What I’m Reading – Booknificent Thursday

I’m joining in at This Linky Party for Book Reviews – Booknificent Thursdays!

http://mommynificent.com/category/booknificent-thursdays/
 
What I’ve been reading;
 
The Codex Alera (series)
 
I just finished the last book in the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher.  I devoured this series of six books in about 4 or 5 weeks.  I love Butcher’s Dresden Files series and I wanted to check out his other series – I’m so glad that I did!  It has a different style and far different setting than the Dresden Files series.  The Codex Alera series is set in a world quite different than our own.  Alera is a realm of humans, yet each human has the ability to control a “Fury” – best described as an Elemental.  Some people can control more than one element, some people just one or two.  Except for Tavi – our main character who has never had any ability with Furycraft whatsoever.  In a realm where your position and level of citizenship depend on your level of Furycrafting ability – life isn’t going to be easy for Tavi. 
Very early in the series we learn that there are other races of beings in realms outside of Alera – beings that Alera has consistently been at war with.  Within the realm of Alera itself a Civil War is brewing as there is no clear heir to the throne and a power struggle to claim the throne begins.  Through the six books we follow several characters in their adventures.  There is war, subterfuge, mystery, action, love and more.  These books have it all and are a great series for anyone who loves fantasy fiction.
 
The New Vesta Secret
 
I began reading The New Vesta Secret by Debra may Macleod.  If you follow my blog you know I have an affinity for Vesta.  I was thrilled to find an author who is renewing and helping create a modern Spiritual path honoring Vesta.  The author walks you through her own life and how she discovered and reinvented this path for herself.  I’m very much enjoying this book and it has renewed and uplifted my own spiritual home practice
 
Grimoire For The Green Witch
 
I’m reading Grimoire For The Green Witch by Ann Moura with a Pagan Book Club.  I’m enjoying the perspective of Green Witchcraft.  There is a lot of helpful information and spells, rituals, recipes, etc in this book.  Will review further when I am finished.
 
 

Clutter as a block to Spiritual Flow

I’ll admit it – like many people, clutter is a problem for me.  With three kids, my husband and my brother living here with me, it seems like clutter is a constant battle.  Things just seem to accumulate.  Yes, a lot of things are useful, helpful, convenient to have.  But it’s amazing how things just add up, multiply, pile up, and become a mess. 

I’ve realized and accepted long ago that clutter can be a source of stress in any environment.  Have you noticed that after you clean up a certain room, the energy in that space will just feel better?  Clearer.  Like you can breathe easier and just relax better?  That’s because everything has an energy to it.  Just like your crystals and gemstones or magickal tools carry a certain vibration, so does everything else in your home.  When you enter a room, you will pick up these subtle vibrations and it will immediately effect how you feel.

We all have heard of having a “Sacred Space” in our home… it may be an altar, a meditation area, a yoga room, etc.  It is good to have a place devoted to a spiritual practice; a place that you go just for meditation or prayer.  If we use the same space repeatedly for that purpose, and keep it clear of clutter and decorate it with things that bring us peace – it becomes a Sacred Space and will amplify our ability to meditate, pray, or focus on spiritual matters in that area.  But really, why keep it to just one part of our home?  Shouldn’t our entire home be a place of spiritual respite?  We should be able to feel safe, relaxed, and spiritually fulfilled no matter what part of our home we are in!

One of the biggest blocks to feeling this way is clutter!  Those things that are laying around serving no purpose and just blocking the flow of peaceful energy in our home.  Feng Shui is a spiritual practice of clearing and improving the flow of energy in the home, and it’s basic principal is that everything in your home is either inviting or blocking some sort of energy.  It’s a great place to start if you’re interested in making your entire home into more of a relaxing safe haven.  But I suggest that the best way to start is just by clearing out clutter, getting rid of things that don’t serve a purpose.  Decorating and placement of items using Feng Shui is great, but if you’re just moving around clutter you won’t really be doing much to cure the energy of your home.

Making Clutter Clearing into a Spiritual Experience

I find that usually when I’m inspired to start getting rid of clutter in my home (again) it usually coincides with an internal need to remove blocks and move forward.  As I work on the physical clutter, I experience the removal of internal blocks.  It can be a powerful time of personal healing, and a wonderful “active meditation” that serves a dual purpose of healing my home and my inner being.  As I approach an area or task, it helps me to call upon Goddess to help me make the act of cleaning into a spiritual practice.  Keeping a mindful awareness is key.  You’ll have to ask yourself as you pick up each item; what purpose does this serve?  What energy do I feel when I see or touch this item?  Have I used it in the last 6 months?  Does it remind me of a person or a time in my life – and does that memory trigger positive feelings or negative ones?  If I keep it, is there a better place to keep it?

It can be easy to get overwhelmed in this process!  Try to break down each room into smaller areas and just focus on one area at a time.  Pick something you can complete in one hour or less.  So instead of thinking “I need to clear the clutter out of my bedroom closet”, make a goal of one box or shelf in that closet.

