Spica: Virgo’s Light

The Hermit from The Celestial Tarot by Kay Steventon & Brian Clark

Spica; Virgo’s Light

My eyes search the darkened cosmos
Searching for a light to lead me
Orion, he is always there, and
Ursa Major dominates the night sky
I recall an ancient phrase;
“Arc to Archturus, then speed on to Spica.”
Following the Arc of the Great Bear
(once the pure and chaste Callisto, princess of Arcadia; Raped by Zeus and cursed by Hera)
Past her protector, Archturus
To find Spica, brightest star of Virgo –
A yellow sheaf of wheat,
Golden ear of corn
White Spark of light
Fire of Hearth,
In the hands of a something so Pure
That one name will not suffice.
She is the Virgin, Virgo
Astraea; Goddess of Purity and Innocence who clung to hope for human kind longer than any other
Shala, Goddess of Grain
Hestia, Goddess of Hearth and Home
Vesta, Keeper of the Flame
The Blessed Virgin Mary.
Father Time has watched her transform,
Watched her name change,
Watched as Man’s study of Spica
Brought the knowledge of the Equinoxes.
What other secrets may she hold?
Father Time, the Hermit only nods and winks
As if to say
“Time Will Tell,”
And he turns to walk away “but don’t give up the search”.
And suddenly I know
I am beautiful
I am pure
You are beautiful
You are pure
And Astraea can return;
Through us.

~ Wendy @Hestia’s Muse
08/01/2010

Notes:  I wrote this poem in 2010, inspired by the image and meaning of The Hermit Tarot card from The Celestial Tarot (pictured above).  The booklet that comes with that deck described the Star called Spica as the central star of the constellation Virgo. Quote from the booklet to The Celestial Tarot: “At this point in the journey we meet the Hermit, the Major Arcana card associated with Virgo, the harvest maiden, intertwining the paradoxical themes of fertility and purity. In the Celestial Tarot she holds the wheat in her left hand and disseminates seeds with her right. The card depicts the season of withdrawal. For psyche the time of harvest has come; it is time to withdraw and prepare and reflect. In the background is the traditional image of the hermit holding the lamp of inner guidance necessary during this time. Virgo embodies the wisdom of cycles, a respect for fate and an openness to destiny. The Hermit augurs a period of meditation where the inner world is fortified to prepare for a major shift on the life path.”
Original poem post at my old blog.

At the time, I did some research on the star Spica, and the Virgo constellation and was inspired because I was also working closely with Hestia / Virgo – Virgin Goddess of the Home & Hearth.  Astrea is the Greek Goddess of innocence and purity – known as the Celestial Virgin.  Ovid wrote that Astrea fled the earth during the Iron Age -“fleeing from the wickedness of humanity”, she maintained her innocence and ascended to Divinity and became the constellation Virgo.  Legend states that one day Astrea will return, bringing with her the next Golden Age.

Here are some highlights on the star Spica from Constellation Guide:

“Spica, Alpha Virginis, is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo and the 16th brightest star in the sky.  The name Spica (pronounced /ˈspaɪkə/) comes from the Latin phrase spīca virginis, meaning “Virgo’s ear of grain.” The Latin word spicum refers to the ear of wheat Virgo holds in her left hand. In Greek and Roman mythology, the constellation and the star were associated with Demeter (Ceres), the goddess of the harvest.”

“Spica can be located by following the arc of the Big Dipper‘s handle. The first bright star along the imaginary line is Arcturus, the Bear Watcher, and following the same curving path, the second bright star that appears is Spica. The apparent distance from Arcturus to Spica is roughly equal to the distance between Arcturus and Alkaid, the star marking the tip of the Dipper’s handle.”

“Along with Regulus in Leo, Alpha Virginis is believed to be one of the bright stars that made it possible for Hipparchus (160 – 120 BC) to discover the precession of the equinoxes, after comparing his data to that of the Alexandrian Timochares, who had observed Spica and Regulus around 300 BC. Spica was later observed by Nicolaus Copernicus, who also used it to study precession.”

“A number of temples were oriented to Spica’s setting, including the temple of the Sun at Tell el-Amarna (2000 BC), two temples at Rhamnus in Greece (1092 and 747 BC), another two at Tegea, Hera’s temples at Olympia (1445 BC), Girgenti and Argos, the temple of Diana of the Ephesians (715 BC), and the temple of Nike Apteros at Athens (1130 BC). The temple orientation indicates that these cultures had knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes far earlier than Hipparchus documented his discovery.”

“Babylonian observers called the star Sa-Sha-Shirū, meaning “the virgin’s girdle.” The star represented the wife of Bel.”

