View Full Version : Week ONE ~ Lessons

February 15th, 2008, 06:33 PM
An Introduction to Hearth Craft

An rud a nitear sa chuil, thig e dh'ionnsaigh an teine. ~ What's done in the corner will come to the hearth.

Hearth: A hearth is a fireplace or oven, generally lined with brick or stone, used for cooking, heating and light
v The floor of a fireplace, usually extending into a room and paved with brick, flagstone, or cement
v The fireplace mantle or chimneypiece
v A modern stovetop and oven combination
v Any kind of stove, such as wood or pellet
v The fireplace or brazier of a blacksmith's forge
v A vital or creative center (“the central hearth of occidental civilization” — A. L. Kroeber)
v Home symbolized as a part of the fireplace
v Family life; the home
v A kindred, or local worship group, in the neopaganism religion Ásatrú
v A community of modern Druids

Hearthstone: A stone that forms a hearth

Fire iron: Metal fireside implements, such as a fire poker

No matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like the kitchen best
~ A decorative plate that once hung in my Great Grandmother’s kitchen.

In these modern times, in Western society especially, the home of today is centered on the television. The furniture is placed strategically around it; the couch or sofa faces it. The faces of the family are turned towards it. Often our most prized family photos rest on or near it. Surely if archaeologists one day dig up the bones of our civilization, they will think the television was our God.
But before primetime TV and soaps operas took over our lives, before Nintendo and Xbox, the household and everyone in it would gather around the family stove, and before that, the hearth. The hearth was such in integral part of European (and Colonial) culture that there was no separating hearth and home, fireside and family. In fact, the word for “hearth” in Latin is focus.
Hearthcraft is working with the magick and spirit of hearth & home. In Hearthcraft the entire house and the land it sits on is sacred space, the home the family’s temple, centered on the hearth. Be that hearth a fireplace, woodstove or modern electric range.
Even cleaning can become a ritual. There are many spells involving the use of a mop or broom. Many "cleansings" that Pagan practitioners do, involve literally cleaning the space before doing the spiritual cleansing.
Hearthcraft is grounded in commonsense and practicality; it is using what is available to you. A healing spell is a bowl of chicken soup; a purification ritual is sweeping the floor; a ritual to honor the gods is cleaning the fireplace.
Hearthcraft is finding the sacred, the spiritual and the magickal in everyday things. It is bringing that “special something” into a house that makes it a home.

Who Practises Hearth Craft?

Anyone can. Any witch or pagan may freely add Hearthcraft to his or her own practice.
Some witches may be more likely to utilize Hearthcraft than others, or to focus on it as a main part of their practice. A few of the usual suspects are:

A witch who practices his magick and rituals in the home, with the household hearth as a focal point.
His home will host various household guardians and spirits. He is often a source of hearth, home and fireside folklore, customs and traditions. A hearthwitch is a domestic witch who works closely with the elements and various spirits who may add some shamanic techniques to his practice.
He knows many spells for the home, such as protection or purification spells, and kitchen magick as well. He studies how to make a magickal home, kitchen and garden.
His tools will often revolve around household chores as well as the kitchen and garden, such as besoms, a garden trowel, smudge sticks, a wooden spoon, and fireplace tools.
He will have a shrine/altar set up in his home, probably on the fireplace mantle or by the stove, but may also have one set up in the kitchen and/or garden.
His patrons will be deities of the hearth, home, family, fire, agriculture and harvest.

A witch who works her magick and rituals mostly in the kitchen, who studies food magick.
She studies how to make a magickal home, magickal meals and a sacred kitchen, a witch who practices domestic magick. A kitchenwitch studies herbs and plants that you can eat (culinary), and grows them as well if she can. She is often a source of hearth, food and cooking folklore, customs and traditions.
If she can she will likely have a veggie garden, some fruits trees, and a culinary herb garden.
Her tools are more likely to be kitchen utensils, wooden spoons rather than wands, cooking pots rather than a cauldron.
She will probably have a shrine or altar set up in the kitchen or dinning area.
Her patron deities will likely be Goddesses and Gods of the hearth, food, agriculture, home, and harvest.

A witch who practices her magick and rituals in the home, garden and yard.
She studies how to make a magickal home, kitchen and garden, a witch who practices domestic magick. She knows many spells for the home, such as protection or purification spells, and a bit of kitchen and garden magick as well.
She will probably have a well tended home, yard and garden, and may be the source of many tips on stain removal.
A cottagewitch will likely have a garden, with whatever strikes her fancy growing in it, as well as many houseplants. Her home will host various household guardians and spirits.
Her tools will often revolve around household chores as well as the kitchen and garden, such as besoms, a garden trowel, smudge sticks, a wooden spoon, a cleaning bucket.
She will have a shrine/altar set up in her home, probably the living room, but may also have one set up in the kitchen and/or garden.
Her patrons will be deities of the home, hearth, family, agriculture and harvest.