Before you begin, set your intention.  You might want to light a candle and say a paryer or affirmation before you begin.  You can call upon a specific Deity to help you with the process.  There are many household Deities who love to help you do anything that blesses your home.  You can devote your work into an offering to them, or just ask them to assist you with your goal.    You may want to research some household Deities to see which you are called to work with (or just try working with the Deities you already work with for spiritual purposes).  You might find you’re called to work with a different Deity for a different room or part of the home depending on the type of energy in that space or what you want to attract to that space. 

A short list of Household/Hearth Deities;

  • Hestia (Greek Goddess of the Hearth & Home)
  • Vesta (Roman Goddess of Hearth)
  • Brigid (Celtic/Irish Goddess of the Home)
  • Tsao Wang (Chinese God of the Home & Kitchen)
  • Kamui-fuchi (Japanese Goddess of the Hearth)
  • Kamado-no-kami (Japanese God of the Kitchen)
  • Gabija (Lithuanian Goddess of home protection)
  • Ertha (Domestic Deity of Norns / Northern Europe)
  • Frigga (Norse Goddess of Domestic Life and Household management)
  • Bes (Egyptian God of Household protection)
  • Artemis (Greek Goddess – protection, goal setting, manifestation)
  • Kuan Yin (Chinese Goddess of Compassion & Protection – especially for Mothers & Children)
  • Lakshmi (Hindu Goddess of Blessings and Abundance)

Archangels that can be called upon to help with Space Clearing

  • Jophiel – “Beauty of God” – helps to beautify space, clears away negativity to help us see beauty in all things, supporter of artists.
  • Michael – “Warrior of God” – protects lightworkers from lower energies – will help protect the home and escort away any negative energy.
  • Raphael  – “Healer of God” – heals physical and emotional pains and ailments, also helps remove negative energies to promote healing in that area

Card from the Archangel Oracle Card deck by Doreen Virtue, Hay House

Message from Archangel Jophiel ; “Your home and work environments affect you on many levels. Clutter can erode your energy, creativity, and prosperity. I’ll help you find the time and motivation to clear interferences from your physical environment. Together, we’ll release anything thats not serving you. We’ll donate, recycle, or discard unused items. We’ll open the windows to circulate fresh air in the rooms. And I’ll escort lower energies away. You’ll notice huge improvements in all areas of your life as a result of this endeavor.”

I’m going to be working on clearing some clutter from my home in the next few weeks.  I’ll post my weekly goals here on the blog and if you want to join me I’ll be here to support you and encourage you!  I’ll post an area or room to focus on and maybe an affirmation or meditation/prayer to help us focus on our goal!

FlyLady – Pagan Style; Shine Your Sink!

For those of you who don’t know what FlyLady is, it’s an inspirational website designed to help you clean and de-clutter your home and your life. It helps you create routines that work for you, your lifestyle & your family to help housekeeping become stress-free and something you just do naturally and daily rather than something you put off until the last minute and then stress about when you have company coming over.

I have felt for awhile now that many aspects of the FlyLady program can be applied in spiritual ways to those who consider themselves, Neo-Pagans, Kitchen Witches, Hearth Witches, Green Witches, etc.  I will be going over some FlyLady basics here in my blog and writing about how they can be seen as a spiritual thing; not just a house-cleaning and organizing thing!  If you missed it, check out my post called “FlyLady – Pagan Style; Welcome Letter”

When you start with FlyLady, there are 31 days of “Baby Steps” to help you slowly start to integrate small changes into your daily routines.  It’s about developing habits and changing your mind-set to a positive one!

BabyStep Day 1;
SHINE YOUR SINK!

Read FlyLady’s Day 1 letter here; Day One- Shine Your Sink

My favorite part of this letter is where she says; “The voices that you hear in your head keep telling you that you are behind and you have to get it all done now. We are going to quiet those negative voices that are beating you up constantly and replace them with a loving, gentle voice that tells you that you are not behind and you can do this one BabyStep at a time!”

You may look around your house and think there are areas that need more work than my kitchen sink!  The desk is covered with paperwork, the closets are overflowing, The kid’s rooms look like a tornado hit.  It’s okay.  We are going to listen to FlyLady and start with one small task for today.  We are going to shine that kitchen sink!  Then for the rest of the day, we are going to keep it shining!  Before you go to bed, make sure it is shining again!  Even if you do nothing else today, and the rest of your house is messy, you will LOVE waking up to a shiny sink!  Trust me!

Here is FlyLady’s “Lesson” on How To Shine Your Sink! Check it out!

Keeping your sink shining is going to be your first habit with FlyLady.  Even when I fall way off the bandwagon and my whole house is a mess, I know exactly where to start to feel better… the kitchen sink!  Once my sink is shining I usually feel the motivation start to flow again, and it’s easier to keep going and start work on other areas of my home.  Energetically, this makes sense, because all sinks and drains in our home represent and reflect “energy flow” both in and out of our homes.  If the sink is blocked with dishes, clogged with dirt, or just plain grimy, how does this effect the flow of energy in and out of our homes?
In Feng-shui, the Kitchen is associated with both Health and Prosperity, as well as being the “Heart” of the home.  So, as you clean your sink it can be great to visualize this task as a moment you take to care for the “Heart” of your home.  Open the flow of energy… let the good pour in and the bad drain away!  You can easily make the process of shining your sink into a Home Blessing Ritual!  Smudge with some sage, pour salt water down the drain, visualize and pray for the energy flow of your home to become open and cleansed.  Here is a great article called “Clearing Your Sink and Magickally Sealing It.” by Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom…. I love her ideas and I have incorporated her suggestions with my monthly sink-clearing ritual, as well as just simply visualizing and praying while I shine my sink each night before bed!

