Saturday, September 27, 2014

Autumn Equinox

The autumn equinox slipped by me this year. This is probably, in part, due to the fact that I'm traveling away from home at the moment. I've been busy, not feeling well, and it just doesn't feel like late-September here. I don't get back to New Hampshire until mid-October, it's going to be a bit of a shock going right from places with averages in the mid to high 70s (it was in the 90s yesterday!), down to the mid-60s.

I'm also a bit sad that I'm missing fair season back home. When I do get back I think I'm going to have to make myself some candy apples and fried dough to get into the autumn spirit. (As if getting all the cold weather preparations done won't be enough for that!)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Groups are made up of individuals!

This morning I was reading an anthology of works from pagan authors, and one author was ranting on about how feminists say this one thing, but then feminists also say this totally contradictory thing!

Wow. It's almost as if feminism is made up of tons of individuals who may not always agree on everything. (Assuming these are actual feminists, because all too often I see "feminist" used to mean "someone I don't like," which is a shame.)

Look, I'm going to be harsh here. I honestly do not understand how anyone can make it out of high school without learning the very simple lesson that a group of people is not necessarily a hive mind. That individuals in a group might disagree at times, and hold different opinions. That all groups have their bad apples. I feel like this is something very obvious that is very apparently early on in life, and yet so many people don't seem to have a grasp on this. They're very happy to dismiss an entire group of people because they might see two different individuals of a group expressing two different opinions on a topic. It can be pretty frustrating at times. Do they not ever see disagreement within their own groups? Do they just ignore it? Do they think it's different because they see the details, know the people as individuals? Do they take on all opinions of their group, no matter how contradictory? I just don't understand.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hestia, Days Sixteen and Seventeen

16. How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?

Hospitality was quite important to the ancient Greeks, both being a good host, and a good guest. While there are perhaps some other deities who deal more directly with this (Zeus Xenios, perhaps?), I feel that Hestia plays a role here, too, in providing the guest with food and drink, as well as a safe place.

Hestia likely also demonstrates the importance of family and of a peaceful home, and perhaps the value of the extended community.

17. How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?

Hestia was frequently worshiped alongside quite a few other Greek deities, including Apollon, Poseidon, Zeus, Hermes, Hekate, and others, but unlike some ancient deities it seems she wasn't really worshiped outside her pantheon, or not that I have seen, in any case.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hestia, Day Fifteen

15. Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?

Hestia deals with quite a few of the more mundane aspects of life. She is associated with baking bread, and with the preparation of family meals, as well as with preparation of larger banquets. Similarly, Hestia also deals with hospitality - being a good host, but also being a good guest. 

As the hearth was the primary source of heat for the home, Hestia is also associated with keeping the home warm during cool weather. Since Hestia is credited with the invention of the home itself, and teaching that skill to humans, the actual building of a home, or an addition to the home, could be seen as being under her influence.

Really, most aspects of running a household also fall under Hestia's domain, anything from cleaning, making sure the home doesn't fall into disrepair, and even things like making sure your bills are paid and your books are balanced could be seen as under Hestia's influence - anything that ensures that the home runs smoothly. As Hestia was also the hearth at the center of a town or city, one might associate her with the smooth running of day-to-day civic matters, as well.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Prayer Beads for Hestia

I'm considering making a set of prayer beads, and writing prayers for them, for part of the 30 Days of Deity Devotion project. I have a few ideas kicking around, but it's a bit difficult because Hestia doesn't have very many traditional associations or symbols to work from. Some deities have metals, gems, woods, numbers, and more associated with them, but Hestia has none of those. I'll have to go almost entirely from my own gut on this.

I've been running through a few options for the beads, but I keep coming back to peach moonstone. To be honest, I don't always consider the spiritual properties of stones when making prayer beads or jewelry, it's really more about color, pattern, texture, shape, overall feel, but I thought I'd dig around a bit and see what lore I could find out there on the internet specifically about peach moonstone. There wasn't a lot, and much of it seems to have been copied and pasted from the same source.

