Gods of the Month: Consus and Ops

Ripe wheat on a blue sky

Ripe golden wheat on a blue sky

Ops, the Goddess of Abundance and Consus, the God of the Granary could be regarded as the female and male Gods of the Bountiful Earth. Two festivals for Consus and Ops are held annually – the first in August, and the second in December. The August festivals are held after the harvest, the December ones after sowing.

In August, the Consualia (August 21) and the Opiconsiva (August 25) act as bookends for the Volcanalia, is held for Volcanus, the God of Fire. In December, the Consualia (December 15) comes before Saturnalia (December 17) held for Saturnus, with the Opalia following on December 19. Some religious historians theorized that the reason for the conjunction of these festivals has to do with the “humors of Earth.” The hot dryness of Volcanus contrasts with the cold wetness of Saturnus. Meanwhile, Consus and Ops act as the bookends for these two opposites.

On the Consualia, the underground altar of Consus is dug out. (Romulus, who initiated this festival, had claimed that He found an altar dedicated to this God underground.) Grain would be offered to Consus to protect the stores of food. Around His altar, images of Seia, the Goddess of Sowing, Segetia, Goddess of Standing Grain, and Tutulina, Goddess of Harvesting are placed. These Goddesses are given wreaths with flowers. (Note: Agricultural Deities never have their names said out loud indoors.)

On August 24, the Mundus Patet is opened for the first time in the year. The other two times are October 5 and November 8. “When the mundus is opened, the doorway is opened on the gloom of the infernal Gods.” (Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.16.18) The Mundus is believed to be the underground granary of the Romans.

The Opiconsiva is held in honor of Ops Consiva, Bountiful Lady of Planting. Her sacrarium (shrine) was the penus (pantry) of the Regia (the headquarters of the Pontifex Maximus (the head priest)). The Romans stored their sacred objects were stored there. The Sacerdos Publica (presiding priest) and Vestal Virgins would make offerings at the sacrarium in a private ceremony.

God of the Month: Portunus

Bunch of keys on white backgroundPortunus, an ancient Italic God, grants access to the gates (porta) and to the harbor (portus). He also protects the warehouses where grain is stored. This God is depicted holding keys. At his festival, the Portunalia (August 17), people offer their house keys in fires for blessings from Portunus for their homes. I pass my keys through a candle flame.

The Romans have many Gods, Who guard the entry into the home. Janus guards the door, Cardea the hinges, Forculus the doorway, and Limentinus the threshold. Portunus guards the outside gates. The liminal place between the Inside and the Outside is fraught with things unknown. Care must be made to ensure that only good things will come in and bad things leave.

Salve Portunus!
Guardian of Gates
We offer You our keys
Bless them and our homes

Guardian of Harbors
Aid the harbormaster in their duties.
Guide the ships to port
We thank You.
Salve Portunus!

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!

Gods and Archetypes: Jung and Postmodern Spirituality

I am writing a series of posts that focus on Archetypes and Gods. As a Polytheist, I am often told that the Gods are Archetypes and vice versa. As I explore this topic, I want to state that I do not subscribe the notion that Gods are Archetypes.

Margot Adler in her book, “Drawing Down the Moon,” asserted that the theoretical basis for a modern defense of polytheism came from Jungian psychologists. (Note 1) The basis for her statement was Carl Jung’s theories about Archetypes, (Note 2) which he regarded to be the Gods and Goddesses of mythology and religion. From studying Jung, I perceive that he strove to merge psychology and spirituality. By declaring that spiritual forces arose from and were empowered by humanity, Jung could weld psychology and spirituality into one belief system. This became the basis for Postmodern Spirituality (Note 3).

When the West became Monotheist, the center of focus for religion moved from the home to the church. Instead of devotions by individuals, God was worshipped by a congregation. Therefore, punishments for missing services were codified in the Monotheistic religions. The God of the congregation was placed on a throne in heaven. Following the availability of printed copies of “The Bible,” individuals could do personal devotions. However, they had to adhere to the official versions and interpretations of Scriptures by centralized religious authorities.

During the Scientific Revolution, God became the Divine Watchmaker or the First Cause, and was further removed from humanity. Moreover, the rise of Humanism focused on the individual determining “The Truth” through reason and science. Furthermore, the Romantic Movement of the 1800s challenged the divine power of God.

Modernity, in the form of the World Wars, brought about the fragmentation of communities which led to less participation in group religious activities. Society placed the emphasis on the individual instead of the community, thereby sidelining religion. Thus in the various “Star Trek” series, the Gods were always depicted as space aliens.

In today’s postmodern society, the individual focuses on their own religious impulses. Religion is now something that is created by humans for their own uses. People are “spiritual but not religious.” Their spirituality is now centered on obtaining transcendental experiences to achieve an “enlightened consciousness.” Therefore, Atheism can be combined with Neo-Paganism to form a distinctive religion. In Atheo-Paganism, the individual strives for a spiritual transformation that is solely grounded in empirical rationality (i.e. science).

Jung’s blend of spirituality and psychology is a major basis for Postmodern Spirituality. He hypothesized that the ultimate Archetype within the human psyche is the Higher Self. (Note 4) Jung add that God was the Archetypical Light (i.e. the Higher Self (or the Christ Archetype according to Joseph Campbell)). He believed that addiction was the spiritual hunger for this Higher Self.