So now you have read FlyLady’s First Babystep and how to Shine your Sink in a spiritual, magickal mindset!  Off you go…. shine your sink and let yourself feel proud of this small but important task!

FlyLady, Pagan Style! Welcome Letter

For those of you who don’t know what FlyLady is, it’s an inspirational website designed to help you clean and de-clutter your home and your life.  It helps you create routines that work for you, your lifestyle & your family to help housekeeping become stress-free and something you just do naturally and daily rather than something you put off until the last minute and then stress about when you have company coming over.

I have found the FlyLady system to be a wonderful and positive way to get my life in order, although admittedly, I haven’t followed it as closely as I could have!  I have “fallen off the bandwagon” more than a few times!  Yet one of the great things about FlyLady is that you can jump back in at any time!  With FlyLady, I always know exactly where to start!!

Over the years, I have found ways to integrate my spirituality into my household cleaning.  Wait, did I just say that House Cleaning is Spiritual?? Yes, it can be!  I am a Pagan, more specifically an eclectic Neo-Pagan, meaning that I draw from MANY spiritual paths which focus on Nature and the natural cycles of the world we live in.  For many Pagans and Witches, our homes are the central place of our worship, our spiritual learning, our meditation, etc.  Since we don’t have Churches to go to, and we don’t limit ourselves to only experiencing nature when we are outdoors, it makes sense to think of our homes as our “Temple”, or our Sacred Place.  Many Pagans and witches also believe that their spiritual path is a Lifestyle, not just something they do once a week or on the Blessed Sabbats or the Full Moon.  I have found through FlyLady and my own spiritual path, that even the mundane, daily tasks that come with being a wife, a mother, and a housekeeper, can be beautiful parts of my daily Spiritual Life, and I wanted to share with you some ways that I have done this.

I will be going through the different aspects of FlyLady, and talking about how I apply them to my own life as a Pagan.  Today we begin with The Welcome Letter!

When you first join FlyLady you get a Welcome Letter. (and by the way, if you follow my blog, please join FlyLady or at least bookmark the FlyLady website for reference!)  This letter explains the basic idea behind the FlyLady program and how it works.  Please click the Link and read the welcome letter for yourself!!

The first thing you read is what FLY means.  It means Finally Loving Yourself!  All the great spiritual teachers of our time and times long past have taught us that without first Loving Ourselves, we cannot truly love others.  Buddha, Paramasana Yogananda, The Dalai Lama, Ghandi, Jesus, Doreen Virtue, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Sonia Choquette, Louise Hay, Starhawk… to name a few; all teach us that when we truly see ourselves as Divine Children of God/Goddess/The Universe, we begin to truly love ourselves and then the flow of love to others and from others comes more naturally!  With the basic Law of Attraction, if we Love Our self, we invite Love into our lives.  This isn’t meaning a type of love that involves vanity or a feeling of self-importance in that we are better than anyone else.  We are all children of the Divine!  But if you don’t love yourself the way you love your own children; unconditionally – then you block the flow of true Divine Love from flowing to you and through you!  Without loving yourself, you are constantly criticising yourself, seeing the negative instead of the positive.

When you FLY, you embrace the positive and develop a desire to bring more positive into your life.  When you FLY, you want to eliminate the negatives to make room for the positives.  Maybe you have too much clutter.  Maybe you keep a clean home, but neglect taking care of yourself.  Perhaps you are really good at keeping parts of your home clean and orderly, but there are certain areas that build up and become a source of stress for you.  Maybe you procrastinate and let things build up to the point where it creates stress and a burden upon yourself and your family.  When you FLY, you look around your home and you think, why I am I letting myself – a beautiful Child of The Divine – live in chaos?

FlyLady’s Welcome Letter explains that by taking one step at a time, the program will help you build daily routines and weekly plans that will help you run your household more efficiently, thus relieving yourself of stress.  If you embrace the ideal of FLYing (Finally Loving Yourself), then the desire to do this grows stronger.  Building routines takes time, and patience with yourself.  You have to work on developing new habits, slowly, piece by piece; trusting that eventually you will overcome whatever difficulties you may face.  The FlyLady program will help you develop these new habits and new routines, or build on the routines you already have in place.  It starts with the BabySteps, and onward to Daily Flightplans and weekly “Zone Missions”, all of which are described in detail on the FlyLady website but I will (hopefully) also cover here – with a Pagan Twist!

