Lustration & Ritual Baths – Freshen Up Yer Body & Soul

New England weather is weird. Today, outside the offices of Weiser Central the sky is overcast and the air temperature hovers at a disagreeable 57 degrees. Yes. You read that right. 57 degrees. Last week it was 98. There is no way to properly plan a wardrobe for a visit to New England unless you bring one of everything.  Sigh. But having lived most of her life in the land of liberals and lobsters, Ankhie knows that as soon as she is acclimated to the English-y weather the clouds will part, the mercury will rise, and the deodorant will give out.  So it’s good to bear in mind ways to stay sweet and sacred through the thick and sticky days to come:

(from Mysteries of Demeter by Jennifer Reif):

Lustration: A Rite of Self-Blessing

The Museum of Eleusis contains a relief of a Hydranos priestess holding a lustration bowl and purifying an initiate, as well as a priestess statue, called “the basin bearer,” that has a square hole in the lower abdomen, which once held a marble basin. The statue, and another just like it, stood beside the doorways of Demeter’s temple, inviting those who entered to perform a lustral rite.

The lustration rite presented here may be used as a way to start the day, bringing the Goddess into your mind and heart as a self-blessing. For your lustration bowl, you may use a large seashell, or any bowl set aside for this purpose. You may choose to scent the water with a few drops of fragrant oil.

Altar Items

  • Icon or image of Demeter and a lustration bowl.

The Words and Actions

  1. Dipping the fingers of your right hand into the lustration bowl, bring them to the center of your forehead and say: Eye of the spirit where wisdom enters,
  2. Extend your right arm out toward the right saying: May her good enter from the right hand,
  3. Extend your left arm out toward the left saying: May her good enter from the left hand,
  4. Bring both hands to your heart (mid-chest), and say: For she dwells within…
  5. Bring your forearms down, palms up, and say: And without,
  6. Bring your hands again to your heart, as before, and say: In beauty…
  7. Raise your arms up, hands upward, and say: Hail!


(from Pure Magic by Judika Illes)

Seven Roses Aura-Cleansing Bath

  • 7 red roses
  • Handful of salt
  • Splash of vinegar
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Splash of pure springwater and/or holy water
  1. Fill your tub with water.
  2. Remove the roses from the stems. Watch out for any thorns.
  3. Throw all the ingredients into the tub.
  4. Spend 7 minutes in your bath, rubbing yourself with the roses, submerging yourself periodically and focusing upon your goals.
  5. Dry off with a clean towel, white or unbleached cotton if possible, and put on fresh clothes.

Now here’s the hard part: walk out of the room without looking back. The roses have the tendency to come apart in the tub. This is one of the messier spells. Depending on how important tidiness is to you, you may be tempted to stop and clean your tub. Don’t. It’s vital for the success of this spell that you put some time in between taking the bath and cleaning up the residue. If at all possible, get someone else to clean the tub for you. If not possible, walk out of the room and do something positive or enjoyable that lifts your spirits. After at least an hour, when you feel calm, strong and distanced from any negative feelings that may have caused you to take this bath, you may clean the tub.

*Aura-cleansing spells can be combined for intensification purposes. Burn purification incense in the bathroom prior to taking your aura-cleansing bath.*


(from The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook by Karen Harrison)

Bath Salts and Purifying Bath Herbs

Ritual Baths are used to purify your body and thoughts prior to a ritual working. You may wish to use a standard Purification Bath Salt for all your rites, or you may choose to create a specific Bath Salt that you have composed specifically for the work at hand. The Ritual Bath will help you to focus on the Magick you are about to begin and cause your auric (energy) field to begin vibrating at the same frequency as the type of Magick in which you will be engaging.

Each time you use a Bath Salt or mixture of purifying bath herbs, you will immerse yourself in the water, visualizing all negative vibrations washing away from your body and your energy field. You will allow your muscles to relax and your mind to empty of all thoughts except those that pertain to your ritual. There are several ways to use Bath Salts or their herbal derivatives as you purify yourself in preparation for your work:

Bath Salt: Make a Bath Salt composed of sea salt and essential oils.

Bath Tea: Compose a mixture of herbs and oils and place it in a tea ball or ironable tea bag (these bags are open on one end to stuff with herbs; after you have put your herbal mixture inside, you then iron it shut with a clothing iron).

Bath Tussie: Place your herbs, essential oils, and a tablespoon of sea salt in a cloth bag with a drawstring or on a flat piece of tightly woven  cheesecloth that is then knotted closed. With a Tussie, draw your bath, step in without sitting down, dip the Tussie in the hot water, and scrub your body with it. Then place the Tussie in the bathwater and proceed to soak.

Bath Elixir: Create an elixir by simmering two cups of your herbal mixture in a quart of water for twenty minutes. Strain the herbs from the water, squeezing out the excess water from the herbs and into the liquid you are collecting. This liquid elixir is then added to your bathwater.


