Balneotherapy is the treatment of diseases, injuries, and other physical ailments with baths and bathing, esp. in natural mineral waters; as well as to baptize, to cleanse spiritually; initiate or dedicate by purifying mind and body. While it is considered distinct from hydrotherapeutics, there are some overlaps in practice and in underlying principles. Balneotherapy involves hot or cold water, massage through moving water, applications of other wetting agents, all used in accordance to relaxing (sedating) or stimulating properties as recognized. Many mineral waters at spas are rich in particular minerals (silica, sulfur, selenium, radium) which can be absorbed through the skin, each having different therapeutic and nutritive properties as well.

Medicinal clays are also widely used, which practice is known as 'fangotherapy'. The use of medicinal clay in folk medicine goes back to prehistoric times. The indigenous peoples around the world still use clay widely, which is related to geophagy. The first recorded use of medicinal clay goes back to ancient Mesopotamia. A wide variety of clays is being used for medicinal purposes - primarily for external applications, such as the clay baths in health spas (mud therapy), but also internally. Among the clays most commonly used for medicinal purposes are kaolin and the smectite clays such as bentonite, montmorillonite, and Fuller's earth. These are taken internally for detoxification, and medically for the treatment of diarrhea.

The 'hot hay bath' is an ancient Siberian treatment for rheumatism and arthritis, which has specific biological properties. Peat, or turf, is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of peat baths in certain parts of the world.

Diatomaceous earth (pronounced /ˌdaɪ.ətəˌmeɪʃəs ˈɜrθ/) also known as diatomite or kieselgur, is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. It is one of our best anti-parasiticals when taken internally. It is also an important source of silica, a vital nutrient for skin and skeletal health.

Thus, the term "balneotherapy" is generally applied to everything relating to spa treatment, including the drinking of waters and clays; and the use of hot baths and natural vapor baths, as well as of the various kinds of mud and sand used for hot applications. Balneotherapy may be recommended for wide range of illnesses, including arthritis, skin conditions and fibromyalgia; as well as a superior form of detoxification for rejuvenation.


Taking the Waters and Taking the Cure

Just as we have water cures today, Taking the Waters was, a physical choice and act into healing, cleansing and rejuvenation. What has been significantly lost from the Taking the Waters of ancient times is the integration of the arts, socialization, nutrition, recuperation, and music therapy. These interdisciplinary elements were all part of the spa culture of ancient Greece which Taking the Waters was part of a magnificent culture, which today has been lost. Where once the sick and infirmed Took the Waters in natural springs or temple baths, today's spa client is found Taking the Waters in a hot tub or mineral bath. And while the physical benefits remain, the original spiritual benefits are missing in the secular experience and the forgotten notion of Hygienic culture is all but lost.

Taking the Waters is ancient, with evidence of water being used for healing dating back before written history. Ancient civilizations believed that Taking the Waters was beneficial and healing in many ways, especially for cleansing the body, relaxing the heart and mind, and purifying the soul.

The word baptize derives from baptizo, the transliterated form of the Greek word βάπτειν or baptivzw. In a historical context, it means "to dip, plunge, or immerse" something entirely, e.g. into water. Although commonly associated with Christian baptism, the word is known to have been used in other contexts. For instance, a 2nd century author named Nicander wrote down a pickle recipe which illustrates the common use of the word. He first says that the pickle should be dipped (bapto) into boiling water, followed by a complete submersion (baptizo) in a vinegar solution. The word was also used to explain the process of submerging cloth into a colored dye.

In the Egyptian Mysteries the concept of the Supreme Good is expressed as the purpose of virtue, and that is the salvation of the Soul, by liberating it from the ten bodily fetters. This process of liberation is a process of purification both of mind and of body: the former by the study of philosophy and science, and the latter by bodily ascetic disciplines. This training was continued from the baptism of water, and was subsequently followed by the baptism of fire, when the candidate had made the necessary progress. This process transformed man and made him godlike, and fitted him for union with God.

The concept of the Supreme Good, which originally came from the Egyptian Mysteries is the earliest theory of salvation: and Socrates must have derived this doctrine from that source, or indirectly from the Pythagoreans.

The Christian ritual of water baptism traces back to Saint John the Forerunner, who the Bible says baptized many, including our Lord Jesus Christ. Certain forms of baptism were practiced in the Old Testament. In medical astrology, the moment of birth for the construction of the radical chart is know as the "planetary baptism." Additionally, baptism was practiced in some pagan religions as a sign of death and rebirth.

In Christianity, baptism (from Greek βαπτίζω baptizo: "immersing", "performing ablutions", i.e., ritual washing) is for the majority the rite of admission, almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition. Baptism has been called a sacrament and an ordinance of Jesus Christ.

Although the term "baptism" is not used to describe the Jewish rituals, the purification rites (or mikvah—ritual immersion) in Jewish laws and tradition have similarity and linkage to baptism. Mikvah was used by the Essenes and Therapeutae. In the Jewish Bible and other Jewish texts, immersion in water for ritual purification was established for restoration to a condition of "ritual purity" in specific circumstances. John the Baptist adopted baptismal immersion as the central sacrament in his messianic movement.

In contrast to a common Protestant viewpoint, baptism is more than just a symbolic act of burial of the old self and resurrection of the new, but an actual supernatural transformation. Baptism is believed to impart cleansing (remission) of sins and union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection (see Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12, 3:1-4).

What is important to observe is that despite the differences, origins and beliefs among the aboriginals, the Greeks, Jews, Christians and Muslims, all basically agreed on a major canon of spa culture. This basic spa principle asserts that through properly Taking the Waters, one has the possibility of not only experiencing health and hygiene, but also an initiatory and baptismal event which symbolizes personal purification, social regeneration and spiritual transformation.

Today these traditional, natural therapeutic spa practices and healing resort medicines are largely forgotten. Their hidden histories, however, are made available in this Course, and contain a wealth of helpful information ready for rediscovery. Also ready for rediscovery are the holistic and integrated regenerative processes -- what Giedion called "total regeneration." These once well-established natural spa and health resort processes of Taking the Waters can provide a way for you to learn, our speed-driven culture, how to reconnect patrons with Nature's basic elements, and most importantly, with humanity's healthful rhythms and ancient traditions.