A Hearth-Centred Practice: Ritual

Originally, I said that I’d write a weekly ritual for our family, but I’ve learned that this is just not practical with our schedules. However, I do think that once a month, we can make our dinner extra special, and centre this ritual around that meal.

Could a hearth-centred practice really not have food at its core? Brighid of the Hearth is near and dear to my heart, and Her cross and shrine hang proudly in my kitchen. Lugaid and I love cooking, whether with each other or for each other, and the basic human needs of food, warmth, and love are all met in the kitchen.

This ritual will take place around the new moon, being defined as the first light after the dark of the moon. I’ll admit that this is a combination of convenience and outside inspiration — I like the fact that it is a natural occurrence that provides me with a regular schedule, and ideas from both Sannion’s article on the Noumenia at the Wild Hunt, and Ceisiwr Serith in The Pagan Family led me to this decision. Really though, it could be done whenever.

We have a number of shrines in our home (Brighid, An Morrígan, Lúgh), and at this time, they should be given proper attention. The shrines should receive any maintenance they may need – dusting, straightening, new candles, etc. – and the gods given proper offerings.

The food for our dinner can be anything, so long as it is homemade, though I’d really prefer if there is some nice bread with it, bread made with the intent of sharing it at this ritual. Ideally, the entirety of dinner would be cooked during the ritual, but that may vary depending on what we’re making that night. The main offering for the Kindred is a plate of food, offered before we have our own.

Hearth/New Moon Ritual

[The opening prayer takes place at the main altar. If for whatever reason the morning hearthfire prayer was not said this day, it can be said prior to the start of this ritual.]

The fire burns brightly on our hearth,
The light illuminating our hearts and home.
Shine, fire, with the love that we extend to our friends and kin,
A welcome place for the Three Kindred.

Let us pray with a good fire, that the gods may hear our voices.
Let us pray with our hands, that our work and deeds be just.
Let us pray with our hearts, that our love and worship be true.

[At this time, the meal is started and the house is tidied. This may have to be altered, depending on if the food has been cooking all day, like a stew, or if cooking something that can’t be left alone. Basically, this section is for making the house presentable for the guests we are inviting. Do something that conveys that, whatever it is. Once that is done – table set, food in the oven, et cetera, the shrines can be tended. This next prayer is said at the main altar:]

We welcome the Holy Ones to our home:
Nature Spirits, allies of this abundant land,
Our neighbours on the body of the Earth.
Ancestors, blood, kin, and spirit,
The roots and branches of our past.
Gods and goddesses, the Shining Ones,
Wise and mighty in myriad ways.
Blessings and honour to you, Kindred,
Be welcome at our hearth.

[A small offering is given at this time. Then, travel to all the other shrines in the house/on the property and give offerings there, saying whatever is appropriate.]

[Back in the kitchen, the food is set on the table, in preparation for eating. The Meal Prayer is said:]

We extend our gratitude to the Earth Mother,
And to all the beings, however small or large,
Whose sacrifices and work helped create this meal.
Let it nourish and sustain us:
May the bounty of the Earth bless us now,
And continue to bless us in the coming seasons.

[The first plate of food is offered to the Kindred at the main altar.]

Accept this offering, Holy Kindred,
The bounty of the Earth given to us.
May it nourish our relationship,
As it nourishes our bodies.

[Time to eat! After dinner, the kitchen is tidied, then approach the altar for the final prayer/blessing… an omen can be taken beforehand to see what message the Kindred have for the family, if desired. The following prayer is inspired/compiled from various prayers in the Carmina Gadelica:]

May the Gods bless the world, and all that is therein.
Bless our lives and our loves, our family, and friends,
Bless the health of our bodies, the health of our minds.
Inspire us, Gods, to live with virtue and strength,
From the time we rise in the morning,
To the time we lay down in bed.
Extend your blessings o’er this house,
From beam to wall, from end to end, from found to summit.

[The hearthfire can remain lit for the duration of the evening, and then properly extinguished with the hearthfire prayers when appropriate.]

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