I last blogged about home – the place where I grew up, and the need to have a sense of home within ourselves - and I’ve been thinking quite about about the concept of HOME since. It truly seems only fitting that I honour Hestia, Greek Goddess of Hearth and Home, within this post.
Poor Hestia was the first-born of the Titans, Kronos and Rhea. Kronos, terrified that any of his children would usurp his power, swallowed them whole (seems logical). He started with Hestia, and then moved on, after their respective births, to Hera, Demeter, Hades, and Poisedon. Yep, they all hung out in Kronos’ stomach. Well, until, the saviour younger sibling, Zeus, forced Kronos to vomit up all the children (and subsequently destroyed his father). Hestia was the last one out. She was the first to be consumed, and the last to remerge.
Hestia never married. Like Athena and Artemis, she opted to remain an eternal virgin (it wasn’t that Hestia didn’t have options, both Apollo [her nephew - ew] and Poisedon [her brother - double yuck] pursued her; however, she asked that the supreme ruler, Zeus, made it be know that her wishes were to be respected), and so, with this liberation, her focus was channelled outside the dramatics of human relationships. While Athena’s virginal energies were channelled into mental pursuits (such as crafts, planning, cunning, games, et cetera), and Artemis’ were focussed upon freedom (primarily the wilderness and intuition), Hestia worked on creating a sense of home, both within herself, and in the actual physical location. She was given the sacred responsibility to tending the hearth fires of Olympus.
The Eternal Flame Waterfall, in Erie County, looks much like a perfect shrine to Hestia
The Greeks rarely depicted Hestia. There is very little art of her, and the mentions of her within literature are scant. It’s not that they didn’t honour or respect Hestia. Indeed, any sacrifice made, at the temple or at home, had to first include an offering to Hestia. Maybe it was because Hestia didn’t have the same kind of crazy antics as the other Olympians. She wasn’t off getting involved in wars, hiring heroes to slay monsters, or having torrid affairs with mortals. Hestia always dutifully remained on Olympus. Hestia did her task and took pleasure in it, but, tending a fire, isn’t the kind of drama that great ballads are made of. Instead of honouring Hestia in the Arts, the Greeks honoured her in their homes, and also in their cities, each of which had their own sacred fire devoted to this goddess.
The Vestal Virgins
The Romans assigned more prominence to Hestia, renaming her “Vesta”. They believed protection of her fires to be integral to the Roman state. The flame represented the root, the spark, the foundation, of their civilization. The fires were overseen (guarded and tended) by the Vestal virgins, Rome’s only full-time priestesses. Like the Romans, Vesta’s energy is serious, grave, and powerful.
Hestia is a goddess with a gentle and compassionate energy. Her focus is certainly NOT on the external, whether it be things or people, but rather on the wisdom contained within self-presence. In our busy go-go-go 21st century society, being in touch with Hestia may be more difficult. We numb our senses with technology, pay attention to gossip, become devoted members to the cult of consumerism, and this noise blocks out the quiet soothing voice of Hestia. Hestia doesn’t ask for extra-recognition, or seek to harm competitors, rather she is content with herself. When we meditate, turn to introversion, we find Hestia’s wisdom and home within ourselves.
Information about this archetype is located here.