I’m heading off to the desert this week for an utiseta, a ceremony in deep wilderness that allows a practitioner of magic to go under the veil and completely disconnect from the human world. There’s nothing “to do” during an utiseta other than meditate and open oneself to receive answers as they come (while also utilizing basic survival skills). While I’ve been preparing for the six-day ceremony for five months, most recently I completed a spirit bath to balance myself before entering the void.
A spirit bath is weeklong ritual that was taught to me by mentor, Ylvadroma Marzanna Radziszewski. It is intended to realign the inner and outer selves using the four classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Within my own Western occult tradition earth is associated with the body, winter, north, and foundation; air is associated with the mind, spring, east, and communication; fire is associated with willpower, summer, south, and transformation; and water is associated with emotions, autumn, west, and ancestors. Resetting these four qualities is a gentle and easy way to bring yourself back into harmony. And for demanding ceremonies, like an utiseta, it is important to be as mentally, physically, and emotionally focused as possible.
To begin the ritual, choose four herbs that are safe for consumption that represent the four elements. These could be herbs that are harvested in seasons that are associated with specific elements (see above), or the herbs might have physiological qualities that align will with a specific element. Consult a licensed herbalist, if you need help choosing herbs.
Combine all the herbs together so that you have about 1/4 cup of the tea mixture.
Every morning for seven days brew 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons worth of the mixture in four quarts of water for ten minutes. Each day should be dedicated to working with a different element (see order below). Pray to the element-of-the-day as the herbs brew. Reserve a portion of the liquid as a tea and pour the rest into a bathtub full of water. Lastly, bathe and drink the liquid to balance the inner and outer selves.
Day 1. Pray to Earth
Day 2. Pray to Air
Day 3. Pray to Fire
Day 4. Pray to Water
Day 5. Pray to the Upper World
Day 6. Pray to the Lower World
Day 7. Pray to the Middle World
While I chose to do this ritual to strengthen my endurance for a much more challenging ceremony, spirit baths can also be used to prepare for mundane life events. Have a big presentation coming up? Do a spirit bath. Feeling confused or emotionally “off”? Do a spirit bath. You might find that certain elements are easier to work with than others. I have a hard time working with fire, but earth and I get along like good friends. You also might find that unprocessed emotions resurface unexpectedly. This time doing the ritual, I had to reevaluate long-held anger from adolescence before finding peace. Ask the elements for help with integration.