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Cleansing And Being Dirty
Category: Druidry Written by Nimue Brown
I’m wary of the idea that cleansing is something we, or our sacred spaces automatically need.
The notion of purity can take us in really unhelpful directions, fuelling feelings of shame and inadequacy. Dirt is nature, our animal bodies are messy, and ‘negative’ emotions are part of the human experience.
At the same time, cleaning can be a restorative and healing practice. In the physical sense, it is good for our wellbeing to clean our bodies and the physical things we live with. Water on skin is a deeply restorative thing both physically and emotionally. Physical wounds need keeping clean as they heal, and we might ask how spiritual and emotional wounds need caring for.
Cleansing can be a good response to feeling stuck. It can be a good symbolic gesture when you feel like you need to let go or move on in some way. You might feel you have things you need to put down or remove from your life, and in that context, any symbolic action that seems appealing is likely to be helpful.
The process of cleaning can, in the normal scheme of things, bring a person into contact with a lot of chemicals. What do we put on our bodies in the name of cleanliness? What does that actually do to us? How much microplastic is in our bodies as a consequence? What kinds of things are we releasing into our homes for the sake of the kinds of shininess we see in adverts? What do we inhale from that? What will it do to us in the longer term? We are sold a lot of things with the notion that they make us cleaner, when actually what’s happening is that we are exposing ourselves to a lot of chemicals.
It’s important to ask what you mean to strip away, and what the implications are. To what degree are we simply trying to deny the idea that we are natural beings with animal bodies? I’d rather have fewer chemicals in my home and more spiders. I like the spiders. And equally, on a spiritual level I’m not trying to strip away impurities, or ‘raise’ myself out of my human condition.
Sometimes though, things happen that feel sticky and unwelcome. For that, I need antidotes. The things I find most helpful are spending time with running water, and under trees. Forest bathing works in all kinds of ways, and doesn’t feel like trying to escape from anything real or natural. Time with trees takes away the unwelcome feelings, and is an antidote to what capitalism does. Time with my hands in soil does the same – actual dirt feels genuinely cleansing to me, and the bacteria we encounter in soil tends to be actively good for us. Humans are full of friendly bacteria when we’re functioning properly, and sterile environments aren’t good for us. Sometimes to feel better we need to be dirtier.
About Nimue Brown
Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings.
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