Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Vesta Tradition

I've been reading New Vesta: Renewing the Sacred Flame blog on Witches & Pagans for a little while, and I am glad that I found the author's website, that's all about the New Vesta Tradition.  If you know me, you know that I see Hestia and Vesta as the same Goddess, and therefore have no problems with honoring Hestia on or with festivals and rituals for Vesta.  Anything that I can find about either, I nerd out and research, research, research.  And honestly, I think that more information exists...or has survived... about Vesta than Hestia.  It works for me!

In reading the NVT, I'm seeing that there's not a whole lot of difference between it and Hearth Keeping, or Hearth Witchery for that matter.  Household Deities, more than likely, will have similarities in how Their followers choose to worship and honor Them, especially when the Deities in question don't have a lot of information on Them.

"The presence of Vesta’s flame makes every home a sacred space, within which couples and families thrive."

That falls right into the Hearth Witch / Hearth Keeper path.  With Kitchencraft, the kitchen is the focal point of the house (or so it was in my early days of Kitchen Witchery).  With Hearthcraft (I'm no expert, and I don't even know if 'Hearthcraft' is an official type of magik or path--for me, it is), the home is sacred, as are things that go on within it--spiritual and mundane.  As I've often said, my home is Hestia's temple.  Her sacred flame exists as a metaphor.  Yes, I do have candles for Her, but I just can't tend to it 24/7.  It's just not possible, even with a battery operated, which I've thought about using.  There's not something primal about a real flame; the energy between fire and electricity is different. I don't think the type of flame matters to Hestia, to be honest, it's about intention.

Her Sacred Flame is Spirit.  Soul.  Action.  Intentions.  It's about keeping Hestia and all that She stands for alive through belief and actions.  I tend Her Sacred Flame daily, in checking myself.  In reflecting and making sure that I'm honoring Her properly.  That I'm listening to Her lessons, that I'm keeping a harmonious home, raising happy kids, having a strong relationship with my husband, and enforcing family bonds.  I'm keeping this temple peaceful and sacred.

"A lararium or household family altar can be located anywhere in the home, but traditionally it is located near the entrance to bless the comings and goings of family members and to serve as a visual reminder that home really is where the heart is."

I have two shrines to Hestia in my home.  One is in the kitchen, as the kitchen is still the focal point of our home, it's still where it all happens, and it's actually the main entrance, too.  That shrine is simple and overlooks the sink.  As I don't have a dish washer, I spend lots of time at the sink, washing dishes.  Doing this chore allows me to calm down and enter meditation.  Now it's not as deep as other sessions, but it's deep enough to allow me to refocus, gain clarity, and gaze upon my Matron.

May 27, 2015
Purple cloth from a wedding favor,
'Devotion' figure, a chunk of amethyst, and a white tealight
 
The main shrine is by the front door.  We don't use this entrance as much, but the living room is another focal point.  The shrine sits at the entrance to this room, so that Hestia visually greets those who enter.

May 27, 2015

Not pictured with the main shrine, I have a trinket box that holds other items, from herbs to pieces of jewelry.  Inside this box are also two flash drives of important family photos.  As I practice Ancestral Veneration and Spirit Work, I have a separate shrine devoted to our Ancestors.

Here, pictured, is Hestia.  Although I really really desire to have another statue of her (looks like it's marble and gold, is picture on the website).  I'd also like to have a replica of  "A veiled Vestal Virgin" by Raffaelle Monti.

As for flowers and such to decorate the shrine with, I'm not really a big fan of killing plants just for decoration.  The only time I put plants on my shrines, is if they're dried, I found the detached, they're in a pot, or I plan on using them for more than just an offering. However, I am not opposed to using fake and dried plants on my altars and shrines.

I do like the suggestions that the author gives about the temple replica or picture and plants like herbs and laurel leaves for the lararium.  I also like the idea of the Vesta Candle.  Although I do have my Hestia Candle, I'm talking about the process described by the author for her candles.

As for offerings and libations, I typically give Her:

  • My actions
  • Dried lavender
  • Hot herbal tea
  • Homemade bread  
  • Bread dipped in olive oil
  • Crochet projects
  • Sown dolls
  • Sea Salt
  • Dried Chamomile (or mint)
  • Lit candles (I hope to get more creative when I learn how to make them myself)
  • Often I let Her guide me...and sometimes Hestia likes chocolate.  
The author suggests salted flour to "sprinkle into the flame at meal-tie, prayer, and other rituals".  That's simple.  Cheap.  Easy.  Actually, during the Vestalia this year, I was going to keep flour on Her shrine (as well as make a version of mola salsa using blessed flour and water).  This year, I have a fire pit, so I can actually feed offerings to this fire!  I'm pretty excited about this.  But I don't know how I'd feel burning food, as I typically toss wildlife-safe food and drink outside.  But something simple like flour, salt, and herbs?  Sure!

