Gather your girlfriends and get your groove on, December 1-5 is time for the festival of the Good Goddess Bona Dea, traditionally a girls-night-in led by ancient Rome’s priestesses of fire.

Get five top tips for hosting your own Bona Dea goddess party, here.

This mysterious Earth Mother of ancient Rome represents all things goddessy and feminine, from our wild, fierce and flirty to our nurturing, smart and sensual. She loved the forests, and her temples contained herb dispensaries.

In ancient Rome, this secretive celebration was held on 1-5 December (it’s too ancient to know exactly which date and seems to have varied) in the home of the chief magistrate or consul (who was sent away with the boys) and presided by the famous Vestal Virgins. With this privacy, women partied like they were rarely allowed with loads of wine and food, music, blood sacrifice and offerings.

Bona Dea’s festival invites you to reconnect, re-energise and revive all that you love about being woman (sans live sacrifice).

1. Invite guests to dress like a goddess

Explore your nature goddess in whatever outfit feels naturally beautiful, your own way.

This is a celebration of the feminine so encourage guests to wear something that feels fabulous and honors our bodies just the way they are. Roman goddess gowns feel gorgeous but remember Bona Dea is down-to-earth so guests needn’t go ‘woo woo’ if it isn’t comfortable: flirty, flouncy, floral, bling, goth, warrior or onesies all do it too. Anything goes!

2. Set the mood

Keep it feminine with pretty spring colours and florals.

Out under the moon is ideal for this nature goddess. Either outdoors or in, decorate from her forests and gardens: string vines; bunch herbs and wildflowers; scatter cinnamon sticks, seed pods and pine cones; you name it. Nature is abundance so pile the table high with luscious plant and animal foods like juicy berries and grapes, olives, dates, cheeses and cured meats. Red wine can represent the blood of the sacrifice as well as all things living, and the creative powers of women.

In the northern hemisphere December, draw on sensual deep reds and chocolate browns of the forest in late autumn and early winter.

3. Bring fire

Fire is another powerful way to connect to the feminine and our ability to nurture, provide, destroy, and attract. People are always drawn to the fireplace, right!? Who doesn’t want to be that girl!?

An open fire or BBQ also honors the Priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth fire, who originally conducted Bona Dea’s festival. If you can’t do a fire (or even if you can!) bring it with loads of candles, incense and party fave sparklers.

4. Invite your guests to share

What we know of the ancient celebration included votive offerings, which were gifts to the goddess and/or called on her for help. Encourage your guests to share and come away feeling great by asking around the table for affirmations or statements of gratitude. Mix it up with anonymous wishes written on paper or represented by a small item, thrown in your fire or held in a candle flame. Alert your guests before the evening so they can come prepared.

5. Dance!

What better way to celebrate those curves and that mysterious, miracle-creating body than to dance. Shimmy off those stresses! Any music will do. If it’s more your style, a yoga session, drumming and chanting, or even a pre-dinner workout all represent empowering movement.

Most importantly, celebrate together!

More about Bona Dea

Undefined in historical record, Bona Dea is thought to represent all goddesses in one, though is linked most to Fauna for her love of the forests, as well as to healing, women’s issues, divination and the underworld or the darker side of Mother Nature.

It is said that her temple in central Rome on the Aventine Hill is among Rome’s most ancient, and began as an open-air shrine at a cave or rock shelter. It is said, too, that snakes roamed freely about the temple (snakes are symbols of healing), and her priestesses were commoners rather than social elite as were others.

The Priestesses of Vesta

The famous Vestal Virgins lived at the Temple of Vesta which you can see in the Roman Forum today. Mostly aristocrats, they were among Rome’s most powerful, independent and wealthy women but paid a high price, taken into the temple as children and forced to serve and remain virginal for at least 30 years. Breaking their vows was punishable by death.

Their goddess Vesta is goddess of the hearth fire. Her temple housed a sacred fire that burned almost constantly for up to 1000 years and which was considered to represent the hearth of the empire and therefore its prosperity and security. Sitting modestly in the city centre while the Roman armies conquered the known world, her temple honoured the knowledge that a strong foundation and heart remained crucial to worldly success. In this position, the priestesses were often scapegoats for military or political defeats.

Book cover Fire and Sacrifice
Out now on Amazon

Based on a true story, the novel Fire and Sacrifice tells of ancient Rome’s most scandalous trial of three Vestal Virgins; of power, passion, and the fiery slave girl who would do anything to save her priestess.

Click here to read FREE PREVIEW CHAPTERS: Chapter 1 and Chapter 8 when the Vestals preside over the festival of Bona Dea.

The author

Victoria Collins is author of Fire and Sacrifice among other books, and is a communications professional, visual artist, and self-confessed witchy woman based in Canberra, Australia. Yep, she has a black cat.

It is in October that the tale of the three priestesses in Fire and Sacrifice begins, so this October 2133 years later my monthly post goes back to the beginning.

It is 114BC Rome: 114 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, before Caesar, before Antony and Cleopatra, the emperors, the Colosseum, and before Pompeii was buried in volcanic ash.

It is mid Autumn. As the days shorten and the evenings cool, the priestesses’ sacred fire takes on greater import as Romans and their slaves and servants are drawn to her warmth.

Before there was a temple in this little corner of the bustling and famous Roman Forum, there was a campfire. From even before the time Romulus and his men made camp and built a fire for warmth and to cook the spoils of a hunt, this fire was survival.

In the coming Winter where the nights can drop to zero degrees, it would keep them alive.

Very quickly they came to cherish it.

Very quickly it became vital to be able to keep it aflame, and to use it to revive the fires of the new camps and clans growing around them should they be in need.

The new Romans protected their fire from wind and rain, with walls and a roof. Archaeological excavations have found the remains of wooden postholes at the Temple of Vesta that date back to 600 or 700BC.

They protected it later with stone. They named the fire a goddess, Vesta, and the shelter her temple. They raised an alter, and used the fire to cleanse their sacrifices to other gods, too.

The fire came to represent the beating heart of Rome itself. And, just as the campfire signals to the soldier, explorer, hunter, nomad that home has survived and waits safely, so the hearth in the Temple of Vesta in the centre of Rome symbolised no less that the very survival of the Roman empire.

And they would kill their most beloved, to protect that.

Here, in October 2133 years later, begins the story of the princess-priestess Aemilia and her servant Secunda.

Click here to get a copy of Fire and Sacrifice.

Very excited to work with the fab ladies at Biddy Tarot, appearing on their blog this month. Writing this was a fun and fascinating journey into the goddess Vesta as well as Minerva and Venus: three gals with helluva punch!

Rider Waite Queen of Swords

As personifications of female archetypes, the Tarot Queens can be much like the goddesses. Relating a Tarot Queen to a goddess with the same traits can be a very effective way to deepen your understanding of these cards.

Get to know these multi-faceted goddesses, and you can uncover insights and connections with the Tarot Queens in easy and exciting ways.

As earthly beings of the minor arcana, I look upon a Tarot Queen as a priestess of the chosen goddess; one who walks with the goddess in her everyday mortal work (just like you can!).

Rider Waite Queen of Cups

Read the full blog for

Queen of Swords (Minerva, goddess of wisdom and war – not particularly in touch with her emotions but gets the job done!)

Queen of Cups (Venus, goddess of love and beauty – unashamedly feminine and in-touch with her feelings and desires but totally in control of them!)

Queen of Pentacles (Vesta, goddess of the hearth fire – an ultimate Earth Mother, pragmatist and provider)

Queen of Wands (the hotter side of Vesta, goddess of the hearth fire – magnetic, passionate and charismatic).