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