Whether you are new to FlyLady, or have been doing it for awhile, take some time today to think about how you Love Yourself.  Are you really acting in ways that show self-love?  Are you being really hard on yourself, criticizing your failures and shortcomings?  Think about your inner voice – is it Loving towards you, or mean?  Would you talk to your child the way you talk to yourself?  How is your self-love reflected in your Daily Life at home?  Are you avoiding things that stress you out?  Is this avoidance just creating more stress and more critical self-talk?  The first step to changing negative self-talk to positive self talk is to be AWARE of your self talk.  Listen to your inner voice, and when you find it being un-loving to yourself, stop and think something positive instead.  Changing your self-talk is something that will take time, and take practice, starting with Awareness and Intention!

Here is a wonderful video of affirmations that will help you increase your self-love, by Doreen Virtue. 

Starting Over

Confession Time; I’m a horrible housekeeper.
Ironic, since my Matron Goddess is Hestia – Keeper of the Hearth.  But this is exactly why She’s my Matron; I return to her when I need the motivation to care for my home properly.  She reminds me that caring for my household is a great act of Love – for myself and for my family.

In mythology, Hestia volunteered to keep watch over the Fire of the Gods.  Instead of returning to Olympus with her brothers and sisters to reign and rule, she chose a life of service; keeping the Fire of the Gods lit and tended.  In ancient times it was important to keep the hearth fire of the home lit and ready at all times.  It was the source of heat, light, cooking, and other preparations and activities that went on through the day.  If the fire went out or was untended and dwindled – precious time would be needed to get it going again; time that could have been used being more productive.  One never knew when the fire would be needed, so it was best to keep it steadily going.  As Hestia watched over the Fire of The Gods in this way, she became the Goddess of The Hearth and Home, representing the service of the housekeepers that blessed the household and kept it running smoothly. 

In our modern world, we don’t need to keep a fire lit in our homes at all times.  Yet we do take actions that keep the household running smoothly and keep our family safe, fed, and protected.  Paying the electric bill.  Preparing the meals.  Cleaning and Maintaining the home.  Hestia reminds me that these acts of service are a loving choice I make for my family – not an evil chore that I am tied down to or required to do as a slave, but an act of love.

My modern inspiration is the FlyLady.  She has taught me a few simple things that help me keep going, and help pull me back on track when I need it. 

  • FLY – stands for Finally Loving Yourself.  It’s a reminder that the things I DO are a reflection of self love.  When I care for my home, I care for myself.  When I care for myself, I am free and I give myself wings to FLY.
  • Progress, not Perfection.  My home doesn’t have to be perfect.  The little things that I do are a blessing, even if they are not done perfectly!  I don’t have to be “finished” to have progress.  I don’t have to keep a perfect home to be blessed.
  • The power of 15 minutes – Progress can be made in a short period of time.  You’d be surprised how much can get done in just 15 minutes.  No need to overwhelm yourself with a big job – just do what you can in 15 minutes!
  • You’re not behind!  Just start where you are.  This is a big one for me.  With chronic pain and illness, and living with depression and anxiety, I feel like I’m “behind” a lot.  Like I need to “catch up”.  I need to remember, I AM HERE.  I AM NOW.  What I can do NOW is enough.

These are the things I’m reminding myself of now.  I’ve had another period of falling flat on my face and letting things go.  (But that’s okay too – as Akhilandeshvari reminds me!)  I’m working hard to not be angry, disappointed or pass judgement on myself.  It is what it is.  I do what I can.  Sometimes, what I can do is not much at all.  Sometimes, just getting through the day is all I can do.  And that’s okay!  I live in cycles, as does the world and the whole universe! 

As the Spring Equinox and the New Moon approaches, I’m feeling the call of Hestia, awakening me again.  I’m hearing the words and lessons of FlyLady urging me on.  I’m entering a new cycle, and ready to start fresh.  I know that this won’t last forever.  I’ve come to recognize, embrace, and accept that I am never going to stay “on top”; and that I will time and time again repeat this cycle.  I’ll face this feeling again.  That’s okay.  The point is that when I do have my moments of “Spring” and hear the call of Hestia – I will answer. 

My starting point is the Kitchen Sink.  As I mentioned, we don’t really have a “Hearth” in modern homes.  Even homes that have a fireplace – that fireplace Hearth does not necessarily play the role of center of the home.  So what place in the home does serve as the central focus?  For me, it’s the Kitchen Sink.  This is probably because of FlyLady’s teachings of Starting with the Kitchen Sink.  Her theory is that if you keep your kitchen sink shiny, the rest comes easier.  It’s easier to keep up with the dishes if you’re not letting them pile up.  It’s easier to be motivated to keep the rest of the kitchen clean and shiny if the sink is clean and shiny.  It’s easier to be motivated to keep the other rooms of the house clean if the kitchen is clean.  Then the other things you need to do come easier too, because you don’t have to clean before you cook, or you don’t have to clean up the living room just because you want to sit down and relax.  In theory, if you keep your kitchen sink shiny, the rest will fall into place (it still takes work, but that’s the basic idea)  You can read FlyLady’s Kitchen Sink lesson HERE.

So for me, the kitchen sink is becoming my “Hearth Fire”.  It is the place to focus on, it is the place to start and the place to end.  Hestia is considered ‘The First and The Last” and it was traditional to honor her first thing every morning and the last thing every night.  Incidentally – FlyLady says to shine the kitchen sink first thing every morning and the last thing every night.  So this just works! 
I moved my kitchen altar to the window above my kitchen sink.  So there’s Hestia, and an orange candle to represent the Hearth Fire, right above my kitchen sink – reminding me of her lessons. 

