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. Festivals celebrating the beginnings of life – both human and plant are held. The Carmentalia is for childbirth, and the Sementivae is for crops. Also, the Gods of Healing are given offerings to ensure a healthy 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.”

AESCUPLAPIUS and VEDIOVIS
On January 1, dedications to the Gods of Healing were made at temples on an island in the Tiber River. A plague was stopped during the dedication of the temple of Aesculapius on January 1, 291 BCE. Meanwhile, Lucius Furius Purpurio vowed the temple to Vediovis on January 1, 194 BCE for the God’s help at the Battle of Cremona (against the Gauls).

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.

TELLUS and CERES
Held between January 24 and 26, the Sementivae is a festival of purification to protect both the seeds and the sowers. Tellus and Ceres are entreated to keep the seeds safe. Oscilla (small clay discs) are hung in trees to ward off evil spirits.

January is the month for public vows and divination of the coming year. Festivals celebrating the beginnings of life – both human and plant are held. The Carmentalia is for childbirth, and the Sementivae is for crops. Also, the Gods of Healing are given offerings to ensure a healthy 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.”

AESCUPLAPIUS and VEDIOVIS
On January 1, dedications to the Gods of Healing were made at temples on an island in the Tiber River. A plague was stopped during the dedication of the temple of Aesculapius on January 1, 291 BCE. Meanwhile, Lucius Furius Purpurio vowed the temple to Vediovis on January 1, 194 BCE for the God’s help at the Battle of Cremona (against the Gauls).

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.

TELLUS and CERES
Held between January 24 and 26, the Sementivae is a festival of purification to protect both the seeds and the sowers. Tellus and Ceres are entreated to keep the seeds safe. Oscilla (small clay discs) are hung in trees to ward off evil spirits.

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