A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.
Cleansing, consecrating, and charging—I call them “the three Cs”—are mentioned quite often in the Wiccan community. A lot of books will tell you to do one, two, or all three of them to your tools, altar, spell components, herbs, crystals, jewelry . . . the list goes on.
But have you ever given serious thought to what each of these practices means? When these terms are new to you and all the books you read are throwing them at you left and right, things can get a little muddy. I invite you to grab yourself a cup of tea and sit with me a while so we can break them down to their basics. Let’s take a look at the meaning each of the three Cs, discuss their purposes, and learn how they are done.
The 3 Cs in a Nutshell
To Purify Spiritually
To Dedicate as Sacred
To Imbue With Power
The 1st C: Cleansing
Cleansing an item is essentially what it sounds like—cleaning it. The difference is that you’re not cleaning it on a physical level (though you can certainly do that first). What you’re attempting to do is clean it on a spiritual level—an energetic level.
Cleansing disassociates items with their past vibrations. While sitting in a factory or store, being handled, being transported, or sitting on a shelf in your room gathering dust, items pick up various bits of energy. Before using an item, you'll want to wipe its vibrational slate clean, so to speak, in order to attune it with your own energies (or those conducive to your goal). There are several ways to cleanse an object.
Common Cleansing Methods
- Burn a cleansing incense like sage and run the object through its smoke.
- Bury the object in the earth for a while (or in a bowl of salt/dirt/cornmeal).
- Soak the object in saltwater (or sprinkle/spray it).
- Hold the object under running water for a while.
- Wave the object over a candle flame or place it inside a fire.
- Sweep away the object's negativity with a besom (a blessed broom).
Be practical about the cleansing process—you probably wouldn't want to soak metal in saltwater overnight, as it might rust. Similarly, you wouldn't want to put a fabric pouch of herbs anywhere near a fire. Use your judgment. It’s good to get into the practice of cleansing new tools or items before using them for spiritual purposes. It's also a good idea to occasionally cleanse jewelry, crystals, divination aids, and altar tools, especially if they’ve been used a lot or have been sitting unused for a while.
Sandalwood is a great cleansing incense. Morning Star is my favorite brand. They are very high quality, and they last forever—I bought a box once and it lasted almost a year because once I burned one stick, the scent lingered all day.
The 2nd C: Consecrating
To consecrate an object is to make it sacred through some minor rite or act of blessing. I only do this to the main ritual tools I use in my circle. For almost everything else, I find that just cleansing is enough. There are a number of ways to consecrate an item.
Common Consecration Methods
- Say a prayer over your tool/object and dedicate its use to your Gods.
- If you keep oils that are cleansed, charged, and consecrated, you can anoint objects with those oils.
- If you work a lot with the four elements, you may wish to consecrate an item using Air, Earth, Fire, and Water in a ritual. One way to do this is to run the object through incense smoke, sprinkle some salt on it, pass it over a flame, and sprinkle some water on it.
You can consecrate anything—your tools, your jewelry, or even the ground on which you hold your rituals. But do remember this: once consecrated, an item is sacred and should be treated as such.
The 3rd C: Charging
To charge something is to empower it with energy. In some cases, this simply means imbuing an item with positive energy, while in other cases, it means charging an item so that its energies are aligned with some specific purpose. For example, in candle magic, I always charge the candle I use to align it with the purpose of the spell I wish to perform. Charging requires raising a bit of energy and directing it into an object. Once again, the method you choose may depend on your preferences or on the item you’re charging.
Common Charging Methods
- Rub candles with oil repeatedly (if doing candle magic).
- Dance, chant, and meditate to raise power, then pour that energy into the object you wish to charge.
- Put the object out under the sun all day to charge it with solar power.*
- Put the object out under the full moon all night to charge it with lunar power.*
- Use the energy you have accumulated in your tools to charge the object.**
- Lay the object on a healthy crystal for several days so that it absorbs some of the crystal's energy.
Like consecrating, charging isn’t always necessary. For example, I don't charge all of the jewelry I wear. In fact, most of it I just cleanse. If I use a piece primarily for a ritual, I cleanse and consecrate it. If I want to use it as an amulet or a talisman, I charge it as well.
*The sun, moon, and crystals can cleanse and charge an item at the same time.
**When you finish a ritual and draw up the circle, ground, etc., it’s a good idea to pour most of that residual energy into your tools—your athame, your pentacle, your wand, etc. This keeps them charged and ready to use, and it also empowers them so that they can be used to charge other items.
