Candles for Jean

My mother, Jean, died last night.

Some of you knew her under her Craft name, Cameo.  Everyone who met her was impressed with her strength and grace. She was a true child of Brigid, as a nurse, as a mother, and as a woman.

We had been doing hospice care for her at home. She had one bad day, and when at the end of that day we were able to get pain control, she simply let go and passed away.

If you are moved to make remembrance of her, please light a candle in her name. If you can, send me a picture. Let’s light her way to the Uttermost West.

She asked that other remembrances be local acts of love and charity: thank a nurse, plant a tree, or donate to your local library.

Thank you all for your love and support.

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Mabon – The Myth of Progress

I’m continuing to republish a series of articles on the Sabbats originally written in 2011.

Mabon, the autumn equinox, is something of a blank slate. In the Wheel of the Year, the “cross-quarter days” are Celtic fire festivals; the other solar festivals – the solstices and the vernal equinox – are grounded in proto-Germanic cultures. In those Germanic cultures, though, the autumn equinox has no strong history of celebration; it doesn’t even have a distinguishing name. To keep the Wheel of the Year in balance, Gerald Gardner included the autumn equinox, but left most of the details open to interpretation. The name Mabon, drawn from Welsh mythology, came into common use later on, but doesn’t do much to specify the nature of the festival.

As a result, different ways of interpreting the multiple harvest festivals have sprung up. Some groups focus on the Celtic roots of Lunasa and leave the harvest symbolism to Mabon; others describe Lunasa as the start of the harvest and the equinox as its end, and may call the festival Harvest Home instead. [1] Still others describe Lunasa as the grain harvest and Mabon as the fruit harvest. It depends on the group, and the bioregion, and the weather. This multiplicity of interpretations is one of the things I love about Paganism: each open space is fertile soil where multiple myths can take root and flourish simultaneously.

Understanding and relating to Pagan myths has taken practice, though. When I first became Pagan, I used to be confused and sometimes downright irritated when I read tales of deities who didn’t seem very godlike, coming from a monotheistic perspective. I mean, they get drunk, they have fights, and they cheat on their spouses, not always in that order. They’re not exactly the kind of example we’d want to imitate in most cases.

As I grew in my practice and engaged more with the myths and with different kinds of stories, I gradually reached the conclusion that my assumption – that myths are stories about gods whom humans should seek to emulate – was a holdover from my Christian past. In Christianity, religious narratives about Jesus or good Christians are presented as exemplars for followers to emulate. This approach is very god-centered, and when taken to its (il)logical extreme, it can almost erase the adherent by reducing her to a mere reflection of the beatified.

I’ve come to see the older myths as human-centric stories. The gods act like humans – and do they ever! – except that the gods are bigger and stronger, so when they screw up, they royally – or maybe deifically? –  screw up. The myths reflect humans back to themselves, but enlarged. The stories don’t minimize the bad in favor of the good, or vice versa; they magnify all the parts and possibilities, or they add unique features that weren’t present before.

The myths give both storyteller and audience the chance to engage with human stories in an exaggerated setting so that they’re more interesting, more exciting, more dangerous, more tragic and more amazing. Throughout, though, they are fundamentally human stories.

This approach also helps me understand why so many overlapping, contradictory versions of the same myth can co-exist. The myths are no longer central; the teller and audience are, so it is natural for the people to adapt the myths to tell the stories they need to tell. No one is trying to find the single unchanging standard for behavior; the multiplicity of myths encourages us to adapt our responses to the situation, just as the storyteller working on the fly might have to alter the ending to fit the narrative corner she backs herself into. What matters is that the story works, that it’s good enough, that it fits its context.

The most encouraging thing about this approach to the myths, though, is that because we’re telling them, we can change them. They grow with us over time. And that’s important, because my favorite myth is the myth of progress.

Historian Laurence Keeley, in his book on prehistoric warfare, wrote that modern people tend to view prehistory in terms of two competing myths: the myth of the golden age or the myth of progress. [2] The myth of the golden age conceives of the world as continually declining. It leads us to assume that the past was always better than the present – if not in hygiene or life expectancy, then in some in some ineffable but presumably more important characteristics like social structure and morality. The myth of progress supposes the polar opposite: it tells a story of continuous development, usually with technological and social development being used as evidence of the present’s superiority.

