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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mud (Pagan Blog Project "M")


Ah, the joys of mud... magickal, messy, glorious, multipurpose mud! If your childhood was like mine, it consisted of making mudpies and cakes, feeling the cool mud squish between bare toes, creating dams of mud, sticks and leaves in the gutter, or maybe muddy war grounds for toy soldiers, mud bogs for toy trucks, mud fights, and mud football. Mud isn't just for fun, but it is an added plus :)

Mud and clay have been used for centuries for healing as well as ceremonial ritual. The mud can contain only the mud/ clay or it can contain a combination of herbs mixed in.

Mud Baths


Mud bathing is an ancient practice that dates clear back to ancient Egypt and Europe. The process of soaking in a mud bath followed by a hot bath reduces pain and inflammation, and symptoms for conditions such as arthritis, fybromyalgia, nervous disorders, and kidney disease.

Mud and clay draw out toxins from the body, and also benefit the skin as it contains natural minerals that improve the complexion, stretch the skin and softens the appearance of wrinkles.

Apache Sunrise Ceremony

Mud/clay has also been used for ceremonial practices throughout history. An example of such practices includes the Apache Sunrise Ceremony, a coming of age ritual for young women. This is a very extensive ceremony which requires extensive preparations up to six months in advance.

The girl must receive sacred teachings, her ceremonial costume must be prepared, the lodge must be built, the girl must be physically prepared for the endurance and strength part of the ritual, gifts must be prepared and/or purchased, and the family prepares for the large feast which feeds the entire tribe.
When the actual ritual begins, the girl its escorted through various stages of the ceremony by her sponsor and medicine man/Shaman.

These stages include days and hours of running and dancing of the four directions which symbolizes the four stages of life. The girl is massaged and "molded" into a woman, there is much chanting, singing, and praying, as well as nightly dancing of the Crown Dancers aka Ga'an/ Mountain Spirits and the accompanying Clown.
The girl is covered in a mixture of mud/clay and cornmeal that must remain on her body and hair during the entire ceremony. On the last day she is blessed with pollen by her people at which time she heals any members of her tribe via touch.

This is also a very sacred ceremony and photos are often are not permitted; sometimes respectful outsiders are permitted to watch but oftentimes privacy is preferred.

Aboriginal Mud Medicine
In Australia the aborigines use mud in their medicinal practice. Earth, mud, sand, and even termite dirt are taken or applied as medicine. Wounds are dressed with mud, and clay made from termite dirt is taken orally in the form of small balls to treat diarrhea and upset stomach.

Aboriginal Body Art

Aborigines also use mud and clay to decorate their body for various ceremonies. Some ceremonies include mixing Ochre, dirty, and animal fast into a clay which is applied to the body and worn for several days and nights. Other ceremonies include the permanent marking of their bodies involving cutting the skin and rubbing the wounds with ash and dirt to create keloid scars, and the women have a ceremony to encourage breast growth which consists of painting symbols upon their body (I'm assuming their breasts) with the ochre clay mixture.

So you see, mud is not just for mud pies, wrestling, and truck competitions, although they may have their purposes too :-)