Tag Archives: folkways

Harvest Dollies for Modern Pagans

Standard

Historically, grain dollies were made from the last sheaf harvested, and either left in the field or placed wherever grains were stored. It was often tied or plaited to be roughly human shaped, but in some places shaped like an animal. It was representative of the Spirit of the Harvest, or the Corn Mother. In Ireland, the grain harvest is associated with Lughnasadh. But the god Lugh is not a grain god or earth god. He’s not John Barleycorn (who is English, and more about the production of beer). Lugh isn’t a sun god either, but I’ll get to that later.

The grain dolly from the previous harvest would be ploughed into the first furrow of the new season in the spring, or else otherwise destroyed in some way to release the spirit of the previous year’s grain. Another tradition, the one that most Pagans follow (and I don’t know the origin), states that it is to be kept to insure a bountiful crop through the next harvest season and burned around the time that a new one is made from the last sheaf.

Since Neopagans have three harvest holidays (Lughnasadh, Autumn Equinox, and Samhain) in the widely observed “wheel of the year”, there is some debate over which holiday to burn a grain dolly. I would think the answer would be to make it close to one’s local grain harvest date. Arkansas grows soft red winter wheat as a commercial crop. Harvest begins in May and ends as late as the first week of July. So, for our locality, if you want to burn your grain dolly at the end of harvest, it makes sense to do so at Lughnasadh, rather than at any of the later harvest holidays. That, and because it’s the harvest holiday that has a strong grain theme.

Note that I’m calling them grain dollies instead of the more traditional “corn dolly”. This is because Americans have confused traditional use of the word corn to exclusively mean maize. To the Europeans, corn meant grain. Corn dollies were not corn husk dolls. They didn’t have maize back then. Corn dollies were made of whatever grain various European cultures predominantly ate, like wheat or oats.

But we do live in the modern western world, and many would say that we need to adapt traditions to where we are and the way we live now. Americans in general do eat a lot of corn, both as a vegetable and as a grain, and as a sweetener (although Arkansas doesn’t grow much maize commercially). Corn husk dolls are easier to make than wheat dolls, which is probably a big part of why most American Pagans make corn husk dolls instead of the more traditional grain dollies for harvest holidays. The materials are also easier to find. Not many people grow wheat in their backyard garden but plenty grow corn, or could get corn in the husk at any farmer’s market or grocery store. Maize harvest starts mid August in Arkansas and can last late into September or even October, so it would make sense to burn your cornhusk harvest dolls at the Autumnal Equinox or Samhain if you are so inclined.

Unless you are a farmer or a gardener who grows grains, your harvest doll is purely symbolic anyway, not made from the last sheaf of anything, but symbolic of the harvest for you personally. So make it of whatever materials represent the harvest for you (you’ll notice that one of the dollies in the picture below is make of both cornhusks and wheat), and burn or bury it at whichever of the harvest (or spring) High Days that you feel drawn to do so.

Harvest Dollies | Ozark Pagan Mamma

home and hörgr

Standard

Earlier this year I posted an article about moving and settling into the new place. Lately, I’ve been feeling a renewed sense of contentedness and belonging, of gratefulness.

Last year, we spent several months house hunting. Each time we found a house in our price range that we liked, it either had too many repairs, or it was bought up before we could make a bid. We began to get very discouraged. At one point, I planned out a home-finding spell to do at the next full moon: I was to make house-shaped cinnamon ginger cookies and mark them with the rune othala, making them with intention and sharing them with my family. If any of you readers are house hunting, you can use that spell and let me know how it works, because I didn’t quite make it to the full moon…

One day, I was inspired out of the blue to just pray to Odin and Frigga that they would lead us to our true home- not a fancy shiny new home, but our true home, one that suits us, a place where we belong. A few days later, I got onto one of the real estate websites that I frequented, and saw a new listing, one in our price range and with the main things I wanted (a fireplace, wood floors, and a porch)- and it was in our son’s school district. Looking at the pictures, my heart leapt. This may sound a little crazy, but I marked an othala rune over the computer screen with a saliva dampened finger and said some spontaneous spoken charm that I no longer remember. We went to see it that day, it’s first day on the market. It didn’t even have a real estate sign in the yard yet. We made an offer and had the house inspected. As the house is over 50 years old, it had some issues. We negotiated an allowance for certain things to be fixed. We moved in at the turn of the year.

