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!

Advertisements

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.”

God of the Month: Inanna (Ishtar)

ndIshtar-star-symbol-encircled.svgInanna, who is known by many names – Inana, Ishtar – is a complex Goddess. Thought to be a mixture of Sumerian and Semitic Gods, She is both the Goddess of Love and the Goddess of War. Her origin is thought to stem from the Semitic God Attar becoming Ashtar, then the female Ishtar. This Goddess merged with the Sumerian Inana of Uruk to become Inanna. She now possesses male and female qualities. In modern times, Inanna has become a part of the Goddess Religions as a Goddess of Self-Actualization and Avenger of Women who have been wronged. She can be considered a fluid Goddess, who changes through the ages for the people who revere Her.

Traditionally, Inanna has three aspects. As the Goddess of Love, She has no permanent consort but a series of lovers. Inanna governs Sex and Sexual Pleasure, and is the Patron Goddess of Prostitutes. In some Babylonian songs, She will refer to Herself as a prostitute. Some vases have been found that show Inanna receiving offerings from naked men.

Her second aspect is the Goddess of War. Inanna lusts for blood and power, and glories in battle. Sargon of Akkad had Her as his Patron riding beside him as he formed his empire. Later, his grandson, Naram-Sin often invoked Inanna for his royal power and military might in putting down rebellions.

Meanwhile, King Solomon of Israel sang:
“Who is this arising like dawn
Fair as the Moon,
Resplendent as the Sun
Terrible as an army with banners?” (Song of Songs 6:10)

Venus, the morning and evening star, is Inanna’s thirst aspect. “I am Inanna of the Sunrise,” She declares. After the sun and the moon, Venus was important in divination for the Babylonians. Depending on where Venus was, the harvest could be successful, war would break out, or famine would come. Also, Venus determined the fate of kings.

My sense of Inanna is that She is fluid. She is independent and beholden only to Herself. Passionate, Inanna freely acts on her emotions. She is worshipped for Who She is.

From the hymns, some of her titles are:
The Great-hearted Mistress
The Impetuous Lady
Proudest Among the Great Gods
Great Bull Trusting in Its Strength
Turner of Midday to Darkness, and Darkness to Light
The Lady of Heaven and Earth
Great Lady of Fearsome Powers

Gods and Archetypes: Archetypes and Postmodern Spirituality

The term “Archetypes” came into common use from Carl Jung’s work. He hypothesized that there is a deeper layer “under” the unconscious of the individual. According to Jung, the “Collective Unconscious” is universal to humankind. The Archetypes (Note 1) who are the organizing principles of Time, Space, and Matter are created by “Collective Unconscious.” Jung added that religious experiences are linked to the experiences of the Archetypes.

Since Jung’s theories are ingrained in popular culture, many people have added on their own concepts of Archetypes. In “The Fire of the Goddess,” Reiki Master Katlin Koda, who believes in the Sacred Feminine, defines Archetypes as “An energetic imprint that lives with in the collective unconscious and carries specific qualities, such as priestess, mother, and teacher.” (Note 2)

Meanwhile, Caroline Myss, noted medical mystic, has a different point of view. She writes that Archetypes are not “entities with which we have some sort of interactive relationship… They are impersonal patterns of consciousness that forms the essence of human nature. However, archetypes are an active part of our consciousness.” (Note 3)

In devising their Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI) for psychologists to use (Note 4), Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, both Jungian psychologists, interpret Archetypes to be the original patterns of roles and stories of humans. They write, “Archetypes are the psychological structures reflected in symbols, images, and themes common to all cultures and all times…. The PMAI is devised to help people to better decode the underlying logic of their life.” Therefore, each person can revise their story to attain their special gifts.

Neo-Shaman Linda Star-Wolf speaks of Archetypes as cosmic energy. According to her, the Akashic Records (Note 5) hold the Archetypes in the sacred archives. Since humans vibrate at a different energy than the Archetypes, They feed people their stories. Reflecting Pearson and Marr’s ideas, she says that people then rework the stories and upload them back to the Akashic Records. For example, Star-Wolf claims that she and her late husband lived the Archetypal Story of Osiris and Isis, in a cosmic dance between the Transmuter and the Mother, respectively.

Core-Shamanist Hank Wesselman writes, “The goal of the authentic mystic … is to access the true transpersonal archetypes – the ‘lights beyond the form.’” He says that the “collective unconscious is a field that contains within itself the Akashic Records, the collective wisdom and experience of all humanity in our long journey across time.” (Note 6)

If it seems that Jung’s Archetypes have become the basis for religious beliefs, it is because he, himself, was an occultist. After receiving visions of the coming World War, He had a near-psychotic breakdown in 1913. Retreating into mysticism, Jung created his own cosmology with God being reborn in the human psyche. Some of his ideas do reflect Theosophy (Note 7), since Jung knew prominent Theosophists such as Alice Bailey. Although, Jung did have his differences with this system of religious-science or science religion, he did agree with its concept of divinity within humans.

