Inviting Hestia

Since I find myself calling on Hestia often, I have created a small altar in our kitchen, near the stove, in her honor. Altars do not have to be elaborate and, especially for a domestic goddess like Hestia, can hold common household items. If you use everyday items, however, they should be cleansed before being used on the altar. In addition to a mundane cleaning, I pass my things through the smoke of a sage smudge stick.

My altar for Hestia is on a small shelf next to my stove. It holds a candle, a sprig of basil, a sage smudge stick and some shells.

My altar for Hestia is on a small shelf next to my stove. It holds a candle, a sprig of basil, a sage smudge stick and some shells.

The anchor of any altar to Hestia should be a candle or an oil lamp, representing her sacred hearth fire. A small dish can hold an offering from the oven, like a small piece of fresh bread. I use a shell instead of a dish; it is a nod to Hestia’s association with the energy of water.  A cauldron or bowl would also be appropriate to pull in the water aspect.

Hestia’s herbs include most of the cooking herbs, such as basil, mint, sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme and dill. Sprigs of herbs, fresh or dried, could be arranged in a small vase.  A tiny cabin-shaped bottle left over from some local maple syrup we were given does the job on my altar. If you would like to add stones or metals, Hestia’s crystals are garnet and amethyst, and she can be honored with gold, silver or brass. An antique silver spoon would be perfect.

A statue of your chosen deity is nice to have, but I am not a visual person, therefore I find that simple items that bring to mind Hestia’s energy are more beneficial than seeing what she might have looked like.

I penned this simple prayer to Hestia to say as I greet the altar each morning. May Hestia bless your home, as she does mine.

Lady Hestia, keeper of the hearth
and the heart of every home,
please bless this loving family
with peace and harmony.
Every hug is a hymn to you.
As I do my household chores,
help me to be calm and centered and
fill this home with your warmth.
Every meal is an offering to you.
May friends find their way to our door,
welcomed as you are ever welcome
in our home, honored first and last.
Hestia, every flame is a prayer to you.

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Herb Harvest

We’ve had a strange growing season in the Adirondacks. Seedlings paused their growth when temperatures dropped in May and June and everything is late. My morning glories were straggly vines all summer, only to bloom beautifully in September. They are still blooming against the backdrop of autumn leaves.

For some reason every grasshopper in the area migrated to my yard and decimated the herb and vegetable beds. One day I had the nicest broccoli crowns I’d ever grown, the next day, sticks. Newly planted mint, which I expected to take over the bed by summer’s end, struggled to survive the onslaught of hungry insects. In the end, it was a poor year.

I’ve read that, here in the north, you can tell when to plant garlic by looking to the mountains. When they explode with color, it’s time. Last weekend the mountains said plant, so I did.

The sage and oregano, probably because they were older, established plants, managed to survive the grasshoppers. Despite the beautiful fall weather, I know it’s time to prepare the plants for winter. I cut them back, harvesting plenty to dry for use over the winter.

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Giving up on the tomatoes ever ripening on the vine, I grabbed those as well, wrapped them in newspaper and tucked them into a paper bag to see if they would turn red.

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There were plenty of chives. There are always plenty of chives. (Why does nothing eat chives?) I chopped them and filled the dehydrator. In about two hours they had dried and we have more than enough to last until spring.

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Cold and flu season is on it’s way, so I prepared some sage-infused honey, my favorite sore throat remedy. I cut some leaves and put them in the bottom of a small jar, then poured honey in until the leaves were completely covered. I mashed them against the bottom of the jar with a chopstick until all the air was out and the leaves were somewhat crushed and completely coated with honey. Then I capped the jar and stored it in the dark corner of a cabinet.

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Bunches of sage, oregano and the little bit of mint I could take are hanging over my kitchen window to air dry. The smell is divine.

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