The God of the Month: Diana

diana_cacciatrice

The ancient Italic Goddess, Diana was first the Goddess of Wild Nature and Goddess of the Latin League. Her cult center at Lake Nemi (near Aricia) was first dedicated by Egerius Baebius of Tusculum for the Latin League. At Nemi, Diana Nemorensis (Diana of the Wild Wood) shared her sanctuary with Virbius and Egeria. A God of the Forest, Virbius is also the Consort of Diana. Meanwhile Egeria (Advisor of Numa Pompilius, the Second King of Rome) is the Goddess of the Sacred Well there.

Later in the 6th Century BCE, King Servius Tullius dedicated a temple to Diana at the Aventine Hill in Rome. As a foreign Goddess, Diana was worshipped outside the pomerium (religious boundary of Rome). As Diana Aventina (Diana of Aventine), She became the Goddess of Runaway Slaves, with her temple as their refuge.

After the dedication of her temple at Aventine, Diana became identified with the moon. (She also become conflated with the Greek Goddess Artemis.) In the Roman mind, the moon was related to childbirth. Cicero explains that the period of gestation was counted by the moon, as well as women’s menses. Therefore, Diana Lucina (Diana of the Light) became the Goddess of Childbirth. Women prayed to Her to grant them children and for ease in delivery.

Her main feast, the Nemoralia, is held on August 13. At her cult center of Nemi, women would march around the lake bearing torches. They added their light to that of the moon’s reflection. This was to honor Diana as the Goddess of the Moon.

Women, elsewhere, washed and adorned their hair with flowers and ribbons. Slaves and women were given the day off. People gathered in oak groves to tie ribbons, written with prayers, to the trees. Since hunting was forbidden during the Nemoralia, no meat was eaten.

Modern Roman Polytheists sacrifice bread baked in the shape of body parts. Diana Lucina is prayed to for healing these particular organs. As a woman, I wash and decorate my hair, and tie prayers to trees.

From M. Titinius Silvanus
Ave Diana
Great Goddess
Lady of Aventine Hill
Latona’s daughter
Splendid child of Jove
Twin of Apollo

Lunar lady
Mistress of the beasts
Lady of the wilds
Guardian of the oak
Master of the bow

Great Midwife
Friend of the nymphs
Protector of maidens
Guardian of virtue
Great Mother of Ephesus

You who possess such divine beauty, strength, agility, and grace.
May you hunt our enemies,
Protect us in the wilderness,
Maintain our purity,
Light our way,
And bless us with your radiant light.

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2 thoughts on “The God of the Month: Diana

  1. Pingback: The Rex Nemorensis and Human Sacrifice | Neptune's Dolphins

  2. Pingback: Roman Gods of the Month: August | Neptune's Dolphins

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