God of the Month: Vortumnus (Vertumnus)

Little marrow type pumpkin and flower.

Little marrow type pumpkin and yellow flower.

Called The Changer, Vortumnus can be considered the God of Seasonal Change. He causes the plants to swell into vegetables. He turns the grapes purple and ripen the cherries. His influence becomes obvious in August, when the signs of autumn begin to show. At this time, the vegetables are ready to be picked. In the change from winter to spring, the focus is on Liber and Libera, who fertilize the plants. (Vortumnus does bring the warmth of spring.)

Vortunmus is the Protector of Gardens. His wife, Pomona, is the Goddess of Fruit and Fruit Trees. Together, They watch over the fruits and vegetables that we eat. During the Vortumnalia (August 13), I give thanks to Vortunmus for the produce from my grocery store, especially for the heirloom tomatoes.

Salve Vortumnus!
The Changer
The Turner
Your touch causes
The cucumber to ripen
The cherry to be sweet
You bring the changes of each season.
We feel You in the Autumn
But You are always there
The breath of warmth of Spring
The chill of Winter
Turning, turning the seasons one by one.
Salve Vortumnus!

Polytheism and Spiritual Pollution

Mention “miasma,” “pollution,” or “purity” in regards to Polytheism, and many Pagans will take umbrage with these terms. One reason is that Christianity has redefined these Polytheistic terms to match its theology. Since many Pagans are converts from Christianity, they will often think of these concepts in those terms. However, “miasma,” “pollution,” and “purity” had different meanings in Polytheism.

Paganism does have its version of “pollution” and “purity.” Pagans discuss “positive” and “negative” energies. People will cleanse themselves and their spaces routinely to clear out negative energy. For example, crystals are often cleansed before using them. Also, before rituals, many Pagans will smudge themselves to purify themselves and to clean out the ritual space.

Miasma and spiritual pollution are different from both negative energy and Christian sin. Negative energy powers destruction, sickness, and other such things. It can be removed by laughter or positive thinking. Sin is removed by baptism and confession. Miasma, which is specific to Greek Polytheism, is a “spiritual pollution that prevails over all, it is not an ‘evil thing.’” Continuing in his essay, Markos Gage says “Miasma is therefore something we incur in life, everyday life.” (Note 1)

In Roman Polytheism, castus (the adjective) means being morally pure, pious, or ritually pure. Piety (pietas) is maintaining the right relations between people, their Gods, their families, and their communities. Castitas (the noun) is the purity of the ritual and the participants. (Note 2) That means everyone must be physically and mentally cleansed before conducting a ritual. Before a ritual, people perform ablutions by washing their hands and asking that the water purify them.

An error conducted in a ritual is a spiritual pollutant. It negates the ritual and risks the anger of the Gods. It is not that a God will smite someone, but is to maintain the Pax Deorum, the Peace of the Gods. Religious negligence leads to divine disharmony and the turning away of the Gods. This leads to the loss of protection for the family, community, and the individual.

The closest thing that Roman Polytheism has to Christian sin is nefas. This can be defined as anything which is contrary to divine law. Nefas is a failure to fulfill a religious duty. Nefas is a willful act of religious violation.

Polytheists regard the world to be neutral, which differs from Christian theology. St. Augustine stated that the world is both corrupt and corrupting. Therefore, humanity lives in a Fallen World. To Polytheists, the world is both clean and dirty. Kenaz Filan explains, “The world is a clean flowing stream, and miasma the sewage dumped into the water. We clean the stream by filtering that sewage or by redirecting it…to where it can be properly contained.” (Note 3)

Why focus on purity and pollution? When a person prays, divine, or perform any other sacred act, they are engaging with the Holy Powers. There is a doctrine in U.S. law called, “Clean Hands” (also called “Dirty Hands”). (Note 4) The plaintiff cannot have the judge participate in an illegal act. One example is a drug dealer cannot sue to have his stolen drugs be returned. Another is suing the hit man you hired to kill someone for failure to do their job. As Judge Judy says on her TV show, “the courts will not help anyone with dirty hands.” I believe that in our relations with the Gods, we can think of purity and pollution in those terms.

