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Author Topic: Miasma incurred from "self-loving" and its katharmos  (Read 2360 times)

Astani

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Miasma incurred from "self-loving" and its katharmos
« on: May 24, 2015, 02:18:14 am »
I used the euphemism for masturbation just so we're clear. I don't know if I'm the only one to wonder about this so far but I thought I'd put it out there.

So according to the LABRYS website, sexual intercourse causes miasma. No surprise there. Additionally, the miasma centered on semen (but they don't really elaborate further).

So by that logic, masturbation (for guys anyway) would create miasma because semen causes miasma.
However, there is a prescribed katharmos for sexual intercourse but not for masturbation. I can see miasma from masturbation being able to disrupt the observance of daily rituals (what use is praying or offering to the gods if one is polluted when they do so?) because the proper katharmos may not be observed.

So what is an appropriate katharmos for masturbation?

One could just bathe/shower after just like one would after sex but I feel that's a waste of water especially if one masturbates several times throughout the day.

Additionally, would a mundane bath/shower be enough to purify you? Or would you need to wash with lustral water, incense, herbs, a special soap?

Or is just cleaning/wiping up and washing your hands and bits with regular soap and water enough? Perhaps using the aforementioned ingredients?
-This approach seems most appropriate to me because the miasma is centered on semen. If the semen isn't there anymore, surely the miasma can be washed away with khernips before approaching a sacred space.

Also, as an aside, the same page describes Apollo as Katharsios (the Purifier). Apollo is a god who is capable of granting katharmos for pretty much whatever. Could one approach Apollo Katharsios after masturbation in order to purify? Wouldn't it be inappropriate to approach a god while polluted thus rendering this approach unusable?

I guess one could also just stop masturbating so they wouldn't need to be purified but that's asking too much (for me :D:).

What do you guys think?

Demophon

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Re: Miasma incurred from "self-loving" and its katharmos
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2015, 08:57:47 am »
Quote from: Astani;175330
What do you guys think?

 
That's something I've thought about myself, but it's a tough one.

I don't think bathing is enough to purify oneself of miasma, I think there is more to miasma than just the physical pollution of bodily fluids, and there needs to be more separation between the pollution and the worship of the gods. For lack of better terminology, the "spiritual stain" of the miasma takes more to get rid of than simple physical bathing/censing, etc.

That said, these strict rules are mostly for temples and sanctuaries. Maybe it is acceptable just to clean yourself off before offering to the gods in home worship, though I personally am uncomfortable honouring the gods without waiting a day after a sexual emission. Since worship usually happens in the morning, maybe it would just make life simpler to honour the gods in the morning after bathing/showering, and save any masturbation/sex for the evening or later in the day after one has offered to the gods.

Hieronymus

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Re: Miasma incurred from "self-loving" and its katharmos
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2015, 07:39:50 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;175335
That's something I've thought about myself, but it's a tough one.

I don't think bathing is enough to purify oneself of miasma, I think there is more to miasma than just the physical pollution of bodily fluids, and there needs to be more separation between the pollution and the worship of the gods. For lack of better terminology, the "spiritual stain" of the miasma takes more to get rid of than simple physical bathing/censing, etc.

That said, these strict rules are mostly for temples and sanctuaries. Maybe it is acceptable just to clean yourself off before offering to the gods in home worship, though I personally am uncomfortable honouring the gods without waiting a day after a sexual emission. Since worship usually happens in the morning, maybe it would just make life simpler to honour the gods in the morning after bathing/showering, and save any masturbation/sex for the evening or later in the day after one has offered to the gods.

 
I'm an academic, so bear with me. What's interesting is that the word miasma referred to 'bad air' an unpleasant smell that was thought to carry disease in the pre-modern medicine days. You see a lot of references to it with plague areas, and protecting themselves from that "smell' by potpourri or something of the sort. The thought that if the air smelled better it was, in a way, safer.
It's new to me to see it extrapolated to other spiritual and energy based ideas. It's not quite part of my belief structure, but I do find this very intriguing. I would be interested to learn more.
The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.
- da Vinci

Demophon

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Re: Miasma incurred from "self-loving" and its katharmos
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2015, 10:02:30 pm »
Quote from: Hieronymus;175348
I'm an academic, so bear with me. What's interesting is that the word miasma referred to 'bad air' an unpleasant smell that was thought to carry disease in the pre-modern medicine days. You see a lot of references to it with plague areas, and protecting themselves from that "smell' by potpourri or something of the sort. The thought that if the air smelled better it was, in a way, safer.
It's new to me to see it extrapolated to other spiritual and energy based ideas. It's not quite part of my belief structure, but I do find this very intriguing. I would be interested to learn more.

 
That's true, I've seen miasma translated as "stench" or something similar. But as religious pollution, it can't always be detectable with the physical senses, I suppose. It doesn't even always refer to something offensive or unclean.