Go Forth and Practice
When and why you choose to use one, two, or all three Cs is up to you. But it’s good to know what they are, be familiar with their purposes, and know how to do them. You’ll find that when all relevant energies are aligned and operating in harmony, particularly during a ritual, your experience will be greatly enhanced. Now, go cleanse, consecrate, and charge your heart out!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on September 24, 2020:
If it's water-proof, just clean it with the water like you would rinse it with any other kind of water. You could even soak the item in the water if it won't hurt the item. Alternatively, a little sprinkle will do if your item is not waterproof, like if it's paper or something.
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on September 24, 2020:
You could put it in the sun, burn candles over it, shake it or just charge it by pouring energy into it through your hands or wand or athame (whatever tools you have).
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on September 24, 2020:
That is one option; but at the same time you could just cleanse your old tools and supplies and rededicate them for a fresh start. Really it's up to you and how much baggage you think your items carry. Congrats on life settling down on a good path.
Golden Tree on July 01, 2020:
How do I cleanse an object with sunwater?
Kenneth on June 24, 2020:
What would I do to recharge the energy in a jar spell?
astone421 on June 11, 2020:
I was wondering if perhaps I should go about obtaining new altar items. The reason I am pondering this is that I have had a lot of negativity in my life previously, and much of my spellwork was driven by that energy. Now, life has calmed and is good, I have a new home, a new relationship. new job and even a new child. I do not wish to reintroduce any of that old energy into my new life. I just acquired a new altar and thought it might be worthwhile to just start over. Any thoughts?
David Brimson on April 16, 2020:
So helpful and giving clarity to some basic actions at our outset on our individual paths
Adelaida on December 22, 2019:
I would like to learn how to protect myself spiritually, mentally, emoitionally and pyschically. I would also like to learn how to cleanse my envirment. My home. I need to learn how to be grounded. I'm like a sponge I was told. I was also told that I am a medium. I am constinely afraid. I have a mental illness and suffer from depression and anxity and paranoia. I would like to learn how I can learn to help myself with magical herbs. I do not reallly want to learn about spells.
Rachel Knight on September 21, 2019:
I loved the info I loved the YouTube video attached on how to sonically charge your crystals. I believe that since they come from the earth that the earth should cleanse them. The earth made them a bit of Earth to please them is nice. Maybe also before charging them take them to a flowing Brook or stream and reach down to the bottom and let them touch the mineral mud at the bottom.
Aurora on September 10, 2019:
Extremely informative and super helpful, but I do have a question: Is it possible to Cleanse and Charge things at the same time? Like, if I put my candle in some salt (in a jar) to cleanse while I'm at work, but it's also really sunny so I put it on the windowsill and let it charge at the same time, would that work??
Jack on November 27, 2018:
Thank you for your post.
One question: if I use salt to "clean" my item, then what I have to do with the salt?
Can I use the salt again or have I to throw it away?
Doug on October 10, 2018:
I am brand new to this. How do I know what Gods to pray to? How do I know who my Gods are?
Skylance on August 13, 2018:
You had me at "be practical about it". Too many sources for beginners forget that part.
FreeYourMindXII on July 05, 2018:
Hi Mackenzie, I'm very new at this, and recently I bought a talisman and wanted to charge it with protection. I have a better understanding of charging items after reading your article, but when it comes to protection, should I invoke anyone specific, or say certain things in the spell? Is writing your own spells the best route? Thanks!
Elena Tagini on June 13, 2018:
And so my journey begins...
William A on June 04, 2018:
hi i was wondering if i would need to cast a circle before charging an item. i have a bundle of dried clovers im going to charge for protection purposes.
Autumn White1 on May 13, 2018:
Hi Mackenzie, I was wondering does it absolutely need to be a full moon to charge items? Would any other moon phases work as well? Also does it have to be all night or is there a minimum time frame. I ask this because it's hard to leave things charging outside where I live
without nosy neighbors poking around and touching my things. Sadly moonlight really doesn't come in through any of my windows or I would put things there.Thanks for your insight! I think your awesome!
Jensen on May 10, 2018:
Hi Sage, i did a binding spell and braided yarns. Tied it around my wrist. However, i didnt know i had to clease my store bought yarn before doing the binding. Is it too late to cleanse it? Can i do another binding spell for the same intent? Im afraid it might cancel each other out..
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on April 17, 2018:
Hi Maddy; through visualization. That's what the meditation & training is for.
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on April 17, 2018:
You're welcome, thanks for commenting!
Maddy on April 15, 2018:
I have a question...how do I pour my energy into the crystal?
Kelso on April 15, 2018:
Thanks for this information, Sage.....
Shara on March 09, 2018:
Is it okay to charge with both sun and moon? Or just 1?