It felt like home right away and I wasted no time in unpacking and getting everything set up. As time goes on, I’ve developed a rhythm to my days and a feel for the rooms. I love the way the wood floors feel under my feet, and the way some of the boards creak. I love the old stone fireplace. It has a (non-functional) gas starter, installed when such things were popular; the inspector thought it was a gas fireplace, so I was very disappointed until I learned that it actually burns real wood and is no longer linked to a gas line. I’ve placed Three Hallows symbols on the fireplace mantle and set up altar items on shelves next to it. The house is old and patched up strangely in places. It has the original roomy hardwood kitchen cabinets with old fashioned handles, and extra large utility room that doubles as my craft room. It is quirky and imperfect like us. It is our true home and I thank the gods for it.

stalli

Now, as the weather is turning warmer, we are becoming more familiar with the yard and starting a garden, an herb patch, and a flower bed. One day after gardening, I had noticed a lot of large stones laying in various places. Before we moved in, I had decided that when the weather was warmer, I was going to find a large stone to use as a small hörgr to place offerings. But I was finding many large stones, so I figured I could make a proper sized hörgr. I built it on a hilly place in the yard close to the garden and close to a line of tall pine trees. I found the large square stone last. A hörgr doesn’t usually require a flat top (as libations are usually just poured over the top to trickle down over all the rocks), but I was delighted to find it, as now I can use it as an altar surface. Through touching each stone and balancing them with each other, I feel that I have come closer to the land. In shaping this hörgr, I have crafted a deeper level of belonging.

hörgr

offerings

Standard

In ADF Druidry, giving offering is a big component of our rituals. In this very tangible way we establish and maintain a give and take relationship with the Three Kindreds (collectively; the deities, ancestors and nature spirits). It is spiritual hospitality. It is ghosti, the Proto-Indo-European word from which we get the English words guest and host.

offerings of oats, cornmeal, and seeds

In our protogrove, we like to include a time for “group offerings” in every ritual. This is a time for folks (anyone who wants to, that is), to come up the the altar, one at a time, and place their own offerings into the offering bowl (or fire, if we’re outside). They can say something if they like, but that’s optional. They can use the basic offerings we provide (which is usually oats, cornmeal, and birdseed), or bring their own biodegradable/burnable offering.

When creating a personalized offering, there are so many options. There are several things you will want to keep in mind, however. First of all, your offering needs to be of natural materials that will degrade and not pollute the environment. How will you deliver (disperse) your offering? Fresh green offerings such as herbs and flowers will degrade quickly, but other food offerings may need to be finely crumbled. If an offering can’t be crumbled into tiny pieces, it will need to be either buried or burned. If your ritual is taking place on your own land, it may not be so important to you that the offering return quickly to the natural elements. However, it has been my experience that burning is preferable as a quick and satisfying mode of delivery in a ritual setting. The following are a few ideas are for burnable offerings…

offering cakes
An offering cake can be made of any kind of of bread or biscuit dough, or even salt dough. (Although salt dough is not edible, the salt in it is an excellent offering, and salt dough can be a bit easier to shape into creative forms than other doughs, making it an offering of art rather than food.)

spiced salt dough offering cakes
To personalize an offering cake, mix items into the batter before baking (or in the case of salt dough, drying), such as herbs, flavorings or spices associated with the holiday you are celebrating or spirit/deity you are honoring. A biscuit shaped circle is a classic shape for an offering cake, but you can make them in any shape. Try using cookie cutters, molds, stamps, or shaping with your hands. You can shape the cakes into a symbol associated with the deity/spirit/occasion you are honoring. The tops can be decorated with diluted food coloring or garnished with herbs or flowers.

