Cleaning as a Sacred Act
With the arrival of the Autumnal equinox, we straddle the midpoint between the wildly active summer season and the impending, dreamless hibernation of restful winter. We enter a mysterious portal where everything feels a bit slower, we stop to pay attention to the shadows of leaves, our intuition sharpens, and we have the opportunity to clean up the ashes of summer and make space in our homes for the magic to come. Virgo season may be over, but the importance of keeping our homes clean and organized remains imperative. The season of the witch is here, and our brooms have a myriad of uses, besides flying. Brooms are our ultimate power tools, that allow us to sweep away both dust and the energy of house guests past.
Do you take pride in your home? I imagine that just reading this simple question ignites tension, defensiveness, and a feeling of judgement to arise in most. But really, is your house messy, dirty, unorganized, full of cobwebs and dust, or unwelcoming? Or, is your home clean, organized, properly cleared and cleansed of stagnation, and inviting? My guess is that most folks feel their homes lie somewhere in the middle of this dichotomy. This is a big subject full of all sorts of layers, and I am surprised at myself that I am taking this on right now, but it feels important and it's what's on my mind. Yesterday, as one kid was in school, 1 was napping, and my partner and I both had the day off, we decided it was time. It had reached that point where we both could no longer stand the layers of dust, clutter, and energetic debris that had built up. A deep cleaning was in order; not just a "straighten up." So, I got hard to work clearing cobwebs from corners and windows sills (one of my favorite chores and I'm not being sarcastic,) washing windows with my vinegar/herb solution, wiping down door thresholds, and dusting and washing light fixtures, tchotchkeys, books, spice jars, picture frames, you name it. He began detailing the corners of the room, sweeping, and scrubbing the floor. I could go on and on, but you do not need to hear the entire laundry list of what we accomplished. My point is, as I was cleaning, I pondered what it means to take pride in the home, how the state of your home 100% affects well-being, and how frankly irresponsible it is to yourself, your family, and to everyone who enters your home, to allow it to become a clusterf#ck of everyone's old thoughts, energy, and emotions.
I am not sitting here writing this as a judgmental human with a perfect house. (My car is a bio-hazard, but we're not talking about cars at the moment, we're talking about homes.) As a mom of two and a dog, and all sorts of jobs (soul fulfilling personal work and put-food-on-the-table work) I am fully aware of how sometimes the house get's thrashed. Often, I look around and there's old homework stuffed in a corner, crayons and dust bunnies under the couch, layers of sticky dust on kitchen tools, and mildewy towels that need to go into the wash. It happens to all of us. The question is not whether or not your house is perfect all the time. The question is, however, do you reach that point where you know it is time to clear the physical and energetic debris and clean your slate? If you do, that's great. Keep it up and keep reading for fun or for some of my tidying tips. If not, maybe it's time to start to look at cleaning and organizing from a new perspective. Some people hate cleaning, and I get it. There's no time, it takes hours, and what's the point of doing it if your house is going to get messy all over again? I've been there. But, leaving your stuff in piles, refusing to put things away, watching layers and layers of dust collect, and allowing floors to become unlivable, is only going to create more stress within yourself and in those around you. In turn, you will lose time and clarity, by cluttering your brain and removing ease and flow from your life. If we reframe the way we look at cleaning, it can become a much more enjoyable task. I have come to view cleaning as a sacred act. Cleaning is meditation. Cleaning is one of my most powerful tools as a witch. When I clear the dust off my things, I invite more abundance into my life by viewing what I have as treasures of value and beauty. When I scrub my floors, I am literally sweeping away stagnation and unwanted spirits who have entered my home. When I water my plants and pull off dead leaves, I bring more vitality and prana to my space. When I wash the windows, I sharpen my brain and eyes, and invite in clarity. When we shift our perspective on cleaning and see it as a powerful act, rather than a monotonous bore, it changes everything. I feel ya'll Pisces friends in the back snickering, but hear me out. You got to trust a Virgo sister on this one.
Let me go back to my initial question, "Do you take pride in your home?" Your home should reflect who you are. There should be flow as you walk around and a feeling of ease as you enter each room. Doors should be able to swing open freely, with nothing blocking them. The kitchen should be clean and organized. Your home should speak of who you are to all those who enter. Let me clarify again, that this is not about perfection. To people going through hard times, I SEE YOU and for those folks, can we as friends, help them by picking up around their house and helping to make their space more welcoming and conducive to peace and healing? When you have friends in need who are feeling overwhelmed, going through traumatic situations, or are tending new babies, head over there and do some dishes or make their beds. Be a good human. Nevertheless, make your own home a cozy nest that allows whoever enters it, whether that be you and only you or the entire neighborhood for a swinging cocktail party, to feel safe, clear, and at ease. I'm not talking about any particular methods ie: Marie Condo. She is awesome and I'm ALL for the sparking joy method, but if you're into collecting an endless library of books or ceramic owls, that's beautiful. I personally love extensive collections of nonsensical vintage tchotchkes, but, they should be displayed in a way that brings happiness. How many times have you said to folks who have come over, "I'm so embarrassed by this mess. I'm so sorry. bla bla bla." I have caught myself saying this to friends several times, but if this your go-to phrase every single time anyone enters your home, from the cable guy to your mom's best friend visiting from out of state, maybe you need to look at how you're operating in your space. Folks these days are super into natural health, and I'm simply adding in home care as an important pillar of health and well-being that often gets overlooked. The home gets filled with dust and clutter, and the home also get's filled with everyone and their mom's emotions and energy. It is our responsibility to clear that debris out.
