Into the dark

We’re very near the longest night of the year, and I’ve always found this to be the time best used for big change reflections.  I think that’s why people work for New Year’s Resolutions– it’s a *thing* because it’s a convenient date that follows this bit of deep introspection.

I know many would disagree- the whole winter is for introspection, Beth!  (I hear people chime knowingly).  And I don’t disagree.  But these few weeks before Solstice are a special time of clarity for me.  I find that answers come now– not through tarot, not through scrying, … just by working it through.

As it happens, I work things through in my head.  I’m not really a gut/heart/soles-of-the-feet kind of person… Intuition comes to me as a voice in my head, in this sort of weird someone-else-is-acting-in-my-head way.  It’s the unprocessed thinking that works for me … as if someone pops open a file cabinet in my head and grabs out a script that has all the right words magically ready to go.

I think that we get this bit of extra-deep intuitive time to give us those introspective months to get habits going.  Most people seem to think about change about now– change for the next Year… and pagans tend to be in an odd place around this, since so many of us consider the Years to change at other times (Wiccans and most neo-pagans who follow Celtic paganism consider November 1st to be the first day of the new year, for example).  There’s still something particularly fascinating about having the ‘fresh start’ of a new calendar year (as an aside, I have no idea how it works for those in the Southern Hemisphere, since calendar years don’t match up with their winter-introspective time, but I consider it an added perk for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere).  There’s been a lot of research on habit formation, about how you need at least 30 days to form a daily habit (or break a bad one!).  There are a few things that I’ve been thinking about that I’d like to develop into new habits, and one of them only became clear to me today.

As a words-in-my-head person, you’d think I’d know exactly how powerful words can be.  Three years ago I refused to call one of the rooms in our house the “Junk Room” anymore– I renamed it the “Prosperity Room” (based on a little amateur feng shui modelling of my house), and thus it became difficult to just throw our stuff in their willy-nilly.  Don’t get me wrong- it didn’t get magically better overnight (oh, shoemaker’s elves, where are you when I need you?).  But it helped.

This year I’ve been struggling with how to keep my house.  In a previous post I shared my favourite blog post from a fellow pagan blogger, who urged everyone to consider the role of each room of the house.

I guess I just needed to let that percolate for a little while, because today, while developing a series of routines for myself, specifically designed to fit in time for ritual and meditation and energy work daily, I finally figured out that my big issue with getting housework done was that I’ve always called it ‘doing chores’.

My schedule literally had “Chores for Monday:  floors & stairs; laundry: wash dishcloths and tea towels”.  And all of my many, many lists have had that label.  Chores.

My mom called them Chores, extended family had farms and called everything they did around the farm and house Chores, and I just continued that.  But “doing chores” sounds awful.  Chores are a terrible, painful, time-killing activity that Adults Do (or Make their Kids Do) and it always sucks.

Finally, today I figured out what I should be calling this time.  I don’t do chores.  I don’t do housework.  I do housecare.

I know, it sounds ridiculous.  But it finally clicked for me, and this works.  I *want* to care for my house, to return the love and gift my house gives me and my family.  And keeping my house clean is caring for it- just like keeping my dog and family members clean and well fed… that’s care.

So here’s to a little bit of that fabulous extra deep introspection over the next few days.  And here’s to having those bright moments of intuition that help us find new ways to think/feel/be!*

 

*More on the thinking vs. feeling vs. being thing later.  🙂

 

-Beth

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hearth witchery & unfucking your habitat

I can’t take credit for ‘unfuck your habitat’ as a phrase, though I wish I could.  There are entire sites dedicated to this fabulous phrase (and it’s much more safe-for-conservative-work “unfilth your habitat” version), which I suggest heartily, especially because of their joyful focus on seriously I can’t devote every fucking day to cleaning my house.  I just wish I could. 

And that is where I come in.

The unfuck your habitat group (and groupies) correctly note that there are additionally some ‘old fashioned’ notions associated with most housekeeping blogs/journals/books/videos/sites/etc.  Feel free to translate ‘old fashioned’ as ‘intended for women only and usually Christian’.

Is true.  Additionally, they often focus on things like how to properly take X stain out of Y fabric with Z (green!  homemade! weird! unheard-of! unexpected! biased-and-sponsored!) cleaner.

I’m not going to teach you how to clean your house.  I can barely do that myself, and I’ve been living on my own for twelve years (*living on your own is defined here as actually being responsible for all the cleaning.  All of it).  I will say that if you’re struggling, as I have, many people will tell you to go ‘see the flylady‘.  I won’t.  I’ll tell you to go to see the Lost Art of House Cleaning as published by Jan Dougherty.  It’s a simple read and she’s refreshingly blunt.

Okay, Elizabeth, I can hear you say.  What does this have to do with hearthcraft?

Good question.  I’ve struggled for a long time to find a way to address my need for spirituality to be reflected in my housekeeping.  I keep thinking that if I could only reframe the way I see cleaning and my house, I’d be able to find some magical synergy that would just -bam!- solve my problem with cleaning the bathtub.

I do truly believe we co-habitate with our homes.  Maybe you can live in a house, but you live with a home, and I adore mine.  Seeing her all grimy and cluttered, with towels slung over the banister and 3-day-old dog paw prints repatterning the floors (what, you don’t live like that too?) kind of makes me feel like I’ve failed her.  Not my mom- my home.  She’s been standing here, on this bit of earth, holding out weather and keeping me and a whole slew of people before me warm, and comfortable, private and safe… and I can’t even be bothered to vacuum the stairs most days, let alone energy cleanse the front hall.

It *is* a systemic habitual lifestyle issue, being messy.  I get it.  I need to form habits.  A little bit at a time (hello, flylady, yes, I know, the sink, the sink).  And I’d love to say it doesn’t stick because my cohabitating partners in crime think that sleeping under a pile of (dirty) laundry is, well, normal.  And yes, that goes for the dog and the guy.

But at the heart of it, I think the real issue is I haven’t ever taken the time to seriously consider the myriad jobs my home does for me, my family, my friends, and all the strangers who are probably glad we live behind solid walls and closed doors.  To that end, I stumbled over the “Front Doors are for Warding” blog post of the fabulous pagan blogger Thalassa.  Yes, blog-o-sphere, the post is old (2013!  Elizabeth, where have you been!?).  Nevertheless, the framework she presents is just exactly that little kick I needed to start thinking about how to address my relationship with my home.  And once I’ve got that all sorted away in my brain, a system to integrate spiritual support into everyday housekeeping chores?  Yep.  That’ll come.