Protecting Yourself and Your Home: A Basic Warding Ritual
Have you ever moved into a new home and thought to yourself, “Gosh this place feels so empty and sterile! I wonder how to make it feel more like home quickly?” Worse yet, have you ever thought to yourself, “Eww, this place feels chaotic! It makes me feel like a nervous wreck! How can I cleanse it and make it feel calm again?” Conversely, have you ever walked into someone else’s home and thought, “Wow, their home feels so safe, protected, and relaxing. I wonder how I can make my home feel that way?”
All three questions can be answered with one word: Warding. Mirriam-Webster identifies the etymology of the transitive verb “ward” as Middle English. It means to guard or watch over, or to turn aside (as in the phrase “trying to ward off a cold”) . A warding ritual puts up a kind of permanent circle that protects you and your home from unwanted outside influences. It can also help your home feel safe, inviting, and relaxing.
The following warding ritual is based on one my high priest teaches our coven. I have used it for several years with excellent results.
Determine the extent of your wards
This particular ritual requires walking the perimeter of the space to be warded. If you are a homeowner and you’d like to ward your entire lot, you will need to walk the borders of your property line outside your home. If you are warding an entire house, you may choose to walk the exterior perimeter as opposed to the interior. If you live in a condominium or an apartment like myself, the interior perimeter of your home probably works best.
Walking the interior perimeter of a dwelling can be tricky when dealing with interior walls. You may choose to ward them as well or work around them. I prefer to work around them; I usually walk the perimeter as far as I can, then pause my chanting a bit while I walk around to the other side of the interior wall and find the next available space on the perimeter, then I recommence my casting and continue onward.
In addition to warding your entire home, you may wish to place additional wards on specific rooms within your home. Doing so strengthens the protection. I prefer to ward my home first, and then ward my bedroom as well.
Before performing this ritual, please read the important discussion of ethics on warding shared spaces and rental property that follows later in this article.
Gather your materials
I use salt water to represent earth and water together, and burning incense to represent air and fire together. You may combine elements like this or represent them singly using different materials. I have occasionally represented earth with sand, air with a large feather, fire with a candle, and water with ice. Decide if you want to represent the four elements in pairs or singly, and then choose elemental representations that work best for you.
Clear your space
Much the same way you clear a space before casting a circle, you will want to clear your home of negative and chaotic energies before you put up a protective ward. I prefer to walk every room in my home while ringing a bell loudly. Other sound-based cleansings include the usage of singing bowls and clapping hands.
Cleansing may be also done with smoke or scent, as in smudging with sage smoke or heating essential oils like sandalwood or peppermint. Even something as simple as opening windows to allow in sunshine and fresh air can accomplish the goal of cleansing. The idea is to chase away any negative or disruptive energy so that your home is fresh, clean, and calm before the ritual. Remember, you want your wards to keep the good stuff inside and the bad stuff outside!
Perform your ritual
Choose which elemental representation to use first, and carry it with you while you walk the entire perimeter of the space to be warded in a deosil (clockwise) direction. As you walk, visualize the element (s) forming a great barrier going up all around the space. I visualize the four elemental barriers as mountains, waterfalls, leaping flames, and gusty winds full of leaves and sand. Pass the elements over all portals (windows, doors, fireplaces, gates, etc) twice, for extra strength and protection.
As you pass each of the elements over your home in turn, repeat this chant while you walk:
By (element) , I ward thee:
Guard this space from all ill will
and all those who wish me/us harm.
If you are representing the four elements singly, you will circumambulate your space four times, each time chanting the above incantation for the specific element you carry. If you are representing the elements combined in pairs, you will circumambulate your space twice, alternating your chant back and forth between the two elements you carry.
Maintain your wards
With this ritual, you will create living wards that need regular maintenance to stay strong and effective. In a sense, you will need to feed and care for your ward as you would a pet. When I am healthy and my energy levels are up, I strengthen and repair my wards with my own energy.
I will sit in the center of my home with my eyes closed and my palms up, and I visualize pouring my own energy from my palms into the wards around me. A friend of mine touches the front door to her apartment briefly and pours a little energy into her wards that way every time she leaves the house.
