Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Home Protections and Wards

One of the more important aspects of my personal practice is keeping my living and ritual space free of anything that prevents me from reaching my goals and succeeding in my spiritual work.

Protecting one’s self and one’s home against so-called evil spirits and influences is some of the most ancient practices known to humans. Those of us of a darker flavor tend to view these “evil spirits” through a different lens, and most of us are quite intimate with those “evil influences” as we always get the blame for sending them (which may or may not be true—I’m not telling). However, when you strip away the hypocritical layers of moral ambiguity, most techniques of protection and warding have nothing to do with “good” or “the light,” and everything to do with good ole’ magical techniques and calling upon the spirits with which one has aligned oneself to fend off the spirits and influences of an attacker.

During a Witch War or magical attack of any kind, the already-existing home protections and wards are the first line of defense. Once such an attack has begun, it’s too late to simply put up wards, as you must go through the laborious process of cleansing your home of the spirit or work before warding or re-warding. So, it’s very important to have several layers of strong wards in place at all times.

As much as I like spirits and forces of a darker nature, unfortunately, I simply can’t have most of them hanging around all the time. It’s like having a bunch of rough gang members living with you. They’d eventually eat you out of house and home, run up your phone bill, break all your furniture, invite unwanted guests, and drive you crazy. They’d never clean up after themselves, and they’d never help with the laundry! You’d spend all your time and energy trying to keep your life and home together that you wouldn’t have time for yourself or your goals. Don’t get me wrong, they’re VERY good at what they do, and I certainly employ them when needed; but as far as I’m concerned, they have to either be working on a task I’ve negotiated with them, or they have to go back to their own space and stay there until called—or at least stay out of my space. That being said, there are a few of them that I like to keep around me at all times, and I’ll talk about them later on.

The following techniques are by no means an exhaustive list but those that I’ve personally found effective that I’ve gathered throughout my own journey. They originate from Traditional Craft, Haitian Vodou, New Orleans Hoodoo, Espiritismo, Palo, and a few other sources. I usually don’t make distinctions about where each of them comes from; I simply do them because they’ve melded together in my personal practice, and because they work for me.

Many writers have spoken about psychic shields, protective energy, and astral work when it comes to protection and defense. The majority of the methods I employ require a physical anchor for these energies in order to keep them in place for a longer period of time. Re-charging wards on a regular basis, such as once a month or once a season, is always a good idea. So, please feel free to incorporate any psychic or astral techniques in which you are skilled into these methods below as most witches and sorcerers realize charms, mojos, and other physical objects are much less effective (if not completely ineffective) without the power of the witch or sorcerer to activate and direct them.

Thresholds, Doors, and Windows

First and foremost in home protection is securing the main threshold, whether that be to your house, apartment, or bedroom/dorm room. Next in line are additional doorways, including cellar or basement doors that lead outside, and finally there are windows and other small openings that open directly to the outside. Any of these openings are susceptible to spiritual and magical attack and should be warded in some way.

Doors and windows can be warded in several ways: on the door/window itself (outside and inside), over the door/window and incorporating any lintels, around it and incorporating the molding, across the threshold/sill, and sometimes under it, burying something outside in the ground below. Depending on the style and accessibility of locations around them, other creative methods can be employed, but these are the most common I’ve encountered and employed. What’s my rule of thumb for the amount of wards to use? More is more! Each layer of warding draws the overall net tighter and fills in gaps left by other layers (no one type of warding is ever 100%).

Before I list different techniques for warding doors and windows, I want to say something about inviting people into your space and, therefore, across or through any wards you have placed. (The old folk beliefs of needing to invite “evil” into one’s home spring to mind.) When you invite someone into your home or space, you are essentially opening up your home and de-activating your wards for the person and all they carry with them. That is, unless you make a split-second mental connection with your wards to allow in only the person and not any ill-meaning spirits or workings with them, temporarily changing them into filters rather than turning them off completely. Anyone who has come to your home with ill intent, who is also in any way sensitive, will realize after crossing your threshold and through those filters that not only do you know of their intent, but also that you’ve just disarmed them and placed them in great danger. They won’t stay long after that.

The following is a list of techniques in no particular order for warding doors and windows:

--Crosses are some of the oldest and most common wards. They have nothing to do with the Christian religion and everything to do with what the symbol of a cross represents. Two long, slender pieces of material crossed over one another is pretty much a universal symbol of “Stop! Halt! Do not pass! etc.” Sometimes consideration is given to the physical strength of the material, such as metal being stronger than wood, and sometimes the magical strength is given consideration, such as the magical warding properties of the herb St. John’s Wort. In any case, crosses can be made of anything that has some type of power, such as iron railroad spikes, wood of the Rowan tree, Mullein stalks, two knives, or even a spoon and fork. Most of the traditionally created crosses are tied together using red string or yarn; one of the oldest European warding crosses is two pieces of Rowan tree tied with red thread. It doesn’t matter magically if the cross is hung as a horizontal/vertical cross or as an “X”, but it may matter to some on a psychological level, which in turn affects their magical working. Folks of the African Diaspora use the Catholic crucifix for several reasons; however, for magical/spiritual purposes they rarely see the crucifix as “Jesus on the Cross” but as the man of the crossroads who stands at the gates between the worlds and either allows or denies entry to spiritual and magical forces. Crosses can be placed on the front or back of doors, hung over doors and windows, drawn in oil or cascarilla or even with paint (sometimes adding powders to the paint). Like many wards they can be cleverly hidden or disguised.