It is quite accurate to describe both of these worldviews as myths; as the Slacktiverse’s motto says, it’s usually more complicated than that. Depending on the period and place that a historical narrative tries to describe, and what the narrative’s author views as “good,” it may seem that these myths take turns driving alternating ages of development and decay, or that one is predominant for all the period under consideration, or both, or neither.

For example, the history of Europe in the centuries after the end of the Roman Empire is usually told in accord with the myth of the golden age, while the history of the time around the Renaissance and the Enlightenment is usually presented as progress. Neither of these is entirely true or entirely false, especially depending on who and what the person telling the story considers important. Each framing, though, highlights some aspects and supports some conclusions, while pushing other matters into the background.

For the present moment, I try to make narratives that loosely fit with the myth of progress. I think that trying to tell our own stories as a part of the myth of the golden age is fundamentally discouraging, but trying to tell them as part of the myth of progress is a fundamentally optimistic position which can not only make us feel good but inspire us to do good.

To me, starting from a position that assumes the past was better seems like an invitation to despair; we can’t get back there, after all, and if you think, as I do, that a certain amount of change is inevitable, then we may not even be able to hold on to the fragments of it we retain. The ability to learn and the ability to change are tied up together. An attitude of suspicion about all change seems to me to be inherently resistant to learning, and hence to growth.

The myth of progress, by contrast, is an invitation to hope. We can’t change the past; we have to acknowledge it in all its beauty and grandeur, its cruelty and despair. But with that acknowledgement, we free ourselves to work on what we can change: the present, with an eye towards the future. As Terry Pratchett wrote, if we do a good job of changing our own present, when we get to the future, the present will “turn out to be a past worth having.” [3]

In this way the myth of progress is more than an invitation to hopeful feelings: it is an invitation to hopeful action, to hope and love enacted. The myth of progress, and the mindset that comes with it, help me tell my stories in ways that guide my actions. Because I continue to have hope, I continue to put forth effort to make the world – and its stories – continue to improve.

And although some of the stories we tell are ones we really don’t want to live through, sometimes we tell ourselves stories that we do want to live up to, stories that inspire us to be better than we thought we were. I think America’s founders did that, for example, telling themselves a story about how things might work out much better in a society where religious liberty was guaranteed to all. The ones who found hope in that story were able to convince the ones who wanted to preserve an imaginary golden age of state-sponsored Christianity, and so there are clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution which prohibit government establishment of a religion and guarantee free exercise to all.

But even at the time the Constitution was written, the story of free exercise for all religions was not the literal truth; it was in some ways a myth. Native Americans and slaves were not granted the rights the founders proposed, at least in part because they were seen as not really citizens and not fully human. State-sponsored Christian prayer continued in schools until the mid-20th century. Today, the US still lives up to that lofty ideal only imperfectly, but it has made tremendous strides towards making what was once a myth into a reality for more and more people. That gives me hope.

This is what I love about Mabon; more, perhaps, than any other Sabbat, it is a festival about which Pagans are actively making their own myths, in all their many forms. Mabon is an opportunity for us to look at our myths, and the stories we tell ourselves about our world, our past, and our potential futures. And since Mabon is so open to reinterpretation, it reminds us that if we don’t like those stories, or where they’re going, then maybe we can start telling the story differently, trying many versions, until we find the ones that we can live with and live in.

So, what’s your myth? How do you use a myth – of progress, or something else – to tell your own stories?


[1] Here I use the modernized Irish spelling for this holiday rather than the “Lughnasadh” spelling most Pagans are used to seeing.

[2] Keeley, Lawrence H. War Before Civilization. Oxford University Press, 1996, p 4-5.

[3] Pratchett, Terry. I Shall Wear Midnight. Harper Collins, 2010, p 336.

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Now at Pagan Square: Practice what’s not perfect

I’m suggesting that more of us take this back-to-school time to challenge ourselves to try something new without being limited by our previous assumptions of what we’re innately good at. Read more at Pagan Square.

Posted in announcements

How many Tarot spreads are there?

More than you think!

