Lighter Weather for Darker Souls
How to Add Springtime Sparkle to Spooky Surroundings
Is your aesthetic witchy or goth, moody or broody? Spring is approaching, and you know what that means… Bats emerge from hibernation, fishnet tights replace leather pants, and carnivorous houseplants start pining in earnest for fat, juicy houseflies.
For most people, the transition to warmer weather means bluebirds and daffodils, Easter eggs and pastels. But for raven-loving, bone-collecting, tan-dodging nyctophiles, the sun’s annual emergence presents particular challenges and opportunities. Even the most meticulously haunted homes need refreshing at times. With a few tailored techniques, you’ll be ready to weather the warmth with ease.
Clothes organization can be particularly problematic when most items are black or other similar dark shades. Begin by sorting out seldom-used items for donation, and packing away heavy items you’d only wear in freezing temperatures, like winter coats and lined gloves. That way, you’ll have fewer items to sort through each time you get dressed. Of course, keep some lighter layers, like thin scarves, jackets, wide-brimmed hats, and even breathable gloves for warmth, flair, and protection from the sun.
Next, organize clothing into groups of similar items. Short sleeved shirts, long sleeve shirts, sweaters, leggings, pants, etc. I recommend using hangers to store any clothing that won’t stretch out of shape if hung. It’s easier to slide items along a rack than to dig through piles, especially if your clothes tend to be monochromatic.
One section at a time, combine similar items. For example, start with short sleeved shirts. If you wear more than one color, group them by shade, or by solids and patterns. If your shirts are all one hue, consider grouping similar textures (jersey, lace, rubber) or styles (casual, work, fancy). If you’re still struggling to tell them apart, consider hanging them inside-out, and refer to their tags for assistance.
Bonus tip: To avoid the future horror of frantically pawing through piles of indistinguishable items, make it a habit to hang clean clothes as soon as they’re dry. The job is less daunting when loads aren’t left to accumulate.
Bits and Baubles
Just as crows delight in random shiny treasures, many lovers of dark beauty joyfully compile tiny hoards of found objects. Light, airy minimalists, we are not. Our homes are often filled with books and branches, feathers and ferns, stones and bones. After a while, it can be hard to distinguish between our shelves and the forest floors from whence our collections came. That’s not all bad, but Spring is an excellent time to give our most precious items the honor and care they deserve.
If you’re feeling ambitious, this is an excellent time to pull volumes from their shelves for dusting and regrouping. Obvious organization techniques are by genre and author. But consider going further to delight the eye. Within each grouping, stand books from tallest to shortest, or according to color. Or perhaps organize from old to new. Stand some books and stack others, for variety. Keep favorites in ponderous places: in a bathroom basket, beside a comfortable chair, or grouped with fresh wildflowers and candles on the breakfast table.
Stones and Crystals
Light dusting is safe for all stones. However, some crystals and other semi-precious stones can be harmed or discolored by exposure to water, salt, or sunlight. If you’re not sure about specific specimens in your collection, I suggest a web search, a visit to the library, or a consultation with a local expert, such as the owner of a metaphysical store or a member of a rockhound club.
Once your stones are clean, consider grouping them by color, purpose, or size. Thrift stores are a perfect source for unusual containers, from pewter platters to glass ashtrays. Some rocks look beautiful among other collections. For example, a large stone could crown a stack of books. A handful of similar pebbles could be placed in the bottom of a flower arrangement or nestled in the soil of a potted plant. Sparkly stones look spectacular lining a clean windowsill. Again, make sure not to place any in conditions which could cause them harm.
Bones, Feathers, and Sticks
Tall items look great grouped by type in vases, glasses, jars, and even crockery. For a uniform look, consider choosing containers made from the same material or color, or invest in some spray/acrylic/glass paint to make them match.
Smaller items like vertebrae or bark can be sorted, then strung and hung, or stashed by type in bowls or jars. Choose lidded containers for delicate, difficult-to-dust specimens.
Also, consider transforming select treasures into new creations, either to keep or to give as gifts. Use driftwood to practice carving. Long bones and feathers can become airy mobiles. Learn to employ feathers as writing quills. Possibilities abound!
Dried Flowers and Herbs
Collecting: If you forage outdoors, lay plant cuttings in the sun for an hour or so before bringing them inside, to allow hidden creepy-crawlies time to escape. If you plan to ingest what you collect, first make sure you know what you’re getting. Many edible and medicinal plants have deadly lookalikes. Also, make sure you’re not collecting plants which have been sprayed with chemicals, likely urinated upon by animals, or within twenty feet of a street with regular traffic. And of course, make sure it’s legal to collect, if not on your own property.
