Vesta: Your Inner Flame
For period of less than four decades in the early 19th century, there were four additional planets in the solar system: Ceres, Pallas Athene, Juno and Vesta. These heavenly bodies named for Greek goddesses were demoted, just as Pluto was more recently, to the status of asteroids. However, many astrologers find it useful to cast natal charts which include the positions of these asteroids as they can answer questions about specific aspects of an individual’s personality left unanswered by the rest of the chart.
Asteroid Vesta retained is the second largest of these bodies and its planetary status the longest. The glyph or symbol used to show Vesta’s position in the chart resembles a pot holding a flame, recalling its mythological associations.
If you studied the ancient Greek world even briefly in school, the name Vesta may call to mind the Vestal Virgins. The Vestal Virgins were priestesses who tended the sacred fire in the temple of the goddess Vesta, protector of the hearth (In Roman mythology, this goddess was named Hestia). The use of the word “virgin” in this context relates more to its old meaning of a person who belonged to herself rather than the meaning it conveys in modern usage of a person who has never had sex. In fact, the vestal virgins were not sexually chaste but performed sacred sexual rites of healing with temple visitors.
These days when we can obtain fire by flicking a switch or turning a knob, we take it for granted. However, in ancient cultures, fire could be difficult to create depending on weather conditions. Fire was viewed as sacred and homes centered around the hearth where a flame was always kept for cooking as well as warmth. An ancient Greek woman leaving her parents’ home in order to dwell at the abode of her husband would carry with her a flame from the family hearth.
Astrological significance of Vesta
Vesta’s placement in your natal chart shows where you must tend your inner fire. Vesta reveals the area of your life or aspect of your being which you must protect devotedly and hold as sacred. Topics associated with Vesta’s house, sign and the planets it aspects favorably will reveal the topics and/or activities in which focus and concentration come naturally to you.
At the same time, just as the priestesses of Vesta withdrew from the world for the sake of the temple duties, Vesta’s natal position also reveals how and where you feel the need to retreat from the world in order to recharge your batteries. Once you understand enough about astrology to know the symbolic meanings of the houses and the zodiac signs, you can use this information to gain insight into how you can feed and nurture the inner spark represented by Vesta.
All the heavenly bodies in the chart and all zodiac signs have both beneficial and harmful traits. Negative manifestations of Vesta’s energy may include self-absorption and/or a tendency to become to callously use others for sex. If you tend to feel flat and uninspired, if you feel no sense of connection to your personal source of power and warmth, you may your natal Vesta may have several harsh or difficult aspects. Watch for positive transits to the asteroid to heal these issues.
Tracking transiting Vesta’s movements through the houses of your natal chart, and its aspects to your natal planets can provide clues of where you need to bestow devotion and energy. When Vesta moves through your first house, you may want to pay more attention to your physical appearance and your health. When this asteroid transits your seventh house, give more energy to your relationship with your significant other or to finding a partner if you are single. When Vesta conjuncts your natal Moon, you may want to focus on your home or take some time to do something special for your mother.
(If you enjoy reading about asteroids in astrology, you may also want to read the first part of this series which discussed Juno.)