I thought I would embark on a series of meditations on ritual purity. I’m going to run through the alphabet and choose a prompt for each letter, and write up my thoughts on those prompts.
Ritual purity can be defined as the act of being clean and prepared enough to participate in or perform a particular ritual. The problem with this definition is that there is no clear boundary set for “clean and prepared enough”. What is clean enough? Is washing my hands enough? Do I need to wear certain clothes? Can they just be a fresh set of clothes, or should they be white? Can I participate if I’m menstruating, but have been ritually purified with natron and water? Can I participate if I have music playing in the background? Can I participate if my roommate is two seats over? (All questions I have myself asked, at one point in time.)
The biggest source of confusion with ritual purity is that different rituals have different requirements. A Kemetic Orthodox online simulcast worship service has totally different requirements from a w’ab priest’s state rite. The answer to the question “am I pure enough?” will have different answers in different contexts. This is where asking is useful.
When purity is a question, ask someone. Ask a priest, ask a fellow participant, ask the god you are honoring. In Kemetic Orthodoxy, w’ab priests can answer questions about formal, group ritual requirements. We can also help sort out what kind of purity you might want or need in your own personal practice, though no w’ab is an absolute expert outside of their own circumstances. If you’re doing something on your own, you can ask your god directly. The clearest way to do this is divination, but if you have a clear line of communication with your god you can just ask and listen for an answer.
Guessing is an option, but it doesn’t guarantee success. If you guess right, you don’t gain any understanding of why purity is necessary; if you guess wrong, you can offend the god, or introduce dirt and other unwanted ick into your rites. In my own experience, the gods prefer being asked. I have asked if I am pure enough for shrine on multiple occasions, and most of the time the answer has surprised me.
I think the only time you actually wouldn’t want to ask about purity is if you’re working directly with your god, and They’ve already given you the requirements. In that case, I don’t advise asking over and over again. 😉