Roman Rites and Charms

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One of the most daunting tasks I have procrastinated undertaking with respect to my writing on the Religio Romana is the Roman "Wheel of the Year." Depending on which version of the calendar one consults, somewhere from two thirds to three-quarters of the year in the Roman calendar is dedicated to festivals of some sort or another. Rather than make any attempt to practice a religion with so many holy days in the twenty-first century, what I have attempted to do is to determine which holidays were most important to the Roman populace, based not only on which seemed to be the most popular festivals, but also on the survival of ancient and agricultural traditions into the late Republic and Empire. In doing so, I have omitted holidays that are seemed simply commemorative in nature, such as festivals celebrating the dedication of a temple or a military victory. I certainly hope I have caused no great offense to any Roman entities, whether they be deities, ancestors, or spirits, but I cannot imagine how a modern pagan could do otherwise.Many of the ancient agricultural based festivals survived into the Republican and Imperial ages, it would seem, because their focus shifted in part from seeking the blessings and purification on behalf of the crops and fields to the blessing and purification of the people, community, and state. For example, the purpose of the Ambarvalia was originally to purify the fields and corn as it ripened, and farmers would lead the sacrifices around the boundaries of the fields. Later, people in the cities also celebrated the festival, but instead of circling the sacrifices around the fields, they were led around people gathered outside the city by their tribe or district. In any case, even in Rome's most prosperous days, she was still reliant upon the goodwill of the deities involved with the harvesting of grain and grapes. So even though the focus of the Religio Romana is less agriculturally based than most ancient Indo-European traditions, it retains much more than I would have expected.Much information about the practice of these festivals has been lost or distorted, but there is an amazing amount of writings from primary sources like Ovid and Cicero who offer all kinds of tidbits and details of religious particulars. Most of the research for this article comes from secondary sources which reference contemporary writers, and I will describe each of the following Holy Days as well as I can.AprilApril is quite possibly the busiest month of the year in the Roman calendar. Of the 29 days in the month, only three are dies fastus [DEE-ays FAHS-toos], days when legal action is permitted, and only seven are dies comitalis [DEE-ays comb-it-TAL-ees), days when votes may be taken on political or criminal matters. There are five nefastus publicus [nay-FAHS-toos POOB-li-coos] when public festivals are celebrated, and 14 dies nefastus [DEEays nay-FAHS-toos], on which no legal action or voting of any kind may occur. A very busy month, full of festivals and games. In any case, I was able to narrow down my more modern version of the Roman calendar to include a mere seven major festivals for the month of April.The fourth day of April marks the beginning of the Ludi Megalesia [LOO-dee meg-al-EE-see-uh], a seven day celebration. The Megalesian Games are dedicated to the Great Mother Goddess, Cybele [kib-AY-lay], a Phrygian goddess imported from Asia Minor. The cult is said to have been introduced in 204 BCE, when the sacred black stone of the goddess was brought to Rome in hopes of gaining assistance against the military threat of Hannibal and his armies. Cybele's importation also emphasizes the Trojan origins of Rome, a tradition many Roman historians and politicians sought to perpetuate. Conservative Romans were rarely tolerant of foreign cults, although over time, most Romans grudgingly accepted Cybele, who was sometimes associated with the Roman mother goddess, Magna Mater [MAHG-na MA-tair].During the festival, games were held in honor of the Great Mother, including spectacles and theatrical performances, which were welcomed and well-attended by crowds of Romans in search of entertainment. The more aristocratic Romans gave elaborate private parties on the first day of the festival and avoided the noisy crowds as much as possible. Oriental eunuchs, called galii [GALLee- ee], were effeminate priests who paraded around the streets making a racket with their noisy cymbals, tambourines, and drums. They sang hymns in Greek, while carrying a crowned statue of the goddess on a litter throughout the city and flagellated themselves in ecstasy for the duration of the festival. Of course, respectable Romans did not participate in such gaudy displays that were entirely lacking in decorum.Shortly after the end of the Megalesian Games, the eight-day Ludi Cereri [LOO-dee kair-AIRee], games to honor Ceres [KAIR-ays], begin on 12 April. The Ceralia [kair-AH-lee-uh], the festival that closes the games on 19 April, seems to have been established some time prior to 202 BCE. But Ceres had her own flamen, or priest from much earlier times, and her temple, located on the Aventine Hill, was dedicated in 493 BCE. Ceres was worshiped at that site along with Liber [LEE-bair] and Libera [lee- BAIR-uh], ancient Italian deities, from time immemorial in a manner that may have been similar to the Eleusinian Mysteries; however, little information remains of their details.Ovid indicates that farmers could make offerings of spelt and salt to Ceres, as well as incense, while Virgil mentions offerings of milk, honey, and wine. As for the rituals performed at her temple, we have no information, but we do know of one peculiar tradition at the opening of the games that involved releasing foxes with burning brands tied to their tales. No one really knows the significance of this tradition, but Ovid suggests a tale where a fox's tale was set afire as a warning to other vermin to keep away from the crops.On 15 April is the Fordicidia [for-DIK-ee-uh], a very ancient festival to promote the fertility of the fields and herds. Ovid gives an account involving the offering of a pregnant cow (forda) to the Earth, Tellus. One cow was offered by the pontiffs on the Capital, as well as one in each of the 30 curiae [CURE-ee-eye], or city wards. The unborn calves were removed from each cow by the Vestal Virgins and burned. They saved the ashes, which were then used in the Parilia.The Parilia [pahr-REEL-ee-uh], 21 April, also an ancient agricultural festival to purify and protect flocks, is held in honor of the Pales [PAH-lays]. There has been much speculation as to the nature of the Pales, whether the Pales are singular or plural, masculine or feminine. In any case, the original purpose of the festival was the purification of the sheep and shepherds and to keep them free from disease. To this end, the sheep and sheep folds were thoroughly cleansed, fumigated, and decorated with laurel. The spring tradition of jumping over or between bonfires or leading the flocks between them derives from this purification; the fire was made of olive and pine wood with laurel branches thrown in to purify the sheep, as well as the shepherds. Offerings of millet cakes, food, and milk were made while the shepherds prayed to Pales, asking for protection. In their prayers, they also begged the Pales' forgiveness in case they had accidentally grazed on holy land, cut wood, or sullied any sacred waters. The celebration culminates in a large feast.One of the most interesting things about the Parilia is that what began as a purely agricultural celebration. evolved into an urban festival as well. The focus, rather than sheep, became the birth and renewal of the city. People decorated their houses with greenery, just as the shepherds decorated the sheep folds. They built a large bonfire in the city, made from bean straw and laurel, into which were thrown the ashes of the unborn calves that were sacrificed at the Fordicidia, as well as the blood of the October horse sacrificed the previous year.The next festival is not a particularly prominent one, although its focus is one very near and dear to the hearts of all Romans. On 23 April is the Vinalia Priora [vee-NAH-lee-uh pree-OR-ee-uh], the first of two wine festivals (the other being the Vinalia Rustica [vee-NAH-lee-uh ROOS-tee-cuh] on 19 August) celebrated by Romans. The main feature of this celebration was the ritual first opening of wine made last autumn. The origins and focus of the Vinalia are somewhat obscure; however, a libation of the first wine out of the cask was made to Jupiter. Only then could they be sampled by mere men. This was followed by much celebration, and farmers or merchants were then permitted to bring into the city their previous year's wine for distribution and sale.Another festival with an agricultural focus comes on 25 April. The Robiglia [robe-I-GALL-ee-uh] is celebrated in honor of (or as a deterrent to) the spirit of corn blight, Robigus [ROBE-I-goos]. April may seem like an unlikely time to worry about corn rust, until one considers the growing season in Italy. Most grain was harvested in early June, and so it would have been most vulnerable to rust during late April, just as it was coming out of sheath. Lest rust or mildew harm the crop, a rust-colored dog and a sheep are sacrificed as appeasement to Robigus. Ovid tells of encountering a crowd all wearing white robes on its way to the grove of Robigus to throw the entrails of a dog and sheep that the flamen Quirnalis [FLA-men queer-I-NAH-lees] was carrying. Whether the red or rust color relates to the disease or the color of the grain itself, the Robigalia seems be a survival of sympathetic magic designed to protect the corn so that it could mature.The last major holiday in April is the six-day Ludi Florae [LOO-dee FLOOR-eye], from 27 April to 2 May. Flora is an ancient Italian goddess of vegetation. As such, a spring festival and six days of games held in her honor. At some time during the third century BCE, and due to a recommendation derived from a consultation of the Sibylline Books, these games were instituted. The idea was that if the crops flowered well in April, one could expect harvest to be good. Accordingly, during the games, spectators where showered with vetches, beans, and lupines presumably as a magical stimulating fertility. On the last day of the games, hundreds of hares and goats (animals notable for their reproductive stamina) were released.By the time of Augustus, the focus of the festival had (understandably) evolved from the flowering of grain to sex and licentiousness. Prostitutes claimed the Floralia as their own holiday, and Juvenal claims that some prostitutes performed in the nude and even fought as gladiators in the games. Many of the more popular, albeit less respectable theatrical performances involved strip-tease plays. Ovid also mentions that all women wore garments of many colors, as opposed to the customary white clothing worn during Ceralia. We continue this tradition of getting out our colorful spring clothing this time of year to this day.At the same time, and by way of contrast, occurs the Feriae Latinae [FAIR-ee-eye lah-TEEN-eye], the Latin Festival, which survived from the time of the Latin League. This festival was a joint celebration of Romans and Latins who gathered in Alban hills, normally before consuls took off for campaigning season. Originally, all states sent representatives (Pliny the Elder listed some 47 states in attendance), who made offerings of milk and sacrificed a white heifer which they later shared as a communal meal. In early times, it would probably have been a somber ritual, with each delegate pledging loyalty to each other and to their gods and honoring the kinship among them. By the time Rome had reached prominence in Latium, the festival had probably become more of an opportunity for other communities to offer allegiance to Rome, while Rome recognized each state's contribution to the rise of the Roman state.MayMay is a somewhat gloomy month, given the somber nature of its key celebrations. In May, there are four dies nefastus, days on which no legal or political business could take place; three dies nefastus publicus, public festival days; six dies fastus, on which legal action was permitted; and 17 dies comitiales, which were open to all legal and political business. May was considered a unlucky month to marry, possibly because of darkness of festivals like the Lemuria.The Lemuria [lee-MER-ee-uh] is a festival of the dead, occurring on 3 non-successive days, on 9, 11, and 13 May. While there is no extant information on the public rites involved, we have access to details of the domestic cult rituals. These rituals, performed by the paterfamilias [pah-tair-fam-ILL-EEUS], or head of the family, appease the spirits of deceased household members so they won't haunt the house. At midnight, the paterfamilias rises, washes his hands, makes the mano fico [MAH-no FEE-ko] sign (making a sort of fist with the thumb sticking out between the second and third fingers), and walks barefoot through the house spitting out nine black beans (or casting them over his shoulder). With his eyes averted, for each bean cast, he says "With this I ransom me and mine." Then he washes his hands again, hits a loud gong, and repeats nine times, "Ancestral ghosts, depart!" At this point, he looks around and any ghosts are gone. Perhaps the beans act as some sort of bribe or a ransom for members of the living household that the lemures might otherwise carry off, and I liken this practice to ADF's outsider offerings.In Italy, grains ripen toward the end of May and are cut in early June, so that May is a busy month for farmers, who must keep their fields clear of weeds and anticipate the coming harvest. Meanwhile, in the city, after the busy month of April when precious little business could be conducted, politicians and businessmen tried to accomplish as much as possible before the hot, dry months of summer. While there are also the festivals of Agonalia [ah-go-NAHlee- uh], which also occurs in March and December, and the Tubilustrium [too-bee-LOOS-tree-um], the purification of the assembly trumpets, the main celebration of Ambarvalia [ahm-bar-WALL-ee-uh] occurs during the Feriae Conceptivae [FAIR-ee-eye konekep- TEE-why} , a moveable feast at the end of May.The Ambarvalia is the annual "beating of the bounds," a means of purifiying the fields by leading sacrificial victims around boundaries. There were both both public and private rites involving the agricultural deities Ceres, goddess of growth, and Mars, god of strength, Rome continued the rural tradition involving a public procession with pigs, sheep, oxen around the old boundaries of Rome with sacrifices at particular locations. Tradition has it that Romulus, when he founded Rome, performed just such a lustration in plowing around the site to create the pomerium, or sacred boundary.In the countryside, the Ambarvalia was performed by every farm and every village, its citizens leading the sacrificial victims around their homestead or town to purify it. In the city, such a lustration was also performed to conclude the census; a bull, a sheep, and a pig were lead three times around the Roman people, who had gathered and grouped themselves by curiae outside the city.JuneDuring the 30 days of June, there are eight dies nefasti days on which no legal or political business could take place; two dies nefastus publicus, public festival days; two dies fastus, on which legal action was permitted; and 17 dies comitiales, which were open to all legal and political business. Like May, the first part was considered an unlucky time to get married, until the end of the Vestalia [west-AHL-ee-uh], the first major festival in June, at which time the refuse from the temple of Vesta [WES-tah] was cleaned out and dumped into the Tiber.The Vestalia is a seven day festival, although on 7 June is the Vesta aperitur [WES-tah ah-PAIR-ee-tour] two days before Vestalia is actually consecrated to Vesta. On that day the penus [PAY-noos] (literally, "storehouse"), the inner sanctum of the temple of Vesta, was opened for women. Usually, it was open only to Vestals and to the Pontifex Maximus; men were forbidden to enter the temple at any time, which would then be closed at the culmination of the festival, on 15 June.The Vestalia begins officially on 9 June. Vesta is one of the most ancient and revered of all Roman deities, hearkening back to the times when families lived in huts and kept their own hearth as sacred. As people began to gather in villages, a community hearth was its central focus, and in Rome, the temple of Vesta, home of the state hearth, was in a round building, much like the huts ancients would have occupied in pre-urban times. Ovid describes meeting married Roman women in bare feet coming and going from the temple of Vesta with simple offerings of food.The state temple of Vesta's importance is demonstrated by the fact that in addition to the eternal flame maintained by the Vestals, along with the Penates [pen-AH-tays] (guardians of the storehouse) of the Roman People, and the Palladium [pah-LAYdee- um], the statue of Pallas Athene that had been rescued from the fires of Troy by Aeneas. Vesta represented the prosperity of Rome and the eternal flame was symbolic of Rome's eternal power. The Vestalia was also considered a holiday period for bakers and millers because of the mola salsa [MO-lah SAL-suh} , a special offering bread prepared by the Vestals with water they carried by hand from a sacred spring. On 15 June was the Vesta clauditur [WES-tuh clow- DEE-tour], the day dirt was swept from temple of Vesta, and taken to be dumped in the Tiber River. At that time, the temple was again closed to the public, and business could continue. In fact, the day is designated on calendars as "Q.S.D.F." (Quando Stercus Delatum Fas), meaning "as soon as the rubbish is cleared out." So in addition to the annual tradition of getting out Spring clothes and Easter bonnets, we can also attribute our penchant for spring cleaning.Finally, there are two remaining festivals in June worth mentioning. On 11 June is the Matralia [mah-TRAL-ee-uh], a festival for mothers, in honor of Mater Matuta, an ancient Italian goddess. On 24 June, the festival of Fors Fortuna [FORS for- TUNE-uh] was celebrated in commemoration of a temple dedication in 293BCE. The temple had been vowed in gratitude for and celebration of a Roman victory over the Etruscans and Samnites, but is noteworthy since slaves could participate. Most rituals prohibited slaves and women from attending, but Fortuna was a very popular deity, in part because of uniquely class-free favor she grants to those of all walks of life.WORKS CITEDAdkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins. Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.Ogilvie, R.M. The Romans and Their Gods in the Age of Augustus. London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1969.Ovid. Fasti. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1976.Scullard, H.H. Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1981.
