Hearth cult: What does it mean to me? The short answer, of course, is the cult of the household. That’s what it means, at the least, to anyone who knows what it is. Since, at this point, they probably know of the term “cult” outside of its pejorative use. For those that do not, cult does not just equate to cults of personality. In the sense of the past, it refers to the act of worship.
Before I go further, a little bit of background may help…
For me, it was often a lonely affair at first. Except for during the rituals themselves. One may at least hope that some presence of the recipient(s) of the offering can be felt, right? Otherwise, I had felt alone. Though, it seems my luck is just strong enough that I have another to share in this experience with me. Watching her learn both brings back my own memories, and makes me look at my own practice through a different lens.
Both of these things bring me great joy. I remember my learning process, which as for anyone else, is an eternally ongoing course of events. For myself, of course, a steady diet of books. The usual, ‘Culture of the Teutons’, ‘The Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England’, ‘The Meadhall’, and so on. Along with a steady dose of learning online, and to arguably my greatest benefit, at least three people I have met online that have taught me more than they may know. Countless others have taught me a thing or two. Others have taught me without even knowing!
Still, the beginning was rather arduous. Finding my Pagan/Polytheistic/Reconstructionist/Whatever You Want To Call It “Home”. After a somewhat smooth series of transitions from Brythonic, a sort of dual trad involving, then slowly transitioning into Gaulish Polytheism, lessons for whom still bear some influence in small ways on my practice today, and for those that taught me then, as now, I am eternally grateful. I found my home in Anglo-Saxon Heathenry. Along with that, a new host of folks that have been kind enough to help me along the way. I had since then been offered a position on the site Lārhūs Fyrnsida. Dwarfed in knowledge and experience by two of the brightest minds Anglo-Saxon Heathenry has to offer.
Of course, you’ll find my articles a bit more “off the cuff” than usual. I like to write as if I were sitting with the reader and talking with them. My co-contributors have granted me considerable freedom in allowing me to do that. So, please, do not take that as an insult of the reader’s intelligence. Furthermore, I too, enjoy books and articles in an articulately written fashion in many cases. I have much respect for those who write in that style. So, I am neither anti intellectual, nor anti academia. However, the way I learned best was from talking to people. Those who took time to explain things in plain English. Thus, in my opinion, giving things a closer, warmer, and personal approach.
That being said, and emphatically so, I, in no way, discourage anyone from writing the way they do. So long as the point is carried out to purpose. I have a preference for how I do that, others have theirs, and that is okay. There is room for both, and many other approaches.
Now, to the point of the title. Hearth cult and the home. For me, yes, the tribe, and in this sense, I mean those close to you. Such as your significant others (in this modern sense), your family, and friends who are very close to you. Is the heart of Heathen practice. As it should be. However, I am not of the school of thought that it always means Heathen as well. My “tribe” is my tribe. Though, it is often, and likely correctly stated, that it is optimal, and some may argue necessary to have a group of Heathens with whom to practice (Kindred, Theod, or any other title you want to use). I disagree. There, I said it. Not that I think it is bad, wrong, or not important. Not that I do not think one should try to find a group that suits them.
I believe, if possible, they should. However, you may be the only Anglo-Saxon Heathen in your area. You may be the only Heathen altogether. You simply may not “click” with other Heathens in your area for social, ideological, or other reasons. You may be Anglo-Saxon Heathen and not wish to join a Norse themed group. You may be Tribalist in approach and not wish to join a Folkish or Universalist group. (I don’t blame you in that specific situation!) That is okay.
Provided you have a meaningful house cult, that is. Provided that you are aware that you already likely have a tribe and a people. They do not have to be Heathen, in my opinion.
What my hearth cult does (Now ours, thanks to my girlfriend.), is allow me (or us) to connect to ancestors, wights of the home and land, and even the gods. Some say only groups are even noticed by the gods. Maybe they are right, maybe they are wrong. The least I can do when the moment is right is try. So, no, I’m not claiming to have a one way line to them, I’d be a fool if I did.
My point, if you, the reader, were wishing for me to get to it is that hearth cult has an irrevocable place in practice. It too, has great meaning. It too, can lead to a meaningful and deep practice. I gift to my ancestors, the house wight, and the gods, and I believe they gift back. I honor the tides, I say prayers now and again, I have deep and fulfilling rituals.
For which, I am gifted enough to share with the woman I love. My hearth has a tutelary deity, (five points if you can guess who) whether he cares or not, is anyone’s guess. I just have belief on that. So, I’m not claiming anything huge here.
To me, Fyrnsidu is a practice of life. A way to live. You don’t just do it during rituals. Or just on Tides. You do it every day. It is inseparable from any other aspect of your life, and permeates them all. You live it, it isn’t only a part of you. It is you!
Furthermore, I’m NOT saying abandon the idea of groups, or to stop looking. Personally, my schedule doesn’t often allow it. If you find one that suits you, and vice versa, do it! However, if not, don’t hang your head in shame! It may happen, it may not. If it still does not, you can absolutely have deep and meaningful hearth cult practice. Realizing this has given me an even deeper sense of purpose. It has inspired me to actually use this page WordPress gave me, which I only had so I could write in the Lārhūs.
There may be some who disagree. To that, I say: I don’t care anymore. If you don’t like it, and don’t see it as Heathen enough, that’s okay. My practice means more to me than any title bestowed upon it, or denied by those in my Ūtangeard. To those looking for an affirmation: Maybe I’m not the best person to give it to you. As I said, though, my practice means more than what outsiders think of it. It means more to me than what other people call it. The only thing that matters more is my Tribe. This hearth cult of mine is the only other thing that comes close.
So, I wish to all of you to find at least the joy that I have found as a Fyrnsidere (Fyrnsidestre if you’re a lady). I wish, that rather you have a group or not, that you find a deep, rich, and complete hearth cult as I have found!