(Previous post in this series: Gods and Archetypes: Jung and Postmodern Spirituality

Notes:
Note 1: “Archetype” is an explanatory paraphrase of the Platonic eidos. For our purposes this term is apposite and helpful, because it tells us that so far as the collective unconscious contents are concerned we are dealing with archaic or- I would say- primordial types, that is, with universal images that have existed since the remotest times. The term “representations collectives,” used by Levy-Bruhl to denote the symbolic figures in the primitive view of the world, could easily be applied to unconscious contents as well, since it means practically the same thing.

Another well-known expression of the archetypes is myth and fairytale. But here too we are dealing with forms that have received a specific stamp and have been handed down through long periods of time. The term “archetype” thus applies only indirectly to the “representations collectives,” since it designates only those psychic contents which have not yet been submitted to conscious elaboration and are therefore an immediate datum of psychic experience. From Carl Jung, “Archetypes of Collective Unconscious.”

Note 2: Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess.” P. 189
Note 3: Caroline Myss, “Archetypes.” P. 18
Note 4: Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, “What Story Are You Living?” P. 14-15. They developed the PMAI based on Jung’s Archetypes and Joseph Campbell’s work, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).”
Note 5: A concept from Theosophy, the Akashic records are the records of every soul, past, present, and future. Theosophists believe that they exist in a plane of existence called the etheric plane. These records can be accessed through deep meditation.
Note 6: Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.” P. 172-3.
Note 7: For more information on Theosophy: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gdpmanu/ryan-wh/wit-hp.htm “What is Theosophy” from The Theosophical Society.

Works Used:
Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities.”
Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess.”
Caroline Myss, “Archetypes.”
Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, “What Story Are You Living?”
Romanian Association for Psychoanalysis Promotion (AROPA), Resources for Carl Jung. http://carl-jung.net/index.html
Linda Star-Wolf, “Soul Whispering.”
Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.”

The Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno, Minerva)

The Capitoline Triad oversaw the affairs of Rome and her people. Jupiter Optimus Maximus (Brightest and Best) protected the state. In addition, Juno Regina was the guardian of Rome. Together, They guided the affairs of the Roman people. Meanwhile, Minerva was the Patron of Doctors and the Arts.

After the wars with the Sabines, King Tarquin Priscus asked the Deities of a shrine on Capitoline Hill to move so that he could build a temple to Jupiter Optimus Maximus. In exchange for their leaving, he promised Them a new temple elsewhere (exauguration). (Note 1) All the Gods did except for Terminus, the God of Boundaries. The Romans regarded this as a good omen. The new temple was dedicated to Jupiter, Juno Regina, and Minerva (the Capitoline Triad). (However, a part of it remained a shrine to Terminus.) On the Ides of September, the praetor maximus (head magistrate) would drive a nail into the wall of the temple (cella Iovis). This was to ward off the plague for another year.

The main temple for the Capitoline Triad had three rooms with each God having their own space. Jupiter Optimus Maximus occupied the center cella (room), with Juno Regina on the left and Minerva on the right. Although the temple was built during the time of Roman Kings, it was dedicated by the first Consul of the Roman Republic.

Note 1. Exauguratio (exauguration) is to change the purpose of a sacred site. It usually involves asking the God who resides there to move elsewhere.

Read also from 2016: Gods and Politics: Civics from the Roman Triads

God of the Month: Jupiter

ndjupter

Jupiter prayer card by Lykeia

Known as The Shining Father (“Dies Pater”), Jupiter, according to the Romans, is the Ruler of the Cosmos. Jupiter Optimus Maximus (IOM) is the Supreme Roman God. As the Lord of the Sky, He makes his will to be known through thunder and lightning. Any piece of land struck by lightning belongs to Him alone.

The Romans looked to Jupiter as the Protector of Rome and its laws. They saw Him in many aspects of governance. As a member of both the Archaic and Capitoline Triads, Jupiter Optimus Maximus oversaw Roman affairs. As Jupiter Lapis, He presided over solemn oaths. Meanwhile, Jupiter Feretrius presided over treaties and just wars. Jupiter Stator encouraged the Romans to stand their ground against the Sabines and later the Samnites.

Jupiter Pistor appeared to the Romans during the siege of their Capitol by the Gauls. He told them to hurl bread at the attacking Gauls. Believing that the Romans had ample supplies, they decided to leave. The Gauls ended their siege not knowing that the Romans had thrown the last of the food stores at them.

In addition, many of Jupiter’s titles allude to his control of the weather. The Romans delineated his many forms of thunder and lightning in their names for Him. Jupiter Elicius regulated the rainfall, while Jupiter Tonans nearly struck the Emperor Augustus with lightning.

The oldest temple for Jupiter was Jupiter Feretrius, founded by Romulus. This temple was a repository of ritual implements for dedicating treaties. To declare war, the fetialis (priest-diplomat of Jupiter) would hurl a spear from the temple into enemy territory. To solemnize a treaty with foreign governments, the fetialis, using the lapis silex (flint) of Jupiter Feretrius, sacrificed a pig.

