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.

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: Minerva


Often conflated with Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Minerva is uniquely Roman. Adapting various aspects of the Etruscan Goddess Menrva, the Romans regarded Minerva as the Goddess of War and the Goddess of Wisdom. In war, Minerva counsels the generals on their strategy for battle. In peace, She guides the legislators in governing the state. (As one of the Capitoline Triad (with Juno and Jupiter), She governs the affairs of the country.)

Ovid referred to Minerva as the Goddess of a Thousand Works. Besides being a Goddess of War and Wisdom, She is the Patron of Doctors. As the Goddess of the Arts, Minerva invented numbers and music. She oversees crafts, learning, science and trade. In fact, I regard Minerva, the Goddess of Technology.

The Romans considered the Palladium (the Statue of Minerva) a gift from Her to them. The Vestal Virgins guarded this and other sacred items in their temple. Meanwhile, at her temple on the Esquiline Hill, people would place votive objects of healing into vaults (favissae).

The “Greater” Quinquatrus, the first of the two festivals for Minerva, is held from March 19 to 23. This festival is celebrated by artists, actors, students and writers. Because her temple on Aventine Hill served as guild headquarters, actors and writers would hold their sacrifices to Minerva there. Meanwhile the schools closed as their students celebrated the end of the school year. Teachers received their annual salary called a Minerval at this time.

The second festival, the “Lesser” Quinquatrus, takes place on June 13. Since Minerva is the Patroness of Musicians, the flute players would stage masked processions through Rome. In modern times, it is appropriate to listen to master flautists to honor Her.

Salve Minerva Augusta!
Goddess of Wisdom
Many are Your Attributes

Salve Minerva Augusta!
With Jupiter Capitolinus and Juno Regina,
You sagely govern us, your Quirites

Salve Minerva Victoria!
You who pierces ignorance
With Your Spear.
You who fends off stupidity
With Your Shield.
You who grants knowledge
With Your Helm.

Salve Minerva Augusta!
You who burst fully formed
Into my life
Guiding me to Rome,
Guiding me to Home,
I thank you.

Salve Minerva Augusta!
Goddess of Wisdom
Many are Your Attributes.

Monotheistic Filter: War on the Dead

In the Polytheist world, the Dead are not ectoplasms or phantoms. They have form and substance and physically interact with the living. People make sacrifices to the Dead for protection, guidance, and favors. As Ancestors, They stay and guide the family. They can also become Spirits of Place, Home, the Unquiet Dead or the Harmful Dead. Since the Dead link the living with the Gods, They are feared, honored and placated.

The Christian Church actively made war on the Polytheistic veneration of the Dead. Moreover, the Church redefined who the Dead were and the relationship of the living to Them. In the dichotomy set up by Christianity, the Dead who were saved went to Heaven, those who were not went to Hell. To explain Revenants, the Church invented Purgatory. Instead of Heaven or Hell, some Dead ended up in limbo, which is Purgatory.

Under Christianity, the Dead became souls undergoing punishment for their sins. They were now dependent on the living, who said Masses for them, gave alms in their name, and prayed for Them. The relationship between the living and the Dead was now reversed.

In its war, the Church successfully desacralized the Dead. Attacking Polytheistic beliefs, Augustine and Gregory the Great said that the Dead were only dreams. Other theologians reasoned that They were animated by angels or demons. Lacking substance, The Dead turned into ghosts, which only exist in people’s minds.

Furthermore, the Church redefined the concept of “soul.” In Polytheism, people have multiple souls. One soul dies with the body, and another one survives to form its own body. The Romans have the genius, renamed by Christians as the Guardian Angel. Meanwhile, the animus, which is the dynamic force of personality, exists outside of the body. Merging all the souls into one entity, Christianity said when the body dies, the soul merges with God, thereby dismissing the existence of Revenants.

Further Reading:

Adkins, Lesley and Roy Adkins, “Dictionary of Roman Religion.” New York: Oxford University Press. 1996.

Black, Jeremy and Anthony Green, “Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia.” Austin: University of Texas Press. 2014.

Filan, Kenaz and Raven Kaldera, “Drawing Down the Spirits.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2009.
“Talking to the Spirits.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2013.

Jones, Prudence and Nigel Pennick, “A History of Pagan Europe.” NY: Routledge. 1995.

Kaldera, Raven, “Dealing with Deities.” Hubbardston (MA): Asphodel Press. 2012.
“Wyrdwalkers.” Hubbardston (MA): Asphodel Press.2007

Krasskova, Galina, “Devotional Polytheism.” Sanngetall Press. 2014.
“Honoring the Ancestors.” Sanngetall Press. 2014.

Lecouteux, Claude, “Demons and Spirits of the Land,” translated by Jon Graham. Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2015.
“The Return of the Dead,” translated by Jon Graham. Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2009.
“The Tradition of Household Spirits,” translated by Jon Graham. Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT).2013.

Paper, Jordan, “The Deities Are Many.” Albany NY: State University of New York Press. 2005.

West, Philip, “The Old Ones in the Old Book.” Washington (US): Moon Books. 2011.