offering bundles
One way to make several small offerings at once is to use an offering bundle. Place items inside a scrap of natural fabric (a seven inch square seems to work well). Gather up the edges, and tie off the end with a string or cord. You could also use a large pliable leaf or piece of brown paper and fold your bundle. Some ideas for items to place in the bundle are: a written prayer or devotional poem, herbs, flowers, dried fruit/nuts, grains, and loose incense.

offering bundle

Another option for an offering bundle is to skip the container and just tie items on a stick (this will however limit what can be used to what will stay tied on) . You may even want to carve runes or symbols onto the stick itself, and anoint the entire bundle with an appropriate tincture or oil.

offering stick

moving house

Standard

My little family has started out the new year with a big change. We’ve bought a house! It’s not a new house, it’s over fifty years old, has had a bit of updates done already, and will need more over time. We are excited about the change, for we’ve been living in apartments for far too long.

I got all the items on my house wish list: wood floors, fireplace, and a porch. However, I also got a lot of fix-up projects, but I’m excited about those as well. We were a bit disorganized with the move; we started moving stuff before completely packed, and not having gone through and organized/ thrown stuff out enough ahead of time. However, before moving anything, I did make a trip out to the house to clear and claim the space. This is what I did:

Before even going in, I stood at the front of the yard and lit a candle in a glass holder. I announced to the spirits of the land that this property is under new ownership, that I am the matron of the family, and that we seek to live in harmony with the landvettir of this place. I also announced that all baneful spirits must go in peace for we are under the protection of the gods. Then I walked sun-wise around the property with the candle singing the Anglo-Saxon Hallowing Charm.

At last it came time to go inside. I made sure that bread and salt were the first items to be carried across the threshold. I then repeated a similar announcement to the one I did outside, this time for the house spirits. I did the Hallowing Charm again, walking from room to room all around the house, this time with the candle and a bell. I went another round, censing with juniper and sage. At last I did a third round asperging with water. Thus completed the ritual cleansing and claiming. Further blessing is yet to come, and I hope to do it with friends.

Though our move was chaotic, we are all unpacked now and settling in rather quickly. It already feels like home, which tells me we’ve chosen well.

moving house - Ozark Pagan Mamma

no-sew poppet

Standard

The use of poppets in folk magic goes back to ancient times. Though the material of choice back then was wax, practitioners have adapted through the ages to make poppets out of anything handy; plant material, yarn, and often cloth.

This method of image magic can be used for any number of goals that you can think of, but the poppet is generally used to represent a person; what is done to the poppet is done to the person in sympathetic magic. The inside of the poppet should contain a taglock of the subject of the spell, and can include other items that are involved in the goal (healing herbs, for example), and other stuffing as needed like cotton, wool, or plant materials.

Even if you can’t sew, there is a simple way to make a poppet. You’ll need a handkerchief, bandana, or just a square of fabric, the taglock and other stuffing mentioned above, and a length of string. ( If you don’t have string, rubber bands will work, but the advantage of string is that you can add knot magic to your working.) First, find the center of your cloth. Roll the outer edges toward the center. Now open up a little space in the middle and stuff. Fold over, spread out the poppet’s arms, and tie off the head. (Draw on a face and other details if you like.) Take the end strings and criss-cross in the front and tie in the back, under the arms. While doing so, you can say, “Criss-cross, cloth and moss. This I claim, _____ is your name.” or other words of your choosing, followed by the specifics of your spell.

no-sew poppet

nourishing the soul: the magic of replenishment

Standard

Most of us magical folk know what to do if we’ve been feeling spiritually out of sorts or have had negative energies around our home; we do cleansing and purification rituals. Such rituals get rid of negativity, but often something more is needed. A second step after the purification process should be to replenish one’s spiritual energy. The unhappy occurrences that are sometimes a part of daily life (the occasional upset, argument, or near miss in traffic) can have an accumulative effect on one’s soul, and while it’s not as serious as the trauma of soul loss, it is something we need to remedy. It’s not technically  healing magic, though any work of that nature needs to be taken care of first, and purifications as well. Replenishing magic is the work of recovering, building up, and strengthening one’s spirit. Many of the things that I will describe below are things that nourish the body as well as the soul, for as we live, both the body and the soul are one.

