Light fills the Hall as you step through the doorway and Hestia stands centrally awaiting you. Gentle and loving eyes look upon you and although youthful in appearance, you feel the aeons of time that she has stood watch in the hearth spaces of home and community. She is radiant and filled with Light and Life and it is within her Hall that you will see the hearth flame that glows within……
Who is Hestia?
My hearth fires burn
And keep safe those
Blessed by my hand.
Food lovingly prepared
And family’s joining as one
These are my gifts
These are my boons.
This Goddess of the hearth fires and home was known as Hestia in the Greek Mythos, with Latin/Roman name of Vesta. She was considered a virgin Goddess, whose priestesses were known as the Vestals or Vestal Virgins in Ancient Rome. Hers is the domain and sanctuary found in the kitchen. The preparing of food for those loved and the warmth of sitting close together as the hearth burns in the long winter nights.
The primary focus of Hestia was that of keeping the sacred fires burning. In ancient times, this continued flame ensured fire for warmth, protection, light, cooking and more. She was Goddess of the sacrificial flame and as such received an offering share of every sacrifice to the Gods.
Hestia oversaw the cooking of every meal both in private home and communal gatherings. Her blessing was sought that the meal would nourish and sustain as well as forging the connections of sharing the meal with others.
In Myth, Hestia was the first born of Kronos, God/Titan of Time and the Ages and Rhea, the Great Mother of the most powerful of the Gods, the Titans. She was fertility and Motherhood. Kronos, fearful that his children would depose him as he had done to his Father, Ouranus, ate each of the children as they born. Hestia, being the first born was also the first to be consumed and the last to be disgorged when Zeus, (who had escaped the devouring of his Father, being hidden away by his mother Rhea), forced Kronos to release his swallowed siblings. I find this to be a very interesting story surrounding Hestia and the nature of her energy as Goddess of family, home and fires.
In other tale, Hestia was pursued for marriage by Poseidon and Apollon, both of whom she refused and then asked Zeus to allow her to remain unmarried, an eternal virgin. Zeus agreed and she took her place at his Sacred Hearth.
So, how do we honor Hestia within our Hall? These are some of the thoughts and feelings I have regarding this Goddess. Consider her parentage, daughter of the Great God of time. Time is something we all wish to have more of with dear friends and families. Time is filled with joy and abundance when we spend some of that time, preparing a meal together and/or sharing the bounties of a hearth well tended. Hestia’s mother, Rhea, was mother of the Gods, fertile and fierce in her protective nature. Motherly care speaks to the nourishment of those children tended, not only in the form of food, but also in the sustenance of mind, heart and encouragement to achieve their best possible selves. We do this for friends and all those we love as well. At times, being the Mother and at others allowing the expression of care to be given as we receive it with the innocence of the child who knows only this way of receipt.
Hestia’s sacrifice of refusing the offer of Marriage, thus parcelling herself to another, speaks to the passion of choice in giving what we wish of ourselves and holding some intact for ourselves so we may focus on what is needed from others. This may seem as an odd comment, but keeping those fires burning brightly, to light the way for those who are wandering in the dark, to welcome another to the table for a feast lovingly prepared or to become the flame itself as source of inspiration requires at times an attitude of self-focus and being unfettered by another’s demands.
Hestia chose to remain the eternal virgin. In ancient Rome and Greece the term “Virgin” meant not married, not belonging to a man. This was a woman who was “one-in-herself.” The word is derived from a Latin root meaning “strength, force, skill”; and was later applied to men as the term “virile”. To provide for others requires that you must be strong within yourself. To offer up the bounty of food and relationship, you must know the wisdom of yourself singularly and what it is you have to offer in contribution to what is more than yourself.
Hestia maintains the inner flame that burns within each of us and the magick that we exercise is crafting the precise recipe that will produce the transformation of wheat to life giving bread is successful to the degree that we acknowledge her presence in all of our working. Every word we speak, every action we take, every emotion expressed and every idea we share is blessed by the potential of taking a new form that will sustain, warm, and light the way for others.
This month is a wonderful time to come to know this Goddess. We have celebrated the First Harvest (Northern Hemisphere) or the First Sowing and Planting of Seeds that will require sun and care. Hestia’s fires call us to our dinner tables as friends and family gather round. And, as we offer up our thanks for her bounty and night draws near, the oil of her lamp will carry us into the cradle of gentle sleep.
Spend some time with Hestia. Think on how you connect with her as you move through your day. Light a candle or prepare a meal and feel her presence guiding and watching over.
In Gratitude: The Lamp of Hestia
The Hall of the God: The Lord of the Hunt