Water Heals Part I: A Brief History of Bathing in the West
For virtually everyone in our modern world, showering is an everyday routine that goes almost unnoticed.
But, Western attitudes towards were not always like this. In the Roman Empire, Jews, pagans, Christians and Muslims openly practiced ritual bathing together at the massive and grandiose unisex public baths. These were places not just to clean and relax, but also socialize and conduct business. In fact, some of the best healers worked in the baths, treating weary soldiers and giving massages to people of high class.
In the late 16th century, with the spread of Catholic churches across Europe, bathing lost its popularity. Priests were outspoken about the sins and self-indulgence of nudity and bathing in public. This new trend considered cleanliness to be sexual and dirt became a sign of spiritual purity and selflessness.
Also, due to the plague, it became believed that dirt gave protection from germs. Powders, perfumes, wigs, cosmetics, and layers of clothes hid the grime and body stench. Naturally, snuff, to mask strong smells, became popular.
General perceptions changed once again around the 18th century when writers began linking hygiene to good health. Going to the baths became fashionable, with Epsom, mineral and Sulphur baths being especially popular. Spas were the rage all over Europe and hydrotherapy, and thermal healing was added to medical school curriculums. This legacy remains, and Europe boasts some of the finest spas in the world.
By the mid-19th century, Victorian ideals spread and so did attitudes toward hygiene: cleanliness became associated with moral and social standing. Also at this time water to individual residences became more commonplace as Europe developed a water collection and distribution network. By the end of the century, private baths with running water were increasingly prevalent in both America and Europe. Weekly baths became common practice, and soap companies were among the first to employ large-scale advertising campaigns.
Since then, the popularity of a daily shower has clearly become the norm for virtually everyone in the west. The bath and shower industry is one of millions of dollars and markets pretty much everyone, regardless of wealth, class or culture. We now believe that cleanliness is godliness and most of us cannot even bear the thought of a day without showering. But, in treating showering as an everyday chore, have we lost something? Something that helps us reach our human fulfillment? At Moonergy, we want to bring back the culture of using ritual bathing to modern women. To help us use ancient wisdom and idea to help us heal, flow and connect.
Next time you bath, with or without our products, pause to contemplate the magic of water and, above all, be present. Notice how this simple change in awareness makes you feel. Enjoy this feeling.