Vesta was discovered by Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on the 29th March 1807 in Bremen and named by astronomer friend Carl Friedrich Gauss who helped to calculate Vesta’s orbit. Vesta is the 3rd largest asteroid after Ceres and Pallas and the 4th to be discovered (hence its number 4). The symbol of Vesta used in astrology was designed by Gauss and indicates the altar of Vesta and its sacred fire.
The symbol we use now is slightly different from the original however the meaning behind it is the same.
Out of interest, Olbers is the man behind ‘Olbers paradox’ which suggests that because the sky is dark at night, this indicates that the universe is finite. Olbers postulated that if the universe was infinite and without beginning or end, the light from billions of stars would have reached us by now which would cause the sky to be light at night. Whilst there are other theories which challenge this, it remains a rather fascinating connection to Vesta as she represents the light of sacred fire. According to some Aborigine beliefs, the stars are the burning campfires of those who have passed over to the other side.
Vesta was a Roman Goddess often likened to the Greek Goddess Hestia. However Vesta seems to have little in the way of personal mythology. Much like the Greek tale of Chronus and Rhea, in Roman myth, Saturn swallowed his children in an attempt to stop them from overthrowing him. His wife tricked him into swallowing a stone giving Jupiter the chance to be born. Jupiter overthrew his father and released his brothers and sisters; namely, Juno, Ceres, Pluto, Neptune and Vesta. When asked what she would like with her freedom, Vesta only required her continued purity and turned down all offers of marriage.
The only other tale of Vesta concerns Priupus, a rather naughty God by all accounts. Priapus spied Vesta sleeping one evening and took a fancy to her. He tried to creep up on her with the intent on having his wicked way but the bray of a donkey alerted Vesta, protecting her from assault. For this reason, the donkey is an animal sacred to Vesta.
Initially Vesta was worshiped in the homes of the common people as the Goddess of the Hearth fire but over time she grew in status. Eventually she was honoured in a temple built to house the sacred flame of Rome. The flame itself was tended at all times by Vestal Virgins rather like the perpetual flame of St Brigit in Kildare, Ireland. In Rome, the job of tending the fire was taken very seriously as people believed that something terrible would befall their city if the fire was allowed to die. The fire represented the spiritual heart of Rome. On March 1st each year, the fire was ceremonially renewed. Vestalia, Vesta’s sacred festival, was celebrated between the 7th – 15th June. It was only during these times that her normally closed inner chamber was opened to woman who would bring offerings to her.
The Vestal Virgins who tended the sacred flame were chosen before puberty and took a vow of chastity for 30 years. It was essential that they remained untouched and pure. Those who were found to have dallied were buried alive. The Vestal Virgins were priestesses considered to have very high status not normally accorded to women. Unlike other women, they did not belong to their Father or to a husband. Vesta’s temple was also different from other temples to the Gods. It was round rather than square and didn’t contain a statue to represent her. It was considered that she was one with the flame.
“Conceive of Vesta as naught but the living flame” Ovid
Aside from tending the sacred flame, the Vestal Virgins were also charged with keeping secret important documents (such as political treaties) and wills. There is some suggestion that they also looked after a sacred relic called a fascinus which was a representation of a phallus. Kept at the burning heart of the internal chamber, we can begin to see how Vesta was once connected with sacred sexuality. The fascinus was said to ward off the ‘evil eye’.
“She’s truly a virgin, who neither accepts seed nor yields it, and she loves virgin companions.” Ovid
Whilst their regime was strict, they were also generously compensated for their service. They also held a curious privilege in that they could release by touch a criminal being led to punishment – as long as the meeting was seen as accidental.
The Discovery Chart
I have not been able to locate a discovery time for Vesta, so I chose an arbitrary time of 1am to set the chart. Therefore I am ignoring the house position of the planets and the angles.
Firstly, we see that Vesta was discovered in the anaretic degree of Virgo. Often anaretic degrees intensify the sign attributes. I have likened it to the moment of death where suddenly every aspect of life to the smallest degree becomes incredibly vivid. Anaretic degrees are like the swan songs of the zodiac, singing louder and more beautiful than at any other time. The difficulty with them is that they can be so intense. The sworn dedication to service by the Vestal Virgins can be seen in this powerful degree symbolism.
