By Nina Mercer

I believe that we exist in a world of energy waves. It’s as if life is a vast ocean. Sometimes the waters are tranquil. Sometimes they are not. When the energy waves of life become chaotic, and we find ourselves being carried too far in one direction or another, we can respond to those often debilitating shifts on an elemental level. We can acknowledge the shift and work the waters so that we can navigate better. Awareness is a start. That’s our life preserver. Once we have awareness of the energy shift, taking enough time to stop and assess the texture, tone and flavor of where we are, we can respond in an appropriate fashion.

Awareness & Ritual Cleansing Baths

I started making spiritual baths out of desperation. I was a couple of years into my walk as an aleyo in the Yoruba religion, and I’d been told that I needed to receive Olokun immediately, the orisha of the mysterious depths of the ocean, because I needed to be able to spiritually clean my home, children and self with Olokun’s waters. Apparently, I had become, or had always been, much like a sponge in the world, picking up more energetic chaos than was rightfully mine, not to mention all the messiness I’d cultivated on my own. The trouble in this reality check was that I didn’t have the money to pay for the necessary ceremony to receive the orisha. And there began my own intuitive process of creating baths from what I could find and afford.

It’s been about five years since then. I’ve received Olokun, in addition to other orisha necessary to my spiritual walk. I’ve also been initiated as a priest in Palo Mayombe. And I’ve met many practitioners who swear by the hands of priests who know the most phenomenal cleansing rituals. But my initiation has only furthered my own belief that whether initiated into a particular system or not, we all have the right and ability to cleanse ourselves spiritually. It is not about what religion we choose to practice but about holistic wellness, a centered state of being that only comes with a solitary walk, and the courageous choice to put on your own boots, dig your own hands into the earth (or the fresh herb and plant section at your favorite market), and love self through it all. It’s knowledge that comes intuitively. It’s knowledge whispered by our ancestors. And it is all more simple than it is complex. If we accept this knowledge as the foundation for a practice of spiritual renewal, we must share these urgently necessary rituals. Though the TransAtlantic slave trade may have ushered forth the need for secrecy to protect our traditions, it is now time to evolve and lift the veil of secrecy so that this sacred knowledge can spread, becoming no less common than brushing our teeth or washing our hair.

When I consult with folks in need of spiritual work, I gravitate toward teaching them how to make their own baths. I believe that every one of us has our own spirit guides who will help us to conjure the healing we need most. And if you don’t believe in spirit guides, consider it that internal voice talking inside your head, your committee, your very own genius. It doesn’t matter so much what you call that voice but how you interact with it. And in the process of getting well, it’s that voice you most need to honor.

This doesn’t mean that there is no role for priests to play in an individual’s healing process. But it will be healthier for us all if we become more proactive and independent in our process of personal rebirth. Experience is always the best teacher. And besides, over time, it is likely that folk who develop their own style of creating spiritual cleansing rituals will do so in ways that work best for them. And when folk do come for readings or spiritual consultations, they will be more clear and able to hear the information being passed on.

Each of the baths listed below has a particular purpose. Each bath counters a particular type of energy wave, and helps us respond to it more efficiently. In turn, energy will respond to us. I have listed six baths for a solid start. There are many others. These baths may not work for everyone. And they definitely won’t work if you don’t believe in the purpose and make them with the necessary intention. They are not meant to replace other strategies for wellness. They are a start to pro-active spiritual health - the root of all and everything.

Note: Each bath recipe calls for “holy water.” Some people believe that you must go to a Catholic Church to retrieve “holy water.” If you want, you can do that. It’s simple. It’s free. Just enter the church with an empty container, walk to the front, and get the water! If you don’t want to do that, pour cold water into a container, light a candle, and pray over it. You can bless the water yourself … And there you have it! ALSO … I do not use measurements. Making a bath is about soul, your own sacred signature. So, use your intuition when determining how much of anything you will use in your bath. Your spirit knows how much you need. AND if it’s noted that you take a cold bath, do it. Cold temperatures break energy immediately for a definite shift in the clutch. Warm baths are usually sweet (sometimes sweet baths can be cold, though). Regardless, the temperature of a bath has an impact on the work it will do. So, pay attention to notes about temperature.

