Read an Excerpt
Mrs. B's Guide to HOUSEHOLD WITCHERY
Everyday Magic, Spells, and Recipes
By KRIS BRADLEY
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2012 Kris Bradley
All rights reserved.
Making the Mundane Magical Room by Room
One of the first steps on the path of domestic witchery is the simple act of looking at your home in a new way. Instead of seeing heaps of dirty clothes, pots to be scrubbed, and socks to be sorted as chores, view them as opportunities instead. These tasks and others are opportunities to follow a more positive path—openings to interact with deity, to teach your children, and to create magic with almost everything you touch. In this chapter, we're going on a room-by-room tour of the home to explore the potential magic that can spring up in every corner! Each section will include a bit on how to use everyday items to create or enhance magic, as well as a list of those areas of magic that are best for that room and a spell or two. There are also suggestions for creating a family book of shadows (or book of magical information) specifically for some rooms.
Let's start right at your stoop.
DOORWAYS AND THRESHOLDS
A threshold is something sacred.
—PORPHYRY, ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHER
Doorways and thresholds are not just a way for people to enter and leave a house; they are also an opening for energy and spirits, both positive and negative. By creating and maintaining magical thresholds, the domestic witch can construct barriers against those things that you'd rather keep away from your family. The first thing to do to get your thresholds ready is a good herbal cleansing. A magical wash like the Protection Wash in chapter 4 will do the trick. Wipe down the inside and outside of every passage from the outside into your home, including windowsills, doors, and door frames, your dryer vent, attic and crawl space entrances, and garage doors. To clean the actual glass in windows and doors, use a mix of four cups water, one cup vinegar, and one teaspoon of Castile soap or liquid dish detergent in a clean spray bottle. If you have a porch, walkway, or a tile entry to your home, use a clean bucket of cleansing mix to scrub this down as well. An easy way to clean your porch is to pour a bit of the wash out, use your broom to scrub it in, and sweep the mix away from your door. If you live in an apartment that has carpeting outside your door, consider using a floor sweep on the area right out in front, and then vacuum well.
Once everything is cleansed, it's time to lay down some protective magic outside of your doorway. Find a sturdy broom that you can leave by your door. A broom not only offers its own protective magic, but it can also be used to sweep off your entryway on a regular basis. There are forms of magical practice that include leaving or pouring baneful ingredients on the doorway of a perceived enemy's home, so being in the practice of sweeping off your porch isn't a bad habit to get into!
If you don't have a mat at your front door, now is the time to put one out. Get in the habit of wiping your shoes off before you enter the house; this keeps you from dragging in dirt as well as any maleficent energies that might be clinging to you. On the underside of the mat, use permanent markers or paint pens to draw protective runes, sigils, or even just the word "protection" itself.
There are many ways to add protection to the inside of your doorway as well. A simple and traditional option is to hang a horseshoe over the door, with the opening pointed upward to catch luck and hold it. Iron wards off all manner of unfriendly entities; that's one of the reasons horseshoes are considered lucky. If you don't have a horseshoe on hand, hammering a small iron nail into your door frame can do the trick just as well. Hanging a pair of scissors over or by your door (positioned so that they remain open) is supposed to cut off negativity before it can come inside. In feng shui, adding a mirror to your doorway, facing outside, can help deflect strong negative energies.
You might want to bury a witch bottle right outside your doorway. Witch bottles became popular for repelling evil attacks and magic spells in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Modern witches create them to divert negative energy away from their homes.
Recipes for witch bottles vary greatly, but the majority seem to include something sharp (pins, nails, shards of glass) to "impale" the evil that enters the bottle, a liquid (urine, vinegar, wine) to "drown" the evil, and rosemary for protection. Witch bottle recipes might also include such things as hair or nail clippings, feathers, coins, or salt. While some instructions call for the bottle to be buried in the farthest reaches of your property, most say it should be placed right outside your doorway. If you don't have a convenient place to bury your bottle, keep it in the attic, the basement, or in an out-of-the-way spot in the center of your home.
Creating a spell bag to hang near the door can also protect your home and family and bring luck to your door. You can craft a spell bag with a scrap of cloth tied with a ribbon or a store-bought drawstring bag, filled with protective herbs and charms. Unlike a witch bottle, which should remain sealed and left alone, a spell bag can be taken down and added to whenever you wish.
Domestic Witch Bottle
While there are literally dozens and dozens of instructions out there on making a witch bottle, I've planned this one specifically for those who not only want to protect their home, but also want to connect to it in a magical way. If at some point you find you need to replace the broom from which you've taken the tines for this bottle, retire it to the attic or basement, but don't throw it away. Doing so could damage the connection between the bottle and your home.
