Tag Archives: Goddess

Stovetop Hearth Rites

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Quite a few years ago I came across the idea of having a hearth goddess shrine in the kitchen. I think it was in a book about house magic. The shrine it described was to the Greek hearth goddess Hestia. I liked the idea but didn’t see at the time how I would implement it and I didn’t feel a strong connection to Hestia. I saw a variation on the theme in an article I’ve mentioned before; “Takin’ It All Home” by Kami Landy. I suppose the idea incubated in the back of my mind for a bit, but then it finally occurred to me what form my kitchen shrine would take and the ritual actions that would form around it.

Though I think of her as much more than a hearth goddess, Bríd, as goddess of fire, is my obvious choice of deity to honor at a kitchen shrine. I would decide on a symbol or image to use for her and where to put it. It would need to be small, and something I could place away from splattering oil and steam, but still be right in front of me when I went to cook. I decided against having a lamp or candle to light every time I set out to cook. It would be an extra step that I know I wouldn’t keep doing. I felt that just the imagery should be enough and some simple brief actions surrounding it.

It would be one small object (home-made, of course) to focus on and remind me of Bríd. I’ve collected Pagan and Celtic coloring pages for years, so I searched through my collection to find something I could color in and decoupage. I found a Bríd’s cross superimposed over a sun. I really like the imagery though in the future when this one is worn out, I might go with a depiction of the goddess instead.

So this is how I made it… I cut out three circles from a pizza box lid and glued them together to create a strong disk. I taped the cut edges with small tears of masking tape then painted the entire disk black with craft paint. After this dried, I glued on the picture with a thin layer of white glue and let it dry, then put on a couple layers of Modge Podge. Then I painted the image with craft paints. Originally I was going to put this on the wall above the stove, squeezed in between my spices and cooking utensils. But then it occurred to me that I could stick a magnet strip on the back and place it on the stove’s hood. So that is what I did. It keeps it safer from steam and splatters and easier to reach. I slide it further up onto the stove hood when not being used for my cooking blessing, so it won’t get knocked down.

And this is how I use it in ritual… when I’m about to start cooking, I say a short blessing and rub a pinch of the dry ingredients I’m using in my cooking  (usually salt, spices) around the edge of the image as offering. That’s all there is to it. Not hard to keep up a ritual such as that. The brief words of my cooking blessing was inspired from a couple of Bríd prayers I learned years ago:

~~~
“Gentle red-cheeked Bríd
Of flame and honeycomb,
Bless this cooking, bless this home.”
~~~

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how to cook the beans

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beans!The lowly pinto bean was the food I was brought up on.  We had beans for dinner almost everyday for years.  It was the main dish, served in a plate, not a bowl, with the other side dishes circling it as a pilgrim circles a shrine.  What I mean by “side dishes” is slices of garden tomatoes, sliced onion (or green onion), and bread.  I still remember my brother telling me that one should take a bite of each- beans, onion, tomato, so that all the flavors can be tasted together, and to sop up the thick savory bean juice with the bread.  My dad was the main cook in my family.  You would think that I would have had enough bean suppers as a kid to make me never want any again, but I still cook beans from scratch once a week.  They are not quite as good as my dad’s was, but close.  Here’s how to cook the beans:

Rinse, sort, and soak a medium package of dried beans overnight.  Make sure the water comes to a couple of inches above the beans.  Don’t pay any attention to what the package might say about a quick soak method- it won’t turn out as good.  The next day, change out the soak water for fresh water.  The level of water should be just above the beans.  Don’t use too much water, or the ‘bean juice’ will never thicken properly.  Put in a ham bone or chunk of fatty pork- I don’t usually do this because my husband doesn’t like meat in beans.  It turns out pretty good without it if I get the seasonings right, but I think it will never be like my dad’s beans unless I add that hambone. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of salt, and pepper, cumin, and garlic to taste.  Cut up an onion and throw in.  If you’re not using a ham bone or pork, add a couple tablespoons of oil.  Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer about 3 or 4 hours or longer until the beans are very soft- this is very important, as undercooked beans are indigestible.  If the juice is thin when you’re ready to serve, mash up some of the beans in it.

