Water Bathing Ritual

Rob meditating in a beck
Through my direct experience of being called by the water spirits to enter the water an bathe, I crafted this ritual to help me to develop a solitary practice that over time builds its own quality of energy to honour the spirits of the water, the wild land and indeed ourselves. This ritual is crafted within an Animistic, Pagan Druid format, but could easily be adapted for those of other traditions, faiths and those of none. I practice this ritual naked and feel this is the most primal and sacred way of working with this ritual. However I am aware that this isn't to everybody's accessibility, therefore  I would suggest the minimal amount of clothing, like loose cotton shorts or smock. Choose a time and location where you will be undisturbed and ensure your safety at all times. Bodies of wild water can be deceptive and we are able to drown in just few centimetres of water, so treat them with respect and use common sense. At the end of the ritual I offer some note to explain each aspect, I feel its important that folk understand reason why, certain actions are being completed, in this instance, to give a better understanding of the process of the ritual. 
Rob Wilson ~ Woodspirit

The Ritual

For this ritual, I take with me some appropriate incense and an appropriate offering. For my offerings, I always carry a small leather pouch, which contains the herbs, leaves, petals and seeds that have been left over from my incense making and herbal preparations. For incense, I create my own 'water incense' the recipe is on the main Nature of Water webpage. 

THE OPENING

First, take time to connect to the Spirits of place, the genius loci. Ask if this is the right place for you? Do you feel comfortable here? Do you feel safe and welcomed here? If yes then offer this greeting:

O Guardian spirits of this sacred place.

I ask that you accept my presence here,

To honour your waters, to honour the flow we both share in this moment.

I come here in peace, reverence and communion, to bathe in your sacred waters.

Make your offering to the spirits of place, you can scatter them on the bank, a nearby rock or tree that looks like the sentinel guardian of the place. Light some incense and place near to the bank, ideally so it drifts across the water. Now remove your clothing and speak this prayer of intention:

I stand here soul naked and true,

To bathe in these sacred waters

To co-join in the flow of life and honour the stories of ancient land that you carry within you.

I come here to………… (Speak your own intention here)

Now spend some time meditating on opening the energy centres of the body, to open yourself to the whole experience, feeling relaxed and totally connected to nature.

THE BATHING

When you are ready, head to the waters edge, and touch it with your hands. Lathe your brow, Solar Plexus (chest) and Abdomen reverently as if you are receiving a blessing.

Now get into the water. Take your time to adjust and relax, until you find a spot that is right for you, and you feel ready to continue. Then speak this prayer:

O Water spirits flowing all around me, through me and above me.

I feel your presence on my skin, as you feel mine.

I honour you and the living waters that flow through me.

So may it be!

Now simply spend time in the water, meditate and be open to the experience of being within the natural waters. Note the sensations, its blessing, its cleansing and purifying qualities. 

After sometime, become aware once more of the physicality of the moment. Decide to now either fully immerse yourself in the water or simply pour water over your head. Do this three times and then say the following prayer:

I ask that I receive the blessing of water.

May I be purified, cleansed and made whole.

I honour the lifeblood of the land and the Ancestral stories held in your flowing memory.

Feel the water permeate every cell, bone and sinew within your being. Then start the following chant, you can click here to hear a version of this chant to get the tune repeat this as often as you feel necessary or are capable:

Born of water, cleansing, powerful, healing, changing, I am!

Once again, become aware of the physicality of the moment, and when ready, leave the water. On the bank or edge of the water, you make an offering into the waters to give thanks:

I honour spirits of water, you who have welcomed me into your flow.

I give thanks for ……………….. (Speak your own prayers of thanks)

THE CLOSING

Now spend some time in silent contemplation to integrate the experience beside the water, on land. If you need to dress due to temperature or privacy then do so, otherwise stay naked. Allow yourself to be fully aware of the physicality of the moment. When you are ready to end the rite, stand and speak a prayer of thanks to the spirits of place:

I give thanks to the element of water and the spirits of this place for accepting me here.

I give thanks to ………… (Speak your own prayers of thanks)

This rite ends in peace as in peace it began.

Now get dressed, clear away the incense. It is a good time to have something to eat or drink and record your experience in a journal or diary. If you still feel a little light headed, try walking bare foot on some grass, sand etc. to literally, ground yourself.

celtic-treejpg

Guidance Notes on the elements of the Ritual


 Here are some further notes on this ritual explain the reasons for certain actions and there meaning. This is purely to give a deeper insight into the ritual rather than blindly following it. Also, remember to modify it to suit your own tradition or belief system, if you feel that would help. Like any good ritual or rite, its liking baking a cake; we gather the ingredients, add them to the scared vessel/space, and add the spiritual energy to ‘cook them’ them end with a resultant experience that is enjoyed.


THE OPENING

Spirits of Place & Offerings: Its vitally important that understand, acknowledge and commune with the spirits of place, the genus loci, to ensure we are not disturbing anything by our presence, or indeed that we aren’t disturbed. I hope that you would be choosing a place that resonate with you or has a history of having a human relationship, i.e. Scared Pool/Spring/Well.