--Mirrors are wonderful wards in that they send back at the same time that they deny entry. Small mirrors of any shape found at craft or fabric stores can be placed (facing outward!) in windows and on the front or back of doors. Mirrors on the back of doors can be easily hidden by a picture. They can be mounted outside on the lintels over doors and windows, as well. Anoint the mirrors with protection oil or an active liquid or protection potion before placing them. This oil or liquid can be re-applied on a regular basis.

--Nails are used for their martial qualities of metallic strength and ability to puncture, and they can be employed in a variety of ways. One source suggests to take three nails to every door and window of your home and nail them straight into the lower two corners and into the top center of the moldings or borders. This creates a triangle, which is said to keep out unwanted influences. Another source says to place either one or three nails, pointing outward, on the sill of each window. Nails can also be made into small crosses and hung over small entrances, such as windows and fireplaces. They are also a main ingredient of the Witch’s Bottle (see below). The best metal is of course iron, but in a pinch any strong nail will do.

--Red cords, imbued with the witch’s or sorcerer’s power, can be hung along the lintels or top moldings over doors and windows in the most decorative and creative ways. Knot magic can be incorporated into this.

--Charms, amulets, saint/holy metals, and talismans of all varieties can be placed over doors and windows and on the back and front of doors.

--Protective herbs in dried, upside-down bunches or crushed and placed into sachets or gris-gris bags can be hung over or around doors and windows. One of the most decorative and innocuous-looking ward is a nicely dried bunch of protective herbs tied with an attractive ribbon hung over or on both sides of a door. Additional (and nastier) charms can be hidden inside the herbs. There are dozens of protective herbs, so consult your references; however, one of the strongest in European lore is St. John’s Wort that was gathered on Midsummer. Many people of a Latin and Mediterranean origin hang small bunches of Rue in doors and windows.

--Living plants and herbs can be placed on either side of doors and on window sills. A living plant produces its own energy without needing to be re-charged, and simply requesting the plant work for you in exchange for regular watering and proper care is usually all that is needed. Sometimes you can pay it with coins. Charged stones, small witch bottles, and other charms can be hidden within the soil at the base of the plant. Aloe Vera plants are a favorite amongst Latin and Caribbean people; some of them plant it in nothing but white sugar and it lives that way for years. Other plants I’ve used and seen used include Snake Plant (aka Mother-in-Law’s Tongue), Rosemary, Spider Plant (aka Airplane Plant), and anything with spikes, thorns, or strong smells. Outdoors, protective herbs and plants can be grown not only around entrances but around a home or along property lines.

--Salt that has been charged with protective magic can be sprinkled across the sill or threshold or a heavier line of line can be poured into a crevasse between the sill and the floor. I tend to use Kosher salt for this.

--Red Brick Dust is a common and powerful ward in New Orleans and throughout other places where Hoodoo is practiced. Red brick dust must be made from a red brick of an existing or formerly standing structure, because it gains its power from three major characteristics. 1) It was once a brick used to protect a structure from the elements, and so it “remembers” how to be a boundary or wall. 2) In its creation as a brick it underwent a process involving fire, giving it those qualities. 3) The color red is used widely in defensive magic, and the “redder” the brick, the better the dust. Red sand or ground up terra cotta pots are not substitutes as there is an element of time and function involved in the power of red brick dust. Making red brick dust is time consuming and requires some effort, but that is a good opportunity to imbue the substance with your energy, anger, and intent. It’s also a messy process, so do it outside on pavement or in a cellar or basement. Once you have your red brick dust, make a solid line of it across your main threshold and other door sills, and optionally it can be placed across window sills if you don’t mind the mess. Place it across the front and back steps and the beginnings of the walkway and driveway to your home. When all entry places have been warded with red brick dust, it sometimes feels as if your home has been surrounded by a solid brick wall. It needs to be replaced and reinforced over time as it wears or washes away, so make a large batch at one time to have on hand for emergencies.

There are many other ways to ward thresholds, doors, and windows, and the techniques and variations are almost limitless. Use the above as a guide and let your intuition and additional research be your guide.

Pentacles, Sigils, and other Images and Objects

A home or personal space can also be protected in other areas and ways. Creating objects with sigils, symbols, various planetary pentacles, and so on, and then placing them in strategic locations greatly enhances the overall protective energies and mood of your home.

Sigils and symbols are best placed on parchment or paper of corresponding color easily found at craft and hobby stores. If you have nothing else, disassemble a brown paper bag or use construction paper (and if you’re that poor, get your ass in gear and do some prosperity magic!).

