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Vestalia: A Celebration of a Goddess, A Ritual of Spiritual Cleansing

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Vestalia is a weeklong celebration that honors the Goddess Vesta of the Roman pantheon. She worked alongside the goddess Juno, and both of them were guardians of virginity and protectors of the sanctity of marriage.

Unlike other goddesses who are portrayed in a statuary fashion, Vesta is represented by a hearth flame. And in some towns, perpetual flames were maintained in honor of Vesta.

The Tradition

Vestalia is celebrated from June 7 to June 15, just before Litha, the summer solstice. It marked a pause in the every day lives of Romans as they honored and purified her shrine. The celebration is marked by processions and various ceremonies.

The shrine of Vesta is a circular building that would be open to receive ONLY women making offerings to the goddess, since Vesta was, after all, first and foremost, the protector of women. The woman were asked take off their shoes before entering the temple, since it was customary to make offerings to the goddess barefoot, remembering the time when the area was still a marsh.

In the temple, a sacred flame to represent Vesta is guarded by the Vestales. The Vestal virgins who guard the sacred flame took a 30-year vow of chastity. The honor of being one of the Vestal virgins was only possible for those who were of nobility.

Every 9th of June, the Vestal virgins would make a cake called mola salsa using sacred salt and sacred water from the holy springs to be offered up to Vesta. The bakers on this day would take the day off to commemorate the time when the bread was not made in ovens but in the sacred ashes of the hearth–Vesta’s domain, to pay respects to the hearth and the hearth’s mistress.

After the weeklong celebration, the Vestales would ritually sweep out the temple to get rid of debris and dispose of them in the Tiber River, to be carried out into the sea. This did not only serve a practical purpose but also a symbolic purpose, which is spiritual cleansing.

Ritual

You can celebrate Vestalia by doing a ritual cleansing yourself. Buy yourself a new broom and with sea salt and sage, cleanse and consecrate it. Use the new broom to sweep away the cobwebs, both literally and symbolically. Clean your entire house or your room, whichever way you please. You should also get rid of the old broom and you can do so by burning it.

Here’s a cleansing spell you can try:

“Salt and Sage, cleanse this broom and let it come to power for me, and me alone.

Goddess Vesta, guard my home and my hearth, and let your fire burn bright

In every room.”

You can also take from the traditional practice of baking a cake and offering it to the goddess. Set up your altar by placing a white pillar candle in the center and then place on it your offerings to the goddess Vesta.

What are your thoughts on Vestalia or the Goddess Vesta?

Are you celebrating Vestalia?

I’d like to know your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section! 🙂

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