Hestia was the Greek goddess of sacred fire. She was the divine representation of the hearth as the nucleus of the family unit and the axis around which life revolves. According to myth, Hestia shunned marriage, preferring a life of chastity, but she was not a shy and retiring figure. On the contrary, her presence was felt in every home and every temple, where she received a portion of every sacrifice, first before any other gods and goddesses. Honor was due to her, for being at the root of the pillars of Greek culture.
Hestia was one of the twelve first-generation Olympians–the first-born in fact–making her one of the oldest gods. But in all likelihood she was incredibly ancient, known in some archaic form since the first humans gathered around the communal fire for warmth, meals, religious ritual and storytelling. As societies developed, the hearth became the household, and the household comprised the community. The sacrificial shamanic fire evolved into the temple. Hestia was the heartbeat that pulsed through all aspects of life, and propitiating her was of the utmost importance.
To the Romans she was known as Vesta. Her priestesses, the Vestals, swore a vow of celibacy and were responsible for keeping the eternal flame of Rome burning. The Romans saw Vesta as the guardian of the people and the undying flame as a symbol of the strength, health and longevity of the republic. To let the flame go out would be to invite disaster upon the empire.
The analogy of hearth to health is relevant now especially, as we all prepare to go socially dormant for the foreseeable future. Our relationship to our home and to the ways in which it supports us and shelters us (or doesn’t) is being highlighted at this time. It is time to tend to our nests and make peace with our household gods, if we haven’t already done so. Hestia asks us to purify our spaces, whether that means disinfecting, cleaning out closets, saging and smudging, preparing nourishing meals or just keeping things peaceful. But her teachings go deeper than that. She reminds us that in times of turbulence we can find calm in our center. Even more than the spaces we inhabit, our bodies are our first homes and first temples, and if we can go inward and find that place of light and calm, we will have found the source of life. And that will propel us onward.
Asteroid Vesta is currently at 29 degrees Taurus.