wild and dreaming stories from the edge of the world


keeping the sacred song and fire of the home

The first bird this morning was a stranger to me. As I lay in the cool, frail darkness, listening, I thought the sweet chirp of the song was beautiful but somehow disturbing. What had become of my small, winged neighbours, that some other bird was performing their sacred singing-up of the sun?


 


But what has become of all the keepers of sacred song? Their voices have in so many places been replaced by the chiming clock. How many homes are managed these days by the rhythms of soul-need and body-health? Not so many that I know. Most submit themselves to the rule of commerce. I think of teenagers being forced to school at an hour their brain can not function, small children eating dinner too late for comfortable sleep, women with confused menstruation, men whose pulse ticks rather than sings. And within this all there lies a silence which, from the earliest days, was filled by prayer to the Mother. Houses were the first temples. Now they are places to hold our things.




If you read Suburban Magic,* you know I believe the a home is a sacred space of memory and dream. It seems dangerous to me that we now merely live in them. Without song ... without honour for the spirits of the trees and stone in the walls surrounding us, making for us a cave no matter how elegantly built ... without true shelter from more than just wind and rain ... our souls are essentially homeless.




In response to my post yesterday, nofixedstars mentioned Hestia. I wish I could write now all my thoughts in response, but this is a blogpost not an essay - otherwise, I would go on and on! To me, there is no more sacred duty than the keeping of the hearth. With fire, we have been gifted a bit of the sun, a bit of god, and tending to it is like tending to the god himself, giving him shelter, space, honour, in our homes, in return for his blessing of energy.

How anyone can suppose the woman who attends to this duty is performing some lesser task? It may not be paid in the currency of the modern world, but it is transacting the most beautiful relationship of all - the romance and trust and poetry between we who are the earth and our lover who is the sky.



* all back issues still available


I feel a little fragile about this new template, because softness and femininity are seldom taken seriously ... but I am trying to be brave. At least I want to show that a woman can love flowers and calm colours, lace and gentleness, and still know where the bodies are buried (under the floorboards) and how to go out barefoot, smoked, silent, to find old stories in the storm.

 

7 comments:

  1. oh, yesyesyesyesyes. i think about this literally EVERY DAY.

    and i like the new template.
    i'm all about gentle, calm, and flowery, whilst doing the bodies-under-the-floorboards thing. mmm-hmm.

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    1. Thank you. I always so much love reading your comments, you never fail to give me encouragement or food for thought. 💙

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  2. I really love this web wall paper. It's truly beautiful. I'd have on the walls in my home! Or a dress!

    Ah ahestia and the hearth :-) Homekeeping is where my heart is and has been, lo these many decades passed ...

    I hope you haven't been flooded or lost more trees! xoxo

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    1. Thank you Ellie :-)

      No we weren't touched at all by the storm, although some people hereabouts were flooded. We do get floods in our street but they slip away very quickly for it's an old street, built way back in the 40s I think, when people knew to put in good drainage. ;-)

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  3. This is beautiful Sarah, I love these further hearthkeeping thoughts. It brings to mind the bit in the fairytale, the White Bear King Valemon, in which the bear tells the girl when he brings her to his strange, mountainous palace-- you need do nothing, worry about nothing, except looking after that fire. Keep that fire lit. I found this a particularly striking detail. It felt an ancient remnant of sorts, from an older era, and the image of the girl in the bear's house, tending that fire, feels deeply healing in ways I cannot yet quite understand or describe.

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    1. Originally, the house-fire was at the threshold of the cave or shelter, and served as a protection against wild animals, supernatural creatures, and weather. For its protective powers as well as its connection to the sun, it was reverenced. As shelters grew stronger and the fire was moved indoors, from the threshold to the heart of the house, that reverence only seemed to deepen, and the protection seemed to become more spiritual, more for the soul than the body.

      I loved the Bear King Valemon story. I was going to comment on the girl keeping the fire in it ... how she is entrusted to that protection ... but then I realised I would spend an hour on it, rambling along winding trails of fear and hope, wrong-thinking and instinct, myth and wonder ... for the old tales are always so very rich, aren't they? I'll just say that I love how they allow the heroine to rescue the hero on many levels, and for him to rescue her right back.


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    2. I loved that tale as well. It was a big part of my childhood, and it seemed especially magical somehow. I too feel there is something familiar, old, sacred about tending that fire.

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