Friday, November 7, 2014

Charged Waters: Holy Water

This week's Pagan Blog Project letter is W, so I thought I would talk about charged waters.

Charged water is very simply water that has been charged with magical power and intentions. However, not all charged waters are really water. Some are alcohol-based as the roots of perfumeries and liqueurs lie in magical potions and brews. Alcohols commonly used include aquavit or whiskey (which derives from the Gaelic for "water of life") and vodka. Vodka is most common because it has little to no scent. Rubbing alcohol is avoided as it typically has a very strong aroma.

Charged Waters: Holy Water
There are several types of charged waters including the infamous Holy Water, Rose Water, and Florida Water. I'll talk about Holy Water as it is probably the most familiar, yet misunderstood of charged waters. Many assume Holy Water indicates Church-blesses water only, but this is an oversimplification of a complex subject. The Roman Catholic Church did not in fact invent Holy Water, but instead adopted it from earlier pagan customs. Holy Water is a crucial component in magical workings, although how it is made varies greatly between traditions. It can refer to:
  • Church-blessed Water
  • Jordan River Water
  • Modern Wicca claims it to be either spring water with salt added or more personal recipes as decided by the coven or witch.
  • According to Pow-Wow traditions, it is water with salt and vervain added.
  • Some believe water charged by the Full Moon or a lunar eclipse is holy.
  • Balinese tradition has a variety of recipes including one that involves unripe coconuts or bamboo. Sometimes ocean water is used.
  • British folk traditions say that rain falling on Holy Thursday (Ascension Day) can be used as Holy Water. Other sacred days may be substituted, such as the Summer Solstice, May Eve, New Year's Day, Samhain, a saint's day, or even your birthday.
Balinese Holy Water, Church-blessed Holy Water, and Wiccan Holy Water are all consecrated via ritual. It is the ritual itself that activates the water. Other traditions say no ritual is needed because the sacred, magical power of Holy Water is innate and that a ritual can interfere with its power. So, depending on what you believe, Holy Water can be easily obtained through collection or involve a complex ritual.

Holy Water is used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to:
  • Altar cleansing and blessing.
  • Healing spells. Holy Water is believed to be capable of magically transmitting physical relief for headaches and tensions when used in a compress or massage.
  • Cleansing and purification for both an individual and sacred space.
  • Cleansing and empowering magical tools and materials.
  • And of course, exorcisms and banishing spells.
I personally use ocean water as my holy water. Why? Because it contains salt, a natural purifier of negativity and "disease." I collect ocean water in a glass jar whenever we visit the ocean. I try to do it in the moon light to further charge the water, but I find water collected at high noon is just as powerful. Its really a personal choice.

Do you use Holy Water? If so, which tradition do you identify with the most?

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