As I developed my religious practice of Hearthkeeping, I tried to boil it down to just the essentials. What were the core principles that distinguished the practice I wanted from everything else? What were the ideas that I wanted to live by, to grow by? Therefore, I came up with four basic tenets. They aren’t all encompassing, but they are the four cornerstones of my religious practice, and I use them to inform my life choices. The cool thing about them is that they’re none of them specific to Wicca or the Pagan religions. These tenets are ones that any religion (or philosophy if you’re not religious) could encompass, should you so choose. Where I use the word “Goddess” you can substitute any god’s name, or even just “higher self”.
Please note that I am NOT the perfect embodiment of these tenets, nor do I even pretend to be close to it. These are my guiding principles. They are what I want to be, who I want to be, and how I want to interact with the world. I have a long way to go myself, so please don’t think that I’m saying I’m able to live these in all ways and at all times. I’m working towards that, though being human I doubt I’ll ever get as far down this path as I’d like. Don’t use these tenets to beat yourself up for not adhering to them. Use them as goals, meditation points, and guideposts.
Being productive is about being a benefit to the God/desses, the people around you, and the planet. It means focusing on what you can do, achieve, or create, rather than on what you can get. It’s about not wasting time (which to me is different from taking the time you need to relax – wasting time is letting time slip by you in frivolous pursuits because it’s easier than doing what needs doing).
Be a maker
Whether you’re a fiber artist, a woodworker, a writer, a plumber, or anything else, be someone who makes things. Bring beauty into the world, through beautifully baked cookies or a beautiful repair job on a carburetor. Having the skills to create and make your own make you more independent, more valuable to those around you, and less of a drain on the resources of the planet and people around you.
Don’t be lazy
This part of the tenet is one I struggle with a lot! I love to sleep in, take naps, play solitaire, sit and read all day, etc. I have to distinguish very carefully between getting the rest and relaxation I need, and just being too lazy to get done the things that need doing. Exercise, dishes, laundry, day job, cleaning the chicken coop – none of these are exactly fun. Goofing off and playing on my phone will not get them done, my life, and the lives of my husband and animals will be worse for my lack of motivation and willingness to do the work.
Be less of a consumer
American society is all about “buy, buy, buy, and buy some more”. We shop for recreation. We buy and discard and use up. Try to find ways to avoid consuming where you can. Learn to eat sensible portion sizes and you’ll be surprised at how much further your food budget stretches. Repair or upcycle your clothes instead of discarding them and getting new ones. Learn to fix your own car/lawn mower/washing machine. Find ways to cut down on the amount of trash you generate.
Oh, how I wish consistency came naturally to me! I wish I were the sort who easily did things regularly instead of waiting and doing it in one splurge of activity. It may not come easily, but I’ve found that being consistent has so many rewards – from consistent exercise leading to losing over 110 pounds to consistently doing the dishes every night before bed meaning no icky mess in the sink in the morning. Consistency is also vital to our relationships with both the Divine and our fellow humans. It’s about being trustworthy and reliable, and both require consistency to achieve.
Let’s face it, routines may not be sexy or exciting, but they are the basis of everyday life. Getting up, brushing your teeth, doing your devotions, going to work, going to the gym – none of these is thrilling, but your day just wouldn’t work if you didn’t do them. Routines are the cornerstone of consistency. Finding routines that work for you (rather than things that must be strictly adhered to) will help make things not such a struggle.
Ritual is in itself just a routine, but it’s a specific routine. Whether it’s church on Sunday, or a magick Circle every full moon, we do it on a schedule, in a certain format, and with a certain purpose – connecting with the Divine. Rituals include our daily devotions to the God/desses as well as the monthly Esbats of full moon and new moon and the eight yearly Sabbats (equinoxes, solstices, and cross-quarter days).
Keeping your word
Keeping your word is so important, and so easy to let slide. If you agree to do something, do it. Don’t blow it off or postpone it because you don’t feel like doing it right then. Honor your vows. This means being faithful in monogamous marriage, working during the workday and not goofing off, taking care of the animals you’ve brought into your home or homestead. Consider the old saying, “my word is my bond”. A promise is a binding, a contract, a sacred obligation and it you must treat it as such, even when you really, really don’t wanna.
