Sunday, October 2, 2011

Welcoming the Lady of the Hearth - Part Two

Continuing from my last post...

Deciding that I wanted to get to know this Lady, I set out to create a ritual to preform in Her honor each evening. The first thing that had to be done was preparing the space to be welcoming to the Goddess. This involved a deep cleaning of the kitchen (where Her shrine would be kept), the kind of clean I would do when expecting a visit from guests, which seemed fitting for this Lady. Which lead to the next thing to consider, what ritual purification would I preform on myself? In the end I found it most fitting to do a simple hand washing at the sink - exactly as I would do before preparing a meal for family. (This might make more sense later in the post.)

The space was ready, I was ready, it was time to set up the shrine. Two white bowls on each side for offerings, and a pillar candle holder in the center. I put a mixture of the herbs and spices I use most often in the candle holder - salt, pepper, basil, oregano, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, red pepper, garlic, lavender, and a bit of cornmeal - to act as a perpetual offerings of sorts. (They'll be changed out each month with a special prayer.)

Then it was time to prepare the candle that would act as the Lamp of Westya. Quite simple, really. I took a bit of good olive oil from the same bottle I cook with, and anointed the candle while saying "Be pure, Lamp of Westya. Be sacred, Lamp of Westya."

(As a note, from here on all prayers were written by Ceisiwr Serith, with only a few small modifications, whose prayer and ritual books I highly recommend!)
For the first lighting of the candle I wanted to light it at my stove, the actual "hearth" of my home. It's recommended to actually light the candle, using a match as middle man, from the stove's fire - but I have an electric stove, so lighting it at the stove was next best. On this first night, and every evening since, I light the candle while saying "Westya is here, heart of our home." The candle is not a symbol of the Goddess, but Her Living Flame. After lighting, I carefully moved the candle to the shrine. (After the first night I just lit the candle in the shrine after the hand washing, while reciting the same prayer. When a new candle is needed, I'll repeat lighting it on the stove.)

After lighting the candle, I make the first offering, a "base" material that is used in cooking... milk, honey, flour, salt, oil, or clarified butter. This is to be symbolic of Westya being the base, the foundation of the family home. Four spoons of the offering go into the bowl, reciting a line from this prayer with each spoon full...
Burn on our hearth, Westya,
source of all that is holy.
Bless us who dwell here,
and smile on our home.
After the first offering, I go on to cook dinner. This is our largest meal of the day, and the one where we are really able to sit and eat as a family. After dinner is cooked, the second is made, it is a bit of the family's meal. This offering represents the transforming and sustaining power of Westya. With this offering a personal prayer is said.

After dinner is done, there's a bit of clean up, and when done in the kitchen the candle is put out. Before putting the candle out, I take a few moments of silent meditation, then say...
You are always the shining fire,
here in home's heart.
Stay with us,
stay in our home,
and each day I will honor you.

And extinguish the candle.

Later in the evening the offerings are removed (I am placing them outside at this time), the bowls washed, and returned to the shrine for the next day.

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