Friday, June 7, 2019

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Vestalia

Roman festival honoring Goddess Vesta (Greek Hestia). Women made food offerings at the sacred hearths of home and temple.

Domestic and family life in general were represented by the festival of the goddess of the house and of the spirits of the storechamber — Vesta and the Penates — on Vestalia. On the first day of festivities the penus Vestae (sanctum sanctorum of the temple of Vesta which was usually curtained off) was opened, for the only time during the year, at which women offered sacrifices. As long as the curtain remained open, mothers could come, barefoot and disheveled, to leave offerings to the goddess in exchange for a blessing to them and their family.

For the celebration of Vestalia, the Vestales made a sacred cake, using water carried in consecrated jugs from a holy spring. The water was never permitted to come into contact with the earth between the spring and the cake, which also included sacred salt and ritually prepared brine as ingredients. The hard-baked cakes were then cut into slices and offered to Vesta.D

Duringthe eight days of the Vestalia, only women were permitted to enter Vesta's temple for worship. When they arrived, they removed their shoes and made offerings to the goddess. At the end of Vestalia, the Vestales cleaned the temple from top to bottom, sweeping the floors of dust and debris, and carrying it away for disposal in the Tiber river. Ovid tells us that the last day of Vestalia, the Ides of June, became a holiday for people who worked with grain, such as millers and bakers. They took the day off and hung flower garlands and small loaves of bread from their millstones and shop stalls.
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.”

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