This photo captures one of my favorite moments in the past week. I’ve been feeling my way through honoring of the festival of Vestalia…choosing a room to focus on and uncluttering and refining within its walls each day. The kitchen took two days, in short periods of attention between work hours. When I got to the woodstove corner, after clearing away the ashes and wood bits and hearth-keeping tools for the season, I was inspired enough to get down on my knees and scrub…and wipe up the sooty suds…and scrub some more.
A little while later, inhaling the smell of damp brick and tile and wood, I felt a kinship with the Vestal Virgins of long ago and their sacred task at this festival time, but more nearly with the women throughout the ages, for whom hearth-scrubbing and keeping was a part of everyday home-life.
I had been looking at the dusty little piles underneath the woodstove for longer than I want to admit. Vestalia beguiled me into finally choosing to take out the broom and scrub brush and perform my domestic ceremonial. Thinking on it since, I’ve realized that the old ways…traditions…high days and holy days…rituals…or banner days (as I like to call them) have become a sort of tool for me. I learn of one…like Vestalia…and tho’ I am not into Roman history or culture or religion…a facet of it touches me. The light of it then reflects upon something that needs illuminating in my mind, my heart, my days. Thoughts of Vesta flowed into what I know of her Greek counterpart, Hestia-goddess of the hearth. And the focus that honoring and celebrating can bring was just what I needed, to more lovingly tend the home that has gotten rather short shrift in recent days for all of the usual reasons.
The enchantment petered out today when those usual reasons…work complications…headache…others needing tending…dampened the ceremonial spirit. But it may come ’round again tomorrow, and if it does, I will be there to gently wield it into a little more peace and brightness within our temple-home.