The Goddess Companion

The Goddess Companion
 

Do not think of Vesta
as anything other than
fire, the living flame
which gives birth to nothing
but itself again.
Thus we call her virgin
for she is never seeded
not does she bear fruit.
And oh! she loves her maidens,
companions in virginity.
~Ovid, Fasti 
 
To the ancient Romans, this was New Year’s Eve. On this day, the sacred blaze burning in the temple of the fire goddess Vesta was allowed to go out. The rest of the year, a sorority called the Vestal Virgins, under the direction of the Virgo Vesalis Maximus, tended the fire carefully, for it represented the very essence of Rome. A night without that fire burning in the temple was a dangerous and powerful time.
 
There are such flameless nights in our live, times when we do not know if we can survive, when life’s passion has dimmed and all seems dark and cold. In such times, we can only do what the Vestal Virgins did, generation after generation, in the Roman temple: we can wait, and watch, and pray. And hope, and trust in the great truth of nature: that change is inevitable, and even dark times must have their endings.

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By Patricia Monaghan