Monotheistic Filter: “Re-worlding the Gods”

Max Weber, German sociologist, introduced the concept, “disenchantment of the world” to explain the malaise found in modern society. Weber explained that when the revealed religions became dominant, they sought to explain the unknown. The Christian “Myth of the Redeemer” depended on a meaningful cosmos. Therefore, Christianity developed a systematic rationalization of problems and their solutions. Revenants (The Active Dead) became the wandering souls of Purgatory.

After the Protestant Reformation, religion, as a whole, gradually lost its authority over creating meaning for the world. The Enlightenment brought forth secular disciplines such as science and history to provide new definitions. These emerging authorities took over explaining the unknown. Ghosts, once the wandering souls of Christianity, became only figments of people’s imaginations.

Meanwhile, modern people have tried to bring the mystical back into their world, but The Filter prevents them. One popular method is using Carl Jung’s theories of the Collective Unconscious. By employing archetypes, people can allow the ancient myths to regain their power. However, Jung’s theories is a retelling of the “Myth of the Redeemer.” The objective is for people to unite with their Higher Selves (i.e. the God Archetype), and become whole.

Another method often tried is Marxism. According to Marx and Engels, Capitalism has objectified and commodified the world. Therefore, its victims should band together, pool their resources, and defeat this evil. Under Communism, the new religion of humanity, people will work for the common good. Since the basis of Marxism is people’s feelings of instability and pessimism, it fails. These emotions are rooted in the disenchanted world.


Works Used:

Dintino, Theresa, “Notes from a Diviner in the Postmodern World.” Self-published. 2016.

“Divining America: Religion in American History,” National Humanities Center Teacher Server. 2010. Web: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/divam.htm

Felluga, Dino, “General Introduction to Postmodernism,” Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. 2015. Web: http://www.purdue.edu/guidetotheory/postmodernism/modules/introduction.html

Filan, Kenaz and Raven Kaldera, “Drawing Down the Spirits.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2009.
“Talking to the Spirits.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2013.

Hansen, George P., “Max Weber and the Charisma of Disenchantment,” The Trickster and the Paranormal, 2001. Web: http://www.tricksterbook.com/ArticlesOnline/Chapter8-MaxWeberCharismaDisenchantment.pdf

Romanian Association for Psychoanalysis Promotion (AROPA), “Resources for Carl Jung.” 2017. Web: http://carl-jung.net/index.html

Walter, Philippe, “Christianity, the Origins of a Pagan Religion,” trans. Jon E. Graham. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions. 2003.

Walton, Chris, “Philocrites: Religion, Liberalism, and Culture.” 2009. Web: http://philocrites.com/index.html

Babylonian Gods of the Month: March


The beginning of the Babylonian year starts at the Spring Equinox. During Nisannu, the new moon after the equinox, the Akitu, the New Year Festival is held for twelve days. It starts with purifications and then the Enuma Elish (the Babylonian Creation Epic) is read. This myth begins with the original creation of the world by Tiamat, the God of Chaos, and Apsu, the God of Waters. Later Enlil, a God from the succeeding generation becomes the “Father of the Gods.” Eventually, He cedes his powers to Anu, from yet a newer generation of Gods, who seeks to overthrow the original Gods. After Apsu is killed, Tiamat wages war on the newer Gods. In desperation, Enlil goes to Marduk, the principal deity of Babylon, for help. On the condition that He is made the Ruler of the Gods, Marduk agrees. After killing Tiamat, Marduk remakes the world from her body.

During the Akitu, Marduk disappears. While his and Nabu’s temples are being cleansed, the people search for Him. At this time, they carry the statues of the other Gods to Mardulk’s temple. Meanwhile, Nabu, the Scribe of the Gods and Marduk’s Minister, searches for and then frees Marduk from the Underworld. Then in his temple, the priests re-enthroned Marduk as the Ruler of the Gods. Afterwards, they do divination for the coming year. The festival ends with celebrations and the return of the Gods to their shrines.

Meanwhile to begin the growing season, the King would enact a sacred marriage with the temple priestess of Ishtar. Their mating is to reaffirm the marriage of Ishtar, the Goddess of Fertility, with her husband, Tammuz. These marriage rites ensure that the King is accepted as one of the Gods, and blessed by Ishtar, who also blesses the crops.

For Further Reading:

God of the Month: Inanna (Ishtar)

God of the Month: Nabu, Babylonian Patron of Writing

God of the Month: Tiamat of Babylon

God of the Month: Marduk of Babylon

Marduk and Tiamat (Enuma Elish: The Epic of Creation)

Babylonian New Year’s Festival


Roman Gods of the Month: March

The month of March is named for Mars, the Roman God of War. Besides war, Mars also protected the land and crops. Spring brought both preparations for planting and for war. The Feriae Marti (the Festival of Mars), lasts for nearly the entire month and is similar to the Carnival Season and Mardi Gras.

Traditionally, the New Year for Romans began in March, the first month of the original calendar. After the reforms of Numa Pompilis and Julius Caesar, it was still celebrated as a second New Year’s Day. The spring equinox was still the beginning of the planting and war seasons.