Notes:
Note 1. Markos Gage, “Answers About Miasma,” from “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands,” Galina Krasskova, ed. P. 51. Markos Gage is a devotee of Dionysius and an artist.

Note 2. The Romans have a Goddess – Lua – who protects all things purified by rituals and for rituals.

Note 3. Kenez Filan, “Miasma” from “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands,” Galina Krasskova, ed. P. 69. Kenez Filan is the author of several books including “Drawing Down the Spirits (with Raven Kaldera)”. He is an initiated Houngan Si Pwen.

Note 4. Clean hands: “Under the clean hands doctrine, a person who has acted wrongly, either morally or legally – that is, who has ‘unclean hands’ – will not be helped by a court when complaining about the actions of someone else.” From The ‘Lectric Law Library, http://www.lectlaw.com/def/c202.htm

Works Used:
Galina Krasskova, “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands”
L. Vitellius Triarius, “Religio Romana Handbook.”

To Three Oaks Dying Old

brown acorn

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Recently the Condo Association cut down three dying oaks, each over 300 years old, had that surrounded my garden condo.

I sing of thee
Thou stouthearted survivors
Of ancient forests
Silent witnesses of when the world was green

I sing of thee
Thou providers of substance
Of homes and food
Ancient mothers and fathers
To birds on the wing and squirrels ever restless

I sing of thee
Formable guardians
Of house and family
Shaders from worry
Life-giving wisdom given on the songs of leaves

I sing of thee
Now lying lumps
Of dead wood
Unripen acorns for mournful squirrels to bury

I sing of thee
Old friends
Of comfort
Now shadows, thy stumps ever silent tombs

Note: This was inspired by “To An Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Houseman

Prayer Beads: Gods of Canaan

il_570xN.886656443_sh4v

“Anat” by Grace Palmer

Materials:

Palm Leaf
Hand of Hamsa (Fatima)

Mook jasper beads: 4
Carnelian beads: 9
Aventine beads: 9
Moonstone beads: 9

Pattern:

Palm Leaf (1)

Mook jasper (1)
Moonstone (1)
Aventine (2)
Carnelian (6)

Mook jasper (1)
Aventine (1)
Carnelian (2)
Moonstone (6)

Mook jasper (1)
Carnelian (1)
Moonstone (2)
Aventine (6)

Mook jasper (1)
Hand of Hamsa (Fatima) (1)

Prayers:

Palm Leaf:
Prayer from Tess Dawson, “The Horned Altar,” p. 168

“Gods of Deeps and Gods on High,
You draw near as I do pray
Grant me knowledge of your way.
You and I together talk;”

Mook jasper:
(Tess Dawson)
“Gods of the Deeps and Gods on High,
Praise to You, O Gracious Ones.”

Moonstone:
Praise to You, Yarihk,
Lamp of the Gods
Lord of the Sickle
The Moon

Adventine:
Praise to You, Ba’al Hadad
Rider of the Clouds
Prince of Victory
The Thunderer

Carnelian:
Praise to You, ‘Anat
Maiden of Battle
Destroyer of Enemies
The Warrioress

Hand of Hamsa (Fatima):
(Tess Dawson)
“I await your kind reply.
Gracious Gods, I call You nigh.
Praise to You, O Gracious Ones.”

Roman Gods of the Month: August

agriculture barley field beautiful close up

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar, the Roman Senate voted to name a month for him – “July.” Caesar’s calendar (known as the Julian Calendar) featured alternating months of 30 and 31 days. July of course had 31 days. In contrast, February had the fewest days – 29, with leap year adding an extra day.

When Augustus became Emperor of Rome, the Senate voted to add “August” after July. Since August only had 30 days, the Senate took one from February and added it to this month. The calendar was rearranged with June and September having thirty days. August could not have any less days than July, since Augustus was equal to Julius Caesar.

For Romans, August is a busy month of festivals. The harvest is coming due and needs to be collected. Since the summer is still hot and dry, the fire season has started. Therefore, the Gods of Harvest and Gods of Fires are honored.

