DANCE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE CAN GO **** THEMSELVES,” they’re certainly not for the faint of heart. But behind the F-bombs, there are some true words of wisdom, with real-life advice like how to stop from participating in the toxic gossip mill. The deck even includes a stand for you to display your favorite profane phrases!

This Gemstone Pendant Has All Your Chakras Covered

JADENOVA/Amazon

Raise your vibration on the daily with this wearable healing crystal. With 7 layers of gemstones, each one corresponding to a specific chakra, you can emit positivity and stay connected to your energetic centers as you go about your daily life. Made from high-quality materials, this necklace can also be used in divination, dowsing, meditation, and Reiki. Make a fashion statement while feeling fantastic–no matter what life throws your way. 

Magnify Healing Vibrations With Lavender Dragon Mist

Moonwater Elixirs

We can all benefit from a refreshing spritz to purify the air of stagnating energy and bad vibes. Whether you’re looking for a boost during meditation or to clear negative energy from a physical space, Moonwater Elixirs can get you feeling positive, peaceful, and uplifted. Containing the master of all healing crystals, quartz, this mist is charged with moon magic as well as Reiki energy. Also available in other scents such as sandalwood and frankincense. 

Want to Know What Your Great-Grandmother Has Been Trying To Tell You?

Hasbro Gaming/ Amazon

You can’t be a real bruja if you haven’t tried communicating with the dead, and what better way than with the classic ouija board? You probably first learned about it in the classic teen movie, Now and Then, but you’re never too old to give it a try. Gather your coven and dare to ask the questions that have haunted you all of your life. There’s no need to fear–only to be open to what the spirits want to say. 

Find Out What It Really Means When a Black Cat Crosses Your Path

Kim Krans / Amazon

Have you ever wondered what it means to find a snake resting on your car windshield or unexpectedly spotting an owl in broad daylight? Have you always connected to dolphins but were never quite sure why? Well, Kim Krans can share the spiritual world of animals with this beautifully illustrated card deck. Find out what’s your spirit animal and which energy is associated with each creature. Receive guidance from the special creatures that surround you. You might be surprised to find that the animal kingdom with whom you share the world becomes more alive and instrumental in your spiritual practice. 

No Spiritual Practice is Complete Without A Special Journal For All Your Revelations, Incantations, and Speculations

KomalC / Amazon

Everyone with a spiritual practice needs a place to express their dreams, thoughts, revelations, and observations. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be to another person. Instead, we can roam across the blank page, completely free, and these gorgeous hand-crafted, ethically made leather journals are just the place. Perhaps you want to jot down a dream in the middle of the night or doodle a vision you had during a meditation. Keep your innermost thoughts safe in this old-fashioned journal, which comes with a handy strap to lock it all in. Take it with you on your journeys, whether those be of the mind or in the world.