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  • Writer's pictureAbigaël Totty

The Ancestral Art of Spring Cleaning

Besom or Witches broom used for sweeping out the old & flying

Magic is found at the roots of our experience, in this blog I explore how I have weaved together the extraordinary and the everyday into a magical way of living. No matter who your are or where you came from, there is magic in your ancestral lineage. I have been working deeply with my ancestors for some time, I have been drawn to this work to try and uncover the ancient practices of my people. My bloodline is indigenous to Scotland, I was shocked and surprised that my DNA test ( revealed that I am of truly Scottish blood; pretty much undiluted. 63% of my DNA comes from the North Eastern Highlands of Scotland....incidentally where I was born and raised. The other 37% of my DNA comes from Ireland, the Scottish Lowlands and the Lake District area of England. Having this knowledge has led me on a journey of self discovery, weaving in ancient folkloric rites into my daily rituals, to deepen, strengthen and inform my spiritual practice.

The first step in this journey was brought about by childhood memories of household spirits. My Mother and Nana frequently referred to "Broonies" and faeries helping with the household chores. Brownies (Broonies) are said to have originated in the Highlands of Scotland, but are also known in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere – likely stowing away with Scottish immigrants. Aside from being known as Brownies, these enchanted beings, that are a part of the faery kingdom have also been known as Little Man, and many English people call them Hobs. Russians know them as Domovi; in Denmark they are Nisse. North Africans have named them Yumboes, and in China they’re known as Chao Phum Phi. They are literally mentioned worldwide in folkloric traditions- going by many names...Lubber, Kobold and Goblin, Urisk, Gruagachs, Robin Goodfellows, Phooka, Phynnodderee, Glashtin, Dooiney Oie, Tylwth Teg, Mooinjer Veggey, and Tomte. Some think Brownies may be associated with the Roman household spirit, the Lars "Lar Familiaris" who is said to be an ancestral spirit. It is also said that Brownies, these hairy helpers, are sometimes attached to a family bloodline or to a homestead or house.

These creatures are not dissimilar to Dobie the House elf in the Harry Potter novels. You cannot give a name to a Brownie or offer them clothes or they will leave (The Elves and the Shoemaker fairytale springs to mind here). They are said to be about 3 feet tall and are faeries of the earth, covered in hair, sometimes wearing ragged clothes but often naked. They are kind and benevolent beings, taking care of the family and your household chores through their own free will. They are nocturnal beings that go to bed when the rooster crows. They do not like direct acknowledgement for the work they do, if you truly insult them they apparently can turn into a malevolent boggarts or hobgoblins. It is customary to leave out offerings of milk, cream or porridge each evening by the hearth or in the farmyard to keep your Brownie sweet and nourished. All over Britain we have faery cup and ring stones that are thought to be a place to leave offerings to the magical beings of the Earth. There are also stones with slight hollows found in the old farmyards all over Britain thought to serve the same purpose. A favourite children's book in our home are the Tomten stories by Astrid Lindgren. My children have been inspired to leave bowls of porridge outside in the winter time, hoping to see Tomten footprints in the snow in the morning as reward for their offering. Its a lovely way to get children interacting with these beings our ancestors had relationship with until quite recently.

Achnabreck Cup and Ring Marks, Scotland

So armed with all this information my next move was to invite in a "broonie" into my home. I really didn't know what to expect, I had no idea if one would come. As I researched how I might go about this I discovered that in China and Japan, they have a strong tradition of honouring household hearth beings and the ancestors. They have little shelves up high that act as a altar/house for these beings, each of these shrines have tiny dishes to leave offerings of Sake, Rice and Evergreens.

With this in mind I tidied up my altar and swept the hearth in the living room (Where I practice) and made a little space for a bowl to be left for offerings of porridge, milk or cream. To invite a household spirit into my home and not an undesirable being, it was important that I open sacred space by calling in the directions, my ancestors and helping spirits. I asked that a Broonie or similar being come to my home, I offered that we would welcome and honour the presence of such a being, just as my ancestors had. To my delight I felt the presence of something & I got a very strong message that I had to start consistently feeding the wild birds...this I dutifully did. Over the next few weeks I started to notice some changes.

~I would wake early, literally propelled from my bed to get organized

~When sweeping the floor or doing any cleaning, a quick wipe down or sweep was not good enough,I just could not cut corners anymore.

~People would really FEEL a difference energetically in my home when I cleaned with the Broonie as my guide.

~I decluttered all my personal belongings and organized all my clothes Marie Kondo style. I have done this countless times in the past, but magically my closet and drawers have stayed perfectly organized even months later. My husband thinks I have done some kind of sorcery...he knows my messes well.

~In the last few weeks I have noticed that my husband's cleaning efficiency has changed dramatically, he seems to be noticing details that went unnoticed before~he is suddenly compelled to sweep the floor several times a day (who is this man?)....I just know its this wee Broonie working his magic!! Perhaps the teenage Son will be next on it's list to receive the transformation!!

The most stunning change for me was when the Broonie guided me to spiritually clean my living room. This is the room that I practice in, so it gets cleaned on a regular basis. On this day, rather than give it the usual quick tidy and clean, I got a really strong urge to wash the walls and all the wood work with a few drops of vinegar and a little Murphys oil soap. I then found myself sweeping and mopping right into the corners, moving the furniture to clean under it. I didn't rearrange anything, the intention was to not just physically clean the room but to spiritually clean it. The dirty washing water was to go out the front door and be poured onto the step and swept away.

Then came the Saining of the room Cailleach's Herbarium has an excellent article on Saining in Scottish folklore. It is not to be confused with smudging. Saining is an act of purification; the magical properties of the plant are asked to aid in this practice and charms are often spoken as the saining takes place. Traditionally Juniper, Pine candles, Rowan and forspoken water are most commonly used for Saining.

In this case to Sain the room I was guided to use the pine sap that I had gathered from my grandmother tree. I lit a charcoal disk and placed a a small amount of sap onto it, the filled room with fragrant smoke, I started at the back of the room, speaking my intentions for clearing the space and made my way towards the front door~ finally opening the front door to let out any energies that needed to leave. A few hours later a client came over for a session, she walked in and said "wow its so different in here, have you decluttered?" I was delighted that the energy of the room had changed so dramatically, I had changed nothing since her last visit.

Spring cleaning is going to have a new whole resonance to it this year. Spring cleaning is traditionally done at some point between the Spring Equinox (March 20th this year) and April fools day.

There are many rituals, spells and charms for spring cleaning and clearing the home of negativity online, I have used them in the past...but they were not nearly as effective as working in the realms with this household spirit. The main difference is the fact that I am in direct relationship with this spirit. I am not just repeating words, not just saying and doing, I am open to being guided in this practice by a being that has had close relationship with my ancestors since ancient times. Will you invite a household spirit into your home? I would love to hear about your experiences.


The Tradition of Household Spirits: Ancestral Lore and Practices

Author: Claude Lecouteux

Publisher:Inner Traditions

The Way of the Hedge Witch: Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home

Author: Arin Murphy Hiscock

Publisher:Provenance Press

Title: Enchantment of the Faerie Realm Author: Ted Andrews Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.

Title: Good Faeries, Bad Faeries Author: Brian Froud Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group

Title: The Ancient Art of Faery Magick Author: D.J. Conway Publisher: Crossing Press, Inc., The

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