I decided to do this post on ritual bathing, and apparently the thought was going around because I see that Rowan posted something about it in the newsletter and so I wondered whether to continue with the topic or not but decided since I had it all planned out to just go for it, so here it is.
We often hear a lot about ritual bathing, especially in Wicca 101 books etc. These often go into elaborate detail about setting up the bath just right with candles and herbs and music etc, but let’s face it a lot of us don’t have the time, facilities or inclination to partake in an elaborate bathing routine before we begin ritual, it’s a nice concept in theory but in practice we have to modify it for the real world. (As I find we do for most of the things involved in adapting our craft). I’m not discarding the rich history around ritual bathing – I am a historian after all, but rather I acknowledge that we can and should adapt our beliefs to reflect our times and ourselves as well as their own traditions.
Many modern homes do not even include a bath tub in their structure, or those they do are so shallow or small that the thought of trying to relax into one is hard to summon. We also have various climates during the year that make the thought of soaking one’s body in a steaming tub of water when it is already 100+ out highly unappealing. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t ritually bathe ourselves before we begin out work. Here are a few ideas.
Firstly, and perhaps obviously – use your shower. It the water that comes out of the shower head any different than that which comes out of the tap below? Ritual acts like this are all about intent, as long as you’re going in with the intent of having the water wash away the negativity of the day and cleansing you of any unwanted energies etc than even a wash cloth and a bucket will work. Of course you can add certain oils, herbs, soaps etc to your shower to help with the cleansing aspect. I have used satchels of herbs and salt before to scrub my body with while showering, I’ve also used aromatherapy oils burning while I’m in the shower, or just nothing but my visualization skills.
Secondly, bathe in fragrance – use aromatherapy spritzers, incense etc to give yourself a fragrance bath using the properties of the herbs and essences to cleanse your body. Much like the idea of smudging an area you can bathe your body in their fragrance as a cleansing ritual.
Thirdly, bathe in the moon or the sun. I don’t know about others but I always find that a few minutes out under the sun or the moon leaves my body feeling renewed, cleansed and ready for anything. So why not harness this, especially if you are doing ritual outside. Take a few moments before everything begins to stand under the moon or the sun and allow its energies to bathe your body and cleanse it of all negativity and unwanted emotions.
The act of pre-ritual bathing is the beginning of the intent of the work. It is a way to start cleansing and balancing yourself and to get your mind focused on the work you are to perform, so there is no need to take it as a literal bath if you should not wish. Find and adapt ways that work with your conditions.