Smudge and sweep out negative vibes
As Halloween approaches, a white witch spells out how she keeps her home stress-free
Ruth Ruane (left) and Dr Dilis Clare outside Dr Clare’s Apothecary on Sea Road, Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Ruth Ruane in Dr Clare’s Apothecary at Sea Road, Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
“Witches are no longer the stuff of fairy tales and gothic horror,” says Galway-based white witch Ruth Ruane, who harnesses power from her surroundings to live a richer life.
“It’s not about putting hexes or doing spells,” says the mother of seven, although she dabbled in that in her 20s, but rather living an enchanted life that honours nature.
Being in touch with nature is difficult in a modern world, she says, but not for her. She lives outside Galway city in a house at the top of a hill, with the bay visible from three sides and a big sky above. It is enchanting.
Everyone has his or her own magic but for it to be powerful, it has to be harnessed, she says, and it is knowing how to do that that will protect you and your home.
So how do your bring out your inner witch? Is a pointy hat, black garments, warts, a cat and broom all still part of the package?
Yes and no, says Ruane. She had a wart as a child but her mother, a herbalist, using worms from the garden somehow managed to make it fall off. She no longer keeps a cat but she does possess a broom and practises good housekeeping by sweeping to clear energies, something many cultures have done since time immemorial and a simple act that readers can practise at home.
“Sweeping is not just the physical act of clearing your house,” she explains. “It is also about space clearing. You are mentally and emotionally clearing the space and sweeping away any negativity away at the same time. If, say you’re mad at the person who cut ahead of you in traffic that morning, then brush those thoughts away.”
You can apply the same meditative approach to vacuuming, Ruane says, but you need to be mindful there will be some aural interference as a result of the noise. Neat freaks should also note that too much vacuuming can upset the energy in a room. It is key to empty the vacuum afterwards to rid the home of its contents – which all sounds rooted in common sense.
Ruane also smudges sage at home, a process by which a bundle of dried sage leaves is lit and the smoke dispersed through a room to clear out energies that is rooted in the practical – in olden times lit wands of sage and other herbs were used to clear the air to rid a sick room of its germs. Ruane also makes a special cleansing spritz, that will clear a room, using a recipe that she devised with the help of GP and medicinal herbalist Dr Dilis Clare whose Galway apothecary is a treasure trove of remedies.
The witch has always played a central role in village life, Ruane says.” Fado, fado you were the wise woman that people would come to. Often they were looking for non-judgmental insight.”
Ruane says her power comes from “the universe”.
“I channel it through the different levels, from the physical, to the emotional and spiritual. The more you listen to your unconscious, the more it will speak to you.”
Feng Sui also plays a role. It has a lot of practical purposes, she says, from ensuring that you have nothing broken or cracked in the relationship corner – the far right corner of a room if standing at the door – to putting some money in front of a mirror to help enrich your bank account. She always has a couple of €50 notes hidden inside a mirror-backed press.
What about Halloween, the pagan festival of Samhain, does this remain a big date in a witch’s social diary? “This time of the year is about the eternal battle between light and dark. But just as the darkness appears to be winning this battle, there is that tiny spark of light that appears and starts to grow again. That exact cross quarter doesn’t always happen on October 31st but has really to do with the sun. You can feel it,” she says. “I don’t follow calendars. I find them restrictive.”
Ruane has always being good at reading the runes in terms of trends, having run a food stall at Galway market selling sugar-free and dairy-free treats long before these became menu staples. She then created a soap brand and appeared on Dragon’s Den seeking investment to make her range vegan and plastic free.
Soap no longer features, but she now makes a living selling hand-made skincare and room fragrance products, under the White Witch brand. The range comprises just a handful of products, including a witchy healing salve called Regenerating Skin Balm that was inspired by the healing power of the goddess Bridget and the aforementioned home-cleansing spritz.
Ruth Ruane will conduct a natural space-cleansing workshop in Galway early next month. Using only natural ingredients you will learn how to make your own cleansing spritz, which you can take home with you; get instructed on the basics of Fung Shui; and fashion a sage wand that you will also be taught how to smudge to good effect.
The course takes place on Saturday, November 10th, from 6:30pm to 10:30pm at Dr Clare’s Apothecary, 9 Sea Road, Galway city.
All materials will be provided. It costs €100 per person to include all materials. See drclareapothecary.com