Uncovering the Spiritual Meaning of Spitting in Mouths

Spitting is an act that is often seen as crude, unhygienic, and disrespectful in many parts of the world today. However, throughout history and across cultures, ritual spitting has held deep spiritual meaning and significance.

In various spiritual traditions, the act of spitting in someone’s mouth has served as a powerful ritual that represents purification, blessing, initiation, and the transmission of knowledge and power. By exploring the myths, symbols, and meanings behind these rituals, we can uncover the profound spirituality that underlies this peculiar practice.

The Purifying and Protective Nature of Spit

In many cultures, spit has long been viewed as having purifying and protective properties. The act of spitting, especially into a person’s mouth, was seen as a way to cleanse them spiritually and energetically. Spit was thought to carry vital life force energy that could dispel negative energies or spirits.

For example, in parts of Africa and the Middle East, spitting into a newborn baby’s mouth is an traditional practice believed to protect the child from illness and evil spirits. The spit passes the protective life force of the elder onto the vulnerable infant. Some traditions specify using the saliva of a parent or grandparent specifically to pass on ancestral spiritual protection.

Similarly, in Hindu Tantra traditions, Gurus would spit into the mouth of disciples to confer spiritual purification and empowerment. The Guru’s saliva was seen as washing away ‘spiritual impurities’ to allow enlightenment. Tantric texts explain that the Guru’s spit contains ‘amrita’, the nectar of supreme awareness, that cleanses blocks in the chakras.

Spit as Medicine and Blessing

Related to its protective abilities, spit has also been viewed as having curative properties in many folk medicine traditions. Spitting into an open wound or sore is believed to speed healing through the transmission of vital energy.

This also extends to spitting blessings onto people. In Kenya, the elderly bless children by spitting on their faces. The Luo tribe in particular believes spit can transfer ancestral luck. In Myanmar, mothers spit on their daughters’ wedding garments for luck and fertility. Spit carries the power of life and health.

Chinese folk medicine describes saliva as ‘yin’ fluid that balances ‘yang’ influences to heal the body. Many traditions prescribe spitting morning saliva to cure ailments and prevent disease. Spit’s soothing energy counters inflammation and toxins.

Transmission of Knowledge Through Spit

Saliva has also been ritually used to transmit knowledge, wisdom, and mystical insight. This can be seen in Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic traditions, where Gurus would spit into the mouths of disciples to confer enlightenment.

Texts like the Vyasa Bhashya explain that the Guru’s saliva contains ‘shakti’, divine creative energy, that awakens higher consciousness in the seeker. Myths tell of Gurus spitting into the mouths of disciples like Adi Shankara to awaken their Third Eye chakra.

Similarly, Indigenous tribes of Papua New Guinea would pass on songs, rituals, and folklore by spitting knowledge into the mouths of successors. The spit allowed sacred knowledge to be embodied from one generation to the next.

In this way, spit served as a ritual conduit for passing down spiritual teachings and powers. Science may even support this – saliva contains hormones, proteins and DNA that could theoretically transmit information.

Spitting to Confer Status and Identity

The act of elder tribesmen spitting into the mouths of young initiates has marked rites of passage in many cultures. This ritually inducted them into manhood, conferring them with new status and identity in the community.

For example, the Masai people of Kenya and Tanzania spit on boys who come of age to welcome them as warriors. Similar practices occur in initiation rites in Papua New Guinea, Zambia, and assorted Indigenous tribes globally. The Maori of New Zealand would spit during conferring facial tattoos to symbolize the transfer of mana (spiritual power).

By ingesting the spit and blessings of tribal elders, the boy takes on their spiritual strength and becomes a man in the eyes of the community. He takes on a new social role and identity as defender and provider for the tribe.

Ritual Spitting in Religions

Spitting also holds spiritual significance in many faiths and religions. In Christianity, priests used to spit on children during baptismal rites. The spit would ward off evil spirits from possessing the child’s body and sanctify them in Christ’s image.

In Islam, some myths tell of the Prophet Muhammad using holy spit called lu’ab to bless and heal the sick. Some Muslim pilgrims even try to catch and ingest water sprayed from Muhammad’s tomb, believing in its holy healing powers.

In Judaism, some traditions teach that spittle contains the divine name of God. Spitting while reciting prayers was said to lend them spiritual potency. Rabbis would also spit upon their fingers when turning the pages of the Torah to show piety and respect.

Within these faiths and others, spit retains remnants of sacredness and spiritual blessing.

While routinely spitting into each other’s mouths may seem crude or bizarre today, it’s clear that it has held profound ritual meaning across human cultures and history. Anthropologists have described it as a ‘universal symbol’ found in many tribes and faiths.

This speaks to the shared primal beliefs in the purifying, blessing, transforming and transmitting power of spit. Saliva has been viewed as a conduit for spiritual healing, protection, identity and knowledge.

Modern science has found components in saliva like enzymes, hormones and DNA that could account for its perceived power. But on a symbolic level, spitting rituals integrate the individual with their community’s spirit.

By exploring cultural rituals, we see that spitting goes beyond just saliva – it channels spiritual energy that can bless, protect, heal and sanctify. Spitting practices reveal the sacred in the mundane.

So next time you think about spitting, consider its rich cultural history as a conduit for spirit. Our spit may hold more power than meets the eye.