Earlier this week I became intrigued with the Roman Goddess Vesta. Her image on The Hermit and related to Virgo (as with the Spiral Tarot) really got me thinking. I have needed to explore my Virgo side. (I'm a Capricorn, but seem to have a lot of Virgo going on in my chart), and have always been drawn to the tarot card, "The Hermit". So I was really delighted to find a connection between this card and the astrological sign representing "The Virgin", as the traditional decks didn't seem to resonate this part of the card's meanings for me. (See more on my previous blog, The Hermit / Vesta.) When it came to the Vesta/Hermit relationship, I felt it was speaking to me about not only looking within, but in sacrificing or giving up selfish needs. In helping and serving others without any selfish reasons, we can shine a light on this truth and love within ourselves, thus seeing our true natures more clearly and be able to find that sense of direction and Inner Truth that the Hermit seems to be seeking.
I learned that Vesta's Greek counterpart is the Goddess Hestia. I have always been drawn to Ancient Greek Archetypes, though I haven't really done much serious research on specific deities and myths, so I decided to look her up. Both Vesta and Hestia were revered as the Goddess of the Hearth Fire and the Home. Already I feel a connection! I am always looking or Archetypes that relate to things that I feel I relate to, that I would call on during my practical day. So this draws me in. Hestia is the Grand-daughter of Gaia. She was the first-born of Cronus and Rhea, though Cronus swallowed her whole because of a prophecy that his own child would de-throne him. He also swallowed whole all of Hestia's sisters and brothers, except for Zeus. Rhea tricked him into swallowing a rock wrapped up as a baby, because she was tired of her husband swallowing her babies, for obvious reasons! As you know, Zeus eventually grew up and was a main factor in overthrowing Cronus. Zeus gave Cronus a potion in his wine and Cronus vomited up his other 5 children, who were now fully grown. Hestia was the last to be expelled from Cronus' stomach, and for this reason she is said to be both the oldest and the youngest of the Olympians. She was both the first-born and the last-born.
I felt a strange understanding and connection as I read this part of Hestia's story. I am a first-born. I had a time in my life when I was swallowed up, consumed by earthly greed and folly. I eventually had a "Rebirth", a time when I came back to life and finally started figuring out who I was. By this time, my younger brother had begun to mature, and in some ways, he had caught up with me. Sometimes I feel like he has things figured out a little better than I do, when it comes to knowing and accepting his spiritual path and life purpose. Most of the time I see him as an equal, not a younger sibling, but someone more the same age as me. This is how Hestia must have felt toward her siblings - they were all born after her, and, other than Zeus, they all emerged at the same time, and she was not their older sister, but their equal, and slightly younger sister. Hestia's brothers were Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Her sisters were Hera and Demeter.
The siblings ran away to Mount Olympius and formed a plan to fight against Cronus and the Titans. A great war began, though the young gods were outnumbered by the Titans.
Fortunately, a few Titans decided to side with the Olympians. Prometheus was a Titan, and his name meant "One who thinks ahead", and he had a gift of foresight. He foresaw that the Titans would lose the battle, and he and his brother Epimetheus refused to fight against the Olympians because of this. Again I paused as I read the story of Hestia. My brother, who I mentioned before, has an unusual middle name. It is Prometheus. The light bulbs keep going on in my head. This is the story I have been searching for! Finally, the Olymians won the battle and most of the Titans were sent to Tartarus. (Not Prometheus or his brother, obviously, since they had not fought against the victorious Olympian siblings. ) After this, the Olympians decided to divide up the duties as Gods. Rather than having one God ruling over it all, like Cronus had tried to do, they decided to work together. Hestia became the Goddess of the Hearth, or fireplace, and the Home. Her sister, Demeter, became the Goddess of agriculture and all living things, and their sister Hera became the Goddess of marriage and childbirth.
Aside from the story of the battle of the Olympians, I couldn't find much else about Hestia. I could not find anything about her children or a husband, and for this reason I think she never married or had kids. So this would explain why her later Roman counterpart, Vesta, was described as The Virgin Goddess. I have also found reference to her as the Virgin of the Harvest. As I meditated, I saw/felt this;
The Hearth, or fire, has always been the center of not only the home, but the community and civilization. Without the hearth, there is no where to cook the food. There is nowhere to make the tools that harvest the food. Although the flames of the fire themselves do not create anything tangible, the heat of these flames makes all else possible. This is where the servitude aspect of Virgo comes out. Serving your family and community with warmth and love. This is what Hestia and Vesta were revered and honored for. And although she remained a virgin and never had any children, it is her watch over the Home and Hearth that made all harvests possible. The Virgin of the Harvest. Goddess of the Hearth. I am enraptured and inspired. Also, as I meditated on how this Goddess' image and name may have changed over time, another light bulb came on. Both Hestia and Vesta are represented as a pure, kind woman, often with a cloak over their head. This goddess' symbolic animal is the Ass (donkey/mule). Who else do we know in history that is seen to wear a cloak and accompanied by an Ass? Who else do we now know as The Virgin, and the Virgo? The Virgin Mary, mother of Christ. A Virgin who gave forth a great harvest, a pure, self-sacrificing woman. And so Hestia's story has continued through time....