Hearth Work

It is sometimes strange—the things that can drive a priest like me into a Full Ritual.  Dabblers and those who are of weak mind, throwing stuff around when they ought not to be, when they have no real clue what they are doing, much less what they are up against—it’s enough to make me sigh and shake my head.  Yet, in defense of those I care for, I must step up and accept my mantle, accept the role I have taken on as my own. I may be Bound by Law, but that does not mean I am defenseless.  Not by any means.

Interesting things always come out of Ritual for me.  Some days, I wonder at Spirit.  Really I do.  I so rarely even consider performing High Ritual that I never plan for it until the need to do it is beyond obvious.  Until it is time to set the Ritual in motion.  Therefore, with the aid of the Full Moon and the third eclipse, I came into an unavoidable High Ritual.

Yes, I am leaving out a great deal of detail here.  Such is the nature of the work I do.

The interesting bit comes after this particular Ritual.  Over a week ago, I went up into my attic to do a little purging.  I found a nice, fairly deep, wooden tray that had been left up there and forgotten, all crunched in among the other clutter.  I dragged the tray downstairs.  I took it into my bedroom and propped it up against the wall to deal with later, once I figured out why I had felt the pull to bring it out of the attic in the first place.  There that tray rested and waited, untouched and unneeded.  That is, until after this particular Ritual was completed.

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After releasing the Circle, my eyes fell upon this tray, sitting there all meek and quiet, utterly patient.  An offering was due, outside of ritual space.  The tray called out to be used, to be dedicated to some higher purpose.  It took me a few minutes to remember about this tray, to find it in my memories, but remember I did.  This tray had once been the pedestal base for an altar several years previously in a former house where I lived and worked.  At that time, it lay swathed in cloths and other finery to dress it up some.  My work and I have moved on since that time, have grown out and come along greatly since then.  Now for this piece to work for what it desired, for what my heart was calling for it to be, it would take a bit more effort than covering it with pretty cloths and ribbons.

I walked out of my room, into the storage room, where all my nefarious art supplies and otherwise are kept.  I pulled out five bottles of paint.  Given the nature of the Ritual I had just performed, as well as my own normal mindset, I already knew to whom this altar would be dedicated.  I had no doubt at all about who deserved, as well as who had granted, such an honor.

I spread out a towel, gathered brushes, palette, and other off-hand supplies.  My significant other, who is also my working partner, called during the process.  We spoke of many things as I painted and scraped and rubbed.  I don’t think he realized what was going on on my side during the conversation, even though I did tell him, and I kept him apprised as I went along.

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The wood I first cleaned thoroughly with a gentle natural solvent, working quickly and easily with a soft rag.  I buffed it twice to be certain it was both clean and dry so that I could start the next part of the process without worrying about paint not sticking or any other sort of mishap.  I started with the upside down bottom of the tray.  That part now became the top of the pedestal.  First, came a layer of the dark blue, followed by consecutive layers of swirled silver, then white, and then cream, one over the other, incorporating each color into the layer beneath it, so that the image of a single flower nearly glows from within the darker blue of the base coat.

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The rim between the bottom of the tray and the actual sides of the tray is rough and craggled.  The rim is a mess not really noticeable when the wood is left stained and lacquered in a woody bamboo hue.  However, throw in that layer of blue over it?  That lip bit into the piece and made it look just awful, pocked and abraded.  I worked around all four sides, applying paint in thick sopping coats, over and over and over, until most of the holes and notches were filled.  Not all of the paint stayed where it should have gone, or even went on where it was supposed to go.  I chose not to worry about this, allowing the paint and the brushes their own fluidity in this process, permitting my Muse and the Goddess in question to guide me, to move through my hand as surely as they moved through my consciousness.

For the sides themselves, I brushed paint on with flicks of the brush, barely touching the wooden surface, hardly making contact at all.  Thin layers of paint full of rich brilliant color.  I mixed several shades together, applied them with in a quick slapdash coat all over every side.  This I wiped away with a wad of dry toweling as soon as I could after finishing one side, before moving on and repeating the process on the next side.  Only traces of paint remained on the wood after that.  The last coat of paint applied was a dabble of silver, thinned to a translucent sheen, all over the sides.  After that, I set the piece aside to dry more completely.

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Of our many altars here, I chose to disassemble only the three largest in order to put this pedestal into use.  Our family altar, which rests upon and above our hearth. My own personal altar.  The house guardian’s altar.  Each of these fell to pieces beneath my questing hands.  I dusted.  I cleaned.  I rededicated.  I re-consecrated.  I changed things around, adding different things, setting other things aside for other purposes, other altars.  This time is a new time.  This shifting of energies is a new shift.  Such better things are coming this way.  Many have already begun to arrive.  I am merely making space and honoring the way for their arrivals.

I bow before the Great Goddess Hestia, ever grateful for Her care and Her wisdom, Her protection.  I light the candle for Her now, knowing in my heart this is a flame that shall never go out.

And the tray?  Now it is an altar centerpiece.  My gift to the goddess Hestia.  Now the tray is in its rightful place.  All has been set to rights again.

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written by Tabitha Kietero

Hestia’s Hearth:  http://ravensinthewritingdesk.wordpress.com/
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5 responses

  1. This is bound to invoke the goddess in all her glory and she will always be known to you. I do love high ritual like this.

  2. What an amazing transformation of a simple wooden tray. It really does look like an altar now. You certainly were inspired.

  3. thanks for describing the process you used to transform the tray into an altar. It always interests me to see the journey.

  4. What a beautiful and strong image you have created, both in your words and of the transformed tray itself – wonderful.

  5. I liked the tray. How fun to find a long forgotten item and transform it. I loved the ritual and am considering making it one of my own.

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