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Cottage Witchery
Cottage Witchery
Natural Magick for Hearth and Home

By: Ellen Dugan
Imprint: Llewellyn
Specs: Trade Paperback | 9780738706252
English  |  288 pages | 8 x 8 x 1 IN
Pub Date: March 2005
Price: $17.95 US,  $21.95 CAN
In Stock? Yes, ready to ship
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There is an emanation for the heart in genuine hospitality
which cannot be described but is immediately felt,
and puts the stranger at once at his ease.
washington irving
A WitcHY WELcoME
Welcome and make yourself at home. Have a seat and let's you and I sit and chat. Hmm? What was that? Oh, thanks. We like our house too. I watch as your eyes dart around the living room, looking for signs of witchery. I smile to myself as, for the most part, the magickal accessories are pretty subtle. But I will admit there are a few things that jump right out at you.
Where did I get the stained glass pentacle, you ask? Oh, I made that years ago when I worked at a stained glass shop; everyone thought it was a hex sign. The big old cauldron sitting on the brick hearth? Found it for next to nothing at an antique shop, rusted and stuck in a corner. A little steel wool and black spray paint and it's as good as new.
Your eyes continue to search the room as the family's two cats come strolling in to check out the visitor. They may or may not grace you with their presence by sniffing you over and then perching behind you on the back of the sofa. Other than a few crystal clusters, to you everything looks pretty normal and lived in. Well, this isn't what you were expecting.
You rise and follow me into the kitchen at my question as to whether you'd like something to drink. As I pour your beverage into the glass, you look around the kitchen and check out the mossy-green painted walls and a crafty kitchen witch collection centered on a painted shelf. The herb prints hanging on the walls draw you in for a closer look. Mounded on the counter is a variety of seasonal produce from our family's farm. I tell you to expect to take some home with you. There is way too much there for us to possibly eat.
We make our way back to the living room and you curl up comfortably on the couch, thinking to yourself that you are going to have to do a complete revamp of what you thought a real Witch's house would be. Hmm . . . so now that you are all snug on the couch, how do you feel? Safe, calm, happy, and at ease. Good, that's exactly how you should feel.
Disappointed at the lack of drama? Don't worry, I get that reaction a lot. I have had students come to my home for the first time expecting some suburban-type of Addam's family mansion. They were pretty uptight until they saw that we lived in a ranch-style home in the 'burbs. As they came in and sat on the couch I could see that they were scanning everything as fast as possible. When my three kids came flying down the hall engaged in hand to hand combat, they started to smile. When I excused myself to ask the kids . . . okay, to go and yell at the kids to knock it off, my guests started to laugh.
As I came back into the living room to join them, they were grinning. I could only smile back at them and say that what really makes a Witch's home different is the way that it makes you feel. The magickal home carries a particular type of positive psychic   vibration. This type of enchanting energy is often expanded upon and refined by the Witch who dwells there. This sort of magickal emanation puts welcomed guests and family at ease. It is both a strength and a comfort. If you think about it, a home that exudes a sense of hospitality and welcome is a type of natural magick all of its own.
So you're here because you'd like to learn a few natural magick practices for your own hearth and home? Great, you've come to the right place! The tips and techniques of bringing a little witchery into the place where you live are both simple and down-to- earth. These are subtle types of magick: think handmade and homegrown-a leaf from a tree, a flower grown in the yard, herbs and spices, candle spells and color magick. The enchanting household accessories, charms, and spells may not be glaringly obvious to the casual observer, but they are powerful magick nonetheless. Many of the ingredients cottage witchery calls for are, more often than not, already readily available to you, possibly lurking about in the spice rack or outside, compliments of good old Mother Nature.
Now before you think to yourself Oh, she's just going to talk about kitchen witch stuff, let me point out a few things to you here. For starters, I really hate to cook. I can cook, I just would prefer not to. So don't worry, I will not be bombarding you with recipes. I'll leave that to the culinary magicians. Also, something else you may want to consider is that traditionally much of the spellwork of the wise women/cunning men originated from the hearth. And the hearth is where the family of olden times prepared herbal remedies, cooked their food, and gathered together. It was the natural place for magick, as the hearth exuded light and warmth and was literally the heart of the home.

