29 June 2011

Cleaning and Cleansing

Amphitrite. Picture from here.
It's funny how I've had all summer to do basically nothing, and yet I'm finding so much to do. Today I cleaned out my room, the one I lived in since we first moved to Virginia when I was a mere 18 months old. I tend to hoard (not in a gross, stacks-of-newspapers-and-dead-cats-with-pizza-boxes-and-flies-everywhere kinda way, but in a i-got-this-tshirt-from-track-at-states-in-2003-and-it-has-lots-of-sentimental-value-even-though-i-have-20-more-tshirts-from-track-just-like-it kinda way), so the process of going through my entire collection of clothes and shoes that I've accumulated over the past 22 years was a rather intimidating process. It's an activity I've managed to carefully avoid thus far all summer, but as we have a houseful of extended family coming to visit this weekend, so many people that I am being kicked out of my room, it was necessary for me to make my room *liveable* to those other than myself. I may be comfortable sleeping on a narrow corner of my bed since the rest of it is piled to the ceiling (well, almost) with clothes I can't fit in my drawers or closet, but my aunt and uncle will likely protest.

I've been joking that I'll just take some of my field gear and camp out in the woods in the backyard. What's funniest, to me anyway, is that I'm not joking at all. I'd rather sleep outside on a bed roll than cramped on a little chair in the family room (even the couches are all employed).

Here's to hoping the friendly neighborhood bears (we have about three; the largest is around 400 lbs and loves to frequent our deck and trashcan at night; even my 100+lb dog is intimidated) as well as the pack of coyotes decide to leave me alone.

Anyway, after combing through my room, I've filled two giant garbage-bags full of clothes to donate to Good Will, another bag full of purses and shoes, and then two bags full of clothes worthy only for the trash. There were a lot of whites that had turned yellow, jeans that had popped buttons, and old running shorts that had long since lost their elasticity. Why any of these items had not been pitched before, I will never know. This is what happens, apparently, when you don’t do laundry so much as buy new clothes. Well, to an extent. I'm not QUITE that bad.

As for the more spiritual side of cleaning, I've been an active little Pagan these past few weeks. I've been working with a friend, who isn't so much a Pagan as she is a mirror to my own past. Amphitrite, as she will be forever after known on my blog, is a childhood friend with whom I am still very close, and she also still considers herself a Christian. Nonetheless, she believes in Faeirie and mythology and destiny and divine energy or magic or ch'i or whatever you want to call it that makes stuff happen as firmly as I do. We consult the Tarot together, and while I believe that my gods and goddesses are speaking through the cards to tell me what I need to hear, she believes her God is speaking through the same cards to her. I dallied with that same sort of duality back when I was new to Paganism, still afraid of the concept of eternal damnation and thou-shalt-not-suffer-a-witch-to-live, and afraid above all of being hypocritical. I've long since come to terms with my personal issues with Christianity (cue: patriarchy, in all its evil glory) and publicly affirmed my Pagan beliefs on both my dog tags and my Facebook. Amphitrite is familiar with and accepting of my world-view, although it differs from her, and I think she may way day come around to a less Christian perspective. She just needs time to get over that deeply instilled Christian Guilt (she was raised Baptist).

In the meantime, we've done a few rituals together. It's a strange feeling for me to be working with someone else. I'm so used to being a solitary that sharing the aspects of the ritual feels uncomfortable, but I'm getting used to it. I'm still doing a lot on my own—meditations and trance work, mostly, to commune with a new totemic force that wandered into my life on the astral level—and so I still consider myself an Eclectic Solitary. The most recent thing we did was a cleansing/purification/bad-juju-banishment modeled after something I had done about a year ago. Breakups are never easy, and there's lots of negative emotions that taint even the most patient and lovely spirit (one which Amphitrite possesses). Amphitrite, recently the victim of a nasty breakup, wanted to purge some of that bad-juju. So here's what we did, adapted for a multi-purpose-use format. Enjoy!

