Updated: Apr 6
A bit of a detour from notes this week to talk about something that is actually quite relevant during a pandemic.
I believe that what people classify as demons, evil spirits, bad energy, etc. is often germs. Bacteria and viruses are invisible (to the human eye) entities that can have incredibly negative effects on people and animals. They’re kept at bay with salt, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic… things that have historically been used to spiritually cleanse.
Personally, I find it fascinating how much our ancestors got right even without all of our scientific advancements. Rubbing salt into your meat would prevent spoilage because it was keeping spirits/bacteria at bay. Ritual washing of the body would kill germs/demons that might otherwise make a person sick. Even burning herb bundles makes sense; sufficient heat can kill bacteria.
And please don’t take this as me saying that spirits aren’t real or that our ancestors were kooky wackjobs; that’s not it at all. I think of it the other way. (At least some) evil spirits are bacteria because bacteria are evil spirits.
I admit that I haven’t ironed out the specifics, but I think one possibility is reincarnation. Let’s say you’re a bad person in this life, so you come back as a “lower” life form. Bacteria would be a perfect fit for your next life, wouldn’t it? It could also be that bacteria and viruses are literally a type of spirit. We have all these shows chasing ghosts/demons, but maybe we’ve already found some and we haven’t even realized it.
So... it’s not as fancy as some methods of cleansing, but hear me out: disinfectant spray. It even comes in some scents that are considered more "magical" for cleansing, like lemon. It's pretty widely accepted that a cleansed home needs to first be a clean home, so it really makes a lot of sense to me.
(Also, disinfectant spray is much less suspicious than burning sage, for anyone who's not open about their spirituality, so that's a bonus. It also won't be such a fire risk!)
I know that a lot of us want the witchy aesthetic and the historically accurate magical practice, but I think it's also important to change our methods with the times. Garlic and vinegar will kill some things, but bacteria and viruses have evolved significantly over time and continue to do so. Our spiritual practices need to evolve, too. We can be magical and scientific at the same time. They really aren't too different when you look at it from the right perspective.
I would love to hear thoughts on this, if anyone has any to share.