Introduction to Hestia

Hestia, goddess of the hearth, holds a central place in Greek religion. Her interest is primarily in the realm of home and family, alhough she is also concerned with civic matters and the safety and stability of cities, ruling not only the hearth of the household but that of the community as well.

Myths and Stories

Hestia has very little mythology in comparison with her sibling gods. One of the Olympians, she was first born of Rhea and first swallowed by her father Kronos; she was also last to be reborn when Zeus caused Kronos to disgorge all of his brothers and sisters. Because of this, Hestia receives both the first and the last offering at rituals and feasts.

It is also well known that Hestia is one of three virgin goddesses (along with Artemis and Athena) who are immune to Aphrodite’s powers. Although eagerly sought after by Poseidon and Apollo, she asked Zeus if she might remain a virgin and occupy the hearth of the home, and this he granted.

Festivals

Hestia’s worship took place primarily in the home rather than in public ritual. Her name, in Greek, means “hearth,” and in many ways she is identified with that center of every home. Libations were made at the hearth, as were the small offerings of food made to her at each meal or family sacrifice.

Symbols

The fire of the hearth itself is Hestia’s symbol.

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