BY TRISTA EDWARDS
I was immediately hooked on Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home in the first chapter when the author writes, “the home itself is an essential element within a nourishing, vibrant, ongoing spiritual practice.”
She continues, “Honoring the hearth means honoring your origins, where you come from each day, and where you return each night.”
I read this one morning right after sitting down at my dining room table having just lit a candle, putting on a vinyl record, and ritualistically preparing my morning coffee. I took a long slurp from my cup and smiled. Oh, this is the book I’ve been hungry for.
I was already familiar with term and practice of hearthcraft (Chances are, even if you are not familiar, you already practice it to some degree or another.) but I had yet to find a book that spoke on it so directly.
Hearthcraft, as Murphy-Hiscock explains it, is the “belief that the home is a place of beauty, power, and protection, a place where people are nurtured and nourished on a spiritual basis as well as a physical and emotional basis.”
It roots itself in practicality and, as the author stresses, with little ritualistic guidelines or necessary formality. Murphy-Hiscock asserts that hearthcraft functions on one very basic truth—
Living your life is a spiritual act.
How is this different, you may ask, from keeping a warm, nurturing house filled with loved ones or pets or material objects that provide you with joy, comfort, or relaxation? How is this different from opening up your home to host friends and family as a safe place to gather in times of celebration or even grief?
The answer in that lies, as so many things do, in performing domestic acts with mindfulness and intention.
Keep in mind, this is with daily tasks, rituals, or routines you are already performing. No need to feel overwhelmed with the call to add another activity or tool to your spiritual arsenal if you don’t want to.
I mean, I love a good crystal grid, tarot deck, and DIY potion as much as the next magickal seeker. I am not knocking these things. I get giddy at the sight of a new, beautifully illustrated deck and my home is chockfull of magickal crystals, stones, witches’ bottles, incense burning cauldrons, botanical curio, and the like.
All I’m saying is I get it. Sometimes we can even get overwhelmed by the things we love. Sometimes I just want to scream—I can’t do another thing! Please, please, please don’t make me add another thing!—when a well-meaning friend suggests yoga for my anxiety or performing paced breathing exercises while taking a cold shower.
With hearthcraft, you are already doing it.
Now you just will think of it with more purposefully intention and mindfulness. Murphy-Hiscock’s book helps “recognize those things and lend awareness to them so that you can appreciate them all the more.”
The concept of hearthcraft always reminds me of the painting “The Light of Coincidences” by the surrealist artist René Magritte. In the painting, a single candle lit in a tall candlestick rests atop a table casting light on the sculpture of a nude, female torso.
The candle throws shadows on the torso, highlighting its depth and dimensions which makes the torso appear to be a three-dimensional object displayed in a box. The sculpture, however, is a framed painting itself. The eye is tricked into seeing both the torso as flat painting and three-dimensional sculpture. The painting as a whole, represents everyday objects but undermines our commonly held perceptions of the everyday world—allowing us to see in a myriad of ways.
Hearthcraft is like that candle that lends awareness, new perspective, and appreciation to the everyday world, particularly the domestic sphere.
For me, I started becoming more aware of how I “wake up” my house every morning. I take the same path through the house every morning—From bed to the back door to let my two pups out. While they are outside, I circle around the house and open up all the blinds to let in the morning light. I refill the water in their dog bowls and scoop out their kibble. By this time, they both let out two sharp little barks at the backdoor saying they are ready to come back in. I set their bowls down on my way back to open the door.
Next, I begin the process of making coffee. I pull out a small electronic scale. Place a ceramic bowl on top and measure out some whole coffee beans. I toss them in the automated grinder and then get to work on filling the gooseneck kettle with water, lighting the stove, and placing the kettle, just so, on the burner.
While the water heats up, I grab my Chemex pot and a filter from the cupboard. I crease the filter just so and place it in the mouth of the pot. When the kettle shrieks that it is ready, I pour, with a swirling motion, a small amount of water over the paper filter, saturating it, and letting it trickle down into the belly of the pot to pre-heat the glass. I then pour this water into my chosen coffee mug to pre-heat that vessel as well.
I add my coffee grounds to the paper filter and the perform a series of small, measured circular pours, stopping periodically to watch the water and coffee perform the magic of science with their gaseous blooming of bubbles. When the brew is complete, I toss the hot water that was warming up my coffee mug, take cup and pot to the table, sit down, open up my computer, and light a candle to keep on the table beside me while I work. I pinch the corners of the filter together, lift it up from the mouth of the pot, and pour into my cup.
Yes, I understand that I may have a more extensive coffee routine than some, but I never fully thought of this whole process as a ceremony unto itself until I began to more fully involve hearthcraft into my life.
I would often sweep through this coffee making routine without much thought. Sometimes with the TV on in the background, sometimes mindlessly scrolling through my phone while sloppily pouring water or impatiently pulling it from the burner too soon. I would make a mess with the grounds, hurriedly mis-measuring the beans resulting in either too weak or too bitter of a brew. I found mornings where I skipped even a lackluster process of brewing coffee, I would miss this allotted time that was specifically for this purpose.
This ritual was intuitive ceremony, one that I put more and more conscious and mindful practice in.
House Witch stresses that everyday things can be magical.
Making coffee. Arranging your tea caddy. Wiping down your kitchen counters. Washing the dishes. Organizing your desk. As Murphy-Hiscock says, “It isn’t the addition of something that is necessary, so much as a recognition and acknowledgement of something that is already there.”
How do you recognize the magic?
The author breaks it down into—
1. Live in the moment.
2. Be aware of your intent.
3. Direct your energy properly.
4. Focus on an action.
Simplicity. Work with what you have. Build awareness and appreciation into the everyday actions of how you use your house and the everyday objects that fill it.
For more, The House Witch goes in depth to detail the kitchen as a scared space, magic in everyday objects, using a cauldron in hearthcraft, cleansing rituals, preparing food with awareness (accompanied with magical recipes), various activities in which you spend timegetting to know your physical house through traveling from room to room and journaling your emotional observations in each space.
You can find more on the author and purchase The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home HERE.
Trista Edwards is an associate editor at Luna Luna Magazine. Her first full-length poetry collection, Spectral Evidence, is forthcoming from April Gloaming Press in 2019. She is also the curator and editor of the anthology, Till The Tide: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2015). You can read her poems at 32 Poems, Quail Bell Magazine, Moonchild Magazine, The Adroit Journal, The Boiler, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bad Pony, Occulum, and more. She creates magickal candles at her company, Marvel + Moon.