I recently had the pleasure of attending River Devora‘s class on “Polytheist Woo” in the Strong Roots and Wide Branches series. I became aware of the class series through Cara’s blog and was immediately interested in it. The class that I attended, the second in the series, focused on spiritual hygiene and cleanliness from a polytheist perspective.
The class started off with introductions and a series of assumptions being presented about the style of practice and beliefs being discussed in the class. These included genuine polytheism (a belief in many gods), a grasp of animistic principle (the idea that many things have consciousness), the desire to cultivate right relationship with the Powers, an expression of embodied spirituality (our bodies and this world are important and an expression of spirit), and an awareness of the power and responsibility that comes with our mortality. River also included a statement of radical inclusivity; that was good to hear. Although most Pagan and Polytheistic communities are cooler about various minorities than they have been in the past I know that hearing the inclusivity stated explicitly made me feel far more comfortable, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one.
Something else that was offered was altar space. There was a shrine set up with offerings available for anyone who was physically present who felt the need to rise and give to the Powers. For those of us at home, if we asked, someone would take care of it. I appreciated the offer but had my own shrine “activated” and going during the class, and I thought that it was a positive service to provide for a class full of polytheists.
We discussed what sort of things could make us spiritually unclean and the concept of spiritual malaise. We also delved into the evil eye, the power that many cultures are aware of to unconsciously curse and wreak harm through our gazes, whether through the attention of Ancestors and other spiritual allies or projection of harmful energy and will.
Then we went into many different ways and means of cleansing. There seem to be styles of spiritual hygeine that are cross-cultural; some methods involve washing, cleansing and purifying through a substance or action, and some of them seem to emphasize passing on the negative luck or energy or spirits to another medium and getting rid of them, often in such a way that they are put into the hands of Powers that will know better how to make use of them. We also went into warding and protections, which I tend to think of as pre-emptive cleansing, and discussed how alliances with Ancestors and other powers can be helpful for protection and prevention of malaise and harmful actions against us.
Towards the end of the class, a period was devoted to the Powers, asking them if there was anything concerning the subject at hand that they wished to reveal to us. Again, I was impressed by this expression of good hospitality and respect to the Gods and Ancestors, and think that it’s a valuable practice. I’ll reveal the one thing that I was given from this that I was encouraged to share: Use a penny to wipe away bad love luck. Stand by your door, and pass the penny all around you, picking up and straining out all of the ill luck and negativity surrounding your love life and that aspect of yourself, open the door, take a step out, and hurl it as far as you can, with intent. It worked like a charm.
So, if you read this, hie thee hence to Facebook and sign up for the group and these valuable classes. This is the real deal, folks – polytheist people helping each other sort out their beliefs and practices, working to reinforce and build on the patchwork tents that we’re creating and that someday we hope will be a complex of grand temples.