It’s relatively easy to match certain archetypes to well-known people who carry their signature. Pallas, healer, warrior and Amazon Queen? Wonder Woman, of course. Ceres, the Great Mother? I chose Beyonce, but there are others who would fit. I’ll nominate Frida Kahlo for Juno, the Divine Consort. But, first, Vesta -a bit trickier.
Why? Her invisible nature. In art, human characterizations of Vesta, the Goddess, are difficult to find. Most commonly she is represented by a hearth, altar or flame, indicating the light of Spirit present. Therefore, people with Vesta strong in their charts typically are aren’t concerned with attracting attention to their self, but with purity of purpose, motive and action of carrying out a holy task or sacred service. To find a modern Vestal you must look past the person, toward what’s being offered.
Astrologically, she represents our capacity for focused dedication. She describes where we may experience limitation and alienation in order to pursue a higher calling. By sign, aspect and house placement, she shows us where, through work, personal integration practices, and use of our kundalini/sexual energy, the Divine can be made manifest through us. She supplies us with inward focus, the pull to serve something higher and spiritually meaningful to us, the desire to connect with Divinity and share that with others. All she asks for in return is our devotion.
Your Divine Calling
As a living archetype inside each of us, Vesta, by sign, house and aspect represents what we are willing to devote our self to –a pursuit or cause that’s deeply personal and holds palpable spiritual power for us. Vesta holds our sacred calling.
There is something stunningly beautiful and pure about someone who embodies Vesta. Just think of your favorite teachers and/or priestesses, people imbued with a sense of purpose and a touch of the holy or sacred. A mentor of mine has Vesta in Gemini in the first house. He’s devoted himself to teaching astrological knowledge, and sharing this wisdom with students. A close friend with a fifth house Vesta in Aries trine her Sagittarius Sun (and Libra Rising conjunct Neptune) is the fire keeper at sacred ceremonies, and follows a very personal spiritual path. She receives Spirit messages from the Divine Mother and paints beautiful pictures, through these instructions. Her paintings regularly leave people weeping, in tears.
How do we discover our Vestal calling? Foremost, look to what lights up your Spirit. Also, wisdom schools. Vesta is allied with discipleship of ancient wisdom, of passing the torch. Steven Forrest had lovely imagery on the idea of lineage that has since stuck with me: Imagine, in heaven, a line of people holding unlit candles. One person holds a lit candle at the end of the line… and when they light the next candle, their own light flickers out. Through generations, the flame stays lit. A sacred body of knowledge can only be kept alive through our willingness to devote our self to it.
Astrologically, Vesta points to your path of sacred service, where you might become a scholar, teacher or priestess, and align your self with ancient traditions or sacred knowledge which also bring you in closer communion with your Divine self. Vestals are not at all limited to classically “spiritual pursuits”, but the quality of focus and dedication being offered. The Greek version of Vesta, Hestia, guardian of the kitchen hearth (another important flame), speaks to her more earthy aspect and her desire to offer her spiritual devotion to activities that protect and preserve important aspects of human life. Although she is aligned with nunneries, you can see vitality of Vesta in chefs, curators, artists; prominent planetary contacts between Vesta and the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Ascendant ruler or Mid-Heaven point to this. Again, look past the outer role to the quality of focus and devotion given. But this “Divine service” only happens through total immersion and integration with the archetype on a personal level. We cannot give away what we do not know intimately within our self, and Vesta requires we integrate our self on deep levels, first.
In a culture obsessed with finding and living our “purpose” why don’t we give Vesta the same weight as the Mid-Heaven, tenth house or the Sun? I believe this has to do with the collective values we’ve inherited. In our culture, it’s hard to separate the idea of purpose from ensuing recognition and material compensation. In other words, if we’re truly on purpose, people will love us, we’ll have the credentials, the book deal, the fan base to go with that “purpose”. Purpose, as an Ego driven concept, is not at all the same as spiritual purpose and personal integration – Vesta’s realm.
Sacred Sex & Intimacy Complexes
In Roman myth, Vesta is charged with never letting “the light” go out for an entire community. That’s big, I mean, it’s LIGHT. Light is the emanation of Spirit – truth, beauty, ease, peace, bliss, healing – itself. For the Romans there was nothing more holy, and no honor given higher, than being a living embodiment of Spirit-in-flesh– as the vestals were. Vestals were said to be the most beautiful and given all the privileges of royalty, except sexual freedom (blame it on the patriarchy).