 

Astrology – Watching the Ongoing Mythology Unfold

I’m constantly in awe of the movements of the planets through the heavens and how I see this cosmic story playing out here on Earth; both personally and through the broader scope of cultures at large.  The way I see it, the Gods are alive and well, still playing out their comic tragedies and transmitting messages to Earth and eachother, and if we wish to know how this story is currently playing out all we have to do is look to the stars and Astrology.

When people get me talking about Astrology (which, admittedly isn’t very hard to do these days) they often hear me refer to the planets as Greek or Roman Gods and excitedly explaining what they are doing.  Example; when Mercury was retrograde a couple weeks ago I am pretty sure the phrase “Hermes is flying backwards in trickster mode” came out of my mouth in a variety of ways as I refererenced the planet’s transit.  Some people have asked me to elaborate on this concept a bit more, so I wanted to put together a simple list of the planets and the Greek or Roman Gods/Goddesses they might be associated with through their Archetypical Roles.  Most of the planets are already named after Roman Gods anyways, so forgive the obvious redundancy in this list.  (Side Note, in Astrology, all the heavenly bodies within our solar system are referred to as “planets”, including the Sun and Moon.  Yes, we know these aren’t Planets in the scientific sense of the definition.)

Please note–   This is in no way a complete list, and I’m eager to hear if you have any personal associations that are not listed here.  I’m also not an expert on Mythology and Deities so while I am sure there are many Gods from a variety of cultures that would fit these Archetypes – I have only included the Deities I am familiar with rather than guessing or making assumptions about the nature of Gods I don’t know.  I hope to someday include Deities from a variety of cultures here in this list, and invite you to share in comments or email your own learned assocations.

Planets:

THE SUN

  • Apollo (Greek, Roman) – God of the Sun, creativity, music, healing, poetry, prophecy, and children.  Son of Zeus & Leto.
  • Helios (Greek)

THE MOON

  • Artemis – Goddess of Hunting, Wilderness, Wild Animals, Protector of Children.  Twin Sister of Apollo.  Daughter of Zeus & Leto.      –AND/OR….
  • Hekate / Hecate – Goddess of the Moon, Magic, Witchcraft, Night, the Crossroads, Ghosts.  Daughter of the Titans Perses & Asteria.        –AND/OR ….
  • Selene (Greek) – Titan Moon Goddess.  Daughter of Titans Hyperion & Theia

MERCURY

  • Hermes (Greek) – God of travel, trade, diplomacy, language, writing, astrology, and cunning.  Son of Zeus and Maya.
  • Mercury (Roman)

VENUS

  • Aphrodite (Greek) – Goddess of Love, Beauty, Pleasure, Procreation.  Born of Sea Foam when Oranous’ castrated genitals were thrown into the sea by Kronos.
  • Venus (Roman)

MARS

  • Aries / Ares (Greek) – God of War, Battle, Courage, Masculinity, and Order.  Son of Zeus & Hera.
  • Mars (Roman)

JUPITER

  • Zeus (Greek) – King of the Gods, God of law and order, destiny, fate, weather.  Son of Kronos & Rhea.  Brother of Hades, Poseidon, Hera, Hestia, Demeter.
  • Jupiter (Roman)

SATURN

  • Cronos / Kronos (Greek) – King of the Titans, God of Time & Lessons.  Titan son of Ouranos & Gaia. Father of the Olympian Gods – Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia
  • Saturn (Roman)

NEPTUNE

  • Poseidon (Greek) – God of the Sea, Rain (floods, droughts), Earthquakes, and Horses.  Son of Kronos & Rhea.  Brother of Zeus, Hades, Hera, Hestia, Demeter.
  • Neptune (Roman)

URANUS

  • Ouranos (Greek) – Primordial God of the Sky.  Father of the Titans (Including Cronos)
  • Uranus / Aion (Roman)

PLUTO

  • Hades / Aidoneus (Greek) – God of The Underworld and Death.  Son of Kronos & Rhea.  Brother of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Hestia, Demeter.
  • Pluto / Dis (Roman)

Asteroids:

VESTA

  • Hestia (Greek) – Goddess of the Hearth Fire & Sacred Flame.  Daughter of Kronos & Rhea.  Sister of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera and Demeter
  • Vesta (Roman)

CERES

  • Demeter (Greek) – Goddess of Agriculture, Grain, Bread, Fertility.  Daughter of Kronos & Rhea.  Sister of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Hestia
  • Ceres (Roman)

JUNO

  • HERA (Greek) – Queen of The Gods, Goddess of Marriage, Women, the Stars.  Daughter of Kronos & Rhea.  Sister of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia.  Wife of Zeus.
  • Juno (Roman)

