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Ritual baths: A channel to the divine feminine (Part 1)

Whether or not you're a water baby like me (#piscesmoon #scorpiostellium and #piscesnadir), I think we can all agree that water has some undeniably powerful properties. How many times have you had downloads in the shower or bath? Why is it that baths make us feel so much better when we're sick? Why is water used in almost all religious practices around the world?

If you're active on social media, you'll notice a lot of ritual baths and related products popping up over the last few years - extravagant baths decked out with flowers, candles and crystals as a means of self-care. It's no surprise humans would turn to water in times like these, but where did this practice come from, and why might you want to think about turning to water as a means of self-care and spirituality?

Water is a symbol of life and purification

Water is the quintessential symbol for regeneration and birth and has deep meaning for the oneness of all creation. Life gathers around water and water creates the circumstances for life to gather. Human, plant and animal life seek out water and without water, living things die.

Additionally, water itself has been a centerpiece of spiritual symbolism and religious ritual in human communities for thousands of years. With remarkable regularity across human cultures, it has been used to communicate the sacred value of life; the spiritual dimension of purification, protection, healing; and to serve in spiritual enlightenment.

For example, Hindu devotees take a holy dip in the Ganges River to purify the soul. In Christianity, the ritual of baptism through holy water symbolizes purity. Numerous indigenous cultures have ways of communing with water in ritual to cleanse the spirit and eliminate impurities from the soul. One tradition I recently had the opportunity to experience and learn about was the ritual of Hammam in Moroccan culture, through a visit to a bath house in Spain.

The history and ritual of hammam

Public bathhouses were a prominent institution in Roman and Hellenistic culture and were found throughout the Mediterranean world. Upon the expansion of Arab Muslim rule over much of the Middle East and North Africa in the 7th and 8th centuries, the emerging Islamic societies were quick to adopt this institution to their own needs. Its importance to Muslim society was guaranteed by the religious requirement of performing ablutions (washing) before prayers and by a general Islamic emphasis on physical and spiritual purity.

A hammam visit includes a journey between designated warm, hot and cold baths – with the aim to perspire, exfoliate and cleanse before plunging into a reviving cold-water shower and enjoying a relaxing massage treatment. Not only is the goal to cleanse the physical body, but also to purify and move stagnant energy and clear the mind before prayer.

This ritual often utilizes aromatic and medicinal herbs that have been used for generations to cleanse, hydrate, and invigorate the mind, body and soul. Popular herbs include peppermint, lavender and rose for their purifying, calming and hydrating properties.

My personal Hammam experience

For my ritual, I sipped on Moroccan peppermint tea, had a deep tissue massage with lavender oil, and floated between hot marble stones, warm, hot and cold immersion pools, all in a historic, candle-lit bath house in Granada. As I floated in the large warm pool, I listened to the gently-flowing fountain and gazed up at the star-shaped windows scattered on the ceiling, infusing the water with the energy of the cosmos. I could have stayed there forever.

Through this process, I entered a deeply meditative state, through which I felt the immensely powerful energy-cleansing abilities of water - feeling inexplicably renewed, invigorated and nurtured by her touch. This experience reinforced, on a cellular level, what I already knew to be true - that water is our direct channel to Divine Feminine energy. She is the ultimate life source and root to all creation, the blood of Mother Earth, and the life-source that flows within our own veins. She teaches us how to flow, shapeshift and surrender, but remain powerful, receptive, and true to our authentic selves. She teaches us how to go with the flow of life and let go of obsessive control and excessive masculine energy.

It was one of the most yin and bliss-like states I have ever experienced, where my Lunar [Pisces] Self felt deeply nurtured and taken care of on an energetic level. There wasn't a moment where I thought about anything I needed to do or where I needed to be, and I entered a state of pure surrender.

Water and the divine feminine energy

Much of our lives are about finding balance between yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) energy, especially living in a world made for the yang expression of life. Feminine energy is about being, practicing presence and tuning into our intuition and creativity, while masculine energy is about doing and going after our goals. In our society, we are too focused on DOING; controlling our way through life, chasing our dreams and goals, and not allowing enough room to just BE in order for that creative energy to flow in. Both energies are necessary, but they need to be balanced - and in general, it is the feminine that we are deficient in.

By connecting to water through ritual and tapping into her ability to nurture, purify and invigorate us, we can strengthen the connection to this feminine energy, practice being versus doing, nurture ourselves, cleanse our energetic body and allow for more connection with our intuitive gifts. As a result, we can balance our yin and yang, and surrender to the flow of life.

In Part 2 of this blog, we'll explore ways in which water can be beneficial for your individual astrology and how you can build your own bath ritual with herbs and crystals.

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