In the matriarchal version of the myth, Vestals enjoyed sexual freedoms beyond what we know today. Instead of the church, their temple was a Goddess sisterhood cult and while their primary role was also to be the light, the sacred extended to sex. When soldiers would come back from war, the vestals would share their light, sexually, purifying the soldiers of the business of war, by bringing them back into their bodies and sexual instincts. Vestals gave a war-weary man reason to live again. When the wife of an important noble was deemed infertile or failed to produce a son, the King would have sex with vestals, often with different goddesses, and also often anonymously, in the dark, so no one would know the Vestal’s identity. This was seen as a sacred service, and unlike today, there was no moral condemnation for this.
Because we live in a patriarchy quite different from her earliest origins, we, too, often wrestle with the divided Vesta energies within our self. Vesta describes how we hold and use our sexual energy. Do we feel sexually free and self-possessed –or constrained, limited, repressed? Can we sublimate and transmute our sexual energy, use our kundalini for creativity, art, for a higher purpose or calling, without denying our self intimacy? Vesta can point out sexual complexes. A male client has Vesta in Gemini square his seventh house Pisces Moon, oppose Juno in the first house. His main intimacy complaint is that his committed partner isn’t sexually open and affectionate enough with him. Lack of a satisfying intimate life has been a great source of suffering, taking so much of his focus and is so preoccupying (Vesta) that he’s enlisted helpers, healers and teachers in solving this puzzle.
Vesta, the archetype of committed devotion, is also synonymous with free love. This may appear to be a paradox until we understand that this virgin goddess is devoted foremost to her Divinity – to being the light. And as a virgin goddess, sexually whole and complete unto her self, she can embody and share the light with whom she chooses. Similar to Venus, Vesta isn’t bound by conventional relationship contracts. Vesta’s contract is with the Divine. She is sexually free, unbound.
This can present a conundrum for Vestal emissaries living in a sexually conservative society that deifies monogamy. Wrestling with this contradiction, as with my male client, can be a defining life theme for Vestals. When we are divided between wanting sexual closeness and total freedom, a variety of conundrums can ensue. We may even choose to alienate our self from intimacy altogether. As a single friend said to me, when I relayed the myth to her, “That’s my issue with relationship. I want to be in a relationship but I don’t want to give up my freedom. So I attract situations where I’m attracted to people who aren’t sexually desirous of me.”
For Vesta, as with Venus, sex has little to do with procreation, and, if she’s connected to Venus or relationship houses, partnership may come later in life, if at all. Roman Vestals couldn’t marry until they turned 30, well after child-bearing age. Vesta rules the crone phase of the Goddess cycle; some Vestals may not marry.
Myself included, I have 3 girlfriends with Vesta conjunct Venus. None of us had a committed relationship before age 30. Now, one is in a long-term partnership, the other is still single and I, the most conventional of us all (!), am married. A theme for all of us: retaining our identities as separate from the partnership. I have a very intimate spiritual relationship with my Divine self, which my partner does not share, though our partnership also has it’s own distinct spiritual identity, too. I also enjoy a lot of freedom in my partnership, as he travels for business a lot of the year.
Personal integration & Focused Dedication
A key to understanding Vesta complexes around the sexual freedom vs. closeness dilemma in intimacy is understanding that for people with Vesta strong in their charts, serving the Divine Self is primary. By not honoring her urge toward personal integration, by denying the call to pursue an activity, vocation or interest that is personally quite holy to us, we can lose our center, and find relationship vexing. Demetra George says, “Vesta functions as the center of the psyche, coordinating various facets of the personality. Astrologically, Vesta symbolizes individuals who are “centered” in their own identity and thus self-determined in their activities.”
Vesta holds our ability to focus and do inner work. Our ability to dedicate our self to a calling that feels personally meaningful causes us to feel centered. Vesta in Taurus will need to be anchored into the body, and have a stable, consistent relationship to their work/spiritual life. Vesta in Scorpio’s focus arises through intense honest intimate experiences, and the capacity for dedication and devotion is strong in this sign. Though that doesn’t always equal monogamy, as I’ve mentioned. I recall a client with Scorpio stellium involving Vesta. She had multiple meaningful sexual relationships though she struggled with the social stigma of being so different from mainstream (until telling her the Vesta myth set her free!). The Vesta calling doesn’t have to be morally right, or right for anyone but us. Another client with a prominent Vesta worked for an escort service for years. Very comfortable with being sexually intimate with many different men, she had no moral qualms with her role.
