To rid of impurities; cleanse.
To rid of foreign or objectionable elements.
To free from sin, guilt, or other defilement.
To become clean or pure.
I was studying an Indian poem today, and began to think about guilt and redemption. Our modern assumption is that life is meant to be happy, conscience-free, fun.
The older attitude differs: trouble is good for the soul.
Began to wonder: if you suffer for the sins of a previous life, how does that suffering assist you in this one?
To absolve, atone, chasten, clarify, cleanse, decontaminate, disinfect, exculpate, exonerate, expiate, purge, redeem, refine, sanctify, sanitise, shrive, sublimate, wash.
Some cultures purify with a flame. We do still sterilise a needle in fire today. Others purge the soul of impurities and infection through medicine. Superstitions are culturally learned, but no less fruitful in redeeming your sense of worth - you can cauterise your woes with alcohol or drugs, or with socialising, with words. The modern world tends to medicate every psychological problem. You can't sleep, take a pill; you can't laugh, take a pill. Laugh too much? A pill will repress the urge. It's a solution, I suppose. Older rituals use religion to purify. Religion gives us routine, reassurance; it implies forgiveness. All the same functions of a psychiatrist, with none of the indignity or fees. I read somewhere recently some zen saying that depression is the process your mind uses to prepare itself for change.
So, we sacrifice, we scarify (see Creepy Lesbo's regular scarification rituals for more intense details), we offer ourselves up for examination. We hope that what we do will help us to change.
I've been using sleep and drugs and music to purify myself of what's been happening lately. 'Drugs' is a misnomer, I've been avoiding them in order to change, by refusing alcohol. It only took two weeks not to want it any night but Saturday, so that was both easier and harder than I expected. When Wickedex came over on Sunday, I think I surprised her with the sleeping. I sleep almost all the time. If I go to bed late, I stay in bed the whole next day. While she was here, I was visibly losing conscious ability to speak, and at one point had to go and lie still for thirty minutes. Yesterday I got home at seven o'clock, and went straight to bed for twelve hours to make up for having had to get back out of bed at all the day before.
Must have made an impression - she cleared up the kitchen for me while she waited. I hope she saw how much life still in the flat we shared so is not fun.
I dunno what the reason for the sleep is - I hope, after a month of 2-3 hours sleep nightly, that it's purifying.
Then there's music. Driving Wickedex through shitty streets, looking for shitty ex-council flats to buy once this one is sold, she asked why I was playing Norah Jones on the CD player. Surprised that I liked it. Hadn't heard me listen to that CD before.
I don't like it. When I was depressed, I used to listen to the same pieces of music, over and over and over again, hoping repetition would numb the emotions they instigated. Like pressing against a sore tooth with your tongue, or picking at a scab. Each relationship I had has a piece of music (or ten) that seems to encapsulate the 'mourning' period - music I listened to obsessively, even though it made me cry too much. All night if necessary.
Now I sleep, and I'm not in that depression any more; I can see that This Is a Stupid Thing to Do.
Now, I listen only to music I don't like. I'm sick of having my favourite music ruined by bad memories. Of having pieces I can only listen to if I'm not feeling down. It doesn't purify the sentiment - it contaminates the medicine and spoils the source.
I can listen to Norah bloody Jones droning out her toneless sub-cowboy rich bratty drivel for hours and hours and hours. When I don't feel bad any longer, when the memories subside, I won't have a single regret about smashing and melting down that fucking CD.