Different beliefs have their own ideas of what it means to be clean. Some require special diets, some require periods of abstinence, some require that women be sequestered during menstruation, etc. What does it mean to you to be clean, especially before a ritual or working of some sort? How do you cleanse yourself?
My grandfather used to say "clean as a whistle" or "spic and span", but these are misnomers. I learned after becoming a crossing guard that whistles are pretty disgusting and when I was young I discovered that harsh cleaners often leave toxic residue or at least contaminate a lot of water. In my attempt to understand my gypsy forebears, I have learned that there is a sort of dirt that cannot be washed off, dog dishes are for dogs, people plates are not to be licked by felines or cannids, etc. I would sooner eat food dropped in the woods than on a sidewalk. I would rather shit in a cat hole far from people than a porta-jon or outhouse. Because part of my vision of clean is to be walking a good path regarding Mother Earth. Physical cleanliness is only important when making your whole house or encampment a sort of shrine. Taking off your shoes for example when entering. This simple rite keeps your space free of contaminants, many that are too small to see! I typically do this sort of cleaning as a meditation, to consecrate the space, wiping, cleaning or touching each belonging re-connects us with their nature and allows us to know when things have outlived their usefulness or purpose. The places I don't clean regularly are often the places that harbor things that need to be let go of or that do not serve me.
The same can be said for mental housekeeping. Taking out the trash is another way of saying getting rid of thoughts and feelings that do not serve. Having your house in order not only protects from never being able to find things it also unleashes powerful synergies between various parts of your life. They say that a messy apartment or desk signals creativity, but knowing where you put things, and that they are cared for often enhances it as well. Just the time saved by establishing order is worth the effort.
In spiritual matters, the two previous examples serve as building blocks toward the same notion. Clutter, build-up of waste and dirt are blocks to functioning. I have avoided ritual when my spirit was blocked or soiled. This is not unusual. Many native people avoid doing ceremony or ritual with whites, because the progeny of the oppressors think it is therapy or something. The emotional clutter and psychic pain of the privileged colonialists and bringers of genocide to our shores is as damaging to spiritual work as hitting a brick wall at seventy would be for your car.
Can you explain what you mean with "...the oppressors think it is therapy or something." I don't quite get what you mean there. Do you mean there's a difference in how American Indians and Europeans view rituals?
I can answer that...
Many native peoples see the modern day whites seeking healing for the
"sins of their ancestors" for the wrongs perpetrated against their own
It is hard enough for many of them to think of that , let alone assist those
who want to "be cleansed" of the "stain of blood" , and "oppression"...
Hurts , and makes them feel "put upon" , as if it is expected for them to do...
That help you understand , blackfire ?
Queen Elizabeth I would be impressed.
Usually a bad smell is a good indicator of many a cleansing issue..
or, if it Squeeks....sounds good to me.
Jump in the water, even in the old days, it should have done the trick.
There is no excuse for filth!
My tradition holds that all products of the human body are clean powerful and suitable for ritual purposes. No exceptions!!!