The Hedge Witch’s Home (Or A Guide to Practical Paganism)
For most of us Pagans, the altar can be seen as a spiritual or peaceful refuge in our own special corner away from the mundane and away from the rest of the world. For others of us, we may prefer to meditate and still others would like nothing more than a peaceful walk in a forest. But our homes can be places of spiritual refuge as well, from the front door to the bedroom at the furthest end of the house. In fact, the home should be a refuge, a Pagan one. It goes without saying that most of us want to feel Pagan and live Pagan but for some of us this can be difficult.
Some of us live in must urban settings or very small dwellings with little room. Maybe you’re renting an apartment with strict rules such as no holes in the walls. But it’s anything but hopeless. We can “Pagan” up our houses in the simplest of ways. It is possible even if we live in tiny, cramped apartments or dorm rooms where lighting candles and incense isn’t practical and is prohibited by post-secondary institutions.
Kitchen Witches make much use of their kitchens. Their altars are their counters and their ritual tools are the big wooden spoons and saucepans by the stove. Green Witches have their gardens and hedge witches have the tinted jars of sundry herbs lined upon the shelves.
There are a few simple steps a Pagan can take to make their home really their home. Setting up a modest altar in a preferred room is one way, perhaps with a smudge stick or perhaps with images of ancestors lining the edges. This is really very simple, a nicely framed picture of Grandma and Grandpa on a side table will most surely do! My altar has a calendar set up neatly on the left side. You can decorate your altar according to your path’s holidays and decorate your house with seasonal sprigs or seasonal emblems.
One can also make use of many readily available herbs to feel close to nature such as creating sachets, herbal rinses, soaps, incenses, teas or any variety of delicious culinary dishes. I have only a few words of advice and those are: DO NOT OVERPICK. And be sure to pick ethically as many plants are endangered or becoming endangered just as animals do. And do not pick anything out in the wild without thoroughly making sure you know what it is and use it to the best of its abilities If you can’t be sure, leave it or consult someone who knows. That being said, the practical Pagan may want to get rosehips from the roses in his garden and they appear when the blooms die for any number of practical purposes from teas to desserts.
These and many other herbs can also be found at a local loose-leaf teashop, or if you’re lucky enough, your local herb shop or Pagan shop. There are many practical ways to utilize these small charms as well. A kitchen Witch might go to the supermarket and buy some thyme or ginger to cook with and saturate it with his or her witchy knack for cooking. If you live in the city, and want to feel more “naturey”, set up a windowsill spice garden and be sure to get a few potted plants.
When friends come over, the hedge Witch can brew a mean tea from those same rosehips, which are high in vitamin C and thus helpful with colds. If you’re looking for a sleeping potion and warm milk just isn’t doing the trick, try some chamomile. As a mild sedative, it does wonders to help you, or your active children get to sleep.
To make your home feel like being home and feel more Pagan, you could tie an herb sachet by the bathtub and the scent will be released with the steam. You could collect your favorite Pagan authors and place them on a bookshelf in the living room. You could keep a diary, dream journal or recipe book by your bed stand.
For the more spiritual, you could buy a nice broom and decorate it to your tastes and use cleaning the home as a ritual or if you’re Heathen, place a blÃ³t horn or ancestor image on the mantel. Mine is only big enough for a single shot so if you’re space is cramped you can still aim small. You do not have to feel like you are trapped in a cramped, mundane and utterly unPagan apartment.
You can imbue almost anything with a spiritual significance. Even if you are a teenager in a strict nonPagan home you can try your hand at cooking or placing a broom in your room to clean with and of course you can buy little figurines for your bedroom that have special significance to you.
Last but not least, you could try your creative hand and add a very personal element. If you can write, write a prayer for your bedroom wall. If you can paint, paint an image of your patron God. If you can carve, carve an image of your totem. If you can work with wood, well, you get the idea.
It is very easy to be the Practical Pagan without cheapening the experience or overdoing it dramatically. After all, no one really need a big witch hat and a cast iron cauldron sitting dead centre in the front foyer for all to see to have a Pagan home and neither do you need to set up a mini Stonehenge in the backyard (a small altar by a tree or birdfeeder may do just fine) .
If space is an issue, aim small. If disapproving eyes are an issue, aim for subtle and above all, aim for modest and something which will complement your personality!
Make your home really feel like yours and let it be inspired by your Pagan path.
Happy (Pagan) interior decorating!