Close your eyes. Go on, just for a moment. Picture your home from the outside, just as though you were standing out front. Imagine it in as much detail as you possibly can.
As you work with this book, this skill of visualization is going to become more and more essential, and the more you practice it, the better you’ll get at it and the better you’ll be prepared for the heavier lifting at the end of the book. This is a book for beginners, but you won’t be by the time you’re finished reading it, right?
So, picture your home, no matter what the building looks like from the outside—apartment complex, house, converted factory space: it doesn’t matter. Picture it at dawn. See the sunrise. Speed up the camera so that an entire day passes in a few seconds. Visualize the path of the sunlight over your home, and know where every spot of shade falls, down to where animals are likely to nest. Get to know the exterior of the building the way you know your hands. By being able to reach into your brain and build your home in your mind’s eye, to be able to pick it up the way you would your phone, turn it over in your hands, and examine it, you can check it for flaws, cracks, or holes in the defenses of your home—once you set them up, that is.
We spend a lot of time running back and forth to work, school, the grocery store, and so many other places in our lives that we don’t often remember to stop to look at the buildings where we spend a good portion of our time. Could you pick yours out of a line-up? Could you describe it to a sketch artist if it went missing? But you are saying, “It’s a whole building, it isn’t going anywhere.” This is how we ensure that remains the case. We are going to keep our homes safe and secure when we aren’t there to protect them.
When you have the spare brain power—and it is safe to do so—picture the exterior of your home. Do this whenever you are working on small tasks that don’t require 100 percent of your attention. Practice makes perfect, and you need the psychic equivalent of muscle memory. Once you have gotten the hang of seeing what it looks like in your mind’s eye, I want you to pick up the whole thing in your hand—like your phone, a ball, or any other small object—because we are going to be turning it over and around to get a feel for different angles. This is to ensure that you really know what it looks like from all sides.
Once you can throw this particular “ball” into the air and still know what your house looks like no matter how it lands, you’re ready to start the real work of protecting your home with your sacred smoke.
Brass Tacks, Practice
Gather one or both of the featured materials from the end of this chapter along with your incense charcoal, burner, tongs, a windproof lighter, resin spoon (don’t burn yourself), and anything else you think you might need. Use the tongs to hold the incense charcoal (remember, the saltpeter makes it light quickly and evenly, so you don’t want to just hold it by the edges and hope for the best). Once your charcoal is lit (tip: if you think it’s lit, you should smell a faint whiff of ozone), drop a single rosemary leaf on it to see if it smokes before adding more material. You don’t want to waste more material if you have to relight the charcoal. Add more rosemary and/or dragon’s blood once the charcoal is hot enough.
Walk through all the areas of your space carrying your brazier in a safe way that won’t burn your hand while you bathe them in smoke similar to what you’ve done so far in chapter 2 with your body. If you can do this when you have the least amount of distractions possible, great, but I know that’s asking a lot. Not everyone can drop what they’re doing to run through an empty house with fire and smoke. Make sure you are getting into closets, showers, behind the mirrors in medicine cabinets, while still being observant of the burning materials.
I’m a modern practitioner, so during a recent house cleansing I did to banish a nasty spirit (don’t try this at home, beginners’ sage is not going to cut it), I used modern technology to give me a hand. Once I completed my journey from the attic to the basement, I stood next to the heat return for a moment to get the heating system to spread the smoke for me to make sure I had gotten it well into every room.
I chose rosemary and dragon’s blood for this chapter because of the purification properties of rosemary and the protective aspects of dragon’s blood. Using rosemary to purify a space doesn’t just leave it a blank and empty vessel waiting to be filled, as with something like white sage. It leaves the space feeling serenely happy, content even. Nature abhors a vacuum, so you want something good to fill in the space, rather than leaving it neutral and empty, potentially waiting for anything that comes along to disturb that fresh, clean feeling. Pairing that with dragon’s blood, resin from the dragon tree, means that protection is also yours.
One of the ways I make sure that the protection lasts longer than just the smoke by itself is to seal the home with oil after the smoke cleansing is over. Following the same route that you took to drive out anything in the house, anoint all of the windows, exterior doors, the water main if you can get to it, the backs of mirrors in the bathroom, a small spot in the corner of a mirror (mirrors are doors, too!) with a protective sign or symbol of your choice. It could be a star, an equal-armed cross, a circle—it’s up to you. Once you get to the door or window you left open, say, “and stay out!” Shut the door and be done with it.
Adapted, and reprinted with permission from Weiser Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, Sacred Smoke by Amy Blackthorn is available wherever books and ebooks are sold or directly from the publisher atwww.redwheelweiser.com or 800-423-7087.