The closest aspects to Vesta are a semi-sextile from Uranus and a quincunx from Venus. These two aspects seem to suggest the freedom offered to the Vestal Virgins yet also the cost to their sexual selves. Nevertheless, with Vesta in a quintile to the North Node, we see how she can indicate a special skill which involves a strong sense of purpose. Although the Moon may have been a few degrees closer or further apart from the North Node, part of me is struck by the symbolism of the North Node nestling between the Moon and Neptune. This is about the purpose (North Node) of the divine (Neptune) feminine (Moon). All three are in the visionary fire sign Sagittarius!
A triseptile from Mercury perhaps indicates the spiritualised mind (Septiles are considered to have a mystical connection).
Vesta is opposite the Sun which is fitting for focusing on ones own inner light. The Vestal Virgins seemed to cast off their own identity in order to take on their sacred duty. This aspect also alludes to their physical distance from men.
Neptune adds a further spiritual overtone in a sextile to Vesta. Whilst normally I work with very tight orbs with asteroids, I am allowing for this, as Neptune has much to do with the dissolving of boundaries, sacrifice and spiritual service.
The Discovery Degree Sabian
Totally Intent Upon Completing An Immediate Task, A Man Is Deaf To Any Allurement
The Sabian symbol for Vesta’s discovery degree is uncannily apt! Dane Rhudyar’s keynote for this degree is “The total concentration required for reaching any spiritual goal.” This symbol needs little by way of explanation as it serves as a vivid connection to the role of the Vestal Virgins and Vesta herself in the chart. Vesta’s primary goal therefore, is to focus to achieve her task, whatever that may be, without distraction.
Vesta in the Astrological Chart
The sacred fire is an ancient symbol for sexuality – the burning passion of sexual desire and its resulting fecundity. In times past, the abundance of the Earth born of fertility was essential to life as was the proliferation of the human species. Whilst there are certainly overtones of sacred sex linked to Vesta, I would personally class the more overt practice of sacred sexuality to Hestia who preceded Vesta. With Vesta, sexuality is revered and honoured within oneself but channelled to spiritual service. In this role, she is similar to Christian nuns who ‘marry’ Christ and spiritual practitioners of celibacy. For some, celibacy is considered an essential path to spiritual enlightenment.
Fire in itself represents the divine spark, the essence of all life. Fire keeps us warm, cooks food and gives light. Fire can be used to protect, defend and purify. as I pondered the role of the Vestal Virgins, a poem I used to read as a child floated up from the depths of my mind…
“I like to sit by the fire and stare
At the curious things I can see in there;
Its better than pictures in a picture book.
To sit by the fire and look”
I thought of the Vestal Virgins watching the flame intently and it reminded me of divining by fire. Perhaps the fire also trained these priestesses to see what could not readily be seen – as if seeing into the heart of the divine source.
“She sees all things by her light that never fails.” Ovid
Generally in astrology, Vesta shows where you are devoted to something – a cause, project, person, belief. Vesta indicates where you capable of being utterly focused with a single aim. The house she tenants in your chart often shows the area of life where you take full responsibility and make sacrifices for the greater good. You may be very private about this area of your life simply because it is very important to you and you want to keep it free from impurities from the outside world. Asteroid Vesta suggests where you are dedicated and willing to work hard, putting aside your personal wishes as necessary. Vesta gives you the quiet passion to maintain your focus, always keeping the end goal in sight.
On a more subtle level, Vesta shows were you must keep the inner flame burning and what must be tended to. The house of Vesta is sanctified by her presence. Any perceived wrong-doing which comes under the house concerned is forgiven by Vesta but the price must be to dedicate yourself in her honour. Therefore, sometimes Vesta shows where we may experience much difficulty in an effort to ‘see the light’.
Negative manifestations of Vesta’s energy may include self-absorption to the exclusion of all else, an inability to focus, unwillingness to commit, a sense of being divorced from one’s spirit or mission in life.
Suggested Keywords and Phrases for Vesta
Keeper of the flame, keep the home fires burning, sacred flame, inner fire, devotion, dedication, constancy, conviction, spiritual commitment, personal sacred sexuality, sexual control, channelled kundalini energy, virginity, purity, purity of intent, chastity, virtuousness, diligence, modesty, principles, centred, self-discipline, control, the utmost care, focused passion, the devil finds work for idle hands, service orientated, a life of service, integrity, truth.
How to Find Vesta in Your Chart
To find Vesta in your chart, go to Astro.com > Free Horoscopes > Extended Chart Selection. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see Vesta listed under ‘Additional Objects’
- Who were the Vestal Virgins – BBC article since deleted
- Vestales by William Ramsay, M.A., Professor of Humanity in the University of Glasgow
- Roman Forum’s House and Temple of Vestal Virgins opens to the public
- Ovid Fasti 6
- Vesta Speaks by Neeti Ray
A most inspiring and thought provoking piece.
