Sacred rites are returning to Italy today, which is a very important step of the circle of return, of the Goddess, rather than just festivals. This video shows the more meaningful return of the ancient ceremony of the Fire Goddess Vesta shown here with 3 Priestesses. Vestalia rites were always held between the 7th and 15th of June each year.
Vesta was one of most powerful goddesses of the ancient world along with Ceres (Mother) and Hecate and her mother Asteria (Grandmother / Crone). She was a triple goddess along with her sisters Juno and Ceres. Her temples were run by the grandmothers and the Vestal Priestesses who served the grandmothers, were not only the accountants of Rome who handled all the wealth distribution, but also kept the sacred fire lit for the country as a whole.
Vesta’s sacred flame was from a much earlier time before Saturnalia, but still remained in the heart of the area later known as Rome. She originally was honored under a thatched hut with ‘walls woven from pliant wicker’ as a village and then Vesta’s shrine was re built several times, until its last incarnation in the late republic by which time the Romans replaced the straw with ‘roofs of bronze.’
The shrine of Vesta was always a circular sacred space, even in her building, to emulate the earth, according to Ovid. There was no statue of Vesta in her shrine because she was the spirit of mother earth. Only in the inner sanctum, along with the sacred flame were certain archaic sacred objects.
On the final day of the Vestalia, the shrine of the goddess was ritually swept out and cleansed. The resulting ‘scouring’ were carefully collected and deposited in the River Tiber so they would be carried away from the city and out to sea. This cleansing at one time no doubt served a practical purpose but it was also symbolic; of our individual spiritual cleansing, with the resulting impurities removed and neutralized by a fast flowing body of water. Water being the symbol of our emotional bodies connection to our soul.
Mothers and maidens wore white in ancient ceremonies and Grandmothers wore black in ceremony (not funerary) as archeologists would have us all believe. Vesta only had female priestesses and grandmothers as leaders. The female priestesses called the vestal virgins (virgin in its origin meaning of a free woman who could own land and be free of a husband if she chose). The priestesses guarded and protected the sacred flame and this freedom of woman. Some sacred objects were in the temple, until the destruction of the cult of Vesta in 394 ce collapsed by the rising religion of both the Dionysus (pan) and Apollo Cults who were inseparable as deities and rising Christian religions.
Vesta was transformed then, into the form of what is called the Holy Spirit of the Catholics, Ceres was rolled in to the Virgin Mary and the grandmother, elder was destroyed completely. Eventually men took over the leadership of most of women’s temples around the 4th century bce all over the Mediterranean including Greece, Macedonia, Turkey and Italy and Grandmother was then completely rejected and replaced by a single male figurehead as a spiritual leader – one main Priest who would then be served by only maidens, as mothers and grandmothers were by law no longer able to lead spiritually.
Once wine, drugs and sex were brought into the previously pure temples of women, the slow demise which led to Christian religions overthrowing of all temples. Only priests were then allowed to do public ceremony which lead to the total transformation of men leadership of the three male god religions, Christianity, Judaic and Muslim religions. Seven centuries later the submission had gone into abuses and violence against women between the 10th and 15th centuries which would remained status quo until the until the beginning of the 1830s.
Now the true sacred circle of woman has truly returned and for ceremonies to the Goddess Vesta, to be in the open public in Rome, and not in a “festival” format, but a ritual format, is the only confirmation we need to know, that the sacred circle has been mended and healed in this part of the world.
A beautiful Vesta ceremony…