4 + LESSON: Spiritual Cleansing Part II: Immunity

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Even children can clean their rooms and pick up their toys. In Phase Two + Childhood we asked our sacred shelter to laugh with us, performing a simple, ecstatic home cleansing. In Phase Three as Be-tweens we started thinking about bathing and dressing ourselves without our parent’s help. We talked about the morning practices of Remembering, Choosing, Feeding, and Framing.

[ 3.02.05 LESSON: Temple of Toilet + Remembering ] “In addition to honoring our edges, our identity, and our soul -- the bathroom reminds us to cleanse. As we pat and brush down our skin, we can imagine that we’re brushing off any funk, any un-wanted clutter. If we hit anything that feels sticky we can laugh to break it up so that it falls away. If it’s bath or shower-time then that’s a great chance to imagine our soap is made of magic and really scrub ourselves down.”

And, we ended our Adult Awakening Phase with a cold water purification working.

How did we do all of that without having had this introduction to cleansing? Without knowing about cords and other curious identity contaminants?

We did it the same way anyone can wash their hands without a degree in microbiology and immunology. There are many magical practices that can be done effectively without understanding the mechanics.

But now, if we’re going to be creators and care-givers, if we’re going to develop a more nuanced spiritual practice that can adapt to our changing needs and the needs of other spirits, it’s high time we got a bit clearer about cleansing.

I prefer to frame cleansing as the removal of unnecessary spirits over calling it the removal of negative energy or bad spirits, because bad spirits can be very necessary.

I’m talking about Immunity. For most folks, Immunity is strengthened by contact with stress, irritants, allergens, and disease-agents. The body won’t waste precious energy maintaining or evolving a system that is not in use. So in a perfectly bleached, sterile environment, the immune system fades. Meanwhile, the kindergarten teacher’s immune system, which is challenged by dirty countertops and grubby hands, may become quite strong.

Spiritually speaking, that means we actually want to spend some time touching funky energy and irritating people. It means that if we use spiritual shields and cleansers all day every day, we might actually contribute to our hypersensitivity by weakening our immunity.

That said, we need to honor our teaching edge. Maybe we need to carry a protective stone in our pocket at work, because our boss is cruel and it’s more than we can currently bear without starting to feel not-quite-like-ourselves. But, we could try to remember to take our magic stone out of our pocket when we go to the grocery store, so that we can still have some experiences out amongst other people, touching the world with our bare hands. If we’re to become parents, we need to start being mindful not only of protection, but also of creating opportunities to explore, experience, teach, and grow.

Furthermore, as we start to consider what immunity of identity means to us, we can start crafting magical wards and performing cleansing with more precision. Maybe I’m in a cool, emotional, watery state, but I keep getting pulled into my boss’s stressed-out fire. What kind of stone in my pocket could remind me to be myself, to keep cool? What word could I write on a post-it and stick to my desk to remind me to breathe and be myself? Would a leaf of fresh peppermint in my drinking water teach me with each sip how to feel into my coolness?

The idea of Immunity acknowledges that there is a certain load of other people’s irrelevant stuff I can contact, feel, and even have pass through my system without even noticing it. There is also a certain load that will activate a physical response, the way my body temperature might increase in response to infection.

It’s important to recognize that picking up a bit of fire from our boss doesn’t mean we’re sick. Life is messy and it’s okay to go out, get dirty, and clean it off at the end of the day. We definitely don’t want to get obsessed with avoiding feeling that fire, like some game of magical tug-of-war. Feeling it or even feeling our spirit or body respond doesn’t mean we’re in trouble. When we first start to become conscious of these things we may spend a little time hyper-conscious of it all, sort of like how med school students spend a few months thinking they have every disease when they take their first pathology class. If that happens, no worries, it’ll wear off.

For the most part, carefully crafted wards, shields, methods of magical alignment, and pockets full of iron aren’t needed to sustain our health. We need sleep, nourishing food, laughter, movement (especially of our bowels), and basic hygiene.