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 Ritual Baths and Cleaning

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Silver Wind
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PostSubject: Ritual Baths and Cleaning   Thu Aug 30, 2007 1:55 pm

The use of herb baths, mineral bath crystals, and floor washes has been a part of hoodoo practice for a very long time. Generally speaking, they combine elements of African and European magical, religious, and witchcraft traditions and also a bit of Native American plant lore.

The oldest ritual baths and cleansings known to mankind are those involving pure water (typically running fresh water or sea water) and decoctions made from water to which has been added salt, minerals, herbs, roots, and tree barks.

Herbal baths are often used when sickness is present, and are pan-cultural in their distribution. The African belief in foot-track magic -- causing good or evil to another through their foot track -- additionally calls for regular ritual cleaning of not only the person but the doorstep and yard, in order to remove harmful materials such as Goofer Dust or War Water, which may be laid down in the path by an enemy.

The Role of Bathing and Cleaning in Hoodoo Spell Work

In hoodoo terminology, performing a ritual or spell is often called "doing a job." The simplest jobs may involve bathing or anointing oneself or cleaning the house in a prescribed way. In these cases, the entire job consists of bathing a set number of times or washing down the walls, floors, and door step of the home or place of business in a ritual manner. Generally, the disposal of used bath water or floor wash from such work consists of throwing it to the east at or before sunrise, accompanied by a short, formulaic recitation.

If a bath is intended to draw in good luck, it is common for the conjure to tell the bather to rub the body only in an upward direction after pouring the bath. If the bath is for the removal of evil conditions, the client may be told to bathe by rubbing in a downward direction only. In either case, the used bath water, enhanced by the essence of the bather, may become an ingredient in further spell work, ritually sprinkled, used to wipe away enemy tricks and witchcraft spells, or be added to floor wash.

Ritual floor-washing is likewise divided into two classes of work: washing to draw in good luck, and washing to remove evil. To attract good fortune, business clients, store customers, or a lover, one scrubs the front doorstep inward, to draw in what is wanted. When spiritually cleaning a home or business premises to rid it of evil conditions, one works from the top floor of the building down to the bottom floor and from the back of each floor to the front of each floor, ending at the front doorstep, which is usually given special attention and scrubbing. The used wash-water may be thrown into the front yard, toward the East, or, if preferred, the washing-out may continue down the house-path toward the road and conclude by throwing the water to East at the border of the property.

More complex hoodoo spells done to improve one's condition in life in various ways might comprise dressing an amulet, burning candles and incense, or fixing up a mojo bag to be carried on the person. Spell work directed against enemies may involve laying tricks or throwing down materials for the victim to step over. Very strong jobs of both these types may take on the characteristics of elaborate magical rituals -- and in many cases when such a complex job is undertaken, ritual bathing forms the prelude to doing the job and a second ritual bath or a ritual house-cleaning followed by a ritual bath is the concluding act which marks its close.

Herb Baths

The oldest tradition concerning ritual bathing utilizes of special herbs thought to impart certain essences conducive to love-getting, money-drawing, protection from evil, or the removal of curses. The method of preparation is generally to steep the herbs in boiling water, strain the mixture, let the liquid cool, and pour it over the body while standing in a wash tub.
Perhaps the most well-known bath-herb in the African-American Christian community is Hyssop, mentioned in Psalm 51 of the Bible as the herb to use for purification from sin. The common-encountered recommendation to use only rain water, spring water, or ocean water in preparing such a bath is very likely an example of the Jewish-kabbalist influence in hoodoo, for in Judaism the mikva or ritual bath is supposed to me made with free running water.



Other herbs used in ritual baths might include Damiana for love, Raspberry Leaves to increase a woman's attractiveness, Rue for protection, Eucalyptus to rid oneself of bad habits or evil companions, Agrimony to reverse a jinx, and Cinnamon Chips or Chamomile flowers to draw money. Special proprietary mixtures, generally sold under names like 7 Herb Bath, 9 Herb Bath, and 13 Herb Bath are used to draw good luck in love and money, to increase personal spiritual power, and to remove jinxes, respectively.

Many root doctors tell their clients to pour the bath water over their heads a specified number of times (invariably an odd number) and some also prescribe the recital of Psalms or magical phrases as the water is poured. One bath is often deemed sufficient, but for a "strong job" it is common practice to take 7 daily baths of 7 pourings each with 7 Herb Bath, 9 daily baths of 9 pourings with 9 Herb Bath, or 13 daily baths of 13 pourings with 13 Herb Bath. The number of pourings, the words spoken, and the direction which one rubs the body will vary with the magical intent of the bath.

http://www.luckymojo.com/baths.html

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