It struck me earlier this year when I was studying "Benedicaria: The Blessingway of Southern Italian Folk Medicine" with Gail Faith Edwards, when she did a whole class on cleaning as spiritual practice. It resonated so deeply. Your broom, dust pan, rags, spray bottles, and cleaning supplies are spiritual tools. Cleaning is extremely important to Italian women, and has been for ages. Peasant women with extremely modest homes in the south of Italy keep their homes immaculate. They take great pride in their homes and know that the well being of the family depends on it. Keeping the home clean is a holy act, as it is the place where they prepare food, eat together, pray to the Madonna and saints, sleep, and live their lives in general. This reminded me of Italian American moms who don't want you to use the special towels or the fancy waste baskets in the bathroom. Don't get me started on the plastic covered couches. This all seems comical, and IT IS, but I swear it all ties back to the old ways of keeping the home immaculate for all who enter and having pride for your domestic space. I assure you I'll never cover my couch in plastic or have un-usable hand towels, but I can understand where these ideas originate from. If you want to dig back even deeper (way deeper,) we are brought to the powerful goddess, Vesta. She's the Roman goddess of hearth and home, known as Hestia to the Greeks. Vesta was revered as the mother goddess of the home, and in the Roman temple to Vesta, "Vestal Virgins" were the temple priestesses, who vowed to tend the fire of the hearth for all of their lives. It never went dark. It was thought that if the fire of Vesta's temple ever went out, Rome would cease. I am fascinated by this ancient sentiment that saw so much at stake in keeping the goddess of the home happy and well fed with fire. It highlights the significance of the home space and the sacred life-force present in the hearth.
The home is sacred. We often think of creating sacred spaces in our homes, but the home is the sacred space. It is an altar to our family, our ancestors, this planet, the stars, and to the gods. Those of us who have homes are fortunate and privileged. In 2019, with overstimulation, income inequality, and the need to keep up with life in a way we've never known as humans, the idea of focusing on the home and hearth isn't as instinctive as it once was. Unfortunately, processing herbs, gathering food, baking bread, visiting village markets, milking goats, and engaging in folk practices isn't valued or viewed as significant in modern [American] society. I am not sitting here ignorantly suggesting that we all are granted the time and privilege to worship the hearth, as we once did. We're all working and hustling and doing our best to survive the times we are in. I'm simply offering the idea of seeing our homes and the ways we take care of them in a different light. How can we keep Vesta close to our homes, hearths, and hearts in a way that allows us to still function in our modern lives? How can our homes continue to be our safe havens, sanctuaries, sacred spaces, and hubs of ease, flow, connection, and productivity?
HOME TIPS FROM A GREEN WITCH AND MOTHER OF 2, OPERATING A SMALL BIZ AND HUSTLING AT A RESTAURANT:
* Here's a little Marie Condo for you: Make it a practice to put your small items away each night. I always look around and if I see a reusable bag on a chair with some stuff I used throughout the day, I make a point to put the stuff away before the night is over.
* Book fiend? Everywhere I look, I see books on tables, nightstands, and dressers. Make it a point to check in with all the books around the house and ask yourself, "Am I reading this right now?" If you aren't planning on reading it within the next few days, put it on the bookshelf. Don't worry, they still know you love them and they aren't going to run away.
*Organize and wipe down your fridge once a week. The most perishable items should go on the top shelf. This will help keep your brain organized and the feeling of abundance flowing as you see all the food you actually have and avoid wasting.
*Throw some salt into the mix when you're washing your tub, floor, kitchen, or any sacred/altar spaces. Salt thoroughly cleans energy and gets rid of any spiritual debris hanging out. Whenever I take a cleansing, healing bath, I wipe down the bath with salt afterward, so whoever uses it next isn't soaking in my old, unwanted energy from the day before.
*Treat your cleaning supplies with care and love. Don't throw them into a gross cabinet under the sink or let your broom collect dust, itself. Most folks are great about keeping their crystals and statues safe and clean, but fail to recognize their cleaning tools as power objects. Your cleaning supplies should be treasured as items that assist you in making your space feel safe and welcoming and helping you rid your home of unwanted energies. Treat them with gratitude.
* Whenever you feel like the time has come for a deep clean and the energy needs to shift immediately, open all your windows, dust EVERYTHING including mantles, shelves, knick knacks, picture frames, light fixtures, etc. Then, sweep and mop the floor if possible. Last but certainly not least, FUMIGATE. Light sacred smoke and burn all throughout your house. Don't forget to fumigate around every doorway. I like to also pay attention to each bed in the house to clear any stagnation or energy that could be causing restlessness and insomnia.
* FUMIGATION/FIRE: Almost every culture has used some form of smoke medicine to purify the air, physically and energetically. Use cultivated, common plants that resonate. My favorite is (dried) rosemary. Light white candles for healing and cleansing in any room that needs it. Please be careful with fire, friends.
*Use New Moons to clean the hell out of your home, sweep, use salt, fumigate, bring in fresh plants/flowers. Use Full Moons to celebrate the abundance of the home and hearth, cooking a good meal for family and appreciating the fullness of your home space.
*COBWEBS NEED TO GO! Spider medicine is powerful. I love to see orb weavers making magic in corners of my home, eating mosquitos and flies, and reminding me of what it means to weave my own reality. That being said, old cobwebs in corners only manifest the other side of spider energy, which is getting tangled in webs of confusion and stagnation. Cobwebs are gross and bog down a home's energy like few other things do. Get rid of 'em. It takes about 2-3 minutes. Go do it... now.
* If everyone in your house likes to make a coat hanger out of every available piece of furniture. First, tell them not to. That is not going to do anything. So, second toss them into piles of who's are who's on the couch. Then, throw everyone's pile at their head and tell them to put away. This actually works. (Except for your baby childlings. You need to put their stuff away.)