A Hearth-Centred Practice: Daily Worship

I’d like to apologise for my absence of late. Between moving, my busy schedule, and attending the Fire in the Hearth: Pagan Thought in Modern Times conference in Ottawa, time for posting anything has been scarce. I hope to make it up to you with this post, continuing my thoughts on household practice.

In our faith, fire is central to our rituals, something that is found across all Indo-European cultures. It would then make sense for our daily rituals to be centred around the hearth. At the very least, the daily worship would entail lighting the household’s fire in the morning, with appropriate prayers.

The hearthfire, in a modern home, can take many forms. Ceisiwr Serith, in A Book of Pagan Prayer, discusses how the hearth goddess can be honoured at the stove, the water heater, and the furnace, for all of these appliances have replaced the practical function of the hearthfire [1]. For myself, our hearthfire is a pillar candle in a jar that sits on the central altar in the house. The stove and other associated appliances are extensions of its functions, but the magical, ritual centre of the house is that candle on that altar.

This hearthfire is linked to the hearthfire of the Grove, an idea that we began to explore this past Bealtaine. We lit a sacred fire from nine woods sacred to us, and each household lit candles from the flames. These candles we took to our homes to place on our altars. In this way, we are all connected.  I will explore the concept of “tribal” hearthfires – and the tribe itself — in future posts.

The goddess of our hearth is Brighid. She is enshrined in our kitchen, with a crosóg, the brat Bhríde belonging to the Grove, and a candle carrying the spark of the Kildare flame. It may seem strange that our “hearthfire”, as it were, is not on Her shrine, but the hearthfire is a central place, where any of our gods can be worshipped and welcomed. The deities with whom we have individual relationships have separate shrines elsewhere in the house, now that we have the luxury to do so. But I think it’s important that the hearthfire maintains its connection to Brighid of the hearth, so the prayers written will reflect that.

I began looking for inspiration for my hearthfire prayers in the Carmina Gadelica. This is a collection of prayers compiled by Alexander Carmichael in the late 19th century from Scotland, and many pagans have altered these prayers for use in their own worship. I am going to look at the prayers in the “Labour” section dealing with kindling and smooring the fire.

I am unsure at this moment if I want prayers at the start and close of each day, or only once. I am concerned with the artificiality of lighting the fire at the end of the day for the purpose of extinguishing it. But, because my inspiration is going to be drawn from the Carmina Gadelica, I will write two prayers, and maybe re-evaluate the use of two prayers after some days of practice.

So, two prayers surrounding the lighting and extinguishing of the hearthfire, connected to Brighid, inspired by those found in the Carmina Gadelica:

Lighting the Hearthfire

I will kindle the hearthfire
In the presence of all the kindred:
The nature spirits of life and land,
The ancestors who have walked before,
And the Shining Ones, eldest and bright.

I will kindle the hearthfire
In my home and heart:
A flame of love to all beings,
Shared in kindness and strength.

I will kindle the hearthfire
As Brighid would.
The blessings of Brighid be on the house, be on the fire,
Be on the household all.

Smooring the Hearthfire

I will smoor the hearthfire
In the presence of all the kindred:
The nature spirits of life and land,
The ancestors who have walked before,
And the Shining Ones, eldest and bright.

I will smoor the hearthfire
And ask the blessings of the gods
To shield and surround us
Till the Sun shines bright in the sky.

I will smoor the hearthfire
As Brighid would.
Blessed be the house, blessed be the fire,

Blessed be the household all.

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