Honoring Hestia: Hygge


Let’s talk a little bit about Hestia, Goddess of hearth and home.  She often gets less attention than some of the other Greek deities and that’s OK with her.  She was always a bit of a homebody, happy to stay home and create a warm, safe, comfortable place for people to live.  I submit that, especially in these times, having an inviting haven (that safe, sandy cave you used to dream about as a child) is extra important.  We are spending so much time marching, organizing, canvassing, registering voters, and resisting that, if we’re not careful, we can get worn out.  Burnout doesn’t help anyone and, so, simple things that provide us with a cozy retreat are important.

The Danes have this word — hygge — that translates roughly as cozy contentment, comfort, an enjoyable time alone or with friends.  A crackling fire in the fireplace, soft socks that keep even your ankles warm, hot chocolate with nutmeg, friends playing instruments together after a Sunday brunch:  that’s all hygge.  I think hygge is a way of honoring Hestia.

What in your home contributes to your hygge?  What could you do that would increase your hygge?  Sometimes, it’s as simple as mixing up biscuit dough the night before or digging that soft, warm sweatshirt out of the back of your closet.  Pull the drapes at night to keep in the warm air and open them in late afternoon to let in the sun.  Sometimes, it’s opening the windows when the air is warm and putting a vase full of golden daffodils on the counter.  Or it can be turning on the music you haven’t heard in a while, lighting some candles, burning some incense, and pouring the good oil into a tub full of steaming water.

Speaking of hygge, I’d like to sing the virtues of the old-fashioned water bottle.  You remember water bottles; it’s likely that your grandmother had one or, if you’re old enough, that you used one for menstrual pain.  This winter, I dealt with a series of ear infections — something I’ve never had before and hope to never have again.  There’s this period between when your doctor calls in the prescription and when the drugs begin to work.  And, when we’re talking about ear infections, that’s painful.  The only thing that seemed to relieve the pain for me was heat.  So, off to the drugstore to buy a hot water bottle; they’re on the very bottom shelf, a bit dust-covered, hidden in the far distant corner.  But it really worked.  Putting it between my pillow and the pillowcase, I was able to get enough relief to go to sleep.

But you know, we’re talking about hygge, not pain relief.  Once my ears were better, I began to fill the hot water bottle with the hottest water I could run, wrap it in an old t-shirt, and stick it down near my feet, under the covers.  Instant bliss.  Sure, I can wear socks, and, sometimes, when it’s really cold, I still do.  But with or without socks, having that snug bit of warmth near my feet has been a source of real comfort and luxury.  (The cats like it too; they have an uncanny ability to position themselves directly above the warmth.)  I’m knitting a cover for the hot water bottle  so I can reclaim my t-shirt.  There are patterns as plain and as fancy as you like.

Speaking of knitting, crafts are a good way to honor Hestia and to help create a wonderful retreat.  First, doing the craft is, in itself, comforting and rewarding and, second, the products you make can be wonderfully hygge.  Knitting a hot water bottle cover, an afghan, or a shawl, crocheting a tea cozy to keep your tea pot hot, painting anything from a mug to a wall mural, carving love spoons to hang on the wall, weaving placemats, mixing incense or potpourri — there are as many ways to create offerings to Hestia as there are arts and crafts.

Finally, and I am going to post more about this in the days to come:  order.  We all have a different tolerance for order and for disorder.  I have to have things pretty neat and clean — a place for everything and everything in its place.  My friend, S., an artist who makes jewelry, artwork, and clothing, likes to have her materials and projects out where she can see and be inspired by them.  Part of growing up is learning the boundaries of your comfort zone.  Do you know what yours are?  Are you living within them?

