I recently read a post on hearth witchcraft, over at Charmed, I'm Sure. While I'm more of a generalist than specializing in any one area of magic, one way to describe my magical style is hearth, kitchen or cottage witch.
I would tend to separate hearth magic into two general types of practices. One is the idea of working specific magic via the herbs in your garden or spice cabinet into mojo bags or cooking with specific herbs in order to cast a spell. The other type is the magicospiritual effects of living well. While both of these are often intertwined, it's the latter aspect of hearth craft that I'd like to spend some time with.
Every budding magic practitioner is (hopefully) taught the basics of protection and psychic hygiene. Those skills are critical and can be seen as the basic survival tool kit. I, however, do not want to merely survive. I want to thrive. I want a life full of beauty and comfort.
More than any other kind of magic out there, hearth craft makes this the specific focus of the work: crafting the good life. Hearth witches work hard to build and maintain a space that is clean, restful and full of joy. Hearth witches live well and connect their whole lives to their magic and spirituality.
I'll give you an example. Eating locally is a surprising potent act of hearth magic and one that works on several levels. On a purely physical level, local food tends to be fresher and taste better. My partner was at a private wine tasting in France for students who were studying there from the same university. The vintner suggest that you go home and sample your local wines. He said that things taste better where they are made. The humidity, the pollen and the acidity of the soil - all subtle factors, but ones that add up and enhance the flavors of local food. While I still enjoy a good bottle of wine imported from afar, exploring the local wines and foods of my area has been pure pleasure. I also enjoy purchasing closer to home to reduce my carbon foot print.
Beyond the simply physical effects of eating higher quality food (freshness and taste), from a magical perspective - eating locally better connects me with the land that I live on. By eating of the land itself, I believe that I'm more energetically attuned to it. Just like I can put a lock of hair into a poppet to create sympathy with the owner of the hair, so too can I take in the fruits of the earth, placing myself in sympathy with the land itself. This connection helps me work with the spirits of the land, the local fey and various spirits of place and even the ancestors. Along with spending time outside generally and gardening, I firmly believe that eating local is a foundational step for witches and shamans who work with the powers and spirits of the living Earth.