Where we love is home,
home that our feet may leave,
but not our hearts.
oliver wendell holmes
The Magickal Heart of the Home
Alas, today very few homes have a central hearth. They may lay claim to a fireplace or a wood-burning stove if they are fortunate, but for today's modern Witch the hearth area is actually the kitchen. Think about it. Dinner is prepared there, kids do their homework at the kitchen table, bills are paid, crises are faced, and games are played as the family gathers around the table. Whenever there is a gathering of family and friends, folks usually hang out in the kitchen. At circle meetings at my house, the ladies usually all end up crammed into the kitchen, laughing and snacking. My first thought was because that's where the food was, but nope, they always seem to congregate in the kitchen.
Where do you suppose the heart of your magickal home lies? Is it in the kitchen? Or is it in the living room, gathered around the coffee table, eating pizza with your kids and watching a movie? Is your favorite spot in a chair next to your fireplace? Or is it sitting out on your deck or back porch? Everyone's heart of the home will be unique, and that's as it should be. So while you're thinking about this, get up and take a walk around your place. Close your eyes after you enter the rooms and cast out your senses. Really try to get an impression for what type of energy you have going on in there. Typically you will find a couple of places that pull both visitors and family members alike.
Home is where the heart is, they say. And keep in mind that the most powerful magick always comes from the heart. That makes a modern Witch's home a powerful magickal place, to be sure. There is actually a spiritual connection between ourselves and our homes. When the energies of nature are welcomed within and our homes are blessed with magickal purpose, they do become sacred spaces. Within your magickal sanctuary, you'll always feel a bit of serenity, no matter where you live, how rotten your day at work was, or how much your kids drive you crazy.
If you want to start turning your place into a magickal sanctuary, you can begin by cleaning house. Think of this as cleaning not only on the physical level but also on the astral plane. The astral level is where magick lives. The astral can't always be seen but it can, with practice, be sensed. So we should not overlook this important aspect while we prepare to clean house. If you approach this task with magickal intention, then it becomes an act of magick. Let's send those dust bunnies and old negativity on their way! Haul out the vacuum and the broom, and get out the dust rag. Visualize that you are capturing old hurt feelings and unpleasant emotions while you sweep. As you dust and polish, imagine that you are wiping away grime and bad luck. Here's a cottage witchery tip: If you use a lemon-scented furniture polish, the scent of lemons will help dispel bad vibes and negativity. How about those curtains-when was the last time they were washed? What about the shades or blinds, could they stand to be wiped down? Add a drop or two of lavender oil to your cleaning water and cleanse those blinds or shades while you freshen things up.
Clean your house from top to bottom, get rid of the clutter, and then take out the garbage. Take a hard look at what's lying around and see what you can dispose of. Toss out old magazines, recycle the old newspapers and aluminum cans, donate old clothes or kid's outgrown ones to a shelter, and clear all of that extra junk out of your home. Try burning a little incense while you clean. Sandalwood's a good choice-typically this scent is used to promote spirituality and to remove negativity. Or-weather permitting-open the windows and let the fresh air in.
Finally, go take a look at your magickal bookshelf or cabinet. Could it stand to be reorganized and straightened out as well? Yup, I thought so. Mine always manages to become untidy too. I don't know how it happens, but I always seem to be straightening it back up. How it manages to get so messy in the first place is a constant mystery to me.
Once you've gotten the clutter and the mess under control, we can begin to work our cottage witchery. By taking control of your surroundings you can begin to trigger the natural magick of your hearth and home. Those elemental energies are all around you anyway, why not direct them toward creating harmony in your life? Now that your place is clean and sparkling on both the physical and astral planes, we are ready to begin. Where do we start, you may wonder? We start by blessing the heart of your home.
a natural magick blessing
for the heart of the home
Here is a natural magick blessing to try out. Why am I diving into this so quickly? Because I am a hands-on type of Witch. I want to give you some magick to perform right away. You are going to be very busy for a while getting your magickal home in order . . . so, let's get to it! Pick the room or rooms that you feel are the heart of your home and gather these simple and elemental supplies.
