Initially published in 1982, Spiritual Cleansing: A Handbook of Psychic Protection, is being billed as a classic but is it still relevant? This printing appears to be without any updates to content. It’s a product of its time. Some choices of words and ingredients may shock readers. Draja Mickaharic was ahead of the times publishing this eclectic and multi-culturally influenced magic guide in the early ‘80’s. These magical remedies come from a variety of cultural and spiritual traditions, notably from Eastern European, American folk magic and Caribbean traditions. Readers interested in the historical emergence and prominence of occult ideas can get a sense of the 1980s NY magic scene.
Spiritual Cleansing was aimed at an audience who wasn’t initiated into or well versed in magical practices but who nonetheless had issues they felt warranted a magical solution. As such, the methods to resolve issues use common ingredients and are easy enough for most people to do. It is assumed that the reader probably comes from one of the major religions. Christianity, Judaism and Islam are mentioned as well as African Traditional Religions in the text. Biblical verses are listed at the end of the book. The author is clearly familiar with and aware of the occult community but believes that the reader is not and furthermore isn’t interested in learning about more than what will help their present predicament.
Old fashioned language referring to individuals as invalids, magical treatment for someone suffering from hysteria and use of volatile chemicals make this clearly a throwback to another era. Readers should be warned to investigate unfamiliar ingredients before use. Bad vibe floor wash uses creosote oil which is a distillation of tar from coal used typically as a wood preservative and pesticide. Back in the 1970s, pesticides were used in the home in manners that today would be considered dangerous. While a few such practices are not recommended anymore, others such as spiritual baths, incenses and floor washes are better known and more popular than ever.
The remedies for spiritual ills come from Old World ideas about the evil eye, ATRs, American Southern hoodoo, Spiritualist and New Age concepts that all would have been rubbing elbows in the streets of New York City where the author lived. Topics covered include protection from the evil eye, protection while asleep, psychic attacks, psychic vampires, psychic intrusions, calming a space after dissension and stress, calming a stressed person, spiritual cleansing with eggs, incense, holy water and spiritual baths and feeding the head. The end of the book devotes a chapter to finding a spiritual practitioner. The advice on finding a teacher is still valid today.
Due to the use of acetone, turpentine, moth balls and creosote, I would keep this book, like the chemicals, out of the reach of children. Like any book published decades ago, some ideas and language used may be out of sync with current culture but much is ever as it was. This book will appeal most to those interested in vintage magic books.
~review by Larissa Carlson
Author: Draja Mickaharic
Weiser Books, 2022, originally published in 1982
144 pages, $16.95