Still, what I did find seemed to always come back to the same few things; peace, soothing anxiety or worries, removing fear or anger, gentle love, and divine love, or being aware of the divine all around you. This all seems quite appropriate to Hestia, so I'm pretty sure that's the main material I'll be working with.

The rest is really still up in the air, though, I'll have to spend some more time considering the options. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hestia, Day Fourteen

14. Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?

While obviously the old Greek religion does not exist as it did in the past, and so a lot of those supports and more state related activities are no longer practiced, I think that the heart of Hestia's worship has not really changed. Hestia was primarily a deity of the hearth and home, and this is still how many worship her in modern times.

The formal worship may be gone, but many modern worshipers carry on with old traditions, like offering a bit of dinner, or a bit of raw ingredients or spices while cooking. Many homes no longer have hearths, or even fireplaces, but shrines to Hestia can still be found in kitchens, near ovens, or in other central places of the home.

Of course, some new traditions have been created, as well. Hestia is not just worshiped by Greek reconstructions, but by kitchen witches, hedge witches, Wiccans, eclectics, and others. She is being worshiped in new ways, during new festivals, and offerings of spices, foods, drinks, and more, are being made that never would have been seen in ancient Greece. Even so, Hestia is the hearth fire, she's the home, and that doesn't change, even if some of the details do - the core of who she is, the core ideas of her worship remain the same for many modern worshipers.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hestia, Day Thirteen

13. What modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?

As Hestia is the center of the home, and the one who brings blessings to the home and family, she of course has concern over the matters of the home. This certainly includes the day-to-day issues of running a home, but I also feel this extends to the deeper cultural issues that a home might face, such as domestic violence, and child abuse and neglect, and similar situations that make a home fearful and unsafe. Similarly, homelessness is a big issue in many areas, and I feel that would also fall under Hestia's concern. 

Hunger is also a pretty big issue in many places, there are lots of people who struggle to have enough to eat, who have to make choices between food and other basic necessities. Since Hestia has ties to bread making (which was one of the staple foods in ancient Greece), as well as to cooking in general, I find this to be an issue that falls under her domain as well.

I mentioned in the offerings post that offerings can be more than food, incense, and other physical goods, an offering can also be one of time, and I think donating resources or volunteering time to one of these causes would be a wonderful way to honor Hestia and what she stands for - especially considering that Hestia is not just the center of the home, but the center of the larger community as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Community, take two, and health.

As somewhat of a continuation of my last pagan community post, I'm starting to wonder if part of the issue isn't just plain old burn out on my part. I've spent a good amount of time over the last several years on various forums and the like, writing articles, answering questions, and all that sort of thing... and don't get me wrong, it's not all self-sacrifice or anything, I have certainly benefited from the community and I generally enjoy helping people, but it's all something that takes up quite a bit of time and energy.

So maybe it's time to take a break, stick around the more casual spots, and start having some more 'alone' time for a while. Re-charge a bit.

Of course, while part is likely burn-out in this specific area, a lot of it is probably just fatigue in general. I don't usually like to write about health issues and other things like that here, but maybe it's worth making a note of. I've had serious fatigue issues on and off for a few years now, but lately it's become severe enough that I've needed to start seeing a doctor. I'm actually scheduled for a sleep study next month. I'm very hopeful that they'll be able to figure out what's going on, and start fixing the problem. It's definitely been an impact on my life, and of course that includes my spiritual life.

But back to community, I was also considering looking into the local pagan community after a bit of me-time, which is something I haven't done since moving back to New Hampshire. I don't have much interest in practicing in a group, but there are some more community based groups, I guess you could call them? They don't seem to focus so much on group practice, but more on community and that sort of thing, which does appeal to me. It's been a long time since I actually had pagans that I could interact with offline, so it might be fun to explore that a bit.