Webs of Woven Words, Threads, Stitches and Enchantments

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Vestalia - June 7th - 15th

The Vestalia was a Roman celebration of purification, preparation of first fruits and honoring of Vesta, the Roman Goddess of the Hearth.  To celebrate the Vestalia, the Vestal Virgins, Roman priestesses of Vesta, made mola salsa (a holy cake). They walked to a sacred spring, fetched water,  then carried it in special jugs with a base designed to tip the jug over if it was set down. The water for the mola salsa was never to come in contact with the earth. The salt used to make the cake was also prepared in a ritual fashion. Brine was pounded then baked in a jar until it formed a rock so hard that the Vestals had to use an iron saw to cut it.  Grain used for the cakes came from ears of spelt gathered on the 7th, 9th and 11th of May. From these ingredients the Vestals made the mola salsa which were then offered to Vesta. 

The Vestalia continued for 8 days, during which time women would enter the temple to worship. They  dressed simply, removing their shoes before entering and bringing offerings of ordinary foods, baked in their own hearths. Only women were permitted to enter Vesta's temple - with the exception of the Pontifex Maximus.

Also honored were bakers and millers. Millstones and the animals used to turn them, were dressed with garlands of violets and small loaves.

A Ritual for the Vestalia

This is a ritual of purification and renewal. Tidy your home, especially the hearth or kitchen stove, which will serve as your altar. Gather the following items:

a new white candle - any size you like
matches or lighter
wine, juice or tea sweetened with honey and spiced with rose petals, rosemary and cinnamon
bread or cake that you have baked yourself - eg. - a simple beer batter bread, zucchini bread, blueberry muffin, carrot cake.
Fresh, ripe summer fruits
small bowl with a pinch of salt, barley and rosemary
another bowl with rose petals, rosemary and barley

Bathe, dress yourself in white, cover your head with a veil.
Bring your mind and spirit to the sacred place that is ritual.

As you light the white candle say:

This flame I kindle in Vesta's name,
It is part of Her eternal flame.
It lights my heart, my mind, my spirit.
Vesta, I call Your name & remember You.
In all fires, in every flame, I know You.
I remember and honor the Old Ways.
I strive to grow in wisdom, may You guide me.
I reaffirm my commitment to the Old Ones, 
May You grant me determination to continue the journey.
I acknowledge my connection to all beings of the Earth,
May You assist me in making strong that connection.
Grant Your blessings, Vesta, oh Sacred Flame,
Upon my hearth, my home, my family, my life.

Go outside your home and pour a libation of sweetened, spiced wine, juice or tea upon the ground.

In Your honor, Vesta, Beloved Guardian of the Hearth,
I offer this libation to You.
Accept now my gift of sweetness,
I offer it in honor and love.

Make an offering of some sort of bread or cake you have baked yourself and some first summer fruits. As you lay the offering on the ground, sprinkle the bread or cake with rosemary and a pinch of barley and salt.

Vesta, Beloved Guardian of the Hearth,
Accept now these offerings from my heart,
Bread from my own hand, and ripe fresh fruits,
I offer them in honor and love.

May You find favor with this Daughter of the Hearth.

Return to your hearth (fireplace or kitchen stove) raise the bowl with the rose petals, rosemary & barley
and say:

Here, upon my home's shrine to Vesta, a gift for the Guardian.
May You, Sweet Vesta, find favor with this Daughter of the Hearth.

Leave the bowl on the hearth or stove and let the candle burn as long as you can.

May Vesta's blessings be upon us!

Ritual & invocations copyright 2009 E A Kaufman