Homeric Hymn #24: To Hestia
“Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollon, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise– draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.”
The goddess Hestia is the foremost deity of the home in Hellenic religion. The first to be born of Mother Rhea, and the last to be spat forth from the belly of Kronos, She is both the eldest and youngest of Their Children. It was She Who spent the most time within the confines of Her divine Parents’ own Selves. She alone Who reached the contemplative bliss that would prove necessary for Her reign over the hearth and home.
Now, I do not know Hestia very well yet, but as a Hellenic, I have an obligation to get to know Her… on Her terms. This means, of course, that I will have to take domesticity seriously. As a woman who grew up with high-minded Wiccan ideals in a matriarchal family situation, I’ve never really been too inclined toward the role I now fulfill. And though I never thought I’d be a power-chick, I also never imagined I’d be a housewife. (I think my actual aspirations were somewhere between secluded priestess and concert violinist.) It isn’t something that comes naturally to me, hence why I needed to be passed along to our most gracious Lady Hestia.
If you recall, Apollon (along with Lord Poseidon), once courted our Lady for Her fair hand in marriage. Hestia strikes me, firstly, as a very demure and reserved deity, so that bit of history between Them is none too surprising. I know that my Lord is attracted to those qualities. I also know that is precisely why I’ve been encouraged so strongly to strengthen my bonds with Her.
[I realize that since I don’t know Her very well right now, that I may not be seeing all of Her personality. Forgive me if my understanding of the goddess is as yet a bit one-dimensional.]
The Prince wishes me to study under Her for a while, to gain the poise She exhibits, and the discipline. He feels these are very specific lessons which I would benefit most from learning under Her care. And I must agree. If there is any god(dess) Who embodies the very ideals of demure and discipline, it is Hestia. It takes a rigorously humbled individual to perform Her duties, day in and day out, on Olympos, and in each and every hearth-fire on the planet. She is our ultimate role-model in these matters, and the debt we owe Her is great, as attested by the simple fact that She receives the first and last portions of every offering. Even before Zeus, our King, we honor Hestia.
She is that sacred flame, the spark of life which dwells at the heart of every oikos, including the Oikos of the gods. And in this capacity, though highly limited, I find that I am most like Her. The spark… the passion for service is where She and I find our common ground. I simply need to embrace the domestic end just as readily as I embrace the more formally ritualized aspects. Service is service, after all, which is the true lesson of the Hearth Goddess’ tutelage.
Thanks in part to Hestia’s presence, I feel like I’ve finally been able to establish this home as Apollon’s home. As the title of this post suggests, I now tend the hearth of Apollon. Which, honestly, is just a fancy way of saying that my Prince has officially “moved in”.