Thanks for your interesting take on Vesta. She is cj my MC in Gem but MC sq 12 house Sun in Virgo; tr Jupiter approaching….
Thanks Luna – T Jupiter may make that flame burn a little brighter 🙂
Thanks Kathleen 🙂
Vesta is conjunct my mars in taurus 7th (which forms a grand earth trine with saturn in cap and merc in virgo). What might Vesta add to that energy? I feel that at this point in my life I seem to be manifesting the negative aspects of Vesta much more often than the positive, i.e. lack of commitment, mission, focus.
Very interesting article. ‘Sacred flame’; hence ‘Vesta’ matches?
Vesta is conjunct my north node in the 12th.
Hi Jane – Wow, lovely spiritual overtone to your chart Jane. Do you find you need time alone or does spirituality play an important part in your life?
Haha – Oh I never thought of that! Brilliant 😀
Hi Mae – Apologies for the delay in my reply. I’ve been a bit health challenged recently! Thanks for your comment. Mars-Vesta in the 7th suggests that you can work very hard for others (whether in a love relationship or in other close one to one relationships such as close friendships/working partnerships or with clients). There can be a sense that you give everything you have and then some. The trick with this is to make sure you don’t give so much to everyone else that you have nothing left over for yourself.
If you’re feeling like you have a lack of commitment etc. then look to see whether there are any transits affecting your Grand Trine. Any transit or progression that triggers one planet in the Grand Trine will set that pattern off. Sometimes for example, Neptune can cloud issues and make things feel unfocused.
You could also look at the biggest ‘flame’ in your chart which is the Sun. This is where you shine. Getting in touch with your Sun in the chart may help you to feel brighter which in turn gives you some clarity.
should i consider this as an aspect
vesta at 5°42 conjunct sun 9°11 in virgo
Hi Aissa – Normally I would use a closer orb so I would look at the asteroids that are just one or two degrees away first. BUT it can depend on the individual as a wider orb can be given for the Sun and Vesta is one of the larger asteroids. If you can sense it or relate the interpretations of Vesta conjunct the Sun strongly then go with it as a conjunction.
I thought you would be generous with orb since those are main asteroid but I think,some astrologer gave 6 orb picasso sun vesta opposition, I feel I always relate to vesta esp when it comes to being in enclosed places I cannot stand to be constricted,Home and family always meant a lot tome I am homely person, i am very ambitious and very focused on gload when I set my mind on
I also have sun conjunct venus/vesta midpoint,read this article http://www.esoterism.ro/english/vesta-sun.php,
thank you for reply I am big fan of your blog
Hi Aissa – Awww, thank you. Glad you like the blog and thanks for reading! Yes, it really does sound you have a Vesta connection there. Sometimes it’s about going with what feels right instead of following strict rules 🙂
I also relate to what article said Vesta casting doubt on the male image I was sexually absued
Yeah i recently discovered your blog and I am fascinated with it, amazingly written and informative, you are my new queen lool I can’t wait to read your next article
Oh I am sorry to hear you experienced abuse. It’s a tough path to healing, I know. Vesta certainly can connect with issues like these. Blessings to you!
thank you so much for reply and have nice day
I have the following aspects in my birth chart:
Vesta Taurus conjunction South Node Taurus (8th House)
Vesta Taurus conjunction Angel Taurus (8th House)
I’m so curious of what these aspects mean exactly, but somehow I know deep down, especially since after reading your articles on the asteroids Angel and Vesta! 🙂
Keep working hard on these asteroid articles. I’m really loving them!! 😀
Thanks for your comments Marissa 🙂 Oooh interesting aspects – makes me think of purity in body and soul. A past life as a nun perhaps? Someone dedicated to the service of the Goddess? Food for thought 🙂
I embody vesta as I have vesta in Gemini in 1st house conjunct NN. the overtone of my life from even as a young girl not yet knowing astrology, is that I’ve been set aside, dedicated to some bigger calling /purpose . Relationships felt burdensome and like I was cheating on my destiny in a sense. Or at least being sidetracked. Once I learned of Vesta in my natal it all began to make sense . Uranus opposite my VestA made sure to rid me of any men that would deter me from my devotion whether I got mad at him or not. Ahh. Spiritual practices through writing- poetry, journaling, art through teaching is my craft. The one beautiful thing about having a prominent Vesta is the beautifully healing sexual linkages/experiences. Men are drawn to this like moth to flame( hence, Vesta) as Vesta connects you and your counterpart to the divine.namaste x
Thanks for sharing your experience of Vesta Jenny. Love the moth to the flame image – divine connections indeed in Gemini 🙂
I have my Vesta in Scorpio in 5th house. It conjuncts my Pluto… but my Pluto squares my Sun. My sexual urges are extremely strong… It seems like a huge part of who I am. I feel as if I need to express it or I’d die. Lol Do you think that this placement can indicate multiple lovers? Or commitment issues to one particular person?
