Hearts and Hearths
Our vital organs of digestion, respiration, and circulation are located in the warm center of the body, and work interdependently to sustain life. Heart is the center of all: its steady beating keeps oxygen/nutrient rich blood flowing throughout. Heart is Center. Energetically, heart has to do with giving and receiving love - lifeblood & nourishment of another sort. Heart is center. Heart is Fire. Heart is the center of the body just as hearth is the center of the home. Hearth is the heart of the home.
What has happened to our hearths? Do we have them at all anymore? I’m not referring here to simply the physical fireplaces and stoves. What is it that brings light, warmth and nourishment to us? What is it that unifies us as families, brings us together? Have our hearths turned into TV sets - one for each room? Video games? Our individual computer screens? Have our homes become houses—just places where we sleep, grab a bite, do laundry? Have they lost their "souls" or are they in danger of it?
And if this is how life has become for us individually to one extent or another, what does this say about the collective experience of hearth and home? What does this say about our culture and the soul of our culture - the fact that we no longer have hearths or consider them necessary? And if hearths—the soul of home, source of nourishment, light, and warmth—are dispensable, victims of the modern age, so then are hearthkeepers also dispensable. And those who kept the hearth and would keep it still, find their value to society has become economic, measured in dollars, cents and person-hours.
Think for a moment about the nature of fire. Fire consumes what is put into it. More than that, it transforms and transmutes what is put into it into other forms of energy. Things change form in a fire, never the same as when they go into it. Wood becomes ash and smoke, light and heat. Fire is the great ultimate purifier and transformer. Our ancestors knew and respected these qualities of fire. They made offerings to it, burnt incense, used it for blessing, purification, healing and magic. Because fire was important to their lives they knew it must be cared for, tended, lest the precious sparks be extinguished. Life depended on fire. Our lives today still depend of fire no less than theirs, though the forms may be different.
(c) Margie McArthur, 1995