• Yolanda McAdam

Vesta - Herstory, Mythology and role in Astrology

Updated: Oct 27, 2021



Herstory and Mythology


Not all gods are representable. Hestia, the Roman Vesta, is one of them. Not only is she distinguished by a remarkable lack of myth and story but she also lacks form in sculpture and painting. While I discovered, via a quick online search, a few Greek vases purporting to show Hestia, the Goddess of the hearth and home, what stands out for me is how she is always clothed, often veiled and immobile. Even Renaissance painters like Titian, who had Venus and other Gods and Goddesses cavorting naked in his paintings, did not dare expose her.

Nothing but a perpetual fire occupies the central, circular enclosure of the temples dedicated to Hestia. Keep this in mind as you keep reading, because this striking lack of depiction in both Greek and Roman culture is central to understanding this Goddess.


Hestia’s temple was not only circular in design, it was also the temple in the center of their cities. All the other temples were quadrangular and adorned with sculptures of the Olympian gods. Gods like Zeus and Apollo, radiated out from this center.


Every home in ancient Rome and Greece honoured Her. She was the focal point of the home.


In ancient Greece, and for centuries afterwards, people would build houses around the hearth. They did not build outside in but from the hearth outwards. This makes the hearth the point of origin. Hestia is the navel; the center of the world and she represents our personal center. The home is where we find shelter from the tumult and noise of the outside world. It is the place where we are assured of Hestia’s protection and reassurance.


The Goddess is round. She and the Earth are one and the same, for the Earth at her core is a perpetual fire.


What is the hearth symbolic of?


The hearth is a symbol of permanence, of centrality and fixity.


Who is Hestia?


Hestia is the daughter of Cronus (Saturn) and Rhea (Ops). After Zeus defeated the Titans, Hestia asked Zeus to grant her the privilege of remaining a virgin. She had been courted in vain by Poseidon and Apollo. Zeus granted her this wish and accorded her other privileges. She was to receive from mortals the first and last invocation and the first and last sacrifice. She would also, as her name suggests, take her place within the home. For the curious, the Romans changed this up and invoked Janus first and Vesta last.



Veiled Vestal Virgin, 1847, Raffaele Monti

Let's pause here to clear up a few things about the word virgin. The word virgin did not mean what it does now. A virgin was a woman who was not owned by a man and was sexually independent. However, Hestia asked to remain inviolable and untouched. This is why in Rome, the Vestal Virgins (priestesses) were punished by death if they broke their vows of celibacy. (They also became scapegoats and were blamed for most political troubles).


Many astrologers see a link between Vesta and sex. I have not worked long enough with Vesta to comment on that except to say in the handful of charts I have looked at I have yet to find a strong correlation.



Time & Place


There is a primacy of place and time attached to Vesta. In ancient Greece, there were complex rituals for relighting a hearth fire that had gone out. The only time it was acceptable to extinguish the hearth fire was during a period of mourning or when you were forced to leave because of a natural disaster or war. In Rome, if the temple fire went out, it was believed the city was in danger.


A sense of time was perpetuated by keeping the sacred feminine alive.


Honouring Hestia


To know Hestia is to understand that not every home has a central fire. There are lifeless homes just as there are people who move through their lives like soulless automatons. Every person is tasked with keeping Hestia alive within themselves. While it’s easy to understand how our inner flame can be extinguished by a traumatic event, more often than not what deprives our Hestia of oxygen is a disconnection from our wild self. This is the self that has not been domesticated in a negative or subdued sense but a Self that creates a sanctum from the soul outwards and not from the material world inwards. This is the Self that refuses to be shamed by sexists or misguided feminists for being a housewife. This is also the Self that paradoxically will not be shamed for leaving the home to forge a career.


The qualities of character inherent to Vesta can be defined as a combination of integrity and dignity--Vesta knows these attributes, and to honor your Vesta is to know and show these qualities in yourself. These are two attributes, despite the assertions of some, that cannot be taken away from an individual--you either have them or you don't--they are internal qualities, not conferred by external circumstances. Nothing someone else does to you can remove them--dignity is displayed by one's behavior, and integrity is displayed by the quality of one's actions and choices. By honoring what she feels is sacred, Vesta cannot avoid living with integrity and dignity. It's only when we fail to honor those things indicated by our Vesta that we lose that sense of integrity and dignity within. - Julie Demboski



Hestia resides in any home that is alive. Treasured objects and items constitute the unconscious cult of Hestia. Look around you. Does every object and item in your home, to quote Marie Kondo, bring you joy? Is there a connection to an ancestor?


