7 August 2013

Bathing as a Rite

Havelock Ellis, Impressions and Comments (London: Constable, 1914), pp. 210-211:
The act of bathing in the sea, rightly considered, is a sacred act, and is so recognised in many parts of the world. It should not be made as commonplace as a mere hygienic tubbing, nor be carried out by a crowd of clothed persons in muddy water. No profane unfriendly eye should be near, the sun must be bright, the air soft, the green transparent sea should ripple smoothly over the rocks, as I see it below me now, welling rhythmically into rock-basins and plashing out with a charge of bubbling air and a delicious murmur of satisfied physiological relief. Enter the sea in such a manner, on such a day, and the well-tempered water greets the flesh so lovingly that it opens like a flower with no contraction of hostile resistance. The discomforting sensation of the salt in the nostrils becomes a delightful and invigorating fragrance as it blends with the exhilaration of this experience. So to bathe is more than to bathe. It is a rite of which the physical delight is a symbol of the spiritual significance of an act of Communion with Nature, to be stored up with one's best experiences of Fine Living.