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In general I love to take baths. If I’ve had a long day? If I have a miserable cold in the wintertime? If I want to read a book and sip a glass of wine while soaking in lavender bubbles and warm water? Oh yeah, bath time.

Tonight I though maybe I’ll take a bath. I had been meaning to take a bath, but somehow didn’t get to it right away. There was something in me that just didn’t want to. I sat in my comfy chair, reading the internet, and every once in a while I’d think about going upstairs and running the bathwater, but then I’d think naaah, in a minute. It can wait. No rush.

Eventually I quelled the procrastinating voice, and made myself get up and get to it. I might not want to take a bath, but I felt like I needed to. I wanted to wash off the cloud of apathy and bone-deep tiredness and lack of energy that had been clinging to me for… what, months? And now in recent weeks my neck had begun to ache, stiffening right at the point where my shoulders met the base of the neck. It started to feel like a weight, growing ever so slightly heavier with each day and hoping I wouldn’t notice it’s presence.

I have been especially busy at work this season, maybe it’s that? Stress at home? Money worries? Yes, of course – but as my neck twinged, then ached, then throbbed; as my energy and enthusiasm for everyday things waned, I could deny it no longer.

You’ve got something on your back…

I don’t know whether a draining entity had attached itself to me, or I had become vulnerable to some siphoning influence. Maybe I had just gathered this miasmatic cloud over time in the normal course of things, and for whatever reason it wasn’t sloughing off naturally. Whatever. I wanted to wash it off.

I know that in Hellenistic practice, the word Miasma refers to specific instances of spiritual impurity, but I feel like it’s a good descriptor of what I’ve been feeling – like being coated in something dirty.


First, I went out into the humid night to the flower bed by the kitchen door, and bent down to the robust Rue bush that grew there.

O Rue, I ask some sprigs of thee to aid in cleansing me and removing the ill influences that cling to me. I pinched off three generous sprigs with my fingernails. The plant stank, and I didn’t really want to touch it.

Didn’t rue cause a reaction with the skin sometimes? I thought worriedly. What if I got blisters? What if the green sprigs are too strong to rub on my skin? What if I have an allergic reaction? Was this a good idea? Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this! So many little fluttering thoughts.

I was put in mind of the time a friend of mine talked about how when she made up some rue water for another woman who needed serious cleansing, the other woman couldn’t stand the smell. The next time the woman was around rue water though, she remarked that it didn’t smell bad at all, and was surprised at her earlier revulsion.

I also remembered something I read once (phrased more elegantly, I’m sure) to the effect of ‘if you react to cleansing or purifying substances like they are noxious, it’s probably because you need them!’

So then. Sprigs of Rue and Epsom salt, and hot water.

I swished the rue around in the bath before getting in, and once immersed in the water I rubbed the sprigs all over my skin, covering myself in the green stank and especially concentrating on the back of my neck, my lower back, and my left breast (where an astral parasite had once attached; that’ll be a tale for another day). I took the stems and lightly scratched my skin with the rune Elhaz – back of neck, lower back, breast, forehead. the gateways. I held my nose and completely immersed myself, getting my hair wet and letting the water run into my ears. This I did three times.

After a while i got out some lovely rose-scented bath scrub and washed, shaved my legs, rinsed my face; the usual. The water grew cloudy with soap, but it seemed to me that it was more of a sickly grey color than it should have been. when I opened the drain, the water sounded different than it usually does as it drains. More metallic, louder, plaintive almost – it felt like it was calling to me, wheedling: don’t throw me away, I’m useful, you need this. You’re making a mistake.

I dried off and instead of putting the towel back on the rack I tossed it down the laundry chute immediately.

As the tub finished draining I went to my office and got out my bottle of Florida water, with  which I splashed myself liberally.

When the tub was completely drained, I scooped up the crushed rue stems and bits of leaf in a wad of toilet paper. I walked outside in my pajamas and threw the whole mess as hard as I could into the street, a little ways down from the house and driveway.

My neck feels better, at least; my energy signature seems a little different. The future will tell, but I think the bath certainly helped. The next time I feel a grey cloud of astral dreck gathering around me, I shouldn’t let it go so long. Like attracts like, and the cloak of ill influence only gets heavier until measures are taken against it.