Thursday, October 10, 2013
Brigid, the Hearth Fire, and the Furnace
This experience in my youth has given me an appreciation for the harshness of winter, and our utter helplessness when faced with the loss of our warmth. The furnace (or fireplace if you're lucky enough to have a working one) is the most essential part of a house in the winter-time. It keeps the home cozy, keeps water flowing freely, and protects us from the dangerous elements outside.
In Pagan times, the hearth fire was often seen as a personified Goddess, the most sacred part of any home. There are many Goddesses in the Indo-European group of pantheons who combined the sacred flame with the domestic business of the house, among them Hestia, Brigid, and Vesta. I honor Brigid as my hearth goddess, most often at Imbolc when I am clearing things out and doing some spring cleaning. But it occurred to me as I turned on the furnace for the first time this weekend that She deserves special recognition as the bringer of warmth as well.
And so began a new family tradition. As the weather turns cold and we retreat into our houses more and more, as we light our first fires and turn on our heaters, now we recognize the Goddess who blesses us with this heat, and all the feelings of warm, cozy family and filling meals that go along with it. In the cold, dark winters, all of these things go hand in hand; just as Brigid is both domestic and fiery.