The early Jews and the ancient Greeks were contemporary with each other, so I think there is a lot of overlap in their cultures, in particular with this idea of pollution. Semen is the cause of sexual impurity, but not because it's a disgusting, gross thing in Jewish tradition, but because it's life-giving and important. Pious Jews won't even touch the Torah when it's read in synagogue because to touch something so holy would pollute the person. In very traditional Catholic Masses, and probably high Anglican and Orthodox services also, priests will rinse their hands in the lavabo after the consecration and administering of the Eucharist because they have touched the Blessed Sacrament. If I'm not mistaken, priests used to have to put the Eucharist directly into the mouths of communicants when they received it, because people weren't allowed to touch it. This has been relaxed now in most western branches of the Church, although I think the Orthodox Churches spoon a mixture of bread and wine into people's mouths when they receive communion instead of putting bread into their hands and having them drink from a chalice.

It's kind of interesting how similar ideas cross over into different religions and cultures.

Caroline

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Re: Miasma incurred from "self-loving" and its katharmos
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2015, 12:42:35 am »
Quote from: Astani;175330

So according to the LABRYS website, sexual intercourse causes miasma. No surprise there. Additionally, the miasma centered on semen (but they don't really elaborate further).


They are likely referring to ancient sources regarding 'seed stained' privates. It's not so much that the act itself is polluting, but the bodily emissions (not just semen; similarly birth and death are also polluting.) But honestly the definitions varied greatly in regards to both space and time; for ex. earlier sources require purification after day-sex but not night-sex, later sources banned worshippers for a period of time after sex with a prostitute by not a wife, so privacy and appropriateness/illictness were also factors.

Quote from: Astani;175330

So what is an appropriate katharmos for masturbation?


I'd go back to the seed-stained bit. Wash your junk, wash your hands. And yes, lustral water, not just wiping.

Use of lustral water is pretty widespread when it comes to matters of purification, generally defined as water drawn from a flowing source (so in theory a faucet would provide; ancient references even suggest a fountain would suffice) and sometimes further fortified by salt (sea water being especially prized) and/ or barley.

Unless you are acting/approaching an altar in a priestly manner (and personal definitions on that will vary), I would say abstinence (generally only required of priests/priestesses in certain circumstances) is a matter of personal preference.

Astani

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Re: Miasma incurred from "self-loving" and its katharmos
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2015, 03:07:18 pm »
Quote from: Hieronymus;175348
I'm an academic, so bear with me. What's interesting is that the word miasma referred to 'bad air' an unpleasant smell that was thought to carry disease in the pre-modern medicine days. You see a lot of references to it with plague areas, and protecting themselves from that "smell' by potpourri or something of the sort. The thought that if the air smelled better it was, in a way, safer.
It's new to me to see it extrapolated to other spiritual and energy based ideas. It's not quite part of my belief structure, but I do find this very intriguing. I would be interested to learn more.

 
I was exposed to the miasma definition through the miasma theory of disease too. Interestingly, Walter Burkert describes how illness and disease can also be regarded as miasma. And the rest of his examples in Greek Religion (at least the parts i remember) largely deal with miasma as a physical thing (usually dirt or filth) that needed to be cleaned.

I think the spiritual interpretations of miasma come from some specific examples like murder. Murder would cause miasma but not in the sense that it could be cleaned physically. Even if you washed off the blood, assuming it was a bloody type of murder. It was basically an impending sense of doom that something untoward will eventually happen. This I think is an example of the spiritual stain Demophon mentioned.

Quote from: Caroline;175360
I'd go back to the seed-stained bit. Wash your junk, wash your hands. And yes, lustral water, not just wiping.

Use of lustral water is pretty widespread when it comes to matters of purification, generally defined as water drawn from a flowing source (so in theory a faucet would provide; ancient references even suggest a fountain would suffice) and sometimes further fortified by salt (sea water being especially prized) and/ or barley.

Unless you are acting/approaching an altar in a priestly manner (and personal definitions on that will vary), I would say abstinence (generally only required of priests/priestesses in certain circumstances) is a matter of personal preference.

 
Good to know my intuition was pretty close lol. But yeah, it's not a priestly approach but I still wanted to observe appropriate measures of purity.

Caroline

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Re: Miasma incurred from "self-loving" and its katharmos
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2015, 04:13:43 pm »
Quote from: Astani;175381
I was exposed to the miasma definition through the miasma theory of disease too. Interestingly, Walter Burkert describes how illness and disease can also be regarded as miasma.


It's complicated :)  And interesting to note that even ancient medical sources were sceptical of those who relied solely on religious and/or spiritual purifications to deal with disease. Yet purification was the go-to solution for certain diseases (esp. epilepsy & madness) and some (skin diseases, even plagues) could be seen as something that could be wiped away even as physical dirt could be cleaned. There are several fascinating chapters in Parker's seminal "Miasma" on the topic.

Quote from: Astani;175381

I think the spiritual interpretations of miasma come from some specific examples like murder. Murder would cause miasma but not in the sense that it could be cleaned physically. Even if you washed off the blood, assuming it was a bloody type of murder. It was basically an impending sense of doom that something untoward will eventually happen. This I think is an example of the spiritual stain Demophon mentioned.


Murder-miasma falls into particularly serious class of its own. Not only is it an unnatural (disordering) act, it is not only the individual who suffers because of it - the family, and even the entire community, is at risk. Plus, the anger of the victim (or spirits acting on their behalf) must be taken into account. Blood miasma is purified by blood and sacrifice. And purification in such instances doesn't always work, which ups the fear factor (hence all the fleeing and exiling).

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