If she hold our capacity for focus, we can become too focused. This is the classic workaholic; Vesta people typically put their work first, before relationship. For the Vestals, her calling was all-encompassing and allowed her no freedom to pursue anything but her sacred role, including intimacy. A middle-aged client of mine has devoted her life to a personal mission, and amassed an impressive list of heartfelt accomplishments that are very important to her, but she’s denied herself partnership throughout. She has Vesta in Virgo conjoined her Virgo Ascendant, the signature of someone who is extremely self-sufficient, self-contained.
The Vestal’s dedication and sacred role had a price in ancient times; sacrifice of intimacy. But this isn’t just a intimate issue. The house Vesta falls describes where we may experience limitation in our lives. Where Vesta is involved we may be asked to give something up to obtain something else. For instance, with my Vesta in the tenth house conjunct Cancer Venus and my Midheaven, my career choices must feel aligned with who I am. I’ve foregone much higher salaried positions and opportunities that felt out of alignment for me. I’ve “given up” many roles that were socially rewarded, but felt meaningless and empty to my soul.
If we feel un-centered or un-focused, that’s a Vesta issue- but it cuts both ways. When we’re doing work that is not spiritually aligned with who we truly are, we can feel scattered; we can also become un-grounded when we’re too focused. Vesta in Cancer needs to work with her own emotional energies, before she can be there for others, but overly-focusing on the emotional life can be detrimental to balance. Vesta in Sagittarius finds her center when devoted to principles, ideas, truths she believes in, but can become ungrounded when too dogmatic. Vesta in Aquarius discovers personal integration through pursuit of their individuality, freedom and uniqueness, but taken too far alienation and disconnection ensues.
Retreat and Renew
A client told me that she found out her partner was having an emotional affair- and she was enraged about his disloyalty. She has Vesta in Gemini in the Eighth house and Saturn in Sagittarius was transiting by opposition. Seeing this, and intuitively sensing more, I asked about her own divided loyalties (Gemini). She confessed she’s had affairs in this relationship, herself. Certain sign-planet-house combinations will bring up Vesta’s inherent intimacy contradictions, and culture clashes.
Transits from the outer planets to Vesta can point to separations, and re-examination of our relationship contracts. Periodically, the pagan Vestals would abstain from relationship and retreat to healing springs with their Goddess sisters. There, they would renew their spiritual life force and find center again. Purity and purification is an important theme for Vesta, as is regular retreat. We feel compelled to separate, be alone, be in our own space, at these times.
When you’re feeling unclear about your relationships, and especially if your Vesta is active by transit, it’s a good idea to retreat. Refrain from relationship for awhile. Abstain. From sex? Yes. Vesta needs to restore her sexual energy to herself, to get clear and in her own light again, before she can be centered and of service. This is especially true for people with Vesta-Moon and Vesta-Venus aspects. For Vesta, retreating is just good emotional, sexual and spiritual hygiene.
Go to a hot springs. Do a writing retreat. Take some time in the desert, just for your self. With the intention of honoring your self, alienation or feeling lonely dissipates. Solitude is a loving act for those of us with Vesta strong in our charts. Pay homage to the Goddess in you, at this time. Doing any and all of the above will connect you to the ancient Goddess traditions — which she would love!
In summary, Vesta energies appear to run counter to modern culture, harkening back to a time when purpose, our divine calling and ability to spiritually serve were one and aligned, and rewarded and honorably valued by our community; when our sexuality was regarded as sacred and owned by no one — not even our committed partners. Vesta imbues us with the desire to serve a higher calling, the focus to do so, and can stimulate the desire to be sexually freer than what society allows. If these themes present strongly for you, you’re part of an ancient Goddess lineage. These contradictions can make life difficult, if not alienating, for modern day Vestals, but know you are part of a larger sisterhood. May this knowledge be the sparkling spring for you to renew and restore your self.
P.S. -What to know what Goddess wisdom Vesta has for you, in your birth chart? Order your custom Asteroid Goddess report today.