*A small dish of salt to represent the earth and prosperity
*A stick of incense (your choice of scent) and a holder; the scented smoke represents air and knowledge
*A red candle and a coordinating candleholder for fire and courage
*A small bowl of water for water and love
*Matches or a lighter
Straighten and clean the room or rooms to be blessed. Then light the candle and the incense. Place the candle in the center of the room. Beginning in the east, and moving in a deosil (clockwise) motion, work your way slowly around the room. First sprinkle a bit of salt in each corner. Then carry the incense around, waving a little of the smoke to help it flow. Next sprinkle a bit of the water around the perimeter of the room. Then settle in front of the candle and visualize the blessings from each of the four elements.
There is the gift of prosperity from deep in the earth. Knowledge is sent along a fragrant breeze from the air. Courage is rewarded to you from the bright, dancing flames of fire, and love embraces you from the emotional element of water. Picture these elemental gifts in your mind and then visualize both you and the people or pets who live with you receiving an equal share of these offerings. When you are ready, center yourself and repeat this blessing:

Elements four I call, release now your power,
As I bless my home in this magickal hour.
No negativity can enter, no spirits shall roam,
As I consecrate and protect the heart of my home.
As you finish the charm, draw a circle in the air above the candle flame with your finger. Spiral it up faster and faster, higher and higher, until you fling the energy off and out into the room. Then close up the spell by saying,
This home is now blessed by my will and desire,
I close this spell by earth, air, water, and fire.
You may allow the candle and the incense to burn themselves out. Afterward make sure to tidy up all of your supplies. Does the house feel better? I bet if you pay attention, you'll notice a subtle change in people's reactions as they enter the heart of your home. Now that your home is on track and has a nice magickal sparkle, it will radiate out to the rest of the place. So, are you ready to learn more? I figured you would be. Let's start by taking a look at some other equally enchanting household areas. A few of these you may have never even thought of, such as the opening or threshold of your home.

Bewitched is half of everything.
nelly sachs
Enchanted Entrances
and Bewitched Backdoors
Doorways are in between places. Therefore they are considered to be magickal. So why not take a look at this idea from a witchy perspective and see what we can conjure up? It's time to concentrate on the entrances to your enchanting home.
First impressions are absolutely important. The threshold of the Witch's home sets a tone and introduces a sort of ambiance. Visitors to your place will probably feel it as they step up to the door. This can be a feeling of welcome to friends and family or it could be a feeling of warning or unease to intruders. If you are going through the trouble of creating a home that sparkles with magickal energy, why not set the mood right off the bat?
There is the old, enchanting tradition of painting your front door blue. The color blue is both a magickal and peaceful color. It represents the element of water, healing, and protection. A blue door also denotes a magickal safe house. White-painted window frames and sashes were believed to keep out unwanted influences as well. And speaking of windows, if you have a front or back door that has a window in it, then try adding a stained glass panel to your door's window. A few celestial-style patterns, Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign patterns, or something more art nouveau can be a very magickal addition indeed.
If stained glass is out of your budget, then take a look at the arts and crafts stores for stick-on strips of leading and glass paints and patterns. This is a great way to get the look of stained glass and it's easy to do. These glass paints and leading strips can give an average door window a magickal, stained glass look at a fraction of the cost. Plus it's a good excuse to be magickally creative all at the same time. What sort of design would you add to your front door? Elemental symbols, stars, floral patterns? The sky's the limit.
How about adding bewitching plants in containers to your front porch? Try red geraniums for protection or pink geraniums to promote love. An ivy growing along the house is protective and a honeysuckle vine promotes prosperity. Hang up window boxes and stuff them full of aromatic and magickal herbs, colorful flowers, and foliage. Consider planting begonias in your window boxes. These shade- and sun-loving annuals symbolize a protective warning.
I plant begonias in my window boxes every year for protection and because they perform beautifully in the part-sun, part-shade area of my back patio. Also, according to local Midwestern folklore, the way to spot the “good Witches” in the neighborhood was by the red geraniums or red begonias growing in window boxes at their homes.
Witchy Wreaths, Garlands,
and Accessories
Here is a subtle magickal idea: try hanging up a seasonal wreath and blessing it for prosperity and protection. It will be the first thing visitors see as they walk up to your door, so make it a magickal greeting. You could be really elaborate and have a separate wreath for each Sabbat or you could make a wreath for each season. Or take one grapevine wreath and simply tuck in seasonal silk flowers and sprigs of dried herbs and switch them out at the season's change. Wreaths, whether they are simple or complex, are full of magick, texture, and beauty. They are wonderful symbols for a magickal welcome. I dare you to go to the arts and crafts store and see what you could create for your own place. Glue guns are cheap; imagination is priceless.