A small jar with a lid or a bottle with a tight-fitting cork
1/3 cup salt
3 sewing needles or straight pins
6 iron nails, the largest that will fit in your jar
9 tines from your household broom
3 tablespoons of a protection herb (or 1 tablespoon of 3 different herbs), preferably from your own garden (Possible options include star anise, basil, bay leaf, and black pepper.)
A pinch of dirt from your yard
Red wine, vinegar, or your own urine to fill the bottle
1. Pour the salt into the jar and say,
Salt for purification.
2. Add the sewing needles, saying,
As I myself sew the threads of my family life, may these needles sew safety around me and mine.
3. Place the nails into the jar and say,
As the nails in our home pierce the wood to hold our home strong, may these nails pierce all negativity and hold it safely away from us.
4. Place the broom straw into the jar and repeat,
As the broom in my home sweeps away dirt, so may these straws sweep negativity away from this home and its inhabitants.
5. Add the herb(s) and say,
(Name of herb) strengthens this protection charm.
6. With the addition of the dirt from your yard say:
This soil binds this jar to my home and property.
5. Pour in the liquid until the jar is almost completely filled, and it's covered all of your ingredients. Hold the jar, concentrating on your feelings of protection toward your family, pets, and property, and say,
Let this wine (vinegar/urine) drown all evil that would seek to touch me and mine.
7. Cap the lid tightly. At this point you can seal the bottle with candle wax if you choose. Add symbols of protection, your family seal, or anything you feel compelled to draw on the lid or the jar itself. When you're finished, take another few minutes to sit quietly and add your intentions to the jar, then bury it as close as you can to your front door.
Front Door Luck and Protection Bag
A luck and protection bag can be created to hang on the inside of your door. You can make one just for the front door, or you can craft one for each door that leads to the outside. Don't forget the garage door! This spell works best at the time of the waxing or full moon.
A heatproof dish and a lit self-lighting charcoal disk
Protection Mix to burn as incense (see chapter 4)
A white candle
A lighter or matches
A silver coin for luck
A small dish of salt
A small dish of water
A small drawstring bag in the color that represents protection or luck to you (red is a good choice for this)
A sprig of rosemary for protection
A strip of dried orange rind for happiness
A tag lock (snippet of hair or nail clippings) from each member of the family, including pets
1. Gather all your spell ingredients. If your magical tradition includes casting a circle, do so now. Add some of the Protection incense to the charcoal to burn, and light the candle.
2. Take the coin in hand and pass it through the smoke of the incense and say
May this tool of luck be blessed by Air.
3. Pass it over the flame of the candle, saying,
May this tool of luck be blessed by Fire.
4. Sprinkle a bit of salt onto the coin and say,
May this tool of luck be blessed by Earth.
5. Finish with a sprinkle of water while saying,
May this tool of luck be blessed by Water.
6. Place the coin into your drawstring bag.
7. Repeat each action for the rosemary as a tool of protection and the orange rind as a tool of happiness.
When your items have all been blessed by the elements, take the tag locks for your family, and add them to the bag one at a time. With each addition repeat,
For (insert family member or pet's name here), luck, protection, and happiness.
Close the bag up tightly with three knots. Hold it in your hands for a few minutes, concentrating on your intentions for luck and protection for your family, and then hang the bag up over or near your door, preferably with a small iron nail.
* * *
As for windows in your home, a good sprinkling of salt or black salt across the sill works wonders. Pressing two straight pins, slanted toward each other to form an "X" in each corner will give a boost to the window's protective energies. When it's time to wipe down the windows with your vinegar mix, make sure to clean in a clockwise circular motion. When the window is clean, use the cloth or paper towel you cleaned it with to trace a protection symbol over the entire length of the window.
Once your front doorway is cleansed and set up, you may want to mix up a blend of protection herbs in a jar to keep by your door. A combination of dill, flaxseed, garlic, salt, and sage will help protect family members from negativity of all sorts. Each time you give the porch a good sweeping, or when you feel your home could use a little extra protection, sprinkle a handful of the herbs across the threshold to reinforce your boundaries.
Deities Associated with Doorways and Threshold
Cardea, Hecate, Hermes, Janus, Lima, Mercury, Trivia
THE LIVING ROOM
The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.
The living room should be an area where the whole family can come together. Whether everyone is engaged as a group over a board game, challenging each other for the top score at virtual bowling, or sitting quietly each with a good book, this room should be a place where everyone knows they can come and feel the love of the family.
One of the easiest ways to bring magic and clarity into your life is to make and maintain a living space that is physically and metaphysically uncluttered. Take the time to at least organize or to even clear out what's lying around the room. Get into the habit of doing a major cleaning and cleansing each season. Between these times do what you can to keep things from piling up. A clutter-free home allows more positive energy to flow and increases the success of magical works.