Preserving: Drying flowers for decoration is easy. Simply bunch and hang. For ingestion, you’ll want to make sure that once completely dry, they’re stored in airtight containers to protect them from dust and bugs; and away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. Many drying techniques can be found online. Again, cheap, uniform containers from the thrift store, like lidded jars, look tidy and beautiful. Make sure to label your consumable plants right away, as they can be difficult to distinguish later.
Winter is not the best time to fertilize, repot, or heavily prune plants. So, if you inhabit an indoor jungle, Spring is the perfect time to spruce up. Each type of plant has special needs, so it’s best to research what yours require. Some feel safest snug in their pots, while others demand room to stretch. Also, different species need different types and amounts of fertilizer.
Spring ushers in the exciting chance to propagate old beauties, and to make room for new specimens in pots which more mature plants have outgrown. This is perfect timing, because nurseries are stocking up and hosting sales. Many plants can be multiplied, simply by cutting in the right spots and immersing the cuttings in water. It’s also a great time to experiment with varieties you haven’t tried indoors. Succulents, bonsai, fragrant herbs, flowers, carnivorous plants, climbers… options are endless!
Bonus hints: You can grow brand new plants without a greenhouse budget. Many organic, non-GMO fruits and vegetables from your local grocery store contain usable seeds. I have several years-old plants in exotic varieties, which I started this way, from dragon fruits to date trees. Also, consider swapping tropical cuttings with other plant-lovers. You’ll each get to try new varieties for free!
As Spring approaches, I most look forward to opening windows. Stagnant air can finally exit, and fresh breezes can enliven indoor space like nothing else. Scarves, repurposed lace tablecloths, ribbons, stringed beads, or delicate windchimes can replace heavy curtains. They’ll dance in the gentle wind while still providing privacy.
Of course, open windows also introduce delightful fragrances into your home. Fresh rain, budding blossoms, and new grass emit scents which mingle beautifully with dark, earthy decor. However, your home can benefit from additional “scentsory” stimulation. (See what I did there?)
Fragranced candles are an obvious option, but many employ harsh chemicals. If candles delight you, try to opt for naturally scented beeswax, or soy wax with essential oils. Keep candles away from fluttering window dressings for safety’s sake, as well as to prevent wax spatter caused by gusts.
Incense comes in several forms, and their fragrance evokes particularly mysterious ambiance. Try to find varieties made from pure resins and herbs, rather than artificial ingredients. Better yet, try making your own incense blends or candles.
Water and essential oil diffusers are another great option. One of my favorite daily rituals is concocting a blend which suits my mood or needs. For example, some combinations are best suited to aid with digestion (peppermint and sweet orange), concentration (rosemary and lemon), or relaxing (lavender and chamomile). If you don’t have a diffuser, you can also simmer water with a few drops of oil, or a combination of vanilla, spices, and fruit slices on the stove. Of course, as with candles and incense, never leave a simmering pot unattended.
Let’s be honest. Without some basic elbow-grease work, you’re really just shuffling stagnant stuff. But Spring chores don’t have to be drudgery. With mindfulness and creativity, you can accomplish much more than cleanliness, refreshing yourself inside and out as you go.
First, consider making your own cleaning supplies, not only for your home, but also for your body. For your household, items like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and warm water can make a huge difference in your budget and your health, by cutting out toxic chemicals. (Don’t worry; the vinegar smell will dissipate as soon as it dries.) Your body also deserves to be cleansed and pampered with gentle, loving ingredients. Try coconut oil, homemade rose water, Epsom salts, or an oatmeal scrub. The internet and your local library can provide countless affordable, effective recipes. So, get brewing!
As you work, consider the mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits to each task. For example, as you sweep, you can visualize clearing away old, sluggish thinking and habits. As you wash windows, you can express gratitude for mental clarity and renewed vision. As you sanitize your bathroom, take time to gaze into the mirror, and marvel at the gift of your own body and the opportunity to practice self-care.
Once your home has been refreshed, you’ll be ready to invite guests inside, or to venture out, knowing a welcoming oasis awaits your return. Massage your skin with sunscreen, slip into lightweight fabrics (however dark), select some sunglasses, and greet the world with panache, you dazzling darkling! Springtime is yours to enjoy.
About the author
Sara Shalom's fiction and poetry span numerous genres. Her non-fiction work focuses on Integrity, Intention and Inspiration. In addition to writing, she is a successful actor, musician and visual artist.