Other Postings about Jupiter: God of the Month – Jupiter  (2016) and  God of the Month: Jupiter (2) (2016)

God of the Month: Juno Regina

Like Jupiter, Juno has many aspects. In the Religio Romana (Roman Religion), the different Junos are separate Goddesses. In fact, Cicero argued that They were all unique. Later, Augustus brought the Latin Junos together to be one Goddess. However, Juno still has various aspects Who are distinct from the “composite” Juno.

Juno Regina is the Ruling Deity of Rome. She is the Protector of the State and the “Queen of Heaven.” Juno Regina was originally Uni of the Etruscan city of Veii. In 396 BCE, Marcus Furius Camillus waged a siege against Veii. Wanting to end the long siege, he performed the rite of evocatio (calling forth). Camillus promised Uni of Veii a grander temple if She would come to Rome. When Uni consented, the Veientines lost their protective Deity and then their city.

Evocatio is a ritual done by the military to remove any divine protection from an opposing city. A select group from the army would purify themselves and dress in white. After entering the captured temple, they would ask the Deity for permission to take the religious items. In Juno Regina’s case, a soldier asked the wooden statue, “Art Thou willing Juno to go to Rome?” The statue nodded yes, and said, “I am willing.”

Religious historians say that evocation was a form of psychological warfare. The sanctity and security of each city depended on their governing Deity. Once that Deity agreed to leave, the citizens could no longer rely on divine protection. Evocatio also mitigated the feeling that to loot shrines was sacrilege, since the soldiers were only taking the Deity to a finer temple.

However, evocatio was rooted in piety, since it involved asking the Deity before removing anything. The God always had final say in this. The opposing city could always counter the rite.

Gods of the Month: September

For Romans, September is the month of sacred games to honor Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Later in the month, the Capitoline Triad, the Gods of State, is honored with a feast. The harvest is finished and now is the time to relax and to focus on matters of government.

For Babylonians, September is the time of the autumn rains. The long hot dry season has finally ended. The fields are being prepared for the barley planting. At this time, the Descent of Inanna is re-enacted to ensure that the land is fertile.

JUNO REGINA
On September 1, Juno Regina, the Queen of Heaven is honored. In 392 BCE, following a vow, Marcus Furius Camillus raised a splendid temple to this Goddess. Using the rite of evocatio, Camillus promised Uni of Veii that if She allowed him to conquer her city, he would build a temple to Her in Rome. Agreeing, Uni left the Etruscan city to become Juno Regina of Roman. She rules the State with Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Minerva as the Capitoline Triad.

JUPITER OPTIMUS MAXIMUS AND THE CAPITOLINE TRIAD
The Ludi Romani are held for Jupiter between September 5 -19. These sacred games (ludi) began in 566 BCE. The Romans held parades, races, and theatrical performances. Contrary to popular belief, there were no gladiatorial combats during the Ludi Romani.

The feast for the Capitoline Triad, known as the epulum Iovis (Feast of Jupiter), is held September 13. Statues of these Gods are dressed, wined, and dined. Traditionally only the Senators and magistrates attended this feast.

INANNA (ISTAR) (Note 1)
At the autumn equinox, Babylonians re-enact the Descent of Inanna. Her Descent into the Underworld is the hinge between the dry and rainy seasons. Inanna dies but is rescued. Since someone has to replace Her in the Underworld, Dumuzi, Her Shephard Consort, goes down for six months. His sister, Geshtinanna, Goddess of Autumn Wines, takes his place the other six months.

Note 1: Inanna has many names – Inana and Istar are well-known.

God of the Month: Volturnus

ndduststorm

The coming storm

Volturnus is one of a group of obscure Gods that the Romans had a priest and a festival for. By the time of the Roman Republic, few Romans knew anything about this God. Since Volturnus was a God before the founding of the City, they continued his cultus.

The Volturnalia, held on August 27, is to protect the fruits and vegetables from shriveling in the hot winds of late summer. Therefore, Volturnus can be considered the God of the East Wind and of the Southeast Wind. (In Italy, the drying winds come from the southeast.) Ancient Romans called Volturnus, the Wind of Devastation “whirling around the heights who raises clouds of dust.” He can be seen as the God of Whirlwinds, Dust Storms, and Tornados.

In my personal practice, I see Volturnus as a God of Destructive Power. He governs the storms on land and fans the spreading fires. By remembering the Dust Bowl of the 1930s in the United States, I see that Volturnus tells humans when the land is being ill-used. We need pay heed to this God when the dust comes.

Salve Volturnus!
Little known God
Your cultus is still kept
We hear You in the dry storm
We see You in the dust cloud
We feel you in the hot wind
You touch Us
Telling Us
Be Awake
Be Aware
Salve Volturnus!