It is also very easy for our spirituality to become part of the consumer society. The need to ‘take something away’ to ‘get something out of nature.’ I like to turn this on its head and start by giving something back. A gesture that you are there to honour this place as well as to engage with it. I always carry a small leather pouch containing some petals, leaves, herbs and barks that I have harvested from my garden or during my incense making process. I then sprinkle a little of these as an offering, giving something back. Sometimes, where appropriate, this can be more elaborate with flowers, fruit, water, alcohol etc. What is important is that an offering should be of some value to you and must be given with a true sense of wanting to give something back to nature, not necessarily a bargaining tool to get something back. In addition, when I say appropriate think about the environment you are leaving your offering. It is not appropriate to use sea salt (some traditional rites ask for this) as the salt will kill vegetation. It is not appropriate to scatter birdseed (unless it is the non-fertile variety) this can often germinate leading to invasive, non-native species taking hold in the environment. Fruit, bread etc. should only be left if it is safe for the wildlife to eat. This may restrict what you can offer, but by thinking about it, means you are adding value and importance to your offering, and that is the key here.

Prayer of intention: Why naked? I cannot express in words how much of a difference this makes to the experience. Being naked in nature is something that, once you have tried it, makes you realise how much of a blindfold clothes are to our sensory, spiritual experience. The sense of simplicity of feel nature upon your naked skin is magic in itself, a blessing that leaves us feeling totally connected, alive, healthy and well. It also leaves feel a little vulnerable, and little open more to the elements around us, free of burdens and a willingness to surrender to the process too. You can perform this in bathing costumes or clothed, but by being naked, you enhance and refine the experience, you are standing there beside the water as a physical intention that you are willing to engage fully, body and soul with the ritual process.

Speaking your prayer of intention sets the flow of energy that drives the ritual. The spirits of place hear this intention, you hear the intention yourself and indeed the waters you are about to enter. It focuses the experience and the ritual journey itself.

THE BATHING

Preparation of the body: We take time to prepare our body for the experience, before entering the water. This is all further enhanced, by visualising or meditating on the energy centre of your body opening up, to deepen the experience of the physicality of the process as well as the spiritual. Use whatever tradition you understand and works best for you. I use a version based on the three cauldrons of poesy in Celtic literature, which relates to an energy centre in the head (the Brow), the chest (Solar Plexus), and the genitals (the base). Each of these areas contain a vessel or cauldron that hold the vital life force energy, and I visualise these healthy, strong and the energy full and flowing to the next from the genitals to the brow of the head. Then we physically lathe these energy centres with the waters to which we are about to immerse ourselves in.

Getting into the Water: When you get into the water. Take your time to adjust and relax until you find a spot that is right for you to feel ready to continue. We offer a prayer to the spirits of water specifically now, to acknowledge that we have entered their realm, and to signal to our unconscious/spiritual self that we are engaging with the water via mind, body and importantly spirit.

Meditate in the Water: The next part is to meditate and simply be open to the experience of being in the water. It is easy to be caught up in all the process of the ritual, so it vital you allow sufficient time to simple just becoming aware of the sensations, the blessing, the cleansing qualities of the water. Be open to whatever this experience gives you. Do not rush it, give yourself as much or as little time you need, even if your focus is carried beyond the water to surrounding nature or indeed to another realm or state of mind.

The Blessing: Decide to either to fully immerse yourself in the water or simply pour water over your head, do this three times while reciting the blessing prayer. With each immersion, you visualise and feel the water cleansing and blessing you in the ancient act. Why three times? This is an ancient trinity that event continues its existence into Christianity. Here it represents the three realms of Celtic cosmology, the triplicy of mind, body and soul, the three energy centres of the body and the holy trinity (however, you interpret that idea).

Chanting is a sacred act here to acknowledge the power of water, to acknowledge and integrate the blessing ritual and ‘sanctify’ the process. The chant changes our breathing patterns and allows us once again to shift our consciousness to waters energy in our journey/life. It also affirms that we are born of water, we originate from a watery realm and to be thankful of its presence on earth allows life to exist.

Starting the process to integrate the experience, as we leave the water we start the process of giving thanks for the experience, starting with the spirits of water, just as we did at the start.

THE CLOSING

Now spend some time in contemplation to integrate the experience beside the water, on land. If you need to dress due to temperature or privacy then do so, otherwise stay naked. Allow yourself fully be aware of the physicality of the moment. Again, we should not rush this moment, it is important to allow it to integrate in our bodies, feeling the physicality of the experience as your body dries in the air, the sun. Just as you should not rush out of deep meditation or prayer, this is the same. Take it as slowly as possible. If you feel disorientated or ‘spaced out’ then walk a little, rest against a tree, become fully aware of your physical body and your consciousness fully here and now.

The closing starts by the giving of prayers of thanks to the spirits of place and once again to the waters. The ending prayer: This rite ends in peace as in peace it began. Is a statement of the intention that the work is now completed and ritual has ended and its back to the mundane world.

Now get dressed, clear away the incense. It is a good time to have something to eat or drink and record your experience in a journal or diary. If you still feel a little light headed, try walking bare foot on some grass, sand etc. to literally, ground yourself.