“In each moment the fire rages, it will burn away a hundred veils. And carry you a thousand steps toward your goal.” …..RUMI trans by Coleman Barks
Vesta, Goddess of the home and hearth, resides in her circular temple as the sacred fire. Where most temples would have a statue, that of Vesta had a hearth, she was the flame and was rarely depicted. The fire was a religious center of Roman worship, the common hearth of the whole Roman people. The sacred fire not only burned in the inner sanctum of her temple in the Roman Forum, but also in the homes of the Roman people. The people believed that Vesta’s fire guarded their world, families and lives, and that if the fire went out, Rome would fall to invading barbarian armies. To prevent this from happening, the Vestal priestesses kept the eternal flame alight in Vesta’s temple, ensuring the connection between the gods and humankind would remain unbroken. Although Feminine,the priestesses were treated as men , an elevation for woman in such a patriarchal society . The priestesses were wed to the God – the phallus of the fire. Vesta was recognised as an androgynous diety – a union of God and Goddess energy. She was associated with the phallus and as such was the embodiment of the Phallic mother. A sacred phallus was among the objects considered vital to the security of the Roman state which were in the keeping of the Vestal virgins. She was worshiped as the most virgin and clean of all the gods, and known as the Mother who granted fecundity and fertility. Ovid explained “Vesta is the same as the earth, both have the perennial fire: the Earth and the sacred Fire are both symbolic of home.” Vestas festival,the Vestalia (7-15 June), was regarded as one of the most important Roman holidays, existing well after the Roman conversion to Christianity.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” …..Albert Schweitzer