Growing up, the hearth played an important role in our lives. When we couldn’t work under the big oak or wander the hills, we gathered around the hearth for lessons and magic. We told stories and fire gazed. Where my grandma’s place was the Homestead, where major workings were performed and our family place of power was, our individual homes were called Heathsteads.
The hearth has always been a gathering place for families and friends; be it the hearths of our ancestors or our modern day kitchens. The hearth is warm and welcoming. It is where food is prepared & preserved for the winter months and where brews for healing and magic are created. Today many of us do our candle making in our modern kitchens.
A well maintained hearth brings happiness, friendships and protection to the home. Keep your hearth swept clean of dust and debris on a regular basis. Remove old spell remnants. Recharge any household protection charms. One of my home protection charms is nine hazelnuts strung in a ring that I bless every Samhain. At the new moon, or whenever you feel the need, wash down your hearth with something like Florida water and smudge with sage, juniper (Celtic equivalent to sage) or cedar. This keeps the spirits of the hearth happy.
You can dedicate your hearth to one of the goddesses associated with hearth and home like: Brighid, Cerridwen, Hestia or Vesta or others you associate the hearth with. A symbol representing the goddess should be hung or placed on the hearth; a Brighid’s cross for Brighid, a cauldron for Cerridwen, a kettle or kettledrum for Hestia, bread (a bowl of milled flour would work) for Vesta. For both Hestia and Vesta, the wearing of a veil would be appropriate when addressing these goddesses. When I have been fortunate to have a hearth in my home, I kept a cauldron for Cerridwen and a Brighid’s cross on it. A wreath hung above the hearth can represent the seasonal cycle of the year or you could have a Wheel of the Year representing the eight Wiccan/Pagan festivals if you are such a follower.
A ritual fire or eternal flame can represent any of the aforementioned goddesses. A 7 day candle works nicely for this. You can draw symbols on the glass with a Sharpie or you can apply pictures of your hearth Goddess to the glass. Large pillars, like the ones with 3 wicks would work as well, but you can use what you like.
In keeping with the seasonal shifts I change the décor on the hearth at Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain. This ever growing representation of seasonal colors, plants, candles, scents and symbols reflect outward from the hearth and into my home.
If you do not have a hearth in your home and would like one, there are a few things you can do. One, you can purchase a fake fire place for a few hundred dollars. They have some very nice ones and some have heaters built in. If that’s not in the budget, you can purchase a new or salvaged mantle to hang on the wall; a good sturdy shelf with some brackets would also do nicely. You need something that will represent a mantle. Under the mantle on the floor, you can lay out some paving stones or bricks for your hearth and go from there (always take precaution when working with open flames). If you are really talented at faux painting, you can paint your hearth on the wall with a fire perpetually painted in the fireplace. In the past I have used a tall sofa table, the kind that goes behind the sofa to hold table lamps and such, pushed up against a wall. The top works as a mantle, the space underneath was for my cauldron and I could hang a painting or tapestry above my makeshift hearth. If all else fails, fill up your coffee table with lit candles, turn off the lights and sit in front of the warm glow.
With the waning light, colder days, storms and the gray skies of winter ahead of us, it is always nice to have a cozy nest in front of a warm fire. So grab a good book, a cozy throw and something hot to drink and enjoy the onset of winter in front of your hearth.
Blessings on you Hearth & Home