Thursday, January 7, 2010

the enchanted bath

You hear the sound of water and you know where you want to be.  Rumi

In today's world, it is difficult to set aside the time to indulge in a few moments of luxury.  We forget that by simply washing away the pressures of daily life we can replenish our well-being.  The bath is a celebration of the whole self.  It is a reward to the body, mind and soul.  The bath helps to nurture, balance, and release energy.  It is the one place in your home that you can go to, again and again, to attain inner tranquility.
A bath relaxes the mind and body and connects us to an ancient ritual.  Water is pure, rejuvenating therapy.  To honor our bodies and ourselves with fragrant oils of flowers and herbs is to intertwine with nature.  In a sanctuary of scent and warm water, we can breathe deeply, rejoice, and feel the wholeness of life.  We soak and bathe as a ritual of rememberance.  We burn candles and create our own private retreat, linked with what is holy and enchanting.  Water is the great beginning, the sea of life, our first dwelling place.  When we take a bath, we are reminded of where we came from, and where we want to return.  It is the original home.

The bathe in them gives new life; to drink them cures every bodily ill. Cherokee Wisdom

Early civilizations practiced what we now refer to as holistic medicine.  The mind, body and spirit were all considered in the healing process.  Health was aligned with nature.  Massage, aromatherapy, herbology and the bath were common treatments.  Water was the remedy of the sages.  The oldest known medical document, the Ayurveda of India, written in Sanskrit, prescribed the blending of herbs and warm oils in bath form.  Designed to prevent aging and immortality, this treatment was originally reserved for king and queens.  Now you can treat yourself royally, too!

Parvati's Indian Summer Soak
 for unwinding

Parvati is the Hindu goddess of the mountains, the daughter of the Himalayas.  She is known as the ruler of nature spirits. 


5 drops jasmine essential oil
5 drops sandalwood essential oil
2 teaspoons sulfated castor oil

Draw a warm bath.  In a bowl, blend essential oils and castor oil.  Add to bath water, mixing with your hands.  Soak for 20-30 minutes.

The Mood

Begin by playing Indian or Near Eastern stringed instruments like the sitar or the tambura.  Burn sweetly-scented patchouli incense or a brown candle (Parvati's sacred color.)  Sip from a glass of hot ginger tea.  When you finish bathing, wrap yourself in a colorful sarong and relax.

The Egyptians cleansed their spirits through bathing as far back as 4000 B.C.  They revered water as a divine substance that embodied magical properties.  Greeks and Romans followed suit, though in bathrooms of their own.  Majestic bathing halls were soon created in every town for public use.  Floors, columns and seats were made of marble.  Walls were inlaid with precious gems, and ceilings were often hand-painted.  These bathhouses became centers for cultural activities, housing art galleries, lecture halls and massage rooms.  The baths of Caracalla could hold up to 1,600 bathers at a time; it was a grand setting for social gatherings and worldly meetings.

Hygieia's Love Thy Body Bath
for physical self-esteem

Hygieia, the goddess of health, was the offspring of Asclepius, the god of healing.


3 drops rosemary essential oil
2 drops ylang-ylang essential oil
1 drop patchouli essential oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil
2 teaspoons sulfated castor oil

Fill your bathtub with warm to hot water.  In a bowl blend essential oils with castor oil.  Pour in tub and mix thoroughly with your hands.  Bathe for 20 minutes.

The Mood

A beautiful body is not created by diet and exercise alone.  It involves one's self-perception.  Trust your intuition and avoid following external ideas of how you should look.  Accept yourself for who you are.  Light silver candles to remove negativity.  Inhale deeply and then exhale, releasing all thoughts about your physical being that are not positive. Remember, your're worth it!

Water is the most healing of all remedies, and the best of all cosmetics. Old Arabian Proverb

Women have always been linked to water, both historically and mythologically.  Queen Cleopatra bathed in milk, water and rose petals in preparation to attract Mark Antony.  It worked!  Queen Elizabeth of Hungary took a bath in rosemary water, then drank it and massaged it into her paralyzed joints, curing herself and winning the heart of a much younger man.  Hmm.
French Impressionist painters like Renoir and Cezanne used the bathing female as a recurring motif in their work.  Angelic and sublime, these beauties were painted to look spiritually cleansed and at peace.  Women and water was also an enduring theme for the Pre-Raphaelites.  Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, whose name is derived fromt he word aphros, meaning sea-foam, was said to have sprung from the ocean before floating to Cyprus.  She is identified by the Romans with Venus, the goddess of fertility and beauty, who emerged from the sea, where she was presented with a single red rose.
And then there is the mermaid.  She descended from folklore that connected goddesses with the sea, the universal womb.  Stories of fish-deities and sea-geishas were told by fishermen from every land.  Idealized as beautiful, uninhibited and dangerous water creatures, they were thought to rule with hypnotic charm. The most legendary mermaid was Melusine.  After marrying a mortal who built her a castle, she would spend one day a week spread out in her bath, in the strictest of privacy, for that is when her tail would appear.

Cleopatra's Bath of Roses
to awaken the senses

Cleopatra was a flamboyant and earthy queen who carpeted her floor with petals of roses and used their essential oil to entice her man.  Cleopatra wasn't the only one to bathe in milk, but she may have been the first.  Do you think that she knew that roses mean confidence?


6-10 drops rose essential oil
1/2 cup goat's milk

In a small bowl, mix rose essential oil into the goat's milk.  Add to a hot bath.  Sprinkle with fresh rose petals.  Soak for at least 20 minutes.

The Mood

Imagine yourself in ancient Egypt, circa 45 B.C., when it was the wealthiest kingdom in the Mediterranean.  Why not use rose petals like those you just threw in the hot bath to cover your floor, too?  Burn orange candles, to stimulate and energize, and be sure to turn out all the lights.  To honor the queen, have your flashiest bathrobe ready to slip into when you finish soaking in the milk bath.  Cleopatra loved silk, and her favorite colors were purple and gold.

Aphrodite's Conjuring Waters
for pure pleasure

The Greeks worshipped Aphrodite.  She was their feminine ideal and one of the Twelve Great Olympians, and was known and 'Queen of the Sea.'


4 drops ginger essential oil
4 drops sandalwood essential oil
4 drops vanilla essential oil
4 drops ylang-ylang essential oil
1 tablespoon sulfated castor oil

In a bowl, mix essential oils with castor oil.  Pour into hot bath water, blending with your hands.  Soak 20-30 minutes.

The Mood

Picture an idyllic sunbathed island in the Aegean Sea.  Get some nisiotika (Greek Island) music by Yanni Parios, contemporary Yanni, or classic bouzouki. Light a red candle, to attract the influence of Aphrodite.  Let the moonlight shine through the window and imagine three sailors are doing the hasapiko (Greek folk/napkin dance) just for you.

Taking my bath is the single most indulgent luxury I engage in.  Showers are so fast, quick and cold, but the bath is warm and slow and caressing.  I encourage everyone to make time to take a bath once in awhile.  Embrace the goddess in you.  Calgon, take me away! xo

thanks Susan Hayden for your lovely inspirations