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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in household practice
Lammas, the First Harvest, the Beginning of the End of Summer

Many people have been readying for Lammas this past week. My Instagram feed has been full of beautiful loaves of bread in all shapes and sizes, filled with herbs or sprinkled with oats and other grains. I’ve made my own loaves of bread in preparation and am planning for other elements of the holiday: an outdoor fire in our fire bowl, homemade kvas, some soup or stew to sop up with the homemade bread, a fresh salad, some outdoor games with the kids, maybe a walk in the woods.

I love this holiday that is essentially a celebration of bread. Bread is a sacred and ancient food, one so common and humble that we often take it for granted. But no one can deny the wholesome, enriching influence of homemade bread: the feeling of connecting with old ways as we get messy with flour and meditatively knead the dough; the rich, savory perfume emanating from the oven as it bakes; the softness of the inside and the hard crust of the loaves eaten plain, with cheese, or slathered with butter or jam. It is a gift to make bread -- to ourselves, our loved ones, and our homes. It’s no wonder that the Matres and Matronae, ancestral mother-goddesses worshipped by Celtic and Germanic tribes across northwestern Europe and whom I worship and honor, were depicted in iconography with grains or loaves of bread, along with fruits, babies, and dogs. Bread is a staple in many meals, a magical food born from grains carefully grown from the earth, at first green and then gold, milled and baked, wholesome and hearty.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I made corn pudding yesterday. I have enough left over rice to make rice pudding later in the week.
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Yum! Enjoy!
Powerful Hues: Protective Colors in Household Lore

Color symbolism is a major and timeless element of magical practice. Colors have been used in spells and rituals, in the construction of talismans and spiritual art, and in the protection of the household for centuries. Humans are highly visual creatures; as animals, we rely primarily on our sight for nourishment and protection, and color perception has helped our species identify safe things from dangers. It's natural that colors would take on powers of their own over time.

 

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Chicken Magic in Folktales and Lore

Chickens are humble animals. They’re heavy, mostly earthbound birds, spending their days pecking at the ground, clucking or crowing, bobbing their heads as they strut around the farmyard. They don’t exactly radiate mysterious elegance in the way that cats and rabbits do. However, when we look closely at European folk tales and medieval lore, we see that chickens very much had a significant place in European folk magic, especially as creatures of protection and sacrifice.

In lore about the river-dwelling Nickelman, or Nixie, Benjamin Thorpe notes that “in Thale they were formerly obliged annually to throw a black cock into the Bode [River]; for if they omitted to do so, someone would certainly die within the year” (87). Claude Lecouteux makes note of this kind of sacrifice several times in The Tradition of Household Spirits, one example being:

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Animal Guardians on the Roof

A while back, my husband and I came across Escape to the Country on Netflix. We love house-hunting shows in general, and we enjoyed the glimpses into the local cultures, traditions, and landscapes of different regions of the UK, where the majority of our ancestors came from. In episodes featuring thatched homes, the straw bird finials that sometimes occupy the roof lines stood out to me as a particularly interesting craft. The show didn't make too much mention of them, but it was obvious that there was more to them than mere decoration.

 

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Stones, Bones, and Blood: Rituals to Prevent a House Fire

If you’re familiar with household folklore and traditions, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of concern about housefires. While fire was a necessary element for survival – keeping warm, cooking food, boiling water to make it safe to drink and clean wounds with – it was also a hazard, especially in homes made of wood and thatch. Lightning could strike during a storm, and the roof would be set ablaze. An accident or malfunction could happen in the hearth, and the house would be consumed from within. Loss of a home spelled disaster, just as it does today, although fire codes and emergency response units have reduced risks for many of us.

Fiery Gods and Devils

Many household spirits were associated with fire. The German kobold is one example. Kobolds, like alps, were often described as fiery spirits that dwelled near or within the stove and, if they were treated poorly, could cause housefires in vengeance. Feeding the kobold regularly, refraining from speaking ill of him, and keeping the house clean and tidy were good ways to keep him happy and supportive of the household.

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Alfablot: Honoring the Spirits of the Earth and the Dead

“‘Do not come any farther in, wretched fellow’, said the woman; ‘I fear the wrath of Óðinn; we are heathen.’ The disagreeable female, who drove me away like a wolf without hesitation, said they were holding a sacrifice to the elves inside her farmhouse.” (“Austrfararvísur”)

Feast of Spirits

The Alfablot is an ancient Norse holiday celebrated around this time of year, the end of the harvest and the start of the winter season. As for many other peoples across the world, offerings to the spirits were in order during seasonal shifts, especially when advancing into the most challenging season.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Having read Journey to Ixilan by Castaneda and Supernatural by Graham Hancock I am inclined to view the Elves as primarily the spi
Monsters in the Closet: Echoes of Household Spirits

For about a year, my son had a mild fear of goblins, ever since he saw the kidnapping scene at the beginning of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth – nothing that kept him up at night, but something he mentioned frequently and required reassurance about.

What I find particularly interesting was his belief that goblins reside in and enter from his closet. His belief was so strong that, for a few months, my husband and I had to tie his closet doors shut with ribbons every night to reassure him that the goblins couldn’t come in. The closet seems a natural residence for fearsome things -- it is the darkest place in a room, especially at night, and we fear what we can't see. Yet this belief about spirits in storage places isn't new.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading about old stone axe heads being regarded as thunderstones. Those definitely qualify as ancient artifacts. Th
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    I love Natsume Yuujinchou! I know he'd be a big fan of Nyanko-sensei (but who isn't?), but some of the more aggressive yokai would

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