16 June 2007
Today is the Roman women's festival of the first fruits of the year. It is a day sacred to Vesta, goddess of the hearth and fire. Her temple housed the eternal flame which was tied to the fate of Rome itself. In the city of Rome the temple of Vesta was closed after its opening on the day of the Vesta Aperit on 7 June. All of Vesta's temples are round with entrances facing east to signify the connection between Vesta's fire and the Sun, both as creators of life. The days between the 7th and the 15th are sometimes collectively referred to as The Vestalia. Only women were allowed into the temple of Vesta; they would come barefoot and usually make simple offerings of food. Vesta's priestesses, the Vestales, were bound to keep the fire burning and never let it go out. And while they became emancipated from their fathers upon entering the service of Vesta, they were also sworn to chastity for 30 years, hence they were also called Vestal Virgins. The sacred fire of Vesta burned until 391 when Emperor Theodosius banned the public worship of pagan gods.
I'm making a concerted effort to get in touch with the element of fire in the universe and in myself after neglecting it or trying to hide from it for so long. Celebrating this day and honoring Vesta will be good for me as I can almost hear Vesta calling, but I can't perceive her voice clearly. I'll be asking that she teach me to better understand the fire within me and how to not only deal with it in a healthier way but perhaps harness it for positive change. This newfound urge to know the element of fire comes at a time when I know I have to make some serious lifestyle changes for the betterment of my physical, mental and emotional health. I pray that Vesta aids me in this new chapter of my life.