In the picture above, you can see that I have an offering bowl of dried lavender, sea salt, and dried peppermint.

Personal Symbols:
Nowadays, I never wear a pentacle; I'm actually not big on jewelry, period.  I don't even wear wedding rings.  However, I will wear my Bone Goddess for Protection, my Kuan Yin pendant for healing and compassion, and a skeleton key with a garnet stone for Hestia.  Outside of jewelry, I dressed modestly (mostly for me, it's comfortable) and veils.  I wear veils for a variety of reasons, especially to connect me to Her.

On the Vestalia, I wear white.  Right now it's white veils, sandals, and one shirt, but I'm hoping to up the white clothing quantity so I can wear it every day of the Vestalia.


So yeah, it's not that different than what I already do.  I'm not saying that I'm part of the New Vesta Tradition...although I do plan on reading books on it.  But I'm glad that I found it, I'm intrigued and excited.  More inspiration and influence for my own path as a Hearth Keeper.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hearth Keeper & Domestic Witchery

 Hearth Keeper and what it means to me being one. 

As stated in another post, when I found the term "Hearth Witch" and was intrigued.  It sounded like something that might be up my alley.  I did some research and found some information, learning from One Hippie Witch's old blog, The Domestic Witch, that the difference between a Hearth Witch and a Kitchen Witch is that Hearth Witches work with Deities having to do with the Hearth, Home, and Family.  Also that the home is sacred, not just a room or a spot for an altar, as well as your actions (Hearth vs. Kitchen).

I was like, Hey I work with a hearth deity!  I nerded out.  Thought long and hard, digested the information that was in that article, reflected and such.  I decided to separate Hearth and Witch to better suit my belief system, until I eventually came to Hearth Keeper (Pagan) and Domestic Witch (explanatory). 

I think the reason why it took me so long, was because I felt that the terms were pretty self explanatory, how do I turn this into a longer post?  But then I'm sure some feel that Hearth Witch is self explanatory, too, and I was pretty stumped about it. 

Here are my interpretations of what it means to be a Hearth Keeper and a Domestic Witch.  I've been thinking long and hard about this for a while, so hopefully what I have makes sense. 

Hearth Keeper
Hestia, the Goddess you all know..probably, as I can't seem to write two blogs without mentioning Her.  She's a Goddess of the Hearth, Home, and Family.  She also taught people how to build homes, including Her in architecture.  It's all a big deal to Her. 

I am a follower of Hers, been for 20+ years.  My path has been down many forks, some dead-ending, others continuing, forking off into others with the same story.  From a kid learning the basics and foundation to a woman who's pretty comfortable with her Pagan and Magikal paths.  I'm a SAHM, so I feel it's only natural that I became a Hearth Keeper and Domestic Witch. 

My home is one of Hestia's temples.  It's my duty to care of it, myself, my family, and my guests.  To keep the atmosphere comfortable, harmonious, and healthy.  I honor Hestia everyday with my actions, thoughts, and give Her offerings and such.  I just try to live as best as I can, by following Her example and lessons...minus that virgin thing, clearly.

I am the Keeper of the Temple, of this Hearth.  And that's what it means to me.  Short, to the point.  Very uncharacteristic for me. 

Domestic Witch
Let me copy and paste here, "I'm a SAHM, so I feel it's only natural that I became a Hearth Keeper and Domestic Witch."  I've done a lot of study and practice in my years, focusing on the elements, the Mother Earth, Father Sun, Sister Moon; on healing, on ritual, on moon magick, tool crafting, herbal magik, spirit work, divination, protection magik, poppet magik, meditation, Ancestral work, various traditions, and the list goes on and on.  Some of these things I still do, they're still part of my practice, but I'm not as focused on them anymore.  Depending on how long you've been reading me, I used to do monthly posts about each Lunar Month, complete with pictures of that month's altar/shrine.  I also went through my 'Blessed Be' and 'Love and Light' stages, as well as my hypocritical, judgmental, hateful and fluffier than a Angora rabbit stages, too.  It's all part of the journey. 

As a SAHM, my focus has shifted and evolved to home and family.  That's my focus now.  Keeping the home and property, caring for my loved ones, and thus working magik that focuses on these important aspects of my life. 

I used to call myself a Kitchen Witch, as many of you might recall, but I felt that was limiting.  So I added Hedge Witch (Shamanism and Witchcraft) (or whichever one came first...).  Felt right...but still limiting.  Domestic Witchraft, as I've found, incorporates all or a little of the domestic crafts: Kitchen, Hedge, Green, Cottage, etc. 

I like labels and I don't like limits.  Domestic Witch works.  Hearth Keeper works. 

As I get older, especially as the fledglings start leaving the nest, my path more than likely will shift again.  Who knows what the future holds for me?

(Also posted on Book of Mirrors and on Witchbook.net)

PS, The Vestalia is coming up soon!