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I've written a 12-part offering module for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It can be used as either: 1) a small, individual ritual of offering, or 2) as the central part of a full group ritual (probably best used with the Roman ritual template).The most appropriate offering would be wine, although offerings of spelt or incense would be appropriate, too. For those who prefer to Latinize their litanies, an appropriate response would be (for each deity) "Macte esto," meaning (literally) "be increased"... or "be blessed" if you're less literal. The idea is that we offer prayers and wine/grain/incense/whatever to increase the capacity of the deities to bless us and/or respond to our pleas for intercession in return.Janus Pater, God of Beginnings, to those who have lost their homes and their communities:May You provide new beginnings, new homes, new jobs, and new friends to fill the empty places of those that were lost. Hear our plea, Janus Pater.Tellus Mater, Mother Earth, to those whose loved ones have died and who are burdened by unimaginable losses, finding themselves like refugees in their own country:May You provide comfort in the embrace of your loving arms. Hear our plea, Tellus Mater.Neptunus Pater, Provider of Fresh Water, to those areas inundated and polluted by flood water, debris and sewage:May You allow levees to be repaired, debris to be removed and help draw back the unclean waters and refresh those flooded areas with clean, pure water. Hear our plea, Neptunus Pater.Fortuna Redux, Fortune, the Home-bringer, to those who fled their homes and inundated cities, who wonder if they will ever be able to return home or if they even have a home to return to:May You keep them safe and steer them safely home when it is safe to return. Hear our plea, Fortuna Redux.Aesculapius, God of Healing, to those who are injured, those separated and searching for family, for those who have been traumatized:May You be a healing presence in their lives for as long as it takes them to return to wholeness. Hear our plea, Aesculapius.Spes, Goddess of Hope, to those who return to homes battered by wind and engulfed by flood and to those who have no homes to return to:May You provide hope that they may rebuild, reorganize, regroup and renew their homes and communities. Hear our plea, Spes.Mercurius, Protector of Travelers, to those who suffer on the streets or crowded into shelters, hot, weary, and fearful; to those who feel homesick and far away from loved ones and their homes at this time:May You provide the comfort of safe homes, rest and hospitality for as long as it is needed, comforting families and friends across the distance. Hear our plea, Mercurius.Ceres Mater, Provider of the Fruits of Earth, to those who have lost all material possessions; to the poor and those whose livelihoods have been lost or impaired by this disaster; to those whose workplaces have become unsafe and who face an uncertain future:May You provide sustenance and restore prosperity as quickly as possible. Hear our plea, Ceres Mater.Mars Olloudius, Protector of the People, to those who are involved in rescuing people and those caring for the injured in hospitals and clinics:May You sustain and protect them through this time of tremendous loss and stress. Hear our plea, Mars Olloudius.Quirinus, God of the Community, to those communities that have been devastated:May You help them live and learn and support one another and have joy in their lives once again; may this disaster bring people together to rebuild their cities, and to fill their lives with justice, their plates with food and their streets with music. Hear our plea, Quirinus.Jupiter Stator, to the police, firefighters, FEMA employees, National Guard, Red Cross workers, disaster response coordinators, whose work is just beginning and will not end for many months:May You strengthen and sustain them for service. Hear our plea, Jupiter Stator.Vesta Mater, Embodiment of the Hearth Flame, to all those with home and without:May You warm their hearts, minds and bodies, bring them back to Your center. Hear our plea, Vesta Mater.Kindreds: Ancestors, Spirits and Gods, to each of us as we pray:May it be Your will to be propitious to us; may distance not deter us from generous giving and enduring companionship. Hear our plea, Great Kindred.
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It has been a challenge to adapt ADF's standard liturgical formulae for a Roman hearth culture, and being the legalistic, formulaic Roman that I am, I need to accompany this article with certain disclaimers. First of all, this is most certainly a work in progress; I'm working out the kinks as I go along, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Secondly, I have drawn from sources as widely varying as Cato's De Agri Cultura to Ceiswr Serith's Pagan Book of Prayer. I am certainly open to suggestion, though I am not likely to begin studying haruspicy with real livers, nor am I likely to do an entire Roman rite extemporaneously. The middle ground between reconstruction and inspiration is where I stand :) And so as the proper Roman, I must offer thanks in advance all who have assisted in making this template possible, including, but not limited (and in no particular order), to Nova Roma, Ceiswr Serith, Jason, Cato, Varro, Ian Corrigan, Isaac Bonewits and countless others who have made ADF liturgy what it is today. As with most ADF rituals, we begin with a... Musical Signal I use a bell. Your mileage may vary. I would assume the most authentic Roman reconstructionists might preface their rituals with blasts from a trumpet to get everyone's attention, then the remaining ritual action would be accompanied by a flutist, in order to drown out any ill omens (or hecklers). I prefer to begin with a bell, then set it aside for the remainder of the rite. [Note: I am skipping the procession in this template, since most Roman rituals would have been in a clearly established sacred space – usually a temple or sacred grove used for no other purpose – and there would have been no need for the celebrants to pass from the profane to the sacred. Again, your mileage may vary. Feel free to add a processional.] Honoring the Earth-Mother My favorite Earth Mother blessing is based on prayer by Ceiswr Serith, though I have adapted it to the Roman goddess Ops, goddess of the stores (in a rather literal sense). In the urban community, it was Ops who provided sustenance to all the folk, and so it seemed appropriate to first ask her blessing and invite her to join us as we worship the Kindreds. (Offerings to Ops would be made into the mundus.) Ops Mater. Goddess of the bounty of the earth, We send out words in praise of you, from whom all worlds flow. Mystery of mysteries, this continual creation, like a fountain forever bubbling up from the Earth's darkness She is a cup that is never empty. Generous One, eternally giving gifts, We pray to you; we praise you. All: Ops Mater, we praise you. (bend and kiss the ground) Evoking the Bardic Deity Apollo is one of the few Greek deities who was assimilated wholly into the Roman pantheon without being equated with a pre-existing deity from Latium. It seems appropriate to pray to Apollo as both a deity of poetry and music, but also a deity of divination. This particular evocation was pretty much divinely inspired – I cannot take full credit for it – and may be used in whole or in part for this module of ritual. Phoebus Apollo, bringer of light, son of Zeus, the almighty and Leto, the rich-haired, who Bore him at Delos, where all manner of men now Come bearing gifts, fine and fragrant for thee. O Lord Apollo, who bears the gold sword, who Shoots from afar with his bright silver bow; Mighty slayer of dragons and lover of beauty; Whose arrow strikes truer than Marsyas or Cupid. Thou, who humbled the streaming, scheming Telphusa; Whose lilting lyre delights all Olympus; Whose oracle utters Zeus's unerring will; Whose art, aim, and intellect reigns supreme over all. Sweet-tongued Apollo, who sings for the Gods, may'st thou Guide thence our praises to bathe them in honor; For we are but mortals, and thou art a God; Only this boon we beg thee, grant to us now: That our voices be pleasing to Gods, Spirits, and Manes; That the aim of our rite strike its target precisely; That our blessings and theirs pass freely between The realms of the Kindreds and the lips of our Seer. All: Macte virtute esto! (This translates loosely as "Well done!" A simple "Macte" would also be appropriate.) Acknowledgement of the Outsiders The celebrant carries out an offering for Mars Silvanus, as protector and warder against the adverse influences of the wild. Traditionally, Silvanus received offerings of pork, fat and grain. I suspect he has an appreciation for greasy fast-food, so I think offering him "sliders" – White Castle burgers – seem to keep him fairly happy, though I have also offered more wholesome turkey bacon, whole wheat flour and olive oil, too. As always, your mileage may vary. (Because I think the Roman deities appreciate it when we try it in Latin, though this is a bit less formulaic and more vernacular...) Mars Silvanus Pater, te precor uti sis bonae volentatis et propitious mihi domui familiaque nostrae, ad quod offero hoc sacrificium, uti nos defendas, et tu prohibeas et avertas, et averrunces omnia adversa, tam visibilia quam invisibilia, quae nos opponere volunt. (And for those following along in English...) Father Mars Silvanus, I pray you be of good will and favorable to me and to our house and household, for which purpose I make this offering that you may prohibit, defend and avert things seen and unseen that may oppose us. All: FIAT! ("So be it!") Specification of Ritual Purpose & Historical Precedent/Naming Deity of the Occasion This part of the ritual entails as much research and inspiration as the celebrants can muster. Some festivals (like Saturnalia, for example) are far better documented than others (such as Furrinalia). Good luck with festivals like Lupercalia and Furrinalia. Centering, Grounding, & Merging When in Rome – or your grove ritual – use the groupmind exercise most likely to work with the group of celebrants. I use a sort of condensation and expansion of ADF's "Two Powers" meditation. (This could be an article in itself, so I won't go into any more detail in this context). I finish out the meditation with one of my favorite prayers from Ceiswr Serith that establishes a universal visualization of the cosmos better than any other I know. Take a moment to find the center of your mind, body and soul. Breathe deeply from your belly the air in this sacred grove, charged with anticipation and potential. Exhale fully through your mouth; then, through your nose, fill your lungs with the clean, cool aroma of this moment. Allow that sacred air to circulate and surge throughout your body. Now continuing to breathe from your belly, stand firm and feel the Earth's pulse through the soles of your feet. Curl your toes into the ground, rooting yourself into the bosom of the warm, nurturing Earth. Draw another deep breath while imagining tendrils of roots and vines connecting your self with the soil beneath you. Now stretch forth your hands to those closest to you, and grasp hands or simply touch them, if you can. At one with the cosmos and at one as a grove – we are, as a community, greater than the sum of our parts. We stand as a grove in a forest of trees, one folk. The waters support and surround us The land extends about us The sky stretches out above us. At the center burns a living flame. May all the Kindred bless us. May our worship be true. May our actions be just. Blessings, and honor, and worship to the Holy Ones. All: Macte virtute esto! ("Well done.") ... or... SO BE IT! (if you prefer) Offerings to the Sacred Center I admit, this is the newest and most radical variation from the standard Fire/Well/Tree of standard ADF liturgy, and that I am still working out precisely how best to open the gates in Roman ADF rites. Though I still have much work to do in this respect, this is the way I open the gates. In Roman rites, we do not have a fire, well and tree. We have a focus, a mundus and a portus. That is, a fire (sacrificial fire, as opposed to hearth fire), an offering shaft (or pot of earth if you do not have a permanent ritual space) and a doorway. The latter is literally the portus, the portal between the worlds, of which Ianus (also known in the financial industry as Janus -- though the proper Roman pronunciation is "YAH-noos") is the gatekeeper. The portus is the trickiest to create ritually. When doing an indoor ritual, I have a particular doorway in my home that is my portus. When doing an outdoor ritual, I have a particular gazebo in the public space in my community that I use as my portus. (I am still contemplating how I might construct a portable, transportable portus that would break down and fit in my Honda Civic. A garden trellis, for example, is just too big.) Acknowledgement/Offering to the Mundus (Rarely was the mundus actually opened in Roman times – twice a year, at best. In modern times, we do tend to be more welcoming to that which is below, and so we [warily] open the gateway to the underworld.) Here is the mundus, the eye and mouth of the Earth. Open for this brief time that we may receive all Numinae into our rite. Beneath us, below us and sprouting through us are the waters of rebirth, The mundus, gate to all of that which is below, we acknowledge and uphold. [OPTIONAL –To the mundus, we make this offering: (If offerings to the gates are made, one of earth or peat might be appropriate.)] All: Mundus patet! ("May the mundus be opened!") Acknowledgement/Offering to the Focus If at all possible, bring a bit of fire from the celebrant's hearth fire to kindle the ritual fire. This prayer is really to Vesta, who in early times was not precisely a goddess of fire, but more of an embodiment of the hearth itself. This particular prayer is adapted from one written by Ceiswr Serith. Vesta Mater, Shining Lady, unite us all, For by worshipping at a common hearth We are made one family, one people. Queen of the hearth, Vesta Mater, your household is here. Let us pray with a good fire. [OPTIONAL – To Vesta, we make this offering: (If offerings to the gates are made, one of incense might be appropriate for Vesta.) All: Let us pray with a good fire! Acknowledgement/Offering to the Focus Stand we here as a doorway, The folk a pillar between the worlds. Together, we gather at this sacred portal In wisdom, love and hope. [OPTIONAL – To the portus, we make this offering: (If offerings to the gate are made, censing with incense or sage and aspersing with water might be appropriate for the Mundus.] Evoking the Gate Keeper Salve Ianus Pater!! Ianus Inceptio, God of beginnings; Ianus Brifons, Two-faced Ianus; Ianus Patulcius, Opener of doors; Ianus Domesticus, Protector of homes; Ianus Quirinus; God of the folk Lend wings to our prayers and conjure a portal between us and the world of the Gods. Through your door, let the prayers of your supplicants pass to the Kindreds. [OPTIONAL – Ianus Pater, accept our offering! (An appropriate offering might be olive oil, wine, incense, doorknobs, WD-40... or whatever else you want to try with a god of doorways and beginnings.)] Opening the Gates In traditional ADF fashion, I still conjure the Gates, making an opening gesture (usually simply a circle) on the triple center, saying:] Now, Janus Join your magic with mine And let the focus open as a gate, Let the mundus open as a gate, Let the portus be the crossroads of all Worlds. Ianus of Openings, admit us into the presence of the shining Ones IANUS PATULCIUS ADMITTE NOS IN PRAESENTIUM NUMINUM LUCENTIUM PORTAE APERIANTUR – Let the gates be open! All: Let the Gates be open! Offering to the Ancestors The children of the Earth call out to the Mighty Dead. Salvete, Majores et Di Manes! Greetings, ancestors and divine dead. You who were here before, we offer you welcome. Ancestors of our blood, we offer you welcome. You who guide us, we offer you welcome. Come to our hearth, Ancestors Meet us at the boundary Guide us and ward us as we walk the elder ways. Majories et Di Manes, mactete hoc sacrificio! All: Ancestors, accept our sacrifice! Offering to the Nature Spirits The children of the Earth call out to the Spirits of this Land. Salvete, Numinae et Indigites! Kindred of earth, we offer you welcome Kindred of the growing green, we offer you welcome. Kindred who fly or walk or swim or crawl, we offer you welcome. Come to our fire, Spirits; Meet us at the boundary. Guide us and ward us as we walk the elder ways. Numinae et Indigites, mactete hoc sacrificio! All: Nature Spirits, accept our sacrifice! Deities The children of the Earth call out to the Shining Ones. Salvete, Dei! To all Gods and Goddesses, we offer you welcome. To all Gods of this place, we offer you welcome. To all the deities of this household, we offer you welcome. Come to our hearth, Shining Ones; Meet us at the boundary. Guide us and ward us as we walk the elder ways. Dei, mactete hoc sacrificio! All: Deities, accept our sacrifice! The Main Sacrifice Wash your hands first and cover your head. (Roman sacrifices were performed capite velato – heads covered; Greek sacrifices were performed with the head uncovered – Graecus ritus.) A pretty good formula to use (this formula more or less straight from Cato, because it is always a good idea to first address them in the language to which they are most accustomed...) [insert name of deity] Pater/Mater (since you are establishing a patron/client relationship), te hoc vinum [porcum, bovvum, etc.] ommovendo bonas preces, precor uti sies volens propitious illis Quiritibus te laudatis, quoius re ergo hoc sacrificium offero. Father/Mother [deity's name] With good prayers I offer to you this wine [pork, beef, etc.]