Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Domestic Greek Goddess Hestia

A Sketch of Hestia

Like many figures in mythology Hestia wears various faces. As Greek goddess of the hearth, family and household she is described as a  peaceful, mild and charitable. She is said to portray domestic joy and the contented life. In our modern view she seems almost too perfect.

One might assume her to be meek and subservient, those very traits the feminist movement has fought to overcome. But with deeper examination we find a calm strength for she is secure in herself. She does not give of her time and energy because of other's demands but because she truly wants to. As she carries out her tasks she reflects a quiet sense of celebration. Hestia lives in the present, each moment is precious to her.

Having fleshed her out and given her life and breath in the former paragraph I must tell you that Hestia is the one goddess who was never depicted as a physical woman. Perhaps this is just as well, she would be so hard to emulate. How much more uplifting to envision her as the flame of life or a spirit of warmth and safety.

I offer you a Hestia poem.

"Goddess of the Morning"

I wake in darkness, the house
is cold. Warmth from the
furnace will soon enfold.

My hunger pangs
won't last long. Breakfast
is being prepared with a song.

School clothes hang
over my chair, ironed
and ready for me to wear.

Though I can't see her
from my room, I know she's there
in the morning gloom.

Mother carries out
these chores, but she's sustained
by something more.

For Hestia tends the fire.

Hestia was considered the protector of orphans and lost children and who among us has not felt lost or orphaned at some time. See her as a comfort when your life seems too hectic and scattered. In a world that honors only outward achievements we so need her example of a tranquil inner life.

Unexpected Hestia Moments

Hestia reminds us of those beautiful moments that somehow draw us from our everyday busyness into a timeless experience of total awareness and appreciation. It might be found watching a child on a swing or while listening to music. Even a glance at the cat sleeping in a sunny window as we rush about getting ready for work can pull us out of the ordinary into quiet reverie. These occurrences cannot be forced. They are a gift; to accept requires only that we allow them in.


distant mountains
soft dun profile
barely noticed
mind on the ordinary

cleaning, reading
chatting on the phone
running errands

until evening sun
begins it's descent
launching a transformation

unexpected brilliance
of gold, bronze, amber
draws me to those
once drab hills

I am compelled
to sit, to watch
ever shifting forms

shadows amidst
swathes of sunshine
once hidden ridges
outlined by jet ravines
stark beauty

now the light softens
mahogany, amethyst, mauve
with charcoal depths
a prayer to dusk

I close my eyes
futile attempt
to hold on to the moment

for when I glance again
only a fading profile remains

I reenter the mundane

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