Obviously, unless you’re Bathing For Two, baths are assumed to be solitary. However, I have a couple bath rituals that are so akin to spiritual experiences that I only take them when I’m at home alone, completely uninterrupted.
I take Solitary Baths when I’m out of sorts and need something well beyond the usual mood pick-me-up, or when I’m feeling especially thankful or joyful about something, or when I’m on the cusp of something big. Solitary baths usually involve meditation, some sort of ritual dance/movement (tai chi, for example), and even prayer. Some I even time to when the moon is full, or will only take at night or first thing in the morning. These baths are more formal and ceremonial, and can be a very renewing experience. Obviously, don’t use anything overtly chemically or artificial with these ritualistic baths.
Japanese Bath Ceremony
This is one of my most favoritesest, and most important, baths. Thanks to Riggs’s Scented Bath.
- One-quarter ounce dried lemongrass
- One-half ounce fresh ginger pieces
- One ounce of dried star anise
- Twelve drops pine balsam oil
- Jasmine scented soap
Combine dried lemongrass, fresh ginger pieces, and dried star anise with two quarts of water in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring mixture to a boil, simmer fro five minutes, and then remove from heat and let it steep for an additional fifteen minutes. While this is steeping, it’s a nice time for some meditation/relaxation. Riggs suggests: “…burn a stick of sandalwood incense to set the mood. Sit, either on the floor or in a chair, with your back straight. Close your eyes, empty your mind, and picture yourself high on a mountaintop illuminated by sunset. Breathe deeply and slowly, and go into yourself. When you have been completely at peace for several moments, open your eyes. Remains still for five minutes more. Now that you are calm and centered, you are ready for the Japanese Bath Ceremony” (35). Yeah, sounds a little hokey, but ahhhh it feels so good! I also like listening to koto music, both to set the mood and because it’s incredibly soothing. You can also incorporate this bath with a formal Japanese Tea Ceremony as well… or just sip a cup of jasmine tea while soaking.
Run bathwater, and strain herbs from steeped bath tea and add to bathtub. Add pine balsam oil just before turning off the water.
Full Moon Baths
As a Cancer, moon-related baths are extremely significant to me. These can be highly spiritual experiences, or you can have a Full Moon Bath just to realign yourself with essential cycles. For a spiritual Full Moon Bath, though, I suggest boiling several quarts of water, adding the sea salt, and setting it out in a bowl under the full moon for a while before adding it to your bathwater. I like burning sage in the bathroom first, and using white candles around the bathtub; shimmering light on the water is vital for this kind of ritual bath. I also eschew music during this bath, preferring just the sound of the water. Do each step slowly and carefully, with your mind attuned to the bath’s ritualistic elements.
- Two cups of sea salt
- *Rosemary sprigs
- 12 drops wintergreen oil
- 12 drops bayberry oil
- 12 drops ambergris oil
- 12 drops sage (not clary sage!) oil
Turn out all lights, light candles, and burn sage. Fill the bathtub, add oils to bathwater and agitate, then add bowl of salt water. Float the rosemary sprigs on top of the water.
*Obviously, for a ritualistic bath like this, it’s best if you can just go cut fresh rosemary sprigs from your own garden, but in a pinch, they sell herb bundles of them at most grocery stores. DON’T USE LOOSE, DRIED ROSEMARY!
Or, for a feminine-specific moon bath:
- 1 ounce of each of the following in a cotton bath bag*
- Dried elder flowers
- Dried sunflowers
- Dried rose geranium
- 6 drops clary sage (not sage!) oil
- 6 drops grapefruit oil
- 4 drops patchouli
- 1 cup of sea salt
Draw a very hot bath until the tub is about half- to three-quarters full. Immerse the bath bag and let it steep in the water for a few minutes. Then add cooler water, squeeze the bath bag to release the herbal essences. Add bowl of salt water and oils.
*You can even use just an old washcloth, securely tied, as a bath bag.
Morning Power Bath
This is an intense bath, and an intense spiritual experience as well. If your bathroom has windows, open ‘em wide! Find some soul-soaring music (this is a good time for Greig’s “Morning Mood” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” and springy Chopin waltzes) and blast it. I like this bath to prepare for Big Life Changes, like a new job/school, or moving. Don’t ever do this bath on a rainy or cloudy day.
- 6 drops of patchouli oil
- 6 drops of black pepper oil
- 2 drops peppermint oil
- 2 drops ginger oil
- 2 drops clove oil
Summer Bath of Thanksgiving
You can take this bath on June 21, the summer solstice, or on traditional Thanksgiving Day, or just any particular time you feel like sounding a barbaric yawp of joy.
- 6 drops of clary sage (not sage!) oil
- 5 drops of clove oil
- 5 drops of geranium oil
- 5 drops of nutmeg oil
- 5 drops of ylang ylang oil
- 4 drops of palmarosa oil
- 4 drops of orange oil
- 2 drops of ginger oil
- 2 drops of cinnamon oil
Moisturizes and exfoliates; mix with honey for a gentle facial mask, with salt or sugar for a face scrub, or dump a half-cup directly in the bathwater and scrub all over with it
Some other ingredients:
Not everything for Bath Pigging must be purchased at an apothecary. Lots of essentials can be found at your local market. Next time you’re there, stock up on the following:
- Shopping List:
- Baking soda
- Good for dry, itchy skin
- Water softener, good for dry skin or sore muscles
- Moisturizes, can be used as a softening facial as well
- Also good for moisturizing. I usually take a milk bath before traveling to use up the last of the milk before I leave and moisturize my about-to-be-dehydrated-on-the-plane skin. If you want bath-specific milk, get the whole stuff, not the skim. Dried milk powder works just as well
- Cocoanut milk (usually sold in cans in Asian markets)
- Works like regular milk, but with a tropical feel!
- Salt and/or sugar
- Both are good natural for exfoliating, only don’t use salt on your face unless you have very oily skin
- Olive oil
- Moisturizes, and can be used like a hot-oil treatment on split ends
- Has gentle bleaching quality; use on discolored knee- and elbow skin
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