Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Hearth and Fireplace - A Magical Place In Your Home

The Hearth Encompasses Very Much Power!

Before the days of central heating, the hearth was the center of the home. It was the protectant of life during cold months, the heat for cooking all meals and the gathering place of the household.

Today fireplaces are rarities in new homes and apartments. The necessity of the past is fast becoming a present-day luxury. Fireplaces often increase house prices and are seldom used. In old homes, fireplaces are often in such poor shape they're nothing more than fire hazards.

Fire holds a special attraction for many pagans. Fire was once supernatural, a divine substance stolen from the deities. It can be traced to early religious and magical rites around the world and flames are still found on altars of many modern world religions.

Magically, fire is the element of transformation. Through fire, true magic occurs. Many pagans view it as an extension of the spark of life existing within all created things. It has both a destructive and a creative nature but change can only occur with the destruction of old and creation of new.

The house fire was never allowed to die, except on ritual occasions. At night the coals were banked up so that new flames would spring from them in the morning. It was considered bad luck if the household fire extinguished itself and none of the neighbors would dare lend theirs. To do so was to give away your own household's luck and become unlucky yourself.  A variation of this custom stated that if coals were lent and the coals went out while being transported that the families involved would experience hardship in the future.

At night, the household would gather around the hearth. Stories, songs and genealogies would be exchanged. Clothing and tack mending were done by firelight while the workers listened to an elder telling stories of times past, preserving the family history and educating the young.

The fireplace could be viewed as the heart of the house and an altar to the forces of nature that have shaped our world and with which we transform our lives. Upon moving to a new house, the conscientious pagan will often restore the fireplace to perfection. Bricks are scrubbed and all traces of smoke, soot, and wood chips are removed. If it is a wood stove, blacking is often applied to make it shine. The fireplace tools, considered guardians of fire, are polished and cleaned. Ashes are swept up and safely deposited. Never simply throw away ashes, as they are things of incredible power.

Special attention is paid to the chimney as a magical entrance to the house. It is often magically guarded with plants Olive branches hung
on the chimney keep it secure and deflect lightning strikes. Pine needles will work similar magic. A lady's slipper orchid prevents others from casting spells against the home's inhabitants. Crossing the poker and tongs before the fireplace prevents sparks from popping onto the floor and cancels any negative energies that might float down through it. A jar of salt kept on the hearth can be used in times of danger or tension; throw a pinch on the flames and its cleansing powers, released by flames, will bless the house.

According to tradition, fires must have at least thirteen sticks to burn properly. Looking directly at the fire while lighting it will hinder the fire's burning and bring bad luck into the house. A blazing fire is useful for simple transformative spells such as those involving the burning of dragons' blood, rosemary, or rose petals. These bring love to the spell maker. Nettles thrown in the fire negate fears and vervain dispels unrequited love.

The type of wood used in the fire is also important.
  • Oak is burned for healing magic when someone in the house is ill. It draws off the illness, aids in recovery, and guards the rest of the household from contracting the illness. 
  • Apple wood is burned in connection with love spells. 
  • Ash logs promote energy and pine brings money into the home. 
  • Juniper offers protection. 
  • Elder, sacred to the Lady, brings curses and bad luck.
The importance of fire in the home cannot be emphasized enough. One sign of a contented home is a cat sitting on the hearth. Some say no luck will bless the household until the chimney has been blackened with smoke. Sitting in front of the fire sipping hot cider and gazing into its flames and embers provides a direct connection with our ancestors and aligns us with other peoples of the past who viewed fire and religion as one.

If you have a fireplace, use it for it is a tremendous boon.