  • Using your usual ritual format, perform a ritual to your patron deities and guardian spirits, giving special offerings and libations, and asking them for guidance and strengthening of spirit.
  • Revitalize your ongoing spiritual practice, if you feel it is lacking. Do daily devotionals of your own devising, with grounding and centering as a vital part of it. Include affirmations and chants in your practice, if you find them helpful.
  • Take a soothing balancing mineral bath with Epsom salts and milk.
  • Weather permitting, spend some time amongst trees. The effects of forest bathing are real and profound. Hug a tree and let it’s energy soak in and make you whole. Get lots of fresh air and open up windows to air out your house, if possible.
  • Drink some revitalizing peppermint tea or mint water.
  • Eat some nourishing foods; whole fruits and vegetables (with runes of power carved in), and soups made with bone broth and magic.
  • Use a spiritually reviving woodsy essential oil like cedar, sandalwood, or rosewood, in a homemade room spray and/or personal fragrance spray (2 parts distilled water, 1 part alcohol, enough essential oil to scent).
  • Wear deep red burgundy colors, and rich maroon. Colors that resemble lifeblood attract growth and vigor. Get a shawl or scarf to use for this purpose, and throws for your furniture. It’s even better if you can weave, crochet, or knit it yourself, as you can utilize knot magic in it’s making.
  • Carry strengthening stones or resins (tiger’s eye, quartz, amber, or jasper) as charms in your pocket, a sachet, or as jewelry.
  • During this period of rejuvenation, seek out some wholesome “feel good” entertainment; books, music, or movies/video clips that uplift you.

nourishing the soul: the magic of replenishment

magical decorating on the cheap

Standard

A person’s home (or apartment) is an extension of ones-self, and if you’re Pagan, you may want your home to subtly reflect that aspect of your personality. When first starting out on your own, you may lament your bare walls and long for a non-existent decorating budget. It’s been many years, but I’ve been there. Through necessity I learned the beauty of simplicity and developed a love for junk chic. So if you’re just starting out and are dirt poor, embrace the eclectic look.

furniture
You will be surprised at what you can find for free if you know the right time and place. Go dumpster diving when school lets out in a college town. (Okay, you don’t have to actually “dive in”, most folks put their unwanted furniture on the pavement outside the dumpster.) Rich college kids don’t want to bring their furniture home with them for the summer. Keep an open mind. Found an otherwise perfectly good dresser, but it has a missing drawer? Use a large basket in place of the drawer, or put a board in the bottom of the empty drawer space and use it as a bookshelf. Old entertainment centers can be converted to bookshelves as well. Check for sturdiness, that’s what counts, then paint or sand to get the look you want, if necessary. But remember- rustic goes along nicely with a Pagan-ish theme. Find a nice strong table and miss-matched chairs if you have a dining area. Find what you can for free first, then look in thrift stores and yard sales for everything else. Or if you’re handy with tools, and have access to free or cheap pallets, make pallet furniture. The more items you can make or find with built-in storage, the better, especially if you’re living in a small space. Don’t over do it with the furniture, though. Make sure you pick things that suit the size of your space.

Some things you probably don’t need…
If your only computer is a laptop, you probably don’t need a desk. Use the kitchen counter or table for such things as paperwork and put it all away in a storage box or shelf when finished. You may not need a coffee table unless you think it would be handy for storage, and in that case, consider using a storage trunk for a coffee table. If you watch movies and shows on your computer, or other device, you don’t need a TV. That will free up space on your wall for other things, such as…