Of course, there are as many different kinds of spreads, as there are readers – from drawing a single card, to three cards, to the standard ten-card Celtic Cross to huge spreads that use the whole deck. Here I’m asking more specifically once I choose a particular spread how many different results I can get from drawing different cards in a different order.

Start with a simple three card spread: We draw three cards and lay them out in order. How many different three-card arrangements can we get?

There are 78 choices for the first card, 77 choices for the second, and 76 choices for the third. 78 * 77 * 76 = 456,456 different layouts for a three-card spread.

That’s a lot! If you looked at one of these every minute of every hour of every day (no breaks!), it would take you almost 7 years to look at every single possibility.

Math section:

In math, we have a way of expressing this situation called permutations. For a three-card spread, you start with 78 cards and lay down 3 of them, and the order matters. That’s usually expressed as 78 permute 3, sometimes written 78 nPr 3, especially on calculators.

For calculating permutations, we use a math trick called factorials. A factorial is a way of saying “start with the number, then multiply it by all the numbers smaller than it down to 1.” Factorial is written as exclamation point: n! (pronounced “n factorial” or “n bang” if you want to hang with the kewl kids).

So 10! = 10 * 9 * 8 * 7 * 6 * 5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1. (In more mathy language, n! = n * (n-1) * (n-2) * … * 3 * 2 * 1.) The thing about factorials is that they get big _really_ fast. Really, really fast. 10! = 3.6 million.

And factorials are really useful for calculating permutations. Here’s the trick: notice that 8! = 8 * 7 * 6 * 5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1, so 8! includes everything inside 10! except the 10 * 9. So if we take 10! divided by 8!, we can cancel out everything except that 9 and 10, and the answer is 90.

For the calculation above, we can say that the number of permutations possible for a three card spread drawn from 78 cards is 78! divided by 75! = 78 * 77 * 76 = 456,456. In general, to calculate how many ways there are to take n objects and choose permutations of r of them, we calculate n! / r!

Celtic Cross ten-card spread:

Now let’s think about the standard Celtic Cross ten-card spread. We can calculate how many different spreads we can get by taking:

78 * 77 * 76 * 75 * 74 * 73 * 72 * 71 * 70 * 69

which is the same as 78 nPr 68 = 78! / 68!

which equals 4.56 times 10 ^ 18. That’s a really, really, really big number. It has nineteen digits. I’m not even going to try to write it all out. Let’s think about that some other ways.

There are four and a half _quintillion_ different possible Celtic Cross spreads. Quintillion, with a Q. (Come on, it’s a fun word!)

Suppose that a person started laying out a Celtic Cross spread, looking at it, shuffling the deck, and laying out a new one. If this person could lay out one spread a second, every second, from the moment of the Big Bang until now, that person would have seen only a tenth of the possible spreads so far in the lifetime of the known universe.

Or imagine every ten-card Tarot spread was represented by a grain of sand, and all that sand was piled into a giant cone. That cone’s tip would be twice as high as the roof of the Empire State Building, and its base would extend out to cover at least part of Grand Central Terminal and the same distance on the other side. This cone, 781 meters tall, would be almost as tall as the tallest building on earth, and have a base 1159 meters in radius – more than a mile across!

Two more geek comparisons for fun:

Suppose you were going to do a Celtic Cross spread for every cell in your body, plus all the microbes that live in and on your body. If you got together with about a thousand of your closest friends, all your cells together would use up all the available Tarot spreads.

The number of spreads is a few million times larger than the number of stars in our galaxy. Not just the stars you can see in the night sky, but all the stars in our galaxy. You’d need a few million galaxies for every star to have a corresponding Tarot spread. This is smaller than the estimated number of stars in the known universe, but not by a whole lot.

Note that none of this is counting reversed cards!

I got started on this by asking how likely it was to have five cards out of ten be Major Arcana, and calculating the answer was more complicated than I expected. If folks enjoy this, let me know, and I’ll continue with a series of two or three more posts, eventually answering the probabilities of the number of Major Arcana cards.

It took me a while to do these calculations, so if you cite them, please link back.

NB: All calculations assume that every card has an equal chance of being chosen – if that’s not true, then all bets are off.

