My first Witch Mentor stressed the value of spirit allies in nature, the elements, the mythic, etc. My first lessons were in learning how to communicate with plant and tree spirit allies. Over the years, I have come to understand the spirit(s) of my home are unique and powerful allies as well. So, I thought I’d examine those relationships, how to cultivate and support them, because it really can be a benefit to one’s life and practice.
In The Home
As a Witch, my first instinct when moving to a new home is to search out the house for a connection to the energy there. We have moved a lot in recent years, so this has become a necessary part of the process. Does the atmosphere of the home feel charged or dull? Is there a definite sense of a strong presence about the house itself? Do things feel peaceful or is there some resentment lurking in the corners?
Does the structure feel “awake”, “sleepy” or “unaware?” Is the energy due to former inhabitants or “place memory” (an attachment to previous times, experiences, people)? These are all things I’m seeking when I inspect a house or apartment. But the most important question I send out is this: Are my family and I welcome in this space? Is the spirit(s) of the house willing to partner with me in creating a home? If not, is there something I can do to change that feeling?
Now, you may be asking how can a house or apartment have an individual spirit? This comes down to how you perceive the world. As an animist, I believe that all things have a “consciousness.” It may be different from our own but exists all the same. For me, a house can have a spirit (or spirits) that has derived from a variety of influences including the material from which it is made to the families that have dwelled within. A presence that from an initial spark develops over time to have its own identity.
For instance, the house where we live is 130 years old. It has sheltered many people over its long history. Both Ode and I perceived this spirit when we came to inspect the place before our family moved in as it immediately asserted itself as a “guardian”.
The strongest sense of it is in the cellar which has a stone foundation. We were received with a kind of “relieved” welcome. As a result, this home has agreed to be an ally as we have made offerings to the house spirit, created wards around the place, and cleanse the energy as needed.
I’ve also brought in a number of plant allies to create a “green” space that nurtures and protects the home. Not for us who abide within alone but for the building as well. It has been a beautiful partnership that has served us well (especially during a pandemic).
More Than One?
Now, we have lived in places (homes and apartments) where there has been more than one spirit of the place. For instance, one may be created within the lower areas of a home while another watches over the upper areas.
A kitchen may have a separate spirit created within that space than other spaces. However, they are all still unique to the building/structure itself as part of it rather than separate (which is what defines them as “house spirits” rather than ancestors, poltergeists, ghosts, or other entities).
My child, Ode, has an affinity for working with house spirits. They take the time to communicate with them to discover if they want offerings and the type they may desire. Ode will use a series of questions while sensing the answers. I’ve done this as well but also employ the use of a pendulum when needed.
We have lived in homes with a single spirit. We have also lived in apartments where Ode describes the building as having a larger spirit for the main building with individual spirits in each domicile. They kind of acted as a network.
The important thing to remember is however they manifest, house spirits are there and do make their presence known. By acknowledging and working with them, we have created a beneficial relationship that fosters both protection and peace within our home. This is possible for any person willing to communicate.
What If It Doesn’t Want You There?
Not all house spirits are welcoming. There can be a variety of reasons including poor tenants in the past, but we have found working on the relationship can help if we make the effort. Let the place know you have peaceful intentions. Ask for permission to live there if necessary. Put your spiritual feelers out there and test the response.
However, there are times when you might get a slapback and the situation is difficult to overcome. Ode believes (and I agree) that not all hauntings are caused by ghosts, negative place memory, or intrusive entities but the house spirit itself. Perhaps it requires appeasement for past abuses suffered or simply does not enjoy human beings living within its space.
So, if a haunting activity is happening but the traditional methods of cleansing or removing spirits from the home are not working, expand into other possibilities. Consult the house spirit (or at least acknowledge it exists). Take the time to find out if there is a problem. Find out how a compromise for living together may be achieved. And be willing to accept the possibility you may never feel welcome in that space if you choose to stay.
So What Do You Offer Them?
As with other beings, the key to offerings is to ask what they want. This is the same for working with your home/house spirit. Ask. If you are spiritually sensitive then use that to determine answers while asking questions out loud. Otherwise, you can use a form of divination such as the Tarot or pendulum. Whatever works best for you is the way to go. As with any relationship, communication is key.
Also, there is no right or wrong type of offering. Ode has mentioned on the podcast that our apartment spirits preferred milk and red fruits as an offering. Our current residence is not picky. I’ve offered incense, a bowl of dried apple and orange slices, and a bowl of water. Place the offering where their presence is the strongest. As with anything being offered, be sure to protect children and pets from getting access to it.
It’s important to remember that by creating this relationship/partnership with your house spirit(s), you have the right to ask for their assistance in protecting you and your family. Even the surly ones, once you have established a positive rapport because it is a benefit to all parties. And if you approach warding as protection for the place as well as self, family, visitors, etc., I find this goes a long way to establishing good relations overall.
So, create a space on your altar. Build a specific shrine for the house spirit(s) if that feels right. Put up a picture of the house and leave your offering on a small table beneath it. Whatever you do, acknowledge the place as an individual being(s). You will also want to learn how often to present your gift. Will it be daily, weekly, quarterly, yearly? Let the place guide you on what it wants.
Finally, here are some ideas from which to choose for approaching a house spirit if you are unsure how to begin (and be willing to try different things until you feel you’ve got it or learn that a gift isn’t required):
Potential House Spirit Offerings
- Water in a bowl or goblet
- Salt in a bowl with or without herbs
- Herbs, flowers, plants
- Dried or fresh fruits
- Wine, mead, beer, liquor
Note: Different cultures have varying practices when it comes to house spirits. As a reminder, what I’m suggesting is based on our personal experiences in the homes within which my family and I have lived or currently reside.