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Vesta Symbol

Vesta - The Eternal Flame

  1. The Myth
  2. The Astrology
  3. The Sky

The Story of Vesta

Veiled Vesta - Chatsworth House, UK Veiled Vesta - Chatsworth House

The Roman goddess Vesta was known to the Greeks as Hestia.  She was the firstborn of the Olympian goddesses, daughter of Cronus (Saturn) and Rhea.  Hestia and her siblings, Ceres, Juno, Pluto, and Neptune were swallowd at birth by Cronus in his attempt to prevent being overthrown by one of his children.  That, of course, didn't work.  Rhea bore another child in secret (Jupiter/Zeus) who grew up to overthrow Cronus and release his siblings from the stomach of Cronus.

Hestia was of a mild and kindly manner, forgiving and charitable.  How she came to her vow of chasity has differing versions.

Some say she petitioned Zeus to let her remain forever a virgin after spurning the advances of Apollo and Posiedon and being nearly defiled by the lustful god, Priapus.   Others say that she was so fond of the single life that when Zeus offered to grant her whatever she wished, her only desire was to preserve her virginity.  Zeus then assigned Hestia to maintain the fires of the Olympian hearth and to care for the homes of the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus.

When Prometheus stole fire from the Olympian hearth and gave it to humanity, he enabled progress and civilization.  While he was punished for his act, Vesta came to be revered as the guardian of this "sacred fire", an essential means of warmth and food preparation. 

The fire in her temples was tended by the Vestal Virgins and never allowed to go out, lest it be lost to mankind.  In many ancient cities, her temple was a simple public hearth, available to all as the source of the predious embers that could be taken into their own homes.

The Temple of Vesta, Rome Temple of Vesta - Rome

According to Patricia Monaghan in her book Godesses and Heroines, there were never statues in the temples of Hestia, since she "was seen only in the fire of the hearth, living in the center of every home, an honored guest and helpful to her hosts."  


In her incarnation prior even to the time of the Greeks, Vesta was not celibate.  The Vestal Virgins were considered virgins, not because they were sexually chaste, but because they belonged to no man and were complete unto themselves.  Each year a festival was held during which six of the vestals coupled with six of the king's men.  The love making occured in a dark cave so that no one knew who their partner had been.  Any child resulting from these unions was considered divine.  And if the queen did not bear a son, the new king was chosen from a child born to one of the vestals. 

Romulus, the first king of Rome, and his twin, Remus were purported to have been born to the mythical Rhea Silvia, who had been forced to become a Vestal Virgin by her uncle.  She claimed that the god Mars had seduced her while she was walking in the forest.  By the time of the Romans, the story of the Vestal Virgins was that they were chosen from the best Roman families for their purity, were committed to the priesthood before puberty, and sworn to celibacy for a period of thirty years.  And punishment for breaking their vows of celibacy was severe. 

Vesta in Astrology

The dual themes of Vesta focus on her as the guardian of the essential fire of life and as the ideal of sexual purity.

The Great Lover, 1949 film

In its original meaning, the virginity of Vesta was an expression of spiritual devotion, a sense of being whole and complete in a forest un-violated by chain saws...the Moon before human footprints.  Vesta was the goddess sought after as the source of abundant fertility passed on to humanity through the promiscuous lovemaking of the annual mid-summer festivals. 

But over the centuries, the meaning of Vesta evolved from a goddess bestowing the blessings of fertility through sex outside of marriage to that of a barren spinster nun, devoted to work and religious piety, a woman who was punished severely for breaking her vow of chastity.

Sexual energy in the Hindu religion is associated with the kundalini, the fire of life. Through meditation, the fire is awakened and surges up from the base of the spine to top of the head, often accompanied by feelings of euphoria and sexual excitement. This is the "sacred fire" of the goddess Vesta, the inner core of our essential being. As the meaning of Vesta changed, what was once understood as the fire of life, became the literal fire of the hearth.

Kundalini - Fire of Life
The Daggett House, Martha's Vinyard, MD

As goddess of the hearth and home, Vesta symbolizes the need to serve as caretaker of the home for all those who pass through its doors.  Like the innkeeper of days gone by, Vesta provides a sanctuary from the adventures of the day...a place filled with the warmth of the hearth, food, and shelter...a place of harmony and restoration. 

She selflessly tends to the needs of others, insuring that the fires of life are rekindled and refreshed when they run low. 

In this role, she has a sense of inner strength and the ability to stand alone.  She understands the need to care for her personal space and the need to withdraw from time to time in order to rebuild and renew her own strength.  She is non-judgemental and forgiving.  She inspires trust and bestows love on those around her.


As the indicator of sexuality, Vesta's placement in your chart defines the condition of your sexuality and your attitudes about it.  Are you the divine prostitute or the sexually repressed old maid incapable of sexual intimacy? A strongly placed Vesta can indicate a need for sexual freedom and a variety of partners. A Vesta that is poorly placed or with challenging aspects can show painful memories relating to sexual experiences.  Fear of intimacy, guilt, shame, or a sense of inadequacy may be the result.

Alternatively, the sexual energy may be transmuted into single minded devotion to work and committment to a calling.  Positive placements can emphasize an easy committment to home and relationships while difficult aspects or placements can show an inability to fully share oneself. This may be overcompensated for by becoming totally absorbed in the personal quest, resulting in alienation from family, children, and relationships.


The lessons of Vesta relate to finding a healthy balance between the extremes of sexual promiscuity and total denial of these natural instincts.  The quest is for a healthy sense of identity that allows you to feel whole and complete from within so that you can share it from without.  The clarity and illumination that you find in this quest can ultimately lead you to greater spiritual development.

Vesta in the Sky

Vesta - NASA Photo Image Courtesy of NASA


Ceres spends between
1.3 and almost 3 months in each sign

Vesta was the fourth asteroid to be discovered.  On March 29, 1807, Vesta was first seen by Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers, the physician/astronomer who also discovered Pallas.

Vesta is one of the largest asteroids, nearly as large as Pallas.  It is also the brightest, and the only one visible from Earth with the naked eye.  Its most prominent feature is an enormous crater in its southern hemisphere, thought to be the result of a collision that scattered millions of meteorites to Earth.  In July of 2011, NASA's Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around Vesta for a one-year visit.

Vesta's orbit is somewhat elliptical, but it lies closer to the Sun and entirely within the orbit of Ceres. It takes 3.63 years to complete an orbit around the Sun. 

On average, Vesta spends about two months in each sign. It turns retrograde every 15 or 16 months, for a period lasting from six weeks to 3.5 months.