Spring is coming, which means we’ll soon be heading out to those wild places that call to us.
I wrote this little prayer for those times when we explore and wish to introduce ourselves to the land spirits of these new places.
Spring is coming, which means we’ll soon be heading out to those wild places that call to us.
I wrote this little prayer for those times when we explore and wish to introduce ourselves to the land spirits of these new places.
Since home is where the heart is it behooves us to make sure that our homes are cleansed and blessed on a regular basis. Why? Because all of us have the capacity for good energy and bad energy. A bad day can be brought home with us and muck up the energy of our home. Have you ever been having a really great day and then someone came in who was angry or in a temper? The energy of the home takes a nosedive more often than not. Even after the bad mood has passed this unhealthy energy sticks around, just as the positive energy sticks around. Therefore it is a good idea to make sure that the house is cleansed and blessed frequently. There are many ways to accomplish this, but as with most spells, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
The first step is to actually physically clean your house. This is something that many of us put off (I know I do!) but really helps quite a bit. By physically cleaning your house you are doing a great deal to make the energy in the home much healthier and brighter. Also, the feeling of accomplishment after cleaning the home is a great way to raise energy for a house cleansing and blessing. If you are going to take the time to magically cleanse and bless your home, you should also take the time to physically cleanse your home as well. The magical and the physical work best together.
Floor Washes – A lot can be said about a good floor wash. Washing your floor clears up negativity and often has the house smelling great. The extra added bonus is that in order to wash your floor, you have to pick up the clutter that accumulates. Clutter is a magnet for unhealthy energy. Floor washes can be made to bring in luck, love, money, health, happiness, protection, cleansing or anything else your heart desires. You can make your own floor wash by adding essential oils or herbs to your regular floor cleanser. If adding essential oils, you might want to try out what different oils smell like when combined together and with your cleanser before washing your whole house in a particular scent. Essential oils are easy to use because you only need to add a few drops of each oil to your bucket.
If adding herbs, I generally choose multiples of three, 3, 6 or 9 being the most common, but any number would work. I will boil the herbs to make a tea and then strain out the herbs using a coffee filter or strainer. I will add a portion of the tea mixture to the bucket I am using on the floors and then a portion for a spray bottle. Then I will mop the floors, or scrub them, depending on my mood. In hoodoo, you scrub the floors on your hands and knees, which I will do sometimes, but due to a twitchy back and angry knees, I generally prefer to mop. After mopping I will then using the spray bottle to mist over the areas, such as carpets or rugs or furniture that I could not clean with a mop.
Many shops, such as Lucky Mojo, have floor washes in stock that you can purchase and use. Lucky Mojo’s Chinese wash smells great and is good for clearing your house of negativity.
I am fairly haphazard about what herbs I use, and end up relying on what I have on hand. I will occasionally seek out specific herbs for specific purposes, but usually rely on the herbs I use in cooking. I recommend getting a good book on herbs and their correspondences, such as Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magickal Herbs. That way you can choose from a long list of herbs based from what you have at hand.
For a Loving Home – Wash and Spray
The above recipe can be used for anything you would like to bless your house with as long your intention and the herbs correspond. My favorites for this are protection, luck, peace and harmony. Sometimes I want to infuse my house with motivation, and then I generally use bay leaves with essential oils for lemon, orange or grapefruit. The citrus really makes me want to move. It is important to experiment and find what works best for you.
I have a friend who will boil herbs in a pot throughout the day –basically steps 1 through 3 – because the steam infuses the house with the smell and properties of the herbs. It is wonderful to come home to a fantastic smelling house. I will say that this approach would work for me really well in the winter when it is dry, but in the summer my house is very humid, so I try not to add to the humidity. However, you can use this method for a quick house cleansing when you are busy doing other things. Sometimes our time is short, so shortcuts help.
Incense – Just burning incense in your house can really help lift spirits and bless and cleanse. The most common house cleansing is to get a wrap of dried sage and then to go through the house clearing the energy with the sage. The best approach is to start at your front door, and walk the perimeter of your house clearing the energy with the sage bundle and flow energy through your hands. The sage clears away negativity and the energy you flow – both through your free hand and the sage bundle – helps replace negative energy with your energy. Some people like to chant as they do this to help with focus. Such as “I bless you and clear you, I bless you and clear you…” If you are following the sage up with holy water, you can say “I bless and clear this space with fire and air” or “Air and fire cleanses and blesses…” Really whatever you like.
