Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Goddess Archetype Series : Hestea

Hestia  : Goddess of the Hearth and Temple, Wise Woman
Her counterparts are Vesta of the Temple of the Vestal Virgins and
Bridget of Kildare

Symbols:  Altar, priestess, home, circular hearth, living flame

Modern archetype : a woman on a spiritual path

(These notes are extracted from and based on Jean Shinoda Bolen's work Archetypes for Everywoman - a worthwhile read)

She is a virgin goddess.  She is one of the oldest Olympian Goddesses and greatly honoured – not by myths but by fire and fire rituals.  The Vestal Virgins kept alight the perpetual flame that symbolized the mystic heart of the Roman Empire.  Vesta and the hearth symbolized the center of the world and innermost mysteries.

The myth of Hestia
The goddess Hestia was the first-born child of Rhea and Cronos, the first one to be swallowed by Cronos and the last one to be regurgitated.  Thus she spent the longest time of any of her siblings captive in the dark and oppressive bowels of her father, and the only one to be there alone. Hers was hardly a happy childhood.  Cronos was a tyrannical father who had no warm feelings toward his children.  Rhea was ineffectual and powerless, and did nothing to stop the abuse of her children until her last child was born.  Of all the children, Hestia was the most on her own to cope in whatever manner she could. 

Archetypal aspects of Hestia
She provides a woman with a sense of intactness and wholeness.  As a virgin goddess she shares certain qualities with Artemis and Athena.  She is independent of men and she has great single-minded focus.  Hestia’s focus is inward as opposed to the outward focus of Artemis and Athena.  Meditation comes naturally to Hestia and she is committed to focusing on her subjective experiences.  Her way of perceiving is by looking inward and intuitively sensing what is going on.  Through this inner focusing, we can perceive the essense of a situation.  We can also gain insight into other people’s character and see the pattern or feel the significance of their action.  This inner perspective provides clarity in the midst of the confusing myriad of details that confront our five senses.

The inward Hestia may also become emotionally detached and inattentive to others as she attends to her own concerns.  Hestia tends to withdraw from company and seeks quiet tranquility and solitude.

Hestia as Goddess of the Hearth finds keeping house a meaningful activity rather than a chore.  To her hearthkeeping is a means through which a woman puts her self and her house in order.  A woman who acquires a sense of inner harmony as she accomplishes everyday tasks.  Tending to household details is a centering activity, equivalent to meditation.  She derives an inner peace from what she is doing, like a woman in a religious order for whom every activity is done ‘in the service of God’.  Hestia attends to her tasks with the sense that there always is plenty of time.

Often Hestia women are found in convents, ashrams and temples. Or she may observe religious rituals at home. The mystic St Teresa of Avila combined Hestia with Aphrodite, for example.

Hestia as the oldest goddess of Olympus, is the wise woman.  With Hestia as an inner presence, a woman is not attached to people. Outcomes, possessions, prestige or power.  She feels whole as she is.  Her ego isn’t on the line.  She is like an elder who has seen it all, and has come through with her spirit undampened and her character tempered by experience.

When the goddess Hestia is combined with any other archetype, it acts as a tempering influence.

Hestia is an archetype of inner centredness.  With Hestia as an archetype, a woman’s life has meaning.

The round hearth is the symbol of Hestia.  The round hearth is symbolic of the inner mandala of the Self.  When Hestia lives in a woman her focus will be a spiritual path with the purpose of connecting with the oneness.  On a spiritual level this oneness is the same as detachment.


As an infant:
A pleasant child very similar to Persephone
An easy child
The terrible two’s come and go without a ripple and without stubbornness or assertion
Her inwardness is often labeled as being shy and timid
She has a quiet self-sufficient air
She finds comfort in solitude
Sometimes people are drawn to an inner presence she conveys, an old soul quality that bespeaks wisdom and tranquility

Adolescene and Early Adulthood
Teenager Hestia absents herself from the social dramas and shifting alliances of her peers.  Hestia dod not concern herself with the intrigues and wars of the gods on Olympus.
Her friends like her quiet warmth and steadiness, although they sometimes are exasperated with her for not taking sides in a controversy.
Adolescence may be a time of deepening religious conviction for Hestia.
With the certainty and focus of their virgin goddess, Hestia daughters usually do what matters to them rather than comply with their parents’ wishes.


Many children living the Hestia archetype were psychologically on their own throughout childhood in households where the needs of the children were discounted and where any individual expression was ‘swallowed up’ by the need of the father to dominate. The mother often was depressed and emotionally absent and ineffectual. The stronger children, especially the boys, may tyrannize the younger siblings or may run away from home.  The daughters may follow a Demeter pattern and try to look out for her younger siblings, or she may follow a Hera pattern and attach herself to a  boyfriend as soon as she is old enough.
A Hestia daughter is likely to withdraw emotionally, retreating inward for solace in the midst of a painful, conflicted family life. She often feels as alienated or isolated from her siblings as she does from her parents – and she truly is different from them.  She tries not to be noticed, has a surface passivity, and an inner sense of certainty that she is different from those around her.  She tries to be unobtrusive in all situations and cultivates solitude in the midst of others.

A Hestia daughter from an ordinary middle-class family with supportive parents may not appear to be all that withdrawn.  She does develop a socially adaptable persona, a way of being pleasant and sociable. 
However she appears on the surface, she is inwardly true to Hestia; she has a quality of independence and detachment, an emotional evenness that comes from being centered.

Her difficulties arise when she ventures out of the sanctuary of home or temple to make her way in the world.

My most sacred space is my innermost Self.  Welcome.

Portions of text extracted from Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen.


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  2. Thank you for this wonderful knowledge of Hestia! Your SoulCollage card is stunning!

  3. Great post i love Hestia She is one of my favorite goddess's She reminds me so much of my self .


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