Blessings on the New House


a welcoming garden bench

When interfaith really works in the religious corners of a community, you are rewarded with doing more than the monthly meeting and candlelight vigils when something goes terribly wrong in the world. You establish relationships with people on other spiritual paths and you bond over the things that people bond over.

And if you are very lucky, you make friends. Real friends. That has been one of the gifts of the years of interfaith I’ve done–I have actual friends amongst the laity and clergy of many of the religions in my town. This was highlighted in some perfectly delightful ways only last weekend.

My dear friends–one of whom is an Episcopal priest–had decided to move out of the rectory beside the church and to buy a house of their own. They got moved in and unpacked in the new place that nests below old oaks, north of the city. The dogs got used to the new place with a big yard, the yard art was placed and a flat area for the new fire pit area was flattened out.

Time, then, for a house blessing!

We were the first arrivals and breathed deeply of the soup and chili that would be supper later. We greeted the silly dogs and hugged our friends, exclaiming on the beauty of the new house and the way it was arranged.

(There was a terrible moment when I was shown the artificial fire in the tv room and had to tease them about their tackiness. This in a house that is Southern Living beautiful and exquisite in every other way. I assume it is her way of not offending the gods with the general perfection of their home.)

The other guests arrived–our friend the Reform rabbi and her daughter, a dear retired Presbyterian pastor and his wife, the Lutheran pastor with whom I had a business lunch a few weeks before. The Episcopal priest who came to do the ritual of blessing is also an old colleague and we kissed each other’s cheeks when he arrived.

It was genial and warm and perfect. When all had gathered, we went from the front door to the downstairs to the backyard and back upstairs as the priest prayed a blessing on each room and we murmured our assent.

We finished with the Eucharist and I joined the other non-Christians in the livingroom as the Christian folk partook of the Body and the Blood in a final act of community and blessing.

Then we ate and drank and told stories. We talked about one man’s road to the diaconate and how he had answered a phone call from the bishop, thinking it was his partner. The retired Presbyterian minister recommended a book on Mary Magdalene and the host and I told the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe with much hand waving and glee.

We went home later, full of good soup and bread and cowboy cookies, and we left the house well-blessed. The priest had done his fine work and we had laughed and discussed and shared both food and affection, sitting in a circle of peace on the screened-in porch.

The blessings went both ways–as all real blessings do–we blessed the new home of our friends with our care and love, and we were blessed by being in such good company. Even the dogs looked happy, as dogs mostly do.

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About Byron Ballard

H. Byron Ballard, BA, MFA, is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has served as a featured speaker and teacher at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference and other gatherings. Earlier this year, she presented “Gnarly Roots: Exploring the British Sources of Appalachian Folk Magic” at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference and will facilitate a workshop on Deep Grounding at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference in August. Her writings have appeared in print and electronic media. Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press). She blogs as “Asheville’s Village Witch” ( and as The Village Witch for Witches and Pagans Magazine ( Her pamphlet “Back to the Garden: a Handbook for New Pagans“ has been widely distributed and her first book “Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo” (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on “Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet”. She facilitates the Mountain Area Interfaith Forum in Asheville, NC and was active for many years in the United Religions Initiative.