Friday, April 30, 2010


Jo is a friend I admire greatly. She has a degree in medicine, long experience in a psychiatric practice, a history of purposeful world travel exploring mental health issues around the globe. In our first personal interaction, she chewed me out for unnecessarily contradicting her in public.

We've had a warm connection ever since.

Recently, after I'd done a couple of small favors for her, she gave me a bar of soap. Ordinary soap, not colored or scented or in the shape of a seahorse, not made of yucca sap or yew bark.

But it was special. It had been blessed by a shaman of Jo's Navajo tribe.

Now, I really believe in blessings. I believe in formal, even ritual blessings, and informal, spur-of-the-moment blessings, and unspoken blessings , and blessings conferred without language and even without cognition. (I've been blessed by an elephant and at least one bristlecone pine tree.) But I'm uniquely entranced by this bar of blessed soap, and am giving the matter a good bit of thought. I have a number of questions, but not one answer yet. And maybe answers are irrelevant. I'll keep you posted, one way or the other.


Bellabell said...

Ann writes:

I am intrigued by all this too. I have never had a bar of blessed soap, unless you count that bless-ed soap I dropped that time when I banged my head on the shower stall bending over to pick it up. Actually I don't think I called it bless-ed either.

I like soap. I like really smelly soap. I like French milled soap made from olive oil, soap that smells of lemons or roses or lavender or all of the above.

But blessed? The Navajos use yucca root for hair washing. And God knows they grow nice hair. That is a blessing I think.

Is this soap made from sheep fat and ashes? Yucca? Are you supposed to use it all over your body, or do you avoid using holy soap on your hoo hoo?

Please tell me.

Bellabell said...

Ann, this is a fairly well-known brand of ordinary hand soap. I don't think the shaman stirs the lye pot or de-fats the sheep; I think his calling has to do with summoning blessings on what he decides to bless--houses, animals, motorcycles, cars, recently purchased land, a business, a teen-ager's new braces, the tribe's latest private plane. . . .