Salus
On August 5, the augurium Salutis is held to pray for the preservation of the public health and well-being. Held at the temple of Salus, the Goddess of Safety and Well-Being, salt is offered to the Gods. Prayers for good health are made to Salus, Pax (Goddess of Peace), Concordia (Goddess of Concord) and Janus.  Salus, Goddess of Public Health and Safety

Sol Indiges
On August 9, offerings are made to Sol Indiges (The Native Sun) for a good harvest. One of the 12 principal Gods of agriculture, Sol Indiges is the God of the Agricultural Year. He nurtures the harvest from beginning to end. On August 30, Sol Indiges is honored with Luna, the Goddess of the Moon, at the Templum Solis et Lunae. This was the day for chariot races, since both Gods are patrons of racing. Sol Indiges, Sun God of the Romans

Luna, Moon Goddess of Rome

Vertumnus (Vortumnus)
Held on August 13, the Vertumnalia is to celebrate Vertumnus, the Changer of the Seasons. Since He is also the Husband of Pomona, the Goddess of Fruit, Vertumnus receives the first fruits of the harvest. This God is depicted holding in his right hand, grapes, cherries, and other fruits, while at his feet sets a basket of cucumbers.

God of the Month: Vortumnus (Vertumnus)

Diana
The main festival honoring Diana, the Goddess of Wild Nature, Nemoralia is held on August 15. Also called “The Festival of Torches,” the Nemoralia takes place in sacred groves. Women wash and decorate their hair in flowers and ribbons. With lighted torches, they add their “light” to the moon’s glow. Afterwards, everyone tie prayers written on ribbons to the trees. (This festival later became the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.) The God of the Month: Diana

Portunus
To honor Portunus, the God of Ports and Keys, Romans hold the Portunalia on August 17. Because He first protected gates, Portunus is shown holding keys. During the Portunalia, people throw their keys into fires to safeguard their homes. God of the Month: Portunus

Volcanus (Vulcan)
On August 23, the Volcanalia is held to ask Volcanus, the God of Raging Fires, to stay at rest. Sacrifices are also made to Stata Mater, the Goddess of Quenching the Fire and Juturna, the Goddess of Streams as well. To honor Volcanus, herds are driven over fires, and fish are offered. Also, people ask Him to protect their homes from fire. God of the Month: Volcanus (Vulcan)

Consus and Ops
The first sets of two festivals for Consus and Ops is held on August 21, the Consualia, and August 25, the Opiconsivia. The second sets of festivals is held in December. The first set celebrates the end of the harvest, and the second the autumn sowing. Between the August festivals, the Mundus Patet (the Door to the Underworld) is opened on August 24 for the first time in the year.

The Consualia, a public festival, featured horse racing. The God of the Granary, Consus is also associated with mules and horses. He also received receive offerings of first fruits of the harvest.

Meanwhile the Opiconsivia for Ops, the Goddess of Plenty, is a private affair attended by the Vestal Virgins and the Sacerdos Publica (head priest). Ops in her role of Consiva (the Sower) is celebrated. Therefore during this festival to Ops, one hand touches the earth while invoking this Goddess. Gods of the Month: Consus and Ops

Volturnus
Finally on August 27, the Volturnalia is held to ask Volturnus not to bring the drying winds. Originally an Etruscan God, Volturnus raises clouds of dust thereby causing much devastation. For the Ancient Romans, the drying winds came from the southeast, therefore Volturnus is also the God of the Southeast Wind. God of the Month: Volturnus

Hearing Spirits, Now What?

ndnepture

During an unremarkable ritual, I was overcome by the God Neptune. My hair stood on end as thousands of volts of electricity coursed through my body. Surprisingly, no one else noticed. I had a religious experience, or did I?

For me, I had to examine what did happen, to make sense of nonsense. I could pretend it all made sense. Then using the rules of logic and experience, I tried to put my experience in context. But what context? That is the problem with encountering the supernatural. Putting odd things in any context requires work. Problem with these experiences is that they are rooted in human perceptions.

First, is the experience consistent with external realities? For example, does it conform to what is written about the particular God? I researched for information about Neptune. Also, I asked other people about their spiritual experiences with various Gods. Was the tone and nature of what happened to me match theirs? It did.

