Blessings to you!
We have just moved through the beautiful and joyful celebration of Imbolc. This is a time when my ancestors of Ireland and Scotland would rejoice in the heralding of Spring and the hope that accompanies that heralding. We look out to our garden and see the very beginnings of the buds upon some trees, and a few little snowdrops beginning to shoot from the ground.
Imbolc, meaning "first milk," was the time when the ewes would be bulging with milk and getting ready to give birth. In our own lives, this is the time when our visions are beginning to come forward, and after a winter time of tending to the tiniest of seeds, we begin to bring some of our goals to the surface. Just as the sun rises in the East, this time and place on the great wheel of the cycles of life, is the place of newness. It is the place where we look ahead, down to the South (or up to the North if you are in the southern hemisphere) and see how and what we want to manifest. It is the place of the visionary and the time to be confident and heartened about the future.
To be honest however, I have been disheartened over the last few years (maybe it is just midlife setting in) of how our consumerist culture that is born of immediate gratification seems to approach the east with an attitude of "I want it, I can have it, I can make it happen." I do believe that we are powerful manifestors, and I also believe that this must be balanced with the ability and willingness to be humble, to be aligned with Spirit, and most of all to be in right relationship with truth. Therefore, although this is the place of the Visionary, I also believe and teach, that this is the place of the HearthKeeper - the flip side to the Visionary. Just as the Visionary says, "Look ahead, see what we can do," the HearthKeeper says, "Is everything in place here? Will my life support this change? Do I have the resources, time, supports needed for this change? How will this change effect others? Do I have enough experience and wisdom for this change?"
The HearthKeeper understands that perhaps there are other areas of the Hearth that must be tended to before moving ahead. This might mean moving around the wheel again and again before we get to manifest that which we truly desire, if it is in alignment with Spirit and our greatest good. Without the HearthKeeper it is easy to be driven and moved by ego. This can often feel like being consumed with an urgent desire to have what we want, when we want it, despite the consequences to others. In many ways then, the HearthKeeper is the balance of death in the east. This death may look like sometimes eating humble pie, a bitter tasting food that may much later fill our bellies with the wisdom of hindsight - a wisdom that could indeed ensure the success of our original goal. Naturally, in our death denying culture and society that supports the petulant child attitude of getting what we want, when we want it, the HearthKeeper is not necessarily the most favorite of archetypes. But like my 7 year old knows so well, you have to eat your healthy food before you have your dessert.
What I love about the HearthKeeper, like the dear Goddess Brighid, is that She provides an energy of steady patience, and this is the energy of a truly loving parent. It is here with this energy, that we learn all about tending the Hearths and how to prioritize this process. After many years of walking the magnetic edge of burnout, I have really begun to learn that tending my own hearth with what I call "my precious time" (5.30am-7.30am before the rest of the house awakens) is an essential ingredient for the health of not only my hearth (soul) but the hearths of my family, my home, my clients, my students, and all I meet throughout each day. It is in this very quiet time that my soul is fed and I am able to truly show up to life. I don't always do the greatest job because I forget things, get hormonal and PMSish, and have to pray a lot during the day for patience, tolerance and love, but, my truth is in alignment with my goals and I know in my heart of hearts that my efforts are sincere. But it takes constant effort to tend to this Hearth, and look the truth in the face because I don't always like what I see.
I do however trust in this powerful little word Hearth! Look closely... HEARTHEARTHEARTHEARTH. Within it are the words ear, art, heart, and earth. My little daily formula for living that I derived from this precious word is to remember to:
see the beauty in all,
be true to my heart,
walk lightly on the earth,
and all hearths will be kept alight and burning bright.