Hi Kendra – Thanks for your comment. The Sun square to a 5th house Pluto can indicate strong desires but I would need to look at the rest of your chart to see the full picture. If you would like to explore this further, I offer readings on this page https://www.leahwhitehorse.com/readings/
Interesting blog and quite informative. I enjoyed much of its content. As a teacher of the divine feminine, I’d like to share something if I may? Please keep in mind that I come in peace, and that my sharing is in no way meant to take anything away from what you are sharing here, it’s only a different perspective and information through my many years of study and devotion to the Goddess. Hestia and Vesta are similar goddess archetypes. One is Roman and the other Greek. They hold the same powers, focus and intention when channeling archetypal energies. You mentioned in your article that Vesta is not necessarily “sexual” and gave that title to Hestia. Although Hestia preceded Vesta they are both very much about sacred sexuality. The true meaning of the word “Virgin” was different then than it is now. The church, men, changed the true meaning of the word. Vestal “Virgins” actually DID engage in sexual activites and rites in “reverence to whom they worshiped~The Goddess. They chose whom they engaged with sexually, were dedicated to the Goddess energies of uniting the God with the Goddess through the vehicles of their own bodies. They were in fact NOT like “nuns” as you indicated, because we know that nuns DON’T have sex, nuns belong to a religious concept, one that is very different from a spiritual concept and practice. However, you are very correct in that like nuns, who were married to Christ, the Vestial Priestesses were married to the Goddess. The power of these Priestesses worship is mind blowing because they lived it, breathed it and were IT. But to minimize their devotion/importance to their goddess through the vehicle of the bodies perpetuates the power of the patriarchal culture which through the act of demonization, has curtailed and hidden the true meaning of the priestess in ancient times and that demonization is continuing to this very day. It’s blogs like yours and many others who are breaking that spell and allowing the truth and power of the goddess to emerge and teach other women and men about our ancestors, practices, beliefs and way of life that is beginning to slowly break the chain of lies.
Thank you for your blog.
Hi Moon – Thank you for your sharing your experience and understanding of Vesta. I can certainly relate to what you have said. I can see the connections with sacred sexuality and Vesta although astrologically speaking, I find her a little different in quality, especially given the discovery chart and her general action in a chart. Blessings.
Your assessment of Anorexic degrees really clarifies and underscores my own observations. It may be a “dwindling” degree by number, but not by power. I’ve often thought it seemed like the Sign was actively resisting letting go, reluctant to let the next sign take control. And that degree seems to operate that way by aspect or transit.
Thanks for explaining it for me. Love your analyses.
Thanks Sue Ellen 🙂
Good night Leah, i´m a brazilian student of astrology, and i found that i have the Asteroid Vesta in the 29°41’47 of Aries in House 4.
This is an Anaretic degree, what exactly that means about my Vesta?
I´ve heard some astrologers say that an Anaretic degree planet means tthat this will be a crisis planet, the area of life influenced by it will be experienced as much more challanging than the normal. This is how you interpret too?
What´s the meaning, if you can make me this little gesture of gentleness, of having a Vesta in the 29° in Aries in House 4?
|My vesta makes a quadrature with Venus, at 29° in capricorn, and a trigon with Ceris in 26° in Sagittarius and with Uranus at 26° in Sagittairus too, both in house 12.
Thank you so much for any attention, i loved your explanation, made the function of this asteroid so clear to me, before reading your text i was really confused, but now i fell very confident to understand it.
Thank you so much!
Oi Georges – Estou feliz que você gostou do meu artigo sobre Vesta. Yes, I this any planet at 29 degrees in emphasised. With Vesta, it makes me think of using a magnifying glass to light a piece of paper on fire. Her intense focus for you can be both helpful and harmful. In the 4th house, there’s a suggestion that a great deal of time and energy may be devoted to your family/homeland. Perhaps you feel a strong desire to protect (Aries) and with Venus in dutiful Capricorn also anaretic, maybe you give to the point of burnout. You may feel as though you must do what is expected of you without question. It may be important for you to ensure you have time for independent (Aries) projects and interests that capture your attention.
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