PALLAS ATHENA

  • Athena (Greek) – Goddess of Wisdom, Defense, Justice, Protection, Good Counsel, Weaving and other crafts.  Born of Zeus’ head.
  • Minerva (Roman)

CHIRON

  • Kheiron (Greek) – Half Titan, Immortal king of the Centaurs.  “The Wounded Healer”, Master Healer, Warrior and Teacher.  Son of Kronos and the nymph Philyra.
  • Chiron (Roman)

It is also important to note that each of the Gods (Planets) rule over the Astrological Signs and Zodiac Wheel Houses.  I see it as the Houses are the Kingdoms that the Gods rule over, and the Signs are the Energy/Lessons that each God/Goddess rules over or activates.

SIGN      HOUSE         RULED BY
Aries      1st                 Aries/Mars
Taurus   2nd               Venus/Aphrodite, Ceres/Demeter
Gemini  3rd                Mercury / Hermes
Cancer   4th                Moon/Artemis/Hecate/Selene
Leo         5th           Sun/Apollo/Helios
Virgo      6th          Mercury/Hermes, Vesta/Hestia
Libra  7th Venus/Aphrodite, Pallas Athena/Minerva, Juno/Hera
Scorpio   8th          Pluto/Hades, Hecate, Aries/Mars
Sagittarius   9th         Jupiter/Zeus, Chiron
Capricorn   10th         Saturn/Cronos, Pan, Pallas Athena /Minerva
Aquarius    11th         Uranus/Ouranos, Saturn/Cronos
Pisces         12th          Neptune/Poseidon, Jupiter/Zeus

When you look at the signs and houses as energies that the Gods are teaching us through or playing within, you get an even deeper picture of the Living Archetypes and how the Mythology stories continue.  For example, let’s say that Mercury is in Aries.  So Hermes (Mercury) is still operating as God of Language, Writing, Commerce and Travel – but he’s doing it through the realm and kingdom of Aries, the God of War.  So how is Hermes’ behavior and teaching style altered by his surroundings? What specific lessons come along?  Hermes is bound to be a bit more pushy in fiery ways as he transmits his lessons of communication through the filter of Aries’ individuality and drive.  How is this different than when Hermes is in one of his own Kingdoms like Gemini or Virgo?  Chiron just showed up in Aries’ realm too, what kind of pain (and medicine) does he want to teach us about here?  Now add in more layers – Artemis and Hecate (the Moon) are shining through in the Sign of Virgo (Hermes and Vesta’s house).  Cronos, Hades, Aries, and Vesta are having some kind of important meeting in Cronos’ Realm (Capricorn).  Meanwhile, Zeus is behaving oddly and having a backwards stroll through the Underworld  (Scorpio).  Apollo seems comfortable and happy visiting Aphrodite’s realm (Taurus – and Aphrodite is home too, though she’s quietly slipping out the back door on her way to Gemini).

Are you still with me?  Good.  Because the story of the Gods is ever unfolding.  I humbly wish to tell you their stories as a faithful Oracle and Astrologer.  I’m still learning and growing, but I’d be honored if you follow along with me in this journey.

 

Vesta

Vesta is the Roman Goddess of the Hearth, Home, and Sacred Flame. (Her Greek counterpart is Hestia.) Daughter of Saturn and Ops, sister of Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Ceres, and Juno.  Saturn feared one of his children would overthrow him so he swallowed them each whole when they were born.  When Jupiter was born, Saturn was tricked into swallowing a rock swaddled in cloth instead of his newborn son.  Jupiter grew up and did indeed challenge his father, and he was made to spit out his children.  Vesta was asked what she would like to do with her power as a Goddess (what realm she would like to rule over) and she wished to simply remain pure and serve as gaurdian of the flame.  In many ways She IS the flame, and was often simply depicted as the sacred flame of Rome, the Home, and Sacred Divinity.

