The Vestalia begins today and lasts until June 15th. It is a time to honor the Roman Goddess Vesta and Her Flame/Hearth Keepers, the Vestal Virgins.
During this time, I honor my Hearth Deities, Hestia-Vesta*, Keeper of Home, Hearth, and Family. Protector, Mentor, Guide, and the Living Flame. I also honor the spirits of the Vestals, who, because they were once human, are sometimes closer to us than the ever-busy Gods and Non-Human Spirits. When I am unable to speak to my Spiritual Mother, I know that I can rely on a Vestal for counsel.
Hestia-Vesta is one of my first deities, revealing Herself to me when I was a small child. Caring for me when my human mother was unable to be there. She’s guided me throughout my life towards self-care, self-love, compassion for others, healing, ancestral veneration, devotional practices, and being the best Hearth Keeper, wife, mother, friend, and me that I can healthfully be. I am one of Her Children* and Hearth Keepers.
In 2012, when I was contemplating suicide after a miscarriage in October 2011, it was Hestia-Vesta who spoke to me through that fog and asked me to veil, promising that it would bring healing. So, I did. And I did. I practice Pagan Veiling for Her still to show my love and gratitude, not because She requires it. I still veil during holy days, like the Flamma Vesta and the Vestalia.
I wear white veils, sometimes white clothes, and usually wear white sandals or flip flops during this festival. I physically clean my home and spiritually cleanse my spiritual garb, shrines, and self. On the 9th day, I make gluten-free bread and I will feast with my family.
In the future, I want to hold a mini-Vestalia ritual for those who have this Goddess and Spirits in their lives. I used to do women-only rituals* (if you say you're woman, regardless of what you're born with or have, you're a woman in my circles) because of tradition, but I started thinking about my genderfluid and non-binary friends. I'd want them to be invited and comfortable, too. It's all about coming together and honoring the Goddess and the Vestals afterall, not your gender. That and finding other devotee/worshippers/people who work with Hestia-Vesta and the Vestals can be a bit more difficult than one of the other, more popular entities. At least it used to be.
Maybe in the future, I'll have a ritual for all Hearth Deities and Spirits? I know some people do that with Imbolc. I'll figure it out later, it's the Vestalia! Hail Vesta and the Vestals!
During the Vestalia, I also abstain from sex. I only honor Hestia-Vesta and the Vestals during this time. I read The New Vesta Secret and The New Vesta Home by Debra Macleod, and First and Last: A Devotional for Hestia by Terence P. Ward. I read hymns, poems, and stories—ancient and modern. I light a 9 day candle or lavender, red, white, or orange tealight candles. I refresh the salted flour offerings. My Vesta statue takes center-stage on the shrine, with a Vestal beside Her.
On June 15th, I take the wildlife-safe/biodegradable collected dirt, dust, and old offerings to the river (the trash, recycling, and compost go to their cans).
On this first day of the Vestalia, I like to do some divination and ask Their wisdom for us during this festival.
Hestia-Vesta has chosen the Everyday Witch Oracle by Deborah Blake and the Vestals have chosen the Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado.
What are your messages for whomever reads this post during the Vestalia?
"Bathe in fire," the Goddesses speak in unison. (Not actual fire. Purify, detox, clean and cleanse.)
"Serve well," states a strong voiced Vestal. "You family, your community, and your selves."
Another Vestal, "Sweep away those ashes, those are your old selves. Those are no longer needed. Sweep them away."
"No power. Cluttered," speaks a younger Vestal, knitting something yellow.
"Clean away the dirt. Care for your inner and outter hearth," says another, passing by with a large vase in her arms.
"Tend to your flames." Three in unison.
Every Flamma Vesta and Vestalia, I collect the ashes from past fire purification rituals and keep them in an urn for black salt and protection spells. Today, I dropped the ash bowl. I cleaned them up and added them to my nature-safe dustbin that I take with me to the river on the last day of the Vestalia. It's interesting that the Vestals have said that. Dropping those ashes wasn't just a whoopsie on my part. The action held purpose.
As I shuffled the cards and the messages came, I saw many phoenix people. Many people being bathe in fire and rising from the ashes, reborn. Purified. Stronger. Some of those people even started as one gender and were reborn different! I saw the phoenix people with brooms, mops, and vacuum cleaners sweeping up that ash and disposing of it. The ash is no longer needed. Toss it away. Clean/se your space and start fresh.
Let's see what the cards say.
Hestia - Listening to Wisdom - Unplug and really listen to the messages that the universe is trying to tell you. (pg 39)
Vesta - Giving Love - Don't forget to tell those around you that you love and appreciate them, and that you're grateful. Sometimes it's not enough to "just know". Sometimes people need to be reminded through actions and words. And vice versa. If you're feeling unappreciated, speak up. Sometimes people get lost in the busyness of life or just assume that you know. (pages 71-72)
Vestals - When I asked the Vestals, they showed me the Vesta card from the Goddess Guidance Oracle by Doreen Virtue.
Vesta - Home - "The harmony in your home is improving, either through a move or a change in occupants" (pages 105-106).
Perseus - Having Courage. Face your fears, explore where they come from and work through them. Let them go. Stop letting them hold you back. Even when you're terrified, take that step, speak up, and do the thing. (pg 140)
I've made an offering of salted flour and raspberry-lemon bread. Thank you Hestia-Vesta and the Vestals for all that you've done, do, and continue to do for myself, my family, and the community!
For more information about the Vestalia:
Learn Religions: What was the Vestalia? - https://www.learnreligions.com/the-roman-vestalia-festival-2562247
Motherhouse of the Goddess - https://www.facebook.com/MotherHouseoftheGoddess/photos/a.294187924061152/2537288453084410/
Inked Goddess Creations - https://www.facebook.com/InkedGoddessCreations/photos/a.1445632735670659/3074359169464666/
There are other sources for more information on Vesta, the Vestals, and the Vestalia. Just gotta search for them.
* Hestia is the Greek Goddess of Hearth and Home. Vesta is the Roman Goddess. To some They are separate, to others They are the same. To me They appear as one and as individuals, so I hyphenate Their names. Sometimes I speak about Them in plural and singular.
* Being a Child/Lover/Spouse/Claimed/Devotee of the Gods doesn't make anyone better than anyone else. We're not the "Chosen Ones". We're not special. It's just a different type of relationship with the Gods.
* The Women-Only thing, please see my post about Hearth Fox Oracle's Inclusivity Policy.