Witch bitch on January 04, 2018:
When I was writing in my book of shadows I was wondering if you could charge amulets, wands etc to have a specific purpose like a herbal amulat
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on October 31, 2017:
You can do it again if you like, but there is no one verse only that allows you to do this. If you feel comfortable with the first time you did it and the verse you use, it'll be fine. If it makes you uncomfortable and worried, then you might do it again to put your mind at ease.
Thank you, hope that helps!
Deborreh on October 28, 2017:
I consecrated an object but use the wrong verse do I have to reconscerate the object again?
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on August 28, 2017:
Hi Ms.Moseille; oh, how terrible. Wow, and paper too. Just being shaped like a knife, crazy they would take that away.
It's always heartbreaking to lose our beloved tools, I don't personally believe it causes us any bad luck. I wouldn't worry about it on that level. Hopefully the loss of one thing will open the way to something new.
Hope that helps!
Gonzalez Rita on August 25, 2017:
msmoseille on August 17, 2017:
Hi, i have a question please! last year while i was travelling by air. My athame was taken at Dubai airport ( it was not a knife, it was a very beautiful handcrafted paper knife made out of clay). Just coz it was shaped like that they took it. I travelled half heartedly after as I used it in most of my rituals. do you think its bad luck to lose athame like that :((( i really miss it :( it was with me for 8 years :((
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on May 05, 2017:
Wolves Forge on March 03, 2017:
Wonderful article Mackenzie it clears up some questions I had as I am new to the craft and beginning my journey and learning from many different sources. I am in the middle of setting up our alter and this will help me get it done and feel better about the process. Thank you and many blessings.
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on January 24, 2017:
You're welcome Erin, and thank you so much for your feedback! I'm glad to have helped.
Tammy McMillan on January 24, 2017:
I like your article, and look forward to reading and learning more .thanks,tammy
erin on January 19, 2017:
hey, I'd like to thank you for this article. I have been doing this for a while and understood all three of the c's however I did not know all the options or ways to perform them individually so I really appreciate how you broke it down and kept it brief and uncomplicated yet extremely effective and understanding. you were right in saying that all the books and available information on these things can confuse the **** out of me! lol when meanwhile the message is not that complicated. so, thanks again. i'm new to this site but will follow you and look into more of your posts.. thanks again:)
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on January 17, 2017:
Do some research for sure, esp. with crystals, minerals, gemstones and which way to charge them. Some would be harmed by sunlight, some by water, some by salt, etc... so whenever you get a new kind with which you're unfamiliar it's best to do research on basic care.
suzy on December 16, 2016:
Loved yr article. Im just starting to practice skrying i hv a lead crystal ball and charge it once a month at the time of the full moon i was told that sunlight will actually ruin the ball, how do i kno which crystals can b harmed by sunlight and which ones r ok to sun charge? My crystal/stone collection is getting quite large now
Xavier DAH from Utah on October 24, 2016:
i made an account and im sure ill be back on when ever i need help with somthing thanks again
DarkDAH on October 24, 2016:
hi im just starting and all this really helped
my grandmother is a witch but she isnt able to help me
you sure know your stuff
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on September 26, 2016:
Hi White Wolf;
For me, I do not use the Sun or Moon to consecrate items; for me that is a ritual act-- the bestowing of a blessing, deliberately and with specific intent. This is certainly a personal preference though. Thanks for your comment and for bringing a different perspective!
White wolf on September 16, 2016:
Liked your article only one thing was wrong. That was the sun, moon, and crystals they can do all three, not just two.
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 17, 2015:
Hi Avery, glad to be of help! Thanks for commenting!
Avery on November 09, 2015:
Thanks for this! It really helped! Now I can do it to my altar!
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on October 26, 2015:
Thanks so much, Kristin. I appreciate your comment!
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on October 14, 2015:
Mackenzie, this was an insightful hub about the three C's in Wicca. Thanks for sharing.
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on June 16, 2015:
Great Ms Lizzy, glad it was what you were looking for!
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on June 15, 2015:
Thanks very much for the referral to this article. Now I know what to do to clear my new pendant, as well as my pretty new blue crystal, and a few clear ones that have been rather just sitting about...
Voted up ++
Jacki on November 04, 2014:
This was so helpful!!
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on August 17, 2013:
Thanks Nell Rose, I'm glad I could inspire you! I go through my periods where formal rituals kind of fall by the wayside-- life gets crazy. It always takes a push for myself to get back into them but I'm always happy that I did. Appreciate your comment!
Nell Rose from England on August 16, 2013:
Hiya, this was great reading, and reminded me of how I used to do all the rituals, I admit to not doing any for a few years. Its something I have let slip again, now I will get straight back to it, thanks!
Forgot to say, yes I was a practising witch/pagan! lol!