Aug 27, 2013

Little Witcheries

In my previous post I spoke of the little witcheries that have, over the years, crept into my everyday life.  How it becomes habitual to speak to the garden, chant over the bowl I'm stirring, and draw symbols on doors or mow them into my lawn.  I thought I'd jot a few down here, just for fun, and perhaps you'll find some inspiration or an idea you'd like to try in your own home.

Some habits started out as superstitions or little eccentricities that I've picked up from my family. Throwing spilled salt over your left shoulder, tea and chicken noodle soup as cure-alls, foretelling weather by the color of the sky, and certain seasonal 'tells' that let us know it's time to plant or bring in the last of the harvest before the frost.  Always have a sugar pot out - even if no one uses sugar - just to keep the home sweet.  Always take your shoes off at the door.  Plant red geraniums at the front of the house.  A cut potato pulls out slivers and bee stingers.  Don't ever run out of vinegar. Some of these traditions were explained to me and some of them were just activities I noticed as I grew up around a strange mix of British and Eastern European customs, all tempered with a modern Southern Baptist attitude.

Here are some of the habits/witcheries I practice:


I keep a broom behind the front door.  It serves as my gatekeeper.  When it is standing bristles-down, it is welcoming and functional.  When it stands bristles-up, it is protective and does a great job keeping away unwanted company as well as door-to-door salespeople and proselytizers.

Leave your crap at the door.  That means your dirty shoes and your bad attitude.  If the little gargoyle behind the door doesn't take care if it, the broom sure will.  The only person who's ever broken through my wards is my father, gods bless him (or hit him over the head,) and that's on me.  He's got a special kind of bad attitude and I'm not as 100 percent immune to it as I'd like to think.

I draw symbols on my doors, inside and out.  When I'm cleaning, the symbols are drawn on the doors with an oil after they are washed.  When I'm running in or out and want to place something on the door quickly, I use my saliva.  I use runes or other symbols that resonate with me, or sigils I've created for a certain purpose.


The kitchen is a very magical place for me.  Aside from cooking, I spend a good amount of time in there processing herbs and creating products for my home and practice.  I have a small kitchen altar that houses an offeratory plate, as well as a candle that is always lit when I'm working.

While adding ingredients to a meal or an herbal product, I take time to acknowledge where those ingredients came from and call on any wisdom or symbolism they might offer.  Sarah Lawless recently posted a great list of kitchen staples and their magical uses on her blog - it is definitely worth the read.  Do yourself a favour too - pop these two books on your cookbook shelf:

Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs - Scott Cunningham
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic - Catherine Yronwode

I'm a firm believer in thinking for yourself and putting your own thoughts into plant symbolism and correspondences, yet I also find these books invaluable as far as listing traditional and folkloric uses of herbs, spices and roots.

I'm also sure to keep the kitchen clean and organized.  When I'm cooking, all my ingredients are close at hand so that, rather than using my energy hopping around the kitchen trying to find items, I can focus on what I'm creating.  Depending on what I'm making, I might speak prayers, chants or even sing over the creation.

Let's be honest for a moment.  I don't operate like this at every meal, every single day.  Sometimes I do run into the kitchen, slap together a sandwich, and run back to the office.  But taking the time to be aware of what I'm creating - especially if I'm putting it in my body, or offering it to neighbours or family, is important to me.  I don't want to be thinking of the drama happening at work, while making a batch of cookies to brighten up someone's day.


Not everyone is blessed with a little piece of earth to muck about in.  Apartment dwellers may only have a small balcony or merely a window sill to attempt to grow something on.  There are several herbs that will grow indoors and houseplants or flowers that can brighten a small space.  I may mow a rune into my lawn before I start the real grass-cutting, but if you don't have a lawn, you can simply trace symbols into the earth of your houseplant.

I chat with my gardens. I offer libations (they prefer whisky or dark rum - go figure.)  I give a foolish amount of thanks when harvesting.  And while I'm sure the neighbours fully believe I'm crazy, I have no problem whispering secrets and blessings to the plants - and even the compost bin.

