Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 4493
Age Group: Adult
Posted: December 11th. 2000
Unlocking The Door
The scent of spiced apples is there waiting for us as we enter the hallway. Plopping the packages down on the steps, Wren pauses for a moment to delicately sniff the air. (Okay, Wren is really standing there desperately gasping for breath in a decidedly indelicate fashion. Living on the third floor sometimes has its drawbacks. Hauling the groceries up multiple staircases is one of them.) It is a scientifically researched conclusion that certain scents can spontaneously prompt the brain to recall events or feelings from the past. Spiced apples, heavy with cinnamon, are very old-fashioned and hardly anyone makes them anymore. Even fewer people can make them using the rosy apples plucked from their own trees. But while it may be true that many Pagans no longer actually live in country settings, we can still be quite creative when it comes to bringing the outside in and keeping the past ways alive.
The art and practice of Hospitality is another old-fashioned idea. Although it is one which we would hope has never completely gone out of fashion, many of the practices and values that once promoted the concept of 'giving' have been replaced with those which emphasize 'getting'. "Hospitality" in the older Pagan sense, is a more equal exchange-a balance- of both giving and getting. In the days when people traveled much, but in which there were no widespread Holiday Inns to guarantee a good and safe night's repose or a hearty meal, the folks who hit the road depended upon 'the kindness of strangers'. Obviously, to invite (and in some cases be REQUIRED to invite via local/feudal customs/law) strangers into the heart of what most people would consider their most private safe haven presupposes that everyone at that time knew, understood and agreed to abide by some guidelines. In exchange for a place to stay or a meal, the traveler agreed not to steal anything from the house nor harm its inhabitants.
In some locales, a special honorarium was offered to the Gods of that household-even if these Gods were not the traveler's own. The idea behind this practice was to honor the Gods of that domain Who had blessed and provided for that household in ways that allowed the traveler to eventually enjoy those same bounties. It was considered extremely bad form to abuse the hospitality of a household while under its roof-and thus offend the householder's Gods in the process-by entering into quarrels, insulting the food or lodgings being offered or by bringing weapons into the home. We can only think that if more people adopted the old Pagan values of hospitality, we all might become a little more open-minded and tolerant about other people's belief systems. (There are plenty of chatroom and message board affectionados who surely could use a lesson on the responsibilities that come with accepting the hospitality offered by the board hosts and hostesses!)
Opening The Door...
According to YuleLore , "Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents." Today's decorations designed for the entryway are really remnants of protection magick. What hung over, on or under the threshold was meant to send a message of either 'Come in!" or "Keep out!" to both human and otherworldly travelers alike. How many non-Pagans today put out a big 'welcome mat' in front of their door and then wonder why door-to-door solicitors are constantly bothering them? Pagans, on the other hand, 'qualify' both the welcomed visitors and those who are being asked to stay away by carefully charging the items that they place in the entry points of their homes. So, whether you buy these 'decorations' or make them yourself, make your intentions clear - as you would in any magickal practice- and you should have no further problems with those annoying and pesky critters of any variety!
One of the most widespread decorations for the door is, of course, the wreath . One of the ways to find out who your friends REALLY are is to allow them into your bathroom during your wreath-making season. If they can come out again without shuddering at the site of a bathtub filled with murky brown water and strange sinewy humps- which seemingly point to your hereunto unknown hobby of harboring mysterious snake-like creatures in your powder rooms- then do consider keeping these people in your life forever! Soaking grapevines is sometimes a necessity if you can't get those wreaths made during the 'season of pliant vines'. Honeysuckle makes a nice round as well, but you should always check out any potential wild-harvest vines during their leafy season first. Poison ivy vine wreaths can send a clear-and quite visible- message, too, but one that we do not personally endorse. Talk about your instant karma!
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