Holy Water – There are many different takes on holy water, but what I like is the simple water with sea salt. Mix together until salt has dissolved completely in the water. As with the herbs, a little goes a long way so a tablespoon should be plenty. Charge the water with cleansing properties by holding your hands over the water and flowing energy into the water. You may even ask the Goddess to help you charge the water, if that feels comfortable to you. I used to leave the water in a chalice and kind of sprinkle the water throughout my home, but have found that this leaves salt water droplets everywhere. Instead, I now use a spray bottle that will mist the solution through the home. It works better for me, but as with all things, find what works best for you.
If you are doing a thorough house cleansing, I would use sage as well as holy water. As you walk through the house, starting and finishing at the front door, use the sage to clear away unpleasant energy. I use my arms and hands as a kind of energetic broom to sweep away the negative energy as I go. Then when I finish at the front door, I open the door and push the unpleasant energy outside. I’m lucky enough to have two big trees in front of my house and I usually take this energy and give it to the ground in front of the trees. Energy that I find unpleasant becomes neutralized in the ground and helps the trees. Then go through the house with holy water doing the same as I did with the sage, including shooing the unpleasant energy out the front door and grounding it in the earth.
After you have finished cleansing your house with Air and Fire (the sage or incense) and Earth and Water (the salt and water), you can then place protective wards or shields around your home. There are many, many ways to accomplish this, from the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram to simply visualizing your home as surrounded in a dome of protective light. I prefer to place specific wards around my home, while my husband uses a protective energy dome around the home.
Thread Bottle – I forgot where I first read about a thread bottle, but I do know that spell this was found in a book somewhere. The idea is a bottle full of odds and ends of thread that tangle up anyone who tries to do you harm. My husband loves this particular spell as he hates to throw anything away. Because we add to it any time we sew or knit or just have an odd piece of string or thread or yarn from somewhere, which means that something that might have been thrown out is used to help keep our home safe. You can use any kind of glass bottle you like. We first had a very pretty bottle I purchased from Hobby Lobby for this purpose, but when this bottle broke, my husband just switched to using an empty bottle of vodka we were getting ready to recycle. He was pleased as punch to be able to reuse the vodka bottle for something and we just transferred the thread bits from one container to another. Part of the great thing about this spell is that everyone in the house can contribute their energy to it, as they add bits of loose thread to the bottle.
Witch’s Ball – This is a very simple little ward you can place around your house. Most of the ones I have seen are terribly expensive, hand-blown glass affairs that I could never afford. Therefore, I never really thought much about getting one. I am also rough on delicate objects, so a pretty glass thing seemed like asking for trouble. Our then High Priestess, who is terribly crafty in all of the ways that I am not, said that you could use Christmas tree ornaments. The local hobby shop sells, year round, clear glass bulb ornaments, usually for under $5 for a set of them.
You can then place herbs inside of the ornaments and hang them around your house. Our hobby shop sells them in a variety of sizes from small to extremely large. Our crafty HP said that you can also paint them different colors to correspond to the elements, or use food coloring and Elmer’s glue to make the bulbs different colors. I tried the food coloring with Elmer’s glue, but I apparently go crazy with food coloring and used too much so it didn’t turn out well. It was interesting in a Look at That Gloppy Mess That Won’t Dry kind of way, but not very useful. I think a lighter touch is needed if you go the Elmer’s glue route.
I placed protective herbs inside my ornaments and then put them up in the four quarters. One of the nice things about these types of wards is that they are an excellent indicator of when someone is wishing you ill. When your wards explode inexplicably, that is a major indicator of bad news! We had one just destruct without anyone being near it, and from there we went on to discover that someone was not too pleased with us. When that happens, you just replace the ward and move on, while maybe doubling up on the protection detail.
Witch’s Bottle – I’ve never made one of these myself, but hear that they are really affective. Basically, you take a bottle, like a mason jar, and you place sharp pointy things inside it. If they are rusty and twisted, then that is good too. I’ve heard very specific instructions for this and very loose instructions for this. Basically, you want nails, razor blades, staples, tacks, screws and other implements of that nature in the bottle. In addition, you then add your own urine to the bottle. You bury this bottle on your property and it protects you from any harm thrown your way. Some say you should include a parchment paper with your name on it, or that you should smear it with menstrual blood or semen, but the version I’ve heard most is rusty, sharp things, urine, then bury it. Some people say bury it on a full moon, others say the dark of the moon.
Wards – Wards can be placed over doors and windows. A ward is very simple and consists of nothing more than your energy. Using an athame, wand, or your finger, draw banishing pentacle over the door or window. Visualize protective, blue white light drawing the banishing pentagram and sealing your door or window. Do this to all of the openings in your house. Some people take protection oil and physically draw the circle on the door or window, which is a way to do it that works well, but for me, I just don’t like having oil on my windows so I visualize instead. Do what works best for you.
