Daily Devotional Practice: Housework for Holle

Holle ShrineThis post is inspired by a blog prompt on The Pagan Experience. The prompt asks: “Personal Practice– Share your favorite spiritual/magickal practices. What tools are incorporated into your daily practice? What feeds you and replenishes you?”

One of my favorite ways to make my spirituality come alive is to actually make it a part of my daily activities. There’s a Jewish custom a friend told me about, where a blessing is said that is specific to different activities in the day. There are hundreds of these little blessings, for different occasions. Each time such a blessing is spoken, there is a moment to be aware of and connect with deity. It’s almost like an instantaneous mindfulness meditation. I like the idea, but I take it further in my own practice, and actually dedicate my activities to a deity as an offering. Which deity it is depends on the activity.

Something that has become a very important part of my daily practice is dedicating my cooking and cleaning in the kitchen to Frau Holle. Holle is a goddess with many dimensions, but one thing She is known for is the care of the home. I see this as more than just ordinary cleaning. This is the work that turns a dwelling into a home, that brings the warmth, comfort, and “coziness”.

The Danish have a word for this feeling: “hygge”. I believe this concept, which has its parallels in other Germanic countries, is a holdover from ancient beliefs. The interior of the community, which held family, friends, law and order, safety and security, comfort and tradition, was the innangardh. Everything outside of it was utangardh: wild, isolated, lawless, unknown, and unsafe. As a goddess who shows us how to create a home, Holle shows us how to create our own innangardh, how to protect it, and how to fill it with the things the nurture us and our loved ones. Make no mistake: this is sacred work.

I have a small shrine to Frau Holle in my kitchen. Yes, it actually does sit on the microwave (I hope that’s not blasphemous!). In my small apartment kitchen, it’s really the only space I could dedicate. I keep a picture of Her, a small goose figure (one of Her sacred animals), and a nice candle–the one in the picture is an orange and clove soy candle that is just to die for! I also have a small offering bowl for whenever I’m giving Her physical offerings, such as some flax seeds (one of Her sacred plants) or a bit of whatever I’ve been cooking. But for me, the most important offering I give Her is my daily work on cleaning my kitchen and preparing my meals. Actively doing something within Her domain, and dedicating my work to Her, has taught me so much and brought me so much closer to Her.

The daily nature of this practice has given me so much. I find that it inspires me to take better care of both myself and my home. It encourages me to cook more often and to choose healthier foods. Somehow it just doesn’t feel the same dedicating the cooking of Hamburger Helper as it does to dedicate a real, home-cooked meal from fresh ingredients. It also makes me more mindful of Holle’s presence and Her support, which really makes me feel like I have someone to rely on in my life.

The way I dedicate my work to Her is to simply light the candle on Her shrine, and say a few words praising Her. Then I describe the work I’m about to do, and state that I am dedicating it as an offering. I ask that She bless the work that I am doing, so that I may make an effort worthy of offering to Her. If I have something specific on my mind that I am feeling thankful for, I will thank Her for it at this time, or otherwise simply say that I give this offering in thanks for Her many blessings in my life. (We’re not always aware of everything the gods do for us, but it’s important to acknowledge these blessings too!) Then I get to work! At the end, I may offer Her some of what I’ve cooked, particularly if I’ve baked something, and I will thank Her for Her assistance before extinguishing the candle. Once I’ve used a candle for this purpose, I light it only for Holle, so the candle itself is another type of offering.

If you’d like to try this practice yourself, be aware that it may inspire you to work much harder than you expected! Holle in particular is great at giving you a swift kick in the rear if you’re having trouble finding the motivation to keep your house clean. If you’re sensitive or “open headed”, you may also find that you receive insights or a more direct connection to the deity in question while you are working on your activities, or you may find that the work puts you into a meditative state. Pretty much every type of human endeavor you can think of can be dedicated to a deity, so there’s something to suit any personality or interest. It’s hands down my favorite kind of offering to make.

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