. May it be your will to look with favor upon these folk who have honored you, For which purpose I make this offering. All: Macte virtute esto! ("Well done!") Praise Offerings, Dance, Libations, etc. [any additional praise offerings from the congregation] Piacular Offering Being the let's-make-sure-we-cover-all-our-bases Roman that I am, I would never do a ritual without a piacular offering – just in case. So far, I think it has saved me from being struck by lightning, swallowed up by a suddenly opening chasm in the earth and being washed out to sea by a great wave. So, what the heck? This final offering – for me – has traditionally been of gold, wine and incense. So far, that has covered all the bases (though I might also consider a golden apple). The text of the prayer is based on one by (liturgist extraordinaire) Ceiswr Serith: [Deity(ies) name] Pater/Mater, Gods and Goddesses, Holy Ancestors, Spirits of this place: If anything that we have done here has offended you, If anything we have done here has been incomplete, If anything we have done here has not been in the proper manner, Accept this final offering in recompense. Seeking the Omen of Return I still struggle for the perfect compromise between traditional Roman liturgy and Neopagan expectations. If I were a complete reconstructionist, I would simply ask if the offerings and rite were acceptable and wait to see if I were struck by lighting (or some other such obvious sign of displeasure). In the absence of any real "sign," I would assume all the Kindred were cool with my rite. My preference is simply to stand still, listen, and pay attention to anything out of the ordinary. (At my Neptunalia/Furrinalia rite in July, when I asked if the rite was acceptable, the sun came out from behind the clouds and the wind shifted – inexplicably – from the west to east. Works for me.) However, folks attending modern, Neopagan rituals tend to want some sort of direction from the Kindred – some sort of "answer" to a question. Short of asking the resident diviner to perform a Tarot reading or draw runes [shudder], I have pulled three cards from a selection of cards from the Mythical Tarot. (I use only the major arcana cards with Greek mythology that can be easily associated with Roman deities.) The ritual text is derived from (I believe) 6th Night Grove, ADF's standard liturgy, Latinized, of course: So we have given of our love and our wealth To the Kindred, that they may know our devotion. Now let our voices arise on the Focus Let our voices sound in the Mundus Let our words pass through the Portus. May we open to the Kindreds, Asking what blessings they offer us in return And the needs they have of us. At this point, usually, I simply ask, "Have the sacrifices been accepted?" If I am celebrating with folks more accustomed to ADF rites and omens, I will use the (abbreviated) Mythical Tarot and the three questions (Have the sacrifices been accepted? What do the Kindred offer to us? What do the Kindred ask of us in return?) If the omen is such that this question is answered in the negative, we go back and do another piacular offering, then start this part over. Until we get it right. (So far – knock wood – I have never had to make additional piacular offerings.) Induction of Receptivity (Adapted from standard ADF and 6th Night Grove, ADF liturgy...) Ancient and Mighty Ones, we have honored you We pray you honor us in turn For a gift calls for a gift. Hear your children: NUMINA LUCENTIA, AQUAE VIVAE DATIS! All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters! Consecration Agreement Behold the holy Cup of Magic The outpouring of Blessing from the Great Ones When we share the draught of the Gods We drink in wisdom, love and strength To do as we will in the worlds In service to the Shining Ones. Hear us [Father/Mother deity(ies) of the occasion]: Hallow these waters! ECCE AQUAE VIVAE! All: Behold the Waters of Life! (The cup is shared.) Thanking of Entities Invited in Reverse Order (Also adapted from standard ADF and 6th Night Grove, ADF liturgy...) The Great Ones have blessed us. With joy in our hearts, Let us carry the magic from our sacred Grove Into our lives and our work. Each time we offer to the Powers They become stronger And more aware of our needs and our worship. So now as we prepare to depart Let us give thanks To all those who have aided us. Father/Mater [deity(s) of the occasion], PATER NEPTUNUS, GRATIAS TIBI AGIMUS! All: We thank you! O Gods and Goddesses of elder days, DEI. GRATIAS VOBIS AGIMUS! All: We thank you! O Spirits of this land NUMINAE ET INDIGITES, GRATIAS VOBIS AGIMUS! All: We thank you! O Ancestors, our Kindred MAJORES ET DI MANES, GRATIAS VOBIS AGIMUS! All: We thank you! To all those Powers that have aided us, we say again... GRATIAS VOBIS AGIMUS! All: We thank you! Mother of all To you we return all we leave unused Uphold us now in the world as you have in our rite. Mater Ops, GRATIAS TIBI AGIMUS! All: We thank you! Ianus Clusivius, closer of doors, For your presence and power Your guiding and guarding we say... GRATIAS TIBI AGIMUS! All: We thank you! Final offering to Vesta Make a final offering of incense to the sacrificial fire, which is left to burn out on its own. (This, too, is adapted from a prayer by Ceiswr Serith.) Vesta Mater, Queen of the hearth, Who by rights receives the last, Bless and guard all those who worship you Whether in their home or without Whether alone or with others Whether thinking of you or engaged in business. Lady of Fire, receive this offering. Affirmation of Past/Future Continuity and Success Now by the Keeper of Gates and by our magic We end what we began. Now let the Focus be but a flame; Let the Mundus be an urn [or whatever you're using]; Let the Portal be only a doorway [gazebo, trellis, or whatever]. Let all be as it was before... PORTAE CLAUDANTUR! All: Let the Gates be closed! Go now, Quirites In peace and blessings The rite is ended! ALL: IO SATURNALIA!! (or Neptunalia, or Lupercalia, or whatever occasion you happen to be celebrating... or simply – my traditional ritual ending: WOO HOO!!!!)
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This may also be prayed to Castor and Pollux, the Dioskouri:They did not go to sea, Divine Twins, but the sea came to them. Diwós Sunú, saviors at sea, preserve the lives and health of the people of New Orleans, and return them to happiness and prosperity.
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When we were children, many of us learned about Greek and Roman mythology as if they were the same. Perhaps our parents alternated reading to us at bedtime watered down versions of classical mythology and Grimm's Fairy Tales. Even college Classics departments usually lump together the Romans and Greeks in classical mythology classes for students trying to meet their liberal arts and humanities requirements. At one time or another, most people have seen (or even had to memorize) a list that equates the twelve Greek Olympian Gods with their Roman counterparts (i.e., Zeus = Jupiter, Hera = Iuno, Poseidon = Neptune, etc.).While Zeus and Jupiter share certain characteristics, they are not the same deity. Those who refer to a conglomerate of Greco-Roman mythology or traditions may be making reference to a period in history when the Roman gods had been so diluted by foreign influences that the differences between the Romans and their neighbors had blurred. While it is difficult to distill early Roman religion from its many influences, one can be sure that the deities of the early Romans were very different before they became so heavily influenced by the other cultures. Initially, Romans were simple farmers and shepherds, and their gods and religious practices revolved around their homes, farms, and immediate community. Their deities were for the most part not anthropomorphic and not depicted in statues or artwork. For example, the temples of Vesta[1], one of the last Roman deities to be depicted in human form, were small, round buildings where an eternal flame burnt. Vesta was the living flame itself; thus, there was no need for an image.While it is difficult to ascertain exactly what early Romans believed about gods and how they worshipped, there is much we do know. In general, Roman religious practices were not associated with dogma or morals, but were based on a contractual agreement with the gods. The fundamental religious ethic for the Romans was pietas[2], which implies a sense of duty, honor, and respect for the deities. Moreover, the moral fiber of the officiant was of no consequence; all that mattered was whether or not he performed the ritual with the proper pietas.Furthermore, Romans generally believed that gods and spirits were omnipresent and responsible for all natural phenomena; therefore, they must be propitiated in order for the home and community to thrive. Do ut des[3] was the most common form of prayer, which means, "I give so that you may give." The whole idea was to covenant with the gods and contribute to their power by adding to it with sacrifices. The gods are more powerful than humans are, and their power can be increased when humans offer them gifts. Many Roman prayers that are accompanied by offerings contain some form of the phrase macte esto[4] ("Be thou increased"). The verb macto, mactare is probably linguistically derived from the same root as the word magnus ("great"). Thus, macte esto is an imperative literally suggesting that the deity being addressed be increased or enlarged by that which has been offered to it. In a sense, Romans may have believed that the gods needed humans to sustain and increase their power; likewise, humans needed the gods for their own sustenance and prosperity.When one considers the words and phrases Romans used to describe their practices, it becomes clear just how important religious ritual was to the welfare of Rome. The verb, religo, religare means literally "to bind," and so all the sacred precautions which bind the gods together with mankind are known as the religiones of the Romans. Ius Divinum[5] ("Natural or Heavenly Law") was a set of procedures developed over generations, handed down, and kept secret lest enemies of the people might learn how to use it against the community and steal their gods away. People had faith that if the traditional rules of ritual were properly followed, the result would be Pax Deorum[6] ("Peace of the Gods") which is a sort of harmony between the worlds of the gods and mankind. Indeed, Q. Marcus Philippus was made to say, "The gods look kindly on the scrupulous observance of religious rites which have brought our country to its peak" (Ogilvie 23). Undoubtedly, Romans believed their prosperity was dependent upon the gods.To better understand the deities associated with the Roman home and farm, it is helpful to consider the layout of the Roman home. At the far end of the house, furthest from the door would be the hearth fire, home of Vesta, the living flame and central to Roman home religion. The name Vesta is derived from the Indo-European *wes, which means, "to dwell," or more particularly, "she of the household." Vesta is the living embodiment of the flame of the hearth.The women of the household were responsible for proper maintenance and observance of hearth traditions, as opposed to the paterfamilias, who was responsible for religious duties outside the home. Vesta, along with the other household deities, received a portion of the family's main meal each day. After the main part of the meal, a young boy from the family would toss the contents of the plate into the fire and say, Di propitii[7] ("the gods are favorable"). Then the "second tables" (something like a dessert) could be served (Rose 29). As last to be seen upon entering (opposite the main door or in kitchen), Vesta was always the last to be invoked in a list of deities and last to receive offering.Generally, in Roman homes there was an entry room called the Atrium where families would keep their Lararium, a household shrine which would be the first thing one would see upon entering the home and the last to be seen upon leaving. It was often a sort of cupboard containing depictions of the three groups of household deities that were worshipped within the house: the Penates, Lar Familiaris, and the Gens Patris Familiaris.Penates[8] are the deities of the penus[9] ("pantry; larder; or storage cupboard"). They protected the household's food supply and were propitiated so that the family would not go hungry or be unable to offer hospitality. Most families would keep a salt cellar and first fruits of the season on the family dining table for the Penates. The paterfamilias led a morning prayer each day, in which he recognized all the household deities. More formal rituals for the Penates were held on the Kalends (the first day of the month), the Nones (the ninth day before the Ides), and the Ides (the 13th or 15th day of the month), when the paterfamilias addressed a formal prayer to all the deities of the household and an offering made to the Penates. Horace suggests that corn, wine, or the occasional suckling pig would have been appropriate offerings for such occasions (Rose 28).The Lar Familiaris[10] is a sort of patron deity of the family, although the Lares[11] were originally deities of the cultivated land. As powers of the earth, they helped the land (and therefore the household) to be more fertile and prosper. Apparently, one or more of the Lares took up residence indoors and became the Lar Familiaris, even though Lares were still considered the gods of the fields and farms. The oldest form of the name is las, lases, suggesting lasciuus, or "playful" (Rose 40). They probably were jolly, little godlings, as they are usually depicted as young men holding drinking horns and dancing with their tunics kilted up, and they may also be associated with hospitality. Some authors have referred to the Lares as the spirits of dead relatives, although this is not likely since ancestor worship of this type took place at the grave, rather than in the home. In Plautus's Aulularia, the Lars tells of a young lady's prayer for protection and simple offerings of incense, wine, and garlands (Rose 28).The Gens Familiaris[12] is the guardian spirit of the family. Literally, the Genius[13] is the "Begetter"—the deity who promotes the begetting of children and sustains the family line. In some lararia, the Gens Familiaris is depicted wearing a toga capite velato (covering his head, as if in ritual), sometimes holding a cornucopia, sacrificing, or pouring a libation to the Lares. The Gens Familiaris is worshiped on the birthday of the paterfamilias and on his wedding day. Individuals each had his or her own guardian spirit - a Genius for men or a Iuno[14] for women.The remaining god of the interior household is Ianus[15], the god of doors, gates, and beginnings. The door was very important to Romans, as is demonstrated by the fact that doors had several different gods associated with different parts and functions of the door: Limentinum and Lima are the god and goddess of the threshold (limen); Cardea (or Carna) is the goddess of door hinges; Forculus is the god of the door itself; and Portunus is the protector of doors. There are also many aspects of Ianus: Ianus Pater, the god of creation; Ianus Patulcius, the god who opens doors; Ianus Clusivus, the god who closes doors; and Ianus Bifrons, or "Ianus with two faces" who was symbolic that gateways go both ways. In fact, Ianus is so important that he always is the first to be named in a list of the gods or to receive an offering. The first month in the Julian calendar, January is named for him. His temple in Roman forum was a small shrine with an east-west arched passageway with doors at both ends; it was closed only in times of peace.Outside the home, aside from the aforementioned land spirits, the Lares, was Terminus[16], god of boundaries. Each boundary had its own god, collectively known as the Terminii; who were honored at the festival of Terminalia on February 23. At that time, the two neighbors whose land bordered at a