Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Hestia archetype: a deeper look

From Goddess Power

Possesses an introverted temperament and is focused on her inner, spiritual world. Hestia is an archetype of inner centeredness. She was known to be mild mannered, upstanding, charitable, as well as a protector. She is the least known of the Olympian goddesses primarily because she never takes part in any disputes or wars. She minds her own business amidst a family of goddesses and gods who engage in ‘high drama’. Similarly to Athena and Artemis she resists the amorous advances of men, therefore, placing her in the ‘virgin’ goddess category. Her energy is impersonal and detached. Her awareness is focused. Different than Persephone who seeks to please others, Hestia’s focus is for herself. She is grounded and her life has meaning. Unlike Athena & Artemis, Hestia did not venture out to explore the world or wilderness; she remained inside, contained within the hearth. The goddess, Hestia did not take a partner. A Hestia-type woman, today, may prefer to live a more solitary life or live within a community of like-minded, spiritual ‘sisters.'

The ancient Olympian Goddesses - a deeper look

Goddess of the hearth--she symbolized the household fire--the flame burning in the hearth. The hearth in each home was the central place around which family members gathered. When a family member left their home to begin a new family, a parcel of fire was taken from the family home to begin the new home fire--symbolizing the continuity of family through the perpetual flame. Each town center also had its communal hearth where the public fire was maintained. The fire of the hestia, meaning hearth, was also used in sacrifices, and, therefore, taking on a sacred character to its citizens. Hestia is an archetype of inner centeredness/inner wisdom

Psychologically, Hestia belongs to the category of ‘virgin’ goddess. She is independent, autonomous and, focused on her inner spiritual world, she is not seeking a relationship with a man to complete her. Her energy is impersonal and detached. Her awareness is focused.

    * To the Romans she was known as Vesta
    * Hestia was a fire divinity
    * Hestia was the first born of the second generation of Olympian goddesses and gods - her parents were Cronos (god of Earth & Time) and Rhea
    * Hestia was swallowed by her father, Cronos, at birth.
    * Hestia’s province was that of protecting the home, family and also the city
    * She was believed to dwell in the inner part of every house and to preside over all sacrifices - her presence made both home and temple hearths holy
    * A perpetually burning flame were features of her sanctuary - Hestia’s presence was felt in the living flame at the center of the home, temple and city
    * Temples of Hestia were characterized by their circular form, embracing the notion of centricity in the earth as well as the universe - her symbol is the Circle
    * Hestia was nearly raped by a lesser known divinity at a festival--he was unsuccessful
    * Hestia’s dignity and her rights as the eldest were recognized; however, she took little advantage of her position and played a very minor role in Olympian drama
    * Both the gods Poseidon and Apollo requested her hand in marriage - she turned them down
    * Hestia turned to her brother, Zeus, in order to put an end to the unwanted male attention toward her--she vowed to remain a virgin for ever--Zeus accepted her vow
    * Hestia was not represented in human form neither by sculptors nor painters
    * Instead of marriage, Hestia was offered a seat in the midst of the celestial dwelling-place and receives the richest part of sacrifices
    * Hestia is visualized as a stately yet not intimidating figure; she is pretty yet not beautiful.
    * She is kindly yet distant - she possesses the ability to love impartially
    * Her demeanor is modest and gentle
    * She is self-sufficient and self-directed - inner focused

Challenges facing Hestia

          o The majority of modern-day women are missing sufficient Hestia archetype within them. As an archetype of inner centeredness/wisdom, Hestia archetype does not exhibit reactionary behavior. This archetype is not interested in being out in the world--rather, self-contained within herself
          o Hestia archetype flourishes in a spiritual community - particularly meditative
          o Hestia shares her archetype with vestal virgins and nuns who give up their personal identity/their names and strive toward self-less-ness -- a life dedicated to service
          o Possible difficulties for a Hestia-type woman in today’s world - presenting herself as a ‘non-entity’, in other words--she has no desire to stand out, and not as a result of her own family or cultural conditioning, rather, by her own conscious choice.
          o Hestia type lacks assertiveness - she will not speak up - she is out of place in this modern, fast-paced, competitive world
          o Hestia type needs to develop an effective ‘persona’ - a social adaptation aiding her in interacting and in getting along in the world when circumstances require
          o Hestia type, due to her introverted nature, tends to be undemonstrative with her feelings toward others even though she may care for them
          o Hestia’s caring is impersonal, detached - her challenge may be to let those close to her know that she cares
          o Hestia types appear to lack outer ambition - she is a home-body and tends to the hearth/the needs of the home

Hestia’s dark side

          o Hestia appears to be the only goddess without an apparent dark side - she avoided the drama of her ‘family’ - refused to get ‘in-the-middle’ of their issues, remains calm, grounded, centered, and maintains focus on her own personal meaning
          o One way of thinking of Hestia’s dark side-- if we think, metaphorically-- her resisting the advances made on her by both Apollo (god of Sun = intellect, logical reasoning) and Poseidon (god of Sea = the unconscious, emotion) - If Hestia is seduced by these aspects:
                + seduced by the need for logical reasoning, she will feel compelled to dismiss her keen intuition because she is unable to ‘logically explain herself’.
                + Seduced by the unconscious, she runs the risk of becoming overwhelmed with psychic influences and/or emotional situations that keep her off balance.