Other things to do in making sense of nonsense is to check for consistency and bias. Is the message too gratifying? That is one way of distinguishing between fantasy and reality. My experience could be a projection of a personal creation of mine. Often a person will project their own desires and then consider what happens next to be real. If the message is what the person wants to hear, then it is probably fantasy. An actual message would be a truth that the person is uncomfortable with. As for me, I had no message.

What determines a mystic experience is that there is a profound disconnect between ordinary language and transcendent experiences. William James defined mystic experiences as “ineffability” or “indescribability.” Can what happened be described? Is the description self-contradictory such as “whispering silence?” I was electrocuted but remained unharmed.

As to what the entity is, there are guidelines to figure that out. First thing to remember is that universe multi-dimensional, so expect anything. An entity could present themselves as something else. They do this for entertainment or to sow discontent. Therefore, be skeptical and focus on what is being said. The truth is usually something the person needs to hear but rejects. Usually if the entity is flattering then dismiss the experience and them.

Be alert for spirits, who looking for a meal, for they will feed off humans. If the person feels general malaise after the contact, then that spirit is a parasite. Romans call them larvae and bang posts and pans to get rid of them. Salt bathing is another good way to get rid of a parasite.

As for me, I decided to ask for further confirmation that it was Neptune. Soon after that, a friend gave me a statue of Neptune. Then I visited a school that featured Neptune’s Trident in its logo. After other signs, I accepted the being was Neptune, Himself.

Suggested Reading:
Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera, “Talking to the Spirits”
John Michael Greer, “Monsters”
William James, “The Varieties of Religious Experiences”
Richard Lawrence, “Gods, Guides and Guardian Angels”
Dr. Raymond Moody, “Making Sense of Nonsense”

Twins: Astrology and Astronomy

phases of the moon

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

Astrology is divining by the stars. Astrology began when people sought to understand the correlation between the events on earth and in the heavens. How did the various heavenly bodies effect what happened on the earth? Astrology developed to be a window to the future by explaining this particular relationship. One could say that it is the merger of astronomy and mythology. It maps the movement of the stars and anchor points in myths.

The astrologers of Babylon became experts in interpreting the omens presented by the weather, the sky, and the stars. Astronomy and Astrology became fraternal twins. In order to understand how the skies affected them, people had to first study the heavens. The first astrologers, the Babylonians collected data on the stars, planets and other heavenly bodies. They noted the cycle of eclipses and what happened afterwards. They had to solve practical problems such as setting up a calendar. To understand the cycle of the stars and planets, a method of reliably counting time was needed. The Babylonians developed stellar geography to relate the planets to the moon and stars. The compilation of their work, the mul.Apin contained data on fixed stars, the seasons, the moon, and comets. The mul.Apin also had the correlations of the events on earth with the data.

Notable astronomers Johannes Kepler and Galileo were also military astrologers. Since they realized there were problems with the earth-centered universe, both men wanted to reform the Astrology of their times. Kepler found that the orbits of the planets were elliptical, and not circular. This does affect how the planets relate to each other, an important consideration in Astrology. Kepler’s aim was to use Astrology to avoid wars. Meanwhile Galileo wanted to expand the knowledge of how Astrology affected the politics of Italy. His major aim was to improve the interpretation methods of his Astrology.

Although Astrology and Astronomy go hand in hand, their focus differs. Astronomy has the sun at the center of the cosmos, and with its focus beyond the skies. It does not examine the numinous (powers not of this material world) and their relationship with the heavens.

Astrology has the earth at the center, with the focus on the affairs on the earth. Astrology seeks to understand the numinous powers of the heavenly bodies. One way of communicating between these powers and people was through omens that the stars bring. Astrology is a conversation between the two.

Works Used:
Baigent, Michael, “Astrology in Ancient Mesopotamia.” Bear and Company: Rochester (VT). 1994.
Gillett, Ray, “The Secret Language of Astrology.” Watkins Publishing: London. 2011.
Hall, Judy, “The Astrology Bible.” Sterling Publishing: NY. 2005