Why Capricorn Nigella is a Modern Vestal (Un)Virgin

Friday December 24th 2010
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.

Who’s 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.

Cooking Goddess

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.

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  1. Diane says:

    I’m so very glad you chose to write this piece and hope your Christmas dinner was fabulous whomever cooked it. It made me wonder about that other Brit-although I can’t remember his name-the Hell’s Kitchen guy and where his Vesta might be.

  2. Christine says:

    Hahaha, I love this!

    I’m a Capricorn with Vesta exactly conjunct my Libra asc, and trine my Sun. I’ve been wondering what new career path to take, and with a Cancer NN I now think I’ve got it. Thank you very much, and may your Christmas nosh be the best ever…..

  3. Christina says:

    Diana – the lovely Gordon Ramsay has his Vesta at 10 Libra and not very integrated with the rest of the chart. I think he sees cooking as a competitive sport, don’t you?

    He has no planets in Cap, but I don’t have his birth time so he may well have an angle there.

    Here’s a funny thing though: his Mars (anger) is conjunct his Moon (emotions and nurturing and mother) in Virgo conjunct the generational Pluto-Uranus conjunction. That’s really intense stuff around his mother which he acts out for the benefit of the rest of us.

    Christine – I think you’ve spotted a patern. Also Julia Child and Gordon Ramsay share your Vesta in Libra so maybe there’s something to that. Do you want to be the best cook on the block?

    On to the stuffing now!

  4. Sabrina says:

    Oh my! fun post. Mi vesta is also in libra, about 6 degrees from my moon in 1rst so not really a contact,but still, even having no planets in earth (just my asc) this girl can cook! Also love Julia and Nigella…

  5. Locus Beatus says:

    Fascinating! I have Venus /Vesta exact to 0.30˚, in Capricorn, and also a Cap Sun 5˚ away, all in H5, and all trine my Taurus Moon. (I also have Mercury in Cap, though not conjunct).

    I’m an excellent home maker, and I alsolutely love to cook – I’ve made money doing it as well as in writing, photography, research and publishing.

    Cooking is my passion: I love to grown food, write about it, read about it – but nothing beats serving a much praised and enjoyed meal. I’m quite competitive about it too! – when our little team cooks the Village Lunch (a charity meal for older villagers, a team of us take turns) I always ensure our three meals are the BEST of the season (and they are). Cap Vesta is quite perfectionist I think…

  6. V. intriguing re. Vesta and fits for Nigella beautifully. Do you have a list of the rest of the ‘tutelary deities’for each of the Sun signs? I haven’t heard about that and would be interested to find out more.
    By the way, Christina, I keep meaning to say ‘thank you’ to adding me to your list of astrologers on the left. Very much appreciated and when I get round to adding resources/services/recommendations to my website, I shall return the favour. I love your astrology. best wishes, Sally

    • Christina says:

      My pleasure, sally.

      If you type tutelary deities into the search box on here, you should find a host of articles which list them, or try typing in Manillius.

  7. […] deity, Jupiter. (Tutelary deities are not the same as ruling planets. For more see this earlier post or look at this page.) So the Olympian husband and wife team are matched across the Zodiac: she […]

  8. […] previous posts, I’ve shown how Vesta is associated with chefs and Juno with marriage (click the names to read the articles), so […]

  9. […] hearth itself. That is why I associate the asteroid named after her with cooks. Back in January I wrote about Vesta in the charts of well-known cooks, pointing out that our very own Nigella Lawson has Vesta conjunct […]

  10. carmen says:

    Very interesting. I have Venus in 7th house capricorn opposite vesta on 2nd house cusp in cancer. I don’t like to cook but I’m interested in food cuisine shows and books.

  11. Vesta says:

    My Vesta is 13 Cancer, conjunct my MC 9 Cancer, so it’s in the 10th house, career etc. My venus is 19 Sag, so they’re quincunx, they irritate each other.
    I also have a grand water trine with Vesta and my neptune and mercury in Scorpio, and saturn, chiron and ceres in Pisces. So Vesta is pretty important in my chart, I think?
    I’m an instinctive cook, I get impatient with recipes, I read them for inspiration, not instruction. I don’t have the cleanest or tidiest home, but I’m always told people feel they can relax and not worry about messing up the cushions or something. They feel at home. 🙂
    I’d like to learn more because obviously I don’t know the first thing about any of this and I’m just guessing at what I think I know. 🙂
    I read once that Vesta is also the activist, which is why I chose it for my username here. That’s definitely me.
    The recent u/plu squares hit my Vesta. Hard for me to separate anything from the tumultuous chaos, everything was upended.

  12. Dawn says:

    Eclipse on your Vesta – is this when you and Sally me? 🙂
    Lovely piece, just thought I’d do a search as she’s back with a new book and ‘mended’