I am totally stealing from Kylara for my week four theme. Kylara talks about her personal bathing rituals, daily and pre-ritual and she’s right, every day bathing routines can be so magical.
There are many different religions and cultures that employ bathing and ritual purity. The Egyptains built sacred pools within their temples and incorporate bathing both of themselves and the cult statue as part of their rituals. The Hebrews were also very concerned with approaching god in a ‘clean’ state and many mikveh or ritual baths have been excavated in Israel. Millions of Hindus attend the Maha Kumbh Mela festival in order to wash away their sins in the Ganges river. Attendees find the experience an uplifting and spiritual experience as well as life changing.
The proverb ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ extends from these Jewish origins into Christianity. Although the Bible doesn’t expressly use the phrase Acts 9:32-10:23 extols the virtue of approaching God in a state of purity.
Based on these examples we can see the first purpose of ritual bathing, the cleansing of the body both in a physical and spiritual sense in preparation for communication with the deity. The second purpose is the creation of a space and time where the mind can begin to prepare for the ritual itself, by entering a state where the spirit feels cleansed and open to the experience to come.
There are many more examples of bathing and ritual purity than can be covered here, this Wikipedia article is a good place to start.
I prefer showers over a bath any day, ever since I had a Turkish bath 10 or so years ago. Knowing that the dirt and grim is being washed directly down the drain instead of hanging around me makes me feel so much cleaner. My personal daily routine involves cleansing myself of negativity and seeing it flow away from me. I also stand under the full stream and visualise a cascade of light (re)charging me.
For ritual I add elements to distinguish between day to day showers and ritual preparation. It’s a three stage process which helps prepare me for the ritual ahead. After my normal visualisation I douce with natron salt water. Although I am not a Kemetic practitioner I do approach Egyptain deities each Esbat and it feels more personal as I made the natron myself. As per Kemetic practice I wash ‘top to tail’ (if you’re a parent you will probably get that) and I rince my mouth out. This allows me to approach my deities and ritual purified and cleansed. I then use honey based products for hair and olive oil based body wash, occasionally I swap out for Rose and Jasmine scents. I try to make sure these are natural products or products I’ve made myself. Its at this point I start to mentally prepare, clearing my mind and starting the process of raising energy with chant.
Making Natron Salt
Egypt doesn’t export its natron salt (spoil sports) but its fairly easy to make its chemical equivalent.
Suspend equal parts sodium and bicarbonate of soda in water and on a mid heat boil the water away. Once the water is gone from the pan I spread the mixture over the bottom of a papered baking tray and then cooking in the oven until totally dry as I found I want getting it dry in the pan. Grind the natron up in a pestle and mortar until its fine and store in an airtight container. I use a pinch in my little bucket of warm water for my douce.
I’ve said equal parts, just remember you get out what you put in so if you use a cup of each ingredient you will have two cups of natron at the end. I suggest starting out with a 1/4 or 1/2 cup each salt and bicarb. Also, a little bit goes a long way. So long as it is kept dry it will store fine but once damp it will clump and you will need to dry and grind it again.