Sources:

Size of a grain of sand. Note that sand comprises a range of sizes.

Estimate of number of cells in the body. Then I added in a factor of 100 to account for bacteria.

Estimate of the number of stars in the galaxy.

Beyond this place there be numbers:

4.56 x 10 ^ 18 spreads or grains of sand
4.56 x 10 ^ 18 times 2.51 x 10 ^ -10 m ^ 3 equals 1.1 x 10 ^ 9 m ^ 3, or a billion cubic meters
4.56 x 10 ^ 18 times 6 x 10 ^ -5 kg equals 3 x 10 ^12 kilos, or 3 trillion kilos

For the cone, Wikipedia states that dry sand has an angle of repose of 34 degrees.
Thus V = 1/3 pi r ^ 3 tan (34 deg) allows one to solve for the radius.
The rest is left as an exercise to the reader.

Posted in Tarot | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Ritual for celebrating triple Goddess using Three of Cups

The suit of Cups is all about Water, so it has to do with emotions and relationships. The Three of Cups is a card of relating to others, and it has special resonance for goddess worshippers who know that several goddesses take on a three-part form, or can be understood as part of a triad with other goddesses. The ritual below is written arounnd the general theme of Maiden, Mother, Crone, but you can substitute instead any three-part goddess you work with more closely.

The image on the Motherpeace card is a celebration by a river. (See the Motherpeace image by selecting 3 of Cups from the drop-down menu.) I also particularly like the image in the Robin Wood Tarot where three women are dancing holding chalices marked with the moon phase symbols.

In this ritual we’re going to offer libations to the goddess in her three parts. Using this ancient method of celebrating and honoring goddess will strengthen our relationship to her and also represents the way we are participating in the continuing river of her presence poured out for us.

Materials:
Chalice or your favorite drinking vessel
A bowl to pour your libations into, unless you can do ritual outdoors and pour directly on the earth
Liquid that you like to drink – it could be water, wine, milk, tea, or anything that you would share with Goddess

Prepare your altar with any Goddess images or decorations you like, especially symbols of the triple moon, or a trio of white, red, and black candles. Put your Tarot card on your altar along with your chalice and bowl to receive your libations.

Ritual

Ground and center yourself.

Cup your hands in front of you and see the light and energy of the full moon filling them. Cast your circle by walking around the perimeter and pouring this light out to mark the edges of your circle.

Call the Quarters using these words or your own:

Air, powers of the East, inspire me as I share my thoughts and words with Goddess tonight. Hail and welcome!

Fire, powers of the South, light my way and warm my heart in celebration with Goddess tonight. Hail and welcome!

Water, powers of the West, fill my cup so that I may pour it out in libation to Goddess tonight. Hail and welcome!

Earth, powers of the North, receive what I pour out in libation for Goddess tonight. Hail and welcome!

Invoke Goddess using these words or your own:

Clever maiden, merciful crone, loving mother of us all, Goddess, I invoke you in your triple form.
I honor you, I praise you, I love you.
Hear me, guide me, and bless me this night and always.

Chant “We all come from the Goddess and to her we shall return / like a drop of rain rolling to the ocean.” You can use the words alone, or learn the tune here:

As you chant, take your chalice into your hands and direct your love and devotion to the Goddess into your chalice. When you are done, dedicate the cup to her by drawing the triple moon symbol )O( in the air over the cup.

Pour three libations. During each one, name the aspect of the Goddess to which you are offering, and  thank her for her blessings and/or ask her for help with her special gifts. For example, you might say:

Maiden, youthful, beautiful, and free, I offer this drink to you. Help me celebrate my independence with joy.

Mother, loving, gracious, and kind, I offer this drink to you. Help me give birth to my hopes and dreams.

Crone, wise one, merciful, and strong, I offer this drink to you. Help me honor my own wisdom with grace.

When you are done with your libations, drink the rest of the cup to take Goddess’ blessings into you.

Thank and dismiss the Quarters.

Open the circle.

Posted in feminism, Pagan, rituals, theaology | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Kynes – Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences

Kynes, Sandra. Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences: A Comprehensive & Cross-Referenced Resource for Pagans & Wiccans. Llewellyn, 2013. Paperback, 528 pages.