Braids – One of the earliest spells of blessing I performed was one for a good marriage. I took three different colored ribbons, choosing the colors to correspond with what I wanted to bless my marriage with. Then I knotted the three ribbons together on one end and braided them together while chanting and flowing energy into the spell. The chant I used was merely what each color represented, “Peace, love, happiness”. Once the ribbons were braided together, I then knotted the other end of the ribbons and tied the two ends together forming a circle. As ribbons braided together are relatively thin, you could double up the magic on your home by hanging up a witch ball with the braided ribbon. Protection and blessing working together.
Another use for these braided ribbons is to place them over the tops of the windows and doorways in your home. If I am doing that with the braids, I will often chant more specifically, such as “Let only friends pass through this door” or “Goddess bless and protect all who enter” or something of that nature. After the braid is completed, it can be added to the top of the window or doorway.
A lot of the above information focuses on doorways and windows mainly because those are the entryways into our home. When cleansing an area or protecting an area, you want to pay special attention to those areas where energy can come in and set up camp. By warding the doorways and windows, you are keeping unwanted energy out.
Another problem area is corners. When going through my house to cleanse, the ceiling corners often have the biggest buildup of energy. It is a good practice to clear the energy out when you can, as you don’t want it hanging around.
Clutter is area where energy can collect. Clutter is something that seems to follow me around, but when I do a cleansing, if I can’t clean the clutter, I will make sure to spend extra time cleansing it and clearing it of unpleasant energy.
There are many different ways to cleanse, bless, and protect your home. The above is just a list of simple but effective things you can do to start out. I recommend to anyone practicing magic cleansing and blessing your home much as you would your ritual tools. One of the most effective protections out there is the goddesses and gods, so don’t forget to ask them for their blessings and protection of your home. These cleansings and blessings should be done on a regular basis, at least once a month if not once a week, and ALWAYS before you move into a new place. Magical hygiene is like regular hygiene – the more often you do it, the cleaner and clearer you are.
As a side note, you should cleanse and bless any area you are working magic in, praying in or doing a ritual in before each magical act but especially before ritual.
Valentine’s Day often gets a pretty bad rap. People in relationships feel pressure to buy just the right gift for their partner. People who are single can feel lonely and unloved. Some people think the holiday is part of a Big Sugar Conspiracy to make us all eat too much candy, and some people think that it’s a day that has obviously been invented by Hallmark just to sell cards. Whatever their reasons, a lot of people absolutely loathe Valentine’s Day. Yet, at its core, stripped of candy and flowers and martyred saints, Valentine’s Day is simply a day set aside to celebrate love, in all its forms. What could be more wonderful than that? Inspired by the concept of the Crimson Mass, a Rite described by Father Sebastiaan in his book, Vampyre Magick, I’ve created a small solitary ritual to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
You will need:
A small red or pink candle and holder
A piece of rose quartz
Incense (I make a special incense blend every year. I usually use cedar, rose, jasmine, and patchouli, but it varies with what I have on hand. You can use any scent that reminds you of love.)
A shortbread cookie and Gypsy Rose tea or whatever you prefer for cakes and ale.
I lay out a low altar with the candle, the incense, the stone, and the cakes and ale, and I make sure there’s a pillow nearby to sit on. I tend to light a few plain white candles around the room and do this ritual after dark by candlelight on the night of February 13th
I start by casting a circle, visualizing each quarter and making the casting into a meditation. For this Rite, I begin in the West:
“I stand in the West, watching a vast body of water. It is calm, but soon it begins to ripple and move. Gathering momentum and force, this ocean suddenly swells, and waves of emotion break over me, pulling me into the depths of my past. I float gently in the waves, and when they break, they spill me onto the twilight shores of distant memory, where I pause for a heartbeat, lying on the sand. I stand once more and begin to walk.”
“I walk to the North. The soft sands of memory’s shore begin giving way to moss that springs beneath each step and leaves that crunch underfoot as I begin to follow a road through a moonlit forest which now stretches out before me.”
“I walk to the East, and a soft warm breeze begins to rustle the leaves in the forest’s canopy. The air pushes gently on my back, a guiding hand moving me forward down the path.”
“I turn to the South, and the forest opens into a clearing, the break in the canopy shows the moon and starts above. In the center of the clearing, a bonfire crackles. I look back to the West, where I washed up on the shores of this realm. I have come to this land and to this clearing to stand on the velvety moss which covers the solid earth as the Eastern breezes whisper through the leaves and play in my hair. I sit down and warm myself by the fire.”