Another way to strengthen your wards without depleting yourself is to draw energy from an outside source and channel it into your wards. I have accomplished this by channeling energy drawn from a candle into my wards, and also from warm sunbeams streaming through my windows. How you choose to maintain your wards is up to you, but you must understand that regular maintenance is important to keep your wards strong and effective.
What if you share your home with a roommate? What if you rent your home and you’ll be moving out in another eight months? What about common walls shared with other dwellings? As practitioners, we must remain sensitive to the ethical implications of using magic to protect ourselves.
If your home is a shared space with family, significant others, roommates or other housemates, it is important to discuss your intentions with them before performing a warding ritual. It is entirely possible that housemates may feel uncomfortable with the idea of having the home warded. If this is your situation, it is important to respect their point of view. You may present your reasons why you believe warding the space would be beneficial, but I urge you against coercion or secretly warding the home anyway.
If you are unable to reach compromise with your housemates on warding the entire home, you may wish to ward your private space. I once warded my private bedroom in a college dormitory. If your bedroom is shared, you can also simply ward your own bed. This ritual can be made as large or as small as the practitioner requires.
If your home is rented and you plan to move out in the future, it is important to dispel and dismiss all wards and energies before you leave. The same is true if you are selling your house to new homeowners. Just as you wouldn’t ward a shared space without informed consent from other housemates, you also don’t want to leave behind any magical residue to pollute the environment for unsuspecting new residents. Information on how to dispel your wards follows in the next section.
Regardless of how you choose to bring your wards down, it is ethically imperative that you ground or dismiss any remaining energy residue so as to leave the space clean and fresh for the next residents. To help you accomplish this goal, you may wish to follow dismissal with a cleansing of the space like those mentioned previously in this article.
Common walls with other dwellings frequently occur in rental housing (apartments, duplexes, etc.) as well as in condominiums. It is mainly for this reason that I suggest walking the interior perimeter of apartments and condominiums. Unless you have your neighbors’ permission to perform rituals on their space, it is important that any ritual energies you work with remain contained inside your own dwelling.
In this case, it is important that your ward barriers stop where your walls do. Please take care that your ward barriers do not extrude into the living room or bedroom of your neighbors on the other side of your dining room wall. Similarly, be cautious that your wards do not spill outside your exterior walls into walkways or common areas around your dwelling.
Dismissing your wards
Whether you are leaving a rented dwelling, selling your house, or if you just need a fresh start, there are almost as many ways to tear down and dismiss your wards as there are ways to bring down a ritual circle. You may choose to circumambulate the space in a widdershins (counterclockwise) direction and dismiss the energies as you go. You can also sit stationary in the space and draw all the energies through you and ground them into the earth, leaving nothing behind.
A friend of mine dismisses his wards by element, much as many dismiss quarters after a ritual. Working in a widdershins fashion, he faces each of the cardinal directions in turn. He humbly thanks each element for its protection and dismisses it gratefully.
I prefer to stand somewhere in the center of the warded space and picture the energy barriers around me. I hold my arms straight up and reach with my hands as though I could touch the ceiling of the ward. I visualize ripping a small hole in the ward, and then gripping the edges of the hole, I bring my arms down to my sides, tearing the ward down around me and grounding the energies at my feet. You may also wish to follow dismissal with any of the cleansing rituals mentioned previously.
Make your wards your own
This ritual is fairly simple and straightforward. Try using it as a base upon which to build and create your own personal warding ritual. Remember to determine the extent of your ward ahead of time, and always consider the ethics of your particular situation. When gathering your materials, do not be afraid to use your favorite elemental representations, even if they are different from examples listed here.
Clearing your space can be as simple as smudging with sage, or as complex as performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, it’s up to you to decide which cleansing works best for you.
The incantation must serve its intended purpose, but it need not be as bare and simple as the one suggested here. Try expounding upon it, adding to it, making it rhyme, singing it, and even dancing if you wish.
Finally, it is imperative that your wards receive proper maintenance. I’ve offered examples of different ways to make certain your wards have adequate energy to perform their intended task. You may expound upon these examples in any manner that you find works well. The most important points of warding are covered here. How exactly you choose to carry them out and make them your own are entirely up to you.
I am a member of the coven Goethe’s Garden, which has a listing here at WitchVox. My High Priest has used this ritual for many years, and he passed it on to me during my year-and-a-day dedication. I share it with you with his permission.