New Vesta: Renewing the Sacred Flame

A blog dedicated to the renewal of the ancient Vesta tradition, the “spiritual focus of the home,” in modern households.

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Debra May Macleod

Debra May Macleod

Debra Macleod, B.A., LL.B. is a couples and family mediator, a top-selling marriage author-expert and a popular resource for major media in North America. She is the leading proponent of the New Vesta tradition and order. Her New Vesta book series and Add a Spark women's seminars "spread the flame" into modern lives and homes.

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Vesta as a Symbol of the Soul

Fire has long been a holy symbol, a representation of the spirit and even the divine.  Fire worship is one of the earliest forms of religion known to humankind – one can almost imagine our ancient ancestors marveling at the sight of a red ember crackling out of a fire and flying up and away into the black night sky.  It just sparks a sense of reverence, doesn’t it?

The ancient Romans sure thought so.  Building on Etruscan spirituality and borrowing at times from the Greeks, they built an empire – literally and metaphorically – around the sacred fire of the goddess Vesta. Rome's founding people lit Vesta's flame in the space that would become the Roman Forum and soon built a temple around it. 

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From Rabbits to Resurrections: The Pagan Origins of Easter

As those of us who honor the old ways know, many of our traditions have been usurped by other religions who go on to claim them as their own.  Easter is a colorful example of this.

Although many people assume Easter began as a Christian holiday, it did not.  This spring holiday began as, and still is, a very pagan one. While Christians celebrate their god's resurrection, so do other faiths and traditions that existed for millennia before Christianity was established. From the Egyptian god Osiris to the Greek god Dionysus -- among others -- a god's resurrection has always been a fairly common theme.  The phoenix - who dies and then rises from its own ashes three days later - may also have influenced the Christian belief that their god died and rose three days later.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    And yet another take, this one from Pagan News site The Wild Hunt: http://wildhunt.org/2017/04/uk-pagans-respond-to-questions-on-t
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    For a religious studies perspective on this complex tale of Ostara, Easter, bunnies and more, cf http://religionnews.com/2017/04/1
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    Countdown to people insisting "The word Easter has no connection to Eastre (or Eostre, or Ostara, or Astarte, or Aset, or Ishtar,
  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    It is related to Ostara/Eastre (and Aurora for that matter) but not Ishtar, which is an unrelated Semitic goddess with a very diff
  • Andrew Keller
    Andrew Keller says #
    You just proved the first commenter's point, you know.

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The Vestals Get a Modern Makeover

Hello all!  Most of the images we have of the Vestals, priestesses of the goddess Vesta, are of course from antiquity.  These are things like statues, relief carvings and images minted onto coins or engraved into seal rings.

As lovely and informative as these are, and as important as they are to giving us an accurate reflection of how these revered women looked, it is nonetheless wonderful to see more modern treatments.  For example, Angus McBride - the chap who illustrated the pic I've used for this blog- was a popular fantasy illustrator and his depiction of the Vestals is probably my all-time favorite.

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Vesta & Painted Glass

Hello all, I wanted to share something really cool from my collection of Vesta artifacts with you. This is called a "magic lantern" glass slide. They were used from the 1800's 'til the early 1900's mostly for educational purposes. This one is of the Temple of Hercules in the Forum Boarium by the Tiber. Because of its circular shape, this temple was for a long time thought to be the Temple of Vesta.

In all likelihood, this temple served a dual purpose - Hercules and Vesta. That's how I deal with this temple in my book Brides of Rome: A Novel of the Vestal Virgins.  The Vestal priestesses had a spot near here from where they would gather water from the Tiber to make mola salsa.  I believe they would have wanted a functional temple close by, perhaps to bless the water.

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Looking for a New Holiday Ritual? Try Something Old.

Ah, those nativity scenes outside churches this time of year are pretty, aren't they? The little baby, the cattle, the quaint little manger. I think they're lovely -- yet I don't actually believe the nativity story for a moment.

And I'm not alone. We live in a multicultural society where this holiday season means different things to different people. That's a good thing. Cultural and spiritual differences can add richness and relevance to a society. And if we choose to embrace that, these differences can be unifying instead of divisive. If someone says merry Christmas to me, I'll say merry Christmas back, even though to me there's no "Christ" in the Christmas season.

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Are You Afraid to Make a Change? Don't Let Fear Paralyze You.

I don’t know about you, but every now and then when I’m highway driving at night I slip into a strange type of reverie.  The black sky with the stars visible through my sunroof.  The wash of white light from the headlights on the black road, illuminating my path as my car charges through the darkness.   The looming shadows of trees along the road.  The drone of the tires on the pavement.   My own thoughts – the thoughts I don’t have the time or peace to indulge during the day – swirling in my mind.  All of these things combine to create an aura that borders on the spiritual.  At least for me they do.

I was enjoying such a drive the other night when, finally wanting to break the silence, I pressed ‘play’ on whatever CD was in my husband’s car.  In an instant, I was surrounded by the rich swell of Awolnation’s Kill Your Heroes.  Here’s the line that snaked straight into my consciousness: “Never let your fear decide your fate.” 

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Vestals, Feminism & the "Evil Field"

Despite the resurgence and richness of the Vesta tradition, many people who think “Vestal Virgin” still think of one thing: the fact that Vestals who broke their vow of chaste service to the goddess were buried alive.  Let’s be honest.   Who can blame people for going there?  It’s a pretty dramatic image: a young woman being thrown into a shallow grave and trying to claw her way out while dirt is being piled on top of her.

Of course, that isn’t how it happened.   It was considered a sacrilege to kill a Vestal, so those who were found guilty of incestum (breaking their vow of chastity) were taken to the Campus Sceleratus or “evil field” just inside the city walls of Rome where they descended a ladder into a subterranean pit.   They were given enough food, water and light to last a few days.   This absolved the Roman people of guilt for their death.  Talk about a technicality.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    A very interesting post. For me, my answer to your question would be that one of my goddesses is much maligned as an evil witch. B
  • Debra May Macleod
    Debra May Macleod says #
    Hi Arwen, Thank you for commenting! I love it - "I brought you in. I can take you out." Fantastic. But how upsetting that the

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