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House Blessing

Author: Janice Van Cleve
Posted: July 21st. 2013
Times Viewed: 3,531

“Home is where if you gotta go there, they have to take you in”, according to Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. To which his wife, Linda, responds, “Home is where the heart is.” While family ties or feelings of a place of refuge both contribute to a sense of home, many people feel that a house blessing adds a spiritual dimension to their nesting place. Such blessings have been going on for millennia in cultures around the world.

In Jewish tradition, the homeowner invites the rabbi to bless the home and hang a mezuzah on the front doorpost in a slanting position. A mezuzah is a small container with a verse from Deuteronomy. This consecrates the home. Some Muslims inscribe the name of Allah and verses of the Koran over their doors and windows.

In India, a Hindu priest will bless a house before people move in. Sometimes the blessing consists of offering libations and prayers at the shrine of the household god – often Ganesha, the elephant god who removes obstacles. In the far south end of India, the Tamils bless a new house by escorting a cow through all the rooms and then boiling some of the cow’s milk in the kitchen. Buddhists in Nepal reportedly bless homes in a ceremony that includes one whole red fish, rice, sake, and rock salt.

During the Middle Ages, Christians in Europe often purchased letters on which were written specific blessings to ward off pestilence or fire. These were sold by enterprising relic salesmen no doubt along with indulgences and other profitable commodities. “Fire letters” sold in Germany contained prayers to the three kings of the Bethlehem myth – Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar – to ward off fire. These letters incorporated CMB somewhere in their design. Other letters contained blessings of protection for the entrance of the house and there were even blessings addressed to SS. Leonard or Blasius to protect stables.

Modern Catholic house blessings include sprinkling each room with holy water accompanied by prayers. Many years ago I was invited to one such Catholic ritual in the house of some friends. I was amazed to learn that they had a specific prayer for each room. There was even a Catholic prayer for the bathroom!

On the Internet one can find many suggestions for house blessings and at least twelve books about house blessings are currently available on the Amazon website. The general themes that run through these resources are:

1. Banishing evil or negative spirits or energies from the house.
2. Thorough cleaning of the space.
3. Visiting each room to anoint, smudge, or sprinkle it.
4. Some sort of protection at doors and maybe windows as well.
5. Some symbol, framed blessing, or statue to maintain protection.
6. All of this accompanied by prayers, poems, or some other saying.

Singer and songwriter Lisa Theil has a very lovely song for a Goddess house blessing:

The Sacred Three to shield and surround thee
This hearth, this house, this night, this eve
The Sacred Three to shield and surround thee
This hearth, this house, this night, this eve
And every night and eve to come (x4)

The Sacred Three to shield and surround thee
I call on Maiden, Mother, Crone
The Sacred Three to shield and surround thee
This hearth, this house, this space, this home
And all herein all blessed be (x4)

Personally I think working smoke detectors, locked doors, and ready access to 911 are perfectly adequate protections for any home. A thorough inspection for leaks and testing all electrical and plumbing systems is a standard practice when moving into a new space. A good house cleaning, scrubbing, and throwing out stuff that is no longer useful is always good ideas at least once a year. Of course there is nothing like a fresh coat of paint inside or outside to renew any space. These are the practical, down to earth “rituals” that any home needs.

House blessings perform much the same functions, I think, on the spiritual plane. They align the spiritual energies of the space in a desired direction – something like a spiritual Feng Shui. They are a declaration to the energies there that the house has a new master and they can accommodate that reality or leave. A house blessing is also an opportunity to bring into a space energies that were not there before, perhaps from a former home, or completely new energies to go with the new dwelling. Just like decorating the house to one’s personal taste makes it more your own, a house blessing rearranges the energies in the space to make them your own as well.

Some of those pre-existing energies may make some people uncomfortable and they may not want to own them. For example, if the previous inhabitants of the place were always fighting, or if it was a crime scene, or if somebody died there, the new owners may want to include a banishing in the house blessing to get rid of the negative energetic residue. Or not. When I moved into my condo, I learned that the previous owner had died in there. I didn’t mind at all. I come accompanied by so many spirits that I just invited her to join the party.

Modern Pagans have their own traditions for house blessings. Common tools for the ritual include:
Broom – to sweep out old energies.
Bell – to expel negative spirits or at least get their attention.
Blue Candle – to bring light to all dark corners, symbolizing fire. Why it is customarily blue I have no idea.
Water – to bless and cleanse each room, symbolizing water.
Sage or Incense – to fill the air in each room with a new fragrance and sanctify the space, symbolizing air.
Salt – to sprinkle across the base of all doors and windows for protection, symbolizing earth.
Athame, Wand, or Staff – to cast a blessing around the whole house and property.

These items, except the last one, are carried into each room by those who will be dwelling in the space and their friends, accompanied by singing, toning, drumming, or simply positive thoughts. Jokes and limericks are perfectly acceptable as well. This is a happy affair, after all!

The athame, wand or staff is used for beating the bounds. Beating the bounds is a very ancient custom that was used before agricultural communities had maps or surveying instruments. The idea was to reaffirm the boundaries of each village farming plot. Every year the elders would go around to each corner of the plot with the owners and reset the boundary stones according to their memories. This is how they settled land disputes. This was the custom among the Maya in Central America and it is still practiced in some parts of England and Wales to this day.

As part of a house blessing ritual, beating the bounds is a way of blessing the property surrounding the house and aligning the energies there in the same way they were aligned inside the building. If the parties cannot physically walk around the outside – as in an apartment building – or choose not to, the priestess can simply draw an encompassing circle with her athame from inside.

Other activities can also be added as the new residents desire, such as dedication of the house altar or shrine, dedication of the home to a particular deity, grounding and centering, exchange of gifts or special speeches, or songs. Of course, these affairs always include a party afterwards with lots of tasty goodies and beverages.

House blessings can be performed once when a house receives new inhabitants or as many times as they wish. It’s like rearranging the furniture or passing a magnet through a sand pile. It aligns the energies of the place to the residents.

Copyright: Janice Van Cleve; Copyright 2013.


Janice Van Cleve

Location: Seattle, Washington


Author's Profile: To learn more about Janice Van Cleve - Click HERE

Bio: Janice Van Cleve is a priestess with the Women Of The Goddess Circle in Seattle – a feminist Pagan community of women in the Dianic tradition of Wicca. The website is Copyright 2013.

Other Articles: Janice Van Cleve has posted 29 additional articles- View them?

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