Sandra Kynes’ book of correspondences competently addresses the fundamental needs of magical practitioners as well as offering opportunities for contemplation for those who want to expand their knowledge and understanding of correspondences. Kynes has done a skillful job of corralling a sprawling mass of information into a reasonably accessible format, and that alone makes this book a success for its intended audience.

In her introduction, Kynes touches on some important points regarding the nature of correspondences and how they interact with each other: “…we can bring correspondences to life by thinking in terms of a web. Doing so not only allows us to expand the links of attributes, but it also allows us to personalize the way we use magical correspondences.” (4) She illustrates the ways correspondences are interrelated and has used that fact to guide her in the difficult decisions that have to be made in any work such as this one.

In particular, Kynes restricts the scope of her material by only listing as correspondences items that have an independent listing of their own. For example, under correspondences for “love,” she does not list Oshun, because there is no independent listing for Oshun. With commendable transparency, Kynes acknowledges the Celtic influences on her practice and experience and her lack of knowledge about Afro-Caribbean paths. As a result, she chose not to include entries for the orishas or similar spirits. As a result of this consistency, for every item that is listed as a correspondence, the reader can consult a main entry to see its other correspondences.

Regardless of how the title describes it, no work like this can possibly be “complete,” and Kynes’ explanations about the way she shaped the work are part of what makes this book valuable. She explains that she is trying to walk a “middle ground,” and specifically aimed to capture the items, powers, and spirits that are most commonly used by Pagans and Wiccans at the current moment, including the ones most frequently mentioned in the bibliography, which contains largely recent popular works. Combined with the consistent and concise style of her entries – which I quite appreciated – the result does live up to the title of “cross-reference” as a resource.

Kynes also wisely avoids the trap of trying to categorize every item under every possible system of correspondences. If a particular plant does not have a specific connection to one of the runes of the Futhark, for example, Kynes does not try to create one. This restraint is wise, because trying to create correspondences that are not natural quickly becomes an effort at pseudo-categorization and simultaneously drains the magic out of the connections that truly do exist. The author deserves praise for not trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach, and it speaks well of her understanding of the meanings of correspondences.

Kynes alludes to these deeper issues of correspondence and connection by briefly referencing Bonewits’ theories of correspondences and Eliade’s more scholarly investigations of magical imagination, but she leaves unanswered the question of how she combined and culled the correspondences drawn from her numerous sources. On one hand, such incessant citations would make the work incredibly unwieldy, but on the other hand, at least a small mention of this perennial question would have pointed the reader in the direction of further personal development. Regardless, the work as it stands is still tremendously useful as a starting place for intermediate practitioners to begin their own reflections on correspondences and how to put them into practice.

Since this is a reference work, the structure and layout are vitally important to its functionality. On the whole, the contents are clear and readable; I appreciate the amount of effort that went into making the entries reasonably uniform. The sections are organized in a way that is probably most useful for off-the-shelf needs: correspondences for intentions first, then separate sections on plants, minerals, animals, deities and beings, time reckoning, and general theoretical concepts.

Within these divisions, however, some problems arise. A few entries simply don’t make sense: “Revenge (to seek, protect from)” really should have been split into two separate topics, rather than leaving the user guessing which correspondences are appropriate for the purpose at hand. The plants are subdivided into “Trees,” “Herbs, Garden Plants and Shrubs,” and “Miscellaneous Plants” based on unexplained criteria – why is allspice not an herb, to use just one example? This separation is supplemented by an appendix listing the names of all plants alphabetically, then telling which subheading they can be found under. The author does go to the trouble of listing plants’ scientific names, which is extremely valuable for novice and seasoned botanist alike.

The biggest single problem I have with the work is the decision to place both the Futhark and the Ogham under the section on time reckoning. It is true that these systems can be connected with the flow of time, but they are both independent systems with a strong internal logic, and are used for divination and symbolic representations much more frequently than as time descriptors; perhaps this is different in Kynes’ experience with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Worse yet, these systems are listed in alphabetical order. The Futhark, for example, are not listed in their own order (fehu, uruz, thurisaz, etc.), nor are they listed in the order of the half-months assigned to them, but in alphabetical order by the English names. The same was done to the Ogham. The correspondences for the Tarot are placed in the separate miscellaneous section, but there too, the Major Arcana cards are alphabetized by name, which will confuse novice and experienced user alike.

