Candles, crystals, plants, and incense: These are a few of the things that fill vintage seller Lala Lopez’s tranquil Queens apartment. Her home, after all, is her sacred space: It’s the place where she finds peace and recharges.
“I had lived on my own before, but this was my first adult apartment,” she says. “I just want to walk in and feel like it’s a sanctuary. I’m a sensitive person. Things—outside environments, interactions with people—can have a heavy effect on me, so I wanted my home to be peaceful.”
After painting her walls a refreshing pale blue, she layered in color, trinkets, plants, and more in a nesting effort that amplified her personal history. “A lot of my decor is really based on my love for Puerto Rico, where my family is from,” she adds. “If you go into Old San Juan, you’ll see all these pastel buildings; even in small, rural towns, everything is painted in beautiful muted colors, and the natural world is all around you. I wanted to find a way to bring that into my space.”
As for creating and maintaining a sacred, serene atmosphere, Lopez turns to ritual, which can be an act as simple as burning sage around herself to combat negative energy to something slightly more involved, like a candle ceremony. Using spiritual objects around her home on a regular basis, this creative maintains a living space where she can fully recharge, get in touch with herself, and practice manifestation.
While Lopez has developed her own practices based on her spirituality, personal needs, goals, and desires, she notes that ritual can be beneficial for everyone, but what kinds of rituals will vary from person to person.
“We brush our teeth every day. We wash our face. We get dressed. Those are rituals in and of themselves. Anything can be a ritual if it’s done with intention,” she says. “Start to see what kinds of things you gravitate toward and then find out more about them and what makes them special, whether it be a crystal or a particular type of incense. Do a little bit more research and bring those things into your home, and then, once you have a few, start using them in rituals.”
It’s important, Lopez mentions, to educate yourself on the spiritual items that you might bring into your home to properly understand and utilize them. With a bit of research and self-reflection, you might just find the best rituals that can help you keep negative energy out of your home. For now, though, Lopez shares the sacred objects that she uses around her home.
Sage Sticks and Palo Santo
“An everyday ritual that I do all the time is taking a piece of palo santo or taking a piece of sage, lighting it and saging myself to get rid of all the negative energy that I’ve encountered throughout the day,” she says. “This ritual releases all of that energy.”
The sage that Lopez uses is the product of her own creative collaboration. “I worked with a floral smudge-maker in Arizona—her name is Taylor and her shop is called The Flower Child Bruja,” she says. “We worked together to create three different types of floral sages, based on the intentions we wanted to bring forth with each of them. We just really wanted to cultivate divine feminine energy and to be able to offer that to people who felt they were connected to it.”
“Candle work is my primary form of ritual,” Lopez says. “I’ve collected so many candlesticks and antiques and bowls and dishes and all these [secondhand] things that have their own energy because they’d been pre-loved. Bringing them into this one space always feels really, really good because it’s deep spiritual work. You’re taking all these ingredients—herbs, candles, incense, whatever they may be—to represent elements of the earth. Then, when I light a candle, that brings in fire. Sometimes I’ll also have a bowl of water with herbs that I put in as an offering to whichever goddess or saint that I might be working with at the time.”
Of course, if you want to try a candle ritual for yourself, you don’t necessarily have to follow a specific order or use specific ingredients: Consider what’s important to you, do a little research and above all, do any ritual with an intention in mind. “All these things are really about intentionality,” Lopez adds. “I’m doing this spiritual work with my own hands and allowing it to manifest outward.”
“I love incense when I am doing things around the house. When I’ve just come in from a long day outside, I light it immediately,” Lopez says. “It helps me get into a meditative space and slow down. Everything might have been happening outside in the external world, but now you’re able to focus inward.”
The kind of incense you choose to burn in your home is largely up to personal preference, but you might consider using different blends for everyday burning versus ritual burning. “I particularly love Nag Champa, which is a classic, and Norden has a lot of great incense—I love Ojai,” Lopez adds. “There are two others that are really the best for spiritual practice because they really do put you in a meditative place. I love Teomati, which is a company that hand-makes everything. It’s basically the resin of copal. I also love Espiritus del Andes. Those are the ones I use for rituals and ceremonies.”
“I like to consider Florida Water almost like a liquid form of sage,” Lopez notes. “It has the same energetic cleansing properties that smudging would without the process of burning the sacred plant.” She uses the citrus- and floral-scented spiritual potion for multiple functions—in floor-cleaning rituals, on her hands and body, and on the secondhand clothing she sells through her shop, Mothball Memoirs.
“It has essential oils and fragrance in its classic formula that’s been around since 1808,” Lopez adds. “It’s been referenced in Gone with the Wind, in Solange’s new album and used by shamans in sacred ritual. It’s another great tool to help clean your energy and vibrate at a higher frequency.”
Scattered around Lopez’s home, you’ll find plenty of crystals, but she does have her favorites. “I really love working with rose quartz, especially for self-love rituals when I’m trying to be more compassionate for myself and for the people around me,” she says. When surrounded by clear quartz, a large piece of rose quartz can feel more powerful.
“Obviously crystals are beautiful, but they serve so many different purposes. They can be used for manifestations and energy work and they’re great decorations as well,” Lopez notes. “I do think sometimes people have this misconception that crystals are going to change their lives, but that’s not how it works.” With crystals, as with any ritual, intention is key. It all starts from within.
See more ways to cleanse your home’s energy:
Should You Add Crystals to Your Post-Kondo’d Home?
How to Give Your Space Good Vibes in 2019, According to an Energy Healer
This Design Advice Will Make You Feel Good 24-7