September 12, 2020 at 8:28 am #39584
After a lot of thought, I decided to remove all the candles and essential oil burners I had on or around my altar spaces and in the rest of my home. For years I had been using essential oil burners in place of incense – both because of personal preference and because they do not set off smoke alarms in the apartments I’ve lived in. I recently re-signed the lease on my apartment, and after reading it thoroughly I found that even candle flame is something my complex doesn’t want tenants to use – a situation that many renters and young people living in college dorms find themselves in, as well as families with children and pets who don’t want to risk open flame. I decided that given my enjoyment of technological innovation that I would try to find a meaningful solution – both for myself and others.
After a bit of online research, reading reviews, and looking at specs, I decided to go with LED smart bulbs to provide fully adjustable light for ritual in my bedroom as well as mood lighting for myself and guests in my living room – all controllable with my smart speaker or smartphone. For essential oils – which I’ve come to use as a scent offering like incense or resin over the years, I decided on a fully electronic essential oil diffuser, which uses water and vibration to produce scented vapor with the strength and duration I desire. The diffuser I selected also has colored LEDs so it was perfect for me to match most of the colors of the LED smart bulb in my bedroom. These devices allow me to have greater control over light and scent in my altar spaces.
As far as light is concerned, I have often used tealight holders and lanterns with colored glass to provide ambient color, but these LED lights are even more effective. And even if I prefer to use more of a natural light color, I can bring the brightness down as much as I want. Also, I can create a ritual space with colored light that is appropriate for specific rituals or festivals, completely on the fly instead of having to buy multiple sets of colored glass lanterns and store them in the closet. Moreover, by not having tons of tealight holders and essential oil burners all over the place, I have a lot more space on my altars, and they are now much easier to clean. This is especially the case with my Roman altar, which has the most deities represented. This will also save me money over time and prevent waste by eliminating the need to buy new tealights every couple of months. LED bulbs can last a very long time before they need to be replaced. Also, for anybody that might be curious, I can attest that essential oil diffusers produce a pretty potent scent that is even purer than you can achieve with essential oil burners and with more variety than conventional incense. My go-to is frankincense oil, as you might expect, but I’ve enjoyed a lot of other oils as well.
Since I’m sure some of you are interested to know what colored LED lights looks like in practice, I decided to take a few pictures of my altars in different colors. In the collage image I’ve provided, the upper left corner showcases my Shinto kamidana on the top shelf, with the essential oil diffuser lit up by it’s own colored LED light a shelf below it. In the center is my Roman altar and to the right of it is my Kemetic altar. The primary source of colored LED light is coming from the floor lamp immediately beside it. I also took a picture of my Heathen altar with yellow LED light illuminating it. This ritual space is to the right and perpendicular to my other three altar spaces.
I hope that this can help inspire those of you who have certain living limitations or personal preferences to find your own creative modern solutions to the challenges that ritual sometimes presents to us. Speaking for myself, I am genuinely pleased by how LED light and essential oil diffusing works in my space. I will still use open flame and either incense or resins for outdoor ritual, where appropriate, but I’m completely satisfied with this arrangement for indoor ritual. I’d love to see some of your thoughts and feelings about what I’ve presented here.
Attachments:September 12, 2020 at 9:28 am #39586
It is a shame to see what is demanded from you as a tenant. Such regulations are unacceptable, since they also infringe your freedom of religion. We really have to stand up against this. Now they want to take away from people the right to light a flame. How far will this go? Where do we finally draw the line?
If Roman law has told us something, then it is that every citizen has certain rights. We are Romans, we are not slaves. We have to assume our rights.
Vale!September 12, 2020 at 10:45 am #39644
Salve Eugeni! It is a shame to see what is demanded from you as a tenant. Such regulations are unacceptable, since they also infringe your freedom of religion. We really have to stand up against this. Now they want to take away from people the right to light a flame. How far will this go? Where do we finally draw the line? If Roman law has told us something, then it is that every citizen has certain rights. We are Romans, we are not slaves. We have to assume our rights. Vale!
It was not my intention to make this post about politics. There’s already enough of that in every other community online and it’s especially bad in the pagan community. I don’t like authoritarians myself, but the reasoning behind banning flame sources and smoke in rental properties or college dorms is completely based on economic and practical considerations. My purpose for sharing this was to help people find practical solutions to a common issue – one that, like I said in my post, also affects families with children and pets. If you truly believe this is a religious rights issue, you have every right to seek out others who want to forward your political aims. Just please don’t involve me in it.September 12, 2020 at 11:19 pm #39656
The most practical solution would be ignoring this rule, sabotaging any smoke detectors and simply light a candle. No further political activism required.September 13, 2020 at 4:03 pm #39682
Fausta Aurelia ValensDenarii: 𐆖 148.80PlebeiusBritannia
I get where you’re coming from. I currently live in University accommodation in a single room with two smoke alarms in it. I’m going to make some scented water from flowers (mostly roses and violets) to use in place of incense as essential oils give me a headache after a while.
I also have LED candles, one that stays on constantly to honour Vestia.
It’s never nice having to compromise, I’m on my 4th year of it now.
One of my friends lives in a rented apartment block and she burns her incense and candles (she uses the 7 day glass ones) by an open window as it diffuses smoke straight away, so long as you keep an eye on it then you should be okay.
