Hestia's Modern Hearth
The Importance of Fire and Concept of the Home in Rational Hedonism
Rational Hedonism traces its lineage from Greece although similar movements developed in India and China. Therefore the use of Greek mythology and other writings serve as a backdrop for many concepts. One of the most prominent is how man gained the gift of fire.
According to Greek myth, Prometheus, who had created humans from clay, went against Zeus' will to not give mortals this gift of the gods and be like the gods. He stole fire from Olympus, giving it to man. We know fire did indeed come from above, possibly from the sun's refraction or lightning strike. Fire did distinguish men from the animals, keeping away beast attacks at night, and used for warmth, cooking, and light.
Hestia or Estia (Ἑστια which translates as “hearth”), was the sister of Zeus, one of the twelve Olympian deities, and goddess of the hearth and home. Newborn children and those adopted into the family were walked around the hearth as being presented to Hestia. The hearth, her fire, was literally the heart and center of the home, the source of warmth, food, and sacrifices and was not allowed to go out. Later the religious and city temples also had hearth fires, also not allowed to be extinguished without ritual. If soldiers or settlers went to a far-off region to live, they would take fire from a city hearth to bring Hestia's fire from the old home to the new, after a ritual of purification and renewal.
There are very few rituals in Rational Hedonism, but one of the most important is the home fire, representing the hearth. Many people are not home during the day and would not want to have a flame burning permanently while gone, so it is acceptable either to keep one lit while at home awake, or when the family/and or friends gather around the table to eat. The home is the center of the family, it is where children should feel safe and loved, and learn responsibility and the virtues. Relatives, close friends and guests should feel your hospitality and welcome. Garden events and R.H. gatherings begin with the lit flame.
As seen in the samples above, fires can be small and discreet, or larger. Most often Hestia fires can be in a fireplace, on the modern version of the hearth - the stove, or in the center of the table where people gather to eat. In the United States they are often candles (scented or unscented) or olive oil. They should not be left unattended or in places small children can reach them.
There does not have to be only one hearth fire although there should be one central or main one. Older children, when nearing their Coming of Age ceremony, often make or decorate their own to light.
Individual fires should be lit from the main family hearth fires.A dinner table with several flickering fire lights can make meal time look special and festive. Outdoor braziers and fire pits are also cozy to gather around.
There are no prayers or rituals involved in lighting the hearth fires, although before or while lighting one could think of one or two things that happened during the day that was a good moment or something they are happy and grateful for. This can be private or spoken out loud as each lights their fire.
"Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honor: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet, -- where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last. And you, slayer of Argus, Son of Zeus and Maia, messenger of the blessed gods, bearer of the golden rod, giver of good, be favorable and help us, you and Hestia, the worshipful and dear. Come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength. Hail, Daughter of Cronos, and you also, Hermes, bearer of the golden rod! Now I will remember you and another song also."
Homeric Hymn 29, To Hestia
Homeric Hymn 29, To Hestia