Spring is a wonderful season for a ritual bath. Everything is turning green. The trees are stretching and remembering what it feels like to have leaves. All of the birds are splashing in the rainwater, softening into new feathers. The bees are waking up and beginning their work.
It has been an especially rainy spring in Michigan this year, which means a lot of looking out the window and watching the world come alive. On occasion, when the sun comes out, all of the creatures (including the humans) come out to play or simply to bask in the lushness and the fertility of the earth. This is a perfect time to tend to yourself, to remember, to pay attention, to draw a bath, to light a candle.
One of these rainy mornings my daughter and I decided that this, was as good a day as any, to take a seasonal flower bath. We went into the yard to the place where the violets grow, and together we picked the delicate purple flowers and gently cut off some leaves and brought them inside. We lined the bath with our favorite stones and filled it with warm water by candlelight. Next we sprinkled in salts, and gently placed the flowers and leaves into the water and thanked the sweet violets. I got in first to test the temperature of the water, and Lucy got in after me. There was splashing and laughing and settling in. In all honesty, there was also me telling my daughter not to splash me and her doing it anyways, and there was her whining that the water was too hot, because she is three and motherhood is many things both mystical and quite ordinary.
When we had settled in together, Lucy began placing the violet flowers all over my face with deep care and intentionality. After they were placed to her liking she told me to hold my breath. I did as she asked and bravely closed my eyes. In the quietness she poured the warm water over my face, the flowers gently flowing back into the bath water. I had been transformed. When I opened my eyes Lucy took my face in her hands and gasped at the beauty of me. I was radiant and whole and new. She then asked if I could adorn her in the same way. And so I did. I gently placed the violets on her face, taking my time to place them as carefully as she had done for me. And when they were placed to my liking, I told her to hold her breath. I poured the water over her face and watched the flowers slip back into the water and when she opened her eyes she was beaming, fully alive with the new light that the violets had offered her. Together, we became the spring, filled with the energy of life bursting forth, immersed in the beauty and simplicity of being our beautiful blooming selves.
In this spring season, I am learning how to lie down in the grass. I am learning how to laugh with my daughter, lungs full of chamomile air. I am learning how to bask in the light and the shadow. I am learning my own rhythms. I am learning to flow like water. I am learning to listen to my body. I am learning how to be kind to myself. I am learning to surrender. I am learning how to bloom like the Violet.
I am learning how to draw a bath and fill it with salt and flowers.
I am learning how to be transformed.
Guidelines for a personalized Seasonal Bath:
Taking a ritual bath, I believe, does not have to be complex or difficult. You don’t need to follow a recipe with lots of special ingredients. The beauty and the gifts of a seasonal bath lie in your intention and in your tenderness towards yourself. Use the plants that you are drawn to, or use the things that are already blooming in your yard. Violets, roses, lavender, basil or marigolds are great plants and flowers to nourish your body and care for your spirit. If you are using plants in your yard, harvest mindfully and say thank you to each plant that you choose. If you do not feel comfortable identifying plants in your yard, go to the farmers market and find some no spray blooms, or go to your local health food store for organic dried plant material.
Use anywhere from ½ cup to 2 cups of Epsom salts and dissolve these into the hot water, then add the equivalent of ½ cup fresh or dried flowers or plants. You can add the plants into the water loose, or you can put the plants into a muslin bag and let them steep as the bath fills up. There is no wrong way to do this. Do what feels good to you. A tip for clean up is to let the bath drain and then let the plants dry overnight, when they dry it is much easier to clean them out of the tub.
Bring to the bath the items that help you to feel safe. You are sacred and you deserve to feel pampered. Light candles, put on meditative music, anoint yourself with oil, have a piece of dark chocolate. Sink into the water, let the plants ease you back into your body. Let the water make you new, let the salt calm your overworked muscles. Let the space that you have created for yourself transform you.