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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The Simplest - And Sweetest - of Mealtime Rituals

There are two things I really love about the New Vesta tradition.  The first is the way it bridges the distance between the ancient world and the modern world.  The second is the way it helps strengthen family solidarity.  And one of the simplest ways it does these things is through mealtime offerings or libations.

Even in antiquity, Vesta – goddess of the home and hearth, and symbolized by a flame – was a bloodless religion.  Instead of making a living animal sacrifice, ancient Roman families sprinkled mealtime offerings of loose salted flour or wafers (called mola salsa) into her sacred flame that burned in their household hearth.  Libations of wine or olive oil could also be made into her flame.

Nowadays, a Vestal candle at the dinner table can accept similar offerings by family members.  Once the meal is placed on the table, each family member sprinkles a bit of salted flour, olive oil or wine into her flame, typically with the wife/mother of the home being the first to do so.

This no-frills family ritual creates a sense of shared experience, gratitude and family unity that too few families get to experience nowadays.  In my capacity as a couples mediator, I too often see the consequences of marital and family breakdown and the heartache caused by broken ties. 

Vesta’s simple meal-time ritual gives busy families a chance to bond over the pleasure of dinner and enjoy each other’s company and conversation by the glow of her beautiful flame.  It gives husbands and wives the chance to show appreciation and devotion for the life they share.  And it gives kids the chance to sprinkle something into a flame and watch it go “whoosh.”  Kids get a kick out of that kind of thing.

The best part is, feeding Vesta’s flame doesn’t just symbolically honor the goddess – it also nourishes your marriage and family life.  That’s something Vesta has done for thousands of years.  I guess that’s why we still talk about her “eternal” flame.  All best in Vesta xo 

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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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