The planetary pentacles from the Key of Solomon or other sources are good to use, especially if you are being attacked by someone using the Goetia or have an enemy that you know uses those spirits. The following technique is one I’ve used with very good results. Obtain seven discs of wood about six inches in diameter (usually pretty cheap at craft stores) and paint them with the corresponding colors, one for each of the seven planets. Next, on parchment, draw one pentacle for each of the planets from the Key of Solomon, usually the first pentacle for each planet, using a colored pen of corresponding color (or black for all if you don’t have colored pens). Make them about six inches in diameter. Cut them out, glue them to the front side of their discs, and once they’ve dried, if you want, you can coat them in a protective varnish or glaze. After they’re done, it’s time to charge them, and timing is important. Ideally this should be done during a waxing moon, but beginning on a Sunday night charge your Sun pentacle within the hour of the Sun. Cast your circle, or do whatever you usually do, and then sprinkle the pentacle with consecrated salt water, pass it through Sun incense, anoint it with Sun oil, and charge the pentacle using a Solar invocation and then telling it what its purpose is. Repeat this process for each night of the week within the planetary hour for the remaining six pentacles, ending with Saturn. Placement of your pentacles is also important. The Sun pentacle can be placed in the highest location in the eastern most point in your home or space, while the Moon pentacle can be placed in the opposite high and western location. The Mars pentacle can be placed over your main door for strong protection, and the Mercury pentacle can be placed near your phone and/or computer. The Jupiter pentacle can be placed in the room that represents your financial center or office, while the Venus pentacle can be placed over your bed or somewhere else in your bedroom. The Saturn Pentacle can be placed over the rear door or the lowest entrance, such as a cellar or basement door that opens to the outside.

Charged and blessed images and statues of the Deities and Spirits you work with can be placed near entrances and throughout the home.

The traditional Witch’s Bottle is an effective protection. Details for this can be found in numerous resources, but the gist is to fill a glass or earthen container with sharp objects, broken glass, your own urine, and so on. Seal it, and bury it. I usually add protective herbs and red brick dust, among other things, to mine. In the past I’ve made a set of five large bottles, burying four in the four corners of my property and hiding one inside my home. I’ve also made small witch bottles and placed them in strategic locations in my home.

Sharing Space with Darker Spirits

I use the terms “dark” and “light” in relative terms, not to be confused with “evil/bad” and “good,” and I realize the shortcomings of these terms. However, for lack of better ones, these are the terms I’m currently using.



The subject of sharing space with darker spirits and muertos (the dead, not including one’s Ancestors) can be a separate discussion unto itself. I only want to discuss this in regards to home protection. As I mentioned above, in my experience I have found dark spirits to be a bit more aggressive in nature than other spirits, and I prefer not to share space with most of them. That’s not to say that I like filling my house with a bunch of “light” spirits, either. As much as many dark spirits are aggressive, I’ve found that many light spirits can be whiny, needy, and lazy. Everyone works in my house. No exceptions. If you don’t work, you don’t get anything. If you expect me to lavish you with attention and candles and refreshment on a regular basis, and then a time comes to do something for me and you’re no where to be found—then you can just keep moving on past my house. I don’t have time for that. Therefore, I only like to share space with spirits who are loyal and hard-working and I couldn’t care less if they’re considered by others to be “good” or “evil” or whatever.

The only issue that arises for me is when I do a home cleansing I don’t want to risk banishing or insulting my hard-working, loyal dark spirits and muertos. Since most recipes and techniques I know for cleansing one’s home is usually unfairly tipped in the light spirits’ favor, I need to take extra steps for my dark spirits. So, I announce to my spirits that I’m about to cleanse my home and use substances that might drive them away or at least annoy them greatly. I then provide a “hiding place” for them to dwell in during the cleansing. This hiding place can be any type of object, but is most often a stone (many cultures profess how spirits can take up residence in stones and stone statues), which is then placed inside a protected container. The object and container can be of anything you wish, but it’s best to let your spirit decide what it likes. And for multiple spirits, you can have separate objects and the same container or both separate objects and containers. I usually wait until the next day after the cleansing to open everything back up, just to let it all settle.

Everything I’ve written above is my own opinion and the result of my own experiences, and none of it should be viewed as the one and only way home protection can be accomplished. I’ve purposely left some subjects untouched, such as home cleansings, as I could go on and on and never finish. 



Photo by Steven Bragg

4 comments:

  1. Your writings are very informative and spot on. Thanks for sharing your time with us.

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  2. Hi! Thanks for the informative text.
    I have a question, if you don't mind me asking: in the Nails technique you said "One source suggests to take three nails to every door and window (...) Another source says to place either one or three nails..." So, I was wondering if you could please share those sources or the origin of that information. It's an interesting topic and if those sources got your attention then you value them. So, thanks again :)

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    Replies
    1. These were oral lore passed to me, but at this point it's difficult to remember who they came from. I think one of them was from Lori Bruno in Salem.

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