The place where everything should be listed in purely alphabetical order is the index, and this nearly lives up to its purpose. The index to a work like this is what makes it truly a cross-reference and not merely a dictionary. The only problem is that the index is organized under the same subheadings as the individual sections are, so readers need to know roughly where they are looking in order to find something’s multiple references.

Overall, the book does what the author sets out as her intent in the introduction. Once a reader becomes acquainted with the structure, this work can be an invaluable reference for someone just starting to learn how to use correspondences, a Witch who needs to look something up quickly, a Pagan who needs a starting point to research a new item, or an intermediate practitioner reflecting on examples as a way to explore the deeper meanings of correspondences. Readers who are willing to get drawn into the web of cross-references that the author has woven will likely find themselves discovering unexpected relationships among familiar tools and ideas. Its potential for sparking new ideas makes this book both a reference and a good starting place for further exploration.

Posted in magic, reviews | Tagged , ,

Home Warding

This article originally appeared in Circle Magazine, Fall 2013.

I live in a busy urban area, so warding my home is vitally important to me on many levels. Creating a sense of mental and emotional privacy is a necessary part of urban life. More than that, though, my warding designates my home as a space set aside, defined by my intention as the place I and my partner live and love. Casting and maintaining this magical boundary is not just about defining the edges of our home, but about shaping the very meaning of home in our everyday lives.

The basic pattern of my warding is a triple circle casting. Our apartment’s floor plan makes it possible to start at our doorway, which faces north, and move deosil through all the rooms, returning back to the door. The first circle I make is to delineate the boundary of our home area by visualizing a white line of energy at about waist height. When I come back to the place where I started, I visualize this continuous boundary growing into an irregular bubble that extends above and below our apartment to enclose it completely.

Once this boundary is established, the second circle is a cleansing with salt water. In each room I sprinkle the boundary that I’ve just defined, but also the space within the room as well, and visualize the saltwater clearing and dissolving anything unwanted within the space. This was especially important to me when we first moved in as a way of removing any residual energy from previous occupants. We renew this warding every year on the same day, and now the clearing with saltwater serves as a sort of regular cleaning to give us a ‘fresh start’ from anything we’ve struggled with at home over the previous year.

Finally I go around the apartment to bless it with incense. Sage and sweetgrass have both worked well for me, but I think almost any sweet-smelling scent would be a good choice. As I walk, I say out loud the intentions that I want my home as a whole and each room in particular to hold: “May this be a place of peace, of joy, of love…” In the bedroom, I might ask for rest, and also passion; in the living room, for hospitality and companionship; in the kitchen, for nurturing and community.

It’s important to me that this boundary is not an impermeable one. With both the water and the incense, every time I come to an opening in our home – a window, the door to our balcony – I draw a pentacle that fills the entire opening. I envision each of these as a particular kind of filter: for example, our windows should let in air and light, but keep us safe during storms.

The most important opening in this spell is our doorway. There are many different traditions that have to do with protecting the liminal space of the doorway. Since this warding is based on a circle casting, and most people practice not crossing over the boundary of a circle once cast, it would seem counterintuitive to incorporate a permanent doorway in a circle. In my adaptation, instead of seeing crossing the circle as an act that weakens it, I deliberately place the strongest parts of the spell at the doorway and use every time I pass through it as an opportunity to acknowledge and reinforce my warding.

When casting the warding, I start and end each circumambulation by magically anchoring my work in a small carving of a trinity knot that hangs just inside our door at eye level. This symbol represents to me the union of differences that give rise to all things, especially as reflected in the coming together of individuals to create a relationship. Since I see relationships – with deities, with nature, and with each other – as the heart of Wicca, this simple symbol reminds me of the essence of my religion and what I value about my home all at once.

As I leave, I touch the carving and send a small pulse of energy to the spell, saying:

Lady watch my going out and coming in again.
Lady ward my hearth and home, and all who live therein.