I’ll be working on other areas of my home too, as my health permits.  I’ll be blogging more about my goals, my inspiration, and what is working for me or helping me.  But for now I just needed to get this out there; I’m starting over!

Vesta – Hearth Flame Purification Ritual



Vesta of the Hearth Flame Purification Ritual
(Red Candle, purifying incense)

Cast your circle.  Kneel before the altar until you feel recognized by The Goddess, then say

 “May I be cleansed outwardly and inwardly, body and soul,
that all things in my life may be made new.”

Light the red candle and meditate on it’s cleansing and purifying energies, and think about the myth of Vesta, the Deity of both domestic and ceremonial fires.  Keeper of the Hearth flame she was considered very pure, and if a condemned man were to happen upon one of her priestesses, his trespasses would be forgiven and he would be set free.  Come before Vesta in your heart and mind, knowing that she will help cleanse you of any negative patterns you may be repeating, and ask her for purification and renewal with the following prayer;

 “Vesta of the Sacred Flame,
Goddess of purification and renewal,
lady who sets the imprisoned free,

Pour your cleansing fires upon my heart and soul
That my life may be made new, my spirit receptive.
Awaken my mind to new opportunities.

Call my soul to greater spiritual knowledge.
Reveal to me your Inner Mysteries
that I may experience initiation anew.
Purify and bless me, O Vesta!”

 Remain in front of the altar in meditation until you feel the blessing of the Goddess.  How you feel it will be different for every person… a tingle, a warm or cold sensation… anything!  Listen and wait for the blessing of the Goddess.  Once you feel you have been blessed, Thank Vesta and close your circle.  Your purification may be received in different ways.  Within a couple days you may have a change in attitude, a desire to change your eating habits, or otherwise experience changes… embrace your purification as being personally meant for you from the Goddess for your Highest Good!

This is from “Moon Magick” by D.J. Conway and it is the suggested ritual for the energy of the New Moon in May. (Although it can be performed any time of year!) I haven’t included all of the details here, just the basics and the prayer.  This was originally posted as part of a blog post at my original blog, you can see that whole blog post HERE

Hestia and Headcovering as a Pagan Practice

I’m in the process of moving some of my favorite blog posts from my old blog, Tarot Mom, over here to my new blog.  I’m starting with any blog that has mention of Hestia, as that is this blog’s namesake! 

Hestia and Headcovering
April 11, 2011
Original post
A couple weeks ago, I was cleaning my bedroom and found this scarf that I have never worn as a scarf.  I have used it for a small altar cloth from time to time, or to wrap a deck of tarot cards in… but it had been stuffed in a drawer for awhile, unseen and forgotten.  When I found it, I paused, and felt that gentle urging of Hestia, saying “keep this out”.  So instead of putting it back in the drawer, I put it on my altar, folded neatly next to my Hestia Statue.  I didn’t know what on earth I was going to use it for, but I figured it’s purpose would come to me if I just listened.
Maybe only one, or two days later, I stumbled upon a facebook conversation about Pagan Headcovering.  I was intrigued, I had never heard of or considered that headcovering, or veiling would be a pagan thing to do… except for in cases of the people who like to dress up in robes and hoods for ceremonial magick and rituals.  I learned that a lot of Pagan / Witchy women feel drawn to headcovering or veiling in their daily lives as a way of honoring and connecting to their deity.  And guess what Goddess kept popping up in articles, blogs, and conversations about Headcovering?  Hestia, of course!  The bells are going off in my head at this point, as I had just placed that scarf next to Hestia on my altar, trusting that she would let me know how she wanted me to use it…
I joined the facebook group called Covered In Light and met a wide variety of women who choose to veil, or cover their hair as a spiritual practice.  I started asking questions and reading discussions and learned that for each woman, there was a very different and very personal reason for choosing to cover.  Some find it very comforting.  As empathic people, wearing a headcovering can help you feel more grounded, and more protected from the unwanted energies of other people.  Some women commented that they felt more intuitive when covered; and spoke of wearing a headcovering when doing tarot or oracle readings or for going to ritual.  Some women felt it was a call to modesty, and a practice of declaring their status as either a married woman or as someone devoted to the Goddess.  Not all the women here were called by Hestia or Vesta, but there is quite a wide variety of deities and pantheons that seem to have brought these women to the practice of veiling.  Many women commented that once they started headcovering, they felt more connected to their Goddess, more feminine, sexier, more powerful, and more comfortable in their roles at home.  Some feel drawn to cover their hair/heads in public, while others feel drawn only to do it while at home.  The wonderful thing about the group Covered In Light is that through this diversity, all the women are supportive and tolerant of each other.  No one says, “This is how or why you should cover”, but it is all about learning about eachothers’ reasons and experiences, learning from each other, and supporting one another.
So I began that very day to experiment with headcovering and find out exactly what it meant for me.  I have discovered that if I put on a headcovering when I say my morning prayers to Hestia, I stay more focused on my housework through the day.  Feeling the scarf on my head reminds me that my daily tasks are a reflection of my devotion to the Goddess, to myself, and my family.  In other words, the headcovering keeps me mindful, living in the present moment.  It is very much like an active meditation.  I also feel more intuitive about what housework needs to be done.  Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start in a home with three children where the messes abound.  But when I am covered – instead of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, I tend to feel more peaceful and less worried about everything that needs to get done.  I’m easier on myself, easier on the kids, and happier with the progress I make.  It becomes less about how much I get done, and more about the loving attitude I come to each small task with.  Mostly I feel very comfortable with my head covered, but if I start to feel uncomfortable, I take that as a cue from the Goddess that my “work” is done.  I take the headcovering off and take a break to do something for myself – like read a book or play on the internet… so in this sense I feel that headcovering has made me more aware of how I take care of myself as well.  I’m overdoing things less, taking more time for myself, and feeling overall more connected with Goddess than ever before.