particular boundary stone would meet on opposite sides for a small ritual and sacrifice. Terminus was also recognized at the festival, Ambularia, where landowners would "beat the bounds" in a procession to purify and protect the land in a solemn procession around the borders of their land.Finally, Sylvanus[17] is associated with all the other uncultivated land beyond the boundaries of the owned and settled land. Sylvanus is the god of the woods, hunting, and wild things. He is considered something of a god of chaos, in the sense that his realm is wild and unordered. He was frequently given placatory offerings when land was being cleared. In fact, throughout the bounds of what was once the Roman Empire, thousands of shrines have been found to Sylvanus.Gradually, as farms grew closer together and villages and cities were formed, private home and rural practices grew into the State religion. The paterfamilias had always been the head of the household whose role was maintaining the proper relationship with the deities and seeing to the welfare of the entire household. He led the morning ritual each day and oversaw that a portion of the main meal of the day was offered to the household deities. He was also responsible for the timely and proper performance of various other seasonal rituals and practices around the home and farm.The Compitalia (a moveable feast in late December/early January) was a ritual observed among immediate neighbors which honored the Lares, deities of the land, esp. cultivated land. The Compitum is the point where four farms meet. A shrine was erected there that overlooked all four directions. Once a year, farmers would hang a plough and a doll for each member of the household and make a sacrifice. The day would be a holiday for everyone, including the slaves and work animals.The Paganalia (January 24-26) was a festival observed among residents of a village or rural community, and later, among blocks or parishes in Rome. It was a festival of spring sowing and worshipper sacrificed to Tellus (Mother Earth) on the first day and Ceres (goddess of growth) on second day.The king took on the role of paterfamilias of the city. Priesthoods were developed to maintain the complex relationships between the deities and the city; people need not be involved or even take an interest in the rituals; they were just glad to know that the priests were taking care of such matters on their behalf. Priesthoods were not full-time jobs, so they weren't "experts" or liturgists as we would expect them to be like nowadays; although there were those who could be hired to assist the officiant with music, prompting, and sacrificing. Aristocracy filled the positions of priests since it was considered their duty to the state; became more and more of a social position, rather than religious.BibliographyOgilvie, R. M. The Romans and Their Gods in the Age of Augustus. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1969.Rose, H.J. Ancient Roman Religion. London: Hutchinson's University Library, 1948.Adkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins. Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.Traupman, John C. Latin and English Dictionary. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.NotesPronounced WAYS-ta or WES-ta. There is no "v" sound in Latin as there is in English; v's are pronounced as w's would be in English.Pronounced pee-AY-tas.Pronounced DOH OOT DAYZ.Pronounced MOCK-tay ESS-toe.Pronounced YOOS di-WEE-noom. In early Latin, there was no "j" or "y" in the alphabet; in their places, you will often see an "i" used, which is pronounced like a "y" in English.Pronounced POCKS day-OR-oom.Pronounced DEE pro-PEET-ee-ee.Pronounced pay-NAH-tays.Pronounced PAY-noos.Pronounced LAR fa-mee-lee-AR-oos.Pronounced LAH-rays.Pronounced GAYNS fa-mee-lee-AR-oos.Pronounced GAY-nee-oos.Pronounced YOO-no.Pronounced YAH-noos.Pronounced TAYR-mee-noos.Pronounced sil-WAN-oos.
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This article is the sixth of a series of articles outlining the basics of a Roman focus of worship and practice, and the third in a series about the Roman festival calendar, the first two covering the months of April through September. Future topics will probably include the remainder of the Roman festival calendar, early Roman Gods and Goddesses, and Roman divination (and any other topics that may be inspired or requested). In this article, I will discuss the holidays and festivals of October, along with a bit of the lore attached to each.October marks the end of the campaign season, and so there are related festivals in honor of Mars , the October Horse, and the purification of the army. In the early days when campaigning occurred only during the summer months, it was important that the warriors be purified before leaving the city to go on campaign, but also upon returning so that they could then be fit inhabitants of the city again. Once the soldiers were allowed to enter the pomerium (the sacred boundary around the city), they would join the farmers in cleaning, sharpening, and purifying their tools and weapons, to be put away for the winter.The agricultural season in northern Mediterranean climates comes to a close in October – at least for the most important of crop in Rome: grapes. The College of Pontiffs of ancient Rome usually set the vintage for the wine harvest in October, although the Codex Theodosianus allows the time to be set anytime from August 23 to October 15.Kalendris Octobris (Kalends of October - October 1) Fidei in Capitolio, Tigillo Sororio ad Compitum Acili, Juno Sororio, Janus Curiatius dies nefastus (no legal or political business could take place).Fides is honored on this date in commemoration of the temple dedication on the Capitoline Hill to Her by Aulus Atilius Calatinus during his consulship in the mid-3rd century. Occasionally, the temple was used as a meeting place for the Senate or for the making of significant oaths, contracts or treaties, and copies of Rome's international treaties hung on its walls.Fides is the personification of good faith, and therefore verbal contracts and treaties. Worship of Fides was established by King Numa in the regal era by instituting its flamens, or priests, in the state religion. While idea of fides was probably first seen as an attitude of the gods toward men, rather than human loyalty to any deities, it really has more to do with the reliability of the gods and reinforces the concept of Do ut Des, the Roman religious contractual formula, "I give so that you may give."Fides is portrayed as a goddess with Her right hand bound or gloved by white cloth. From the times of King Numa, on the first of October, Her flamens were conveyed to her shrine in a covered, two-horse carriage, their hands wrapped in white as a symbol of good faith, "as a sign that faith must be kept, and that even in men's clasped hands her seat is sacred" (Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, 1.21.4). Sacrifices made to Fides must be offered with the right hand covered by a white cloth or wearing a white glove.Also on the Kalends of October, sacrifices were made to Tigillo Sororio, Juno Sororio, and Janus Curiatius, all of which seem to be somewhat related, at least in lore. Tigillo Sororio literally means the "sister beam." Originally, it was a horizontal beam placed on two uprights under which one could pass beneath for purification. Livy accounts a heroic tale in which a young man, Horatius was acquitted of his sister's murder, but in order to purge himself of the blood guilt, he was made to pass with covered head under a tigillum (beam) across the street erected by his father, which accounts for the etymology of the "sister's beam." Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Roman Antiquities, 3.22) added that before Horatius passed under this yoke, King Tullus Hostilius ordered the Pontifices to erect two altars and sacrifice upon them, one to Iuno Sororia and another to Ianus Curiatius. Juno Sororio is associated with the puberty of girls, while Janus Curiatius has to do with the passage of boys into manhood, each to be honored in this legend with respect to the murdered sister and Horatius, and each being associated with adolescent rites of passage.As the existence of the tigellum actually predates the time of Horatius, it is likely that it at one time marked an ancient gateway into the city, under which soldiers returning to the city from their campaigning must first pass in order to release their warlike passions and resume their roles as Quirites (people of Rome).Ante Diem IV Nonas Octobras (four days before the Nones of October - October 4) Ieiumium Cereris (Fast of Ceres) dies comitalis (citizens may vote on political or criminal matters).In 191 BCE, a series of prodigies, or odd events thought to be worthy of attention, occurred. In Carinae, someone noted a couple of oxen climbing up the stairs on to the flat roof of a building, odd behavior indeed. The unfortunate bovines were ordered by the consulting haruspices to be burnt alive and their ashes thrown into the Tiber, but there were other strange portents that apparently occurred simultaneously throughout the lands, including several showers of stones reported from Terracina and Ameriternum, the temple of Jupiter at Menturnae being struck by lightning, and two ships in the mouth of the river at Volturnus being similarly struck and burned.As a result of this accumulation of strange portents, the Senate ordered the Decemviri to consult the Sibylline books. The Decemviri then ordained that every five years a fast day in honor of Ceres would be observed. By the time of Augustus the fast had come to be celebrated annually and its date fixed on October 4th.Ante Diem III Nonas Octobras (three days before the Nones of October - October 5) Mundus Patet (The Mundus is opened) dies comitalis (but with a caveat).This is one of the three times a year (the other two dates being August 24 and November 8) when the mundus, the gate to the underworld, is opened so that the dead may communicate with the living, when, according to Varro, "it is as if the door of the grim, infernal deities were open." Although the calendars indicates that the day technically is a dies comitalis, no public business could be performed, no battles could be fought, no ships could set sail, and no marriages could take on days when the mundus was opened; all the underworld spirits could roam the land, and therefore any actions undertaken on such a day would be inauspicious.Nonas Octobras (the Nones of October - October 7) Iovi Fulgarii (Jove/Jupiter Fulgar), Iononi Quiriti (Juno Curriti or Quiriti) dies fastus (legal action is permitted).Iove Fulagar is the appellation of Jupiter who hurls the thunderbolts during the daytime (as opposed to Summanus, who hurls thunderbolts during the night and is honored on June 20). On this date, a shrine – probably open to the sky, as logic would dictate – was dedicated to Iovi Fulgar in the Campus Martius.Also on this date, Juno Curriti was brought from the town of Falerii in 241 BCE (or possible before even then) by the rite of evocatio. One of the early Romans' more creative means of bringing their Italian neighbors under Roman rule was to lure away their gods by tempting them with promises of temples and continuing worship far exceeding that which they were accustomed in the towns of their patronage. Sometimes also referred to as "Juno, Protectress of Spearmen" Juno Curriti is the only deity whose cult is known to have been universal throughout all the curiae (tribes) of Rome. To her are offered first fruits of the harvest, spelt and barley cakes, and wine.Ante Diem VI Idus Octobres (six days before the Ides of October - October 10) Iunoni Monetae (Juno the Warner) dies comitalis.This date marks the rededication of the temple to Juno Moneta on the Arx of the Capitoline Hill, originally dedicated on June 1. The temple was erected in gratitude for that appellation of Juno who caused the geese to give warning by their hissing of attacking Gauls in 390 BCE. Unlike the city's dogs, who were reviled thereafter as the for not giving any such warning, a flock of sacred geese was kept by the temple priests for their part in preventing a total rout that day.Ante Diem V Idus Octobres (five days before the Ides of October -October 11) Meditrinalia nefastus publicus (public festival day).Though Varro theorized that the Meditrinalia comes from mederi ("to heal"), in fact it more likely derives from a non-Indo-European word for "wine press," which would explain etymologically why this date marks a wine tasting festival. The grape harvest is complete, and so an offering of wines of new and old vintages is made in order to be healed of all manner of illness. It is an old festival, important to early agricultural Rome, but not well understood, as it was more of a pastoral festival, rather than urban.Ante Diem III Idus Octobres (three days before the Ides of October - October 13) FONTINALIA nefastus publicus.Fons is the God of springs, the son-in-law of Volturnus, husband of Juturna. On this day garlands are hung at the springs and wells throughout Rome. The custom of dropping coins into wells and fountains had been well established in even ancient Roman times, as all sources of water are especially venerated by those who rely upon them.Idus Octobres (Ides of October - October 15) Feria Iuvi (Feast of Jupiter), Equus October (October Horse), Ludi Capitolini (Capitoline Games) nefastus publicus.The Ides of each month are sacred to Jupiter, but the ides of October are something special, indeed, and the events dedicated to Mars on this day seem to have superceded any attention to Jupiter. On this day, chariot races in honor of Mars were held on the Campus Martius. The right horse of the winning pair was sacrificed by the flamen Martialis on an altar to Mars in the Campus Martius. Before being sacrificed, the horse's head was adorned with loaves of bread, meant to acknowledge and thank Mars for protecting the harvest, recalling that Mars was first and foremost an agricultural protector god, rather than merely a warrior god. After the horse was sacrificed, its head was cut off and decorated with cakes, while residents of the Via Sacra and the Subura, two neighborhoods of Rome, in a friendly rivalry vied for possession of the head; if the folks from the Via Sacra got it, they nailed it to the wall of the Regia; if the folks of the Subura got it, they nailed it to the Turris Mamilia, a tradition that unfortunately died out by the first century BCE. Meanwhile priests collected the tail, (and possibly genitals) of the sacrificed horse, while it was still dripping blood, and rushed it to the Regia (the king's house) to bleed on the sacred hearth. The Vestal Virgins then collected and retained the congealed blood and ashes for distribution at Parilia, on April 21.Also on this date, the Capitoline games are celebrated. These games are probably quite ancient, since their institution was attributed to either Romulus for saving the Capitoline Hill from being captured by the Gauls or Camillus for the conquest of the Veii – it's very unclear which or both, and most Romans could probably care less about the origins of games, as long as they continued each year. It was a time to take off work and enjoy the pageantry and colorfulness of the festival time, much as we Buckeye fans enjoy the pageantry and excitement of football Saturdays here in Columbus.October 19 ARMILUSTRIUM (Cleansing of the implements of war) - See also March 19 nefastus publicus.A bunch of blood-thirsty, gritty warriors with nothing to do during the winter months would be a very bad thing. In order to prevent the city and its people from becoming infected by contact with bloodshed and foreigners, the Sailian priests (priests of Mars) dance and sing in the streets hymns to Mars. The Armilustrium is actually the tail end of the Salii's dance. In a great lustratio, or purification rite, on the Aventine Hill, the tubae, the sacred war trumpets, are sounded one last time, as the arma and ancilla (other sacred implements of war) are purified and put away until next year, all accompanied by sacrifices, songs, and dancing in honor of Mars.SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY:Adkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins. Dictionary of Roman Religion. New York: Facts on File, 1996.Grant, Michael. Roman Myths. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.Livy (Titius Livius). History of Rome: Books IIIIV. B.O. Foster, trans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1922.Macrobius (Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius). Saturnalia. Percival Vaughn Davies, trans. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969.Scullard, H.H. A History of the Roman World 753 to 146 BC. London: Routledge, 1980.Turcan, Robert. The Gods of Ancient Rome: Religion in Everyday Life from Archaic to Imperial Times. Antonia Nevell, trans. New York: Routledge, 2000.