  1. White Bath (purpose: calming, tranquility, clarity) – goat milk, coconut milk, and/or cow’s milk, white flower petals, holy water, florida water, one egg white, and holy water. Optional: cascarilla/efun (purchase at a local botanica; efun/cascarilla adds a bit of force to the mix for immediacy so don’t use very much … just a pinch). Combine all ingredients into a bowl. Light a candle as you mix each ingredient, petition the energy of tranquility and clarity as you mix the bath. Be in conversation with that energy. This bath should be taken cold. Stand in the shower and pour it over your head with prayer. After the bath, it is best to get some rest in light colored or white clothing. Cover your head in light or white fabric as well. Sometimes, I pour a bit of cool water over myself after the bath so I don’t wake up smelling like sour milk!

  2. Milk n Honey (purpose: sweetening, love, sensuality) – goat milk, coconut milk, and/or cow’s milk, lots and lots of honey, 5 sweet oils, and holy water. Optional: a pinch of cascarilla/efun. Combine all ingredients in a pot and place on the stove (keep at a low temperature). Always keep a candle lit near-by and be sure to put it out before you take the bath! Call on the energy you need. Stand in the shower and pour over your head with prayer. After the bath, get some rest in light or white clothing, cover your head in the same colors. Don’t forget to pour some warm water over you after the bath! You may be a little sticky … but you’ll be sweet!

  3. Fresh Basil Bath (purpose: expelling doubt, uncertainty, and negativity; attracting love, strength, and a refreshed head) – buy fresh basil from your local grocery store or botanica (never use dry plants), put the basil in a large bowl or bucket of cold water with stems removed, light a candle and pray or sing as you rub the plants together in the palms of your hands (you are squeezing the juice out of the plant as you do this) … the bath should become vibrantly green and cold. Strain the bath so that the plant matter is no longer part of the bath (only the juice remains). Stand in the shower and pour the bath over your head. Do not rinse. *You can also mop the floors of home with this bath. In fact, most plant baths can be used as floor washes as well. I like to make enough of these mixtures to bathe and clean the house. When I do this, I clean the house first and then myself. If you have children or other members of your household, try to get them to clean, too! If you choose to clean your home with a bath, mop from the back of the house to the front. If you can, dump the remaining floor wash into the street (but the toilet will suffice).

  4. Three Bitter Plant Bath (purpose: stripping away negativity, doubt and fear) – use fresh aposote, quita maldecion, and espanta muerto purchased from your local Botanica & Three Sweet Plant Bath (purpose: sweetening your energy, welcoming prosperity, abundance, balance) – use rosemary, menta (mint), albaca (basil). It is best to take both the bitter and sweet baths. You are first stripping negative energy away, and then replacing that with sweetness.

Steps for both baths (for you and your home): Dedicate a glass of water and light a candle for the guide who will help you to make this bath. Spray plants with rum and tobacco to clean them. Strip leaves from stem of plants. You will need two basins of cold water, one for the bitter and one for the sweet. Start with a little water in each basin and add water as you add plants while mixing together, rubbing all plants between your palms, squeezing the juice from plants out. Spray rum, white wine, and tobacco into baths as you make them. You can strain the baths after you are done; use left over plant matter after straining as a scrub for your body when you take the bath. Let the baths sit for one night with your white candle and glass of water.

Doing your floor wash & Taking the baths: Mop floors with bitter bath first from front to back of house. Throw remaining floor wash into the street. Always clean your door as well. You can use some of the remaining plant matter to scrub the door. Follow the same process with the sweet floor wash. Always remember to take your spiritual baths AFTER you clean your home. When you are ready to take clean your aura and body with these baths, put the bath on top of your head in a large bowl, pray and pour over your body. Repeat the process for the sweet bath after you have completed the bitter one. You may choose to take 3 bitter baths for 3 straight nights, and then three sweet baths for three nights. Or you can simply take one bitter bath and one sweet bath in the same time. It depends on how much cleaning you feel you need to do. Just be honest with self. Let your intuition guide you.

5. Sweet Watermelon On Me (purpose: relaxation, calming, & creativity) – buy a watermelon and scoop all of the meat out. Place the watermelon meat in a blender until it is liquid, adding a bit of molasses to it as you go. Pour liquid in large bowl and add ocean water, or water you’ve prayed over. I prefer water from the ocean, because that’s the energy I am cultivating when I take this bath. It also gives me a chance to go to the ocean to reflect and pray for awhile before taking my bath. Add 7 sweet oils or perfumes (your personal favorites). You can place the bowl on your head (it should be cold or room temperature) in the shower, pray and pour over you, OR (and this is my preference) you can pour the bath into a tub of warm water, light a white candle and soak.

