|A priestess of the goddess Vesta,
“tutelary deity” to Capricorn.
Here imagined by 19th century
painter Lord Leighton.
Capricorns is a dull sign, ruled by that old curmudgeon Saturn – right? It’s all about status and work and dads and being sensible bla bla bla. It’s government, institutions, corporations.
Well that is all quite true but there’s more to the old goat-fish than boardrooms and account executives. Let me tell you – my understanding of Capricorn was transformed when I investigated its association with the goddess of the hearth, Vesta – and found how strongly she wields her power.
Roman astrologers assigned a “tutelary deity”, who was not usually the same as the ruling planet, to each sign of the Zodiac. By tutelary deity they meant a kind of friendly helping god; someone who was watching out for you, a wise aunt or uncle (with super powers), whose example is as important as her or his advice. So Capricorn is ruled by Saturn but guided by Vesta.
Just because she was the kitchen goddess, don’t be fooled into thinking Vesta was minor. In ancient times, every household had an altar to Vesta or Hestia, as she was called by the Greeks. It was the kitchen fire, which was never allowed to go out. Here all the food was cooked and at the beginning of every meal a scrap was thrown on the fire for the gods, the first in line always being Vesta.
Her round temple was central Rome and to Roman identity. It symbolised the hearth of the whole Roman family. Girls from patrician families were chosen to become “Vestal Virgins,” that is priestesses of the goddess. They had special privileges and high status, but had to maintain their virginity until the age of 30. Their chastity was considered vital for the well-being of Rome itself. There you have a direct association with government. Scandalous tales of the corruption of Vestals titillated the gossip of Rome and the imaginations of artist’s for the next millenia or two.
|I’d be gobsmacked if her Moon
was not actually in Taurus, which
would mean she was born in the evening.
So Vesta is the domestic goddess, but also the goddess of the state. The former set me to wondering about what kind of people might have strong Capricorn and I pondered idly that perhaps Nigella Lawson, whose first book was, rather irritatingly, entitled How to Be a Domestic Goddess, might just have a Vestal connection. I don’t have her birth time, but frankly that doesn’t matter because her chart is perfection already.
Now according to most astrology books, she should be strongly Cancerian with all that food stuff going on, but she has nothing in Cancer. On the contrary, this is a very ambitious spokeswoman for Vesta herself.
Her Sun (her self) is smack in the middle of Capricorn, conjunct Saturn (work, ambition), and Mercury, planet of writing, TV and commerce. Her fame has come in mid-career, when she found what she was really supposed to be writing about. Saturn is all about delay.
Her Vesta is conjunct Venus – and she is indeed a sexy Venus in the kitchen. I know bachelors (and middle-aged dads) everywhere who have developed a keen interest in cooking (programmes) thanks to Nigella Lawson.
And how the goddess has smiled on her protegée. Since Nigella L. took up the pen in praise of things Vestal, she has gone from success to super-success.
You ask about other food writers – or should we call them worshippers at the temple of Vesta?
Martha Stewart – North Node (the point of destiny) to the minute conjunct Vesta.
Elizabeth David (very important in Britain) – Sun Capricorn close sextile to Vesta in Pisces applying to the Node.
Julia Child (I love her. Watch her make an omelette here.) – Vesta in Libra (she’s always cooking for her husband right, then she did the double-act with Jacques Pepin). Vesta forms a lucky Kite with Saturn, Uranus and Jupiter, tethering the outer planets to the Moon.
Nigel Slater – Not so obvious, except that his eccentric Mars (masculinity) is exactly to the minute square Vesta in Taurus.
To end on a personal note, that recent eclipse happened exactly on my own Vesta, so I hope that means I’m going to cook an absolutely blinding Christmas dinner. Or maybe I’ve just written a piece about Vesta instead.
Merry Christmas! And Capricorns, go forth and cook, while the rest of us try and pay more attention to our deities.