A Witch who combines many elements of Traditional Witchcraft and Nature Witchcraft, as well as Shamanism and healing, with a more rural tone to their practice.
A hedgewitch studies herbalism, nature, shamanism, healing lore, hearthcraft, nature oriented magick and anything else she may find useful. She will study both magickal and medicinal herbalism.
Hedgewitches study and practice their rituals and magick anywhere they may, but prefer to in rural or wild areas. They also tend to live in more rural places.
She will have a garden if she can, but prefers to gather plants and magickal materials from the wild. She may know a lot about what grows in the wild, as well as about wildlife and livestock. Her tools will be a mix of different useful items, as well as natural items and shamanic tools. Such as walking sticks and staffs, wands, rattles, a medicine bag, pruning shears, cooking pots, besoms, and the tools of herbalism, such as a mortar and pestle.
Her shrine/altar can be placed anywhere in her home, garden or yard, and she may have special places set up in her favorite wild places, or a corner of a farm field.
Her patrons will be deities of nature, the wild, and agriculture, healing, the harvest and the Underworld.

Hearthcraft is open to anyone; it may be adapted to suit your own practice, your home and family situation. For example, while it may be frustrating if you are in the broom closet or share a kitchen, it is entirely possible to cast a spell of perform a ritual in the kitchen and not have anyone even know it. I will always say my little blessings and prayers of thanks while I cook, even when the whole family is visiting. I just say them in my head, and if my aunt catches me giving an egg a quick kiss before I crack it well ... she thinks I’m crazy anyways.
Once you begin to delve into Hearth craft, you will be surprised at how you can make daily routines into rituals and make the dingy kitchen into a loving and inviting center of your home.

February 15th, 2008, 06:34 PM
Tools of Hearthcraft

"The term kitchen witch refers to pagans who practice informally, with the tools at hand and a deep appreciation for the sacred in the everyday."
-Cait Johnson, Witch in the Kitchen

The tools of hearthcraft are the most ordinary and common kitchen tools and utensils. Someone who practices hearthcraft will often choose a few of these items to become fully-fledged ritual tools, as well as working kitchen utensils. They can be blessed and consecrated like any ritual tool. The most important thing to consider is that these tools will be used to prepare food, so hearthcraft tools are often simpler than typical ritual tools and lacking in ribbons and glued on crystals.
Here are a few examples:

A kettle is a very important tool for brewing concoctions, teas and potions. It recommended that you not brew herbs directly in metal pots, as it can be damaging to the metal and difficult to clean. A kettle can be looked at much like the cauldron, a goddess symbol with connections to both Earth and Water elements.

A good pair of scissors is a must in any kitchen. Not only are scissors good for cutting and de-boning, but also they are a great ritual blade substitute. Imagine cutting the negative energy in your home to pieces. Scissors are similar to the Athame or Bolline, a masculine tool that belongs to male deities and has Fire associations.

A good knife set aside for rituals in the kitchen is essential. It is useful for carving sigils or symbols into cakes and other foods, as well as cutting fresh herbs, directing energy and creating sacred space. A ritual kitchen knife is similar to the Athame or Bolline, a masculine tool that belongs to male deities and has Fire associations.

A mortar and pestle is a wonderful tool for bruising and crushing herbs and spices to be used in brews and infusions. A mortar and pestle set can be found at many culinary shops as well as any occult suppliers. A mortar and pestle are goddess symbols with Earth associations.

Besom, the witches broom. In hearthcraft, the besom is more than a mere ritual tool that hardly touches the ground; it is a real working broom that can help keep your home clean. You can dedicate a real broom for this purpose or simply make or buy a more traditional "witchy” besom that is also very sturdy and workable. The besom's components are of both masculine and feminine orientation. The handle is masculine in nature while the bristles are thought of as feminine in nature.

Rolling pin. A rolling pin can work much like a wand to direct energy as you roll out your dough and such. A rolling pin, like the wand, is a god symbol and has Air associations.

Pot/Cauldron, any witch worth her salt knows all about cauldrons. It is not a far stretch to include a saucepan or frying pan in the same category. A pot is a goddess symbol with earth, and possibly water, associations.

A kitchen counter, table or chopping board can become an altar. Imagine carving a pentacle or some sacred symbol into a wooden chopping board just for hearthcraft.

