As autumn welcomes the energies of Halloween season, we intuitively tend to start tapping into magical things. Maybe you find yourself shopping for a few extra candles to light up the darkening nights (and to ward away any lingering spirits), or perhaps you've been eyeing a charm or amulet to protect your household.
So what is it about autumn (at least in the Northern hemisphere) that brings about this need to explore the mystical, magical, and unknown? It may be that the season offers a sense of permission to give in to our curiosity and darker side. This is a good thing, as Dr. Cyndi Brannen, author of Keeping Her Keys, explains that we typically fear our shadows and avoid the darkness at all costs. Celebrations like Halloween and Día de Los Muertos provide an opportunity to openly talk of the spirit world and magic, which some people are otherwise reserved about.
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The season itself is also a time of change. Leaves change colors and die. The warm summer air becomes cool. Everything goes into hibernation. For many, this is a time for introspection and magic and cozying up your space.
Now's the time to fill your abode with good energy, protecting it from bad vibes and boogeymen — with a little inspiration from practices around the world. Think of magical decor as an extension of your intent: "Use whatever tools help you best communicate your intentions to the world," writes Erica Feldmann, author of HausMagick: Transform Your Home with Witchcraft.
A note on cultural appropriation:
When decorating your space with certain items, be mindful of cultural appropriation. A good bet is to do some research on the history of the item you're bringing into your home. Understand its cultural origins, how it's used, and whether or not you actually have a personal connection to the cultures associated. Here, we cover some of the superstition origins, but for more details, doing your own research is key.
1. Protect your home from "the evil" eye.
The concept of "the evil eye" is found across cultures in many iterations, especially in the regions of the Mediterranean and Western Asia. According to Heliodorus of Emesa, an ancient Greek author, "When anyone looks at what is excellent with an envious eye he fills the surrounding atmosphere with a pernicious quality, and transmits his own envenomed exhalations into whatever is nearest to him."
In short, people can intentionally or unintentionally cast the evil eye (which is thought to cause headaches, digestive issues, financial ruin, and more) at you simply by thinking a negative thought about you or, more commonly, exuding jealousy. Depending on the cultural lens through which you're looking, the evil eye has many meanings, intersecting with culture, class, gender, and race.
The "evil eye" and the charms that ward it away are found throughout many cultures. For example, in Turkish, it's called the Nazar. In Italian, it's the Malocchio. And in the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) and the Middle East, it may be referred to as a Hamsa. Jewish literature also speaks of it and Egypt's Eye of Horus is protective as well.
Some people hang these evil eye amulets in their homes to ward away the evil eye and any ill intentions. Hang it from your doorway or over windows to keep negative intentions out.
2. Keep out negative energy with a broom.
Witches have long been associated with brooms (cue just about every image of a witch flying off into the moonlit night on her broomstick). The broom isn't arbitrary, though.
Brooms are powerful: An Irish tale dating back to 1324 says a widow named Alice Kyteler was found sweeping the good fortune away from her neighbor's doorstep. So, if the broom can sweep out the good, it can also sweep out the bad.
How do you use a broom for protection? "I leave a broom right by my front door as a reminder that I possess all the magic in me to sweep in and sweep out what is needed and not in my own home," explains Becca Piastrelli, an ancestral folk medicine keeper.
You can also sprinkle some salt throughout your home — which clears bad vibes — and sweep it out of the home, according to some folk magic practices. Oh, and don't bring an old broom to a new house. New home, new energy.
You can go with a basic broom, make one yourself, or you can pick up a beautiful doorway besom (a broom made of a stick and twigs). Check out this gorgeous, floral old porch broom or this wildflower besom.
3. Bells and wind chimes offer sonic magic.
Sound has long been used to cleanse and refresh the energy in a space. For example, Chinese feng shui employs the use of wind chimes at the entrance of a home to offer good luck to visitors and keep negative energy out.
Bells — sometimes called "spirit bells" — have also been used to clear the energy in a space. From Catholic churches to shamanic and folk magic practices around the world, bells are used as a protective device. To work with bells, find one that you connect with and walk around your home counter-clockwise (a part of many rituals) to remove unwanted energy. Savor the sound and stay intentional with it.
Pick up a decorative (and magical!) bell, like this string of bells and store it on your mantelpiece or on a shelf.
4. Crystals can protect your space.
Crystals are incredibly popular these days. Sure, they're pretty — but they're also known to invoke certain feelings and represent intentions. Crystals that will both beautify and protect include obsidian and selenite — so think about placing them throughout your home, especially in the common areas and places where you spend a lot of time.
Selenite, sometimes referred to as the master crystal, is thought to protect your home from negative energies, while obsidian absorbs any negative energies that were brought into your space. A powerful duo.
5. Grow protective herbs on your windowsill.
Protective, everyday herbs are used in a variety of ways — from smoke cleansing to renew energy and snacking for health. Herbs are a sort of intersection between the magical world and the kitchen. So, how does it work? Go cottagecore with it: Keep a beautiful pot of herbs near your windowsill or entrances to invite peace and protection.
There are a few basic herbs you can use. Basil, which has a long history of magic (lore says that basil can protect from the evil gaze of a basilik, a serpent-like creature that can kill others with its stare), can be grown in the home to protect it from dark spirits (and, well, it's delicious). Rosemary is often hung around doorways in Italian folk magic to ward away spirits. Today, you'll find batches of the herb sold at metaphysical supply stores to burn for purification and energy cleansing.
Want a beautiful bathroom? Hang eucalyptus in your shower. It heals, protects, and smells divine.
If you're ready to hone your green thumb, pick up a garden jar herb kit.