Beginner · Hellenismos

Miasma

Miasma is the impurity we as humans naturally accumulate and posses. It is not something we need to stress about getting away from us every moment of every day, and it is good to know that we will always be a little miasmic. It is not in any way a form of sin, and should not be despised as such. However, miasma can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to worship and prayer.

Miasma translates to the vague word “pollution”, but it isn’t as bad as you might think. It’s just the everyday things we hold onto throughout our lives as humans. It is humanness, and nothing to ashamed of or scared of. It is merely distraction from the Theoi.

It can be very consuming, and I think of it as the force that pulls our focus and thoughts away from the Theoi. The essence of mortality, so to speak.

Although miasma isn’t bad, one of the pillars of Hellenismos is Hagneia, which is avoiding miasma for ritual purposes. Usually, people do this by Katharmos when they are doing a ritual, or something daily such as veiling. Khernips are seen as a cleansing agent, and are used in the Katharmos ritual. You can find a post on khernips here.

Katharmos is done like so:

“The practice of katharmos historically starts with a bath (or shower, in modern times). Step two is the preparation and use of khernips (Χἐρνιψ). Khernips is created by dropping smoldering incense or herb leaves into (fresh and/or salt) water (preferably sacred spring water or sea water). When throwing in the lit item, one can utter ‘Xerniptosai’ (pronounced ‘zer-nip-TOS-aye-ee’) which translates as ‘Be purified’. Both hands and face are washed with khernips. The vessel holding the khernips is called a khernibeionas (Χερνῐβεῖον). For most modern day Hellenics, washing themselves with khernips is step three, seeing as they brush their teeth first, as the names of the Gods are spoken through the mouth.”

Source: Baring the Aegis 

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