Seeds aren't the only things I put in the gardens.  I tuck in petitions for things I'd like to bring to me. Each spring I bury the corn dolly I created several months earlier when the corn harvest began.  And at hallowtide I bury the plate of offerings that was left out for the passing spirits.

There are more practices than I can write about in one post, that find their way into my everyday life or seasonal celebrations.  This is just a snippet of what happens in and around my household.  I have a friend who passed on the habit of placing garlic in the window sills and changing them out every new moon.  My grandmother always had a kitchen-witch floating high above her sink, but I've found that I'm more attracted to witch-balls hanging in the kitchen.  So many little fascinations.

Small things, really.  Many of them developed into habits that I found meaningful for some reason or other.  Little witcheries and random supersitions and a handful of charms I've decided I don't want to live without.

We knock on wood around here, acknowledge our ancestors, and never come to another's home empty-handed.

Should you like to delve a little deeper into folklore and the practices, superstitions and witcheries of common folk, do check out:

New World Witchery - Resources
Starr Casas - Old Style Conjure Hoodoo Rootwork

And for a look into how one witch runs her household:
Kris Bradley's book - Mrs. B's Guide to Household Witchery

Pictures are via Creative Commons
Broom - link
The Love Potion - link


jaz@octoberfarm said...

what a great post! i really enjoyed it!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Fascinating! I've got my own list of little witcheries and old superstitions that I should post some day. Thanks for the inspiration!

petoskystone said...

Wonderful post :) It strikes me that witch balls as sun catchers in windows resonates.

OmaLindasOldeBaggsandStuftShirts said...

thoroughly enjoyed reading about your witcheries. I too should post about my own "woo woo's" as my family call them.
Oma Linda

RPLancaster said...

Such good insight, thanks for sharing.
I too have my little witcheries, chanting over the the pot, adding herbs that I have grown, lighting the orange candle I keep near the stove etc.
You've inspired me to add my magical herb books to my kitchen cookbook collection as well.

Ellie-TheForgottenMuse said...

I love this post! I hope one day, I will have a place of my own again where I can practice my own witcheries and woo woos.

Thank you for sharing.

Debbie said...

Really enjoyed your post. What wonderful ideas!!

Danni said...

I love this, Jen! I'm always enamored of the little things others do to bring those extra whispers of magic in to their lives and your traditions are wonderful!

I think I'll have to share my own as well. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a truly lovely post, Jen. You know I love the idea of everyday enchantments and magic in plain sight, so this is right up my alley. Thank you for this insight into your personal magical life and lifestyle.

Bird said...

Oh, Rue, just loved this post. The "little" witcheries you do are so meaningful and magical. I really did enjoy reading this. I am currently putting together a family book of our traditions and some of what you have here are in our own family book but you definitely gave me more inspiration and some great ideas. Thank you. I just started working with a Faery who has come to live with us and have been making a faery house and garden for this beautiful little spirit. If you'd like to see the beginnings of it all, I hope you will visit me.

And thank you for the book suggestions. I do have the one by Scott Cunningham. I also love books by Rosemary Gladstar. She has some wonderful herbal recipes/remedies and such that I have worked to make my own.

Brightest blessings,

Rue said...

Yes, do post yours Debra! I'd love to hear everyone's traditions/habits/superstitions.

Rue said...

I'm a Rosmary Gladstar fan as well. And Susan Weed leads a very magical life as well as being a prolific herbalist and author. There are so many great herbalists out there that also enjoy the lore and unusual uses of plants!

Pixie said...

What a great post, really enjoyed reading it, thank you for a little bit of witchery in my day.x

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for the great info !!
Have a magical day.

jill said...

Lovely post thank you. I have my own little bits of witchery in my life, they all add to the magic that keeps me going. xx

Andréann said...

Oh I just love that post!!