THROUGH ANCESTRAL TEACHINGS of curanderismo, I learned that the South direction is called Huitzlampa or Witzlampa, depending on the Nahuatl dialect. It is where the sun is at its hottest point. It is the place of honor in our relationship with Tata Tonatiuh’s (Father Sun’s) energy. The South direction is the male energy that balances the female energy of the North direction.
The season of the South direction is summer, when Mother Earth is full of blooms, expansion, growth, lightness, outward activity, brightness, and creativity. This is a period when the days experience full sun. We humans are natural solar systems and need the sun’s energy for our own growth.
The south is the safe place of our soul, the place for reframing our mitote (distorted thoughts) that our traumatized little souls absorbed when we were young. It is the place of healing abuse, abandonment, fear—anything that might have broken our innocence as a child. By entering into the energy of the South direction while receiving support from a healing practitioner (curanderx), we learn to create a nurturing environment for our inner child and find balance in our relationship with our parents. The difficult part is surrendering our ego and breaking down the walls formed from hurt, pain, and trauma.
Entering the warmth of the South direction is always a bit unsettling for me. It brings up memories of not feeling worthy of permission to play and be joyful. My chiquitx, my inner child, struggles to find balance between fulfilling daily obligations and wanting to play outside on Madre Tierra, walking barefooted and splashing water. How can we maintain our balance while walking upon the slippery earth and still honor our interior light?
In my case, I had to work through early traumatic experiences and heal my inner child by accepting that my parents did what they thought was best regarding the circumstances life dealt them around my birth. Creator gifted me with the unconditional love of my Abuelita Casi, who taught me so much and continues to teach me from the other side of the sacred veil. Through her guidance, I was able to survive all that life dealt me when I was young and safely care for my chiquitx. A simple but powerful method she taught me was to take spiritual herbal baths outside in the sun. Why the sun? Because it represents my universal father enveloping me in warmth, healing energy, and light so that I feel safe and comforted.
Spiritual baths are extremely helpful in working with the energy of the South direction. The water helps one’s inner child experience the feeling of being in the womb again. Spiritual water rituals offer a deep experience of purification and renewal. Water can be used in combination with prayer, meditation, herbs, and flowers as a means of providing a spiritual connection with our Divine Energy, the inner Light.
Spiritual bathing is ancient and is now being re-appreciated for its healing qualities: We “modern” folks—who are often so out of touch with the power and rhythm of nature—need these spiritual therapies. Combining water, prayer, ritual, and sometimes plants or gems, spiritual bathing has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, each with its own philosophy, prayers, lore and rituals, and something unique to teach us. Spiritual bathing is a deeply healing, connecting, and soul-fulfilling practice. As a powerful, restorative ritual, it awakens our senses and offers balance and rejuvenation in our daily lives.
Bathing with Rosemary
One of my favorite forms of spiritual bathing is soaking in rosemary. I take fresh rosemary sprigs and drop them in a tub of hot water. I soak for 20 to 30 minutes and then air dry while drinking a cup of rosemary tea. I use it to rinse my hair also. If you don’t have fresh rosemary, you can make a tea with dry rosemary and then pour the strained tea into the bath water.
These baths cleanse the soul, washing away the negative effects of anger, fear and anxiety, grief and trauma, exhaustion and world-weariness, confusion and disquietude, unwanted and harmful emotional baggage, and general stress. They can be taken at home or while traveling.
Variations of Spiritual Bathing
The most powerful spiritual baths I’ve taken have been outside during a full moon and under the stars in a large water trough. I release so much negative energy through tears, screams, and deep breaths. The new moon is also a good time to sit in water outside to restore the inner light of our chiquitx.
If you are by the ocean, you can give yourself a limpia in Madre Mar. If you are by a river or lake, you can use the same concept. You can also use simple methods to start: take a shower or bath, wash your feet, or even just wash your hands. Water is healing; water is life.
Other Ways to Honor Your Inner Child
Beyond spiritual bathing, you can honor your inner child by nourishing yourself in the sun and with play.
Try to awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for nourishment so that you flourish like a garden. Raise your hands high up to the sky, and gather the sun’s energy, bringing it to your head, face, heart, and core. Do it four times for your spirit, heart, mind, and body. Take some deep cleansing breaths and feel the light within you grow brighter.
Take time to honor your inner child and the children in your life by finding playtime. Set aside the dishes, the laundry, and the mopping—the chores will wait. Turn up the music and dance, jump on the bed, blow bubbles, skip, or have a pillow fight. Then consider: What made you laugh and brighten up your inner child by leaving them breathless with laughter? Watch the hummingbirds and butterflies as they fly from flower to flower or herb to herb, taking in the nectar of las plantitas sagradas. They teach us that life is sweet during this season, and our chiquitx needs that sweetness to keep the light on in our hearts.
I share my affirmation for the South:
“I am Life, I am LIGHT, I am Love.” —Anonymous
Remember to greet each day with JOY!