At this point, now sitting down after casting the circle, I light the red candle on the altar.
I let my gaze fall on the candle and begin to conjure up thoughts and memories of all those I have loved, all those that I do love, and all those that I will love. I think with fondness of my family, my friends, and my lovers, past, present and future.
I light the incense and watch the smoke curl and rise. I send my love and my blessings with it, into the ether to honor, to bless and to thank all of my loves for their roles in my life.
Eventually, I pick up the stone, and pour my memories, my love, and my gratitude into it. The stone becomes the essence of love as it is manifest in my life. I take great care not to sully it with sorrow or memories of a broken hearts and loneliness. I allow only the warmest thoughts, the happiest memories, into the stone. It will be my talisman, my reminder for the next year, of the importance of love. It will remind me to try to act from a place of love, to try to speak from a place of love, and to be grateful for the people that I love. I use the same stone every year.
When I’m ready, I have a little tea and a bit of the shortbread to ground me and begin to bring me back out of my meditative state. Once I’m feeling more present in the corporeal world, I stand and take down the circle, which is a much more straightforward affair than casting it is. As I turn to each direction, widdershins, from South to West, I give a simple thank you to each element, saying, “Stay if you will, but go if you must. I thank you for your presence here. Blessed be.”
I let the incense and the candle burn out, or extinguish them. If the candle is too large to burn in one night, I will light it every night until it’s burned down completely.
On the night of Valentine’s Day itself, I go out into the world, as Father Sebastiaan suggests in the original Rite, and become aware of the energy of love that is in the air, feeling how it connects us all, pulling the energy into my own heart and connecting with the very spirit of love itself.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
When I was a little kid, I had allergic asthma. I couldn’t eat dairy without running the risk of not being able to breathe. I was put on a medication to help my breathing – Theo-Dur – which was a central nervous system stimulant. In my head I always called it Theodore, you know, like in Alvin and the Chipmunks. As with most of my childhood memories, I do not know how long I was on this medication, but it feels like it was years. I do know that I was on this medication when I was supposed to be at an age where I got lots of sleep, including naps.
I did not get lots of sleep while taking a central nervous system stimulant. One of the side effects is even insomnia. However, my parents did put me to bed with the hope that I would sleep.
Instead, I sang, read books with a flashlight, worried about the monsters in the closet or under the bed, and generally stayed awake. At one point, either my father or my mother told me to clear my mind and think of nothing.
Sure. While I do that, go sit in a corner and do not think about a white elephant. Be sure to let me know how that works out for you.
I spent hours upon hours lying in bed, hopped up on this drug, thinking about nothing. I would try to think about nothing. Then I would think about how if I was thinking about nothing, I was still actually thinking about something, and I would try to blank my mind. I would then spin out into infinity, thinking about thinking about nothing, while thinking about thinking about nothing, forever and ever. Eventually, I got to the point where I was able to chase these thoughts of thinking about thinking about nothing to infinity away. I was able to let them go. Release them into the void. I would be able to blank my mind and find that calm. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but I was able to find a bit of rest. The nights I successfully let go of the thoughts of thinking about nothing, I did get to sleep much easier than the nights when I sang or read books or tried to discern what the monster in the closet wanted.
What I did not realize at the time was that I was meditating. As an adult who does not wittingly consume caffeine, I am able to meditate quite easily. From the many books and articles I have read on the subject of meditation, the hardest part in learning to meditate is the clearing of your mind. Thinking about nothing. However, the process of learning to think about nothing, even including spinning out into infinity, is training your brain how to reach that place of meditation. Many people try meditation for a while and give up on it after they do not think about nothing successfully. “I could never clear my mind completely,” people have told me. However, as with so many things, they are focused on the destination, when the journey is so much more the point. It is the exercise, not the goal of the exercise, that really matters.
Beyond that, simply sitting and thinking about nothing, clearing your mind, breathing deeply, may work for some people, but it is not necessarily going to work for you. Luckily there are many ways in which you can achieve a meditative state. I am still a big proponent of taking five minutes out of your day, sit quietly, taking cleansing breaths, and clear your mind. As thoughts rise up, acknowledge them and then let them go. Just five minutes will give you great results after a month. If you can up it to ten minutes, you are a rock star. Lately, I have been shooting for a goal of 25-35 minutes. I have a vitamin D deficiency so I have been going outside, sitting in the sun, and meditating. I figure if I need to be in sunlight for 30-40 minutes a day, may as well kill two birds with one stone. It is still a challenge on some days to clear my thoughts, but I always feel better afterwards even when I am not totally successful.
