Relationship with the Land – Part 5

Another point about having a relationship with your landbase, about being the Witch of Your Place:

Get to know your house. Now, after a year of COVID, that might sound odd. Surely by now you know every room, closet, cabinet, and corner almost too well. But what about the Spirit of the house? As an animist, I believe that everything has Spirit, has consciousness, has a life. And houses certainly do. Whether you live in a centuries-old farmhouse or in a newly-built apartment on the 23rd floor, you home is alive and it wants to know you.

You can start by finding out as much about it as possible. Zillow will probably show you at least the last few owners. Land records may tell you more. What was the land before the house was built? Farmland? A campground? Wild space? (I recently learned that my home sits on land that was cedar forest, which makes sense because when I moved here, the sense I had was of a spirit made of cedar wood being very curious about what I was and why I was coming here.)

But I also want to encourage you to talk to the house. Maybe the first few times you do this, you’ll want to cast sacred space, call Hestia, and formally introduce yourself. Tell the house that you are coming to it with an open heart and that you want to be in right relationship to it. Ask the house to tell you what it wants you to know. If it helps you, stare into a candle flame, or mirror, or scrying bowl and listen to what the house has to say. Houses often communicate to you with scenes and scents, so don’t dismiss those as “just my imagination,” or “my subconscious,” or even “a random event.” If you ask the house to tell you something and you hear creaks coming from the guest room closet, open your heart and go investigate. Maybe that’s where you need to sit to meditate with your house. After a while, talking to your house gets to be kind of like talking to a constant companion and can be less formal. Although annually, maybe on your move-in date, it’s nice to do something more elaborate. (The Romans celebrated Vesta’s feast day around June 7th, and that’s a lovely time of year to throw open all the windows, sage all the rooms, sprinkle lavender water in the corners, pour a bit of oil or spread some bay leaves on your hearth (yes, you have one even if you don’t have a fireplace; it may be your microwave) and sing your house its favorite song.)

Which brings us to the fact that houses, in my experience, like presents. My Moon is in Taurus and somehow I wind up in homes that like EXPENSIVE presents, but the presents that establish relationships don’t have to be costly. When I moved into this home, I gave it a bag of locally-produced cornmeal on the mantle for a few days and then scattered the cornmeal in a circle around the house. A good cleaning (especially now in Spring) can be a gift to your house and a window washing is something EVERY house loves. Sometimes, even gifts for you can make the house happy: a tool set so you can make small repairs as soon as they’re needed, new matching towels for the bathroom, new batteries in the smoke detector (really, you should definitely do this as an act of magic, calling in protection for you AND the house). Houses also love plans — after all, nearly all of them started as plans on a piece of paper. So making a plan for annual maintenance or for weekly cleaning can be a satisfying way to show your house that you’re as serious about doing things for it as you want it to be about doing things for you.

When friends move into new homes, I was taught to give them bread, a beverage (often wine), a candle, and some salt. I say, “May you never hunger. May you never thirst. May you always be warm. May your life always have savor.” What gifts would you like your friends to give your house? Do you ever talk to your house? What rituals do you have?

Picture found here.

3 responses to “Relationship with the Land – Part 5

  1. I talk to my beautiful house all the time. I love your suggestions about gifts to people moving in. Thanks for all the good stuff…there’s a lot!

  2. When we bought the Tiny Beach Cottage in late 2017, I made a point of doing, for us and the house, the ritual which I always perform when friends acquire a hew home. It’s lifted word for word from “It’s A Wonderful Life,” when the Martinis move into their new home and George & Mary Bailey present them with the following:

    “Bread — that this house may never know hunger.
    “Salt — that life here may always have flavor.
    “And wine — that there will always be joy.”

    We have touched and loved on every square inch of the house, inside and out, from changing the layout (we had a hallway removed to widen our bedroom, and a wall in front of the second bedroom removed to bring light into my office) to painting everything inside (a color called “Rhinestone,” a reflective warm white) and out (a color called “Little Black Dress,” a dark charcoal grey with green overtones in bright sunlight), to renovating the kitchen. The interior is reflective and brilliant, with a way of bouncing sunlight off the angled surfaces like the voices in a cathedral.

    Our house’s dominant spirit has always made me think of Goldberry, the partner of Tom Bombadil from “The Fellowship of the Ring,” and I regularly hear her line: “Nothing passes door or window here save moonlight, starlight, and the wind from the hilltop.” Or in our case, the sound of the ocean 300 meters away. (Or the sound of raccoons scuttling across our roof or in the space under the floor; we live four houses from a large park that backs up to a natural area and lake, so we have raccoons, deer, dozens of varieties of birds, and no doubt other wildlife we do not see.)

    Depending on the tide, the weather, and other variables, we often hear the surf in our bedroom at night, but nearly always listen to it while sitting in “our favorite room in the house,” the covered front porch. Even before we bought the house (the previous owner is my oldest and closest friend, and we used to stay here when we needed respite from — well, everything), the west-facing front porch is where we’d sit with the evening’s last glass of wine, watching the colors change as the sun slipped under the edge of the Pacific. We can’t see the ocean, but the coral and lavender sky showing through the trees to the west of us is still magical.

    Walt Disney said that Disneyland will never be completed, as long as there is imagination left in the world. We still have a few punch lists that rely on an influx of cash, imagination never being in short supply here. But till then, we honor the spirit of our 540-square foot 1930 cottage, the land it is on, and the ocean and mountains that serve as the backdrop for this stage of our lives.

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