The wooden spoon is a hearthcrafter’s wand. And this is the one tool you must make for the class. A spoon is both ritual and working tool, so unlike your wand, it will not be painted, wrapped in ribbon or have anything glued to it. It must be safe and functional for food preparation, and it must be able to be washed.

v Carving and using a wood burner can be an effective way to personalize a wooden spoon and to add sacred symbols to it. Soaking a wooden spoon in food colouring overnight can safely dye it, but expect it to fade over time. If you can find a marker that has safe, as in edible, ink, you could use that to beautify, personalize and make your spoon special.
v Once you are have personalized your spoon, you will want to bless and dedicate it to its new purpose. For the class, you were asked to gather some culinary herbs that have purifying correspondences. Now is the time to use them. Find a plastic or paper bag, or a large ziplock bag that your spoon will fit into. Add the purifying herbs to the bag, telling the herbs to help purify and cleanse you spoon as you do so. Then place your spoon inside the bag, telling it to rest and to be cleansed by the herbs as you do so. Tuck the bag away for a day or two, allowing the spoon to be slowly and gently cleansed by the herbs.
v After a couple of days, you can remove the spoon from the bag. And prepare to bless and dedicate it.
v Feel free to consecrate, dedicate, bless etc your spoon as you would any ritual tool. I know pagans and witches develop their own methods over time.
v If you do not have your own preferred method, you may follow these steps: Place the spoon on your stovetop with burning incense or smudgestick and salted water. Light a candle on the stovetop and invite any gods, totems, spirits etc that you feel comfortable with. Smudge the spoon with the incense as you chant “By Fire and Air I bless this spoon and dedicate it to making a magickal home, ritual meals and the practice of hearthcraft”. Now taking up the salted water, gently coat the spoon with the water as you chant: “By Earth and Water I bless this spoon and dedicate it to making a magickal home, ritual meals and the practice of hearthcraft”. Hold the spoon up and show it to the entities you invited to join in the simple ritual, you may want to give your spoon a name. Announce that the spoon is now blessed and dedicated to its purpose. Give the spoon a kiss and try to carry it around for the rest of the day if possible before putting it away. Remember to thank any entities you invited and send them on their way.

February 15th, 2008, 06:36 PM
Kitchen Safety

Before we get into the fun part of our class, we need to stop for a minute, in the name of practicality. I’m afraid I am just the sort of person who is not going to teach a class that involves cooking without first making mention of basic kitchen safety. For those of you who are more experienced in the kitchen, much of this may seem very obvious, but for those who have next to no experience with cooking and hearth craft, a few words of caution can help to avoid a lot of trouble later on. Another thing to think of, is once the kids get old enough to start cooking their own meals, we want to make sure they also know how to work in a kitchen without setting it on fire. You may also have a rather obtuse roommate or live in partner who is clueless in the kitchen. In these cases, it is a good idea to have a list of safety tips and what to do in case of an emergency posted in the kitchen, just in case.
When I was 17, a friend of mine named Kyle was home alone for the day and decided to make French fries. So he set the fry pan full of oil on the burner and cut the potatoes. Then his girlfriend phoned and asked him about a school assignment. While Kyle was in his bedroom downstairs chatting with his girlfriend, a grease fire started in the kitchen. The batteries had been removed from the smoke detector in the kitchen months before, so much of the area around the stove was ablaze by the time he walked back into the kitchen. Trying to stop the fire, he poured the dog’s water dish on the stove, which only spread the burning oil around even further. Panicked, he ran out of the house and had a neighbour call 911. His poor mother had to rebuild her kitchen, and poor Kyle had to get a part time job to help pay for the damages he caused. He was lucky to not have set fire to the whole house or injure himself.
Have a look through these lists of kitchen and emergency safety tips, and make note of any tips that seem to apply especially to you and your home.

General Kitchen Safety:

The single most important prevention measure is to read and follow the directions. The directions associated with the operation of the microwave oven and the specific directions associated with heating prepared or packaged foods are equally important.

Keep things that burn away from the cooking area & appliances in your kitchen. Don't place towels, pot holders, pizza boxes, or paper bags on the stove or near hot appliances.

Clean any grease build-up from the stove, oven & exhaust fan regularly. Cooking grease & oil ignite easily & burn rapidly.

Avoid reaching over the stove for anything while cooking. Store frequently needed items in other areas of the kitchen.

Don't store cookies or other "treats" near the stove. It might tempt little children or pets to climb on the stove. Keep young children & pets away from cooking areas entirely.

Keep pot handles turned inward, out of the reach of children & pets. A pot handle sticking out over the edge of your stove can be bumped in passing.

Check those cords regularly for frayed or broken spots. Replace damaged cords or appliances.

Dress for fire safety in the kitchen. Don't wear loosing fitting clothing, like nightgowns & bathrobes while cooking.

Never leave cooking unattended. If you must leave the kitchen for some reason, turn the heat off & take something with you to remind you that you have something cooking.

Turn off stoves and appliances promptly when you're finished using them and unplug electrical appliances when they are not in use.

Never leave food cooking on your stove or in your oven when you leave home and stay in the kitchen whenever anything is cooking.

