Vesta – Our Priestess Energy
What do you feel when you hear the word ‘sacred’? Do you think of religion? Or does ‘sacred’ have another meaning for you? What about the word ‘devotion’? What does that suggest? These two words are key in describing the next of our Goddess archetypes – Vesta the Priestess.
What does the term Priestess mean to you? Does it have meaning? And does it sit in a particular place in our culture for you? We all know the recent controversy around women priests don’t we? Even the term ‘women priests’ suggest a power imbalance doesn’t it? This is just one example of the existing struggle in many life arenas for women to be seen and honoured as equal but different. We’re in a phase of shifting paradigms yet it seems to take time to bring about real change.
Core beliefs run deep, especially through religion. Perhaps it’s one step at a time; one woman at a time, until critical mass for a real shift is reached? Yet in many of our ancient cultures women were recognised as having a clear connection to the divine. Nature, as Mother Goddess, was venerated as the provider of life and nourishment, with woman honoured as her vessel through the mystery of child-bearing. She was seen and held sacred as the Creatrix, through whom life poured, with her gifts of nurture and love. We already have this sacred knowing deep in our bones. The challenge to acknowledge and live it deeply is where Vesta calls.
Vesta: Archetypal Energy
In astrology Vesta is an asteroid that holds the archetypal energy of woman as Priestess. She bears a Roman name arising from the Vestal Virgins, who were honoured within the Roman state for their sacred devotion within the temples, yet the root of Vesta’s energy lies within matriarchal times and pre-history. In those ancient times to be a Priestess was a sacred function.
It included sexual devotion. Men and women were connected to the eternal cycles of life, death and rebirth through the natural cycles of the Earth, Moon and planetary cycles. The sacred ritual of renewal through sexual union was a natural part of these cycles within the tribes. Sexual energy was known and honoured as a pathway to the Mother Goddess, as a renewal and fertilisation of the land through the Beltane rites and similar rituals. Going back further, into the matriarchal temples, the Priestess served through opening her body for men to connect with the Goddess. Sexuality was known and honoured as a cleansing sacred ritual. Sex and sacred were unified, sex and spirit were One. Woman was known as a vessel of the Divine Feminine through her sacred sexual opening. She was revered as the Divine Mystery in form.
Given that the roots of our knowing are steeped in this ancient wisdom of woman as Divine Feminine and carrier of the Mother’s sacred wisdom and power, what happened? It could be said that evolution in the form of patriarchy arrived. We may question whether it’s evolution, yet nonetheless life is ceaselessly moving forward, taking us with it. Invading tribes from both east and north arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean and what is now North Africa, bringing their male gods with them. The existing local goddesses were ‘married off’ to these new male gods as a form of coercion and control. The priestess temples were destroyed, much as Christian churches were built over pagan sites, or they were abandoned.
Control Replaces Reverence
Gradually the power held by the priestesses, and cultural respect for woman as the giver of life, were eroded in favour of patrilineal descent. Control replaced the reverence for women’s mysteries of menstruation, sexuality and child-bearing. By Roman times, the role of the Vestal Virgins, honoured yet committed to chastity on pain of a terrible death, was the precursor of patriarchal domination. The Priestess role eventually devolved into the sacred function of the medieval nun, where celibacy was a key requirement.
Although still carrying the original sacred intent, the expression of Feminine as sacred was being systematically repressed. Over time being cloistered or placed in a convent became a punishment for women who challenged male control. Woman’s wisdom and her natural divine connection to the land and its gifts, to her body and its wisdom, to her intuition and knowing, became seen as more and more dangerous. Witch duckings and burnings strengthened the grip of fear. Women and their gifts went underground. Their sacred practices became quieter or died. We know the story. And yet here we are now, full circle perhaps, reclaiming our true nature as Divine Feminine.
The Priestess Within
So what role does Priestess Vesta play in our lives now? How does the Priestess energy inform our lives, or express through us? Let’s go back to those words ‘sacred’ and ‘devotion’. Although it has become connected to religion or spiritual practice, sacred is a word we might use to suggest what is truly important to us as individuals. In order to know what that is, we are called inward. Vesta is that deep calling in to our core connection to the divine within – whatever that means or however it looks. She’s the Priestess within, the guardian of our inner Mystery. Vesta is the inner flame that burns bright. She’s what deeply nourishes, and she’s the heart of hearts. Vesta is the passion that burns; the one thing you would give everything for. She is core authenticity.
Vesta Calls for Expression
Vesta’s sacred flame is deeply inner. It needs tending and nourishing, just as the Priestess would care for the temple fire. When that flame burns brightly enough, through our inner devotions – time, space, deep exploration and retreat from the world – what is sacred in us and to us arises to express. Much as the priestesses expressed the sacred through their rituals and practices, Vesta in us calls for expression. Devotion then indicates the expression and action of that which we know to be our unique connection in the divine. For each of us what is deeply vital in our being will be unique.
Vesta as an asteroid in astrology is a pointer to how our sacred connection might express through us. In the sign of Taurus, her devotion may be felt in nature, in creating a garden or through connection to the animal kingdom; in Aries it might be a pioneering role; in Sagittarius it expresses through a deep quest for wisdom and understanding, or through teaching; in Libra the sacred path of relationship may be a calling. Most importantly Vesta calls us to honour what is uniquely vital in each of us, to express what’s at the core of us as passion, to be fully authentic. She’s the passion that burns to be seen and acknowledged, to contribute, to devote and serve.
Vesta also informs our sexuality and its expression, calling us ever deeper into sexuality as a sacred expression of divine union. She’s the wisdom of the yoni and womb; she’s the truth of sexual union along with our detachment or rejection of it through fear… But that’s another story in the reclamation of our Deep Sacred Feminine energies and wisdom.
Cassandra Eve is a traveller in every sense. Having lived in the UK, India, New Zealand and Australia, she now resides in beautiful wild west Cornwall (most of the time). She loves the wild power of the ocean, the language of the stars, losing herself in a good book and deep conversations about life and love. She shares her love of life, evolution and the Deep Sacred Feminine through Whole Woman (www.beingwholewoman.co.uk)
Cassandra Eve radio interview with Nikki-Marianna Hope
Also by Cassandra Eve: Venus Our Magnetic Nature
Also by Cassandra Eve: The Power of the Feminine in You