Honor Vesta by bringing to life the beauty of a homemade fire on a starry night.
Ah, summertime. I love these hot, blue-sky days. Even more, I love these warm, starry nights. On almost any summer night, you’re likely to find me and my husband sitting around our backyard fire, sipping wine and chatting before an open fire—a fire lit, of course, with the sacred flame of Vesta. It just has a way of burning away the day’s stresses and soothing us.
There’s no doubt that outdoor fires have a spiritual feel to them. The red-orange flames shifting around the wood, the deep roar of the fire, the smoldering embers and the snap of sparks flying up into the sky ... the whole experience seems profoundly natural, instinctual and meaningful.
As it should be. Fire worship is the earliest form of "religion" known to humankind and the spark of this spirituality was lit some 2.5 million years ago. When our ancestor hominids first marveled at the mystery of fire and learned to rely upon it for life itself. It lit and warmed their homes, cooked their food, protected them from predators and other things that went bumping in the night and it became the soul of the human experience. That is why fire is an enduring symbol of the soul as well as the cycles of birth, death and rebirth.
In the Western world, fire worship eventually gave birth to the beloved goddess the Romans named Vesta. The Greeks called her Hestia—however, it was the Romans who honored it in a more personal and loving way. They laid the foundation for the way that Vesta is still honored today, from the presence of her flame on a home’s lararium, to meal-time offerings and other home-based rituals.
But "home" isn’t just the inside of four walls. Home is where the heart is. And in the summertime, the heart—and the hearth—is often outside. I’m sure every person reading this has felt a sense of sacredness and wonder when looking into an outdoor fire. It calms us, comforts us, inspires us and speaks to us with every roaring crackle and snap. Indeed, the ancients believed that the crackling of a fire was the voice of Vesta herself.
This summer, I encourage those who honor Vesta to bring her flame outdoors, into their backyard. You don’t need a costly or elaborate fire-pit to do this. In antiquity, the Vestal priestesses placed simple bronze fire bowls outside around the Temple of Vesta. This made it easy for people to take flame from the sacred fire to their own homes. Such bronze fire bowls are widely and cheaply available. They’re also easy to transport, so you can take them camping, to the beach, whatever.
If you live in an apartment, you can burn a fire-pot on your balcony. These are inexpensive and safe, and provide a much larger flame than a candle or oil lamp. The ambiance they create is absolutely beautiful and they are available in every color and style, from ceramic to glass mosaic.
As I said, I’m sure you’ve felt the sense of sacred wonder and well-being that comes from an outdoor fire. However, this summer I encourage you to look for Vesta’s face in the flame. When you see it, you can honor the goddess’s presence in your life and home by making an offering—wine, olive oil, salted flour—into her sacred fire (Visit NewVesta.com for more information).
Doing so under a starry night sky is an experience that I hope all who honor Vesta will enjoy this summer. It isn’t just a way to commune with Vesta. It’s also a way to commune with your ancestors and reach back to the earliest days of the human spiritual experience. All best, in Vesta.