  • Black candle (one is all you need, but more just makes it fun)
  • Incense (optional, but watching the smoke always makes me feel more witchy)
  • Good-feeling/happy herbs, dried works best (we used damiana)
  • Fire-proof bowl, mini-cauldron, etc (something you can burn stuff in; we used a large shell)
  • Salt water if you want to be pretty about it, or a nearby toilet if you have a sense of humor
  • Little pieces of paper, parchment, etc to write on, cut into roughly 1x1 inch squares.
  • Pen or pencil
  • Any other stuff you normally use for your own practice

  1. This ritual is best performed at a new or waning moon, although it can be used whenever in a pinch. Since there is lots of burning and smoke involved, it is also best performed outside in an area where you're not going to cause a forest-fire. Use your common sense.
  2. Set up your altar facing South (Fire) since this ritual utilizes the transformation-through-destruction aspect of Fire. Have the pieces of paper, pen, black candle, happy herbs, and shell/cauldron/bowl ready for action within reaching distance.
  3. Call the quarters, set up your circle, etc, or however you normally prepare for a ritual. I like to face each direction, starting with North, and invoke the spirits of that direction/element (North = Earth, etc) and go clockwise around until I am facing North again, and then invoke Spirit. I invite each of the quarters to strengthen and protect my circle as I do my work, and offer some general flattery about what each corresponds to. However, whatever you normally do will work best for you.
  4. Light the incense now, if you're going to use it, and focus briefly on the smoke to cleanse and calm you. If there are any deities with whom you work closely or would like to invoke to aid you, this is also the time to do that. However, since this ritual is a personal cleansing, you'll be just fine doing it without the direct oversight of a patron god or goddess. It's up to you.
  5. Focus on the negative emotions—or bad-juju—that you want to purge from your psyche. When you have a list of what you want to purge in your mind, write each item individually on the pieces of paper. For example, if you've been feeling really angry lately and it's starting to interfere with your normally pleasant self, then you may decide to write "Anger." If you feel that you are holding a grudge against someone or something and you would like to let go, you may want to simply write "Holding Grudges."
  6. Once all the negative emotions are written down on the paper, preferably in a nice prime number like three, five, seven, or thirteen (nine is also good, however), light the black candle.
  7. Select the negative emotion one you wish to purge first. Hold the corresponding piece of paper up to the sky and read the word aloud, focusing on what it means to you and why you want to get rid of it. Then, light the piece of paper on fire using the flame from the black candle, careful not to burn yourself in the process.
  8. Once the piece of paper bearing your bad-juju on it is nice and burning, place it in the shell/cauldron/bowl and let it burn to ashes. Sprinkle some of your happy herbs in the flames to help neutralize the negativity of the bad-juju written on the paper.
  9. Repeat steps 7-8 as necessary for the remaining pieces of paper.
  10. When all of the bad-juju has been reduced to ashes, you can close your circle, etc. All that remains now is the disposal, which can take one of two forms.
    1. Option A (The Pretty one): Pour the salt water over the ashes, and then dump everything in the trash, down a drainage pipe, or buried somewhere for time and the elements to fully destroy. The bad-juju is all neutralized, so don't worry about accidental cursing a lake, stream, reservoir, or land. They're now just ashes. Amphitrite chose this method.
    2. Option B (The Funny One): Go to a toilet. Dump the ashes in the toilet bowl. Piss on the ashes. Flush. Done. This, incidentally, is the method I chose a year ago. I also might have flicked off the ashes before I pissed on them. What can I say…I have a crude sense of humor sometimes, and I really wanted to get rid of my bad-juju.
And then you're all set :) May this negative emotion cleansing work as well for you as it did for me, and as it seems to be working for Amphitrite. Blessed be.

1 comment:

  1. Girl, there was a time I would've loved that type of ritual, haha. But I guess by the time we really started hanging out it had all ready been about three months since my breakup so it wasn't so bad at that point :)

    Anyways, sounds like a productive few weeks :) It's always interesting going through old stuff... not that I have anything from my childhood anymore, thanks to my family moving several times after I left the house.