(Update 1/10/2018: Interested in more about this ritual? Check out my more polished, fleshed-out writeup over on this page!)
Unlike some magicians who get into the Work, I don’t have very many issues in my life to fix with magic. Generally speaking, life goes well: I have a stable job, I’m almost done paying off my college loans, I have a number of good friends, I have an awesome family, and I have constant access to food, drink, books, and various other resources. (Though, I do wish my downstairs neighbor, elderly though she is, would be less deaf and fond of late-night TV and sickly-saccharine cigarettes.) I’ve always felt a kind of luck help me out, but even then, things have been going really smoothly and orderly for me in my life, especially since I started the Work. Not that I’m complaining, of course, but compared to some of my friends, my life is going particularly well.
Part of me is wondering whether or not it has to do with my spiritual hygeine. Sure, I do a banishing every so often on myself, normally every week or so or after I come back from a particularly interesting trip or night out. Following Fr. Rufus Opus and the Unlikely Mage, I don’t think banishing constantly is particularly helpful, or even a good thing: if you’re trying to build up resonance and power with awesome forces that are helping you out, what good are you accomplishing by sweeping them out the door with a vibrated GTFO in mispronounced Hebrew? No, I think one should banish as needed as opposed to constantly: if the paper’s always being erased, nothing written on it can ever be read by anyone. I mean, really, how often do people really pick up nasty stuff that their own spirit or helpers can’t fend off on their own? People don’t take (or really shouldn’t take) antibiotics every day “just in case”, so why banish every day “just in case”? Besides, the whole point of the Work is to transform the magician through decay, calcination, transmutation, application, and perfection, but you can’t get anything done if you’re constantly bringing things back to the first stage of the process.
What I really do for my spiritual cleanliness, instead, is a short daily cleansing ritual I do in the mornings. I take a small glass of holy water, about a shotglass’ worth, into the bathroom with me when I shower in the morning. After I shower but before I dry off, I take the water and say a quick prayer:
With this water consecrated, sanctified, and blessed by the grace of God do I cleanse myself and free myself from all defilement, impurity, and filth. Grant, o Lord, with this holy living water that you have given mankind, that I may be made clean and cleansed in the eyes of God and men.
Then I dump it on my forehead and let it drain down off me. I then say the Asperges Me and Gloria Patri,
Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor. Lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor. Miserere me, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper in secula seculorum. Amen.
(Sprinkle me, o Lord, with hyssop and I will be cleansed. Wash me, and I will be made whiter than snow. Pity me, o God, according to your great mercy. Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.)
which is then followed by the Prayer of Joseph the Visionary. It takes about a minute and a half to do, but it leaves me feeling fresh and clean in all sorts of ways. It’s a really low-effort and low-maintenance ritual, and since I make holy water in bulk once a month or so, I may as well use it. It’s not as complete or effective as a full-on spiritual bath, but it’s not supposed to be, either; this is just daily upkeep and maintenance.
Does this washing with holy water have a banishing effect on my sphere? Sure, but it’s tuned to get rid of the bad stuff while bumping up the good stuff in my sphere instead of blasting everything out. It gets rid of the dirt without wiping away the fairy dust, and sends the nephilim flying while making me more appealing to malachim. Plus, not only does holy water have the power to decrease vice and depravity, but it has the power to increase virtue and well-being. Although I don’t have any evidence for saying so, I’m tempted to claim that this daily asperging of myself has beneficial effects on my life besides just warding away nasties.
Speaking of water, I found this neat little trick for defense and cleanliness from Conjure Gnosis. I don’t have a nightstand near my bed and don’t trust glasses of water on the floor, and my house is somewhat buffed with protection to keep bad stuff out, but it’s certainly a useful thing to do while traveling or lodging at different places when one is out of their normal comfort zone. Definitely a practice to pick up, no matter what tradition you follow.