As the herbs and essential oils comprising your Bath Salt or purifying bath herb combination will be coming in contact with your skin (and in the case of a bath in which you soak, coming in contact with very sensitive and intimate parts of your body), you do not want to use any oils or herbs that will sting, blister, or otherwise harm your body or make you uncomfortable. If you know you have an allergy to any particular herb recommended for use with a specific Planetary energy, don’t use it. It is very hard to concentrate during a meditation or ritual when you are sneezing or have raised hives on your body!

Herbs you should never use in the bath include nettles, cayenne (it shouldn’t hurt your skin but will wreak havoc if you get some of the bathwater in your eyes), valerian (unless you want to emerge from the water smelling like an old sock), cinnamon, cloves, dragon’s blood resin (this won’t hurt you but will be hard to remove from the bath tub and can also permanently stain enamel), and asafoetida (whose aromatic effects are similar to valerian’s). Ragweed is an herb that often grows among chamomile. Many people are allergic to ragweed, and if you have pollen- or plant based allergies, I recommend that you not use chamomile in the event that ragweed was inadvertently harvested with it. You will always want to use fine sea salt in your mixtures rather than a larger rock salt type. Sit down in the bathtub on the rock salt and you’ll immediately know why.

If you store your Bath Salts in airtight glass containers, you should be able to use them in their full strength for approximately one year. Do not store your Bath Salts in a metal container. The metal can react with the salts, leaving bits of corroded metal debris in your salts. Most people will use about three tablespoons of Bath Salts per bath. You can certainly use more or less depending on your personal tastes.

Pour one cup of fine sea salt into a glass bowl or mortar. Add your essential oils one by one, thoroughly mixing in each one before adding the next and smelling the salts before adding the next oil. Start with five drops of each oil—you can always add more of a scent that you particularly like, but it is impossible to take the oil out. For one cup of sea salt, you will usually end up using around one hundred drops of oil. You want your Bath Salts to look slightly damp but not oily. After combining the essential oils to your liking, add one-quarter cup of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) if you would like your bath to be slightly bubbly and fizzy. You may also want to add color to the salts in accordance with the Planetary or energy color of the Magick you plan to do: green for a prosperity bath, blue for a tranquility bath, and so on. You may use regular food coloring that you can find in the baking section of the grocery store or go to a store that has food coloring for cake frosting. These colors come in small jars and are in a paste form. You need to add only a tiny bit to get intense color. You will find the purple cake frosting coloring to be very helpful, since when you mix blue and red liquid food coloring, no matter what you do, it will come out gray. For a full listing of the energy properties of color, see the list under “Colors for Your Herbal Amulet” in chapter 14. For a Bath Salt, you will be combining only essential oils, not herbs. This is purely for an aesthetic reason. If you put a Bath Salt containing herbs directly into the bath, you will have herbal debris floating on the top of the bathwater. This debris will stick to your skin when you emerge from the bath, and you’ll have to thoroughly wipe down the tub when you are done.

When making an herbal bath mixture to be placed in a bag or tea ball and then infused in the hot bathwater, you will determine the herbs and oils you wish to use. Keep in mind that myrrh resin granules will dissolve and be sticky and mastic; arabic and pine resins will become soft and sticky. I would advise using myrrh or pine oil in place of the resins in a bath herbal mixture, and the oil of elemi in the place of mastic or arabic resin if you desire to include Mercurial or Uranian energy. In your mortar or a glass bowl, place one teaspoon of each of your herbs. Crush and mix them together with the pestle and then add a few drops of your chosen essential oils. Mix thoroughly, then fill your tea bag half full and iron shut, or fill your tea ball halfway. The herbs will expand as they absorb water from the bath. When you use the tea bag, immerse it in the hot water for a few minutes, then squeeze it in your hand to release the liquid that has absorbed into the herbs. If using a tea ball, let it steep in the bath for five minutes or so and then hang it under the water spigot if you are still running water into the bath. If you are not running water, you can just let it bob along in the water as you soak and meditate.

In making a Tussie, combine one or two teaspoons of your herbs in your mortar or glass bowl and add your essential oils and, last, about a quarter cup of sea salt. Since you won’t be putting this mixture loose into the bathwater, you can use either a finely ground sea salt or a larger rock sea salt. Place the mixture into a cloth pouch with a drawstring or onto the center of a flat cloth that you will tie shut. Immerse the Tussie in the bathwater after you have entered the tub or shower and scrub your body with it. Then let it float in the bathwater or hang it from the showerhead.

If you choose to make an Herbal Bath elixir, combine your herbs into a mixture that is two cups in volume. Crush and mix the herb mixture in your mortar or glass bowl, then simmer the mixture in a quart of water for twenty minutes. Let cool until the herbs are comfortable to handle.  Strain out the herbs, squeeze any additional water from the herbs into the resulting elixir liquid, and add any essential oils you desire at this time.After you have drawn your bath, add as much of the elixir as you like to the water. If you are showering, dip your washcloth into the elixir and wipe down your body at the end of the shower, leaving an herbal wash on your skin.

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