Why hearth religion? Why focus on personal relationships and familial practice above all else? The answer is simple: because we live it every day. After having a child, I realised that my focus needed to be on the hearth and not an external group; on building our practices around our fire so that I can teach my son and we can celebrate together, and have a firm foundation on which to live.
In Ár nDraíocht Féin, our focus is on orthopraxy, not orthodoxy — right practice, not right belief. This allows us to build right relationships in the ways that we act, although we may come to these relationships with slightly different understandings. This is reflected in the Hearth Keepers Way also; a widespread community of hearths with a shared rite, and gods and spirits named only broadly. Within the core of our hearth religion are the Earth Mother, Hearth Goddess, and our Ancestors, for we interact with them every day.
Building right relationships includes a responsibility in respecting living and descendant traditions, in being mindful of history and culture, and awareness of our own boundaries as modern pagans. It includes learning about the land that we live on, its history and inhabitants both human and not, and living in a respectful way. All of these things begin at the hearth: in what we do, and how we choose to live.
I have said nothing here about syncretism, or mixing pantheons, or the notion of “blood”, because when I speak of hearth religion I am speaking of that practice which is at your own hearth, the conglomeration of traditions and ways which speak to you and your practice, even if they might not fit together in a way that anyone other than you understands. This is about you and your gods and spirits, and doing right by them and from the cultures where they arose.
Part of what we must do to have living religions is live them. We cannot remain in stasis as we figure out the most perfect way of being. What we must do is practice in the best way we know, and be open and willing to listen and receive new information, and change accordingly.