Profile of a Goddess: Hestia
Hestia, Goddess of Fire. Feed your passions, stretch your limits, fuel the fire that unites us all.
by Carol Koleman
AKA: Goddess of the Hearth, Goddess of Architecture
Translation: Essence, Hearth, Reality (what ‘is’)
Symbolism: Fire, Circle
AKA in other mythologies: (hearth & volcano): Aetna, Caca, Ocrisia, Vesta (Roman), Aibheaeg, Brigit, Lasair, Latiaran (Irish), Camilla (Italian), Chantico, Cuaxolotl (Aztec), Chuginadak (Aleut), Feronia (Etruscan), Fuji Ainu, Izanami (Japanese), Mahui-Iki (Polynesia), Pele (Hawaiian)
Mythology: Hestia was the first-born of the Olympian gods and goddesses. Her parents were the Titans Cronus and Rhea. A prophecy foretold that Cronus would be dethroned by one of his children when he or she reached adulthood. To prevent this, he swallowed the infant Hestia and each of her brothers and sisters as they were born.
Alas, it is difficult to prevent fate. The goddess Rhea would accept the loss of her children no longer, so she tricked her husband into swallowing a rock wrapped in a blanket instead of Zeus, her last-born child. As a result, he disgorged all the babies he had swallowed, and so they were reborn. Since Hestia was the first to be swallowed, she was the last to emerge, becoming both the first and the last to be born of her parents.
Hestia grew up to be guardian of the Olympians’ home. Beloved by all gods and goddesses, she provides a nurturing environment to everyone who enters.
Interpretation and meditation: As Goddess of fire and the hearth, Hestia is considered the center of the home, the nurturing fire that provides security, peace and comfort. She welcomes all who enter with unconditional love.
As I meditated on the goddess Hestia and the image of the hearth fire, I realized that our body may be seen as "home" with the heart as its burning center. Like the Vestal Virgins (tenders of the eternal fire of Vesta, the Roman equivalent of Hestia), it is our role to tend to our fire so it may burn eternally bright.
The source for Hestia’s sacred fire was believed to be molten lava in the earth’s center that flowed to the city of Delphi through a mythical "umbilical cord." This image inspired me to muse on the relationship between structures and their hearth centers. Years ago, I discovered "Zoom" [Istvan and Astvan Banyai, Penguin Books, 1995]. It had no text, only pictures that began with an image that panned out further and further with each subsequent page- a rooster, a farm where the rooster stood, a child playing with the toy farm. That image was in a magazine, the magazine was held by a sleeping boy on a cruise boat. The boat was pictured on the side of a bus and so on, until the last page showed the earth as a small white speck on a black page.
Similar shifts in perspective happened as I considered the connection between the biological home where the heart resides and home as an architectural structure. This heart/home image panned out from my heart to the hearth in my home, then to the molten center of the earth until it stopped at the flaming sun, the earth’s hearth. My imagination failed me for what hearth lay further on, but it amazed me that I never noticed the connection before; from our earthy bodies to the brilliant stars, everything is connected by fire.
Intention: To feel Hestia’s real intention, begin by tending your internal fire. Explore what it means to love unconditionally (including loving yourself). Welcome and nurture those you allow to enter. This sometimes takes work; like many fire goddesses whose fire was stolen, we may feel compelled to protect our fire. But to exist, flame must spread, so open your heart and you will fuel the fire that connects us all. Feed your passions and stretch your limits.
Zoom out in your perspective, and shift your focus to your home’s hearth. Tend where you live by making it comfortable and welcoming. When people enter, do they feel at home? Do they sense who you are? Do you feel at home? Consider how your home could reflect your heart, show your passions, your fire. Don’t be afraid to share yourself in this way; you have incredible things burning inside of you.
Shift now to our larger home, the Earth. Sense her warm fires burning, her heart beating deep inside. Imagine the umbilical cord that connects your fire to the Earth’s molten center. Feel safe in the knowledge that this hearth fire is ever-flowing, always lit. Pull your perspective back further and meditate on our solar system’s center, our fiery hearth housed within the distant stars. Visualize the fiery core in all of these homes.
The burning you feel within your bosom, that essential ether, is the eternal fire channeled to us from the center of all creation. We are each an ember within its sacred hearth.
And now, let’s come in from the stars. Pull your perspective in from the sun center of our solar system to the core of our earth, to the fireplace in your home and to the center of your self. You are safely encircled with many layers of fiery sanctuary. Near or distant, no matter where you go, you are never far from the hearth. You are always home.
Questions for the Goddess? Email: Koleman@earthlink.net.