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Celtic Flame

A new morning practice encourages me to wander into the patterns of Celtic women’s spirituality, to honor my ancestors and meet them at the hearth where we all come to join hearts and minds in a covenant of belonging. Blessings well up to keep me conscious of gifts received and reminders to share my abundance.

First thing in the morning, light the flame, a signal of conscious awareness; last thing at night, honor the dimming of glow in the house where shadows merge and reign upon our sanctuary, a blanket of dark protection. Here are the tethers of life, the wicks of gratitude and love; where once were coals upon a central fireplace, now a candle represents the resurrection off hearth-keeping as a sacred vocation, even when only an act of diminutive devotion.

IMG_0280Some of my ancestors came from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the English borderlands. Those who have studied their life-ways and myths or legends remind us that, “They can show us how to do ordinary things in a spirit of celebration that comes from a sense of being connected with the flow of humanity, the life energies.”

I wrote a while back about my personal and unique path to tending the hearth fire. My relationship to hearth and home is in continual transformation as I explore the mysteries of life. It is said that, “the household fire was more than a practical convenience … it was a reminder of the flame of life, of the need to rekindle basic energies every day of our lives, to keep in touch with our inner life force and avoid apathy and coldness in ourselves or towards others.” When I light my candle, this remembering is a portion of the context in which I see the flickering and feel it within myself.

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Quotes are from Power of Raven, Wisdom of Serpent: Celtic Women’s Spirituality by Norah Jones.

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Hestia at Winter Solstice

Flame Pendant

Morning, December 21, 2012, meditation: 

Soft, subtle music plays in the background as I sit in contemplation, welcoming the Light of dawn.

In the recesses of my mind, I find myself crouched in front of an old, soot-tinged fireplace made of rough-hewn stone, a modest fire licking birch logs. The room is dark, but I know it is a cozy log cabin far off in a mountain forest, familiar and safe. I take a twig from the crackling fire and light three candles, clockwise, for the other directions; I face the fireplace, which is South.

Within the circle, Hestia comes to me. “Keep the home fires burning.” Her voice is crisp and raspy like the crumpled paper I use as tinder when wood is wet or kindling scarce. Hestia shows me that part of Her ‘homing’ is in the aspect of ‘frequency holder’ and that She is here to support that essence. She holds the point of convergence which is heart-communication; she is the core, the focus, around which wise women sit and pass the ‘talking stick.’ And she tells me this includes writing. I feel so welcome in Her warmth.

I touch my flame pendant and know that Hestia is a major component of inspiration and creativity … that the fires I write and ignite don’t have to be a bonfire someone could see from space! “Just use the flame that comes naturally.” Her unobtrusive whisper warms my inner ear. Hestia encourages me toward the flickering colors of creativity, alternately wielding “the Torch, the Candle and the Coal.”

With Hestia in the cabin, I relax into an exquisite sense of belonging.

Pre-Dawn, December 22, 2012, meditation: 

I return to the cabin of yesterday, a heavy patchwork quilt wrapped around my body, a veil upon my head, and light a single candle on the mantle to welcome the growing Illumination of longer days. Just one. For the Dark isn’t quite ready to relinquish her shadows … not just yet.  Hecate sings to those in the blackness … “come out, come out, wherever you are, and meet the young lady, who fell from a star.”  Hestia joins her voice in harmony, a gentle background of flickering, dancing flame, for She is the Great Goddess, unlimited by form or figure, by night or day.

Hestia is as old as the suns of a million stars, and Her spark is within every atom of existence.

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Note: Hestia is often depicted in Classical Greek artwork as wearing a veil in supposed ‘modesty.’ I would proffer that originally her veil (pre-Hellenic) is actually part of her inward-focus attire, that the seers perceived her in a draped veil of introspection. Why do I see the veil symbol differently? Because I experience deeper contemplation when wearing a veil/scarf draped upon my head. The curtain-effect of the outer separation promotes and supports inner reflection upon that which is sacred, which allows the sacred flame to consume us within the ecstasy of eternal knowing.hestia