Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jeudi: Root Work

Personal hygiene has crossed the line into metaphysical cleansing in almost all cultures, ancient and modern. From the Ancient Hebrew right of Tahara, purification, wherein a person completely immersed their body in a well of water known as a mikva to modern Hindus ritually cleansing themselves in the Ganges, the list is endless. In both the religion of Voudon and the workings of hoodoo, bathing is an integral part of keeping the body, mind and soul in tune.

The number of magickal baths in the lexicon of root work could certainly fill a heavy tome. There are baths for drawing love, jinxing a rival, bringing in cash, gambling luck, uncrossing and healing. These have ingredients as diverse as seemingly harsh cleaners like ammonia and bluing to obviously harmless ones like lemon juice and olive oil. It’s a powerful process, and all you need is a place to bathe, water, a few ingredients and your own intention.

With the New Year only two days away, I want to share the ritual bath most important to me at this time of year: the bath to banish negativity. For me personally, the end of the year is a time when I cling to the past. The recent past has been full of holiday cheer and the rest of the passing year looks a little brighter than it probably was. The detritus of all the negativity that is now fading from memory is cloying around me, wanting to stay and pull me into a deceptive, self-serving funk that is only enhanced by the dark, cold January ahead. I don’t know about you, but that’s just no way to start the New Year.

My favorite New Years bath involves beer which, with its effervescence, hops and barely, has the added bonus of alleviating mild depression. You should cleanse first – take a quick shower and then scrub out your tub if you don’t have the good fortune to have a separate one – and then proceed.

Fill your tub with warm water. Add to this 12 ounces of beer (I find dark beer is especially helpful for breaking up negative energy but whatever you have will work just fine), the juice of one lemon (to deflect evil and cleanse unwanted ties to the past) and 1 tablespoon of salt (for grounding and confidence). Stir the water clockwise with your dominant hand until the ingredients are well mixed. Use intention while you do this; concentrate on starting the New Year fresh and full of energy.

While continuing to concentrate, climb into the tub and immerse yourself completely in the water – tip to toe, hair to sole – nine times. Now sit in the water for nine more minutes while continuing to envision your bright future. I’ll admit, I set a timer before I dunk myself the last time. When the nine minutes are up, climb out of the bath and wring out your hair because everything has to dry naturally. Toweling off or wrapping your hair up will negate the benefits of the bath. Lock the bedroom door and relax for a while; it’s totally worth it.

If you are unable to work with beer for any reason, substitute 1 cup of apple cider vinegar for a result that is just as powerful. The added bonus to both beer and vinegar: they make your hair soft and shiny.

If you don’t have access to a tub, the alternative is to mix the ingredients in a bucket full of water and pour the bath over yourself nine times. This is awkward but effective. Just make sure the bucket is large enough to dissolve the ingredients, which means you may want to use a cup or mug to dish out the bath rather than pouring directly from the bucket.

So tomorrow, before the champagne pops and supper hits the table, I’ll take a bit of time for myself and cleanse the old year off with a bath. Some jazz and a few scented candles won’t hurt either. Bénédictions lumineuses ~

Header: Blue Tone Bathing Girl by Edgar Degas


Timmy! said...

Mmmmm... beer.

Nice painting too, Pauline.

Pauline said...

No question, Degas was a master. If I could paint like that, this writing thing would be a distant speck in my rear view mirror, for certain :)