Pagan Paths

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

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Putting Vesta & Faith in Historical Context

I’m a classicist at heart.  Since first meeting a Vestal priestess in 1989, I’ve been captivated by the ancient Roman world.  Before law school, I studied Latin, Roman history, mythology, art and culture at university.  If it had “Roman” or Greco-Roman” in the course description, I signed up.

As a follower of Vesta – goddess of the home and hearth – I find great significance in putting the Vesta tradition in historical context.  Not only does this deepen my understanding of this faith, it alerts me to the ways that it must adapt to 21st century humanist values so that it can survive and continue to bring comfort, meaning and happiness to the lives of its faithful.

The Vesta tradition is a long and complex one.  While I will present snapshots of it in my blogs, it can only be comprehensively covered in a longer book.  That’s why I’m hard at work on my third book in the New Vesta book series, which will focus on the history – among other things – of Vesta past and present. 

So why am I rambling about this now?  Because today is a significant day in history.  March 15, the Ideas of March, was the day on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE.   And this is the kind of day that classicists and historians get kind of worked up about. 

Whether Caesar was a tyrant or a progressive is largely a matter of perspective.  To the senators who stabbed him, he was a tyrant who was changing their world in ways that were – to put it plainly – not profitable to them.  To the masses, he was a progressive who cared about “the little guy” and sought to bring some semblance of political representation to the powerless.

I tend to sympathize with Caesar.  I think he was a man ahead of his time.  And like all men in the ancient world, he saw no distinction between gods and goddesses.  He worshipped them both.  In fact, he claimed to be descended from the goddess Venus and proudly waved this under the nose of everyone he could. 

When we put the Vesta tradition in historical context, we find that it existed at a time when – although women had few legal rights – the feminine was not thought of as inferior or subordinate to the male in a spiritual sense.  Goddesses were powerful beings in their own rights.  Men openly worshipped and adored them. 

It was only with the rise of the androcentric, monotheistic cult of Christianity that goddesses were stripped of their power, their worship criminalized and ridiculed in an attempt to establish the self-proclaimed "one true male god" of Christianity.

Although the return of goddess culture has been, at least until now, largely dominated by women, that is changing.

An increasing number of men are reclaiming goddess worship as an aspect of their masculinity and their roles as husband and father.  Even my husband – who was raised in a fundamentalist Pentecostal home – now happily makes offerings to Vesta at every meal.  And if he - a man's man -- has seen the light, any man can.  

That’s why history is so important.  It gives us another way of seeing things and to understand why the world is the way it is.  It gives us a way to challenge the status quo by looking back and saying, “Hey, it wasn’t always like this.” 

So rest in peace, Caesar.   For better or worse, I hope you met your goddess in the afterlife.  

Visit NewVesta.com 

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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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