On candles: The candles simply add light and a strong energy to intensify your prayers and work. Use a simple white candle.


The New Year is a time of renewal.  It is an opportunity to realign the body, mind and spirit, rededicate yourself to your life's work and redefine your purpose.  I wanted to kick the year off by sharing a few of my favorite cleansing rituals and things I am doing to motivate myself to take on the year with fresh eyes.  You are the Master of Your Life.  You can create an entirely New reality for yourself at any time.  The first step is the Cleanse. 

Of course, before you begin these or any cleansing rituals I encourage you to CLEAN YOUR HOME.  A clean environment will allow you breathe and think clearly.  Do the laundry! Put fresh sheets on the bed! (I'm talking more to myself than anyone else here... :)  Also, set an intention for yourself and the cleanse.  An intention is more than a goal.  An intention is actually visualizing yourself completing the task at hand, instead of a blind ambition. Give yourself permission to reinvent yourself and BE NEW.  Remember, you have the opportunity to become a completely New human being with each breath.

Please feel free to comment with your own individual cleansing rituals, thoughts, ideas, or if you can provide any additional information about anything that I am listing here..


#1.  Spiritual Baths have become my favorite method of cleansing and renewal.  The following baths were recommended to me by my beautiful big Sis, Nina Mercer, (Executive Director of Ocean Ana Rising) and consists of taking a bath with six plants, three bitter and three sweet.  In my understanding, the bitter plants are intended to strip the body/mind/spirit of any negative thoughts, feelings or energy.  The sweet plants bring forth new and positive energy into your life.

The first step is to find a Botanica in your neighborhood or a place that carries the specified plants.  It is always best to call just to make sure that they have them, and find out when their shipments come in.  The place where I purchased the plants (pictured above) is located in Spanish Harlem on 116th and Park Ave.  I believe their shipment comes in on Mondays, so on a Friday the plants aren't necessarily as fresh- but you have to find what works for your schedule :).  I'm not too sure about the English translations for the bitter plants, but the translations for sweet plants are listed below:

three bitter plants:
1.  aposote
2.  quita maldicion
3.  espanta muerto
*vencedor can alternate with any of these
three sweet plants:
1.  menta (Mint)
2.  rosemary (Rosemary)
3.  albaca (Basil)
Nina gave me the following directions:
steps to make the bath/floor wash:
1.  dedicate a glass of water and light a candle for the guide who will help you to make this bath
2.  spray plants with rum and tobacco to clean them
3.  strip leaves from stem of plants
4.  prepare two cool water basins (one for bitter, one for sweet)
5.  start with a little water in each basin and add water as you add plants while mixing together, rubbing all plants between your palms, squeezing the juice from plants out
6.  spray rum, white wine, and tobacco into baths as you make them
7.  let the baths sit for one night with your white candle and glass of water
8.  in the morning, place bath in the refridgerator where it will remain until you are prepared to take it
9. when ready, put bath on top of your head, pray and pour over your body ... go to sleep ... dress in light colors while you sleep
Nina told me that it is always good to wear light colors, especially white, after taking/while taking the baths.
My instructions were to take the bitter bath for four days straight, then do sweet bath for 3 days.  You can also do the bitter bath and sweet bath on the same night.  bitter first.  then sweet.  or you can do a bitter bath one night.  and the sweet bath the next night.  let your intuition guide you.
You can also strain the baths after you are done; and use left over plant matter after straining as a scrub for your body when you take the bath.
She also recommends cleaning the house with the bath water (before you use it of course... you never know!) This is especially good if you've just moved in to a new home ;)
taking the bath and doing the floor wash:
1.  mop floors with bitter bath first from front to bath of house
2.  throw remaining floor wash into the street
3.  always clean your door as well ... you can use remaining plant matter to scrub the door (make sure you've dipped it in some of the floor wash first)
4.  follow with same process with the sweet floor wash
5.  always take your spiritual baths after you clean the house
It is also good to burn frankincense on charcoal while you clean and make baths, and you can also beat the walls with lucky leaves.  I personally like burning sage, (which is shown in picture above) whenever I need to clean the energy of the space, and can be purchased literally anywhere.
Nina says:
Joi, that information is simply what has always already belonged to you.  old ways lost and found.  be hopeful, intentional, and faithful to your walk. 
I certainly look forward to sharing with you all my personal process taking the baths and also other methods of renewal I am calling upon this year.  Please feel free to comment on anything that I have offered.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Love and Light!