I have such a treat for you today! Yesterday I shared an extract from one of my favourite books written by Shonagh Home on the topic of Sacred Bathing. I was so excited when she responded to an email to answer some questions for the blog, and her words are so beautiful I can't wait for you to read them! So, meet Shonagh....
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself.
I am an author, shaman and spell breaker. I describe myself as such because I take my students beyond the watered-down, westernized versions of shamanism. I plumb the mysteries with curiosity and courage, leading participants out of the cultural mass-trance and into the territory of the sacred. I work for Terra, Mother Earth, who is my benevolent guide and teacher.
My offerings focus on the shamanic mysteries of working with the spirit realms, the natural plant and animal world around us, and the development of our intrinsic abilities—intuition, creativity and multi-dimensionality. I also teach the blood mysteries—the beauty and power of the maiden, mother, and crone. In addition, my work delves into the sacred womb, honoring and opening women to this altar within the temple of their body. My books, ‘Ix Chel Wisdom: 7 Teachings from the Mayan Sacred Feminine,’ and ‘Love and Spirit Medicine,’ share a woman’s deeply personal experience on the path of the mystic, bringing forth wisdom for those seeking a deeper life experience.
Can you introduce us to the concept of sacred bathing?
Sacred bathing is an ancient practice that goes back thousands of years. Before entering a temple or other sacred space of worship, a cleansing was required and a ritual bath or steam was said to purify and cleanse the body. Bathing ritually was also a way to honour the person being bathed. One soaked in specially prepared water or sacred oils that possessed specific healing or magical properties.
Modern day practices of sacred bathing can serve as a ritual of self-love. You are creating a space for YOU for repose and calm.
What are the benefits of sacred bathing?
A heightened regard for the self. Lowered blood pressure and a general de-stressing of the physical body. Inner peace and calm. A more profound connection to spirit via the water elemental and any other elements you bring into the bath/temple, ie: incense (representing air), flowers (representing earth), candles (representing fire), herbs tossed in the water, (representing the plant medicines), etc. etc.
What is your favourite way to prepare a sacred bath?
I buy pink roses and pull off the petals. I set up the space around the tub with one or two orchids or a vase of fragrant flowers. I place beeswax candles and tea-lights around the tub space and set up my music. I draw a gorgeous hot bath and drop in some essential oils, then toss in lots of rose petals. The lights go off and the room is bathed in candlelight. I kneel before the tub and thank all the nature spirits for gifting me so generously with their medicine and their beauty. I ask the water elemental to take away any stress or constriction I am holding in my body, as well as any emotional residue I might be carrying. I thank the water elemental for its ancient medicine and then step into the water as a high priestess entering bliss.
Help! I don’t have a bath! Any alternatives?
At the end of the day, just standing under the shower is enough to cleanse the body both energetically and physically of any “stuff” we picked up over the course of the day that we want to release. Most of us feel really good after a long hot shower, or an invigorating cold shower on a hot day. Mix it up and do hot for a few minutes and then switch to cold. You will enervate your body and your skin will look great.
In today’s world, many of us work in very masculine environments, especially in the corporate world. Fast, aggressive, competitive, and long hours. In these instances, sacred bathing would surely be a great way to balance that energy out when we get home at night. Are there any other ways we can achieve this balance?
Absolutely. Endeavour to take make time for a 20 minute meditation. You need only sit on your bed with pillows propped behind you. Close your eyes and focus on simply breathing slowly in and out. The breath is a powerful portal for altered states. Simply focusing on taking in the breath of life and feeling the sweetness of filling the lungs, then feeling the natural letting go as you exhale, will bring your entire body into a calm state. If the mind wanders, focus on the ultimate mantra - two of the most powerful words you can ever say: “I AM.” Let that be your mantra and repeat that in your head while you gently breath. This is simple and effective. You can enhance the experience should you desire, by incorporating soft music via headphones, which can be very transporting.
Another very profound mood changer is to go to a quiet room and call in either your child or your partner. Tell them you are going to sit and hug each other, hold each other. Think about this. How often these days, do we take time to just sit with our children or beloved and just embrace them, or sit and hold hands and quietly talk about something that brings you both joy? We are human beings, not corporate machines. It is imperative that we reach out to those we love and trust and TOUCH them. People are STARVED for touch and I always say that touch is primary. If your kids are teenagers and have no interest, have a good sense of fun and tell them to humour you and get their gorgeous self over to their mama so you can stroke their cheek or put that stray hair behind their ear and just tell them how much they are loved. Try that and see how you feel.
You have a new book out, can you tell us a little about it?
‘Love and Spirit Medicine’ chronicles the demise of my marriage, as told with consciousness, where I explore personal shadow and projection. It then delves into my monthly, shamanic immersions into sacred mushroom medicine. It was through these plant medicine journeys that I was gifted with a spirit guardian that appeared as a white owl. I began to experience a deep communion with her and other etheric beings and they have assisted me profoundly in my evolution. In the book I write about a love relationship that developed between a friend and myself, only to encounter a blistering heartbreak that sent me into a dark night of the soul. Because of my reverent use of the mushrooms and the resulting connections to the spirits, I was able to heal on a deeply profound level. I realized through that journey that I didn’t need anyone to complete me. I had my own set of wings that could carry me to unimaginable heights.
Plant spirit medicine has long been the domain of women and yet there are very few books written by women that share their experiences with these potent teachers. My story is told from a place of vulnerability and honesty and it is meant to guide and inspire others to dare to seek the sacred in themselves. The book is available on Amazon.
Finally, do you have any parting words of wisdom for women who are running off adrenaline, doing too much, and have a lot of stress in their lives?
I do. There is a wonderful article written by Bronnie Ware, a hospice worker, who wrote about the 5 most common regrets of the dying. I think that it is these words that help us to put things in their proper perspective:
Regret number 1: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Regret number 2: I wish I didn’t work so hard.
Regret number 3: I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Regret number 4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Regret number 5: I wish I had let myself be happier.
We are NOT what we do and we are NOT machines. We are human beings and we are here to love and be in joy. Let’s remember why we’re here and start LIVING rather than DOING.
In Lak Ech!! ~Shonagh Home
You can visit Shonagh's site here.
You can find her book Ix Chel Wisdom: 7 Teachings from the Mayan Sacred Feminine here.
You can find her new book Love and Spirit Medicine here.