Gods of the Month: January

Named for the God, Janus, the month of January is the hinge of the year: the old year ends and the new one begins. The second King of Rome, Numa Pompilius (715 – 673 BCE) reformed the Roman calendar by adding two more months – January and February at the beginning of the 10-month year. Thus the New Year began in January instead of March. (However, for Romans, both New Years are celebrated.) January is the month for public vows and divination of the coming year.

JANUS

Janus, the two-head God, is the God of Beginnings and Endings. In Ovid’s Fasti, Janus explains to the poet why the year begins in the winter instead of the spring. “Midwinter is the beginning of the new Sun and the end of the old one. Phoebus and the year take their start from the same point.”

LARS OF THE CROSSROADS (Lars Compitales)

During January, the Compitalia is observed to honor the Lars who watch over the crossroads. At each crossroads, shrines are set up and dolls hung from them. I live at the nexus of three streets, and make offerings of crystals to the Lars. I also hang a wooden doll on my door knob for a day.

CARMENTIS

January 11 and 15 are the two days of the Carmentalia honoring Carmentis, a Goddess of Childbirth and Prophecy. Prayers for safe childbirth are made to Her. For the two days, matrons celebrate their status in the family. In addition, divinations are done.

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