Two new pendents I just acquired. One is jade and the other citrine.

Stress is an unfortunate reality of life. Some people go through periods of it while others carry it around with them all the time. I have a naturally nervous disposition, and despite my best efforts, even the smallest things will set my nerves on edge. I carry my worry in my stomach, and everyone knows how horrible a tummy ache with acid is. So we develop coping mechanisms. We pulverize stress balls, take bubble baths, take a run or go on vacation. I go to my stones.

I’ve always felt drawn to things made of the earth and have collected rocks since I was a child. The first time I went to one of Lake Michigan’s beaches, I came away with pockets full of rocks. There’s something about them that speaks to me; I have to touch, to feel their energy coursing through my fingertips.

But stones, like anything that has contact with people, can only handle so much. Stones attract and hold energy, and it’s important to cleanse them of the negative regularly, especially after periods of stress where you’ve relied heavily on them to draw that energy away from you. It’s also a good idea to cleanse new stones you’ve just gotten. By cleansing, you’re returning the stone to its natural, pure state, thereby protecting the stone and ensuring its effectiveness for you. By empowering, you’re fusing the stone with energies you intent to draw on slowly over time. Here are a number of ways to do both.

Sea salt is a traditional cleanser, a psychic disinfectant if you will. It’s good to use on a new stone you’ve just acquired, and then later when you need to cleanse it again, you can use a method more suited to your tastes. Either lay the stone in a bowl of sea salt, or mix a tablespoon into a glass of cold distilled water. Never use plastic or metal container though, as these will poison the salt. Leave the stone overnight. Check it in the morning, and don’t be afraid of leaving it longer if you still feel negative energies attached to it. Two notes here—table salt should not be used in substitute because it has chemicals that can erode stones. Also stones like amber, turquoise and opal are soft and should not be cleaned in this way at all.

Moonlight and sunlight are also good cleansers. Decide first is you would rather cleanse and empower the stone with the moonlight or sunlight, then find a safe place outside to lay the stone out. If you’ve chosen moonlight, be careful of the phase. Full moons are good for establishing a wishing stone, whereas a new moon stone would be better for new beginnings and new goals. Waning moons are also good for dispelling negativity. If you choose to empower the stone with sunlight, be aware that some stones will fade or crack in direct sunlight, so I would recommend finding a shady spot and not leaving it out for long. Citrine, amethyst and rose quartz are three stones that will fade if left in direct sunlight.

Herb baths function much the same as the sea salt, but are gentler and take longer. Fill a glass container, maybe an old candle jar, with herbs like rose petals, sage, frankincense and sandalwood and place the stone in the middle. This way, the stone can be kept inside in a safe location, though it should be sitting out where the moving air currents and the shifting sunlight and moonlight will still touch it occasionally.

Burying stones in the earth is another way to cleanse them, and this is a good method when you feel a deeper cleansing is in order. Simply dig a small hole for the stone or necklace and cover it back up with the soil. Don’t forget to mark the spot so you can find it later though! Personally, I like to place my stones at the base of a tree, and if it’s fall, I cover the spot with leaves. For those without backyards, a pot will work just as well, and you can also substitute earth with sand, though I wouldn’t suggest sand for stones that are polished.

You can cleanse a stone with sound as well. If you have a tuning fork, a gong or a bell simply direct the vibrations of the instrument toward the stone you wish to cleanse. This knocks the negativity off the stone and essentially re-sets its natural vibrations. You’ll want to do this in a quiet place, either a room with the door closed or out in the woods. Place the stone on a clean cloth (I would choose one of your favorite color, a color associated with the stone or coordinated with what you intend to use the stone for) before tuning it.

Smudging a stone with burning cedar or sage is quicker, but more temporary method. Simply pass the stone through the smoke of the burning stick several times. This won’t empower the stone, and is really only a temporary fix for negative energies attached to it, but is a good method if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time for a more involved method. Another quickie is to run the stone under cold tap water and envision is becoming sparkly, clean and refreshed. Never use warm or hot water for this though, as it can cause little fractures. A third quick method is to simply—CAREFULLY—run the stone through a flame.

Quartz is often used to absorb negative energy, so you can actually use it to cleanse other stones as well. You will need a good sized clear cluster to purify smaller stones. Simply place the stones together (they don’t need to touch) in a secluded place where they will not be disturbed, and leave them for several days. How long they stay is completely up to you.

Cleansing in a creek is my favorite method, though it won’t be possible for everyone. The creek should be fairly clean, so any that are in close proximity to a city won’t work. There doesn’t have to be a whole lot of rushing water, either, so if you know of a creek that still flows even when it hasn’t rained recently, you’re all set. Simply go to the water’s edge and hold the stone in the water for several minutes. Run your fingers over it, imagine it’s been caked with mud and you are carefully peeling away all the dirt to reveal the beautiful stone underneath. I hum while I’m doing this, and between that and the sounds of the woods all around, it’s a really awesome experience.

As with anything, you want to research your particular stone before cleansing it as some of the methods listed above will damage certain kinds of stones. Also, be aware that a polished stone should be treated more gently than an unpolished one so as not to scratch it. There are gemstone books out there that detail stone properties and how they should and should not be treated. I would recommend the book I use, but somehow it managed to stay back home when I moved and I can’t remember the title or author. So if anyone has any suggestions, let me know!