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 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.

Portunus
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.

Volturnus
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.

Gods of the Month: Neptune and Furrina

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During the hot, dry month of July, Romans hold festivals for two Water Gods – Neptune on July 23, and Furrina, two days later. Both these Gods are petitioned for adequate water supplies – Neptune for watering crops and Furrina for drinking water. (Earlier in the month, Jupiter Pluvius is petitioned for rainfall.) Water is important for sustaining life.

Neptune

Often regarded as the Roman Poseidon, Neptune (Neptunus) is actually an old Italian God. Originally, He was the God of Springs, Streams, and Rivers. Because Neptune was (and is) the God of Fresh Water, his consort Salacia was (and is) the Goddess of the Surging Sea. In his oceanic form, Neptune is addressed as Neptunus Oceanus.

One thing that Neptune does have in common with Poseidon of the Greeks is that He also the God of Earthquakes. It seems for the Greek and Romans that the Water Gods causes earthquakes. Meanwhile, Volcanus (Vulcan), who has his forge in Mt. Etna, creates raging fires instead.

Furrina
Not much is known about the Goddess Furrina. She is connected to wells and underground cisterns. Therefore, Furrina can be considered the Goddess of Adequate Drinking Supplies or simply of Drinking Water. Say a prayer to Her when you drink from a public water fountain.

Salve Neptunus!                                Salve Furrina!
God of Waters                                   Goddess of Waters
Sustainer of Life                               Sustainer of Life
We pray for fresh water                 Teach us to protect the water
We pray for abundant water         Teach us to care for the water
We thank You, Neptunus!               We thank You, Furrina!

Shadow Patrons (Gods)

ndBelvedere_Apollo_Pio-Clementino_Inv1015_n3

In a prior post, I mentioned that Apollo is my “Shadow Patron.” (Note 1). In Polytheism, a Patron (Matron) is a God who forms a favorable relationship with a person. Not every Polytheist has a Patron, since each God chooses the level of connection with humans. Therefore, a Shadow Patron would be a God who chooses to have an adversarial relationship with a human.

Why would a God have an antagonistic affiliation with someone? For me, it is because I do two things that Apollo is particular about – divination and prayers. Since in Roman Polytheism, both sacred activities are associated with Apollo, He wants them done correctly. Moreover, He wants me to prove myself worthy to do each.

Since this God is well-known to force Himself on unwilling females, I actively disliked Him. When I was a teenager, I was the victim of unwanted male attention. Hence, I avoided Apollo as much as possible. When I began writing rituals and prayers, Apollo came and refused to leave. Then I started practicing Roman-style divination. At that point, Apollo instructed me on how He wanted these acts conducted. A hard taskmaster, he drove me to hone my craft for both.

As I worked through this difficult relationship, I came to realize that Apollo is my Shadow Patron. Because He wants what I do to be true, Apollo takes me places that I refuse to go. He does not allow me to “spiritually bypass.” (Note 2). That means I have to do deep sacrifices for Him, which usually involve things that my injured brain balks at.

It is ironic that the God of the Sun and of Logic would have me focus on the unconscious realm. Apollo rules the Day, which is consciousness. By doing so, He defines the Night, which is unconsciousness. By standing in the blinding Light, one can see the deepest Night. Why is this important? In divination and in prayer, the force of the hurt, the grief, and resentment is released. This turns Day into Night.

In Polytheism, divination and prayers are sacred acts. To perform each, the human communicates directly with the Holy Powers. The Pax Deorum (The Peace of the Gods) has to be maintained between the people and the Gods. The Dark and the Light must be in balance for the Dark holds the Light as the Light holds the Dark. This seeming binary of Dark/Light is not Bad/Good, but a nonduality (Note 3) with shades of Grey between the Two.

In my perspective, a Shadow Patron forces you to handle the psychic energy of the hurt or grief. You are forced to cope with your wounds in order to do what They require of you. Since this energy is a form of impurity, it needs to be cleansed. You need to be spiritually ready to do various sacred acts for this God.

Notes:

Note 1. Shadow Gods are traditionally the archetypes of the darker aspects of life such as the Underworld.

Note 2. “Spiritual bypassing is a mistaken belief that if we pray enough…eat right, and only think positive thoughts, our life will ascend finally reaching enlightenment.” Linda Star Wolf, “Soul Whispering,” Page 154.

Note 3. “Nonduality” means “non-separation and fundamental wholeness.” It comes from Eastern Religious thought.

Works Used:
Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities.”
Galina Krasskova, “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands.”
Linda Star Wolf, “Soul Whispering.”

God of the Month: Apollo

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Apollo, a well-known Greek God, is also a member of the Di Consentes (the Twelve Great Gods) of the Romans. For the Romans, Apollo is first a God of Healing. When Augustus became Emperor in 27 BCE, he promoted the worship of Apollo further. Augustus claimed that he was conceived by this God. After that, Apollo’s Roman attributes expanded to include his Greek ones, including God of the Sun. (Sol Indiges is the traditional God of the Sun for the Romans.)

When a devastating plague hit Rome in the Fifth Century BCE, the Duumvirs (Governors) consulted the Sibylline Books. Acting on the advice of the Books, they built a temple to Apollo Medicus (Apollo the Physician). Since He is Greek, the Romans built this temple outside the city. Then the priests invoked Him to come to the temple when He visited Rome. Later, families would go to the temple to seek medical attention.

To the Romans, Apollo is also the God of Divination and of Poetry. To invoke Him, poets would “drink from the waters of Castalia.” In Greek mythology, Castalia was a nymph who was pursued by Apollo. To elude Him, she threw herself into a spring. Afterwards, Apollo consecrated her and the spring to the Muses.

Personally for me, Apollo is a difficult God. I regard Him to be my “Shadow Patron.” He forces me to go places I don’t want to. Since I do write prayers and do divination, Apollo is always there. His hardness makes me into a better poet and diviner.