Home, sacred home…

I’ve talked elsewhere on this site about taking care of your own energy, but what about your space? Just as you do, the space you live in picks up energy and emotions. Often, we bring these things in ourselves, with the stress we bring home from work (or school), from news stories, or from things we actually do at home.

The good news is that just as you can cleanse your own energy and smooth things out, you can do the same thing with your home. A little regular attention goes a long way toward making your home welcoming, peaceful, and enjoyable.

There are different ways to approach keeping your home well. I prefer a combination of good habits and larger cleaning projects through the year. The great thing about this is that most of the good habits don’t require much magical or energy-sensing skill: you can do them while you’re first learning other things.

Good habits:

Take steps to keep a tidy house: You don’t need to live in something out of one of the beautiful home magazines, but clutter and dirt drag down a home’s energy. Spending just a little time each day decluttering and getting rid of stuff you no longer need can free up a lot of energy (and space and resources on a very practical level) over time.

A tidier house takes less time to maintain, so you have more time for other things. And, as annoying as it is for me to admit this, because it’s something I have to work really hard at, regular tidying is a good way to build up the willpower and other habits I talk about elsewhere around here.

(My home is very much decorated in Geeky Academic Type – lots of Ikea furniture and books and a certain amount of chaos from the combination of music and art supplies and ritual tools. But it’s mostly a friendly chaos, rather than being overwhelming.)

There are lots of resources out there to help. Some people really like FlyLady, who offers online (web and email) encouragement and resources. (I find some of her specific approaches to not be a good fit for me – something I’ll try to write up sooner than later, but there’s other stuff of hers that I find works great.) I – and a number of other people I know – found that her book Sink Reflections is easier to work with than the website.

In terms of decluttering, Peter Walsh’s book It’s All Too Much and Erin Donald’s Unclutter Your Life In Just One Week both have great, friendly, and manageable advice. (Erin also has a great blog and forum.)

Oh – and a word of support. Lots of us, I know, don’t feel we’re doing this keeping-house thing well. That’s okay. You’re not graded. Often, simply trying to declutter in a very small way, or just keeping up on the dishes, or whatever else can help the energy in your home, even if you don’t feel like it makes much of a dent in your to-do list.

If you live with other people for whom “tidy” and “decluttered” are not priorities, it’s not the end of the world. Do what you can to make your space (your bed, bedroom, whatever you have control over) pleasant to you.

Think about what you bring home: Consider taking a moment before you enter your home to ground and center, letting the stresses of your job, school, or commute flow away from you before you cross your threshold.

Consider adding a rejuvenating pause when you get home too. Instead of rushing around, can you plan so that you have time to do something you love for a few minutes? (Maybe that’s listening to some favorite music, making a cup of tea and reading for a little, or working on a craft or art project.) You might not be able to do this every day, but doing it even half the time will help your brain and body transition to your home being a retreat and peaceful place, rather than one more stress.

Think about what you welcome into the house: It can be good to think about the people you spend time with. Do they treat you well? Do they encourage you to treat yourself well? If you have people in your life who make you feel bitter, cynical, hurt, or anything else like that – consider spending less time with them if you can. (Sometimes, that can take a while.) At the least, try to spend more time with them in places away from your home – a coffee shop, their home, whatever.

If you find yourself getting caught up in the crises of the world, consider what you watch and listen to. Sometimes, we can find ourselves having the TV or radio on for noise, and forget that hearing about lots of hard things in the world becomes our background. Of course, it’s good to keep up with the news, but consider being more conscious about it. Try turning the TV on only when you’re deliberately watching something or at least, only having on things you want in the background of your head.

This is especially important if there’s a major world crisis somewhere. We can get ourselves tangled in knots and miserable for no good reason (it doesn’t help other people, and it hurts us). Try turning on the TV for 10 minutes an hour (rather than watching disaster clips over and over again). If you really want something on all the time for breaking news, try the radio, where the audio-only information is a little less overwhelming.

Think about your online activity the same way – is clicking from page to page helping, or would you be better off checking with a couple of high quality sites less frequently?

These aren’t exciting obviously-magical acts – but they really can make a huge difference in your day to day life. For those who want something a bit more magical, though, we’ve got those too.

Consider dedicating your home: Some people choose to honor a particular deity through how they keep their home. Hestia (Greek) and Vesta (Roman) are common choices, but many pantheons have at least one deity who is attentive to the powers of a welcoming and safe home that’s a respite of the world.

From time to time:

It’s a good idea to also take a larger amount of time a few times a year to do a deeper cleaning. This is also a great time for a more intense magical cleaning. Spring and fall are pretty traditional (among other reasons, it’s easier to haul stuff to the trash, you’re less likely to overheat, and so on), but really, pick when works for you. Every 3 to 6 months is a good range.

