The Celtic Hearth – epicenter of community and spirituality

The hearth is the heart of the Celtic home. There is a very old tradition of burning turf, or dried earth, for warmth and cooking in the hearth. The hearth also serves as a gathering place for community, family, and friends, a fact that may hint at a link between two Gaelic words: teallach (“hearth”) and teallagh (“family”).

The hearth is a place where stories are told. It is a place where the family traditionally gathers befre the start of a day and at the day’s conclusion. From the sound of the fiddle to the giggles of children listening to old family stories, from the hot water of a boiling teakettle splattering on stones to a fresh loaf of bannock bread beng pulled fro the fire: the hearth is a hub of activity in the Celtic world, ancient and modern.

In the Celtic tradition the hearth is the heart of the family, both biological and spiritual. Traditionally, the hearth is a site where the Celtic family gathers for both physical nourishment (for cooking and eating) and for spiritual nourishment (in the form of story telling, spiritual teaching, prayer, and healing). It is widely understood in the Celtic world that the hearth is a sacred place. It is a practical, yet spiritual, epicenter of Celtic culture. In essence, with the nourishment of the soul through spiritual practice at the hearth, we see very clearly John Scotus Eriugena‘s notion of the spiritual cosmos of the human being in the Celtic hearth tradition. Heaven and earth are enjoined in this single place within the home. Nourishment of the body and nourishment of the soul become interconnected; a spiritual cosmos is born and sustained.

Frank MacEowen, The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers

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One thought on “The Celtic Hearth – epicenter of community and spirituality”

  1. In the Serbian tradition of my half-heritage, the hearth is also the center of the yule tide celebration of life. In our culture there is a kum and kuma, the friends of the family so close as to be considered family or godparents. There job is to bring a yule log to the hearth, then stir the embers so as to keep the fire of love burning brightly for all of the family. Thank you and welcoming me into the circle of life in community.

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