The Glamorous Life of a Spirit-Worker

Once every quarter, I and my assistant (and any students or apprentices that I may have at the time) do a head cleansing. I learned this from my time working in ATR houses, and also in spiritualism. It’s a way of cleansing and then nourishing or “feeding” the Ori, the spirit of one’s head, that part of us which in my tradition is called the gythia or godhi(grammatically feminine and masculine respectively, after the ON word for priest) and which represents our soul’s connection to the Gods (1). Give how much pollution we deal with on a regular basis, and the press of our secular work, and just work-life balance, plus the struggles inherent in any active spiritual life, it’s a nice time to clear away the dreck and reset ourselves. It’s also messy as hell. 

Without going into too much detail, I combine white substances (2) like coconut milk, regular milk, honey or honey powder, white fruits, white flowers. I sometimes add certain herbs. I mash it all up and ask for Heimdallr’s blessings on it. Then I smear a healthy cup of the goo on a slice of bread, slap it on my crown, i.e. the top of my head, tie on a headwrap securely (3), and usually put a towel around my shoulders in case of leakage. Then I sit in prayer for a couple of hours, after which, I wash it off and go about my business (traditionally, I was taught it’s best to leave it on for twenty-four hours, which means sleeping with it on my head, but I have never done that). Usually we do this on the equinoxes and the solstices,  but with everything going on, we forgot to do it this past March.

So, I’ll share with you a moment of hilarity that ensued today as we did this. Because of how drippy this mixture can be, it’s easiest to have someone else put it on your head and assist with tying the headwrap to keep it all secure. So, I was helping my assistant Tatyana. Unlike my head, which I shave to honor the dead, she has thick, waist-length hair. As a result, she needed a bit more preparation than I for this cleansing. I helped her pin her hair back and poured a cup of the cleansing mixture on a slice of bread. She was trying to position herself so that I could most easily put it on her crown. She leaned back and I, being a woman of action ha ha, slapped it right down on the top of her head. There was only one problem. She moved just as I was putting it down, and I, in my exuberance, used way too much momentum. She came within a quarter of an inch of getting a face full of cleansing mash. It didn’t help that we were laughing our asses off through the whole thing. She had it not just on her head, but all down one side of her face and in her ear too. (I just read this out loud to her and she said, “I am very clean.” with a grin and a double thumbs up). The saving grace of this practice (other than that it really does effect a spiritual restoration of the head) is that the mixture smells really nice. 

You know, it’s been a hell of a year all around and I think we could all use a good laugh now and again. Laughter itself can be apotropaic. So, I hope y’all had at least a chuckle reading this. I know that spirit work can seem strange, weird, sometimes a little frightening, sometimes wonderful and filled with ecstatic devotion. It can be all of that and more. But you know,  sometimes it’s nothing more than the absurdity of coconut milk and other assorted ingredients dripping out of one’s ear. 

Enjoy your weekend, folks. 

Notes: 

  1. This is the part of our souls always in connection with the Gods, as opposed to Vè, which means holiness or holy place and is also the name of a soul-part that represents our reservoir of holiness, something that may be cultivated and strengthened by prayer, devotion, and aligning ourselves properly with the Gods. My assistant today said, “so the gythia/godhi part is like PVC tubing that leads to the Gods and through which They can pour holiness?” and…yes, as a description that’s good enough for government work, as the saying goes.
  2. White dress is sort of like a spiritual biohazard suit and using white substances carries the same associations of purification. Plus (and this is my personal theory), using different types of milk represents nourishment, milk being one of the first substances a child takes. It’s nourishment on the most primal level. The honey, fruit, and flowers represent sweetness. Nature abhors a vacuum so after cleansing, it’s important to fill that space with something good. 
  3. I usually cut a length of white linen and use that, discarding it after. I’m not generally one for wasting cloth, but this is my one exception to that rubric.

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on May 22, 2021, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. “I am clean.” Hahahaha!
    Quick question with a hopefully quick answer: Why Heimdallr? I’ve never thought of him as a god of purification.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      He’s a god of protection on all levels — He protects the worlds against pollution, against all that stands against the order of the Gods. He’s also a God of deep holiness. One of His bynames is “the Whitest As” (there should be an accent over the A) and this refers NOT to color but to the incredible brightness of His presence. It is a brightness that leaves no room for anything foul.

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      • I don’t mean to drag this into rant territory but I’ll never understand why anyone ever thinks Heimdallr being the “Whitest” has anything to do with race (a human concept). Could you imagine a “whitest” deity in that sense? Like what, would that God not be able to dance? Would that God lock the car doors when driving by “that neighborhood”? Does that God want to speak to my manager? Lol

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  2. A huge YES! on the apotropaic power of laughter! I agree with the Japanese: it’s the best way to banish unwanted spirits. 🙂

    In my Ifá House, after the feeding of one’s Orí, one must sleep (in their clean or new all-white attire) with the head wrapping on (it’s a yard of white 100% natural cotton cloth, no synthetic fibers allowed) overnight on the temple floor flanked by 2 white glass candles–no pillows, no blankets, nothing. I like to scooch up close to my Godfather’s shrine to his Warriors and lay my head near Them. (The spirits hovering about the shrines to Oshun and Shango are way too chatty at night for my liking!) Thankfully, I sleep on my back and am not accustomed to moving in my sleep (lots of yoga practice with the Savasana “corpse” pose, I guess), so the experience has never entailed discomfort for me. I go to sleep feeling 100% safe at the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional levels and I wake up feeling infused with heartfelt gratitude and an invigorating sense of optimism and excitement over life’s possibilities. Ashé!

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