While you’ll be banishing and blessing your home regularly in ritual if you use a Wiccan-based circle, you can also do that at other times. And learning how to cleanse and bless your space are great places to get started with learning about energy, magic, and ritual.

Banishing:

Banishing is really all about removing the energy that you don’t want in your home. There are lots of ways to do it, though it’s a lot easier if you start with a physically clean space. (We’re not talking spotless here, but removing the visible dust rhinos is good.) You might not be ready to declutter, but having as much clear floor space as you can is good (everything put away or on a shelf or in a container).

You have a lot of choices in how you banish unwanted energy. You can use:

A broom: There’s a reason that a besom or broom is so closely associated with witches. It’s a great tool for moving energy, and banishing unwanted energy. Some people use their besoms as a physical broom (after doing a more general tidy), some people sweep just above the floor, so they’re moving energy, not physical dirt.

Don’t just sweep the floor: raise the broom (carefully!) and sweep up toward the ceiling, in the corners, and other places energy might pool. (Standing energy can behave a little like honey: it’s harder to get out of corners and other nooks and crannies.)

Sound: When using sound to clear the energy of a space, imagine that the sound waves are pushing all the energy you don’t want and need anymore out to the edges of your space (if you live in an apartment, that’d be to your walls. If you’re in a standalone house, go to the edges of your home, or the property, as make sense to you. There are all sorts of different kinds of sounds you can use:

  • Clapping your hands repeatedly can unstick unwanted energy (listen to how it sounds.)
  • A singing bowl can work wonderfully.
  • So can using a single chime or Tibetan tingshas (two chimes joined by cord).
  • Chanting or singing. The elemental chants on Beth’s page are a good place to start.
  • You can also make up your own chant or words.

Herbs and other materials:

The classic here is to burn a bundle of sage and let the smoke infuse your home. (You will need a sage bundle, and a fireproof container to put the smudge stick out when you’re done. A large shell, a ceramic or metal bowl all work.)

However, some people don’t use due to allergy reasons (that’d be me), and others feel that using sage (or sweetgrass, which is also common) are too close to appropriation of other people’s sacred traditions. Fortunately, there are other options. You can use a stick of incense (or herbs on a censer, if you have one and a way to carry it around your space.) If smoke is an issue for you, there are now water-based spray versions of sage and other space clearing combinations.

Another option is to scatter a powder blended from sea salt (or table salt) and the herbs you choose, then sweep it, cleaningĀ up the energy as you go. You could also make a floor rinse (water plus the essential oils or herbs of your choice) and wash your floor with it. If you have carpets, mix up a vacuum powder (baking soda, powdered herbs or a few drops of essential oil mixed thoroughly.) Vacuum it up and cleanse as you go. Or you can lightly spray a room-spray style mix.

Blessing:

After you’ve removed the unwanted energies from your home, you’ll want to do things to encourage the energies you do like. Some people banish unwanted energies with sage, and welcome the blessings with sweetgrass.

In ritual, we (my tradition) bless our spaceĀ  by blessing and charging salt and water, then incense (and a candle) and combining them in pairs – salt water, and lit incense. These are spread around the space (sprinkling the water, and wafting the incense around.) You can certainly do the same thing to bless your home. Of course, you can also chant, wash again with a combination of herbs, or light incense (or a scented wax tart, etc.)

One of my favorites is to put on some of my favorite music (the stuff that makes me feel like this is my home, that reflects what I want my home to be) for a while, and go around and do all those little things that make my home look that much more mine – adding a few seasonal touches, or rearranging the shelf of books that’s been annoying me for a while.

For shared walls:

I spent a lot of my early years of magical practice living in spaces where I was sharing one or more walls with other people – college dorms and apartments. I consider it good manners not to have my energy intrude on their space, so I would generally only clean (and bless, and ward) to the edges of my space, not into theirs.

You also want to be considerate of the method you use – you wouldn’t want to use lots of incense or smoky sage if your next door neighbor had allergies. Chanting or making lots of noise would be a bad idea if your neighbor works the night shift and is trying to sleep. Having at least a civil relationship with your neighbors is a great boost to the feeling of your home.

You may wonder if they’ll see what you’re doing. Fortunately, a lot of the techniques can be made to look not that different from regular housecleaning. Or you can just do it when they’re not around.

Additional Resources:

  • Karen Kingston’s book Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui is a good general introduction to the very complex topic of feng shui. She includes a number of precautions on moving and cleansing energy – people with experience sensing and moving energy will probably not need all of them.
  • Scott Cunningham’s Magical Housekeeping has lots of charms, correspondences, and more to help keep a magical home.
  • And as mentioned earlier, Marla Cilley’s Shine Your Sink, Peter Walsh’s book It’s All Too Much and Erin Donald’s Unclutter Your Life In Just One Week are all good guides to having less household clutter and chaos.

You might find the following articles also of interest:

[last edited April 24, 2014]

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