 Hestia’s wound

          o In modern societies, particularly in the United States, modern woman has forfeited, for a variety of reasons, the prerogative of tending home and hearth--maintaining the home fire.
          o Hestia’s wound is more about the fact that she has little place to exist in this society with the current social values on consumerism--‘having more’, ‘gotta-have-it’ - which requires increased work hours to enable increased spending, therefore, creating increasingly frantic lifestyle as a result
          o Modern women who are less assertive and less intellectual often feel, inwardly, second-rate in our fast-paced, competitive society. A woman exhibiting a quiet presence, following her own internal (rather than externally exhibited) spirituality is, at best, misunderstood and viewed “quirky”, or a “loner”
          o Hestia experiences her wound when she is measured and judged by others’ outer-focused, tangible standards of success, accomplishment, or marital status.

Hestia’s gifts

          o Hestia type woman is able to enjoy her solitude - not just ‘here’ and ‘there’ whenever she can ‘grab a moment’ - but, truly enjoying her own being, consistently - she is not interested in ‘keeping busy’ - she does not enjoy ‘background noise’ to keep her company
          o Hestia exhibited an inner strength which rendered Aphrodite unsuccessful in seducing or persuading any love/eros desire in Hestia - Hestia has strength to resist all that takes her away from her own center
          o Hestia offers the gift of ritual-making, a powerful, affirming psychological method of honoring

Hestia’s personality

          o As a child & adolescent:
                + Hestia child tends to be quiet, compliant; however, on her own she enjoys self-directed play, exhibiting the beginnings of her own self-sufficiency
                + Hestia child may simply withdraw to her room in the midst of difficulty in her family life
                + She may feel isolated and alienated in her family because she feels so different from them - and, she is different
                + She may be labeled as ‘shy’ by others, however, this is an example of other people misunderstanding her true nature
                + As a teen she tends to steer clear of the social dramas of her peers. She may be perceived as a non-participant on the periphery of school life and activities, or, she may have one or two friends who share her more introverted, sensitive nature


          o As an adult woman:
                + In our modern culture, Hestia archetype is not predominant for the majority of women. Most women have other goddess archetypes predominant, yet some women may have hints of Hestia in their make-up. Other women may wish to cultivate Hestia qualities within themselves
                + Hestia type woman has a quiet, inner presence. She is detached in her relation to others, and she is unattached to any need for possessions, outcomes, status or power. She is free from the bind to external circumstances as her attachment to an identity is unimportant
                + Hestia types seek quiet tranquility
                + Hestia type is drawn to incorporating ritual, to meditation and to other reflective spiritual practices into her daily life
                + Hestia type focuses on her own inner experience/feelings - she is inwardly connected
                + Hestia type is keenly in touch with and connected to her personal values - with this knowledge, she lives her life by choosing that which is personally meaningful to her. She does not lose her center by pleasing others in ways that gratify ego/seeking acceptance
                + Hestia, as keeper of the hearth, goes about her tasks in a calm, centered, focused manner - whether she is sweeping or doing laundry, she is fully engaged, focusing on her task at hand--like a meditation--and not at all concerned about the clock or what she will be doing next. She experiences a timeless calm in the midst of her immediate tasks
                + Hestia types are ‘background’ women--she doesn’t stand out; she appears anonymous. However, her presence is felt by others creating an atmosphere of tranquil order
                + Meaning is a key point in a Hestia woman’s life - what she does, who she is with reflect the meaning she holds of value
                + Hestia type is not drawn into gossip and she isn’t interested in intellectual discourse
                + Hestia type is a good listener, she shows compassion in her detached manner
                + Because Hestia type appears to lack the driving outer ambition of her Athena and Artemis sisters, and since she doesn’t value power as her Hera sister, she may more than likely have a traditional, uninspiring job. She may feel unclear regarding her career direction.
                + Sexuality is not of key importance in a primarily Hestia type woman; however, she enjoys the experience when it occurs
                + A Hestia type who is married may appear to be in a traditional wife role, however, a truly Hestia woman maintains her inner autonomy and does not require a man in order to feel emotionally fulfilled
                + A woman in whom Hestia archetype predominates is often a single woman who lives differently from the conventions of society. Her family or married friends who subscribe to “normal” lives may ‘pity’ her aloneness. However, it is often the unconscious fear of alone-ness--loneliness within the individual that creates the presumption that the Hestia woman is unhappy or piteable.
                + A Hestia woman has cultivated a rich inner life and, therefore, has faced the challenge of human aloneness.
                + A Hestia woman has cultivated positive aspects of the ‘Recluse’--an independent and creative woman, she craves solitude which offers her the sacred space in which she makes contact with her deepest self--the place where she meets spirit.

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