In “Christianity: The Origins of a Pagan Religion”, Philippe Walter theorizes that the Pagan traditions of medieval western Europe may have had the name “Carnival” (yes, I’m talking about the Mardi Gras type of stuff that is still practiced all over the world today).  He further states that the word carnival most likely does not mean ’to take away meat’, but is derived from the name of the goddess Carna, to whom beans were sacred.

Symbols of Identity

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I like symbolic jewelry- especially necklaces.  I think a lot of people do- I’ve certainly seen a lot of people wearing cross necklaces- but many Pagans think this way too. 

triskelnecklaceCeltic Reconstructionists usually use the triskele, or triple spiral, as their symbol.  Being very Celtic-inspired, the triskele is what I wear most of the time as my symbolic necklace.  It symbolizes the sacredness of three in Celtic worldview, especially the Three Realms- Earth, Sea, Sky.  Spirals represent the cycles of life, death, and rebirth and are also symbols of the sun.

 People of Asatru wear the Thor’s hammer, those of the Feri tradition wear a septagram, and I think Kemetics probably wear an ankh. 

We all know what the symbol for Wicca is- the pentacle.  Back in the day, I used to wear one all the time- even when I was in high school.  I didn’t really get in trouble over it- most people mistook it for a Star of David.  The pentacle (a pentagram within a circle) is, however, one of the most controversial  symbols to wear, because of the associations with Satanism (which many Wiccans are quick to point out that Satanist pentacles are not the same as Wiccan ones- the Satanist pentagrams/pentacles are inverted- two points up). 

The pentagram originated in Sumer, not as a religious symbol, but as a pictogram.  Later the Pythagoreans revered the symbol for it’s mathematical perfection.  It was then the medieval neo-Pythagoreans who used the pentagram to represent the classic five Greek elements.  After that, the pentagram became a common symbol of European occultism, and this is how Wicca inherited the symbol.  Interestingly, the pentagram was used in Medieval times as an amulet to ward off witches and demons.
By the way, the pentagram has also been used in Christianity (the five wounds of Christ), and in Judaism (official seal of the city of Jerusalem).

goddesspendantsAnother alternative is wearing Goddess jewelry.  I did this in my twenties to avoid the controversies of wearing a pentacle, and also because it suited my beliefs better.  I wasn’t in Wicca for the shock value or occult aspect.  I was (and am) a Goddess/Nature worshiper.  I was Pagan, and Wicca was the only kind of Paganism I knew of.  I have a variety of Goddess necklaces that I wear from time to time, but my favorite is the simple elegant cameo I inherited from my mom.  I like the idea of passing down a cameo- wearing a tradition to my daughters and granddaughters.

Ozark folk beliefs about doorways and houses

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The magic of doorways lingered on in my culture.  The old folks used to say that you should always leave a neighbor’s house through the same door you came in, to avoid a serious quarrel. 
And never sweep out the front door after dark, for spirits of place linger there.  Could this be a remembrance of a time when food offerings were left to the Sidhe at the back step?
It’s bad luck to step over a broom that’s been knocked over, and to bring an old broom into a new house because you‘re symbolically bringing the dirt (troubles) of the old house into the new.  It’s also bad luck to carry a hoe inside a house, probably for a similar reason.
If you find your initials in spider webs near the door of your new home, you will have good luck for as long as you live there.  My grandfather believed that spiders had supernatural regenerative powers.  He believed that they would come back to life if you killed them.  Another old belief is that if you kill a spider in the morning, you will kill the spirit of one who had entered its body while it was sleeping.  This seems to be a survival of a belief in rebirth/transmigration of the soul similar to one held by the ancient Celts, or it could be a remnant of some Native American belief (Grandmother Spider Woman?).
Also, a house made entirely of new lumber is bad luck to live in.  I think this belief is telling us to not throw out all of the old in favor of the new, but to keep the old ways alive.
It’s bad luck to return home for something forgotten when starting on a trip.  I think this belief could have come from someone getting in an accident after turning back, or some similar misfortune occurring after turning back.  But also, it reminds me of the Celtic belief in always traveling sunwise/clockwise.