DIY faux fireplace
True, you don’t need a fireplace, but they are so classic and appealing, and you’ve made room by not getting a desk or TV, so why not? If you can’t have the real thing, at least you can have some of the beauty of one. Making your own fake fireplace can be a simple or elaborate project. One way to make one is to fit a smaller wooden box into a larger wooden box, cut a sheet of plywood to cover the space between, attach it, add molding, then paint the entire thing and tile the inside. Another way would be to take all the shelves out of an large heavy bookshelf and attach a board or wide molding to the front just under the top, and on the front sides. Still another method could be to attach a heavy shelf or mantle to the wall, and place thick boards under it on either side to help support it. In the center, place a cluster of flame-less candles, logs wrapped in string lights, or other decorative items. Use the top mantle-shelf as your household altar/shrine. The good thing about this kind of “fireplace”, is that you can take it with you when you move, or even move it when you rearrange furniture.

cinder blocks and boards
Did you use your only bookshelf to make a faux fireplace? Don’t worry, cinder blocks and boards make cheap, versatile shelving. (Just make sure your floor is sturdy and level.) You can vary the length of your boards to any size shelving system you need, and use for not only books, but for shoe racks, pantry shelving, and other kinds of storage. Cinder blocks come in a variety of styles now (and you can paint them, if you like). If you place the blocks with the holes facing out, you can place holiday string lights inside the hole in the block, or little nature collections.
If you later decide you don’t need the shelves, use the boards and blocks to make patio furniture; stack the blocks upright, and lay one down over the top of them both (with holes facing to the sides), then repeat with another set of blocks at the other end of what will be a bench. Thread 4X4s through the top holes. Cinder blocks also make nice planters, raised bed gardens, and fire pit/grill bases.

small shrines
In addition to (or instead of) using shelves or a faux fireplace for altars or shrines, you could use small hanging shelves or boxes for shrines to your deities, house spirit, or hearth spirit. Just attach a small crate to the wall, and fill it with devotional objects. You can wrap string lights around it, or seasonal greenery. You can also use a cardboard school box or cigar box for a portable shrine. Keep you ritual supplies inside and paint or decoupage your deity imagery (or tree hallow) on the inside of the lid and just open it up to have your ritual or devotions. You can make several for different purposes.

getting crafty with nature
If you have access to the gifts of Mother Nature, and I hope you do, bring a little of the outdoors inside. Bend an old wire hanger into a circle shape and tie greenery to it in layers, working your way around the circle. Another way to make a wreath is to trim some excess honeysuckle or grape vines and shape it into a circle, twisting and weaving until you get the thickness you want. Change decorations on it with the seasons and hang on your front door. If you really liked making that, make some for inside too. Make garlands by layering and tying greenery in layers to a vine, rope or heavy string. Hang your garland from your mantlepiece or shelf. Arrange nature collections in clusters or small baskets.

more crafts
Though a not so permanent decoration (they will deteriorate if the weather is too humid for too long), salt dough sculptures can add life and dimension to your walls and shelves, and are very inexpensive to make. Check out some of my past salt dough projects for inspiration.

You’ll not find a decorative art cheaper than toilet paper roll crafts, which can range from looking very natural and rustic to looking like wrought iron.

If you have old Pagan magazines or calendars, cut out your favorite pictures and decoupage them to wood scraps or nice sturdy cardboard, using thin layers of modge podge. Prop them up on a shelf and change them out seasonally. Try decoupaging pictures onto blank seven day candles for use in magic and devotion. Decoupage works best with small pictures.

Check out some of my suggested kids’ crafts for the holidays, even if you don’t have kids. You’re never too old for such things, and the beauty of simple crafts can add a lot of warmth to a home.

kitchen
If you have a small kitchen, you’ll need to go vertical with storage. Hang your cooking utensils above the stove, and install a peg rack or cuphooks near the sink for coffee cups. Use raised thumbtacks for hanging light items like strainers and flat graters. (In fact, I use raised thumbtacks for hanging pictures all throughout the house. You only need a nail or screw if the object is heavy.) You can even use tacks to hang herbs for drying, and for garlic ropes. Keep the grain dolly you made in the fall, hanging in your kitchen.

