Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ask a Witch: Shalom Bayit

A friend writes: "Sara, the other day you said that you think of altars as a sort of permanent gateway to a certain spirit; a charm that gets more and more charged every time you work with it. With that said, what if its a personal temple that is being used as bedroom? But without housemates issue taken into consideration. Would you still banish?"

I once had a friend who had learned just enough magic to banish, but she was REALLY good at it.  Her bedroom in college was filled with silver and white lights and mirror shards and she banished it VERY hard almost every day.  It was so squeaky clean, so empty, and so blindingly, brilliantly astrally light that many of our more sensitive friends couldn't stand to be in it for very long (which she liked).  We now refer to it as "the room of happiness and light".  

What Jason Miller calls "zone rites" -- stuff like banishing, circles, and infusing spaces with specific "flavors" -- is kind of a specialty of mine. I just happen to really like it. For me, the guiding principle in this kind of work, is that of hakhnasat orchim.  Hakhnasat orchim is a Hebrew phrase that literally means "bringing in the stranger", but is generally used to mean the sacred duty of hospitality

For me, I want my home to have a "spiritual ecosystem" that's friendly and welcoming to all, but well-protected against anyone (or anything) that might wish me (or anyone I live with) harm.  The trick to that, in my opinion is to summon frequently, banish rarely, and ward heavily.
I banished once when we moved in, because there was a sort of unpleasant vibe to the place.  After that, I immediately filled it back up.  In my opinion, that's the thing about banishing.  If you banish, and then stop, everything you banished will just fall back in once you stop paying attention.  "nature abhors a vacuum" as they say.  So, as soon as I banished, I filled it back up with the sorts of thing I want it to be full of, which is (for me) anything that plays well with others.

I wove some wards around the place, which I'm not going to explain here, because telling the internet how my security system works seems like a bad idea.  However, anyone who reads this knows that I work with a lot of crossroads and gateway guardians, so you can probably guess that's a big piece of it.  However, there's a perimeter ward as well as charms on the doors and windows.  I like to think of the wards as "semi-permeable".  They're designed to keep out "anyone or anything which wishes me ill".  Now, this does allow in things like hungry ghosts, who don't necessarily wish me ill, but bring it with them anyway.  For me, I feel like part of my calling is to try to help them out, so I let them in, but that's just me.  Because I keep a pretty "full house" spirit-wise, the "ecosystem" here is robust enough to support that kind of thing.

Once the wards were up.  I put out a call to "my" spirits, the spirits of this place, and to any spirit that could hear me, that this place was under my control, but that I stood ready to make welcome any and every spirit that wished to partake of my hospitality, as long as they too would stand by the ancient compacts of guest and host.  I made clear that none were welcome who wished me ill, but I would try to succor those in need.  Etc, etc.  I made offerings to every spirit who could hear my cry; those who wished to stay in peace and live with us are welcome to stay, so long as they will compact to work for our good.  Those who do not wish to stay in peace can take their offering and go.  There's a couple of less "friendly" spirits I work with, who don't want to "slum it" with the "teeming masses" that live here, and so when I work with them, I clear and hold a space for them while we're working, and then I "give license to depart" when we're done.  Honestly, though, I find that they are usually more hassle than they're worth, and so I almost never call them.  

We have a tiny permanent altar in the kitchen (which happens to also be next to the door; you enter through the kitchen).  It's just a plate with the seal of a god of gateways and crossroads painted on it that sits on the bar.  On the plate is an egg, surrounded by coins, flowers, spices, frankincense, and the sticky residue of months of poured libations.  On the egg is written in permanent marker "NAME, please distribute our offerings among all the spirits."  Every time we pour oil or honey or liquor or such in the house, a bit gets dripped out over the egg.  I leave it up to him to decide how to distribute those offerings.  When it gets too gross and sticky, I wash everything, throw out the egg and flower bits, make a new egg,  replace the coins, gems, and other permanent bits, and pour out some oil, honey, and rum (or whatever we have on hand) to get it started.  

Lots of spirits hang around more or less all the time, including "representatives" of  (1) the ancestors and beloved dead, (1.5) the Old Powers of the Earth, (2) the Sorcerer-Kings, and (3) the Peacock-Lion-Serpent, which are the main categories of spirits I've been working with lately.  Each of those "families" of spirits has their own permanent altar; a sort of "clubhouse" dedicated to them, and where I go to communicate with them.  For example, the Hekate pictures you saw are actually my "Old Powers of the Earth" altar; when I'm working with Hekate (who's my go-to in that realm), it's set up for her, but the other's (like Baphomet or Ereshkigal or "Womb of the Earth" for example) are always welcome too.  There's also some local spirits, and a sad cold thing that might be the old lady down the hall who died in October.
I've banished out specific spirits, usually because they were disturbing my sleep, but never a "broad-spectrum" banishing.  The only reason I would do a broad-spectrum banishing is because the ecosystem had become unpleasant to me (or someone else I lived with).  

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