Because the Higher Self is rooted within each person, Jung said that belief in the Gods was the primitive view of the world. This is the common meme in Western intellectual thought about religion. Belief progresses from primordial superstition to Monotheism to Atheism, the highest form of intelligence and civilization. Raven Kaldera, Northern Tradition Shaman, calls this as Urdummheit, the idea that everyone who lived in “…ancient-historic times was less intelligent than modern man, and that the progression of culture has been a progression of IQ.” (Note 5)

Jung’s bias formed the widespread belief that Archetypes are Gods, which arise from human unconsciousness. This belief promotes an “I-Higher I” relationship instead of an “I-Not I” or “I-Other.” Religion in the West is now centered in each individual and their needs.

Note 1. As a Polytheist, I do object to Adler’s assertion.

Note 2:  Archetype. “Primary structural element of human psyche. The archetype is a predisposition for specific human experiences such as birth, motherhood, death, love etc. It is on the psychic level the correspondence of the pattern of behavour of biologists.”

Archetypal image. “The form or representation taken by the archetype in dreams, fantasies, cultural and religious (mythical) products.” From Carl-Jung Net

Note 3: Postmodern Spirituality can be described as people are “spiritual but not religious.” It includes the New Age religions, Neo-Paganism, and Neo-Shamanism.

Note 4: Jung called it “the Archetype of the Center,” where The Center is the unity of the Unconscious and the Conscious of the person. “Enlightened Consciousness” is the awakening of the Higher Self.

Note 5:Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities,” Page 2.

Works Used:
Dino Felluga, “General Introduction to Postmodernism,” Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. http://www.purdue.edu/guidetotheory/postmodernism/modules/introduction.html
Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities.”
Romanian Association for Psychoanalysis Promotion (AROPA), Resources for Carl Jung. carl-jung.net/index.html
Ken Wilbur, “Postmodern spirituality by Roland Benedikter: A dialogue in five parts.” http://www.integralworld.net/benedikter1a.html

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.”

PSA: Submissions for the Sobek Devotionation.

Originally posted on Per Sebek: We’re a month in and I’ve had some submissions so far, but I would love to have more. If anyone’s thinking of submitting something, please send it in! This devotional can’t happen without your submissions, so please get in touch. sobekdevotionalATgmail.com

PSA: Send me things for the Sobek Devotional! — A Polytheist’s Ramblings

Sobek was the Egyptian god of the Nile which was believed to have been created from his sweat. As Sobek possessed the strength and nature of a crocodile, which the Egyptians both feared and respected, he became a symbol of the Pharaoh’s power. The Nile, which was full of crocodiles, was important to the livelihood of the Egyptians.  It therefore made good sense to have a god like Sobek who could appease these ferocious beasts. From: http://www.artyfactory.com/egyptian_art/egyptian_gods/sobek.htm



Gods of the Month: August

When Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar, the Roman Senate voted to name a month for him – “July.” Caesar’s calendar (known as the Julian Calendar) featured alternating months of 30 and 31 days. July of course had 31 days. In contrast, February had the fewest days – 29, with leap year adding an extra day.

When Augustus became Emperor of Rome, the Senate voted to add “August” after July. Since August only had 30 days, the Senate took one from February and added it to this month. The calendar was rearranged with June and September having thirty days. August could not have any less days than July, since Augustus was equal to Julius Caesar.

For Romans, August is a busy month of festivals. The harvest is coming due and needs to be collected. Since the summer is still hot and dry, the fire season has started. Therefore, the Gods of Harvest and Gods of Fires are honored.

Vertumnus (Vortumnus)
Held on August 13, the Vertumnalia is to celebrate Vertumnus, the Changer of the Seasons. Since He is also the Husband of Pomona, the Goddess of Fruit, Vertumnus receives the first fruits of the harvest. This God is depicted holding in his right hand, grapes, cherries, and other fruits, while at his feet sets a basket of cucumbers.

To honor Portunus, the God of Ports and Keys, Romans hold the Portunalia on August 17. Because He first protected gates, Portunus is shown holding keys. During the Portunalia, people throw their keys into fires to safeguard their homes.

Volcanus (Vulcan)
On August 23, the Volcanalia is held to ask Volcanus, the God of Raging Fires, to “stay at rest.” Sacrifices are also made to Stata Mater, the Goddess of Quenching the Fire and Juturna, the Goddess of Streams as well. To honor Volcanus, herds are driven over fires, and fish are offered to Him. Also, people ask Him to protect their homes from fire.

Consus and Ops
The first sets of two festivals for Consus and Ops is held on August 21, the Consualia, and August 25, the Opiconsivia. The second sets of festivals is held in December. The first set celebrates the end of the harvest, and the second the autumn sowing. Between the August festivals, the Mundus Patet (the Door to the Underworld) is opened on August 24 for the first time in the year.

The Consualia, a public festival, featured horse racing. The God of the Granary, Consus is also associated with mules and horses. He also receives receive offerings of first fruits of the harvest.

Meanwhile the Opiconsivia for Ops, the Goddess of Plenty, is a private affair attended by the Vestal Virgins and the Sacerdos Publica (head priest). Ops in her role of Consiva (the Sower) is celebrated. Therefore during this festival to Ops, one hand touches the earth while invoking this Goddess.

Finally on August 27, the Volturnalia is held to ask Volturnus not to bring the drying winds. Originally an Etruscan God, Volturnus raises clouds of dust thereby causing much devastation. For the Ancient Romans, the drying winds came from the southeast, therefore Volturnus is also the God of the Southeast Wind.