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Spiritual Bathing



From baptisms to Mayan baths to waterfalls, tubs, and saunas, spiritual bathing is a deeply healing, connecting, and soul-fulfilling practice.

This article appeared in our August 2003 issue. We know that it feels wonderful to soak in warm bath or swim in the sea; that it is blissful to meditate upon the sound of the river water rushing over rocks; or that the light of sunlit drops bursting from a waterfall is magnificent. But how often do we think of these experiences as spiritual? Yet in the ancient times, the spiritual essence of water evoked a sense of wonder, reminding people that they were threads in the divine web of life. Foremost in the great creation myths and tradition of nearly every culture is the recognition that water gave birth to humankind. It was seen as divine, life- giving, healing, cleansing, renewing force. “Water symbolizes the whole of potentiality; it is fons et origo, the source of all possible existence,” wrote Mircea Eliade, the late historian of comparative religion. Water was the primordial element from which most of the ancients believed that the earth was created: The Egyptian god Nun was the god of chaos and waters who created the earth. The Yoruba goddess Obatala created the world from a floating ball of wate …

Nadine Epstein is a writer, artist, and teacher living in Washington, D.C., and founder of the Center for Creative Change. Rosita Arvigo is a naprapathic and holistic physician as well as founder of the Ix Chel Tropical Research Center and the Terra Nova medicinal plant preserve in Belize. Epstein and Arvigo are co-authors of two books on Maya healing practices. Their book is Spiritual Bathing: Healing Traditions and Rituals From Around the World, which was published in 2003. They would love to hear about your experiences of spiritual bathing at

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