S I S T E R   S P I N S T E R
I am building a ritual fire. My offerings sit around the hearth: a small cup of sea salt, dried herbs from the garden and bread. I have scrawled a desperate and heartfelt spell onto a piece of paper that I have wrapped around a small branch of Juniper from just outside. If I had more time, I would tie different threads onto the stick, making knots to bind my spell. But the house is cold and I feel a real urgency to send these prayers up through the chimney as soon as I can.
A ritual fire is really a normal fire, but with some boldness. There is a spell involved, an ask. A request. Energy moves. We direct our will out into the world via the fire. The magic warms as the fire grows. So I build my fire; a bundle of sticks, small kindling and a large log that sits in the back of the hearth that will be the anchor. I strike a match and the kindling quickly ignites. As it begins, I make the first offering: salt. A small pinch of salt, invoking clarity. Asking for a good beginning. The salt sparks in the flames, popping open, clearing anything out that is ready to go. Next, some bread. Nourishment. In Slavic folk tradition, all fires are viewed as an entrance to the ancestral realm. The hearth is a natural portal. An immanent altar. Tending to the fire is tending to the ancestors, this is where they live. This also isn’t just abstract: fire is our ancestor. Our survival is linked to fire: it has fed us, warmed us, shared stories with us for generations. We hold fire in our bodies too, we feel this in our creative urges, our passion, our blood. So we feed bread to our fire so that we are all well fed. Then I offer the dried Rosemary from the garden. The herbs sweeten the smoke with their magic. Lastly, I offer the Juniper bough that is infused with my written prayers. This is placed on the top. The branch catches and I feel into the lineage of ancestral fire tenders that live in the fire: Baba Yaga, Hestia, Vesta, Vasalisa, Hephaistos, Brigid, Habondia, Fornax, yes…. and all of those who are often without name in the often looked over, often taken for granted labor of caring and cooking for others. I begin speaking out loud to the growing fire: To the hearth keepers & fire tenders, thank you for holding me in your warmth…
Vasalisa holding the ancestral fire by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin + Polish women with solar bread offerings for the winter solstice
One of the ways that I have learned about magic is through my relationship to the elementals, learning about sustaining a balance between the human and non-human world. If we look at the word Witch we can trace it to it’s Indo-European root of Wicce. The Anglo-Saxon words ‘wik’ (to bend, twine, twist and turn) and ‘wich’ (bundle of fiber, twisting a wick) all come from this root. The link to fire is there in the root. Fire contains the marrow of magic: it is always changing, ever-turning, never stagnant. I learn about my own witchhood through sitting with fire. The warming, nourishing and transforming qualities of fire can help us conjure our will. I can learn to release through the element of fire, letting something burn away. There is much to learn from fire.
The next morning, when the fire has died and the hearth is cold, I collect the ash in a small jar. This is a very old magic, collecting & offering ashes. The ashes contain the essence of the magical working. I give them to the land, to the peonies that will return next spring. I offer them to the winds; may this spell travel to where it is needed. I offer the ashes to friends who need some warmth from the fire for their own hearts.
This winter I am offering my Tending The Hearth class again, for the last time. We will be exploring our own ancestral fire tenders, we will talk about what it means to claim hearth-culture as resistance to capitalism and individualism, how we might call upon fire in our own magic. Drawing from European winter folk traditions, we will dive into winter folktales & poems, oracular work & fire scrying, medicine making, winter freak spirits, the underworld pantry, cauldron-myths and more. This is soul-nourishing work. Course info is below. I hope you can join me in honoring this season, tending our fires and sinking into the magic of this time of year. Come join me at the ritual fire this winter.
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In winter, the altar of the home is the hearth. We gather here to dry herbs, brew tea and keep vigil as we drop into the darkest season. Collectively, we offer the hearth stories, songs and prayers. We fire scry, we divine. We keep warm, nourished by this place. The hearth is central, an active heart space of the home. What dreams does this darkness bring? What rituals are remembered here? What are you tending to this season?
Class begins December 4th
Following a slower pace that this season asks of us, we will meet every other week as a way to sink into the work in a deeper way. All classes will be held on zoom. Closed Captions are always available. Classes will be recorded for those who are unable to make it to the live sessions. 
Please note that you do not need to have an active hearth to participate in this course- there are many ways to do this work without a physical hearth space.  However, you will be encouraged to work with fire in some way each week - a simple beeswax candle works beautifully.
This is the last offering of Tending The Hearth --------   Learn more here
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One final note which feels important to mention at this moment in time:
I know there are a lot of new folks on this newsletter within the past year and I want to make this clear: the classes I offer are always held within an anti-colonial framework. This is part of the reason why I study my ancestral folk traditions. We must remember how our ancestors resisted empire and we must also learn from their mistakes and their wounds. I want to remember the ways in which my people loved the earth before they forgot. Before this relationship was colonized, before they became colonizers. I do not want to continue this pattern that has been so damaging. So much of our current estrangement from earth comes from the wounding of colonization. So when I see this happening in real time, I will speak to this. Part of the hex of empire is to keep us in under a spell of denial, of silencing. This is colonial amnesia. 
After speaking up for Palestinian liberation & criticizing the American/Israeli empire, I had a few folks request refunds for the classes they signed up for. I was surprised because I feel like I'm pretty clear about the reasons why I do the work I do, but I learned that some were not aware of that this past month. So yes, while we will be making fruitcake and learning carnival traditions and making our own masks, we have to understand that these are traditions in which resistance to colonization has survived. My magic is always a response to empire. You can bet that my own small fire spell mentioned above was about this exact magic. Sending love to everyone who is grieving, fighting, growing, learning, marching, tending, singing, dancing and working all types of magic right now. 
With heart, with fire, with spark, with rage, with warmth,
x Liz