After last week, this seemed like a nice simple subject.
The Kemetic Orthodox faith has a specific purification ritual that we use before doing ‘official’ observances. If you want to know exactly what that entails I recommend buying Tamara Siuda’s book (The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook) or signing up for beginner classes with the Kemetic Orthodoxy, which are free. If you’re not planning to go Kemetic, or Orthodox, then the exact wording might not be all that important to you anyway. In short, we invoke a goddess of purification, bless the water and a small amount of natron (salt and baking soda crystallized together) then add them to the bath.
There isn’t much point in me explaining that part. You get the general idea. Instead, I’d like to talk about my personal take on the idea.
There are different ways to go about this depending on the time you have and what your needs may be on that day. Sometimes I do it one way and sometimes another. There’s the bath, the shower, and the swish and spit. I’ve been told that there’s a desert version using only sand if you don’t have enough water to use for anything other than drinking, but I don’t know how to do that one.
The book uses the bath version. Baths are good for that long deep soak. It loosens up the dry dead skin. It soothes tired muscles. I like to add a few sprinkles of cedar oil to mine for the scent. It’s also an oil that was used for protection in old Kemet. I also like it because the place I grew up was thick with mountain cedar(really a juniper). Make sure you know what kind of oil you’re using before you toss it in the water. Some of them don’t play well with skin! I also tend to make my bath too hot in order to sneak in a purifying sweat while I’m at it.* If you go that route, make sure to take a tall glass of drinking water in with you and be careful of overheating. I like to go with the full bath about once a week, or when my muscles are sore after exercise, or after my period is finished to get me back on track.
The shower is the method I use most often. I keep the natron water in a separate container. Unless you want to make yourself squeak, remember to use warm water in your blessing. In some ways, the shower is more thorough to me than the bath. The bath is passive cleansing. The shower is more active. I pour a tiny bit of the natron water in my hand at a time and use it to deliberately rinse every part of my body.
If you have a sense of your energy body**, see if you can feel the blessed natron water sinking into your energy field, even under your skin. The sensation might feel rather pleasant, or it might sting a little, depending on what energetic blockages or injuries you might have. Either way, it’s good for you. If you have a numb spot, you might want to repeat the rinse in that area. Some mornings this goes smoothly. Other mornings I hiss and make faces. This one is particularly good for the morning after a major working.
After the bath or shower, you may find that your energy field is wide open. You don’t really want to go walking around like that, unless you have a ritual that prefers you to be that way. For that reason, I think it’s a good idea to follow up with a lotion or oil mix (for awhile I was fond of an olive and scented oil mixture), both to moisturize your skin and to act as a protective coating for your energy body. To top it off sometimes I add a tiny bit of eye liner to protect my eyes. I personally don’t go full Egyptian on that, anything more than ‘barely noticeable’ brings out the dark circles under my eyes. As I draw the lines I say something simple like “Protect my eyes, protect my thoughts.”
Finally, the swish and spit. There are some days where it’s hard to drag your butt before the shrine. The gods understand this, most of them, unless they’re deliberately trying to make a point. For that reason, I keep a pre-blessed bottle of natron on hand. I say the words, dab a few drops on various bodily areas, then swish and spit. This one should be used only when you have Them breathing down your neck to get in there “or else!” and you don’t have time or energy, or running water, for the full cleansing. Ra has told me that the minimum requirements exist for a reason. Sometimes the minimum is the best you can manage. Don’t let that be an excuse to skip it entirely.
*Lakota influence sneaking in there. It’s nothing like a sweat lodge at all, but sweat is still a good way to rid impurities and fight sickness with a little voluntary fever. (I’m not a doctor! Follow my advice at your own risk. Not a good idea if you might be pregnant! Blah, blah blah…)
**Not everyone does, if you don’t, then feel free to skip this paragraph. This would be my chi gong influence sneaking in.