5 + LESSON: Spiritual Cleansing Part III: Hygiene
Hygiene is defined as a set of practices done to maintain health, including cleaning of the body and environment, use of protective clothing, proper bandaging of wounds, safe disposal of waste, and disinfection and sterilization of tools.
Similarly, spiritual hygiene is a set of practices done to maintain spiritual health, that includes cleansing our spirit, dressing and protecting our spirit, disposing of spiritual waste, and as-needed deep cleansing of our spiritual tools, including our hands, rattles, mirrors, and other things we use in sacred work. Some spiritual hygiene practices should be done daily, some monthly, some annually, or only as-needed. There are no hard and fast rules here, just guidelines.
Let’s start with the cleansing of spiritual tools. In our workings we’ve used salt and vinegar to cleanse a mirror before and after mirrorwork. That’s good! But, I haven’t mentioned cleansing our rattles, so odds are many of y’all haven’t done it. The rattle is an object that can break up energies and be used to clean, so it’s kind of self-cleaning in a way. But, I like to treat mine like a toothbrush. Yes, it’s used to clean, but it’d be polite to sterilize it before letting someone else use it, and it’s not a bad idea to give it a good wash a few times a year.
Spring and Fall Equinoxes are a nice time to give our sacred tools a thorough magical scrub and reset. But, if we use our tools with other people, such as in a healing practice, we need to wash everything far more often. And if we do deep work with people we might need to think like a surgeon and seriously scrub in and scrub out. But no matter our practice and no matter our schedule, if one of our tools starts to feel off, it may need a cleansing.
Some sacred objects build power with use, so we want to feel into each object and consult our Book of Shadows for advice on how to support the health of various tools without stripping their power. Would salt be supportive or too strong? Would a working to name it and invoke its identity help displace any dirt? Or is this an object I share with other people for mundane purposes (like a bathroom mirror) that might get out-of-hand if I started helping it build personality? Feel free to share with the group what sacred objects you’re thinking of cleansing.
Next, disposal of spiritual waste. What does that mean? Well, you know how when we ground in the guided workings, we often imagine the excess energy going down into the Earth below us? That’s hygienic disposal of spiritual waste. In the case of spirit, waste is identities and energies that are unwanted, unnecessary, used up, or irrelevant to our health and growth.
So, what would non-hygienic grounding look like? Warning: it’s something most all of us do. There’s a spot by the front door where we sigh and kick off our shoes. There’s a dent on the sofa where we like to flop down to relax with snacks and naps. Some folks exhale when their head finally hits the pillow at the end of a long day. We often have spots in our environment where we frequently let it all out or let it all go. That’s grounding.
Our sleep meditations instruct us to let the excess energy flow down below the bed, through the floor, through the ground, deep into the Earth. That’s hygienic. The meditations don’t say: just let it go into your mattress. Fill your mattress with it. Ew.
If you have a spot in your house where you tend to sigh and let it all go, that’s okay, but it’s a good idea to cleanse it regularly. Showers and toilets and places with drains are usually already hygienic, because spirit naturally follows the water down and away. But squishy furniture like sofas can serve as a sort of spiritual-shit-sponge. That can be good in that it probably compels us to ground every time we come in contact with it. But it can be bad if we’re also coming into contact with all that irrelevant, sticky residue. It might change our mood or make us feel like we don’t have the energy to get back up.
Another non-hygienic way that humans tend to ground is by throwing shit at each other. We call it venting. Venting is a good thing, but venting is more hygienic if we couple our talking and sharing with letting the excess fall down, away, into the Earth, as opposed to dumping our shit on the person we’re talking to. If, after venting, I feel better and you feel heavy and much worse, odds are some less-than-hygienic grounding was happening. If someone vents to you and you leave the conversation feeling gross, it’s okay. It happens. Life is messy. But you should probably give yourself a quick cleansing when you get home for the day.
Which, brings us to the last part of our hygiene roundup: washing our spirit. Our daily washing can be summed up memorably as: Shit, Shower, Shave.
Step 1: Shit. We cleanse our insides by grounding, releasing the excess, un-corking, venting, and letting go. Our body teaches us how often we should have a bowel movement, and let that be your guide to grounding. You can ground on the toilet if you like, or in the shower, or anywhere so long as you release it hygienically down and away from other people.
Step 2: Shower. We want to wash our surfaces, our edges. Often at the end of workings we pat down our skin to remind ourselves of our physical boundaries and edges. One of the easiest ways to wash the spirit is to gather ourselves in our body so that the edge of our identity and the edge of our skin becomes one and the same. Then, cleanse the skin as you see fit: with water, by moving your hooded hands over your skin, with incense smoke, with a lodestone, or any other technique that is right for you. The beauty of a cold water purification, like we did at the end of Phase Four, is that the shock of the cold instantly gathers our awareness. For most folks it’s pretty hard to keep identifying with our worries for the future when freezing water hits the back of the neck. Total fascination with the our physical experience in the present moment is what it means to have the edge of our identity and the edge of the skin become as one.
Step 3: Shave. We learned about living relationships, aka cords, earlier in this chapter. Shaving is about taking a few seconds or a minute to remove any unnecessary or irrelevant relationships that we formed in the course of our day. It’s not about cutting away all of our relationships and trying to be bald as babies again. It’s about grooming, choosing which cords to keep and which ones need to go. But how do we shave? With what blade?
That would be the Blade of the Soul. We’ll learn about it next, then seek to encounter it in our guided working. In the first on-our-own working for this phase we’ll use the Blade to give ourselves a proper shave. In the meantime, know that showering tends to wash away most loose cords. So, let that be enough for now while we work towards discovering the fine art of the Shave.
A final thought: spiritual cleansing, hygiene, immunity, and cord work is all about finding that balance point between neglect and obsession that will support our health and the health of those around us. Washing our hands two hundred times a day or spending hours thinking about the negative energy stuck to us is obsession. Letting people vent all over us without even washing our hands before eating later is neglect.
When we become adept at spiritual cleansing we gain not only health, but also, the freedom to get really dirty!