3 + LESSON: Spiritual Cleansing Part I: Contaminants & Cords
We’ve done cleansing work many times in this course. Everytime we end a spiritworking we cleanse by brushing down our skin, grounding the excess and unnecessary energies, and breaking up any residual trance. In fact, every time we begin a spiritworking we perform a powerful cleansing by gathering our awareness, getting clear about who we are, and invoking our capacity for change.
How is an invocation of our spirit and soul a spiritual cleansing?
Spiritual cleansing is the act of removing spirits that aren’t necessary, useful, desirable, or relevant to the health and growth of the spirit we are cleansing. When we invoke our spirit in workings, we call up the identities that we consciously choose to embody, the identities that we choose to embrace. That act of invocation tends to displace other irrelevant identities that might’ve been hanging on to us.
This definition of spiritual cleansing is pretty similar to the standard definition of the word clean, meaning to make free from dirt, marks, stains, contamination, pollution, and other unwanted matter.
But I find it clearer to lump everything under unwanted when talking about spiritwork. Because what is a polluted identity? It’s an identity that has absorbed unwanted characteristics from its environment. What is a dirty identity? It’s when we start to smell or act a bit like the spirit we just had a conversation with. The attributes we picked up might not be bad, but they aren’t relevant or necessary to our core spirit.
Imagine talking to someone with an accent that is different than yours. Some sensitive folks will naturally start absorbing a bit of that accent during the conversation. Oops! If it goes away as soon as the conversation is done, then that’s good. But if you spend the rest of the day not sounding quite like yourself, then you’ve got need of spiritual cleansing.
But, here’s where it gets tricky. Picking up a few pieces of static identity, like an accent, is one possibility, but it’s also possible to connect with another spirit through a living identity. Another word for a living identity is a relationship. In spiritwork the living relationships between spirits are commonly referred to as cords or ties, and in English we use the phrase “cutting ties” to mean ending a relationship.
A simple relationship forms a simple cord. I bought a car from her and we shook hands. A tiny thread connects my hand to hers. Henceforth, she shall be known as My Car Dealer. Sometimes I will bring my car back to her for scheduled maintenance. This is our relationship. It doesn’t influence me much, but it does exist.
A complex relationship forms a complex cord. The cords between us and our loved ones are less like threads and more like corridors or landscapes, great realms of memory and feelings. Imagine all of the different universes that exist between you and all of the folks you know. It’s a beautiful thing, this web of connectedness that we exist within. Acknowledging and working with these numerous, numinous relationship-spirits starts to dissolve the great isolation we may have felt in our Adult Awakening.
But, sometimes a relationship is another word for habit, and it can be a very limiting identity, even if the relationship is complex. For instance, if we often argue with our partner, then that sets the weather in the landscape we share, the corridor that connects us. I can think, “Okay, I don’t want to fight today,” and reach out with that intention, but I will still end up walking under those angry skies in the cord, and will likely be influenced by the atmosphere. I might even mistake the atmosphere in our relationship for my partner’s mood. “Damn, they’re mad again. I can tell. Why are they always like this?”
Now, to make cords even more complex. Sometimes when we bring forth new life, either a project or a child, that new spirit emerges from the coupling or collaboration between two or more spirits. Basically, it is born out of the cord. If my partner and I decided to have a child, then out of our relationship a new spirit would emerge. The baby might be physically corded to me in the womb, but the spirit of the baby emerges out of our relationship. If later I chose to “cut ties” with the baby’s father and raise the baby on my own, then most of the cord between the baby and the father would be unraveled, save the thread of genetic relationship.
Family trees are like this, a web of relationships and cords. We often think of the ancestral tree as the tree of genetic relationship. But family is so much more than genes. We can also choose to encounter an ancestral tree that includes all kinds of relationships: godparents, teachers. Children who were adopted may lack the thread of genetic relationship, but all the rest of that ancestral landscape is there. Folks who don’t have children of their own may think they are the end of the line for their family tree, but when we include non-genetic relationships, then we weave ourselves into a forest of family every time our life touches the life of another in a way that permanently shapes their identity. We can become an ancestor to all the spirits we care for, teach, help, uphold, and love.
And, by love, I mean conscious presence. Conscious presence is what keeps a relationship alive, is what animates a cord.
[ 3.03.05 LESSON: Love as Conscious Presence ] “If we look at the stories of our lives, we’ll find that we already knew love was not just a precious thing, but a force of nature. It mends and breaks. It can look like lust, like obsession, like sacrifice. It can be a relationship, or it can be one-sided. It can run parallel to manipulation and abuse. There is the love we choose, the oaths we swear. And there is the love we never wanted, the errant arrows from Cupid’s bow. There’s even a type of love, of conscious presence, that we call hatred.”
So, thinking about cords, it can be clear in our bigger relationships what it means to “cut ties.” Serious business, complicated. But cleansing is pretty simple? So how do cords relate to cleansing?
Spiritual cleansing is the act of removing spirits that aren’t necessary, useful, desirable, or relevant to the health and growth of the spirit we are cleansing. So, what does an irrelevant cord look like?
True story, one day I’m walking down the street in North Hollywood headed to work and this lady, who possibly had a lot of meth in her system, jumped out in front of me, put her finger in my face, and shrieked at the top of her lungs, “WHOOOOOOOORE!”
There’s a thread of relationship between us now. She and I just related. I go into work and start telling the other folks what happened. We’re laughing about it. Maybe in my story I give the woman a name, she’s the “Announcer of Whores.” I’ve identified her further and our relationship is getting stronger. Maybe our relationship stays conscious and I go on about it all week, talking about how I got verbally assaulted. That definitely will have an influence on my life. But, for a spiritworker, here’s a more likely outcome: I empathize. In a quiet moment later I start to get curious about her. What did she see? Was she unwell? Was it my red lipstick? I give a psychic tug: why?
But likely, we’ll never see each other again and eventually the “living” relationship will cease to live. The cord will cease to have the pulse of conscious presence. It drops off, it fades away. I still remember the event, but the memory is a spirit inside of me, not a living relationship between us.
But, what if I forget about it, but she doesn’t? What if Announcing Whores is, like, her passion, her full-time gig. Maybe she keeps a list and frequently reviews all of the whores she calls out each year. Maybe she gets a kick out of shaming people, draw a little power from it. I’m letting this cord drift out of consciousness, but that lady is still pulling a little power. I put that whore down good… heh heh heh. Maybe I dream about it later in the month, but I don’t remember the dream. Maybe after the dream I hesitate before putting on my favorite red lipstick, and I don’t know why. Just not feeling it today. The course of my life, altered by an unwanted cord.
This is why we learn to cleanse. Because our spiritual cleansing practice removes spirits that aren’t necessary, useful, desirable or relevant to the health and growth of our spirit, including subtle, subconscious, strange little threads and splinters and other oddities that prevent us from expressing ourselves freely.