Let’s face it: water makes everyone feel good. We revel in the positive energy of a waterfall, feel invigorated while swimming in a mountain lake, enjoy seeing the dry grass rejoice in a much-needed summer rain, admire raindrops as they hang like precious diamonds from leaves while catching the sun after a downpour, and we feel refreshed after sunning up in the shower. Studies have shown that we can direct our positive energy into water, actually changing its molecular structure through these vibrations, making it cleaner and purer, and even giving it healing properties. Not only does water give life, as well as clean, hydrate, and invigorate our physical body, it also plays a fundamental role in spiritual purification and religious rituals of different paths and traditions.
Indigenous Americans: Saunas for body and soul
Indigenous Americans purify in sweat lodges, while some tribes immerse their bodies in naturally flowing water, such as streams.
Islam: Stand pure before God
In Islam, ablution – the washing of one’s body – is used for purification before conducting some kinds of prayers.
Judaism: Clean in body and spirit
In Judaism, there are various regulations that require performing ritual washing in order to remove impurities. In some cases, the body must be completely immersed in undrawn water, such as a river, natural spring, or collected rain water. One of the most precious Torah precepts is to immerse oneself in a mikveh, or a pool filled with rain water. Enveloped by its living waters and immersed in its sanctity, one is believed to be elevated into a state of spiritual purity, reaffirming the circle of life.
Buddhism: Pure as consciousness
In Japanese Buddhism, temples have special basins filled with water for ablutions.
Christianity: Wash away thy sins
In Christianity, the ritual purification of baptism is performed with holy water and can include just touching it with one’s fingertips, pouring it on the forehead or completely immersing the body. Several churches also keep holy water for the priest or minister to wash their hands before conducting the Eucharist. The fountains that were built in the courtyards of many ancient churches were intended for Christians to wash their hands before worship.
Purifying water in Hindu rituals
Hindus purify their bodies with water before temple worship, meditation, and other spiritual practices. The pujari, or the devotee who offers articles to the Divine during deity worship, sanctifies water with special mantras and sprinkles it on the articles to purify them before the offering. During marriage and other fire ceremonies, this water is sprinkled over everybody in attendance. In other ceremonies, deities themselves are bathed not only in water but also in other valued liquids, such as milk, honey, and ghee. Hindus bathe their entire body in holy rivers as an important part of ritual purification. One of the main holy rivers of India is the Ganges, or the Ganga, as it is pronounced in Sanskrit. Hindus see this river as sacred and also as the manifestation of Goddess Ganga, a form of the Divine Mother. Bathing in this river is not only an object of pilgrimage for many but is considered an auspicious method of purification. Therefore, its waters are seen as holy, purifying us on the spiritual level. Water can also be made holy by blessing it with mantras. Holy water is used in rituals to remove attributes seen as unclean, though not necessarily on the physical plane. It is highly beneficial to sprinkle holy water on yourself to uplift your spirit, cleanse yourself before a ritual, or facilitate the practice of meditation or prayer.