Rituals for moving home

I have just moved from Oxford, England, to Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. As you can imagine, this will cause some emotional upheaval. I feel very rooted in England, and am concerned about the issue of land stolen from Indigenous people in Canada, and the effects of colonialism on their wellbeing and way of life.

It helps a lot to do rituals to acknowledge and process these feelings. We have done a ritual for moving home, and we have spoken with the land and water spirits in the area (without appropriating any Indigenous ritual).

House moving: candle ritual

On leaving the old house, take a lit candle into each room. Visualise the flame burning away any negative memories, and the candle absorbing the good ones. You can also take round incense to banish any negativity. Blow out the candle when done and say “the memories are now sealed in the candle”. Describe the happy memories if it helps.

On arriving at the new house, take round incense (and a bell if required) to banish any negative energies left behind by previous occupants. Then cast a circle, visualise it encompassing your whole house, and ask the four elements of the four directions to protect and bless the house and its occupants. Then light the candle in which you collected the memories, carry it round to each room, and release the happy memories. Again, describe the memories if it helps.

Candle by webandi

Land acknowledgement

If you are in Canada, Australia, or the USA, you are on the traditional territory of an Indigenous people. Find out the land acknowledgement for your area, and the history of which peoples live there, or have lived there. Pagan ritual in North America could start with a land acknowledgement. You can also make a land acknowledgement sign for your house. Consider ways in which you can build relationships with Indigenous people and support their work, and help to dismantle colonialism and colonialist attitudes.

However, these acknowledgements can easily be a token gesture rather than a meaningful practice. All settlers, including recent arrivants, have a responsibility to consider what it means to acknowledge the history and legacy of colonialism. What are some of the privileges settlers enjoy today because of colonialism? How can individuals develop relationships with peoples whose territory they are living on in the contemporary Canadian geopolitical landscape? What are you, or your organization, doing beyond acknowledging the territory where you live, work, or hold your events? What might you be doing that perpetuates settler colonial futurity rather than considering alternative ways forward for Canada? Do you have an understanding of the on-going violence and the trauma that is part of the structure of colonialism?


The Haldimand Tract, the area where we now live, was bought from the Mississauga people by the British government after the American War of Independence, and was then given to the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) who had fought on the British side, after they had petitioned for an area to settle in. They then sold part of the land to settlers, but the proceeds from the sale were “held in trust” by the government, and as far as I am aware, the money was never returned to them.

In Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Brantford we are on the territory of the Neutral (Attawandaron), Anishinabek and Haudenosaunee peoples.

Connecting with the land

Find out about the species of animals and birds, trees and flowers, in your area. What are their migration patterns and flowering and fruiting seasons? What is the geology of your area? What landforms (hills, rivers, gorges, lakes, mountains) are there around you? What bioregion do you live in?

You can also draw sacred maps of your area, matching your hills, rivers, trees, flowers, animals, and birds to your sacred space (for example, water could be represented by salmon, or otters).

If you live in an area that was previously someone else’s sacred landscape, be aware of this before creating your sacred space.

Further reading

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16 thoughts on “Rituals for moving home

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  3. Welcome to North America, and belated Happy Canada Day! My aunt actually lives in Kitchener, small world! I’ve tried to get started on the bioregion research stuff, lately I have been more into local history/culture, though indigenous folks are of course a part of that. I’ve been encountering more folks, especially at social justice-related conferences do the territory acknowledgement, often it’s said as “the occupied territories of X in Turtle Island”. Recently I read Jane Meredith’s Circle of Eight, she’s Australian & has a really cool approach to adapting Wicca & other traditions that follow the Wheel of the Year, direction & element correspondences to local bioregions.

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    • Nice! Thank you for the welcome.

      Some Indigenous people don’t like Turtle Island as it’s not found in all traditions.

      The history of settlement and Indigenous people in this area is complicated but the First Nations didn’t get a fair deal for the land they sold.


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  5. This is an insightful article. I have 3 questions:
    1. What is a land acknowledgement sign?
    2. Any specific incense? Something native to the area, like violet?
    3. Should you do this if you’ve been living in the house a long time? This was my grandparents’ house. It used to be a generally positive area full of gardens and bees. Now everything feels oppressive, like the street is under a dark cloud, I can hardly get anything to grow, the bees are gone, and no one gets along.
    Thank you,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robin, thanks for the great comment.

      Re (1): a land acknowledgment sign is a plaque or framed statement explaining whose land you are on (if you live somewhere that has been colonized). Mine reads “Land Acknowledgment. In Hespeler, we are on the lands of the Attawandaron (Neutral), Anishinabek, and Haudenosaunee Peoples. Respect.”

      (2) incense. Native to the area is good but a lot of Indigenous people object to using their sacred plants, so again it depends on where and who you are.

      (3) you could definitely do a cleansing and blessing for that situation, and adapt my candle ritual accordingly. Visualize all the negativity being burned away. You don’t need yo transport your happy vibes to a new location so instead, visualize the candle flame illuminating everything and bringing light and happiness. Then imagine the light and happiness spreading through your whole area. You can do it more than once. Also ask your ancestors to help, especially if they loved the house.

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      • Thank you. I mentioned violet incense because I have a yard full of violets every spring, and because I understand the objections that Indigenous people have to sage. I read a thread on Twitter a few days ago, written by an Indigenous woman, explaining the process and ritual interwoven into gathering sage and why she objects to non-Indigenous people buying sage. Someone sent me a package of traditional sage smudge sticks and frankly I did not feel comfortable with them. I have a Celtic (my heritage) magic book with an extensive incense list. Violet just came to mind first as something that grows here.

        I have to go to the library and do some research to find out who was here before white people arrived. I’m ashamed to admit that I have no idea.

        A Land Acknowledgement sign would really rock the neighborhood. But, if I choose to make one and hang it on one of my front porch columns, there’s nothing anyone can do. Maybe we all need a daily visual reminder.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes we have lots of violets in the garden too. Thank you for explaining about the sage, I didn’t know about the ritual woven into it, just that people objected to non-Indigenous people using it. I have some that I bought from an Indigenous-owned store before I knew about the objections. If you figure out how to do violet incense, that’s impressive. I use incense sticks from India.

        My land acknowledgement sign is in the living room — I had it in the front porch for a while. Maybe I should make a bigger one and put it in the front porch. If you’re in Canada, the map I linked to in this article will tell you whose land you’re on.

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      • I buy handmade incense from Etsy. There’s a convenience store here that sells cheap incense sticks, they do have some “regular” scents like violet and rose. Walmart has incense in their candle aisle. They have the stick variety and a couple of the cone style. I got Dragon’s Blood and Full Moon in the cone style. But the Etsy store I buy from offers almost everything. I read a long thread on Twitter by a Native woman explaining that the act of gathering sage is a sacred act and that if you buy sage, you have no idea if it was gathered with the proper respect paid to the land and land spirits. Someone sent me a package of traditional sage smudge sticks but I never “got the hang of it,” although it seems simple. I did buy sage incense from that shop and tried it instead of the smudge sticks. I have a book that lists incense fragrances for every possible need. The other cleansing/purification incenses are bay laurel, frankincense, lavender, myrrh, pine, rosemary, vervain, basil, betony, burdock, cedar, dragon’s blood, elder, feverfew, hyssop, marjoram, oak, peppermint, rue, salt (?), thyme, valerian, and woodruff. (Source: Celtic Magic, D.J. Conway, 1995)

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      • “Land Acknowledgment. In Hespeler, we are on the lands of the Attawandaron (Neutral), Anishinabek, and Haudenosaunee Peoples. Respect.”


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