Huffpost Travel
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Off Track Planet Headshot

5 Ways the World Cleans Its Dirty Conscience

Posted: Updated:

When too much of a good thing starts to feel like a bad thing, it may be time to unclog the spiritual sewage pipe.

2014-03-12-cleansingritual1.jpg
Photo by: Edison Walker

We've searched the globe and found that, though they're as varied as sin, most countries have very specific cleansing rituals to purify the mind, body and soul. Dive into the sacred waters with us and learn how to clear your conscience in more ways than one.

Take a Spiritual Bath With Strangers
2014-03-12-cleansingritual2.jpg
Photo by: Seba Bella & Sole Bossio

You may have to wait a year or twelve to wash away your sins in the Ganges River during the Hindu pilgrimage known as Kumbh Mela, but you certainly won't be alone. Kumbh Mela is the largest gathering of people on the planet and attracts an estimated 100 million people to bathe in one of four sacred Indian rivers every three years in rotation. The Kumbh Mela, a sin-less party, takes place every 12 years at either Haridwar on the Ganges River, Nashik on the Godawari, Ujjain on the Shipra, or at Allahabad, and is always determined by the stars -- specifically, the position of the sun, moon and Jupiter. People from all walks of Hindu life make the trek to take a spiritual dip, ranging from naked holy men covered in ash (called sadhas) to well-dressed political lobbyists looking to score a few brownie points on the pilgrimage trail. Overall, it's worth putting aside your fear of waterborne germs to sponge bathe with millions of strangers. Tradition has it that these waters offer wealth and purity and wash away all earthly sins. Amen!

How Would You Like Your Egg Cleansing?
2014-03-12-cleansingritual3.jpg
Photo by: Anuska Sampedro

Fried and paired with homefries, eggs are a great way to soak up last night's party. According to Mexican and Mesoamerican tradition, eggs can also soak up physical, mental, emotional and spiritual negativity when part of an egg cleansing ritual, or limpia, if you speak EspaÑol. Traditionally, a curandero (shaman) performs the ceremony by lighting a candle and incense, then passing an egg over a person's entire body from head to toes, moving it in a circular motion and over specific points. The egg is thought to absorb all the shitty energy you don't want, including black magic that enemies may have cast upon you. The real fun happens when the egg that's full of your bad juju is cracked into a glass of water and "read" like a protein-rich tarot card. Stringy, cloudy, even bloody or gross black shit in your egg all indicate you have muchos problemas.

Group Misogi
2014-03-12-cleansingritual4.jpg
Photo by: Ds13 & Takashi Ueki

Next time you're meandering in the mountains of Japan and stumble upon a group wearing white loincloths and headbands while standing under a freezing waterfall, jump in and join them. Misogi is a Japanese Shinto practice of cleansing the dirty mind, body and spirit in a natural water source. Before diving into the water to practice misogi, the dirty birds usually pray, fast, and detach themselves from material possessions. Once the goods are gone, they are ready to plunge into the deep end for a good ol' furitama sesh, loosely translated in English as "shakin' the shit out the spirit."

I Thought I Taw a Melukat
2014-03-12-cleansingritual5.jpg
Photo by: tedyoktariansyah.blogspot.com

When the Balinese get that not-so-fresh spiritual feeling, they douche the impurity away with a ritual melukat purification ceremony. The melukat is ideally performed by a pedande, or Balinese high priest, and involves pouring holy water all over a person to wash away the grossness in his/her current and past lives. If a high priest isn't present, fear not, filthy friend; step inside a temple, where many different fountains from a natural spring pour into a big-ass pool and dunk your head under each of the many spigots, or take a dip at the campuhan (confluence of two rivers), or the sea.

Smudging One Out
2014-03-12-cleansingritual6.jpg
Photo by: Zelksy

According to ancient Native American ritual, cleansing the mind, body and soul is as easy as smoking out the shit with a smudge stick. During a traditional smudging ceremony, a shaman, or medicine man, lights a bundle of herbs (usually sage, sweetgrass, or cedar) and uses his hand or feathers to fan the smoldering smoke over the person who needs a hit of the good stuff. Luckily, you can smudge one out solo in the comfort of your own home (smudge sticks are also used to purify the home.) Light your sage stick, rub your hands in the smoke and "wash" your negative problem parts until the good energy blows all over you.

Whether you're running your head through water, or hands through smoke, incorporating a few of these cultural cleansing rituals into your routine might work out some of those filthy kinks. When all else fails: take two aspirin, roll over, and go back to sleep.

Written by: Sara White