Musings on Fire, Flame and the Hearth (Part Two)

To Hestia

– Fumigation from Aromatics –

Daughter of Chronos,

Venerable Guardian of the Unwearying Flame,

The ministers of the sacred rites are Thine,

mystics much blessed and holy.

The Gods have fixed their dwelling place in Thee,

Strong, Stable basis of the mortal race,

Many-Formed, eternal, laughing, blessed,

Lovely Queen, ever Scarlet One,

Accept these rites, accord to each of us

just desires, gentle health, and needful goodness.

Guardian of the Unwearying Flame and stable basis of the mortal race are big shoes to fill, and there is only one Goddess in the Hellenic world that fills them. And when you add “The Gods have fixed their dwelling place in Thee,” to the mix those shoes seem impossibly large for a Goddess that Edith Hamilton said had “no distinct personality” to even be ABLE to fill. Yet Hestia fills these roles and more as She must if the ministers of the sacred rites are to be hers, much less mystics “blessed and holy”.

It is no accident that the most basic unit of our society was (and still is) the family “hearth” – regardless of whether this is a ‘virtual’ hearth – and that it is “family values” that many politicians, both in ancient and modern times, stress as vital to a healthy society. It is because of this that we HAVE to include Hestia in our thoughts instead of putting her “on the back burner”, so to speak. If She is as much a Queen as either of her sisters are (as the Orphic Hymn apparently states) we need to take a good look at what she rules. 

There seem to be three spheres of human endeavor: the political/economic, the agricultural and the family and each of the daughters of Chronos relate to one of these. The stable basis of the mortal race is and always has been the family – no matter how you define that term – and it is here that Hestia is “Queen”, not in the other spheres. Also, the goddesses who relate to each of the other spheres are each “Queen” there, but NOT in the sphere of family where Hestia rules.

She is as many-formed as Fire itself, the “ever Scarlet One”, and so are our families. She does not only guard the nuclear family (so-called) but also polyamourous and same-sex families along with Hera. Along with Artemis and Apollo, She protects the children of our families as they grow towards adulthood. She warms the bond between lovers and cements the bonds of our greater communities as extensions of the family hearth. She even partners with Ares for social change by inspiring the fires of PEACEFUL civil disobedience, such as is currently happening in places around the world.

Where is the “no distinct personality” in this? I submit that ultimately it is HER flame that is at the heart of inspiration along with the song of the Muses and it is Her flame that we embrace to strengthen us in the search for our personal excellence.

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