It is currently autumn in South Carolina. As the seasons shift and the weather becomes cooler, it is time once again to ward my house. I haven’t yet celebrated Winters Night since it hadn’t actually cooled off here, at least it hadn’t until a couple of days ago. With the cooler temperatures I had a not so fabulous dream in which I was abducted by an Alf. Luckily, I was able to escape in my dream. If you’ve read your Grimm’s, you should know that it is no good thing to attract the attention of the elves. People stolen would have a right jolly time at an elven party and go home to find that 70 years, more or less, had passed and their loved ones were old or dead. When I lived in Germany I had the interesting experience of living in a haunted house. I got very good house wardings purely out of necessity. I developed a warding ceremony that has worked well for me. I know there are those who feel that house wardings are the provenance of women, and I do agree, however we have lots of new Heathens who have little or no experience with such things, or they might not have women folk around to depend on and might need to take care of the wardings themselves.
House wardings should always be done upon moving into a new place (possibly before sleeping in any new environment if you don’t feel safe) and whenever the seasons change. In the past I have found that it isn’t always necessary in the spring, but in the fall the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest and you should try to protect yourself. Also, even if you’ve recently warded your home and feel all safe and sound, if you invite someone in that might wish you ill, re-ward your house! Giving them an invitation is like inviting in a vampire. Any bad will they might send your way, whether they mean to or not, can come right on in until you ward your house again. Here is what I do whenever it is time to ward my home.
Step One: Cleanse the House
Before setting up wards you have to rid your domicile of any negative energy. Get yourself some sage incense: a smudge stick, a charcoal block and sage from the spice aisle at the grocery store, a cone of incense, or even an incense stick. I prefer to use a sage smudge stick. I like to light it and let it burn a minute or two till it has embers and glows nicely, then I use a hand fan to blow the smoke into all the corners of the house. I walk through each room, opening all the closets, and blow the smoke throughout. When you’ve gone through all the rooms, wrap your smudge stick in aluminum foil to cut off the oxygen and put out any embers. I’ve used the same smudge stick for several years because you only need it to burn for a few minutes each time you use it.
Step Two: Hammer Hallowing
There are lots of sources to tell you how to do this. My way isn’t original, so I won’t bore you with it. Once you have done this the first time it really isn’t necessary to do it again because this is your sacred space, but to each their own. I have only lived in my house a little over a year and since I had woken from that not so wonderful dream I went ahead and did the Hammer Hallowing again yesterday.
Step Three: Hammer Warding
Starting at the front door, I take my Hammer, make the Hammer Sign, and chant, “By the Hammer of Thor, let no harm come through the door.” I do this nine times at the entryways into the home (for me that’s the front and back door). I also go to each window (or outside wall if it has no window), make the Hammer Sign, and repeat the chant once. Windows aren’t technically doors, but that wouldn’t stop an assailant, much less a Mirkalf or other harmful wight.
Step Four: Broom Warding
Again beginning at the front door, I take my ritual broom and make a horizontal sweeping motion over the door, and chant, “By the Broom of Syn, let no harm come within.” I do this nine times at the entryways and once at each window or outside wall. Once the ritual is finished I hang the broom above the front door. I actually now have two brooms, one above the front door and another above the back.
This is the end of my warding ritual, though if you feel so moved you can also incorporate a blot/faining with the warding. Like I said previously, this has always worked well for me in the past. While in Germany I even warded other people’s homes who had less than happy experiences with unwanted spirits. After more than 2,000 years of bloodshed over the same patch of ground again and again, there are lots of icky ghosts roaming around. Like I said, I had to learn to do this out of necessity. I’ve not had as many uncomfortable experiences here in the States as I had abroad, but with the dream I had the other night I wasn’t willing to take any chances, so I decided to bring out the big guns.
I had the good fortune to meet Kveldulfr Gundarsson many years ago and become friends with he and his wife, Sagadís. If you haven’t read any of Kveldulfr’s books, you should get reading. He’s one of the foremost Heathen scholars of our time. A few years back he published a well researched book called “Elves, Wights, and Trolls” (available at Amazon.com), so I sent him a message regarding my icky dream. He suggested using sharp iron, such as needles or knives; herbs, such as Valerian and Daphne Mezereum; and if those fail to work, dribbling urine around the outside of my house, since alfar REALLY don’t like human excrement. Since I have been trying to cultivate good relationships with my house and land wights, and urine is kinda gross, I thought I’d start with the iron first.
Back in 2005, I took an extended trip through Denmark. While there I visited the Ladby Ship Burial, which is the most heavily, naturally warded place I’ve ever been. The burial mound is covered and surrounded by everything prickly that grows there: stinging nettles, thorn trees, rose bushes, briars, thistles, and other plants I couldn’t identify. I took wood from four of these plants after sitting on a rock in the fjord, talking to the gods, and tossing some copper coins into the water. I knew I needed to use these for protection, but after I got back home I found that the bits I had were quite small and so I kept them secure all these years. (For more on my trip to Ladby, see “Idunna” Issue #76.)
After waking from my dream, I decided to go ahead and make a charm incorporating the protective woods from Ladby and iron nails. I bound the bits of wood together with silver floral wire and then I wove them together with silk thread that I spun and dyed with poke berry and safflower. Then I lashed nails to each of the sticks. I’ve slept peacefully the past couple of nights with this charm on my nightstand. I also think I’ll get some Valerian and sew into a little sachet that I can stick inside my pillowcase. I have had a bad experience in the past with a Mirkalf attacking me while I slept (I’ve got lots of colorful stories about living in that haunted house. Catch me at a moot sometime and I’ll tell you all about it.). It is not an experience I ever wish to repeat!