Gods of the Month: Mars

ndmars

The month of March (Martius) is named for Mars. Besides being the God of War, He is also the Protector of the Fields and Crops. The Feriae Marti (Festival of Mars) includes besides the preparation for war, purification and rituals for planting and good harvests. This festival is important since Mars is the Father of Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome. (The Ancient Romans regarded themselves to be the “sons of Mars.”)

Starting March 1st, which is the birthday of Mars, the Salii (Leaping Priests) dance through the streets of Ancient Rome. Wearing the original military uniforms of Rome, the Salii beat their sacred shields (ancilia) and sang ancient hymns to Mars (Carmen Saliare). They repeated this two more times on March 8 and 24. Beating hides and skins, the Salii drove out pestilence and disease. They sent away the Old Man of March (Mamerurius Venturius).

At the Regia (Temple of the Gods), the ancilia and hastae Martiae (spears of Mars) were kept in the Sacrarium Martis (Shrine of Mars). Shaped like figure eights, the ancilia were a gift from Jupiter to the Roman people. The Salii started their dancing, and the Roman army assembled at the Regia. Before leaving for war, the commanding general would shake the spears shouting “Mars Vigila!” (Mars Awaken). Then he would invoke Mars Gradivus (The Marcher) to lead the army.

Other events for Mars would be the Equirra, the horse races held on March 14. Then from the 19th to the 23rd, the arms and the soldiers would be purified for war. The purification of the war trumpets (tubae) was the Tubiluistrium on March 23. Then the war and planting seasons began in earnest.

Modern Romans do dance, sing hymns, and beat drums around fields in honor of Mars. Offerings of sliders (small hamburgers) are made to Mars, with prayers to protect the soldiers in His Care. (The sliders is a Group Unverified Gnosis of Roman Polytheists.)

This is a hymn to Mars, similar to what was sung by the Salii. (Marmar and Marmor are ancient names for Mars. Lares are the land spirits.)

“Carmen Arvale” of the Fratres Arvales
Help us, Lares!
Help us, Lares!
Help us, Lares!Marmar, let not plague or ruin attack the multitude!
Marmar, let not plague or ruin attack the multitude!
Marmar, let not plague or ruin attack the multitude!

Be filled, fierce Mars! Leap the threshold! Halt, wild one!
Be filled, fierce Mars! Leap the threshold! Halt, wild one!
Be filled, fierce Mars! Leap the threshold! Halt, wild one!

By turns call on all the gods of sowing!
By turns call on all the gods of sowing!
By turns call on all the gods of sowing!

Help us, Marmor!
Help us, Marmor!
Help us, Marmor!

Triumph!
Triumph!
Triumph!
Triumph!
Triumph!

–Translation by Amra the Lion, 2005

The image is “Mars Prayer Card,” by Lykeia. I wrote the prayer for the card, which can be purchased here: Etsy: Mars Card

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