 
 

Another thing I have noticed when I am covered; I feel a lot more in-tune to not only The Goddess and Divine, but to messages from my family.  First of all, when I am covered and cleaning, I am having a lot more of those inspired moments when something I have been thinking about suddenly makes sense, or I get inspired ideas for art and craft projects, blog and journaling ideas, etc.  Today for example, I put on my headcovering and said my devotional prayers to Hestia, intending to get as much housework done as possible.  I got a little cleaning done, but the one thing that kept coming to mind was this blog post.  Different points I wanted to make, different thoughts of what to write…. finally I stopped resisting and just came to sit down and write!  I am feeling like wearing the headcovering takes that energetic flow from The Divine and my Higher Self that flows through the crown chakra, and instead of that energy flowing away from me; being covered helps pull those energies down into my third eye, throat, and heart chakras to be assimilated from there.  Before experiencing this, I would have assumed that wearing something on my head might block this flow from the Crown Chakra, but now I am experiencing quite the opposite.  It comes right back to the way that Covering just keeps me in a higher state of awareness; fully in the here and now.  I’m a lot more aware of what my children and husband are saying to me, what they need from me, and what they feel… but without their feelings overwhelming me.  As if the covering works as a kind of filter, I can understand my children’s feelings without getting wrapped up in the emotion and frustrated by my empathy.  I’m becoming a better listener, and I’m also much more aware of the words I say and how I treat others when I am covered.
I’m personally not drawn to wearing the covering outside of my home or in public.  I don’t feel like Hestia is calling me to cover at all times, but just when I want to feel more connected to my role as a housewife and mother.  For me, it is something that keeps me more centered and grounded while at home… although I have kept my scarf on to make a couple quick trips to the grocery store. 
When I first started veiling, I drew an Angel card from the “Daily Guidance From Your Angels” oracle card deck by Doreen Virtue.  This is the card I got; (This was the day after joining Covered in Light and only my second day covering)

I had been asking myself if this was really right for me, really something I needed to do or wanted to do.  This angel is Covered!  I looked through the deck and there is not a single other angel card that depicts artwork of an angel with it’s head covered in any way!  Later that day I felt an urge to go to the mall and just walk around.  I didn’t really have money to spend, but I just kept feeling that nudge to “Go!”  So I went, and found another beautiful scarf, on sale!  I knew it was my gift from the Goddess and the Angels for listening to my heart, so I bought it for myself.

Here is a wonderful prayer to Hestia that was written by another member of Covered in Light and I have been using it when I veil before going about my household duties;

“Hestia,
Keeper of the flame
Goddess of the Hearth
Gentle Hestia,
Eternal Virgin,
Sister, Daughter,
Veiled one
Bless this the hearth
Of Thy sister,
She who comes
Veiled before you
May the flame
Never be extinguished
May your blessing and spirit
Always abide here”

  ~ ZedralZ/Nar

UPDATE – Current thoughts on Headcovering
Dec. 26, 2014

I still like to wear scarves and practice veiling or headcovering often!  My collection of scarves has grown in number and color, and I’ve learned some great techniques for tying them!  (I don’t have a recent picture, but I will try to add some soon!) 
The color of my headcovering has come to be an important part of my practice.  If I feel like I need some protection, my black scarves come in handy.  Feeling homey and earthy?  Browns.  Needing some power, energy or fire?  Reds, of course!  Wanting to connect with Water energy. . . blue shades are the way to go.  I love combining the magickal attributes of colors in choosing what I am going to wear as my head covering. 
I don’t cover every day, but it’s still something I do often.  Some days it’s just for fashion, and other days it’s because I feel I need the extra spiritual support and focus.  Depending on my intention when I put it on, it may bring me comfort, focus, energy, strength, or determination. 