Consider: Your favourite tea pot, the silverware you inherited from your grandmother, the gold watch you wear on special occasions...We honour her with our faithful presence within the home.


Since Hestia lives within us, we have the power to make any place a sanctum of our choosing. Hestia presides over any activity that brings people together. It is not so much about the food (Demeter) or the games (Aphrodite) as it is about the activities that form a household. A person with Vesta in Cancer, enjoys the preparation of meals and the ritual of family dinners for example, while someone with Vesta in Virgo, enjoys bringing order to the home in the shape of activity calendars, neat cupboards and swept floors.




Vesta in Astrology


Above all, Hestia represents our sacred center; that to which we dedicate ourselves. She represents stability, permanence and fixity. The sign and house in which she sits describe the values that we will not compromise because doing so would disconnect us from our true and wild self.


Vesta represents our sense of dignity or moral uprightness. Vesta signifies by house and sign placement where and how we “return to center” and live with integrity. It is where we achieve a sense of “right order”. Close aspects to other planets go a long way in painting a clearer picture of how we keep our flame alive. And conversely, how we deprive our Vesta of oxygen.


Vesta is said to rule Virgo and Scorpio. I personally lean more towards the Virgo rulership for which she is better suited as she has a close connection to Mother Gaia and Mercury. Gaia is our “true home” and from whom all life springs and Hestia our true vocation which is - whether one is conscious of it or not - in service of Gaia and not “elsewhere” (like getting to Mars). It is also worth noting that in the Homeric hymn to Hestia, Hermes (Mercury) is invoked. And Mercury is the recognized ruler of Virgo. Mercury is active “outside’” the house and Hestia “within”.


Homeric hymn:


“Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honour: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet, –where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last.

“And you, Slayer of Argus, Son of Zeus and Maia, messenger of the blessed gods, bearer of the golden rod, giver of good, be favourable and help us, you and Hestia, the worshipful and dear. Come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength.

“Hail, Daughter of Cronos, and you also, Hermes, bearer of the golden rod!”

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Word play

Hearth - heart - earth - art - hear - ear.

Vesta in Astronomy

Heinrich Olbers discovered Vesta on 29 March, 1807 in the constellation Virgo. He gave the honour of naming his new discovery to German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, whose orbital calculations had enabled astronomers to confirm the existence of Ceres, the first asteroid, and who had computed the orbit of the new planet. Gauss decided on the Roman Goddess of home and hearth, Vesta.

Vesta is the second-largest asteroid, both by mass and by volume, after the dwarf planet Ceres. Vesta is the brightest asteroid visible from Earth and at times is visible with the naked eye.

Vesta in the signs (as affirmations).

To check your Vesta placement, visit astro.com and under "Additional Objects" select VESTA.

Vesta in Aries

I honour the person I am at this moment in time, while holding the knowledge that I am constantly evolving. I respect my need for independence and embrace my leadership skills.

Vesta in Taurus

I hold in high regard my six senses. I appreciate the smell of the earth after the rain. I delight in fresh picked blooms. I have a healthy respect for money. Sex is a sacred act of unity.

Vesta in Gemini

My word is my bond. I honour communication and ideas. I make space for the wisdom of others while applying my own wisdom in a practical manner.

Vesta in Cancer

Home is where my heart is. I hold as sacred my family and home. I treasure each and every person and object in my vibrational space.

Vesta in Leo

I hold as sacred my right to shine. I hold in high regard every being’s innate gift of self-expression. I glory in creating.

Vesta in Virgo

I honour every being’s right to place or home. I uphold their right to thrive in all their glorious diversity. I honour systems, processes and order. I honour the attitude of service.

Vesta in Libra

I honour the concept of partnership and cooperation. I uphold fairness and equality and seek the spirit of balance in all things.

Vesta in Scorpio

I honour the dark by bringing it up to the light while accepting that both light and dark are required and neither one is superior.

Vesta in Sagittarius

I honour my own beliefs as well as the beliefs of others. I see similarities where others see differences. I hold in high regard the exotic and the foreign.

Vesta in Capricorn

I honour self-discipline. I embrace form and structure as a means of unique self-expression.

Vesta in Aquarius

I honour an original approach to the sacred. I value understanding through experimentation. I hold on to my unique way of seeing and being in the world.

Vesta in Pisces

I honour the intangible and spiritual. I give expression to the numinous. I am a conduit; a bridge between the material and spiritual realms.



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xo

Yolanda



References and highly recommended further reading:

Demboski, Julie, Vesta In The Natal Chart (Brilliant!)

George, Demetra, Asteroid Goddesses

Goux, John-Joseph, Vesta, or a Place of Being


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