By Anna Franklin
A few years ago I invented the term 'Hearth Witch' to describe the witch who sees the sacred within the physical, the magical in the mundane, and uses this knowledge to incorporate spiritual practice into her everyday life. The way of the Hearth Witch is an uncomplicated, direct form of magic, deceptively simple and unspeakably profound. She draws her strength from the sacred flame that burns in her hearth, from the earth that sustains her, the water that nourishes her, and the inspiration of her breath. She finds her gods in the land around her: the spirits of water, stone and tree, Earth, Moon, Sun, Stars and Sky. She needs no watch, calendar or magical almanac to tell her when to work her magic, but works with the observable ebb and flow of the changing seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, and the waxing and waning of the moon. A Hearth Witch is drawn to the traditional ways, the rhythms of nature and the call of the wildwoods. The Hearth Witch of today inherits the mantle of the village wise woman or cunning man. She is part shaman, part seer, part herbalist, part spiritual healer, and all witch. Hers are the Old Ways of the countryside, once passed down from mother to daughter, father to son, crone to apprentice. It is as old as time and as new as the newest witch.
Herbs have always been part of the wise woman's armoury. In the past, every woman had to be something of a herbalist and healer, responsible for her householdís health, since professional medical help was either unavailable or too expensive- and possibly ineffective or dangerous to boot. Nearly every home had a still room, so called because it probably contained a still for distilling flower essences used for medicinal purposes. Set aside from the kitchen and kept clean and sweet smelling with drying herbs and flowers, it was the place for making herbal infusions, powders, oils and poultices, inks, dyes, soaps, household cleaners and perfumes, for brewing wine and ale, preserving fruit, making jams and jellies, pickles and chutneys. The woman of the house kept it under lock and key, and wrote down all her recipes in the same household book that recorded her motherís and grandmotherís Ďreceiptsí. A girl was initiated into the secrets of these family formulas by her mother, along with her knowledge of folklore, stories, healing potions, minor surgery, gardening, brewing and wine making, spinning, weaving, dyeing, childcare, home management, animal husbandry, bee-keeping, fortune telling and cookery know-how.
It is in our homes that the first resonance of the sacred lies and where we create a reflection of hallowed space. The business of the home rotates around the hearth- it is the place where people meet to cook, eat and talk together. It is the traditional place to house the shrine of the guardian spirit of the dwelling, and should provide a focus for religious meditation and worship within the household. The hearth has been the centre of human life for at least 400,000 years. In Celtic tradition the ty teallach or 'hearth' was the heart of the home, and fire was often literally placed centrally in ancient dwelling places, such as Bronze and Iron Age roundhouses. Imagine frozen, blustery winter days, when there was little work that could be done on the land, and when the hours of daylight were short and the nights long. Fire meant the difference between survival and death, between comfort and cold pain. It was the centre of activity, where everyone gathered to eat and cook, to sit and warm themselves, and listen to the stories of the bards. The Latin word for it was focus, since it is the focus of the home. We call our coven a hearth, because it is the spiritual nourishing place of its family of members.
|The Sacred Hearth||Cleaning Products|
|Wort Cunning||Hearth Witch Herbal Recipes|
|Herb Tea Blends||The Herbs|
All of the above are extracts from Hearth Witch by Anna Franklin
Buy a signed copy from me for £10 (UK only)
Or buy from www.learbooks.co.uk (ships worldwide)