Frugality is not just about money. Money is just one of the many resources with which we take care of our family. Other resources include the land on which we live, the clothing on our backs, the relationships we have with the people around us. It’s our responsibility not to squander those resources. It’s not hoarding – in fact, frugality gives you the room to be generous, to appreciate your abundance, and to be secure enough to share rather than being afraid you don’t have enough for yourself.
Living simple is one of the best ways to be frugal, and in our consumerist society, it’s one of the hardest. I feel hypocritical typing this – I have so much stuff that making space can be difficult. Nevertheless, I’m trying through my daily routines to live more simply.
Some things you can do to live simply include:
- Cooking your own meals at home
- Having a tech-free evening once a week (I tried this and it was a big fail, Mr. WPW & I are so addicted to our tech, but I want to try it again!)
- Limiting your outside the home/family obligations (like clubs, after school activities, etc.)
- Celebrating birthdays/anniversaries/holidays by doing something together instead of giving physical gifts.
Live within your means
Credit card debt is a burden that will weigh you down and have you carrying around worry. Sometimes we need to use credit – buying a house or a car without a loan is just about impossible for most of us, and using credit cards responsibly to build our credit – but do we really need to go out to dinner, buy that Starbucks, or get that fifth pair of shoes on credit? Do you really need a 6,000 square foot McMansion for two people? Learn to set a budget and stick with it. Find ways to increase your income, or decrease your spending or both. Living within our means reduces the burden we are on the world and lowers the burden of money worries we carry around.
Pay your bills on time
Not only will paying your bills on time save you money on late fees, interest rates (better credit score means better interest rates), and save yourself stress, but this goes back to consistency and keeping your word. Remember that other people depend on your prompt payment of your debts – that money isn’t floating in the ether. It pays their bills and their payrolls, which is people’s livelihoods.
This is an often cruel world filled with sadness, tragedy, and a thousand small daily slights. How much better it would be if we were kinder to each other. I’m not talking about being a doormat – sometimes the kindest thing is to tell someone (maybe yourself) “no”. This tenet is about sharing a true loving kindness that reflects the glow of the hearth fire out to the world. It’s about patience, civility, and putting yourself in the shoes of those around you.
One of the oldest traditions in our world is that of guesthood. There are so many stories of the old gods going about the world in disguise and a person was richly rewarded (or terribly punished) based on how they treated strangers who knocked at the door. I think we’ve forgotten the art of hospitality. How many of us have neighbors pop by unannounced on a regular basis? Do you have your home in a state that would be ready for someone to drop in without at least two hours warning? How often do you invite people into your home for days or weeks to stay and be a houseguest? I think we need to relearn how to be hospitable in our homes and in our interactions with other people, setting them at ease and finding ways to serve them as one would an honored guest.
One of the joys of making and growing and fixing is that it gives us skills that we can share. Bring baked goods to your neighbors, share extra garden produce with your coworkers, budgeting to give something to your favorite reputable charity; however you choose to be generous, spread the wealth. We have such incredible abundance in our lives – yes, we really do, even if it may not feel like it when the bills come in and the car needs to go to the shop and the kids need another pair of shoes because they’ve already outgrown the ones you just bought – that it’s our duty to share that abundance.
Be generous with your time, especially with your family and loved ones. I don’t mean overcommit and run around like a chicken with your head cut off. When you’re with your family at dinner, put your phone away, stop stressing over what happened at work that day, and pay attention to them. Remember that the smallest candle flame when reflected in our hearts can light the world and try to mirror the flame of the Goddess in our lives.
Our world is not one that values civility. My generation invented the “whatever” – a word that speaks volumes of contempt. We argue politics, shout at each other online, and call each other terrible names. We rush through our days to get everything done and forget to say “please” and “thank you”. I don’t suggest we go back to a world where we can’t discuss important subjects in public. Nor do I think that some types of people should be seen and not heard. What I mean is be aware that everyone with whom you interact is a person, another human just like you. They have the same troubles, neuroses, and hopes. Like you, they have something to give and a desire to be loved and respected. Bring back politeness and respect for our elders and willingness to wait your turn.
These are the four main tenets and an explanation of some of the facets of each tenet. How do these four ideas speak to you?