Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sacred Center

In the home life of old, the fireplace w
as the center of activity in the house. It warmed the body, provided light, and cooked the food that sustained. Even today, many of our aging elders can recall the dependence upon fire. I can distinctly remember several times in my life, when a much older relative reminisced about a time in their youth when everyone would hurry on a cold winter morning to get the fire going. Granted, the spiritual significance that our Pagan ancestors gave the fire was something that was intuited and not a part of the overt spiritual lifestyle of our immediate elder's age.

This dependence upon fire is not something that today’s generation, in the West anyway, or our future generations, will know. The need is no longer there. Modern luxury has removed from the household this central place of gathering, and not adequately replaced it. Is there even a place in the modern household where everyone can be counted on to gather? Sadly, my only answer to that question, further demonstrates the disconnect that is so prevalent within the majority of Western society, to include the households of most Contemporary Pagans. For many, thankfully not all, the TV has become the new center.

Will our children relate stories to their descendants about when they would rush to turn-on the television on to keep out the world? Or will they be one of the few with another story to tell?

As magickal folk, Witches of all varieties are inherently spiritual. The nature of this spirituality varies, but it does not change the fact that they are spiritual. Part of the process of the spiritual journey is to find the inner place where we are at the center of the universe; to stand as the tree that spans all existence. An often neglected truth is; this inner center is aided via the outward reflection that we give it. Take the time and cultivate the relationship with a place, so that it becomes the proxy focal unto which our devotions are reflected inward. For many, that center has once again become the hearth-altar.

The hearth-fire is like an altar, one in which the cunning fire burns and provides. It is no wonder that there are old rituals for how to start and put out this sacred center. Some Traditions of Witchcraft practice their arte not in a circle or at a table with their regalia neatly laid out, but before a fireplace. In Gaelic Reconstructionism and forms of American Druidism, there are similar practices extended to the home altar and ritual fire-pit during group worship. If a house has no fireplace, altars in the home can be one such shrine.

What is important is not whether or not our center is fire, but that we have a center. Perhaps though, the ideas of the hearth-altar will assist in finding that the place around which your own spiritual life revolves. As for finding the center for the whole family, well that is truly a difficult task, which is my opinion would be a worthy pursuit.

What have you replaced the hearth-fire with?

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."


SquirrelHead said...

I have a fireplace in my home that is out Hearth-Altar that we use and teach our kids about.But this article makes sense to were it will make you stop,think,and wonder how many have replaced it and with what if anything.


Anonymous said...

ahhhhhhhh i love it. yes, our home in warm Surf City doesn't even have a fireplace, but i do have an altar around which my life centers. as big as a fireplace, the energy that radiates from it warms my heart and spirit as i sleep, work, socialize, and worship next to it. i love your writings.

GreenFlame said...

While I love our temple room, I miss have our altar in the living room to some degree because there is no center to the home. The center has to be something that naturally draws you there, that draws everyone there - whether heat or food or entrancing moving pictures. Since this is TV for most of us, I wonder if there is any way to spiritualize that, perhaps by dedicating it to a communication Deity such as Hermes and also the Muses, and invoking them every time you turn it on. Hmmm.