Kitchen Cupboard Magic

Kitchen Cupboard Magic
Adapted from Witch in the Kitchen, by Cait Johnson (Inner Traditions,

We don’t usually think of sea salt and basil and apples as magical,
but our more earth-centered ancestors knew they were.

Here, then, is a list of some traditional herb correspondences;
choose one or more according to your desire. You can add a handful to your
washing-water next time you mop the floor:

Apples: Food of the Goddess, love. Add a few pieces of fresh or dried
apple to your water (but not too much or you’ll end up with sticky

Basil: Love, fidelity, wealth, protection. A nice all-purpose herb
with a luscious summery scent.

Chamomile: Serenity and calm; purification. Smells like a blend of
apples and new-mown hay. While you’re at it, make yourself a cup of tea to
drink after you’ve finished cleaning; it’s very relaxing.

Cinnamon: Happy home, safety, healing, protection. The primal
home-and-hearth spice. Use pieces of cinnamon stick for your brew
(the powdered kind will turn into a gelatinous glop in the bucket).

Clove: Purification; promotes love and spirituality. Try it with
cinnamon–delicious !

Eucalyptus: Health, protection. Warm and fresh, actually kills germs.

Evergreen: Health, purification, vitality. A few sprigs of pine,
cedar, or juniper growing nearby, a few sprigs placed in boiling water will add
green freshness to your housecleaning brew.

Lavender: Love, friendship, peace, happiness, protection. Such a
sweet, relaxing, and calm-inducing scent–and it’s also an antidepressant.

Lemon peel: Purification. It’s no accident that so many cleaning
products are lemon-scented; lemon smells fresh and uplifting and cleanses

Marjoram: Love, protection, antidepressant. You can sprinkle a little
of this dried herb in the corners of every room to promote love and

Peppermint: Purification, healing, soothing. A wonderfully relaxing
and refreshing scent.

Rosemary: Cleansing and protection; clears negativity; encourages
clear thinking.

Sage: Purification, wisdom. It’s no coincidence that the word
for “wise one” is the same as the herb’s name. A traditional ingredient of many
Native American smudge bundles, a strong sage tea will help clear your home
of negativity.

Sea salt: Traditional for purification and protection. If you’ve been
feeling vulnerable or weird and you only have time to add one
ingredient to your wash-water, this could be it.

Vanilla: love, happiness. A piece of the bean or a few drops of
extract will make your home smell and feel delicious.

Ritual for Letting Go and Taking Stock

Ritual for Letting Go and Taking Stock  
By Cait Johnson, author of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths, 2003).Early autumn is the traditional time for taking stock: what do we need to release so we won’t feel burdened in the months ahead? What do we keep in our spiritual larders to sustain us? We can take a gentle lesson from nature as we witness the trees and their graceful letting-go, and the busyness of squirrels as they gather the stores of food that will ensure a secure winter.Here is a simple ritual designed to help you free yourself from the burdens of the past, and to help you identify the skills, strengths, and gifts that will be your wise companions this winter. Read it here:

1. Take a little time where you will not be disturbed. Sit comfortably with a small pad of paper and a pen or pencil and close your eyes. Take a moment to feel how gravity keeps you firmly here on this planet. Take comfort in your weight. Now take note of all the places where your body is touching something solid: the chair, the floor. Feel how you are cradled by these places. Take a moment to feel grateful for your life.

2. Now gently bring into your awareness anything you carry that makes you feel weighed-down, heavy, sad, or angry. Perhaps a relationship issue or a negative pattern of thinking. Perhaps worries about not having enough of something. With compassion for yourself, write these things down on your paper.

3. Now, still keeping your eyes closed, turn over a new leaf in your pad. Give yourself a few moments to think of any important lessons you learned from these burdens–any skills you gained from having carried them. (For example, if a relationship did not work out as you had wished, you may have learned to be more self-reliant and independent.) If you release the sadness or anger associated with each burden, what are the gifts that remain? Write these gifts down on the fresh piece of paper.

4. Now give some thought to your personal talents, skills, and qualities of character. These are things that nothing can take away; they are part of the great gift to the world that you are. Write down as many as you can think of on the same piece of paper.

5. When you are ready, open your eyes. Take the list of burdens and, without looking at it, tear it into small pieces. These may be burned, buried, or released into the air or water. (One friend took a chair outdoors, stood on it, and released her paper bits like autumn leaves, enjoying the sight of their gentle drifting-down.) Now read the list of gifts. Fold the paper and put it in a safe place. Whenever you need a reminder, take it out and reread it.