Assignment submitted June 20, 2012. This assignment passed.
Miles – YaaD – Book Report Q2-1 (second quarter, first book)
Whitehurst, Tess. Magical Housekeeping: Simples Charms & Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home. Llewellyn: Woodbury, MN. 2010.
This book came into my life at just the right time in just the right way. Over the last 30 years, I have bought dozens of books and probably hundreds of magazines, as well as attending several workshops, all offering to help me end clutter and get organized. None of them took until I read Magical Housekeeping.
The first three chapters of the book cover clutter and cleaning. In Chapter 1, "Clutter Clearing," Whitehurst presents the idea that "clutter is stuck energy." I found this extremely powerful, and it was what allowed me to actually get rid of things I'd been holding onto for years because I felt some obligation to the giver, or some internal compulsion to "be the kind of person who has read this book," or "…learned to use this item," and so on. I also found the recommended ritual to assist with clutter removal amazingly helpful. (As I do with nearly all recipes, I modified the ritual to suit me by adding a circle-of-sorts – at your suggestion – and by testing whether the "hot energizing beverage" was a necessary component.)
Whitehurst also talks about reducing internal clutter, both physical ("toxins") and mental / emotional (old scripts and beliefs). I don't find all her recommendations personally relevant (for example, she suggests reducing or eliminating animal products in the diet; I can't do that and maintain a low-carb regimen), but I recognize that different people have different needs, and that suggestion might work very well for someone else. Her discussion of "limiting beliefs" ties in neatly with Robert Anton Wilson's precept, "What the Thinker Thinks, the Prover Proves".
Chapter 2, "Cleaning," includes recipes for physical components such as "Prosperity Floor Wash" and a ritual for blessing a broom that can be used for both physical and psychic cleaning. I didn't actually try any of these, in part because I never got past the clutter stage into serious cleaning.
Chapter 3, "Space Clearing," focuses on psychic / energy work in the home. Whitehurst recommends noisemaking, smudging, misting, and ritual work as ways to clear the emotional air of lingering "stuck energy." The noisemaking certainly did make a difference for me in the decluttering, although I have to admit that I felt kind of embarrassed about standing in my office clapping my hands at piles of junk. Still, "if it [feels] stupid and it works, it ain't stupid."
Chapter 4, "Harmonious Positions," offers a brief introduction to Feng Shui. I haven't attempted to try rearranging or redecorating the house pursuant to these precepts; however, I know people who do use Feng Shui principles and who believe that they do create more harmony. Perhaps when we move offices I will see if I can arrange my new office in accordance!
These four chapters, about the first third of the book, cover what I would consider housekeeping. From there, Whitehurst branches out into topics that I feel are less directly connected – not completely unrelated, but not as tightly wound together.
Chapter 5, "The Three Secrets Empowerment," discusses "the stereotypical image of a magician practicing magic"; that is, the use of movement, speech, and intention to create a desired effect. The first step in this process is to clarify intent, and to phrase it like an affirmation: in the present tense, describing what is desired in terms of what is (e.g., "I exercise consistently and eat a diet that is healthful for me"). The second step is to select an appropriate mudra (hand position / gesture); the third is to decide on a vocalization, which could be a simple "Om", the name of a deity, or a short cantrip that suits the intention. Finally, all three aspects are brought together in a meditation that is recited several times – Whitehurst suggest three or nine, and I've also heard that multiples of three and nine are good – followed by visualizing specific aspects of the intention. So, for example, if the intention is eating healthfully and exercising regularly, the visualization might include normal readings on a glucometer and taking the turn-off to the gym on the way home from work.
Chapters 6, "Gemstones," and 10, "Sacred Smoke & Aromas of Power," provide suggestions for physical components – crystals and various flammables such as incense, oils, and candles – with specific effects such as blessing, inviting love into one's life, invoking deities, or reducing stress. I know from experience that crystals and aromatherapy oils do work for various desirable effects, and so I'd keep this book in mind if I needed to look up something simple.
Chapters 7, 8, and 9 are reference material for three classes of spiritual teachers and supports, "Fairies, Angels & Other Helpful Beings," "Plant Allies," and "Animal Allies," respectively. For the most part, Whitehurst's descriptions of each animal's characteristics as an ally match those on the list provided with the YaaD materials, although her assessment of "Horse" includes wildness and rebelliousness, in contrast to several of the traits listed in the course material (community, cooperation, obedience, reliability).
Finally, Chapter 11, "Blessings, Protections, & Other Rituals," is just that. Whitehurst begins with an overview of how to enter into ritual space (cleaning / purifying oneself, meditating, visualizing) and how to leave it (thank any Powers, release the work, and ground). The rest of the chapter consists of simple rituals for blessing and protecting a house; for a quick and fair sale of a house; for attracting love, money, and a right life path; for a happy home; and for banishing unwanted guests, both human and spiritual.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I found it tremendously helpful in turning my home office from an overwhelming disaster to a neat and welcoming space. Unfortunately, I turned right around and filled the space up with stuff from other parts of the house. I suspect that I have a sample Thinker:Prover event going on here, where the thought is something like, "I'm a messy person," or "I don't deserve to have nice things."
I would recommend the book to anyone who (a) has clutter issues and (b) is open to metaphysical assistance in dealing with those issues. I don't know enough about Feng Shui to say whether this is a good introduction, but given that other aspects of the book that I can compare existing materials seem to be consistent, I'm willing to assume the Feng Shui is as well.