Yule Cleansing Ritual

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Out With the Old

Yule is a time of new beginnings for many people -- get started by doing a physical cleansing of your personal space. Image by Kelly Hall/E+/Getty Images

About a month before Yule rolls in, start thinking about all the clutter you've accumulated over the past year. Got pants that are too small or too big? A Chia Pet that never grew? Dishes you hate to use, because they're just butt-ugly?

Get rid of them!

You're not obligated to keep things you don't like, don't need, or don't use, and the less physical clutter you have laying around, the easier it is to function on an emotional and spiritual level. After all, who can focus when they're constantly having to step over piles of unused junk?

If you're one of those people who feels bad about getting rid of stuff, donate it to a charity if it's still clean and in usable condition. Many organizations do coat and clothing drives this time of year; look for one in your area.

If you haven't worn it, used it, played with it, listened to it or eaten it in the past year, pitch it.

Everything in Its Place

Before you start decorating for Yule, you'll want to get things organized. If you're not organized yet, now's your chance to get there. Each member of the family should be responsible for their own belongings. Sort your belongings so they're in a place you can find them later, in a way that makes sense to you AND your family members.

If your home has a common area like a family room or kitchen that tends to attract clutter, get a basket for each person who lives there. Throw all their stuff in their basket -- the next time they go to their room, they can take all their stuff with them to put it away.

Do you get magazine subscriptions? Newspapers? Create a place that's a permanent home for them -- a basket in the bathroom, a drawer in the kitchen, wherever people read. Then get into the habit of only keeping the last two issues of each. Recycle the old ones as new ones come in.

Remember, the floor is not a storage place. If you can't get something put away, get rid of it.

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Let the Sun Shine In

Clean up your windows to let the winter sunshine in. Image by Oleg Prikhodko/E+/Getty Images

Clean your windows. You'd be amazed what a good window washing can do for your house, to say nothing of the way you feel. Mix a cup of vinegar with a gallon of warm water and spray down your windows, inside and out. Wipe them off with old newspapers. If you can't stand the smell of vinegar, toss some lemon verbena or lemon balm in the mixture.

If you have curtains, take them down and launder them. Throw a bit of dried herb, such as sage or rosemary, into a cloth baggie and add them to the rinse cycle.

If your windows have mini-blinds, dust them and wipe them down. If it's warm enough outside, take them outdoors and spray them with your garden hose. Let them dry completely before hanging them back in.

While you're cleaning the windows, do your mirrors too, using the same mixture as above. As you see your reflection in the mirror, visualize cleaning away negative energy from your life.

Suck Up the Bad Stuff

If you have carpets and rugs, sprinkle them with baking soda and give them a good hearty vacuuming. Make sure you move the furniture around and clean beneath each piece -- it's time to get all the yuck out of your house, and dustbunnies are notorious for getting in the corners under the couch. If you have an extender on your vacuum cleaner, use it to suck up cobwebs and dust from the ceiling fans, baseboards, and other hard-to-reach spots.

Use a broom to sweep out any little bits of dirt and grime -- it's also a symbolic way of sweeping negative energy out of your home.

If you've got a filter on your home's heating system, now's a good time to replace it with a new, fresh one.

Do you have hardwood floors instead of carpet? Use an environmentally-friendly cleaner to get rid of dirt and grime. Clean baseboards and other woodwork.

Get your bathroom clean. It's a place in our house we try not to think about unless we're using it, but there are few things more impressive than a clean bathroom. Scrub toilets, wipe down countertops, and spray out your bathtub.

Smudging for the Season

Once you've got the physical stuff done, now it's time to focus on the fun part. Smudge your home with one of the following:

You can also blend your favorite herbs into these simple Yule smudge sticks.

To do a smudging, start at your front door with your incense or smudge stick in a censer or bowl. Move the incense around each door and window, and go through each room, following along the lines of the walls. If you have multiple levels, continue up and down stairs as needed. Some people like to add a small incantation to the process, like this one:

Yule is here, and I smudge this place,
Fresh and clean, in time and space.
Sage and sweetgrass, burning free,
as the sun returns, so it shall be.

Once you've completed the smudging, sit back and enjoy the positive energy that comes with having a clean physical space.