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The following are ADF rituals inspired by the ancient Roman culture:A Roman Ritual TemplateBasic Principles of Roman ReligionIntroduction to Private WorshipReligio Romano: Simple Daily Home Rites and PrayersMajor Holidays of Rome: May to JuneMajor Holidays of Rome: July to SeptemberMajor Holidays of Rome: OctoberA Roman Memorial Service for Judge HuntLitany for Hurricane Katrina VictimsPrayer for Hurricane Katrina VictimsRitual for Healing after Hurricane Katrina
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This service can be done either in the workings section of a full ADF ritual or may be done as a stand-alone liturgy. In case there are no Hallows present, all offerings may be reserved for disposal at a later date.The Funeral Goods given the deceased should either be buried with the casket or urn, or may be poured on the ground or into a shaft. Again, these offerings may be reserved for disposal at a later date.While this service was adapted for a particular person, it may also be freely adapted for others.THE WELCOMEThe Priest rings a bell, three times three.Priest says: Children of the Earth, we are here to celebrate the life of Judge William T. Hunt. While this is a time of grief, it is also a celebration of Life!UNITING THE THREE WORLDSPriest says: Children of the Earth, let us call the powers of Earth and Sky that they may join within us here.PRAYER:O waters of the earth, deep and dark, Arise, primeval powers, fill us now With all your wondrous possibilities, That through the Earth our Mother We may ground and join as one.O fires of the sky, O blinding light! Descend and crystallize within us all That spark of order on which life depends, That through the Sky our Father We may shine and share as one.You powers dark and light, you liquid fire, Conjoin and blend this mixture volatile That powers great will join within our selves, Connecting all the Worlds so That the circle is complete.DISSOLVING THE BARRIERSAll present say: O Muddy, who claimed him; Mercury who conveyed him; Charon who ferried him; And Dis Pater who welcomed him; O Powers of paths where the newly dead go, We pray to You now – hear our call!Your magics are great, Your powers intense, We ask that you join Yours with ours. Let the barriers standing ‘tween this world and Yours Dissolve in our hearts – hear our call!With love and with joy, we humbly pray For our dear friend to join us here now. As our newest Ancestor to cross the divide We welcome you home – hear our call!REMEMBERANCE AND OFFERINGSPriest says: Newest Ancestor, Judge William Hunt, we welcome you here! And though we will miss you here in the Midworld, We take comfort in knowing that you are quite near, Just beyond the veil of the Worlds.When the Veils are thin and the Gates open wide, We will welcome you here once again! One day we will pass to the Land of the Dead We hope that you'll welcome us, too.Priest says: Children of the Earth, this is also the time of the living!We now call on her who has cared for Judge Hunt and who misses him, To come forward and speak, sharing a memory of happy times.And in days of old, offerings were made to the newly dead To accompany them on their way.We invite her to bring up her Grave Goods and Offerings, That she may honor our new Ancestor.Jenni Hunt comes up, makes sacrifice and tells stories about her father.We invite all others to bring up Grave Goods for sacrifice, that we May make offering to our new Ancestor.The People come up one at a time, and leave an offering (such as silver or beer or other food) on the altar for later burial or disposal, or put it in the shaft or the Well or pour it on the ground.After an offering is made, the person may speak for a time about the deceased. When each person is finished speaking, the Priest will say:Fiat! So be it!INTERCESSIONWhen everyone who wishes to speak has spoken of the Dead, the Priest says:Doting Muddy, Grandmother of William, Matriarch, We make offering to You!The Priest offers Ballentine whiskey to the ground.We thank you for meeting William at his bedside, Remaining with him until he was ready, Offering him comfort, allaying his fears, Preparing his soul for its journey.Doting Muddy, accept our sacrifice!All say: Doting Muddy, accept our sacrifice!The Priest says: Fleet-footed Mercury! Soul Carrier, We make offering to You!The Priest offers whiskey to the Fire.We thank You for conducting William and Muddy Through the Worlds to the shores of the River Styx! Offerings are made at the riverbank! For William has reached the Land of the Dead.Fleet-footed Mercury, accept our sacrifice!All say: Fleet-footed Mercury, accept our sacrifice!Faceless Charon, Dark Ferryman, We make offering to You!The Priest offers the Nova Roma coins to the Well.We thank you for conveying William and Muddy Across the dark river to the Underworld, Offerings are made to the Mouth of the Earth To pay for Your sacred duty.Faceless Charon, accept our sacrifice!All say: Faceless Charon, accept our sacrifice!Somber Dis Pater, Lord of the Dead, We make offering to You!The Priest offers wine to the ground and hematite to the Well.We thank you for accepting William among the Mighty Dead, That he might join his Ancestors And receive the sacrifices of the Living, And for opening the Doors of Dis that we may commune with him.Somber Dis Pater, accept our sacrifice!All say: Somber Dis Pater, accept our sacrifice!THE CLOSINGPriest says: Children of Earth, though grieving continues, now is the time to let go.O Doting Muddy, Fleet-footed Mercury, Faceless Charon and Somber Dis Pater, We thank you for your aid. Departed Friend, our love and thanks go with you on your way.Now look we deep within our hearts And closing Gates discern. We know that death is but a door And loved-ones will return!The Priest rings a bell three times three.Priest says: Walk with wisdom, Children of the Earth, this rite has ended.
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Musical SignalHonoring the Earth-MotherO, Glorious womb of harvest. You fiery heart of creation. Gracious green mother. Earth Mother, accept this offering and uphold us in our rite.(An offering of grain is made.)All: Earth Mother, accept our offering.Acknowledgement of the OutsidersTo You who stood against the gods. To You who stood against our forbearers. To You who stand against us. We thank you for the lessons you teach and the strength you build. Take this offering and trouble not our rite!(A suitable offering is made outside the ritual area)Specification of Ritual Purpose & Historical Precedent / Naming Deity of the OccasionWe gather together, joining with countless others across this continent, in order to remember those who have died as a result of Hurricane Katrina and to lend our prayers, our strength, and our energy to the continued effort to send relief and comfort to all those affected by this tragedy.Centering, Grounding, & Merging[Two Powers Meditation]Offerings to the Sacred Center: Acknowledgement of the MundusSacred mundus, mouth of the Earth. Open for this brief time that we may receive all Numinae into our rite. Mundus patet!Acknowledgement of the FocusVesta Mater, Shining Lady, unite us all, Queen of the hearth, Vesta Mater, Your household is here. Let us pray with a good fire.Acknowledgement/Offering to the FocusThe folk stand as a doorway, A pillar between the worlds. Together, we gather at this sacred portal In wisdom, love and hope.Calling upon the Gate KeeperSalve Ianus Pater!! Ianus Inceptio, God of beginnings; Ianus Brifons, Two-faced Ianus; Ianus Patulcius, Opener of doors; Ianus Domesticus, Protector of homes; Ianus Quirinus; God of the folk Lend wings to our prayers and conjure a portal between us and the world of the Gods. Through your door, let the prayers of your supplicants pass to the Kindreds.Opening the GatesJanus, join your magic with mine And let the focus open as a gate, Let the mundus open as a gate, Let the portus be the crossroads of all Worlds.Ianus of Openings, admit us into the presence of the shining Ones IANUS PATULCIUS ADMITTE NOS IN PRAESENTIUM NUMINUM LUCENTIUM PORTAE APERIANTUR – Let the gates be open!All: Let the Gates be open!Offering to the AncestorsThe children of the Earth call out to the Mighty Dead. Salvete, Majores et Di Manes! Greetings, ancestors and divine dead. You who have gone before, Who fled in terror when Vesuvius erupted; Who perished in floods, fires, wars and Disasters both natural and man-made. Come to our hearth, Ancestors Meet us at the boundary Guide us and ward us as we walk the elder ways. Majories et Di Manes, mactete hoc sacrificio!All: Ancestors, accept our sacrifice!Offering to the Nature SpiritsThe children of the Earth call out to the Spirits of this Land. Salvete, Numinae et Indigites! Kindred of coastlands, wetlands and river valleys; You whose homes and keepers have been lost or destroyed; Who now wander, swim or crawl in confusion In this world transformed from the familiar and safe. Come to our fire, Spirits; Meet us at the boundary. Guide us and ward us as we walk the elder ways. Numinae et Indigites, mactete hoc sacrificio!All: Nature Spirits, accept our sacrifice!DeitiesThe children of the Earth call out to the Shining Ones. Salvete, Dei! To all Gods and Goddesses: You, who have held back the flood, Who protect those who honor you when you can And grieve by our sides when you cannot. Come to our hearth, Shining Ones; Meet us at the boundary. Guide us and ward us as we walk the elder ways. Dei, mactete hoc sacrificio!All: Deities, accept our sacrifice!The Main SacrificeJanus Pater, God of Beginnings, to those who have lost their homes and their communities: May You provide new beginnings, new homes, new jobs, and new friends to fill the empty places of those that were lost. Hear our plea, Janus Pater.All: Hear our plea, Janus Pater.Tellus Mater, Mother Earth, to those whose loved ones have died and who are burdened by unimaginable losses, finding themselves refugees in their own country: May You provide comfort in the embrace of your loving arms. Hear our plea, Tellus Mater.All: Hear our plea, Tellus Mater.Neptunus Pater, Provider of Fresh Water, to those areas inundated and polluted by flood water, debris and sewage: May You allow levees to be repaired, debris to be removed; help draw back the unclean waters and refresh those flooded areas with clean, pure water. Hear our plea, Neptunus Pater.All: Hear our plea, Neptunus Pater.Fortuna Redux, Fortune, the Home-bringer, to those who fled their homes and inundated cities, who wonder if they will ever be able to return home or if they even have a home to return to: May You protect and steer them home when it is safe to return. Hear our plea, Fortuna Redux.All: Hear our plea, Fortuna Redux.Aesculapius, God of Healing, to those who are injured, those separated and searching for family; to those who have been traumatized: May You be a healing presence in their lives for as long as it takes them to return to wholeness. Hear our plea, Aesculapius.All: Hear our plea, Aesculapius.Spes, Goddess of Hope, to those who return to homes battered by wind and engulfed by flood and to those who have no homes to return to: May You provide hope that they may rebuild, reorganize, regroup and renew their homes and communities. Hear our plea, Spes.All: Hear our plea, Spes.Mercurius, Protector of Travelers, to those who suffer on the streets or crowded into shelters, hot, weary, and fearful; to those who feel homesick and far away from loved ones and their homes at this time: May You provide the comfort of safe homes, rest and hospitality for as long as it is needed, comforting families and friends across the distance. Hear our plea, Mercurius.All: Hear our plea, Mercurius.Ceres Mater, Provider of the Fruits of Earth, to those who have lost all material possessions; to the poor and those whose livelihoods have been lost or impaired by this disaster; to those whose workplaces have become unsafe and who face an uncertain future: May You provide sustenance and restore prosperity as quickly as possible. Hear our plea, Ceres Mater.All: Hear our plea, Ceres Mater.Mars Olloudius, Protector of the People, to those who are involved in rescuing people and those caring for the injured in hospitals and clinics: May You sustain and uphold them through this time of tremendous loss and stress. Hear our plea, Mars Olloudius.All: Hear our plea, Mars Olloudius.Quirinus, God of the Community, to those communities that have been devastated: May You help them live and learn and support one another and have joy in their lives once again; may this disaster bring people together to rebuild their cities, and to fill their lives with justice, their plates with food and their streets with music. Hear our plea, Quirinus.All: Hear our plea, Quirinus.Jupiter Stator, to the police, firefighters, FEMA employees, National Guard, Red Cross workers, disaster response coordinators, whose work is just beginning and will not end for many months: May You strengthen and sustain them for service. Hear our plea, Jupiter Stator.All: Hear our plea, Jupiter Stator.Vesta Mater, Embodiment of the Hearth Flame, to all those with home and without: May You warm their hearts, minds and bodies, bring them back to Your center. Hear our plea, Vesta Mater.All: Hear our plea, Vesta Mater.Ancestors, Spirits and Gods, to each of us as we pray: May it be Your will to be propitious to us; may distance not deter us from generous giving and enduring companionship. Hear our plea, Great Kindred.All: Hear our plea, Great Kindred.Piacular OfferingGods and Goddesses, Holy Ancestors, Spirits of this place: If anything that we have done here has offended you, If anything we have done here has been incomplete, If anything we have done here has not been in the proper manner, Accept this final offering in recompense.Induction of ReceptivityAncient and Mighty Ones, we have honored you and pray that you heed our prayers. For all those for whom we have petitioned, We ask that you hear your children: NUMINA LUCENTIA, AQUAE VIVAE DATIS!All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!NUMINA LUCENTIA, AQUAE VIVAE DATIS!All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!NUMINA LUCENTIA, AQUAE VIVAE DATIS!All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!Consecration AgreementBehold the holy Cup of Magic The outpouring of Blessing from the Great Ones When we share the draught of the Gods We drink in wisdom, love and strength To do as we will in the worlds In service to the Shining Ones. Hear us Mighty Kindred: Hallow these waters with your blessings! ECCE AQUAE VIVAE!All: Behold the Waters of Life!(The cup is shared.)Thanking of Entities Invited in Reverse OrderThe Great Ones have blessed us. Let us carry the magic from our sacred Grove Into our lives and our work. Each time we offer to the Powers They become stronger And more aware of our needs and our worship. So now as we prepare to depart Let us give thanks To all those who have aided us. Janus Pater, Tellus Mater, Neptunus Pater, Fortuna Redux, Aesculapius, Spes, Mercurius, Ceres Mater, Mars Olloudius, Quirinus, Jupiter Stator, and Vesta Mater, we thank you.All: We thank you!Gods and Goddesses of elder days, we thank you.All: We thank you!O Spirits of this land , we thank you.All: We thank you!O Ancestors, our Kindred, we thank you.All: We thank you!To all those Powers that have aided us, we thank you.All: We thank you!Mother of all To you we return all we leave unused Uphold us now in the world as you have in our rite. Earth Mother, we thank you.All: We thank you!Ianus Clusivius, closer of doors, For your presence and power Your guiding and guarding we thank you.All: We thank you!Affirmation of Past/Future Continuity and SuccessNow by the Keeper of Gates and by our magic We end what we began. Now let the Focus be but a flame; Let the Mundus be but a pot; Let the Portus be only a doorway. Let all be as it was before... PORTAE CLAUDANTUR!!All: Let the Gates be closed!Go now, Quirites In peace and blessings The rite is ended!