window sills
Save your glass bottles, especially blue ones. To make your own blue bottles, mix together some white glue and blue food coloring and paint the bottles with this mixture. Set the bottles in the windowsills of your front-facing windows. Not only are they pretty, but haint blue is traditionally known to ward off evil spirits. Also, keep crystals or a jar of salt in your windowsill for the same purpose. If you break a mirror, put the shards in a jar and put that in your windowsill as well. All these things make an interesting and shiny arrangement but also serve a magical purpose.

mirrors
Strategically place small inexpensive mirrors in the dark corners of your home to dissipate any stagnant or negative energy that may collect there. You can buy tiny mirrors by the package-full at craft stores. Glue them back to back on filament string interspersed with beads and hang as mobiles. Glue tiny mirrors to vases, planters, or small boxes, as you would for making a tiled surface.

thrift store finds and finishing touches
Over time, you will find items to fill your walls at thrift stores and yard sales. You’ll find nice frames to fill with pictures of friends and family. You can update just about anything with a little paint, and sand it down a little for a vintage look. Don’t forget to look for a horseshoe to go over your front door.

magical decorating

a kitchen witch’s wooden spoons

Standard

Wooden spoons are an essential item in any kitchen witch’s tool kit. They are sturdy enough for mixing thick concoctions without scratching surfaces. Wood is naturally resistant to bacteria. Here is how to prepare and transform an inexpensive set of wooden spoons for magical cooking.

preparing wooden spoons

Your wooden spoons need to be cleaned in mild soapy water before you prepare them for use. Rinse and let dry.

Sand the surface, taking special care to smooth any rough edges.

At this point, you can carve or wood burn meaningful designs onto your spoons. Trace your design lightly with a pencil. An art-gum eraser works quite well on wood. Then carve it with an exacto knife or wood-burn with a pyrography tool. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Mine are very far from it! It’s the meaning, feeling, and thought behind it that counts. You can dedicate different spoons to certain deities, spirits, or powers, using symbolism and intent. Their power will be invoked when you use them. Mine are a sun for Sunna, a moon for Mani, a heart with an amber teardrop for Freya, and a goose with a basket and broom for Mother Hulda. That one is my favorite, and I have burned on my name in runes and the bottom of the handle.

Sanitize spoons in five parts warm water and one part vinegar. Let them soak about 5 minutes. Let dry completely.

Now it is time to cure them. Dip a clean rag in melted coconut oil and rub down the spoons generously with it. This keeps them from drying out and cracking. Let spoons set overnight in a warm place to soak up the oil, or use the residual heat of the oven after baking something; place spoons on a baking sheet and leave in the warm oven for a while.

You’ll want to re-oil your spoons once a week when you oil your cutting boards.

a kitchen witch's wooden spoons

Four Thieves Vinegar

Standard

Four Thieves Vinegar is an herbal vinegar concoction originating in France at the time of the bubonic plague. There are many variations on the details, but the basic storyline goes… that during the plague, four thieves went about stealing from plague ridden areas without becoming ill themselves. After getting caught, they agreed to share their secret in exchange for their lives; they doused themselves with a certain herbal vinegar concoction before they set out.

There may be some truth to the legends, since the herbs used in the vinegar do have medicinal properties, and vinegar itself is a disinfectant. Many of the herbs in four thieves are natural flea repellants that could have offered protection against the disease carrying fleas that initially started the plague. Some folks these days use four thieves primarily as a bug repellant in the summer months. However, four thieves is more often used by folk magic practitioners as a magical formula to banish and protect.

Just as there are many variations of the legend, there just as many (or more) variations on the formula. Other ingredients used in four thieves recipes (besides the ones I use in my formula, see below) are lavender, rue, wormwood, and cinnamon. Older recipes also called for camphor. Some modern practitioners say you need to include four herbs in your formula; one for each thief.

four thieves vinegar ingredientsOzark Pagan Mamma’s Four Thieves Vinegar
apple cider vinegar
sage
rosemary
thyme
peppermint
cloves
garlic bulb
Fill a glass jar with your fresh herbs. I used a little bundle of each, filling the jar, but not over-crowding. Break apart the garlic bulb. Crush each garlic clove and peel before adding to the jar. Add a generous pinch of whole cloves. Fill jar with vinegar, seal with a lid, and place in a cool dark place for thirty days. Strain out and pour into a labeled jar.

making four thieves vinegar - Ozark Pagan MammaTo use four thieves vinegar as a floor wash, add a generous splash of it to your mop bucket of hot water along with some salt or baking soda and don’t rinse (or use instead as a final rinse). Use the in the same manner as a wall wash or to wash objects. You can also use some in a protective magical bath, or in a homemade salad dressing if you used only safe edible herbs (don’t ingest sage if pregnant or nursing). Splash where needed or use a spray bottle.

