Hestia and Becoming a Domestic Goddess

Hestia and Becoming a Domestic Goddess

I received a pleasant surprise today in my daily read. Years ago I purchased Simple AbundanceSimple Abundance and loved its daily dose of beauty, domesticity and peace. Last year I took the Sacred Contracts training with Caroline Myss and one of the books that was strongly recommended was Jean Shinoda Bolen's, Goddesses In EverywomanGoddesses in Everywoman. In this seminal work, Jungian analyst and feminist Shinoda Bolen interprets six ancient Greek goddesses for modern women, encouraging us to develop our full personalities by experimenting with the energies of these powerful female archetypes.

After sitting unread for the last few years, I recently pulled out Simple Abundance with the renewed desire to have some domestic simplicity and beauty – the book now sits proudly supported on a stand at the top of the stairs. Every day, I invest the time in reading one of Sarah's lovely essays.

Today's essay was called 'Encountering Hestia' and in it, Ban Breathnach referenced Bolen's work and her chapter on Hestia. Hestia is, of course, the Greek goddess of the hearth and while she is one of the least known goddesses she was traditionally one of the most revered, being given a place at the "center of their celestial home so that she might receive the best offerings."

And, indeed, just as Hestia was the centre of the celestial home, the hearth has traditionally been the centre of every home. Though hearths are becoming increasingly rare, and we tend to cook with an oven, not over an open fire, the kitchen has remained the heart of the home for most.

Hestia shares with us the energy to "transform our dwelling places into homes of beauty and comfort," turning housecleaning into homecaring, and providing the opportunity for scrubbing the toilet to become an act of worship. This reminded me of the sentiments expressed by Marla Cilley in Sink ReflectionsSink Reflections, where she advocates the elimination of clutter and dirt in order for the home to feel safe, comfortable and beautiful, and the same process for our minds.

Certainly, my home has been less than a haven for Hestia lately. With three kids and two cats, our century home seems to need almost constant attention to keep the dirt and CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) at bay. Since we have been renovating a property in another town, our own home has become a dumping ground for tools and the garbage we drag back with us. The construction bin in our driveway will hopefully be disappearing shortly and the broken lawnmower will be speedily fixed thus allowing us to restore some sanity to the outside of the home. As for the inside, I'm looking forward to tackling that as the time pressures ease up.

I try to remember Cilley's advice, to break every task down into easy-to-manage 15 minute blocks of time. Do it for 15 minutes and then go do something else, after three blocks of time, take a 15 minute break to nourish your soul (and tummy!) with tea and a good read. The few times I have actually used the oven timers to break up my housekeeping (I won't try and convince you I have figured out homecaring yet) it has gone much smoother and I have felt much more productive.

Both Ban Breathnach and Cilley stress the importance of nurturing one's soul even as one works to nurture the souls of others. This is an ongoing area of struggle for many of us, men and women, in this society and perhaps a safe, comfortable and, dare I say it, beautiful home is a balm to help bring us home to ourselves. And, today, my pleasant surprise was a reminder that no matter how far afield I may wander with literature, ultimately, the threads that run through my interests connect and bring me back to my core. How lovely, how Hestia.


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