“Why are you doing it?” A friend asked me recently. I seemed tired, she said. Truly, a few months of book promotions combined with activist endeavors (aka: saving the world) and a fulltime job (which also involves saving the world) were wearing on me. My friend and I both love the Goddess Brigid—the Celtic Goddess of the arts, innovation, healing, warriorship, but also house and home. “Could tending your home be a form of service?” she asked me.
I realized I’d under-utilized or perhaps neglected this truth about my Goddess. Perhaps in my mind I associated hearth-Goddesses with locking out the world and focusing solely on the living room. As an activist, I strive to remain engaged. My work is connecting with the greater world. I reflected deeper on the nature of home-tending. The person who tends the house and home also has to contend with the leaking roof, the broken stove, and making sure there’s food in the fridge and clean clothes in the drawers. There’s a kind of warriorship in that—defeating the enemies of time and fatigue in the name of health, comfort, and love. Maybe that’s one way that Brigid keeps her Warrior title.
There is a loss in separating the hearth and home Goddesses from those of industry, warriorship, and leadership. Like the Hermit in the Tarot, the physical place may be separate from the world, but the heart and mind remain connected to the broader world and in that comes the wisdom the Fool seeks. There may be a tendency to want to utilize the hearth Goddess to hide from painful things outside of the home, but a place of nurture and respite is not a place to block out pain and presence. The role of the house and home, in the Brigid sense, is to nurture and foster new life in the way that Brigid was the Foster mother of the Christian Christ child. One who works with Brigid cannot say, “I only work with her aspects of the Bard” or in my case, focusing almost solely on her warrior qualities.
The role of the hearth-tender is a warrior’s role in its own right. A place of respite needs to remain connected to the outside world to know what the people fighting for will need when they return. Could a home and hearth be any comfort to the responders in Kathmandu if the hearth keepers are unaware of the extent of the earthquake’s damage? How can a hearthkeeper support those crying out for justice for Freddie Gray in Baltimore if they’re ignorant of the events and the history of the region’s injustice against its Black population? Self-care and relief does not mean tuning out the rest of the world. On the contrary, those who tend the Hearth must be ever more engaged with the events in the outside world.Last night, when I came home, I turned off the computer and the radio. I tidied the house and made dinner. I sat down and had a meal with my fiancé. When a client arrived 30 minutes early for her Tarot reading, I did not receive her and asked her to come back at our scheduled time. I enjoyed the time caring for my fiancé and for myself. We talked about what we had seen on the news that day, both the events in Baltimore and in Nepal and how we might support them in our own small ways. When my client returned for her Tarot reading, I was able to give her more focus and care. When she left, she claimed she felt better about her life when she normally feels more confused after a reading. Today, I feel more focused and ready to address the challenges that await me at my job, which is focused on social justice.
With the terrible events of these last few weeks (well….months, but I’m speaking in particular of the earthquake in Nepal and the events in Baltimore), it’s tempting to want to drop everything and join the fight. Maybe for some of us, the time to jump in is now. But invoking the serene-faced Goddess stirring over a cauldron over the fire does not mean that the fight is abandoned or ignored. That Goddess has something specific stirring, because she is going to feed the person marching in the streets or tending the sick and injured. The Lady knows what they need—she’s the wise and knowing Hermit, not the Hermit who has shut the world away.
Know this when evoking the Spirit of Hearth and Home. It does not mean deafness, blindness, or pretending the world does not exist. Rather, it means remaining even further engaged with the past, the present, and where the present will be tomorrow in order to create the strongest hold of respite for the health of those who love the world.
Courtney Weber is the author of Brigid: History, Mystery and Magick of the Celtic Goddess as well as a priestess, writer, Tarot advisor, activist and practicing witch in New York City. Her writing has appeared in several publications and at both her own site and Pagan Square where she writes the column Behind the Broom. She is the designer and producer of Tarot of the Boroughs, a photographic Tarot deck set in New York City. Courtney lectures regularly around the United States and travels to Ireland frequently, leading tours of sacred sites.