Just hope your neighbours aren’t snitches!September 13, 2020 at 4:32 pm #39683
Vesta is the goddess of fire and the hearth, not light. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) produce light through electrones jumping between semi-conductor electrodes. This is a purely electrical process. The corresponding god would be Iuppiter, since he is the god of lightning and hence electricity. The symbolism is therefore inappropriate for Vesta.September 13, 2020 at 10:58 pm #39695
I get where you’re coming from. I currently live in University accommodation in a single room with two smoke alarms in it. I’m going to make some scented water from flowers (mostly roses and violets) to use in place of incense as essential oils give me a headache after a while. I also have LED candles, one that stays on constantly to honour Vestia. It’s never nice having to compromise, I’m on my 4th year of it now. One of my friends lives in a rented apartment block and she burns her incense and candles (she uses the 7 day glass ones) by an open window as it diffuses smoke straight away, so long as you keep an eye on it then you should be okay.
Just hope your neighbours aren’t snitches!
I like your idea for scented water with flowers. It reminds me of reed diffusers, which might be an easier way to achieve the same affect of you find or make the right kind of water (there are reed diffuser tutorials online).
I’m liking the idea of a separate LED light to use as a Vesta light. I don’t mind compromising. There’s a lot of advantages to LED light and essential oil diffusing and it’s too much of a pain shutting off smoke alarms or using open windows.
Thanks for sharing your experiences!September 14, 2020 at 1:28 am #39698
Tiberius Terentius VarroDenarii: 𐆖 763.62PlebeiusGallia Mississippia
Ti. Terentius Varro sacer. sal.
Vesta IS first and foremost the goddess of the hearth which to our ancestors was the center of the domestic home. It was where the nourishment, heat, and fortunes of the family were determined. At the level of the sacra publica this remained the same, but the household on this scale became the Roman family or people.
We easily see the slow progression of technology through the ancient CDR over time. From crude turf altars and unshaped rocks to grand marble altars and images of the gods crafted from the finest precious metals. The old ways were still respected, even occasionally favored, but this not stop new means of honoring the gods from evolving slowly over time. The rise of the Galilean god stopped this gradual progression of sacrificial innovation.
But today, with the Roman Republic’s spiritual community, this progress resumes.
Roman brothers and sisters, let us step back and recall the domain of Vesta. The hearth and family. Fire was associated with Vesta as it was the only means of providing energy to a hearth. But Vesta is not the divity of fire per-say. She is the divinity of the hearth. What did the hearth evolve into today? Utility wise the hearths of old became our modern ovens and stoves. Symbolically the hearth evolved into our decorative fireplaces. But one thing remains constant – these are all meeting places of the family, of domestic life (or they should be, this aspect of life is too often forgotten today).
So, I would encourage you not to neglect this aspect of Vesta. It is heat – be it from a fire, or from a gas stove, or an electric grill, where we feel the warmth of Vesta. The fire aspect of the hearth is ideal. But Vesta is present in more places. She is present in your “hearth”. If you place an electric light in such a place to symbolize her presence, I can not see this causing disrespect. But in doing so, be reminded of her central domain. The heat of the hearth which was the primary reason the family gathered in this place, to nourished by good food and be warmed from the cold. In this meeting place, the beating heart of the domestic sphere is still very much present. It is where we still can gather, recall the goddess and build the pax deorum within our own families.
May Vesta smile upon you all.September 14, 2020 at 7:08 am #39700
Quintus Vergilius CrassusDenarii: 𐆖 256.60PatriciusSarmatia
I would call this a question of renovationism, which we, as a community, will touch upon constantly, since we do not have a single position on the permissibility of renovationism and its limits.
The simplest position is not to allow renovationism at all, this would remove many questions and controversial points. If we allow renovationism, then the question will arise regarding its limits, and this will be an even more scandalous process than disputes over renovationism.
The cult of the Vesta is directly related to the hearth, this is so. However, this cult itself bears archaic features, and it is within the framework of these archaic features that the concept of the hearth exists as a refuge for an ordered, “good” fire. The Romans did not know the concept of a hearth without fire. Remove the fire from the hearth and the hearth will lose its essence. Scrambled eggs can be cooked on stones baked in the sun, but this does not mean that it will be a hearth.
And then and now the fire, the flame has for what some kind of inner meaning, filling. In turn, it is fire that gives the hearth here the spiritual meaning that the Romans put into it.
Even now, in our time, the fire at the Olympic Games is not replaced with light bulbs or diodes, yes, the fire is supported by modern methods, but this is good old fire, not renovationist inventions.September 14, 2020 at 9:03 am #39702
Caeso Cispius LaevusDenarii: 𐆖 877.45PlebeiusBritannia
I have to agree with Praetor and Sacerdos Varro. If we are really serious about a revival of the religio romana we have to include the old Roman customs as much as possible while also allowing room for these customs to live in the present by most people. Cutting off domestic worship of Vesta by discouraging a substitute for the ancient hearth fire is not the way to advance anyone’s interest. The same goes for extreme renovationism. By trying to please everyone sensitivities on “historical correctness” or “reinvention” we will be guaranteed to please no one.
Sen Crassus raises a good point. We do not have any criteria which define where such renovationism should begin and end, and we, therefore, have no way to allow cultores to educate themselves or for others to avoid strong disapproval of such things based on traditional grounds.
To use the Olympic flame analogy. The flame is often fueled by natural gas. It travels around the world in torches made of composite modern materials. It travels in planes. So there is renovationism there. But it is mindful renovationism which pays tribune to the ancient tradition rather than aim to supplant it or replace its intent. We need to aim for this same goal.
We should urgently form a panel on experts on these matters to educate people on the religio romana in general and to hash out suggested guidelines in such matters. Otherwise, we will keep having the same debates over and over and make no progress as a developing mainstream religious practice.
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