Spiritual bathing is an ancient and restorative practice that promotes health and wellbeing by combining the healing power of water with various herbs and minerals to shift spiritual energy in your favor. It is found in many cultures all over the world. In the African-derived traditions such as Santería and Hoodoo, spiritual baths are often prescribed for specific purposes such as drawing love and money, facilitating healing, cultivating wisdom, removing negative conditions, uncrossing and reversing spiritual attacks, providing protection, increasing personal influence and domination and creating success. Sometimes used bathwater is saved and utilized in future works. Often, a portion of the bath water is used in a floor wash following the personal bath and the leftover water is thrown in the direction of the east at dawn or at a crossroads.
The cosmic element of water has been used across cultures and over time for purifying, cleansing, baptizing, scrying, and a variety of magickal purposes. It is an important tool for Hoodoo, Voodoo, Santeria and other African-derived traditions as well as indigenous spiritual and religious traditions. Water is considered one of the three most important healing elements among Indigenous peoples. In both African and Native American traditions, the addition of special flowers, herbs, sticks, and other natural ingredients transforms ordinary water into spiritually charged floor washes, colognes, perfumes, and spiritual waters. With the addition of prayer, ordinary water becomes blessed and holy. Rootworkers, Hoodoos, conjurers, and medicine people of all varieties have long looked to the healing and supernatural qualities of spiritual baths to improve quality of life, restore balance, and to influence self, others, conditions and the environment.
Whenever you expect to encounter negativity, fatigue, depression, anxiety, or fear of any kind, or whenever you feel stuck and unable to move forward in life, a cleansing of some sort is recommended. It can also be performed to fortify the spirit following a negative experience. Often, spiritual baths and cleansings take place before other works, and they can be taken every season to refortify and rebalance your spirit. Many times the cleansing is the work itself. It may be performed once or a series of times depending on the condition.
Spiritual baths and cleansings can be extremely powerful and cathartic. Sometimes people are surprised by the effect that they produce and the results they achieve. I have had clients on numerous occasions cry and feel a profound sense of sadness afterwards and as a result thought it didn’t work because they felt bad. In reality, they were releasing feelings they had suppressed for a long time! This is a good sign and it is important to recognize it when it happens. It is indicative of release, and often uncovers an emotional component to the root of the presenting problem or condition. Feelings are transitory; they always change; so, even if it feels “bad,” you or your client will likely feel much better after the fact.
In all of the discussions that can be found on forums, social media sites and in print, I have yet to see anyone discuss how people with physical differences can implement spiritual baths into their lives. Mobility issues impact many, and not everyone can just hop into a tub or even light a candle. I’m sure some folks figure it out; but, as a teacher, I can tell you not everyone does. I have been approached a number of times how they can take a spiritual bath when they can’t get in a tub. I had one individual concerned because her challenge left her unable to hold her hands steady and she was afraid of knocking over burning candles. So instead of participating in a beautiful healing tradition, she opted out. She didn’t know what was acceptable in the tradition.
There are two main methods for taking spiritual baths. One is full immersion and the other is pouring the prepared bath over one’s head while standing. Regardless of the method used, the results are the same. As everyone has their own challenges, and some of you may have physical challenges and limitations, there are a couple of ways you can take a spiritual bath that do not require you to take an actual full-immersion bath.
One way is to prepare your bath in a bowl or in the sink. Just add your ingredients as if you were going to take a spiritual bath but do it in a bowl or basin instead. Add ingredients to one gallon of water. If you can stand in the shower or tub, place the tub where you can safely reach it. If you cannot bend over to reach it, then prefill three to nine cups of the bath and set the cups where you can easily reach them while sitting or standing in the tub.
Light two white tea lights and stand between them in the tub. If lighting candles is a limitation, then try two battery powered candles. If that isn’t an option, just skip that part. Pour the cups of prepared bath over your head three to nine times. The number is flexible, it must be at least three times. Say Psalm 23 or a different Psalm more specific to the type of bath you are taking. For cleansing Psalm 23 is the go-to Psalm.
If getting into the tub isn’t an option, you can perform a spiritual bath in the Cherokee way which is referred to as “Going to the Water.” There are several different ways of doing this, but the one way that is helpful for this situation is to stand or sit before your sink or basin of spiritual bath you have prepared. Splash some of the bath on your face seven times. Say your psalm or prayer as usual. Take the leftover bath water and toss it to the West at sundown. Sleep on clean sheets and you are good to go!