Woman is natural Priestess to the Great Goddess, and so presides over the hearth. Wherever any living flame burns, there is the Vestal Fire guarded by Hestia. The tradition in Ireland, and in many countries, is that the hearth fire must never die. At the time of the winter solstice the fire is renewed with embers from the dying fire of Yule. It is woman's task to keep this fire alight. It is man's task to bring her fuel for her task.
To create a shrine to the Goddess there needs to be this matriarchal flame. In any impersonal hotel room, in a town flat, in a small garden, the vestal flame is the same, and gives the same power as that bestowed by the Goddess in the mighty temples of antiquity. This sacred flame may be represented by a lighted candle, an incense stick, a resinous torch or small fire. The smoke represents Air, the holy breath which keeps the fire alive, as does our breath combine with our heart-beats. By the divine law of correspondences, everything material in this world is a symbol for some reality in another sphere. When a fire, candles or incense are burnt with the intention of honouring Deity, a communication centre is created, which forms a link in a golden chain that brings through the fiery power of the Deity invoked.
Having made the centre of our shrine, we need a shell, a Matrix to protect it. In the past this was the duty of the man who built the home or the temple. This Matrix in greater form may be understood to be the darkness of Outer Space which holds galaxies in its embracing blackness. It is the blue atmosphere with fleecy clouds which protects our earthly vegetation as a robe: it is the crust of the earth, a chrysalis that conceals the mystery within. Beneath this rocky shell of earth are two lava flows of magma which, like fiery dragons rotating in contrary directions, protect the golden apples that shine in the glowing heart of our planet. And so also is the Matrix the protecting womb that enfolds the unborn child and small animal: the snake that conceals her eggs within her the nut shell and husk that guard the living kernel and seed within.
Though we respect great temples, a simple room or grove of trees form a Matrix that protects our altar fire. A shrine may be a psychic temple not made with hands. The Devotee, sitting in silent contemplation, even in a crowded room, may yet build in creative imagination a shrine that guards the privacy of the soul. For the Matrix is not only a womb or shell: it is also the individual aura. We carry our temples about us.