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Establishing a Sacred SpaceFor those wishing to begin a Roman mode of worship, probably the best place to begin is in creating a suitable worship space - the lararium[1] and the hearth. The hearth in a traditional Roman home was the center, both literally and symbolically of the household. If not in the very center of the house, it was opposite the door, on the far side, or in a separate kitchen. Vesta, being the living flame, was worshiped in the home as the heart of the household. The lararium was more or less a shrine honoring the household deities. It usually depicted, at the very least, the household gods, the Lares[2] and Penates[3].Creating a sacred space in one's home for worship depends on individual preferences. Location is important, as ideally, the lararium would be the first thing one sees as one enters the home. This might still be possible for those who do not wish to display overt signs of their worship to visitors. A small cupboard, such as a curio cabinet or even a box with closing doors would be appropriate and can easily be passed off as part of one's decor, rather than a place of worship if necessary. Still, if this is not possible, one makes do – a lararium might be as simple as a drawing that is rolled up and stored away when not in use, or it can be as elaborate as a separate room or garden with a hearth, statuary, and fountains.The traditional center of the Roman household, the hearth, would be either centrally located or at the far side from the door. The women of the household were responsible for keeping it burning (or banked) and tended on a daily basis. Nowadays, not everyone has a fireplace, and scant few of those who do use it as a cooking hearth. While it might be desirable, it is hardly practical – unsafe, even – to keep a flame burning at all times. Nonetheless, it would be appropriate to have some kind of fire lit at least during the main meal of the day and during morning devotions, preferably if it is one in which small offerings may be burnt later.Recognizing that there are fundamental differences in the way we function in the twenty-first century, we make do with what we have. A modern day hearth could be wherever and whatever seems most appropriate. The central focus of our household may well be an electric furnace, rather than a cooking hearth. If one has a gas stove, one may even have a perpetual flame in the form of a pilot light. A small hearth stone on which incense is burnt might suffice for some. Modern pagans have to use their creativity and innovation to adapt as seems best for them.Roman PrayerRomans were notorious for their scrupulous attention to detail in composing prayers; they liked to cover all possible contingencies. A perfect example of a thoroughly well-constructed prayer, circa 80 B.C.E., comes to us in the form of a prayer vow written by the Arval Brethren and is worded most meticulously:Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, if the emperor Titus Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, holder of the tribunician power, father of his country, and Caesar Domitian, son of the deified Vespasian of whom we deem we are speaking, should live and their house be safe on the next January first that comes to pass for the Roman people, the Quirites, and for the State of the Roman people, the Quirites, and you preserve that day and them safe from dangers (if there are or shall be any before that day), and if you have granted a felicitous issue in the manner that we deem that we are speaking of, and you have preserved them in that present condition or better - and may you so do these things - then we vow that you shall have, in the name of the College of the Arval Brethern, two gilded oxen.In many ways, Roman prayers resemble modern day legal contracts. Not incoincidentally, they were, in fact, contracts between humans and the gods. Romans felt that in dealing with the gods, it was best to err on the side of caution, and could be considered rather obsessive about their prayers by our standards. For instance, if any part of the prayer or ritual was omitted, interrupted, performed improperly, or by attended by an improper person, it was necessary to start all over, at considerable expense and trouble to the celebrator. Not only that, but the second time around would probably necessitate the addition of a piaculum, a propitiatory sacrifice, as well. While perfection is a lofty goal to which one might aspire, perhaps celebrants should simply do the best they can and improve with practice. In any case, if one were to cover all bases, one could make a piacular sacrifice at every ritual, just in case.Preparation for WorshipRule number one of Roman worship is to be well-prepared. It should suffice to know what one wants to accomplish, say and do during a simple ritual. It may be helpful to write out a prayer ahead of time and memorize it, if at all possible. Good preparation includes having all ritual supplies – incense, lighters, offering bowls, and other paraphernalia – ready before beginning.Rule number two for Roman rituals is to be clean. In ancient times, some were turned away from public rituals or sent to wash up because they did not pass muster. The act of cleaning or purification is known as lustration (from luere, which means "to loose," as in freeing from sinister influences) and is a necessary factor for effective Roman worship. All participants and objects used in a ritual must be casta ("clean" or "pure"). Bathing or washing is only the most obvious means of cleansing. One of the simplest means of lustration is to draw a circle around whatever it is that needs purification. Such lustrations were extremely common in Roman ritual observances, including the ancient festival of Ambarvalia, where folks would lead a procession of a bull, sheep, and pig thrice around the boundaries of the fields, then sacrifice them to Ceres. A similar practice involving "beating the bounds" still survives in Britain at Ascension-tide in May (Ogilvie 88).Many find that the best time of day for prayer and ritual is early in the morning, just after showering. By beginning early, one reduces the chance for ill omens to occur and ruin the ritual before it has begin. Romans, having been known to be rather superstitious, were quite serious about avoiding unlucky words, accidents, or coincidences prior to or during a ritual. Frequently, they would hire a flutist to play during the ritual to cover any inauspicious sounds. Soft music and a pleasant scent not only lull the senses with a suitable ambience, but they can also distract from any noises or odors that could be considered ominous. Romans also performed rituals capite velato[4] (with head covered) for the same reason. These are customs easily adapted, even for solitary practitioners, by wearing a veil or head covering for solemn rituals and playing some soothing recorded music during a ritual. Always ensure the phone is off the hook before beginning. If necessary, put a "do not disturb" sign on the door if there is any chance of an ill-timed interruption - whatever might be necessary to keep unfavorable omens from interrupting a sacred moment.Romans would hire a priest to assist the celebrant by prompting the celebrant word by word (called praeire verba: "to anticipate the words"), much like a modern teleprompter aids newscasters and orators to speak effectively in public. Likewise, it is perfectly acceptable – perhaps even preferable – to bring notes to a ritual to prevent any stumbling over the words of a prayer or forgetting a line. Of course, memorizing a prayer in advance would be best, but it never hurts to have a cheat sheet, just in case.While there are several different types of prayer and sacrifices for different purposes – thanks, entreaties, vows, and fulfillment of promises, for example – for the purposes of this article, the following principles apply to asking a blessing.Elements of PrayerThe first part of a prayer is the invocation, the purpose of which, in essence, is to get the attention of the god or goddess being addressed. First and foremost, know and use the correct name of the deity(ies) being addressed. Romans felt that the deity's complete name was needed to be used, else their prayers might go unheard. Therefore, consider listing all possible names and variations for that deity. However, if doing so is not feasible, there are some outs. A formula to add to known names would be, sive quo alio nomine te appellari volveris[5] ("or by whatever name to would like to be called"). If the name of a particular deity is unknown, one can address a prayer to "the responsible deity." Another formula common to Roman prayers used to avoid offending a god when you really mean to pray to a goddess, for example, is sive Deus, sive Dea[6] ("whether thou be God or Goddess").Having gotten the god's attention, one's text task is to convince the deity that what one requests is reasonable. Horace, perhaps, did so in the humblest manner: "to enjoy what I have in good health - nothing more do I ask." Such phrases as "by your majesty," "just as you have done for me before," or "by the mercy of your godhead" also serve to convince the deity that such a request is within his or her power to grant.Before explaining what is requested, explain what will be done in return. Never demand anything from the gods; it is always up to them to decide whether to assist or not, and they just might not. Until convinced of the supplicant's piety, the supplicant might not feel a bond with the deities at first. Eventually, however, they will hear, and appreciate such piety.As the supplicant speaks the words of the vow, he or she would make the offering and speak the request – almost as an afterthought, although not so much so that the deity misses the point. It is a question of subtlety and humility. The phrase Macte esto[7] ("Be thou increased") was quite common and is always an appropriate formula to speak while making the offering. The idea is that the offering will increase the numen (i.e., power; holiness) of the god and cause the bond between gods and humans to grow. What offering is made depends on the deity to whom one is praying; for example, sky gods get burnt offerings; underworld gods get libations or buried offerings; nature or agricultural gods get grain, For daily lararium rites, a bit of incense is probably suitable – a bit of wine, juice or maybe a coin or two.Once familiar with the basic elements of prayers, one may experiment with different words and offerings. One need not speak Latin to address the Roman gods and goddesses; however, one might consider Latin to be their native language and therefore they might be more liable to pay attention and be flattered by efforts to please them. Good advice is to learn as much as you can about the deities to whom you seem drawn and speak to them, with offerings, whenever you can, and begin to develop relationships with them.Every household could stand to adopt a daily ritual or prayer to the household gods Vesta, the Lares, and Penates. Invite them into your home, your life, and your family, and they will protect you and keep your home safe from harm. Most Roman households did so as a matter of tradition, regardless of religious piety, and the Romans survived and prospered for centuries. They must have been doing something right.Works Consulted and CitedAdkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins. Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.Edwards, H.J., trans. Cato: De Re Rustica. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1944.Ogilvie, R.M. The Romans and Their Gods in the Age of Augustus. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1969.Orr, David G. "Roman Domestic Religion: The Evidence of the Household Shrines," Aufsteig und Niedergang der Römushen Welt II:16:2, 1978.Ovid. Fasti. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976.Rose, H.J. Ancient Roman Religion. London: Hutchinson's University Library, 1948.Scullard, H.H. A History of the Roman World 753 to 146 BC. New York: Routledge, 1980.Traupman, John C. Latin and English Dictionary. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.NotesPronounced lar-AR-ee-oomPronounced LAR-aysPronounced pay-NAH-taysPronounced cah-PEE-toe well-AH-toePronounced SEE-way QUO AHL-ee-oh NO-mee-nay TAY ah-pell-AH-ree wohl-WAY-reesPronounced SEE-way DAY-oos SEE-way DAY-uhPronounced MOCK-tay ESS-toe
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This article is the fifth of a series of articles outlining the basics of a Roman focus of worship and practice and the second in a series about the Roman festival calendar. Future topics will include the remainder of the Roman calendar (4th and 1st quarters), Early Roman Gods and Goddesses, and Roman Methods of Divination (and any other topics which may be inspired or requested). In this article, I will discuss the holidays and festivals of the 3rd quarter (July, August, and September), along with a bit of the lore attached to each.JULY—(Mensis Quinctilis)July is the first lunar month of the semester of summer and autumn. Quinctilis was the first month of the pre-Julian calendar to be named for a number, rather than a deity and was the fifth month of the year until Julius Caesar's calendar reform in the first century BCE. July in Italy is the hottest and driest month of the year, and so the preservation of crops and safeguarding the balance necessary for the survival of plant life are primary concerns. In the country, farmers would be concerned with keeping their crops dry, just as the first harvests of barley and beans begin, while in the Rome, there was the everpresent fear of uncontrolled fires raging through the city. July includes some of the more obscure holidays in the Roman calendar, the details of which are scanty, but over all, it was considered to be Jupiter's month. There are also holidays whose purpose seems primarily to celebrate the virtues of the Roman matrons (Caprotine Nones, and Fortuna Muliebris), and another whose purpose is to acknowledge the class of knights, the military juventus (Transvectio equitum).July has six dies nefasti days on which no legal or political business could take place, nine days on which public religious festivals may be celebrated, one dies fastus, a day on which legal action is permitted, and fifteen dies comitales days on which citizens may vote on political or criminal matters.July 6-13— Games of ApolloWhat may be the oldest temple to the Greek deity, Apollo, was dedicated on July 13 in 431 BCE to enlist his help as a healing god to alleviate a plague. Because Apollo is a foreign god, the temple had to be built outside the pomerium in the Campus Martius. The Games were instituted in 202 BCE on the advice of an oracle named Marcius and the Sibylline Books, which were consulted in times of crisis. The games, to be held every four years, were to honor Apollo and acknowledge his assistance in defeating Hannibal and the Carthaginians, but from 196 BCE, they were held annually. Originally, the games were only on the 13th, but later the games—very popular with the Romans—were extended to as many as 13 days. With the Praeter Urbanis in charge, celebration of the Ludi Apollinares included plays and gladiatorial games, and later, horse racing, plays, and beast hunts (but no gladiators, since Apollo was a deity of healing). People in Rome attended the games in great numbers, in spite of the heat of summer.A sacrifice was made by decemviri sacris faciundi by Greek rite on the 13th at the temple. They sacrificed an ox to Apollo, a cow to Latona, and two shegoats to either Diana or Apollo (which is unclear), each with gilded horns. People wore garlands and held feasts in the forecourts of their homes with the doors open. Matrons prayed "everywhere, with open doors, people feasted at the entrance to their houses" (Livy's Roman History, 25, 12, 15). Immediately following the Ludi Apollinares on the calendars were six market days.July 6—Temple to Fortuna Muliebris— nefastus publicusOn this day, a temple was dedicated on the Via Latina about 4 miles outside of Rome to Fortuna Muliebris, "Fortune of Women." Dionysus of Halicarnasuss relates its significance lies with the story of Corolianus. The Senate wanted to honor women, specifically the wife and mother of Corolianus, because they talked him out of attacking Rome.Tradition has it that Corolianus had captured the town of Corioli from the Volscians in 493 BCE. A decorated Roman general, he got himself banished from the city by opposing the distribution of grain to starving plebians, then turned traitor by going over to the Volscians. Leading their armies, he nearly made it to the gates of Rome, but his mother Volumnia and wife Vergilia met him outside the city with their two sons and begged him not to attack. At first, their pleas were met with silence; then (according to Plutarch), they four of them threw themselves at Coriolanus's feet, and he cried out, "O mother! What have you done to me?" After her passionate speech, he pulled his mother up off the ground, and said, "You have