The USA is currently undergoing a profound cold snap. Places that usually do not get cold, like NOLA and Texas, are experiencing snow, ice, howling winds, and rolling blackouts or power outages. People are chilled. We here in the Upper Midwest are having single-digit or below-zero temperatures, with wind chills in the double-digit negatives. We’re kinda used to it, but our southern pals are not, which is why we’re going to talk about some ways to keep warm, and some “snow magick” rites and rituals.
How to stay toasty in freezing temps:
First, you need to worry about keeping your family warm. Wear layers of clothing. Make sure your body sweat does not pool up in cotton or wool fibers, which will only make you colder. Wrap yourself in fleeces, blankets, and comforters. Don’t forget warm socks, and use gloves indoors if you must. Your fingers and toes are most vulnerable to frostbite. Limit times outdoors, especially if its windy. Cover your face with a scarf and wear a hat. Your mask to prevent Covid is not enough to keep warm. Bring your livestock indoors, even if it’s a garage. Bring pets inside the home. Straw works better in animal enclosures than blankets, which can freeze.
Clear ice and snow away from exhaust vents of furnaces or heaters, as well as your clothes dryer. Otherwise, deadly carbon monoxide fumes can back up into your home.
There are electric heating devices for stock tanks and pet water dishes. You may have to break the ice on watering tanks in order to give your livestock a drink. There are also “can’t freeze” external faucets for the home.
For your car, start it and leave the engine running for at least 15 minutes every day. Those jump starters and chargers you buy at the store can work to bring life back to a dead battery. Add gasline anti-freeze and radiator anti-freeze as needed, to keep your gaslines and hoses from freezing and bursting. If you’re sheltering in your car, running the engine, ensure that the muffler is not sticking into the snow. Clear it so the exhaust fumes can escape.
I suggest you invest in a wood-burner or a kerosene heater for your home. Both will work without electricity. If you’re using either, keep a window cracked open. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but you don’t want to suffocate. Using any burner within the home can create deadly carbon monoxide gas and poison you. If you lose power, and use a generator, make sure that the exhaust is outdoors. Running a generator inside, even in a garage, is very dangerous. Jump starters for cars can also be used for needed medical devices, like a C-PaP or insulin pump. Charge it up on the car battery, then plug in the device. It will run anywhere from ½ an hour to several hours. In a pinch, the old trick of burning a few votive candles / tea lights on a brick, underneath a terra-cotta flowerpot propped up on bricks above the candles, can really work to heat a small space.
Keep everyone together in one room. Push sofas and chairs together, or shelter under blankets in a large bed. Make it a game for the kids, like a blanket fort. Read aloud from books with a flashlight. Eat snacks, and cuddle together for warmth. Play board games or cards. Warm small children and babies with your own body heat. Be sure to dress them in layers, too. This is not the time to take a bath or shower. For cleanliness, I recommend using wet wipes, and those only on faces, hands, and bottoms. You can bathe when it’s warmer.
Do NOT put space heaters, candles, or other combustibles underneath a blanket. FR, we had a friend who died in a house fire from having their electric space heater too close to bedding. If you’re using your gas oven or range to heat your home, be very cautious. Crack open a window to release fumes.
Frozen pipes are really a thing. If your home’s plumbing pipes freeze, the expanding ice can make copper, galvanized steel, or even plastic /PVC pipes crack or burst, causing leaks. Keep the water faucets dripping if possible. If pipes do freeze, you can use a hair dryer to thaw them. Use a heat lamp, such as the ones for warming baby poultry, to keep pipes from freezing and to keep the water pump warm enough to work. For drains, pour warm (not hot!) water down the drain. Electric heat tape can keep pipes warm and prevent freezing as well. If you are without power, this can be a problem. For water, you can melt snow on a wood burner or over a kerosene heater in an iron or steel pot. Snow reduces to about ¼ or 1/8 the amount of water. If you’re going to ingest it, strain out any impurities through a coffee filter or muslin cloth. This is not necessary for pets or washing water. Don’t ingest cold snow or ice; it just reduces your body temperature.
Outside, if locks freeze, warm them with a hair dryer or heat lamp, or even a lighter. Spray vinegar onto locks to prevent freezing. Use de-icer products on locks or on frozen windshields. Rock salt and halide can melt snow and ice on your sidewalks.
Eat lots of carbs and fats, if only temporarily. You need to keep your body temperature up. And oh, try not to drive anywhere, if possible. Getting stranded by the roadside, with your car running out of gas, is no fun.
Now for some winter magick:
Like moon water or spring water, snow can be used for purification and cleansing. Wash floors with snow water to banish disquieting energies. Snow water can also be used in teas, decoctions, and for cleaning ritual implements. For bathing, mix a little snow water into your regular washing water in your sink. Bathing your face in snow water is invigorating (if it’s cold in your house, don’t do this unless the snow water is warmed.) Let the snow melt naturally in a pot. As mentioned above, if you’re going to ingest snow water, strain out any impurities.
Icicles can be used in the same manner as an athame or ritual sword, for ceremonies held outdoors. Name something you want to banish, give it to a snowball, and throw it far away. Write names of undesirable situations on paper, and bury it in the snow. This “freezes out” unwanted conditions. As the snow melts, the situation is banished.
The Caeleach is a wintertime Goddess of the British Isles. Wiccans sometimes view her as a Crone entity. She can be appealed to for banishing / removing undesirable situations, things that require calm and tranquility, conditions that require meditation and reflection, restful sleep, hibernation and relaxation, natural aging, wisdom, and during times of decay /dissolution, in hopes of changes for the better. She also appreciates symbolic gifts of firewood, blankets for the homeless, or ice cream or frozen yogurt.
The verb for “to snow” in the Cymraeg (Welsh) language is bwri, pronounce boo-ree. This means the same as to cast, and also to drop or give birth. Magick done for the purpose of birthing something, like bringing a project into manifestation, is especially effective when it’s snowing. Ask for abundance and plentitude when snow is falling – as many snowflakes as I see, let that be the amount of my wealth.
Make angels or fairies in the snow by lying down, flapping your arms and scissoring your legs. Try to stand up without ruining your creation. (Note – don’t do this if it is really cold, and wear adequate winter gear when you do it.) Play “Fox and Geese”, where the fox must pursue those designated as geese, sticking to trails stamped out in the snow. Build snowmen, snow effigies, snow sculptures. Feed the birds. Go sledding or tobogganing. You don’t need a fancy sled; a cardboard box or a wide shovel can work. You might have to slide downhill a few times to pack the snow. See if your region has a skating rink, and learn to ice skate. Look for frost fairies’ art on glass windowpanes. Drink hot cocoa or coffee with a bit of peppermint or chocolate added. Enjoy the winter, and know that springtime will be here soon enough.