Vesta

A virgin Goddess, she did not marry or have children like most of the Roman Gods and Goddesses, yet she is still seen as a maternal, mothering figure.  This is because the fire of the Hearth which she protects – was recognized to be an essential part of a nurturing and safe home life. Without a fire in the hearth, families would be cold, hungry, and unprotected.
Today, we don’t have a “hearth fire” in our homes; that has been replaced by a stove and a microwave. Most of us don’t cook our food over an open flame (except for those fun family barbeque nights) and a fireplace is more of a luxury than a necessity for warmth. Although our methods have changed, many Neo-Pagans are still drawn to honoring a Goddess of Hearth and Home.  The Ancient Romans would honor Vesta by throwing some of their food into the hearth fire as an offering . . . giving back to the life- force that had provided for them. In Vesta’s temple, a fire was constantly burning. Guarded and tended to by the Vestal Virgins . . . women who had dedicated their lives to honoring and serving Vesta.  It was believed that if the Sacred Fire in Vesta’s temple ever went out, Rome would fall and die.
Today, many who call themselves “kitchen witches” are drawn to honoring Vesta (or Hestia) as part of their daily spiritual practice. Recognizing that the kitchen with all it’s modern gadgets is still a center of the home – a place of creation and nurturing, where we prepare our food.  Vesta has also been honored as an aspect of the Divine Feminine who holds great power without a male counterpart.  She was seen as the great nurturer… as Fire represented not only the means to survive, but also represented wisdom, inspiration, focus, community, purity, power, and even divination and sacred sexuality.

A votive candle of Mother Mary that has become part of my altar to Hestia and Vesta

Personally, I work with both Vesta and Hestia as interchangeable; different faces of the same Goddess.  I have also found the energy signature of the Sacred Flame to resonate in other Goddesses as well – namely Brighid (Celtic) and Mother Mary (Christian/Hebrew).  Hestia and Vesta are both usually depicted as veiled or wearing some kind of head covering, as is the Virgin Mother Mary.  They are all virgins, although Mary did bear a child but the stories still depict her as a virgin anyways.  Vesta is represented in historical drawings and carvings with an Ass (donkey/mule), and the Mother Mary is also associated riding an ass from when she rode pregnant into Bethlehem.  Catholic nuns who devote their lives to service of God, wear headcoverings, and their vows of celibacy bring to mind the Roman Vestal Virgins. I recently found a votive prayer candle in the religious candle section of my local grocery store that depicts “The Sacred Heart of Mary”, with a picture of Mary and the glowing heart within her chest is burning with a bright orange fire. (see photograph above)  The connection seems obvious to me and even though I know most pagans are probably not comfortable working within the “Christian Pantheon”, it is something worth considering.  Brighid or Brigid also has many similar associations, a fire Goddess who was seen as gaurdian of hearth and home, wisdom, purity, domesticated animals, and the Sacred Flame of Kildare (similar to the sacred shrine of Vesta in Rome).  I have found that when I work with Brighid, Mother Mary, or Vesta, I am working with an aspect of Hestia.

Working With Vesta – you can call on Vesta (or Hestia) for all these matters:

  • Honoring all that is Divine and Sacred
  • Purification
  • Devotion
  • Home matters (safety, prosperity, and love within the home)
  • Kitchens, food, nourishment
  • humbleness and gratitude
  • Rebalancing pain or corruption within governments
  • protection of cities or countries
  • protection from assault or unwanted sexual advances
  • forgiveness for crimes and mistakes
  • sacred sexuality
  • service and sacrifice

Vesta in Astrology

The symbol of Vesta in Astrology

In Astrology there is an asteroid named Vesta (it was recently reclassified as a “baby planet” and resides within the asteroid belt.)  Looking to the placement of this asteroid in your natal chart can show you where the energies of Hestia and Vesta are most present in your life.  It can show you where you are most likely to place your Devotion and what you honor as Divine or Sacred.  It can show you where your connection to the Sacred Feminine originates, and issues around sexuality and Feminist issues.  Vesta in your chart can teach you about how you identify with matters of Home, Family, Security, Sacrifice, and our own inner light.

“Vesta is the place in our charts that belongs to us and us alone. She is the inner spark we need to survive all odds, and to keep our spirits intact on the darkest day. She is also the light that guides us and allows us to take joy in our lives, and in our accomplishments. She is our inner light and the life inside ourselves.”  ~Isabelle Ghaneh (see more)

It is my hope that this post has helped you understand Vesta and Hestia, and perhaps inspired you to work with them in some way in your life.  May your Inner Fire always burn brightly, may you always find home that is warm and safe, and may you find ways to serve humanity and the Gods through your strength and Devotion.  Blessed Be!

**COMING SOON!**  I am working on an e-course called Hestia & Vesta Dedication Course.  In this course you will receive a manual including lots more information about Hestia and Vesta, how to work with them, and some spells and rituals.  You will also recieve an astrology reading in which I look at the placement of Vesta and Virgo in your natal chart, and an attunement to an energy system called “The Gems of Hestia and Vesta”.  I am so excited about this upcoming course and hope you will join me!  Join my Facebook Group – Unwinding The Universe With Hestia’s Muse to get updates, or sign up for my free newsletter if you are not on Facebook.