Focus on the path, not the destination. The journey is the majority of your time anyway. Might as well enjoy it.
That said, there are other really great ways to meditate.
Full Body Meditation
Lately, I’ve been going to yoga classes. There is nothing better for living in the moment, feeling the now, and inhabiting your body fully than yoga – at least in my experience. I am usually so focused on myself, how my body feels, and living in the moment that none of the other stresses in my life intrude upon me. One of the first exercises our instructor had us perform was to stand on a yoga block. Yoga blocks are rectangles of a sturdy foam-like material. The whole point was to balance on the yoga block. Once we had accomplished this, she had us close our eyes and balance on the yoga block.
This was much more difficult. Eyes closed, balancing on this block was an exercise in living in the moment. The meditation was simply one of keeping your balance. No other thought was in my mind. This was a great way of clearing my mind and an exercise I still do at home when I am feeling too stressed and want just a brief moment of not having to carry the worry of the day with me.
I have talked with people who do a variety of body meditations similar to yoga. Finding an exercise that works for you is just a matter of finding the body movements you feel clear your mind best. There are numerous exercises that can create that mind clearing, trance-like state of being that you seek through meditation. Dance (whirling dervishes, anyone?), tai chi, running, walking – the possibilities are as diverse as humans.
I have one friend that finds working a carpet shampooer to be very meditative. This is a particularly cool one, because you can meditate and clean at the same time.
The point with full body movement is to not be self-conscious, be focused on the body, and to let go of thought as you move.
If sitting silently and clearing your mind is not your cup of tea, there are a wide variety of guided meditations out there. These are usually spoken meditations that take you through the relaxation and meditation process. I love guided meditations. Not all of them are created equal, and I have found a few unpleasant or annoying enough that I have turned them off, but for the most part, guided meditations are lovely as they take most of the thinking out of your hands. You listen, follow the instructions, and voila – you meditate.
For guided meditations, a good, free way to start is to search online for podcasts. There are a lot of people out there who host guided meditations via podcast, blogtalk radio, and other online venues. Try out a sampling of these free guided meditations before spending money on CD’s. Also, keep in mind that just because you like an author’s books does not mean you will like an author’s voice. While there are some great books out there with companion CD’s to listen to, there is one prolific author who makes a click noise at the end of each sentence. Drives me right out of the meditative state. Listen to samples, if you can, before you buy something.
Chanting is another way to meditate via sound. I am not saying sit at home, in lotus position, saying “Om…..” to yourself. I personally cannot get into lotus position as it makes my knees angry. However, for those who have done meditations using mantras, they are very helpful. One of my favorite mantras/chants to meditate to is to Ganesh – “Om, Gam, Ganapatye, Namaha”. Traditionally, you would repeat this mantra to Ganesh 108 times. The sounds resonating through your body when you chant do help induce meditative states of various kinds, depending on the chant or mantra you are using.
As with guided meditations, check out free sources online first. YouTube has a wide variety of chants and mantras to choose from. Everyone is different and what appeals to me is not going to necessarily appeal to you. Check around for something that you can sing or say to yourself that resonates and helps get your mind into the meditative state.
In addition, there is classical music, singing bowls, chimes, and many other sounds that may help you in achieving a meditative state. Experiment with sounds and see what you like best.
I don’t know about you, but if you sit me near a fire, it’s over. I am gone. Fire transfixes me. I may get up and play with the fire to get it rolling more, but for the most part I am totally zoned out if there is a camp fire to look at. Or a bonfire. I have even created the same effect with a single candle although it is less intense.
Some people can meditate upon flowers, trees, a picture, or other visual aid. For me, there are two pieces of artwork that can cause almost effortless meditation – Van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night, cliché but true, and John Martin’s Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion. The latter picture is at the St. Louis Art Museum, and as a child and an adult that has been the highlight of visiting the museum for me every time. While I know what that painting is about, I do not care as my own stories for it are better. Also, the tiny man in the vastness of nature always made me happy.
Some people have had much luck with meditating on various screen savers.
Basically, as with the other venues, find something that you like, that inspires you or quiets your mind. The possibilities are endless. It can be a moving visual such as screensaver or fire (although I recommend fire, but that is because it works for me). It can be a still image such as a painting, or even an object you are drawn to. Experiment and find something that works for you.
What types of meditation work best for you? What methods of meditation have you loathed? Feel free to share in the comments section!