Hestia

For many years I wasn’t particularly drawn to any one Goddess, God, or Pantheon.  I was content just calling The Divine, or Great Mother/Father, or “Lord and Lady”.  Then my studies of astrology led me obviously to Greek Mythology and I really resonated with the stories of the Greek Pantheon.  At some point I stumbled upon Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth.  For the first time, I really felt connected to a specific Goddess.  I felt Her call me, I heard Her spirit from somewhere deep inside me and I finally knew what it meant to be called upon by a specific Goddess… something I had heard other Pagans, Wiccans, and Heathens talk about but had never fully understood.
Since then, I have heard the call of other Gods and Goddesses, they come to me at different times to teach me in their unique ways.  I may work with a different Deity from time to time, but in the end, Hestia is always there.  She is my Flame, she opened the door for me to understand that it is possible to work with specific aspects of The Divine – and through that understanding I have found myself working more and more with The Goddesses in all aspects of my life.  Following is some basic information about Hestia and her counterparts. 

HESTIA
Hestia was the first born of the Olympians, her sisters are Hera and Demeter, and her brothers are Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.  When her father, Cronus was told that he would be overthrown by one of his children, he swallowed all of them (except for Zeus… he thought he swallowed Zeus but only swallowed a swaddled rock).  Eventually, Zeus overcame Cronus and forced him to spit out his siblings… they were all “released” in the reverse order of their birth, so Hestia was last.  She is often referred to as “The First and the Last” because of this.  She refused to marry either Poseidon or Apollo, and eventually swore herself to perpetual virginity, becoming the domestic opposite of Aphrodite.  Zeus assigned Hestia the role of maintaining and keeping the fires of the Olympian Hearth.  Some stories make reference that Hestia could have gone to join her brothers and sisters on Mount Olympus and become one of the Olympians, but she didn’t take up the offer and instead let Dionysus take the place as the 12th Olympian God, again attesting to her attitude of service and a degree of passiveness.
Hestia’s name means “Home and Hearth” and she is The Goddess of The Hearth-fire, or Goddess of the Home.  Prayers and offerings were made to Hestia to keep the home fires burning, to keep the household strong, healthy, and warm.   The people responsible for honoring Hestia were usually the head women of the household, and it is believed that Honoring Hestia “both first and last” before every hearth fire was lit or each meal was prepared was probably a very common practice.

VESTA
Hestia’s Roman counterpart is Vesta* – the Virgin Goddess of the Hearth, Home, and Family.  Vesta’s presence was symbolized by the burning of sacred fires in homes and temples.  Vesta was particularly important to women, since the home fire (hearth fire) was the central source of Food and heat for the home… therefore Vesta / Hestia is the center of a Housewives’ focus and gratitude. 
Although neither Hestia or Vesta had any children, their role in the Home and the household is very similar to that of a Mother Goddess.  She was seen as the great nurturer… as Fire represented not only the means to survive, but also represented wisdom, inspiration, focus, community, purity, power, and even divination.  In ancient Rome, some women would devote themselves to become keeper’s of Vesta’s temple and become “Vestal Virgins”.  They would take a vow of celibacy and commit part of their lives to keeping Vesta’s temple flame lit and tending to her temple.  Legend has it that if a convicted person crossed paths with a Vestal Virgin, he would be released from his penance.  The Vestal Virgins were known for being kind and graceful. After their time of devotion, a Vestal Virgin could choose to marry, it did not necessarily mean a lifetime of celibacy and devotion, though many probably chose to continue their life of service to Vesta even after their time had been fulfilled.  (*note – by pointing out Vesta as Hestia’s Roman counterpart, I’m not saying she IS end all/be all the same Goddess.  Some people get kinda touchy about this.  I’m saying that in each culture there are similar stories that blend the lines between Goddesses, Gods, myths, folklore, etc… because regardless of distance and time, the Human Experience is essentially the same…and I find that many different cultures and pantheons have “crossovers” and “Counterparts” who share very similar attributes and in some ways teach us the same things about our human nature.  Personally I see all Goddesses as different aspects and faces of The Divine Feminine, so I do see Hestia and Vesta as one in the same, but this is not to say that this is what others should see or feel also.  And this leads right into my next point, which may be controversial)

The Virgin Mother Mary (?)
Personally, I see a connection between Hestia and Vesta and the Hebrew Mother Mary.  Hestia and Vesta are both usually depicted as veiled or wearing some kind of head covering, as is the Virgin Mother Mary.  They are all virgins, although Mary did bear a child but the stories still depict her as a virgin anyways.  Vesta is represented in historical drawings and carvings with an Ass (donkey/mule), and the Mother Mary is also associated riding an ass from when she rode pregnant into Bethlehem.  Catholic nuns who devote their lives to service of God, wear headcoverings, and take vows of celibacy bring to mind the Roman Vestal Virgins. I recently found a votive prayer candle in the religious candle section of my local grocery store that depicts “The Sacred Heart of Mary”, with a picture of Mary and the glowing heart within her chest is burning with a bright orange fire. Hmmm.  The connection seems obvious to me and even though I know most pagans are probably not comfortable working within the “Christian Pantheon”, it’s something worth considering.

As long as I am making broad associations, I could also mention that Hestia/Vesta/Mary have also come to me in the form of the Celtic Goddess Brigid.  It has happened a couple times, while sitting at my altar in meditation, looking at my small statue of Hestia, her image seemed to shift and suddenly appear to me as Brigid!  Another Fire Goddess with associations of Compassion, Caretaking, Home and Hearth. . . well . . . yes!

