Earlier today I read the piece that John Beckett post here.
It prompted a response on my part on the Book of Faces, and I wanted to recapture some of that here, because I want to explore it all a little deeper. There has been a great deal of talk about purity and other related topics in the pagan blogosphere. I have some of my own thoughts on the matter.
To recap my comment, I said this on Facebook;
“I think of spiritual purity very “naturally.”
Spiritual dirt is like real dirt. Probably not going to kill you, and comes off pretty easy. A little bit of dirt is normal, and perhaps even healthy.
Spiritual pollution is a similar to rolling around in sewage. Might actually make you sick, and will take more than a shower to deal with.
Spiritual toxicity is like living with nuclear waste. Will likely kill you, and is best avoided unless you like melting flesh. If it can be dealt with, is going to need some high grade cleansing.”
I wanted to elaborate on all this a little bit. The way I have come to understand them, cleansing and shielding are two sides of a the coin. One is to get “clean” away spiritual detritus and contamination, and one is to prevent it in the first place. Let’s run with some of the metaphor’s I brought up.
Spiritual dirt happens, just in the same way that regular dirt happens. It accumulates in our houses, and on our bodies whether we like it or not. Wearing clothes helps a little of this. It is the reason we should change our underwear every day, or why I wear an apron while at the forge. The point being, is that such articles help to keep some of the everyday dirt away from my body. This is basic level shielding, which is good for the day to day stuff. I keep a “basic” shield on my at all times, just like clothes. I change it out every so often for the same reasons.
But just like changing clothes won’t keep me clean indefinitely, neither will a basic level shield. I have to shower at least once in a while. The same applied for cleansing. Just like you have to wash your clothes as well as your body, the same principle applies to your spiritual self as well. Whatever your chosen method, basic cleansing such as sage or incenses help to keep the spiritual body and laundry tidy.
I make no judgement about negative/positive good/bad or otherwise in regards to spiritual dirt. It is something that happens, but that should be cleared away once in a while less you get “stinky”. More on that in a minute. The point being that spiritual dirt is pretty normal.
Also, as a side note, I do think our spiritual selves are similar to our living body in many ways. As such, I do think we have a certain level of intrinsic shielding, kind of like the body’s own immune system. It fights off what it can without a lot of maintenance. That is also something to keep in mind. Some dirt is actually healthy for the physical immune system, and overall, I would argue that a little bit of dirt is healthy for the spirit too.
The next level, is what I call spiritual pollution. This is more than just the everyday “dirt” that builds up. As I mentioned above, it is like rolling in sewage. There is a good chance it is going to make you sick. In physical term, it is like the rough analogy of getting something rather mundane like the cold, or something more series like the Flu or pneumonia. It can range from the spiritual equivalent of a “headcold” to something a lot more serious. Think hospital time in the real world.
There comes a point where, without regular cleansings, everyday “dirt” can start to become “pollution.” Think if you got really dirty without taking a shower or changing your clothes, or got into something like sewage with a lot of nastiness in it. Spiritual pollution can make you sick in your spirit.
And unlike dirt, it probably isn’t going to go away with just a shower (cleansing). Just like your physical body, if you get really sick you might want to see a doctor or go to the hospital. With spiritual pollution you might also want to consult a specialist.
On the shielding part, everyday clothes won’t protect you from the biohazard that is sewage. People that work with such pollutants typically have specialized suits so they don’t get sick or worse. That is another level of shielding, which takes a little more time, care and maintenance to create effectively. In my own practice, the “mid level” shielding is more heavier than my everyday work.
Which brings us to the last point. The worst of the worst to me is what I call spiritual toxicity. In practical terms, I made the analogy to nuclear waste. Long term exposure will probably kill you, or at very least make you really sick, like long term cancer sick. Overall, I think this kind of thing is best avoided, or if you must encounter it, you better go prepared. Nuclear waste workers often wear full environmental/hazard suits. They also go through decontamination both before and after exposure.
Shielding and cleansing should be treated the same way. I don’t think I can stress enough, if you are going to deal with toxic things, you need to be prepared. Nuclear waste crews typically have entire institutions and countless regulations behind them. A simple saging or incense won’t do the trick here. Like cancer gets in your body, spiritual toxins infect your spirit. This kind of things needs specialist, and expert level shielding and cleansing. I have what I call my “advanced” level shielding, and it has taking me many years to shape. It take a lot to work and maintain, but it’s all about that preparation thing.
Some of you may notice that I mix organic and techno-industrial metaphors. While they may not be right on point, they convey what I am trying to get across. Something between the technological and the organic.
And that dear readers, is today’s lesson in spiritual cybernetics.