Here is another intriguing suggestion. Arrange a set of lights along with seasonal greenery around the outside of your front door. Not just for Yuletide, decorative garlands may be used around your door at any season. Just imagine what you could do with those! Sure, pine garlands are traditional at the winter holidays, but use your imagination for the other seasons as well. I do recommend using silk foliage and accessories as this will be outdoors and exposed to the elements. (It will also last for a few seasons as opposed to a week or two if it's fresh.)
For the fall, consider adding a garland of artificial autumn-colored leaves with tiny orange lights for Mabon through Samhain. Tuck in some apples or gourds to the fall display. During the spring months, use ivy intertwined with white fairy lights and springtime flowers. In the summer, how about a garland of red roses or bright sunflowers with those tiny lights? You could tuck little grapevine stars into the garland or whatever other witchy things you can conjure up. This way you are celebrating the seasons and the Sabbats and you can be as discreet or flamboyant as you wish.
Warding Your Doorways
Doorways can easily be warded to keep intruders or negativity out. When you ward  doorways, it's like setting up a magickal alarm system. If anyone or thing tries to enter that wasn't invited or doesn't belong, the wards above the doorways are supposed to give the owner of the home a little “tweak.” This can be as subtle as a vague discomfort or pulling sensation at your solar plexus, or it may be an all-out adrenaline rush of warning, not to mention the uncomfortable effect it has on the unwanted “guest” who enters uninvited. Interested? Here are a few quick ideas for wards that you can make yourself and then add over the doorways of your home.
Create a swag out of dried flowers and herbs to create a magickal archway over the inside of your door. In many craft stores they have basic unadorned eucalyptus swags and lots of dried flowers available for arranging. Eucalyptus is a good base to start with, as it symbolizes health and protection. Now roll up your sleeves, break out the glue gun, and prepare to get creatively witchy with this basic swag.
Here is a list of common dried magickal flowers often found at the arts and crafts store. Take a look at this Witch's dozen of dried supplies and see what you would like to incorporate into this warding swag for your doorway. Note that you may refer to this list when scouting out herbal supplies for your witchy wreaths and garlands as well.
amaranth/globe flower: protection
baby's breath: a pure heart and happiness
feverfew: health and protection
lunaria (honesty): money and repels monsters, according to folklore
lavender: dispels bad luck and is protective; smells wonderful too!
larkspur: friends are welcome
lotus pods: good luck and blessings
roses: love
thistle: protection
sunflowers: loyalty and admiration
queen anne's lace: safe house and return home
wheat: fertility and prosperity
yarrow: all-purpose, the wise woman's herb
Don't be afraid to add ribbons to coordinate with your room or to employ a bit of color magick. Once you have finished with your swag, you'll need to enchant it for protection and then put it up in place to create your ward. Try repeating this warding charm as you prepare to attach the swag over the inside of the main entrance to your home.
Magickal herbs, flowers, and ribbons make up this warding spell,
Alert me to danger and protect my home that's loved so well.
By the magick of plants, I ask to be given a “tweak,”
May this warding spell hold true, day to day and week to week.
Attach the swag over your door. Straighten and adjust as necessary. Close the warding charm up by saying:
For the good of all, with harm to none,
By flower and leaf, this spell is done!
But Wait . . . There's More!
Here are a few more simple, easy, and earthy ideas. Scattering various herbs such as dried and crumbled betony (otherwise known to gardeners as perennial lamb's ears) across the threshold is thought to keep all negative influences out of the home. Sprinkling a bit of salt on the windowsills was thought to have the same effect. One old Ozark folk magick trick to keeping the front door warded was to place holey stones under the steps or the front porch. Look for holed stones whenever you are out and about in nature. My family and I typically find them in and around streams or creek beds. Any rock with a naturally occurring hole in it is a holey stone. Perhaps you can tuck a few of those holey stones into your window boxes or hanging baskets that adorn your front porch. Then you have the bonus of the protective stones plus the magickal energies of the plants working together.