Me and Hestia, hangin’ out at home. My personal relationship with Hestia comes from my own position as the “head woman” of my household.  As the housewife, mother, and wife, it is part of my daily life and responsibility to run the household.  My house (and many modern homes today) doesn’t have a central hearth fire, or even a fire place.  The Greeks paid honor to Hestia with offerings of the fat from animals, which served as oil to keep the fire lit.  (Pretty simple and straight forward, yes?  Make an offering of Oil to the Fire and it keeps burning.)Today, we don’t need to literally keep a fire lit in our home, but we do have certain things we need to do to “keep the home fires burning”… cleaning, cooking, paying the bills.  So I honor Hestia by attempting to keep my home running as smoothly as possible.  I like to re-create the “First and Last” concept of honoring Hestia by praying to her first thing in the morning and again at night.  Simply saying “Good Morning and thank you for this day.” and maybe asking for help or blessings for the day ahead; and then saying a prayer of gratitude at bedtime.  I like to light an orange candle to do this, but it’s not necessary – if I’m rushed for time or low on candles, just pausing to honor Her is enough.  If I really need an extra boost during the day, to tackle some household chore or for focus and motivation to clean house when I really don’t want to clean, I might go to Hestia again… spend some time meditating with her, talking to her, praying to her.  She is pretty good at reminding me that my home is my sacred place in this world, and that in taking care of my home I am taking care of my spirit, my family, myself, and… as a bonus, honoring Her.  She is also pretty good at reminding me that serving others (namely my family) is a respectable and beautiful thing.  As a person who is “Domestically Disabled”; allergic to housework, NOT born organized, and easily distracted, Hestia has become my “Go-To” Goddess for motivation and support in all things household-related.  She is a big supporter of the FlyLady program and I think the FlyLady concepts of breaking down housework into Morning and Evening routines is something that Hestia is particularly fond of (which reminds me, I need to get back on my routines!)

Here is a wonderful prayer to Hestia that was written by a member of a facebook group; Covered in Light and I have been using it when I veil before going about my household duties;

“Hestia,
Keeper of the flame
Goddess of the Hearth
Gentle Hestia,
Eternal Virgin,
Sister, Daughter,
Veiled one
Bless this the hearth
Of Thy sister,
She who comes
Veiled before you
May the flame
Never be extinguished
May your blessing and spirit
Always abide here”

  ~ ZedralZ/Nar

And this is my own prayer that I wrote that I use to connect with Hestia each morning and night;

Oh beautiful Hestia, you who are both First and Last, Goddess of the Home and Keeper of the Hearth Fire, may your Love and Light continuously burn in this home.  Show us each how to live in unity, peace and love.  Guide us each to bring blessings upon this home through the service of our own unique gifts.  Thank you, Hestia, for your lasting blessings and presence here!”

And I also wanted to share this one with you…. an Invocation to Vesta by Doreen Virtue;

“Beloved Vesta, please bring your flame of Divine Love into this household and light the fire of kindness, compassion, and understanding within everyone who lives in and visits this home.  Help us burn away any fears concerning love, and to feel warm and secure.”

So I understand this has been an incredibly long blog post, and I truly thank and appreciate those of you who have actually read the whole thing!  This is a post that contains many things near and dear to my heart and I have been inspired to share with others!

In Love and Light,
Lady Josephine

(I should mention this blog post has been moved, from my old blog; Tarot Mom.  Slightly edited and shortened.  You can see the original blog post HERE)

Vesta – Goddess of The Hearth

Vesta is the Roman Goddess of the Hearth, Home, and Family. (Her Greek counterpart is Hestia.) A virgin Goddess, she did not marry or have children like most of the Roman Gods and Goddesses, yet she is still seen as a maternal, mothering figure.  This is because the fire of the Hearth which she protects – was recognized to be an essential part of a nurturing and safe home life. Without a fire in the hearth, families would be cold, hungry, and unprotected.
Today, we don’t have a “hearth fire” in our homes; that has been replaced by a stove and a microwave. Most of us don’t cook our food over an open flame (except for those fun family barbeque nights) and a fireplace is more of a luxury than a necessity for warmth. Although our methods have changed, many Neo-Pagans are still drawn to honoring a Goddess of Hearth and Home.  The Ancient Romans would honor Vesta by throwing some of their food into the hearth fire as an offering . . . giving back to the life- force that had provided for them. In Vesta’s temple, a fire was constantly burning. Guarded and tended to by the Vestal Virgins . . . women who had dedicated their lives to honoring and serving Vesta.
Today, many who call themselves “kitchen witches” are drawn to honoring Vesta (or Hestia) as part of their daily spiritual practice. Recognizing that the kitchen with all it’s modern gadgets is still a center of the home – a place of creation and nurturing.
My blog title is “Muse of Hestia” because as a mother and housewife I find so much of my spiritual life is tied directly to my home life and family. I work with Vesta/ Hestia quite often: she motivates me, inspires me, and encourages me. I will probably blog about Her more . . . but for now I thought a “basic introduction” would be a good place to start!
This is my kitchen altar with tiny statue of Vesta and candle;

Plus, I couldn’t think of anything better to blog about starting with the letter V for this week’s Pagan Blog Project!