The sun shone in every window making the entire house buzz with energy, newly alive and vibrant. The "warm" spring breeze floated through the open windows and doors, cleansing, purifying, and transforming the mini blinds into a worthy opponent for our self-proclaimed house guardian, Sabrina -- also known as "Bad Kitty" -- who was intently doing battle with "the enemy." I felt new life and energy in the air and was ready to take on the world myself. Even the plants looked happy. It was time for Spring Cleaning.

"What are you doing with all the windows open? Are you crazy? It's 50 degrees outside, It's freezing in here!" cried my loving, yet obviously distressed spouse when he returned home from running errands.

He was still put out by the fact that we had taken a vacation day off--while the kid was in school--to enjoy a day of skiing, and there had not been enough snow to make it worth the drive. He had resigned himself to Chinese take-out, a video, and cuddling on the couch, only to come home and find his crazy wife dancing around the house like an idiot on an obvious "chai high" to boot.

Noticing that I had included incense, salt, herbs and essential oils with my cleaning arsenal, he said, "You're doing witch stuff, aren't you?"

I thought that was a keen observation coming from a man who thinks it's amusing that he sleeps in the same room with an altar containing, among other things, a seven-inch "dagger." He resigned himself to grabbing a comforter and curling up on the couch while I started my routine. He would have yet another interesting tale to tell the guys at work about his eccentric, dangerous life filled with daggers and the threat of hypothermia.

I have many seasonal routines, but none as important--or noisy--as spring-cleaning. It has always been important for me to clean magickally as well as physically. As usual, I started out this time with open windows so that all the mold, dust, cooking odors and yucky energy from seasonal depression, colds and other nasty stuff that builds up over the winter can escape.

After another cup of chai, I proceeded to dance around the house beating my drum, made a second trip with my tambourine to stir up all the old, stagnant energy, and to recharge any latent good energy that might have taken the winter off. I have recently added an element of ceremonial magick borrowed from a friend's tradition, by doing a very cool banishing pentagram. This particular banishing ends with a dramatic "fencers lunge," athamé at the ready, and the words: "Trouble not the servants of the gods!" I say this forcefully, like I really mean it.

The cat and hubby stopped what they were doing, took a moment to consider those words and then went about their business.

Consecrating and purifying the house with the elements is also part of the ritual. I walked around the house with each element in turn, incense for Air, a candle for Fire, my chalice for Water, and kosher salt for earth, sprinkling or waving it around as needed.

"Why don't you ever use the chalice I got you for Yule?" came a voice from under the comforter.

"Because, it's in my porta-witch-kit for public ritual honey." I answered back.

Satisfied that his gift was appreciated, he returned his attention to his movie.

A simple chant for each element seems to help the process along, something like "I consecrate this house with the element of Air..." This time, I was in the mood to chant for all of them: "Fire, Water, Earth and Air, we call you to this place. Fire, Water, Earth and Air, to help create a sacred space." This chant stirred up quite a bit of energy, as evidenced by Bad Kitty abandoning her battle with the dreaded mini blinds, then chasing me around the house swatting at me, adding the ringing of her little collar bell to the task at hand.

Next I turned my attention to the houseplants and the nature spirits that inhabit them. I brought each plant down from the shelf, removed dead or damaged leaves and cleaned the remaining leaves. Any plant that needed repotting was taken care of, and they were all fed, watered, and talked to.

My 11 ½-year-old daughter got home from school in time to see the kitchen counters and floor covered in leaves, potting soil and other debris.

"I hope you don't expect me to clean that up!" she said with a disgusted and indignant look on her face.

"No, but I do expect you to clean your room. It's spring cleaning day."

She rolled her eyes as only an adolescent girl can, resigning herself to the fact that when I'm on a roll, there's no point in trying to argue. She headed off to the wilds of her room, but just before her final, dramatic exit, she tossed her head and said accusingly, "You guys had Chinese food without me."

The kitty was not brave enough to follow.

Next, it was the standard tasks: mopping, dusting, laundry and vacuuming that most folks consider a "normal" spring-cleaning, with a few modifications. I have an herb mixture, using the "nine time nine protects thee and mine" formula--any nine protection herbs will do--that I use for protection spells. I sprinkled it on the carpet as a sort of "Pagan Carpet Fresh," prior to vacuuming.

I add cedar and rosemary oil, as well as salt, to all my cleaning solutions to magickally charge them. This is also added to the laundry when I wash all the bed linens and towels.

When cleaning the bathroom, I visualize any negative energy going down the drains when rinsing the sinks and tubs. I save the real "yucky stuff" to power flush down the toilet.

By this time, hubby was happily dusting the bookshelves and doing a little dance of his own. It's amazing what a cup of chai and some magick will do to lift one's spirits.

The next thing I knew, the girl emerged from the "Room of No Return" with a triumphant look on her face.

"Mom! Did you know that I have a floor?" She was positively beaming.

After the cleaning was done, I walked through the house reciting the initial house blessing chant I used when we first bought and moved into the place. I thanked the nature spirits that live in the house, and the green man who guards our front door.

Later that night, we all snuggled on the couch in front of the fire feeling well fed after an enormous spaghetti dinner, quite pleased with our efforts. Bad Kitty lay purring in our laps and the whole house had a new, vital energy about it. The entire family agreed that the cleaning ritual was a worthwhile project and made us all feel better. They "got" the magickal spring-cleaning ritual.

Now if I can just get them to understand why I run around the yard barefoot, in my bathrobe in the first big snowfall of the season yelling, "Woo hoo! Snow day, snow day, no work or school day" to thank the gods, or why I paint my toenails red every year at Imbolc, we'll be on our way to true family understanding.

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