As mentioned in the introduction, a horseshoe nailed upright over the inside doorway was thought to bring good luck and prosperity to the family. This popular lucky charm was always supposed to be displayed with the open ends pointing up-that way your luck will never run out. The only time a horseshoe is to be displayed ends down is over a blacksmith's forge. Then it is thought that all of the good luck is spilled out onto the forge. Where to find an old horseshoe? Try the flea market. I bought one years ago for just a few bucks.
Horseshoes are thought to mimic the curves of the crescent moon so this could also be used as a moon-goddess symbol for your home. As you hang your horseshoe up and over the door, try this little charm to go along with it.
By the gods of old-Diana, Pan, and Puck,
May this horseshoe bring our home tons of good luck!

Hex Signs for the Threshold
Here is a popular spin on an old American brand of folk magick, the hex sign. Have you ever considered displaying a hex sign by your door? On the front of my house there are two hex signs. One is large and in the center of the front of the house; we made that one ourselves. It features a five-pointed star with a heart in the center. On the porch, next to the mailbox, is a smaller one that we purchased at an arts and crafts festival. This smaller hex sign spells out “welcome” in German and has two distelfink birds intertwined with flowers and stars. Since our families have German heritage, we thought this would be a fun addition to our porch. Now, if you are wondering if you can only display hex signs on the outside of the home, the answer is no. This type of folk art is subtle and very magickal, and you can display one wherever you wish. I even have one hanging in my kitchen to encourage prosperity.
Hex signs are symbols intended to bestow good luck, wealth, or protection. These striking geometric designs were produced with the belief that they would ward off bad luck and preserve peace, love, and prosperity in the home. Families chose their hex signs based on the colors, design, and the meaning. Some popular symbols included:
tulip: faith
stars: five points represent protection and good luck; eight points
represent the wheel of the year
hearts: love
a distelfink (a stylized representation of the goldfinch): good luck and good fortune
the double rosette or six-pointed star:  for protection; this was especially well liked. This “star” actually looks more like an open flower and is sometimes referred to as a hexefus.
According to my teenage kids, who are all taking German in school, this word means “witch's foot.” Another fun bit of folk magick trivia is the German word for six, sechs, sounds like hex, and it is thought that this is how the hex sign got its name.
It's believed the hex sign originated in Europe. It has been used for protection and decoration on barns and in homes as folk art. This type of artwork was also featured on early furniture and family papers in America. When my mother-in-law gave us a copy of my husband's ancestors' papers, who had emmigrated from Germany, the family register was illustrated with six-pointed rosette-stars surrounded by circles-in other words, hex signs.
Hex signs have really become popular as a decorative item in the last few decades. There are dozens of magickal patterns and colors to choose from. The colors also play an important role in the sign. Red is for intense emotions, passion, and strength. White is for purity and is the typical background color. Yellow is for creativity and the sun. Blue  is for protection, and green is for prosperity. Black is for defense and to tie all of the magick together.
Popular designs include a welcome with the two distelfinks and various pointed stars and scallops, all with separate magickal meanings. Interestingly enough, hex signs were historically thought to have warded off Witches. It's sort of ironic that many Witches today enjoy having hex signs to decorate their homes with. Sometimes magick is where you least expect it.
That's the thing about magic;
you've got to know it's still here, all around us,
or it just stays invisible for you.
charles de lint
A Magickal Cottage All Your Own
No matter where you live, in the city or a rural area, cottage witchery can successfully be employed to create a little enchantment in your home. But you need to be creative. For example, if you can't decorate the outside of your door, then common sense tells us to work around the inside of the doors. Are you worried that a wreath or hex sign may be stolen from your apartment's front door? Well, then, hang it on the inside! Many apartments have a deck, patio area, or even a little fire escape. Set a few pots of flowers or herbs out there; see what you can conjure up. How about a few houseplants on the windowsill? Use your imagination! Don't be afraid to take the material that is presented here and adapt it to make it uniquely your own.
Cottage witchery is about finding modern and charming ways to creatively turn the place where you live into one of comfort, happiness, beauty, and magick. Cottage witchery embraces a magickal style and atmosphere in the home that is happy, humble, and definitely hands-on. It isn't about little wood sprites that dance merrily around a cottage, snuggled into an enchanted forest.

This is real life. You can turn your dreams into reality, right now and wherever you happen to live. Go ahead, turn the page and let's add a few more touches of whimsical enchantment into your life and into your home.


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