Saturday, October 1, 2011

Welcoming the Lady of the Hearth - Part One

I've had a small kitchen shrine off and on for a few years now. There were a few times in the past where I would try to dedicate it to a particular hearth Deity, but it never quite felt right... So I figured it wasn't meant to be (at least not at that point in time), and gave up on that idea for a time.

That is, until reading a book by Ceisiwr Serith called Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. The Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) were a loose grouping of peoples who spoke, you guessed it, Proto-Indo-European. They lived sometime around 4000 BC, give or take a thousand years or so, depending on exactly which time period we're looking at. The PIE people didn't write, so we reconstruct their language by looking at the many descendant languages (Latin is one, as is Old Norse, Old English, Old Irish, among quite a few others.) We also reconstruct elements of their culture and religion through such methods, as well as through archeological finds.

In the book Serith lists some of the Gods and Goddesses of the PIE peoples. One of these Goddesses is a hearth Goddess. The name for Her that the PIE used is unknown. Serith suggests Westya, from the same root as Vesta. Westya meaning something like "She of the Household." He also gives a few other possibilities... Xasanoya (Hearth+Deity name suffix+feminine ending - Xasa/no/ya), or Parunoya (similar to the last, but with fire instead of hearth), or Demspotni (Lady of the Household). For now, I'll stick with Westya.

I was quite taken with his description of Her, and the rituals/prayers he provides for Her, and felt called to look deeper into the subject...

Looking into a reconstructed Goddess, who's name didn't even survive. I was not entirely sure where to start. I tried to do some of my own research into the subject, which as expected isn't exactly easy - there's not a lot out there.

So what can I say about Her? She is a hearth Goddess, but more so She present in the actual hearth fire itself. The hearth is the heart of the home, the foundation, through the holy hearth fire we sustain our families. It is also through fire that many traditions give sacrifice to the Gods, and so it can be seen as a link or doorway to Them. (Smoke from the fire, or from burned incense, can be viewed in a similar way.)

So, I was left with just jumping in and seeing where this would take me. I was going to invite this Lady of the Hearth into my home, and see where it would lead me...

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