Friday, August 1, 2014

Ritual Bath

snap3_gallery__600x400.jpgRitual purification is a feature of many religions.  The aim of these rituals is to remove specifically defined uncleanliness prior to a particular type of activity, and especially prior to the worship of a deity.  This ritual uncleanliness is not identical with ordinary physical impurity, such as dirt stains; nevertheless, body fluids are generally considered ritually unclean.

An important part of ritual purification in Hinduism is the bathing of the entire body, particularly in rivers considered holy such as the Ganges.  Hindu women also take a head bath after completing their 4 day menstrual period.  In the Baha'i Faith, ritual ablutions (the washing of the hands and face) should be done before the saying of the obligatory prayers.  It was also the tradition for Christians to wash before entering the church for worship.

There are also accounts from the Anglo-Saxons that the Vikings who settled in England were considered to be ‘clean-freaks’, because they would bath once a week.  This was at a time when an Anglo-Saxon would only bath once or twice a year.  In fact the original meaning of Scandinavian words for Saturday (laurdag) was ‘Washing Day’.

In Norse culture, a bride's preparations was a visit to the bath-house, the Scandinavian equivalent of the Finnish sauna, which featured wooden tubs of water, soap for cleansing, and a steam room.  The symbolism of the steam bath included both the "washing away" of the bride's maiden status and a purification to prepare her for the religious ritual that would follow the next day.  The final step of the steam-bath, a plunge into cool or cold water to cool the bather and close the pores, completed the cleansing.  The rinse water might be further associated with the wedding ritual by having herbs, flowers or oils added to it, not only to scent the water but also to add magical potency to the cleansing rite via the supposed aphrodisiac and fertility - encouraging powers associated with such additives.

Preparing for a ritual includes clearing ourselves of our mundane thoughts and stresses before we begin any devotion, magic, or other spiritual practice.  Grounding, centering, and smudging are all popular ways of doing this.  A ritual bath is also a powerful component to add to this clearing of daily stress before your rite.

The art of a spiritual bath uses symbolism to embrace the four elements that support us all, and are the mainstay of any esoteric practice: Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  Earth (salt and herbs) gives us support and growth, it is the practical element without which we would never be able to reach out and find the spiritual as we always need to keep our feet on the ground.  Air (incense and music) aids our communication and relates to our intellectual abilities.  Fire (candle and incense) is the spark of imagination as well as the passion and enthusiasm with which we live our lives as modern goddesses.  Water (bath) is the healing element, which embraces and encourages our emotions and feelings.

Whut.jpgAlthough ritual baths can sometimes help alleviate certain physical ailments (skin conditions or muscle soreness), they are meant for spiritual healing and purification, not physical healing.  So if you have a physical illness, please see your doctor for treatment.  Also, if you have open wounds or have just had surgery, do not immerse the wounded area in water.  You must keep the incision dry and covered.

A bathing ritual can be as simple or elaborate as you want to make it.  When you immerse yourself in a ritual bath, you are participating in an initiation to open yourself up to Spirit.  Ritual bathing implies that water and prayer wash away any spiritual grime — cleansing and purifying your body and your aura.  It suggests that you are willing to listen to your higher self and begin to trust something outside of your rational mind.  It indicates that you are open to ask the universe to transform what you believe needs to be changed in yourself.


Clean the bathtub before filling the tub with water.  You may wish to light some candles.  Put in a CD of your favorite instrumental music or of natural sounds.  You may also want to light some incense, if there's a particular scent you find soothing or inspiring.  Fill the bathtub about half full of lukewarm or cool water and mix the ingredients in the water.  Ingredients could be Epsom salt, herbs, minerals, oil or soaps.  The best way to do this is to tie herbs into a cheese cloth or bag and hang it on the faucet so that the warm bathwater runs through it into the tub.  Use and listen to what you want, it's really a matter of what relaxes you best.

Bath salts such as Epsom or Dead Sea salt not only draw out physical impurities, they provide a connection between your bath and the sea.  This could be especially meaningful depending on your rite - for instance, say a devotional ritual for an oceanic deity.

Ritual soaps made for specific purposes are sold from large metaphysical supply companies and individuals who make them by hand.  While not necessary, using these soaps is another way to help you focus your intention for the rite.

Herbs, flowers or essential oils make excellent additions to the bath.  Lavender is a good all-purpose oil to have on hand for relaxation and purification.  Sage, rosemary and bay leaves are herbs stocked in most cupboards.  They are good for purification and protection.  Fragrant flower petals such as roses if you have them can be used.

Rose-petal-bath-with-wine.jpgImmerse yourself totally from head to foot and use a washcloth or a clean glass and keep cleansing yourself with water.  Stay in the bath for at least 6 to 8 minutes.  Try to clear your mind completely.  Pray for the release of any energy that you no longer wish to carry or that is not for your highest good.  Ask for spiritual support and to raise your spiritual vibration.  Or just try a type of mediation, such as visualizing or cleansing.  For the best results, air dry when you get out of the bath.  After you've gotten out of the water, release the plug so that all the negativity absorbed by the water can be drained away.


If you only have a shower stall or if you just don't have time for a long bath - you can do this cleansing rite as a shower.  Hang the cloth bag of herbs over the showerhead, so that the herbal water runs over your body while you shower.

Close by thanking the Divines and clean the bath when done.


Blessed be my mind, that learns of Your ways
Blessed be my eyes, that have seen this day.
Blessed be my lips, that utter Your names and keep Your secrets.
Blessed be my breasts, formed in strength (beauty).
Blessed be the phallus (womb), for without which I would not be.
Blessed be my knees, that shall kneel at thy Sacred Altar.
Blessed be my feet, that have brought me in these ways.


Please be cautious to have the electronics far away from any water or candle flames away from flammable items.  Always use caution when working with fire and partial drowning hazards.




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