gained a victory, that is fortunate enough for the Romans. However, it has destroyed your own son. No one else has defeated him; but that is what you have achieved" (Grant 195). Then, according to Livy, he embraced his family and sent them back, and withdrew his forces from before the City. Having then led his army out of Rome's dominions he is said to have perished beneath the weight of resentment this act caused, by a death which is variously described. . . . There was no envy of the fame the women had earned, on the part of the men of Rome—and to preserve its memory the temple of Fortuna Muliebris was built and dedicated.The temple later became associated with the aspect of marriage of women, and the established practice of women who wanted to marry a second time was that they should touch the statue before they could remarry. However, only newly married women (univirae) should worship the Goddess.July 7—Nones of the Wild Fig— nefastus publicusThe Ancillarum feriae, is the "feast of the serving women," also known as the Nonae Caprotinae, the Nones of the wild fig. On this day, Juno Caprotina was honored as a patron of female servants. According to Plutarch, this festival commemorates an episode after the Gallic invasion of Rome when the Latins demanded women from the Romans. Several female servants were sent in disguised as a free woman to the Latins. While the Latins slept, the ancillae disarmed them and lit a signal fire on a tall fig tree. Plutarch relates that during the festival there were numerous booths selling fig-tree boughs outside the city, and brightly dressed ancillae ran around and staged mock battles among themselves. Varro, however, indicates that the Caprotinae refers to women who sacrifice to Juno Caprotina under a wild fig tree on this date, using its milky sap for offerings instead of milk. The purpose of the stick cut from the fig tree, he insists, was probably used by ancillae in the mock battle. A more agricultural explanation for the festival is that the sticks from wild fig were cultivated for pollination. The connection to Juno comes from the "marriage" of the male caprificus to the female ficus, and so Juno was involved as the patron of marriage.July 15—Parade of the Equites— dies nefastusThe Equitum Romanorum probation or transvectio commemorates the assistance from Castor and Pollux at the battle of Lake Regillus in the fourth century BCE. The story of the battle may be fact or myth, but tradition has it that Castor and Pollux led the Romans to victory and were seen watering their horses in the Forum and reported the victory to the Romans in the city. Thereafter, Castor and Pollux were considered patrons of the Roman cavalry, the Equites. This colorful parade of as many as 5,000 mounted knights was established in 304 BCE by the Censor Quintus Fabius Rullianus, lapsed, and was revived by Augustus in the first century CE. It must have been a breathtaking spectacle to see all the Equites decked out in their trabeae (purple robes w/scarlet stripes), crowned with olive wreaths and wearing all their military decorations as they processed by tribe on their white horses from the Porta Capena (home of Mars) past the temple of Castor and Pollux.July 18—Anniversary of the Battle of Allia— dies comitalesOn both the Fasti Antiaes minores and Antiates maiores, July 18 commemorates that black day when Fabii were defeated on the Cremera in 479 BCE, as well as the day the Gauls captured the city of Rome in 390 BCE. Because these two unfortunate events occurred on this day, although it was a diei comitalis, it was considered very unlucky and therefore a terrible day for any business or political transactions, journeys, or marriages.July 19, 21—Lucaria —dies nefastiLucus means "grove," and according to Festus, the sacrifice was celebrated between the Via Salaria and the Tiber river. It is likely that the LUCARIA is a seasonal sacrifice to propitiate those vague spirits of the forest before felling trees, especially those woodland spirits and nymphs related to Leucaria and Rhea Silvia, mother of Romulus & Remus. July would indeed be the appropriate season for ground-clearing and thinning the woods to let the light in and a suitable occasion for Cato's prayer and accompanying sacrifice of a pig:Be thou god or goddess to whom this grove is dedicated, as it is thy right to receive a sacrifice of a pig for the thinning of this sacred grove, and to this intent, I or one at my bidding do it, may it be rightly done. To this end, in offering this pig to thee I humbly beg that thou wilt be gracious and merciful to me, to my house and household, and to my children. Whilt thou deign to receive this pig which I offer to thee to this end (Scullard 26).July 23—Neptunalia, Festival of the God Neptune—dies nefastNeptune is a very old, Italian god of fresh water, and did not become a sea God until he was associated with the Greek God, Poseidon. At the Neptunalia, in any case, he was invoked more particularly as a deity whose concerns were the drainage and irrigation of farmlands. July was the hottest and driest month of the year, and it would have been within Neptune's purview to maintain a constant water supply and prevent crops from drying out and burning, as well as to mitigate against outbreaks of fire in the city. Neptune was one of the first gods listed for at lectisterium (see September 13), where he was seated with Mercury—a pairing of the deities of seafaring and trade. People made arbors of leaves, which were probably used to shade them from the hot July sun. It is significant to note that other than Apollo and Mars, Neptune was the only deity to whom a bull could be sacrificed, although we don't really know anything specifically about the ritual performed on this date.July 25—Furrinalia, Festival of the Goddess Furrina—dies nefastiEven Varro doesn't know much about the Goddess Furrina, except to note that "honour was paid to her among the ancients, who instituted an annual sacrifice for her, and assigned to her a special priest, but her name is barely known, and even that to only a few" (Varro VI 19). Presumably she has some association with water, particularly with respect to drilling operations and wells, or at least springs and wells, and we know that the celebration of her State holiday involved an animal sacrifice. She may well have been an Etruscan deity, although the Lucus Furrinae on Janiculum Hill is not referenced any earlier than the third century CE (Scullard 168, 252).AUGUST— (Mensis Sextilis)By August, the harvest would be nearly complete on most of the Italian peninsula. The tasks left farmers would involve storing grain and cleaning up. According to Varro, August was the time to cut straw, build haystacks, harrowplow land, collect leaf-fodder, and irrigate the fields a second time. The rustic calendar indicates it was also time to prepare stakes, collect the harvest and wheat, and burn the coarse part of flax. The month was protected by Ceres, and sacrifices were also made to Spes, Salus & Diana. Some of the festivals had connections with the harvest and storage of crops, and many took place near the Aventine, Circus Maximus, and on the bank of the Tiber, all of which were originally part of the cultivated land.There were six nefasti publici in August, days on which legal action is permitted, as well as six dies nefast, days on which no legal or political business could take place and 16 dies comitales, days on which citizens may vote on political or criminal matters. There is also one endotercisus day in August, which functions as dies fastus in the morning and dies comitalis in the afternoon.August 3—Supplicia canum—dies comitalisNot precisely a festival, this date appears on calendars to mark a procession through the city bearing dogs that have been crucified alive. This practice hearkens back again to the ‘black day' when the Gauls sacked Rome, and the dogs remained asleep, rather than warning the Romans of the impending attack. While the laziness of the dogs is commemorated, the ‘sacred' geese—who did awaken in time to keep the Capitoline Hill from being taken—are carried around in a litter all decked out in purple and gold.August 5—Festival of Salus—dies fastiThe collis Salurtaris, the part of the Quirinal hill where the temple of Salus is located is probably the site of an older altar or shrine used by the early cult of Salus. She may have once been primarily an agricultural and fertility goddess, but as the partner of Aesculapius, she later came to be associated with the personification of health and preservation, just as the Greek Hygieia as the partner of Asklepios. The oldest images of Salus show her holding sheaves of wheat, and on some coins, she is seen feeding a snake from a patera (a dish used specifically for offerings) and holding a scepter. Macrobius indicates that she was also named Semonia and may have shared a cult with Semo Sancus in early times. During the empire, she was honored as Salus Publica populi Romani ("Public Health of the Roman People"). Her temple on Quirinal Hill was dedicated in 302 BCE by Gaius Iunius Bubulcus Salus.August 12—Festival of Hercules—dies comitalisHercules was one of the first Greek gods to make it to Rome, and although he is still considered a foreign god, his temple was actually placed inside the pomerium near the Circus Maximus. Tacitus noted that "the furrow which traced the boundaries of the town began at the Cattle Market (the Forum boarium) to take in the great altar of Hercules." (Rose 90) No Italian equivalent of Hercules was found, and so he wouldn't seem so foreign, he was initially known as Semo Sancus Dius Fedius. His cult was controlled by the families of the Potitii and Pinarii until State took over in 312 BCE.The sacrifice was celebrated in Greek manner with the head uncovered but crowned with laurel.The Praetor sacrifices a heifer to Hercules, and during the sacrifice, there must be no reference to any other gods made (no generalis invocatio). No part of the sacrificed animal could be removed from the temple area, so it had to be eaten then and there—a free meal especially appreciated by the poorer residents of the city. There were no restrictions on what Hercules could eat or drink (Herculi autem omnia esculenta, poculenta), and he had quite a reputation for gluttony.The district where his temple was situated was considered so holy that women were excluded, and even dogs and flies were not permitted to pollute the area of his altar. It is not coincidental that the area of the Forum boarium is central to merchants, who considered Hercules their patron. The regularly tithed part of their income to him to placate him and ask for continued prosperity. They also honored Hercules as one who successfully averted evil, as he had done in his many adventures.August 13—Festival of Diana—nefastus publicusDiana was originally an Italian goddess, perhaps originally a wood spirit, but later she came to be associated more generally with the affairs of women. Her cult center at Aricia was associated with politics from an early time, Diana being the chief deity of the Latin League, which met at her sacred grove (nemus) at Aricia. The Rex nemorensi ("King" of the grove of Nemi) was well known as "the priest who slew the slayer and shall himself be slain," and Frazer's Golden Bough begins with the telling of a ritual slaying—if one could break a bough from the tree, he would be entitled to fight the king. Tradition has it that Servius Tullius founded the cult of Diana in Rome, yet outside the pomerium on the Aventine Hill, in order to unite the Latins with the Romans. Two kinds of offerings were made to Diana: models of female reproductive organs or women with children, and stags and other animals associated with the hunt. Slaves were allowed to attend her festival—one of the few they could attend without fear of ‘polluting' the ceremonies, in fact, they could seek asylum in the temple on the Aventine Hill. Ritual practices on this day also included women washing their hair, but the reason for this is unexplained.August 13—Festival of Vortumnus— nefastus publicusOriginally an Etruscan god of the fullness of fruit, Vortumnus was worshipped as the patron deity of the city of the Volsinii and may indeed have been the chief god of the Etruscans. Like Juno, he probably came to Rome by the rite of evocatio, when the Volsinii were successfully besieged by Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, who triumphed in 264 BCE.The husband of Pomona, Vortumnus, for whom "the first grape turns blue on its bunch, and the ear of corn swells with a milky juice" was sometimes known as Vertumnus (Propertius 4, 2, 13f ) and associated with changes, particularly the change of seasons. According to Propertius, Vertumnus receives the first fruits of the season and in whose right hand could be seen the first purple grapes of the vintage, the first yellow ears of corn at harvest, sweet blushing cherries, autumn plums, apples, and pears, and mulberries reddening in summer days; there too in the basket lay the dark-green cucumber and swelling gourd, and there, or wreathed about his face, drooped every flower that bloomed in the meadows. (Ovid 438-40) According to Ovid, by appearing to the shy goddess Pomona in many disguises, Vertumnus was finally able to woo her when he appeared in his own form, although she was nearly blinded by his brilliance!August 17— PORTUNALIA— nefastus publicusPortunus is an ancient Italian deity. His flamen was responsible for little more than applying grease (persillum) to the armor (arma) on the statue of Quirinus. Portunus is associated with doors and considered to be a protector of doors and, more particularly, keys. His name could be translated as a "a means of carrying across," in which case, very early in Rome's history he could have been the deity who presided over the ferry that crossed the Tiber. Indeed, this August 17 is referred to as the Tiberinalia by the Philocalus calendar. Eventually Portunus was also understood to be the god of ports (harbors).August 19—Vinalia Rustica—dies fastiThe Vinalia ("wine festival"), originally honoring Jupiter, but later associated with Venus, in her capacity as a deity of the well tended garden, rather than the Goddess of love and beauty she became after being associated with the Greek Goddess, Aphrodite. Varro notes that on this date a "temple was dedicated to Venus and gardens were set apart for her, and then the kitchen-gardeners went on holiday" (Varro VI 20). Vinalia Rustica is the second wine festival of the year, the first being the Vinalia Priora on April 23, when the first wine from the previous year's vintage could be brought into the city.The Vinalia Rustica was celebrated in the country to celebrate the start of the grape harvest, although but mid-August is really too early for that— harvesting usually takes place at the end of September. Perhaps it was more to gain protection for the growing vine, instead. An offering of a ewe-lamb was made to Jupiter, and before the entrails were laid on the sacrificial fire, the Flamen Dialis officially announced the vintage (auspicatur vindemoniam) and picked the first bunch of the year.August 21— CONSUALIA —nefastus publicusConsus is the God of the store bin and the harvested grain that is stored in underground storage bins. Consus had an underground altar lying beneath the track of the Circus Maximus at the first turn at the southeastern end of the spina—a spot traditionally considered to be one of the four corners of Rome's original pomerium. On July 7, a sacrifice is made by the sacerdotibus publicis to bless the storage of grain after the June harvests. The pit was kept covered and opened only when such offerings were made. (See also, the Consualia, August 19 and December 15 at the time of autumn sowing.) The August Consualia celebrates the end of the harvest. In the lower-lying areas of Italy, the grain would be cut by about July 31 and slightly later in areas of higher elevation. It also included attention to the goddesses Seia, Segeta (also known as Segestia), Messia (the Goddess of seedtime and crops), and Tutulina (the Goddess who watched of the preservation of the crops). Consus means "storer," or more precisely refers to the deity in charge of the ensilage of crops or the harvest store.The Flamen Quirinalis was in charge of the ritual sacrifice, along with the Vestal Virgins. They would remove the soil from the underground altar in the Circus Maximus, and begin with a sacrifice of the first fruits. The festivities continue with horse and chariot races in the Circus Maximus, and horses and asses in the city would be garlanded and given a vacation day in Consus's honor.Dionysus of Halicarnassus associated those horse races with the story of the Rape of the Sabine Women. Romulus took the opportunity to exploit the Sabine men's love of horse racing by inviting to the Consualia. While they were engrossed in the races, the Romans stole the Sabine women. The Etruscans also had a penchant for horse racing, and there may indeed be a connection between horses, which were funerary animals, with the underground altar of