Hestia & Vesta, the Goddesses of Hearth & Home
As we enter into that time of the year when folks gather together with family and friends, what better time to honor Hestia and Vesta, the Goddesses of Hearth and Home, in Greece and Rome respectively.
(Photo credit: goddessgift.net)
Hestia is the Greek Goddess of Hearth and Home. She took no human form, but was only seen in the fire of the Hearth.
Homes were built from the center outward; this center always being the hearth, in which Hestia was always welcome. She was honored each morning and evening with an offering from each family, at their respective hearths, Hestia’s sacred place. Hestia was the embodiment of family unity.
If each hearth was the center of the home, then the hearth’s flame becomes Hestia’s altar. Every woman who was in charge of her own household, therefore, becomes a Priestess of Hestia.
There was also a public hearth, where Hestia was also honored and worshiped. This was the eternal flame, the “prytaneion”, which was never-ending and where the first fruits, wines and oils were sacrificed to Her. This public fire represented the energy of all life.
(Photo Credit: greekgods&goddesses.net)
Her name means “the essence”, as in the truth of all things. She was one of the most revered Greek Goddesses. She was gentle and kind, loving and forgiving, peaceful and dignified.
She was both the first, and last, child of Chronos and Rhea (Titans). She was the firstborn, and was promptly swallowed by her father, who had a prophecy that one of his children would be stronger than he. He did this with each subsequent child. After Zeus was born, Rhea tricked Chronos into swallowing a rock wrapped in a blanket. He promptly became sick and vomited up each child. Hestia being the first child born and swallowed, became the last child to be brought back up. Hence, the name of “Hestia, First and Last”.
Hestia was courted by both Apollo and Poseidon, but She swore to never be married, to always be true to Herself and make Her own choices, a true Sovereign Goddess.
Her temples were located at Olympia and at Delphi. It is said that the source of Her sacred fire was the lava at the center of the Earth, which connected the Oomphalos to Delphi, which was a city of great energy and wisdom. Her festival day was held on June 8th.
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Of Vesta, it was said, that She was fire and that fire was She. Worship of Vesta dates back to the 7th century BCE.
She, also, did not take human form, although She was later seen as a veiled figure on Roman coins.
Vesta was also honored each day at Her sacred place, the hearth of each home.
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In public, She was worshiped at the only round Roman temple, which was at the Forum Romanum. It also had it’s eternal flame. This flame, and the temple were tended by the Sisterhood of the Vestal Virgins. Once a year, on March 1st, this flame was put out by the Vestals and re-lit.
Vesta’s other sacred day was on June 9th, the festival of Vestalia. Food baked on all hearths, was offered to Her, as well as the sacrifice of salted cakes baked on Her sacred flame by the Vestals. Offerings would take place for 8 days, whereupon the temple would be closed, cleaned and re-opened.
(Photo Credit: alamy.com)
It was considered bad luck and an ill omen for either of these sacred flames to go out.
Vesta and Hestia also shared common symbols, fire and a circle, the circle representing that they were complete Goddesses, in and of themselves.
While the following is for Hestia, from The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky, it is also true for Vesta.
I am what’s at the core
the living presence
that inhabits and transforms
taking it from the realm of
and with its hearth fire lit
making it a home.
May the Goddesses of Hearth and Home, Hestia and Vesta, bless you and yours during the upcoming holiday season.
About the Author:
Susan Morgaine is a Priestess, Healer, Witch, Writer, and Teacher.
She is entering her 21st year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute.
She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through Imagine A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing local Red Tents.
She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, part of the “My Name is ” series of children’s book. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines.
She is a a Reiki Master and a proud member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at MysticalShores.com