When I return home, I touch the carving again, and send energy, saying:

Lady watch my going out and coming in again.
Lady ward my hearth and home, and all my friends and kin.

I use the word “Lady” here to mean both the Goddess in general and my matron Brigid in particular.

We often talk about the power of the liminal in doing magic, and the doorway is one of those liminal spaces, neither inside the house nor out in a public area. Anchoring the spell at the doorway helps me use that liminality as a source of power, not weakness, for my warding. The warding itself is an honoring of liminality, a way of defining and delineating the difference between private and public, home and throughway, in and out. I use that power of creating a boundary to shape both the boundary between my home and the greater world and the inner nature of my home itself.

When I pass through the doorway, I am also acknowledging the existence of liminal times. These moments combine prayer and spell work, stitching a thread of reverence through the fabric of my everyday life. Pausing for a moment to say these words and re-empower my warding reminds me that entering and leaving the home is a holy moment, one worth approaching with intention.

When I leave, I reinforce my warding and ask for blessings on my home and family until I am able to return to them. When I return, I give thanks for my blessings, and send my love outward to all my loved ones’ homes as well.

Both parts of this practice grounds and centers me in the meaning of home and family, which is part of what I believe makes this warding as powerful as it is. We often talk about doing magic by phrasing our intentions in affirmative terms, rather than describing the negative that we do not want. This warding is so much more than just protection because it is centered on all the positive qualities that energize my home and the life we live in it. When I leave my home, I visualize those qualities, and the power that I put into the boundary is automatically protective in the sense that nothing contrary to those intentions can intrude. It’s not just that I am visualizing positive things instead of simply trying to counter negative ideas, it’s that there is so much energy wrapped up in the positive visualization that the boundary is much easier to sustain.

When I return home, connecting with that visualization again is a way to help me make the transition within myself. Whatever I have encountered while I was away, whatever else has been going on, taking a moment to acknowledge that I am now home, inside my own wards, with my family, helps me adjust and reorient myself. My partner and I enjoy living so close to the city, which reduces our commute time significantly. The downside of this choice is that we do not have a long car ride in which to let go of the stresses and troubles of the workday. Taking this moment in the doorway thus becomes an important tool to keep our home life separate from the world of work. Whatever we encountered there does not have to dominate our lives at home; we can choose to leave it outside and return to the intentions we’ve set for our space and time together.

If you would like to adapt this warding for your own home, I suggest that you begin by thinking and meditating deeply on what you want your home to be. Take a walk around your space and imagine all the possible visualizations you could include. This particular approach is best adapted for the physical space of a home rather than the entire boundary of a piece of property, but you could include a deck, garden, or even back yard, if it is a place where you spend time regularly. If you have a large property, I suggest that you use this form for your house itself, and create a separate perimeter for the land, one which is created in concert with the spirits of place, and takes a different form.

Within the home, choose your main point of entry as your anchor. Don’t feel that it has to be the “formal” entrance to the home, either. If you’re going to go in and out through the garage door, then make that your starting and ending point! For every other entryway that you encounter, visualize it outlined with energy, filled with a pentacle, and serving the same purpose as your main doorway. If you use the idea of a physical anchor or touchstone the way I do, try to get similar items to use at each doorway. If you’re working within a freestanding house, you might also want to include the roof and the foundation or basement as part of your visualization as well.

Including your whole family in the setting of the wards can make it a lot of fun. As you walk around the home, there’s plenty of time to express lots of different positive intentions together. If the kids want to bless the living room so that they can finally beat that video game, go for it; if a teenager wants to include a wish for individual privacy in her or his bedroom, incorporate that. The important thing is to cooperate in creating the meaning of your home as a place where you all live together.

My home warding is an integral part of my everyday life which operates on multiple levels. It is so much more than just an outward-facing protection spell; it is also an inward-facing focusing of intentions for our home. Casting it is an annual renewal and celebration of our dwelling in this place. Its presence establishes this as our space, carved out to be private and nurturing even in the midst of a busy urban situation. It contains and focuses the energy of our home to shape it into the kind of place we want to live. My frequent acknowledgment and renewal of this warding gives me opportunities for gratitude and reconnection. My warding serves as a context for all the daily acts of love that are the true magic of hearth and home.

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