A handy addition to any living room or family room altar is a hearthstone. Not many homes these days require a functioning fireplace, once considered the heart of the home as a source of heat and the main cooking area. You can recreate that magical nexus by finding a flat stone or using a natural stone tile. Clear off a space on a shelf or set up a small table, and add your stone. Place a large pillar candle on it to be your "hearth fire." A red candle is very appropriate for this; however, a white candle can always fill in. Whenever the family is all together, whether for a simple evening of playing games or for a sabbat celebration, light the hearth candle to add magical vibrations to the gathering. Always light this candle first and use it to light all other candles in your home. When it's burned down and needs replaced, make sure to light the new candle from the old one. Lighting your candles in this way helps establish a tradition of keeping a sacred flame of your home, similar to how hearth fires were once ritually lit for the goddess Hestia.
Hearthstone and Candle Blessing
A fireplace is not something most homes have these days. However, creating your own area to represent the hearth in your home isn't difficult, nor does it need to take up much space. Designating an area to be the hearth of the home creates an instant space for magic, ritual, and honoring the sacred.
A large unscented candle
A carving tool, such as a wooden cooking skewer
A large flat stone or natural stone tile to represent your hearth
A lighter or matches
1. Allow everyone in the family to carve into the candle their name, initials, or a symbol that represents them. If you like, add words or symbols to identify things you'd like to encourage in your home, such as peace, joy, protection, or good health.
2. Take the stone and place it in its new, permanent position in your living room. Make sure that it's in a place that can safely hold a lit candle and removed from the reach of pets and small children. Have everyone place the fingers of one hand on the stone and say,
We ask for the blessings of the Lord and Lady on this, the stone that is the heart of our home. This room is where we gather in love, in joy, in sadness, and in celebration.
3. Place the candle on the stone, saying,
We ask for the blessings of the Lord and Lady on this candle and ask that it burn brightly, always leading us back to the safety and comfort of our home and hearth. So mote it be.
4. Light the candle and allow it to burn as long as you can.
* * *
A Family Altar
Once you have your hearth set up, you can use it as the base for a family altar. Just add to the area a family photo or an item or picture to represent each member of the household—including pets. Take a few minutes every morning before the family leaves the house to light your hearth candle and say a few quick words to your chosen deity, asking for him or her to watch over your family as they go about their day. (For more information on choosing and working with deities to protect your home, see chapter 3.) When everyone is back in the house, safe and sound for the day, light the candle again and say a word or two of thanks for leading everyone home safely. This daily ritual builds your relationship with deity and keeps a level of protective intent in the room.
You might add a thick binder full of blank pages to your family altar for creating a family book of shadows. Use this to keep track of your sabbat activities, spiritual milestones, and spell work. However, keep in mind that this book can document not only the magical or spiritual practices of the family, but also the activities that bring the family together. Allow each member to add writings, drawings, and photos that they feel are important to remember as well.
Once the family altar is complete, consider this room not only as a place for the family to gather, but also a sacred space that should be treated as such. Keep the clutter down as much as possible, and clean the altar area on a regular basis. Make sure that everyone understands that it is not just a table or a place to leave a soda.
Making the Mundane Magical
Every room in your home is going to have items in it that can be used as magical tools. Some might be obvious, some not so much. Here are a few things you might find in your living room that can enhance your spells and workings.
The Game Closet
Dice: When you need to change your luck, wrap two dice in a scrap of green cloth and carry them in your pocket.
Game pieces: Use game pieces as poppets to represent family members when doing protection magic.
Play money: Hold fake bills in the amount that you need in your hands and say, "Draw to me prosperity, as I will, so mote it be!" Place the fake bills in your wallet until you can replace them with the real thing.
Scrabble tile divination: Lay the tiles facedown on a table while concentrating on your question. Turn over nine tiles and see if they reveal any words, names, or initials that clarify an answer.
The Mail: When you need a quick response to your magical workings, especially if it's something concerning communication, put your magical spell in the mail to help get a swift response from the universe. Address an envelope to yourself and add a stamp. On a piece of paper, write out what you need, the mundane steps you've already taken to acquire your goal, and exactly when you need to accomplish it by. Be as detailed as you can. Fold the letter up and place it in the envelope. A pinch of any appropriately corresponding herbs can be added before you seal the envelope up and send it. When the letter comes back to you, don't open it. Instead, place it on your hearthstone and leave it until the magic manifests. When it does, burn the envelope, still unopened, in a heat-safe dish or your cauldron.
Excerpted from Mrs. B's Guide to HOUSEHOLD WITCHERY by KRIS BRADLEY. Copyright © 2012 Kris Bradley. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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