Ozark Pagan Mamma's Four Thieves Vinegar

Mamma’s Homemaking Tips

Standard

To all you mammas and papas out there about to begin a life of magical homemaking, I offer you some tips and advice from years of being a homebody.

setting up house
Try to get a new broom when moving house. It symbolizes a fresh start, leaving all your “dirt” from your previous residence in the past. (If you must bring your old broom with you, bring it through a window instead of the front door.)
Carry in bread and salt with you upon first entering your new home. Sprinkle some of the salt at the doorstep to ward of evil spirits. Make sure you never run completely out of salt in your home. Salt preserves, purifies and protects. Before you move your stuff in, sprinkle some salt on the floor, then sweep (or vacuum) up.
You may want to sage your new home or sain with juniper and water. You can do a full house purification and blessing either before or after you‘re completely moved in, and household altar set up.

cleaning
No one wants to spend all their time cleaning, but it is unhealthful (physically and spiritually) to live in a dirty cluttered home. There is a middle way of keeping everything reasonably clean while still having time for other activities. Consider scheduling your time to get a little housework done every day, instead of devoting a whole day to cleaning. Spend the rest of your time having fun with your kids.

Homemaking Schedule
Keep your cleaners natural and simple. (See my previous article, Natural House Cleaners.) Vinegar is used in a lot of my household cleaner formulas. I’ve found that soaking citrus peels in the vinegar I’m going to use for cleaning formulas makes it have a more pleasant smell and gives it a bit of a boost of cleaning power. You could experiment with various herbal vinegars and essential oils in your household cleaners for magical goals (test first to make sure they don’t stain surfaces).
Leave no clutter in your wake, and encourage other family members to do the same. (For example, if you sit down to have a snack or read a book, when you get back up, look around… put away any clutter in your immediate surroundings; the book and the apple core, of course, but also anything else that’s out of place.) It’s easier to clean as you go than to clean a huge mess. Have a place for everything and keep everything in it’s place. (Read “Confessions of an Organized Homemaker” by Deniece Schofield.)
Along the same lines, I’ve found that the best time to do light bathroom cleaning is immediately after taking a shower; the bathroom surfaces and mirror are already damp, just wipe with a clean rag (spray with a cleaner beforehand, if you feel it needs it). I keep a soap-dispensing scrub brush in the shower for touch-ups, filled with a mixture of ½ dish soap and ½ baking soda.

cooking
If you love to cook, like I do, keep a binder of your favorite recipes; ones you’ve clipped from magazines, tried from pinterest, and especially ones you’ve devised yourself. (You may eventually pass down copies of this book to your children.)  My binder has become a family cookbook that not only contains favorite family recipes, but also the traditions surrounding the food and holidays.
I used to plan meals far ahead (like a month in advance), but we’d frequently have more leftovers than we could use up, and often, it would come time to cook a certain meal and it no longer sounded appealing to me. So then I started using a variety supper plan, interspersed with ‘leftover’ nights. This has worked out much better. When I go to make supper, I already have the protein food in mind, and I can also transform remaining leftovers for the next meal. (For example, if I have a lot of leftover mashed potatoes that weren’t used up on leftover night, I can use them to top a shepherd’s pie, or use in refrigerator potato dough, southern potato salad, etc.)
After you have a pretty good repertoire of meals, make a list of all the ingredients used in the recipes. Use this as your pantry list to check against when making a grocery list.
For more kitchen witch how-to, see my article “kitchen witchery basics” and “stovetop hearth rites“.