As today’s psychic fair, I had occasion to recommend cleansing baths (also known as “limpia baths”) for a high percentage of my clients [note:energy cleasing, rather than getting rid of dirt, although they'll do that, too]. As you may have noticed, I like patterns. This pattern makes me think that perhaps people need to do more cleansing baths, especially snce so many people have been ‘dredging their riverbottoms,’ as it were, during this Mercury retrograde.
A limpia bath will clear a person’s energy and even reset it, so that they are fee of whatever external influences are not working for them – old relationships, negative thoughts and habits, or even just whatever they may have brought up from the depths to be cleared. They are always done for a proscribed number of days in a row, generally in multiples of seven (or, in extreme cases, for 40 days). They always have salt in them (epsom, sea, or Himalayan), and they should also always have bay leaf (also known as bay laurel). Some people will add stones, like rose quartz or amethyst, to assist them in what they are working on; pay attention to where on the hardness scale a stone lies, if you are going to do this – anything softer than quartz may not fare as well through the process.
Limpia baths frequently also have other herbs in them, or oils. Oils and the salt can be added directly to the bath, the herbs should be put in a suacepan with water to cover, and brought to a boil on the stove (with a lid on), and allowed to simmer for 15-20 minutes, and strained. The resulting liquid is then added to the bath. Rosemary is clearing and protective, but also energizing, so I don’t recommend it in the evening, generally speaking. Lavender is calming and soothing, and is the gentlest of the clearing herbs. Black sage helps with magickal workings and inducing trance, so is good for channeling, automatic writing, goddess work, and empowerment (but should be used sparingly). Hyssop is a staple herb in Hoodoo (American folk magick) and comes up for a lot of magickal baths. If you’re pulling out the big guns, in terms of both energy and clearing, I am a fan of helichrysum; it was added to ritual foot baths during biblical times.
Water has strong conducting properties and, as such, can be made to take on a specific quality. This is part of the basis of Dr Emoto‘s work on water. The very structure of water can be changed by a word, a prayer, or an energy. Putting a label, such as “love” or “pure” on a container that holds water, even overnight, can strongly effect the water therein. Likewise, a single drop of holy water added to a larger container of tap water, will change the entire container to hold water. These ideas can, as you might imagine, be used to your advantage for magickal bathing.
Any tool will, of course, be more helpful in some instances more than others. Baths are especially useful for women clearing old relationships, because women take on the energy of their partner (even in a same sex relationship) during the act of sex. Some traditions hold that, without conscious work, a cord remains for seven full years past the last instance of sexual intercourse. The water from a bath will naturally get to more places than other forms of cleansing, such as smudge or a salt scrub.
Some traditions would have you, when the bath is over, throw all the water, or at least a cup of it, out into the garden or out your back door or along the path of a person (if you are clearing the energy left by that person). Bear in mind that this aspect was probably started when people didn’t have indoor plumbing and, therefore, drains, so there was something to be said for paying conscious attention to what you did with your waste water. But there is a certain merit to the idea, even in the days of sewer systems; Mother Nature is the most efficient recycler of energies that I know of. She transfors carbon dioxide into oxygen through plants. She transmutes sewage into drinkable water through marshes. Releasing into the earth any energy that you need cleared, transformed, or transmuted may be the most efficient way to get the job done. So, if you were to give a cup of your bathing water to Gaia, it might speed your work along. I do recommend avoiding putting it right where you are trying to grow something, because of the salt.
Be creative, open yourself to inspiration, and feel free to look in a book or two for the properties of specific herbs to assist you in your endeavors. I recommend Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, and Healing Herbs A to Z: A Handy Reference to Healing Plants. There are, or course, others.