They prepared the mola salsa that was used in all state sacrifices. Originally, there were 2, then 4 in Plutarch's time , and then 6 Vestal Virgins. They were proceeded by lictors, who carried the rods and ax that could be used to inflict punishments on the people, if necessary. The first Vestal was taken from her parents "as though she had been captured in war," and led by the hand. It has been thought that the Vestal Virgins wore their hair in the seni crines style of brides where the six parts to be braided and piled up were separated by a spear.
The college of the Vestals was regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome. These individuals cultivated the sacred fire that was not allowed to go out. Vestals were freed of the usual social obligations to marry and bear children and took a year vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were forbidden to the colleges of male priests. According to Livy, writing in the Augustan age , Numa introduced the Vestals and assigned them salaries from the public treasury. Livy also says that the priestesshood of Vesta had its origins at Alba Longa. Also writing in the 2nd century, Plutarch attributes the founding of the Temple of Vesta to Numa, who appointed at first two priestesses; Servius Tullius increased the number to four.
At some point during your studies of modern Paganism, you'll probably run across references to ritual sex, including - but certainly not limited to - the Great Rite. It's important to clarify what these are because you're most likely encountering statements that most Wiccans and Pagans don't really have sex in their rituals. So, what's the deal with ritual sex? In some although certainly not all traditions of Wicca and Paganism, sacred sex is part of spiritual practice. Wicca in its original form, as envisioned by Gerald Gardner , is first and foremost a fertility religion, so it's understandable that at some point you may encounter some references to sexual acts, whether they be actual or implied.
The Roman celebration of Vestalia was held each year in June, near the time of Litha, the summer solstice. This festival honored Vesta, the Roman goddess who guarded virginity. She was sacred to women, and alongside Juno was considered a protector of marriage. The Vestalia was celebrated from June 7 to June 15, and was a time in which the inner sanctum of the Vestal Temple was opened for all women to visit and make offerings to the goddess.