Consus in the Circus Maximus. Later, Consus became equated with the Greek God, Poseidon, because of his association with horses.August 23—Volcanalia—nefastus publicusVulcanus is thought to have originally been an Italian fire god, although his name is not Latin. He is one of the older deities of Rome, however, as he does have his own Flamen. He would have been particularly respected— feared even—during the dry season because he could destroy all the crops and even the city with his destructive fire. He was never associated with the creative fire of the Greek God, Hephaestus; indeed, Vulcanus was the father of the fire-breathing monster Cacus that Hercules had to defeat.The temple of Vulcanus had to be built outside pomerium because of his the potential for dangerous destructiveness. Offerings were made not just to Vulcan, but also the nymphs Juturna and Ops Opifera, deities of water, whose assistance may have been enlisted in case of an uncontrolled fire. Ops is also associated with corn and the harvest. Vulcanus received a classic substitution sacrifice— people would drive animals into the fire as a substitute for themselves or throw live fish as a substitute for human souls pro se. According to Varro, "on that day the people, acting for themselves, drive their animals over a fire" (Varro VI 20).Several other deities related to water and harvest, Maia, the Nymphs, Ops, and Hora, receive homage along with Vulcanus. Maia is the consort of Vulcan and the goddess responsible for the growth of living things. She also received a sacrifice of a pregnant sow by the flamen Volcanalis on May 1. On August 23, according to the Fasti Arvales, a sacrifice to her was made supra comitium, that is, the Area Vulcani that rose above the Comitium. Ops Opifera, a deity of water (in case of uncontrolled fire) was also associated with corn and the harvest. In that capacity, she is the Goddess of fertility and plenty. About Hora or the Nymphs we know virtually nothing.August 25— OPICONSIVIA— nefastus publicusThe cult of Ops ("Lady Bountiful the Planter"), the Goddess of plenty, may be of ancient Sabine origin. She received sacrifice in connection with Volcanalia on August 23. According to Festus, she is regarded as Earth (terra) because human race and all resources come from her omnes opes. The sacrarium (shrine) in the Regia corresponds to the household penus, the domestic store cupboard, and the fruits of the earth were tended by the king's ‘daughters,' the Vestals.August 27— VOLTURNALIA—— nefastus publicusVoluturnus is thought to be an Etruscan river or wind god. Although his nature and origins are cause for much speculation, there was a Flamen Volturnalis dedicated to his service. He is variously described as the father of Juturna (a fountain deity), the wind of devastation "whirling around the heights" (Lucretius 5, 745), who raised clouds of dust during battle of Cannae (Liv., 22, 43, 10) and burned the grapes (Col, 5, 5, 15). His name may be related to the verb volvere ("to roll"), lending credence to the idea that he is the embodiment of Eurus, the name for both the southeast wind and a river in Campania. Or Volturnus may be an Etruscan name associated with the family name, Velthuma.SEPTEMBER— (Mensis September)September was a month of relaxation; there were lots of games, but no really important festivals. There are no large letter days (used on most calendars to indicate the most important festivals) in the entire month. The campaigning season is over, and September marks the lull between the harvest and the vintage. At this time, farmers would be expected to paint their wine jars with pitch, pick apples, loosen the soil around tree roots, and cut straw. According to the rustic calendar, the month is protected by Vulcan. In September, there is only one nefastus publicus, a day on which public religious festivals are celebrated, five dies fasti, or days on which legal action is permitted, and 21 dies comitales, days on which citizens may vote on political or criminal matters.September 1—Jupiter & Juno—dies fastiThere are two temples dedicated to Jupiter dedicated by Augustus on this date. One was dedicated to Jupiter Liber or Libertas, the God of liberty of Osco-Umbrian origin. Unlike Dionysus, with whom Liber later became associated, Jupiter Liber had nothing to do with wine. Rather, he presided over creativity or the creative force (Adkins' Dictionary 122).Also on September 1, Camillus vowed a temple to Juno Regina. Camillus' s capture of the city of Veii in 396 BCE is a fascinating example of the Roman rite of evocatio. The Romans were having a very difficult time capturing the besieged Etruscan city, and so Camillus took a rather drastic move in stealing its patron deity. The rite of evocatio involves luring a deity from her home by promises of more grandiose worship elsewhere. In Camillus's case, it worked like a charm. He built Juno a beautiful temple in Rome in 392 BCE, and in it he put the wooden statue he had brought from Veii. This is how Juno came to be respected as one of the most important deities in Rome.September 4-19— LUDI ROMANIThe Roman Games were held to honor Jupiter Optimus Maximus, whose temple on the Capitoline was dedicated on September 13 in 509 BCE during the reign of Tarquin the Elder. Originally, they were votive games, but came to be celebrated annually by 366 BCE, and the number of days increased to sixteen days. Cicero relates a story that explains the annual repetition of the games that were first held during the Latin War. Apparently, a slave "bearing a yoke was led about the circus and beaten with rods." After that the dream a man reported having had a dream indicating that Jupiter was greatly displeased. The man was told in the dream to report it to the Senate, and when he failed to do so immediately, he became quite ill. His friends carried him to where the Senate was meeting, at which he related the substance of his dream, then immediately became well. The Senate acknowledged the credibility of the man's dream by having the games repeated (Cicero 283-4).These rather expensive festivities were organized by the Curule Aediles and were extremely popular, since they included numerous games and lots of free entertainment for nearly half the month of September. Dionysus of Halicarnassus describes in detail the procession beginning the games. In it were athletes, dancers, flute and cithara players, burlesque bands, and statues of Gods and Goddesses carried on litters. Following the procession were chariot races and running, boxing, wrestling, and gymnastic competitions, as well as theatrical shows.September 13—‘Banquet' with Jupiter (and later Juno, Minerva)— nefastus publicusThis epulum takes place at end of the Ludi Romani to commemorate the dedication of the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, which was dedicated by Marcus Horatius Pulvillus, the first consul of the Republic. At that temple was the tradition of driving a nail into the temple wall each year to avert plague. By counting the number of nails in the wall, one could tell what year it was.By the first century BCE, the celebration became a joint feast among magistrates, senators, and the deities of the Capitoline Trio —Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. In 196 BCE, the banquet had become so elaborate that a college of three Epulines was appointed, whose responsibility it was to organize all such banquets. Festivities began with a sacrifice of a white heifer and using the second batch of mola salsa made by the Vestal Virgins. The images of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva presided over the banquet. Jupiter's face was reddened with minium and he reclined on a leculus, a "dining couch," while Juno and Minerva, decked out in the finest of garmets, were seated on sellae, "chairs." Just as one might entertain any dinner guests, the images of the deities were offered food and plied with music.WORKS CONSULTED:Cato, Marcus Tullius and Marcus Terentius Varro On Agriculture. Ash, H.B., trans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De Senectute, De Amicitia, De Divinatione. W.A. Falconer, trans. London: Harvard University Press, 1923: 213-568.Grant, Michael. Roman Myths. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.Livy, Titius. History of Rome: Books 1-2. B.O. Foster, trans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1919.Ovid. Fasti. Frazer, James George, trans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976.Ogilvie, R.M. The Romans and Their Gods in the Age of Augustus. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1969.Rose, H.J. Ancient Roman Religion. London: Hutchinson's University Library, 1948.Scullard, H.H. A History of the Roman World 753 to 146 BC. London: Routledge, 1980.Turcan, Robert. The Gods of Ancient Rome: Religion in Everyday Life from Archaic to Imperial Times. Antonia Nevell, trans. New York: Routledge, 2000.Varro, Marcus Terentius. On the Latin Language: Books VIII-X and Fragments. Robert G. Kent, trans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1938._____. On the Latin Language: Books V-VII. Robert G. Kent, trans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1938.
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(Originally published in Oak Leaves No. 13.) Early Romans were simple farmers and shepherds, and their gods and religious practices revolved around their homes, farms, and immediate community. Every household had some kind of shrine for the home deities, the Lararium, and would perform daily prayers honor the Lar, the guardian spirit of the household, and the Penates, the guardian spirits of the pantry or cupboards. In previous articles, I have discussed the basics of Roman hearth religion (see OL 10). I am now offering to share some very simple household prayers and rites suitable for a Roman household. MORNING LARARIUM PRAYER The Paterfamilias was traditionally responsible for leading the house hold each morning in a prayer to the deities of the household (the Lar and Penates) to thank them for keeping watch over the welfare and prosperity of the home and to ask that the coming day be fruitful and safe. In ancient times, the Paterfamilias was the male head of the household; however, in modern times, this need not be so. Just as the Paterfamilias of the community is responsible for the spiritual welfare of the community, the Paterfamilias of the household is responsible for maintaining a proper relationship between the deities and the household. This particular prayer is designed to be performed before the lararium early in the morning after the Paterfamilias has been cleaned and purified, but before breakfast. The Paterfamilias stands before the lararium with arms outstretched and greets the household spirits: Salve Lar Familiaris! Greetings, household Lar! Salvete Di Penates! Greetings, Divine Penates! {If you are making an offering, do so while speaking these lines; otherwise, omit the passages in brackets.} Vos precor {hoc sacrificio obmovendo bonas preces} uti sitis volentes propitii mihi, {liberisque mei,} domo meo, familiaeque meae. I humbly ask that you may bestow your blessing upon me, {my children,} my home, and my household. {Mactete hoc sacrificio} {Be thou increased by this which I give to you.} Ita est! So be it! This is a great time for a few moments of daily meditation, particularly giving thought to what your plans, expectations, and hopes for the day may be and how the kindred spirits may be included and helpful during the day. A daily offering is not necessary, but is always an option, particularly if you seek especial favor that day. Moreover, this would be an ideal time for making a prepared or extemporaneous prayer or vow to a deity (or deities) for assistance in a particular situation. For example, when I had to leave my car at th shop for the day, I prayed to and made a vow to Mercurius (as one who is associates with commerce and fair business deals) Vulcanus (as one who is associated with metalwork and the forge fire), and any other deity who may have been able to assist me in keeping the cost of the repairs to a minimum. (It seemed to work, by the way; I had a loose spark plug, which was easily reconneted, and my mechanic didn't charge me a dime!) DAILY MEAL PRAYER At the evening meal (or whatever is the main meal of the day), it is appropriate to honor Vesta, the living flame, who is associated with the cook fire and the Penates. If, like me, you live alone and have irregular, quick meals, make a point of offering to Vesta a bit of whatever it is you're eating whenever you do sit down for a meal. Ideally, a place should be set for Vesta at the table with a serving of all that which the family is eating, then after dinner, but before dessert, the contents of the plate are cast into the fire on the hearth. As the offering is made, a short prayer to Vesta is made: Salve, Vesta mater! Greetings, Mother Vesta! Accipe hoc sacrificium factum meo artificio de tua auxilia beata. Accept this offering, made by my own handiwork with your blessed help. Te precor humiliter uti sis volens propitia foco meo, domique familiaeque meae. I humbly beseech you to bless my hearth, and the home of my family. Macte hoc sacrificio. Be thou increased by this which I give to you. Throw the offering to the hearth (or place it in the offering bowl, as the case may be.) Dea propitia sit! May the Goddess be favorable! PRAYER WHEN LEAVING HOME Janus is the deity most commonly associated with doors in the Roman religion. He protects our homes from that which would bring harm to it or those within it. Not only is it a good idea to invoke Janus as a protector of the home, but Janus is also the gatekeeper between us and the realm of the deities. Establishing a good relationship with Janus may aid in enlisting his help in opening the gates in more elaborate rituals. It's not a bad idea to invoke him every time you enter and leave your home. As you cross the threshold and close the door behind you, say: Semper salve valeque, Jane Clusive! Greetings always, Janus, closer of doors! Extend your hands in supplication and say: Me absente te precor uti sis domum, meam vigilans et ab injuria protegens. I humbly beseech you to watch over my home in my absence, and protect it from harm. Lock the door, then kiss your hand and touch this hand to the door, saying: Ita est! So be it! PRAYER UPON RETURNING HOME As you approach the entrance to your home, greet Janus, saying: Salve Jane Patulci! Greetings, Janus, opener of doors! Extend your hands in supplication, saying: Tibi gratias ago quod in me absentia domum meam vigilasti et ab injuria protexsti. Thank you for watching over my home in my absence and keeping it safe from harm. Kiss your hand, touch this hand to the door, and unlock it, saying: Gratias tibi ago! I give you thanks! PRAYER OF ABLUTION (CLEANSING): This is a short prayer than can be used whenever you shower, wash your hands, before a ritual or anytime you feel the need for purification. While washing, say: Haec aqua a corpore impuritates, simile modo velut plumbum ad aurum mutando, eluat. May this water cast out all impurities from my substance as from lead to gold. Purget mentem. Purget corpus. Purget animum. Purify my mind. Purify my body. Purify my spirit. Ita est. So be it. If they were going to be attending or participating in a formal ritual, Romans would cover their heads, capite velato, to protect themselves from any evil omens en route to or during the ritual. If this prayer is used as an ablution prior to a ritual, it would be proper to cover your head with a shawl or length of cloth. As you do so, say: Purus(-a) sim May I be pure. Immunis ex impurtates sim May I be free from all impurities. Mei facti fidi et justi sint May my deeds be true and just. Stand straight, your hands in a supplicant position, and say: Juppiter mihi induat pietate. May Jupiter enwrap me with Pietas. Ita est! So be it! CONCLUSION These are the first Latin prayers I have written, and they are ones I have begun to use on a regular basis. It's not necessary to address the Roman deities in Latin, and I wouldn't recommend anyone doing so without first learning some basics of Latin pronunciation. However, if you understand how to pronounce the Latin and feel more comfortable using it (speaking in Latin always reminds me of the days of Latin Masses and feels more formal to me), I believe the gods prefer it. The most important thing to remember, however, is that the more often you perform these small, daily rites and prayers, the closer you will grow to the deities. Your relationship will grow and you will feel their presence a little more each time your pray to them. Use the prayers in English or put them into your own words once you are comfortable with them. The Gods will hear you and appreciate your efforts and your piety. BIBLIOGRAPHY Serith, Ceisiwr, The Deep Ancestors: Practicing Proto-Indo-European Religion, (forthcoming). Nova Roma Website: Category: Roman Religion 2007. Traupman, John C., Latin and English Dictionary, New York, Bantam Books, 1995.
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