I’ve spent the winter cleaning out some closets, dressers, and files, although most people who see my house don’t imagine there’s much to clean out.  But I’ve disposed (trashed, donated, put out by the curb with a notice to the neighborhood listserve) of a LOT of stuff and it feels brilliant!  Fresh!  Clean!  Open!  I can literally feel the new energy moving around in the guest room (one place where “stuff” I didn’t want to deal with tended to accumulate) and my main dresser.  I can sense how much happier my files and home office are now that I’ve done one purge and, as soon as I can have a discussion with my financial planner, I’m going to do a second.  (It’s possible that I no longer need every paycheck I’ve ever received, even if all of them are neatly organized into folders.  Now that my little cottage is paid off, I probably don’t need all the refinance papers and cancelled checks.  The service records on the car I sold four years ago can probably go, no matter that they are filed in chronological order.)  As soon as the weather warms up a bit, my garden shed and I are going to have a long, serious talk.

If you’re honest, what’s your tolerance for order/disorder? What creates comfort for you?        What would make you happy to see go to a new home?  Where would some Murphy’s Oil Soap bring you happiness?  Is there a spot in your bathroom, laundry room, or pantry that would make you smile every time you saw that it had been cleaned out?  Can you spend an hour folding and putting away your clothes in a system that would let you get dressed easily and happily in the morning?

How do you create/maintain/establish hygge?  Do you ever invoke Hestia?  What in your life needs to change so that you have at least one room where you are completely comfortable, safe, warm, full, content, dry, clean?

Picture found here.




(Belated) Words for Wednesday



~ Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

This Is a Prayer for Spring; This Is a Prayer for Resistance.


This is a prayer for the Vernal Equinox, for Ostara, for Spring.  This is a prayer for resistance.  This is a prayer for as much light as there is dark, for an end to winter’s cold, for life returning to the land.  This is a prayer for resistance.

This is a prayer for as much winning as losing, for an end to the Trump Interregnum, for good government returning to the land.  This is a prayer for Spring.

This is a prayer for safely-born livestock, for radishes and dandelion greens, for sunshine.  This is a prayer for resistance.

This is a prayer for safe schools, for money spent on the aged and sick, for young people leading the march.  This is a prayer for Spring.

We pray the prayer our ancestors prayed:

Let the good times return; let the time of coughing and hunger be over.  Let the land treat us gently; let us be gentle with the land.  May the sheep, and the cows, and the horses, and the chickens, and the pigs, and the fat brown bunnies bring forth their children in the sun; may our children play in the sun.  May the rains be gentle and often, may our seeds sprout and grow strong.  May the streams flow with snowmelt and may our lives, too, be full of the clean, flowing force that rushes down from the mountains.

May there be fires on the hills; may the young people dance until dawn.  May what has been sleeping in the Earth awake; may new things come forth.  May sweet woodruff carpet the woodland; may bluebells make a carpet among the trees.  May the mares suckle strong colts; may parsley and watercress line the streams.

And we pray new prayers:

Let the good times return; let the time of fascism be over.  Let us return to right relationship with the land; let the land recover from our attacks.  May those who have stolen public office suffer the fate that they deserve — and quickly.  May the sunlight shine on all that they would keep hidden.  May the streams of justice overflood their banks and water the fields of freedom.  As the farmer plants seeds now to harvest this Fall, may the Resistance plant seeds that come to fruition in November.

May there be signal flares for those who resist; may our young people lead us forward.  May sleeping Democracy arise; may the land itself call forth many hands.  May volunteers carpet the towns; may marchers make a forest in the streets.  May tricksters work on our side and may all of the fascists’ plans fail.

This is a prayer for the Vernal Equinox, for Ostara, for Spring.  This is a prayer for resistance.  This is a prayer for as much light as there is dark, for an end to winter’s cold, for life returning to the land.  This is a prayer for resistance.

Picture found here.



(Belated) Monday at the Movies

I love meadows and Piet is famous for his composed meadows.  My only disappointment is that you really do need a decent amount of space to implement his ideas.  I don’t think they can be translated too well to tiny gardens.  However, it’s lovely to look.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/81833686″>Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf documentary trailer</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user5029120″>Thomas Piper</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The Magical Battle for America 3.18.18


Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp a stone or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.


Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.


