House & Home

Llewellyn’s Witches’ Calendar January 1998.

Spirits of the corners,
Winds of the quarters,
You who stand watching,
And you who hear my voice,
Guard well my home tonight.

Dwelling places have always been seen as possessing magical potential. To enter a home, one must first pass over the threshold, considered a sacred place in many cultures. Doors archetypally represent the portal between worlds. To stand between them automatically puts you in the magical space known as the place “in between.” To the ancient Celts, any place that was not clearly in one world or another possessed inherent magical power. In your doorway you are neither in nor out–you are in between–making your threshold an ideal place to chant blessings or cast magical spells for the protection of your home.

Many Witches like to place magical objects that offer their homes protection on or near their doors. Small, decorative brooms are often used for this purpose. The broom, called a besom in the Craft, is usually shown with its bristles up to symbolize the unity of the divine and the blessing of the gods upon the dwelling. The handle represents the phallus of the God, and the bristles are reminiscent of the mound of Venus on the female body, the entrance to the womb of the Goddess.

Many common threshold decorations, like door harps or wind chimes, were originally devices of magical home protection. In both cases the intent is to use musical sounds to scare away negativity or evil spirits.

To use a door harp or wind chimes to protect the entrance to your home, project into it your intent through visualization, then hang it, sealing the act with words of power, such as:

“Chimes with lovely magical sound
Spread your protection all around
Guard the opening of my door
Send harm away forever more.”

Another magical opening to the house is the chimney. The word hearth contains the word heart, underscoring its place as the center of the home. Many Pagans keep their ancestor shrines near the hearth. They may also leave food and drink for household faeries near it, or decorate it with protective symbols.

The modern hearth is the kitchen, and in China there still exists an annual festival to honor their most personal deity, the Kitchen God of the household. Exactly one week prior to the start of the Chinese New Year, families remove the picture of him that hangs over the stove and burn it over a sweet-smelling incense, amidst offerings of candy and cakes. The Kitchen God flies on the incense up to his celestial home to report to the other deities about the behavior of the family during the year, especially how they treated one another. After this family ritual is complete, a new picture of the Kitchen God is put over the stove.

In many Pagan cultures it was believed that homes possessed guardian spirits. The most well-known of these are the Lares and the Penates of ancient Rome, who were celebrated in a special festival that took place each January 8. The Lares lived in subterranean sancturaries underneath the homes they chose to look after. They slept by day, and at night came out to care for the exterior of the home. The Penates lived above the house, usually in “attics” or in the trees that shaded the dwelling. They awoke with the sunrise, and spent their days taking care of the household tasks and looking after the welfare of the home’s inhabitants. On festival day, every member of the household would gather around the home altar to make an offering of thanks, usually in the form of food, wine and fresh straw for bedding.

Modern Witches like to see to it that their homes are protected, or “warded,” from both astral and physical intruders. One popular method of this is to mentally visualize the home being surrounded with protective symbols, like the pentagram. Another is making a wash made from purified water and boiled protective herbs. On each window and door in the home a finger damp with the warding wash is used to draw a large pentagram while words of power are spoken to seal the spell. Any leftover wash is sprinkled outside around the perimeters of the property. To make a warding wash, simply boil distilled water into which you have placed a tea ball or cheesecloth full of dried herbs such as basil, rue, cinnamon, or bay, which are known to have protective energies. As the mixture heats, be sure to clearly visualize your intent.

You can also bless your home using an old custom involving bread and salt. Bread is offered to the household guardians as a libation, and the salt is kept in the heart of the home to ground any evil that might enter. After you do this, burn a purifying or protecting incense, such as frankincense, cinnamon, or pepper, moving it from room to room while you visualize any negativity fleeing from your home. As you go, chant over and over your words of power:

“Smoke of air and fire and earth
Cleanse and bless this home and hearth
Only good may dwell in here.”