Today I’m going to be addressing one of the Kemetic Roundtable questions, “Ritual Purity: What does that mean for my practice?” but going at it a little differently.
A lot of articles about ritual purity will discuss it’s importance and how to go about it, but there is a subject that I have seen referenced only occasionally; That of the bleeding time.
For those of us who experience periods, ritual purity can be a tricky subject. How you approach it will depend on your path, be it recon based or not, your relationship with the Netjeru and the severity of that bleeding time.
Before my path turned to kemeticsm, I was an eclectic outer circle Wiccan. I consider myself a mix of that and Kemetic now, and still pull from that practice. However, sometimes it will conflict. A few days ago, I was washing up and discussing this topic with my partner. I had the understanding of the monthly bleeding as sacred, verses it being impure for kemetic ritual.
I expressed this to them, and they said it sounded as if my stance on that it being sacred was stronger, so I should go with that. I agreed, but it got me thinking.
It’s important to examine why we engaging in purity practices before rituals or shrine, to really do this topic justice. I, and many others, view the Netjeru as family, friends, and people we admire. When you go and meet these sorts of people, you make an effort to look good, smell good, and be healthy, especially if it’s a special occasion!
However, modern day living means we might not have the time to spend all morning in the bathroom, getting pretty. I do my offerings to the Netjeru before I go to work. Because of this, I’m usually wearing my work uniform and haven’t had a shower, but I make a point of brushing my hair, my teeth (and if I have time, rinse and spit with my home made natron) and washing my hands.
This is because I want to show the gods that I care, and want to allow myself a little bit of time to think “Yeah, I’m about to give praise and offerings, and make contact. I’m calm and ready to do this.”
Taking the time to cleanse is important because of the mental state it puts you in, and the thought that goes into it, not because you are disappointing someone for not being clean enough.
“If nothing else, hands are the parts of ourselves that we extend to the deity, that embrace the statue, that anoint it with oil, that greet the god in ritual gesture and which even clap in jubilation at his presence…So I wash my hands. Doesn’t seem like much, but it’s full of meaning.”
As stated on Helmsman of Inepu’s post about ritual purity, the idea of W’ab, which translates to “clean” and “pure”, is not a static one. It is the act of becoming pure, of working towards a state of purity. That, in conjunction with the idea that modern hygiene practices are on par, in a practical sense, with what was expected back then, it’s safe to assume that you can participate In-Shrine during that time.
“Seeing as it happens on a regular schedule, is beyond my control AND is a reminder that I am a healthy member of my sex, I don’t personally see why it should hinder my spiritual schedule. The ancients may have well stuck to this taboo. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with them. I feel that my right to participate in spiritual activities is not encumbered by my menstruation. I don’t stink. I’m not bleeding everywhere like a stuck pig.”
– Cards and Feather
If you are still getting hesitant feels, examine them. Generally, the Netjeru will tell you what they want from you, be it via a sign, an urge or a message through some sort of divination. Ask if they have a problem with it, and be firm with them if they deman more than you can give. If you can’t muster the spoons to do that days ritual because of pain, lethargy, or discomfort, then don’t.
As each person has a different relationship with their Netjeru, it’s logical that this might not apply to everyone. I have participated in Ritual while on it, and opted out of doing shrine because of it. I haven’t been told by the Netjeru that it is wrong, nor have I been roused on for not offering that day.
Take it case by case, and don’t feel bad if you can’t do it that day. If you feel good, go do your thing, if you don’t, then give it a pass.
If you’d like more information on ritual purity, go check out that topic up there. Plenty of other blogs have addressed this subject, some of which I have quoted.