As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky:  Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work?  Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable. This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane.  It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

As your glance turns to the Southwest, you see the Cowboy banner growing larger and larger in the sky.  It becomes three-dimensional and you can step from your hillock into the banner.  You are in a small Western town with a Feed Store, a General Store, and a Hotel on one side of the dirt street and the Saloon, wooden church, and the Town Jail and Courthouse on the other.

Embedded within the Cowboy archetype is the Sheriff.  In what was often called the lawless West, a place where there were no rules and no norms, the Sheriff represented the rule of law.  It was his job to protect the weak against the strong, the individual against the gang.  It was his job to bring order into chaos and to make the West livable for everyone, not just the gangs of horse and cattle thieves who believed that their might made right.

As you stand in the shade of the county Courthouse, you see a gang of rustlers ride into town.  They’ve stolen horses from the farmers and ranchers in the area, sold them to other thieves, and now plan to spend their ill-gotten gains at the Saloon, in the Hotel, at the General Store.  Part of the fun for them will be in seeing how much damage they can do before they ride out.  They are sure they can get away with it.

Time spirals, as it does, and you can also see into the present day where a gang of thieves have stolen the White House with the help of Russian interference.  They are using our money to fly in private jets, buy luxuriously tacky dining room sets for their office, give their children access to global markets, and to sell off our natural parks to their friends.  We need a sheriff.  But this gang believes that it can fire the sheriffs and walk away scot free.

You decide to take matters into your own hands.  You will not sit still and allow this to happen.  You walk next-door and knock on the sheriff’s door.  You walk past the deputy and go straight to the sheriff.  You tell him what’s going on.  You draw him a map.  You strengthen his hand.  You convince him to take action.

As you watch, times converge and the sheriff comes out into the middle of the street.  The clock on the church chimes high noon.  The sheriff begins to walk, alone but unafraid, slowly but deliberately, towards the thieving gang that has come to shoot up the town and enjoy wreaking havoc.  His eye is fixed on the leader of the gang, the one who has threatened and bragged that he will get rid of the sheriff so that there will be no real law in this place.

Gradually, the gang becomes aware of the sheriff, standing between them and the Saloon they’ve been planning to enjoy.  They stare and try to look intimidating.  They cluster together on their horses and look down on the man walking towards them.  As the sheriff draws closer and closer, the town goes silent.  The grocer disappears back inside the General Store.  The preacher and the ladies who have come for an auxiliary meeting slip quietly inside the church.  The sheriff simply continues to walk slowly towards the gang.

At the last minute, the gang turns and rides away.  They shoot a few stray bullets into the air to try and show their bravado, but the fact is that they are riding out of town as fast as they can go.  As they near the edge of town, their ill-gotten gold falls out of their saddle bags and they are too afraid to come back for it.  The thieves don’t get to replace the sheriff; that’s not how America works.

Go out now with the sheriff to gather up the gold that the rustlers tried to steal.  America’s wealth is not for Russian plutocrats, the Trump crime family, or Munchin’s extravagant travel.  It is for building schools and bridges, caring for our sick and elderly neighbors, putting books and librarians in libraries, inspecting our food and water, and for maintaining our parks and wild lands.  The sheriff thanks your for your help and deposits the money in the Courthouse safe.  The next time that the judge is in town, he will see that the money goes where it belongs.  The sheriff is not going anywhere.


Walk out of the Cowboy banner and back to your own hillock.

As you sit and rest, know that you are not working alone.  The Resistance — both magical and in all of its mundane (phone banking, check writing, representative calling, letter writing, canvassing, voting, volunteering, tutoring, restoring wetlands, growing plants for bees) manifestations — is huge.  Know that you are a powerful worker of magic, rooted in your very own landbase, working with the strong archetypes of this land, assisted by countless unseen others who labor in league with you.  You are brave and growing braver.  Your magic and your practical workings can make the difference.  The five banners and your local schools are always available to you when you want to do magic to strengthen America.