Shield yourself from steam when uncovering food, especially microwave servings. Steam can cause serious burns.

Studies show that 42 percent of the people who have died in cooking fires were asleep. Do not attempt to cook if you have been drinking alcohol or are drowsy.

Plugging too many kitchen appliances, especially heat producing appliances such as toasters, coffee pots, waffle irons, or electric frying pans into the same electrical outlet or circuit could overload your circuit, overheat, or cause a fire.

Microwave ovens stay cool, but what's cooked in them can be very hot. Use pot holders when removing food from microwave ovens.

Heat cooking oil slowly over moderate heat and never leave hot oil unattended.

Always double check expiry dates

Wash you hands!!

Children, pets and kitchens aren't a good mix. Continuous and adequate supervision of children and animals in the kitchen is of prime importance. As a child's mobility and curiosity increases, appropriate supervision becomes essential.

Be sure children are old enough to understand the safe use of the microwave oven before allowing them to heat foods. Children under the age of seven may not be able to read and follow directions and are at a higher risk potential than older children. Their height is also an important factor. Some manufacturers do not recommend that their products be heated in a microwave oven. Be sure you follow their recommendations. (For example, some baby foods are not to be heated in a microwave. And jelly-filled donuts can be a major source of mouth burns.)

Keep children and pets at a safe distance from all hot items by using highchairs, child safety gates, playpens, etc. Create a safe zone for children and any curious pets. Keep them out of the household traffic path and check for their location before moving any hot or heavy item.

Remove tablecloths and placemats when toddlers and pets are present. They can tug and pull on everything within their reach. Hot or heavy items can be easily pulled on top of them.

Never give children pots and pans to play with. Children may reach for this "toy" when it contains hot liquid or food.

An oven door can get hot enough to burn a youngster who might fall or lean against it. It can be particularly dangerous for a child just learning to walk who may use the door for support; the child is often unable to let go before suffering a burn. Keep small children out of the kitchen when the oven is in use.

Do not allow appliance cords to dangle over the edge of counter tops or tables. Children and pets may pull at them and injure themselves. Or you may catch them unintentionally and pull them off the counter.

Use caution when handling and cutting thick pieces of meat after heating, especially meats with considerable fat. Spattering of hot fat and meat juices may occur.

Use a pot holder or appropriate utensil to remove lids and coverings from heated containers to prevent steam or contact burns. This also is necessary when removing items that may have been heated or extended periods of time - the container may be hot.

Replace old potholders, do not use ones that have wear and tear.

Puncture plastic pouches and plastic wrap covering before heating. This will reduce the risk of a vapor pressure build up and prevent steam burns.

Put a cut in potato skins or other vegetables to reduce the risk of "bursting" when you cut into it after it is heated.

Eggs should be removed from the shell before being cooked in the microwave oven. The egg in a shell may explode causing both mechanical and thermal injuries.

Identify containers, dishes and utensils that are safe for use in the microwave oven. Some items are not "microwave safe" and may become very hot or even burst when heated in the microwave oven.

When using smooth vessels for heating liquids, place a plastic spoon in the vessel during the heating process. This will prevent the "super heated" phenomenon that may result in liquid spattering and scald burns.

Check for the presence of metal when reheating some "fast food" items. Aluminum foil, staples in bags, twist-ties, etc. may become very hot and ignite combustible containers.

Children who are permitted to operate the microwave oven should be tall enough to be able to safely remove items from the oven. One major risk is facial burns, which occur among children whose height puts their face at the level of the heating chamber of the microwave oven.

Emergency Kitchen Safety:

Grease FIRE: Baking soda is the best for a grease fire, open the baking soda box very wide and holding the box tightly, pour/throw the soda at the fire from a distance. Use a lid or bigger pan to smother a small pan fire, wear oven mitts while doing so. Keep the lid on until completely cooled. Do not use water or flour on a grease fire, as it will make the fire bigger. Do not try to carry a burning pan outside or to the sink. You could accidentally spread the fire. Keep a lid, baking soda, or an ABC fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen.

If the flames do not go out immediately, call the fire department.

If anything catches fire in your microwave, keep the door closed and turn off or unplug the microwave. Opening the door will only feed oxygen to the fire. Do not use the oven again until it is serviced.

Run cool water over a burn for 10 to 15 minutes. This will minimize skin damage and ease the pain. Never apply butter or other grease to a burn. If the burned skin is blistered or charred, see a doctor immediately.

Stop, drop, and roll: If your clothing catches fire, do not run. Stop where you are, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll over and over to smother the flames. If someone else's clothes catch fire, push them to the ground and roll them over and over, or smother the flames with a flame-resistant blanket or carpet.

Have a portable fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.

Make sure the smoke detector in your kitchen area is functional. It may be a pain to have it go off if you burn a cake, but it’s better to put up with that than 3rd degree burns.