Names: Hestia (Greek), Vesta (Roman)
Asteroids: Hestia (#46), Vesta (#4)
Mythology: Greco-Roman virgin goddess of the hearth, home, family, and domestic life and tranquility. Keeper of the sacred fire.
Light Expression: Immense ability to focus and commit oneself to what is held sacred. The ability to create a warm, peaceful, clean, and well-maintained home. Spiritual nature. Devotion to family.
Shadow Expression: Prisoner in their own home. Limiting or otherwise unhealthy dedication to purity, chastity, and modesty. Fear of passion and (female) sensuality. Judgement of others who focus less on home and family, and/or living a life of “virtue.”
Exploration: Asteroid Vesta (#4) is named after the Roman goddess of the hearth, home, and family (Greek, Hestia). In mythology, Vesta is the first-born daughter of the Titans Saturn (Greek, Cronus) and Ops (Greek, Rhea), and is therefore the eldest sister of Jupiter (Greek, Zeus), Juno (Greek, Hera), Neptune (Greek, Poseidon), Pluto (Greek, Hades), and Ceres (Greek, Demeter). According to myth, Vesta was very beautiful and both Apollo (the Sun god) and Neptune (the god of the seas) pursued her, but she preferred to remain whole unto herself and begged Jupiter (king of the gods) to allow her to become a virgin goddess so she could tend to his home and hearth. Jupiter agreed, and she thus became one of the three primary virgin goddesses in the Greco-Roman pantheon (alongside Artemis and Athena).
While Vesta was seldom portrayed in Greco-Roman art, she is considered to be one of the most important deities of the time, as she was the keeper of the hearth and the sacred flame. In ancient Greece and Rome, all of life was centered around fire. Fire was paramount for light, warmth, cooking, heating water, protection from invaders, sacrificial offerings, and gatherings. In Latin, the word “hearth,” where the fire was kept and tended to, translates to “focus,” suggesting that the fire was the focal point of the home and society. To ensure there was always fire available and accessible for the local community, the Romans had temples dedicated to Vesta in which her temple priestesses, called Vestals or Vestal Virgins, would ensure that a sacred flame was tended to and never went out. These Vestals were also required to take a 30-year vow of chastity during which time they were to devote themselves to the study and proper observance of state rituals. In return for their service, the Vestal Virgins were educated and liberated from the social obligations or marriage and child-rearing. They were held in high esteem, given public roles, and granted privileges and protection that were otherwise unavailable to women. That said, the punishments for breaking their commitments were extreme. If a Vestal allowed the sacred fire to go out, she would be lashed or beaten, and if she broke her chastity vow, she was buried alive. While there were not many cases of these live burials, some have suggested that Vestal Virgins were used as scapegoats during times of political crisis and wrongly judged and tried as a result.
In astrology, the qualities associated with Vesta’s asteroids are linked to these mythological and historical underpinnings. Those who have her asteroid(s) prominently placed in their birth charts may be modest, domestic, chaste (or otherwise virginal), spiritual, religious, tranquil, virtuous, family-oriented, and/or devoted to sacred rites and rituals. They may see their home as their temple or sanctuary, and keep a warm, pristine, and welcoming abode. These natives may associate with the High Priestess archetype and enjoy engaging in ceremonies and rites of passage, or they may choose a path of religious devotion and celibacy, becoming a nun, monk, or priest. Alternately, they may feel trapped by their home or family, yet fear the repercussions of leaving (e.g. 1950s housewives). Or they might be born into a family, culture, or religion that prizes modesty and chastity, and feel forced to repress their sexual nature or face the consequences. These natives may also need to watch for a tendency to judge others who do not value home, family, modesty, chastity, virtuosity, religion, and/or spirituality to the extent they do. This external judgment is typically rooted in self-judgement stemming from repressed sexuality, sensuality, secularity, and/or a desire to be free from domestic commitments. Lastly, there may be experiences of “doing everything right,” yet being wrongfully accused and punished for crimes they have not committed. In general, the highest call of Vesta in astrology is to help us discover what we hold to be sacred, and support us in devoting ourselves and our focus to “the sacred;” however we choose to define that.
To find out if Vesta’s myth is prominent in your astrological birth chart and psyche, see if she is making any major aspects (e.g. conjunction or opposition) to your luminaries (e.g. the Sun and Moon), planets (e.g. Saturn, Jupiter, etc.), the Moon’s Nodes, OR to any significant dwarf planets (e.g. Ceres) or asteroids (e.g. Artemis: #105) in your natal (birth) chart. It’s also helpful to look at Vesta’s sign, house, and other planetary aspects to better understand how she shows up in your personality, subconscious, and life experience. If asteroid Vesta is not significant in your chart, but you feel liker her myth is prominent for you, try looking up asteroid Hestia (#46) – the Greek name for Vesta – to see if it plays a larger part. If not, you may be experiencing Vesta by progression, transit (personal or collective), solar arc, or in your solar return chart. Whatever you find astrologically, if you feel Vesta’s presence in your life, it’s time to work with her myth, meditate on her light and shadow attributes, and see what she is hoping to awaken in you.
If you would like some guidance and support in understanding the Vesta archetype, or other goddess archetypes, in your astrological chart and personal experience, feel free to reach out to me and we can do a goddess astrology reading, mentorship meeting, or archetypal coaching session to further explore her purpose in your life.