Return to your own body, your own landbase.  Open your eyes.  Rub your face, move your arms and legs.  Notice the detail you selected to call you back from the astral.  Open your circle.  Drink something, maybe strong coffee with milk or cold water with cucumber.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe a bowl of grits with butter, salt, and pepper or a vegetable omelette.

During the course of this week, you may want to visit the bannered prairie several times in order to strengthen its presence on the astral.  You may want to repeat this working.  You may want to place something on your altar to help you to remember America’s sheriffs in all their forms, modern and older.  Can you stare into a candle?   What actions are you inspired to take for the Resistance?  If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.


She Always Will

Capped off my Sacred Space experience attending Raven Grimassi’s session on the history of Witchcraft, which was an excellent re-examination of the evidence.  All I could think of was the message from The Pretenders’ song:  She Will Always Carry On.

I am so lucky to be alive in these times, to be a Witch in these times.  May it be so for you.

On “Values” Voters


I don’t know about you, but I am heartily sick of the religious right insisting that they’re the only “values” voters, and the rest of us are…what? Voters with no values whatsoever? It’s like their insistence that they’re the only ones who are patriotic and love America (and the rest of of us are…what? Traitors who hate America? Well, at least according to Ann “Skeletor” Coulter, we are), and it’s equally wrong.

I am a values voter. Here are the values I vote on:

I believe that women are full adult human beings, with the same rights as men, which includes full bodily autonomy and integrity, full and exclusive control over our reproductive choices, and equal pay for equal work.

I believe that climate change is real, and caused by humans burning fossil fuels, and that we have a responsibility to do something about it.

I believe that every creature on our beautiful, fragile blue-green planet has a right to clean air, clean water, and habitat preservation. Humans may be at the top of the food chain, but our needs and wants do not supercede those of the other inhabitants of this planet we share.

I believe that citizens of a community exist in relationship to each other and bear responsibility to each other, which includes adequately funding a strong social safety net for those who can’t do for themselves.

I believe that every person has the right to a high-quality education, and that we have the responsibility as a community to fund that for every member of our community.

I believe that health care is a human right and every person should have access to it.

I believe that black lives matter, and that ending legal discrimination against people of color didn’t endow us with a magic wand we wave that automatically eliminated the legacy of hundreds of years of racism and white supremacy, and that we, as a society, have an ongoing responsibility to make amends for that legacy.

I believe that Americans have a right to bear arms (I grew up in a hunting culture), but that we need gun safety protections that are at least as rigorous as the safety protections that govern other potentially dangerous but highly useful tools like cars.

I believe that we want community goods like safe roads and bridges and fire departments and trash removal and police forces and a military and a thousand other things, and that we have a shared responsibility to pay for them – even the ones that we don’t personally use ourselves.

I believe that work – all work – brings dignity, and that work – all work – deserves to be compensated with a living wage.

I believe that “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48), so those who have been lucky and hard working enough to have more (money, power, status) OWE more to the community.

I believe that “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals,” so consenting adults have the absolute right to organize their romantic partnerships in any way that suits all the parties involved.

I believe that the right to vote is both fundamental and a civic duty, so we need to make it as easy as possible for every citizen to fulfill that duty.

I believe that America is a nation of immigrants, and that is one of our greatest strengths, so we need to do everything in our power to create permanent legal status for the millions of undocumented, law-abiding, tax-paying residents who contribute so much to our economy and our communities.

And I vote on these values, to coin a phrase, RELIGIOUSLY.

I like these values. They’re about doing unto the least of these (Matthew 25:40). They’re about comforting the afflicted (Mother Jones). They’re about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and educating the ignorant (the Catholic Works of Mercy and the Jewish mitzvah of hospitality). They’re about welcoming the stranger (Matthew 25:35).

Do those sound a little more Christ-like than what you generally hear out of the religious right? Well, maybe they’d benefit from spending a little more time reading their bibles and a little less time watching Fox News.

What values do you vote on?

Image found here.

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