Juno Lucina
On March 1, the Matronalia is held in honor of mothers. Husbands and daughters give presents to mothers. Juno Lucina, the aspect of Juno who governs over women and childbirth, receives prayers for safe childbirth and fertility. God of the Month: Juno Lucina

Anna Perenna
On March 15th (Ides), Traditional New Year is celebrated. Anna Perenna, the Goddess of the Returning Year, oversees the celebrations. People would picnic and drink cups of wine in her honor, and offer prayers for a prosperous year. God of the Month: Anna Perenna

Liber Pater and Libera
On March 17, the Liberalia is held. Wearing ivy wreaths, several old women offer cakes made from oil and honey (libia) to Liber Pater. Then a large phallus is taken around to encourage the plants to grow and for a good harvest. Liber Pater and Libera are the Gods of the Male and Female Seeds, respectively. Gods of the Month: Liber Pater and Libera

From March 19 to 24, the Quinquatrus is held to honor Minerva, the Goddess of the Arts and War. Since the first day is sacred to Her, no blood is shed on that day. The Quinquatrus is celebrated by artisans and students. Traditional Roman festivities included martial arts contests.

Starting the 1st of the March and on the 9th, and 24th, the Salii (Leaping Priests of Mars) danced through the streets of Rome singing hymns, and later held feasts in honor of Mars. Horse races were held, sacrifices made, and trumpets purified. Mamurius Venturius, the Old Man of March, was driven out of Rome taking disease and sickness with Him. Gods of the Month: Mars

Monotheistic Filter: The Great Chain of Being

Ordained by the Christian God, the Great Chain of Being, is a hierarchy based on perfection, independence, spirit and flesh. God is at the top, perfect, completely independent and made entirely of spirit. The Angels come next since they are dependent on God. Humans, who are made of flesh and spirit, are farther down. Each member of the chain is dependent on the next higher member. At the bottom, below the rocks is Nothingness, the opposite of the Christian God.

This concept is subtly reflected in the discussions about various pantheons. A hierarchy is assumed with the “chief” God being a male Sky God. Then the pantheon’s hierarchy moves down from the Gods of the sky to the earth to under the earth. Spirits of the Home or Place are often relegated as unimportant or ignored since They do not fit neatly in this hierarchy.

The study of Polytheistic religions reveals something different. The Greeks have three Brothers – Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades ruling their respective domains as co-equals. The Etruscans and Romans have Triads of Gods to govern their pantheons. These Triads consist of two females and one male, who are peers of each other.

Furthermore, the Great Chain promotes single purpose units, since it is a moral duty to know one’s place in the Chain. Fish are just below seed-eating birds, which are just below worm-eating birds. This aspect of the Great Chain is reflected in Polytheism by having only single purpose Gods. Thus, Mars is relegated to being only the God of War in the Roman Pantheon. Mars is also regarded as being the only God of War as well. (Note 1).

Note 1: Minerva, Bellona, and Nerio are Goddesses of War. Honos and Virtus are the Gods of Military Courage and Honor. Mars is also the God of Fields and Agriculture. None of these Gods are single purpose Gods.

Further Reading:

Kaldera, Raven, “Dealing with Deities.” Hubbardston (MA): Asphodel Press. 2012.
“Wyrdwalkers.” Hubbardston (MA): Asphodel Press.2007.

Paper, Jordan, “The Deities Are Many.” Albany NY: State University of New York Press. 2005.

Suber, Peter, “The Great Chain of Being.” 1997 Web: http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/courses/re/chain.htm

Wheeler, L. Kipp, “The Chain of Being: Tillyard in a Nutshell.” 2017. Web: https:// web.cn.edu/kwheeler/Tillyard01.html



Living in Season: My Climate


Constitution Gardens during Canada geese overwintering

Pondering Washington D.C.’s climate, I constructed my own Wheel of the Year for living in season. Spring begins “Tulip Tree Blooms” in March and continues with “Cherry Tree Blooms” at the end of March to the beginning of April (the time of the official Cherry Tree Festival). April and May are “Humid Blooms.” June is “Wet Summer,” and July through September, “Tropical Summer. Autumn is be split into October, “Hot When Leaves Turn Color,” and November -December, “Cool When the Leaves Fall.” Mid-January is “Thaw” and End-February is “Pussy Willows.” This is how I live in sync with my climate.

Why would I want to do this? How does “living in season” help a person? We have seasonal cycles – times when we are active, and times when we become sick. Some people have winter blues, while others have spring fever. In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, the seasons shape people’s lives. Living in artificial time means that people neglect or are unaware of their own cycles. No one can be a machine that goes at a constant steady state. People have down times and flat times. Living within the natural rhythm of “slow time” enhances both the physical and mental health of a person.

Living in season can be a time when we look forward to cherry blossoms or falling leaves playing in the wind. The month of May for me is a time of review where I am in my life. Summer is a time of going to the pool and reading. I am the most active in the fall. Around the winter solstice, I am at my lowest and must focus intently on self-care. Having little rituals for each cycle helps to remind me of the joy and satisfaction that nature brings.