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.