God of the Month: Venus

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Venus of the Romans is a complex Goddess, who is often equated with the Greek Aphrodite. But Venus is more than the Goddess of Love, She is also the Patron of Gardeners and the Protector of the Graves of Girls. Venus Genetrix (the Mother of Rome) is the Ancestor of the Romans. Meanwhile, Venus Victrix (Venus Victorious) carries a spear into battle, and rides alongside her favorite generals.

The first temple to Venus was built in 295 BCE by Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges, Consul of Rome. He collected fines that were levied against women who were found guilty of adultery. Since it was built using those fines, the temple was dedicated to Venus Obsequens, the Goddess of Sexual Excess.

The second temple was built during the Second Punic War with Carthage. In a rite of evocatio, Dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus persuaded Venus Erycina (Venus from Eryx) to come to Rome. To defeat the Carthaginians, the Sibylline Books counseled to remove this Goddess from Sicily, which was allied with Carthage. After Venus Erycina came to Rome, She became the Goddess of Female Prostitutes.

Upon discovering the unchaste activities of three Vestal Virgins, the Romans consulted the Sibylline Books. To atone for this gross act of impiety, the Senate built a temple for Venus Verticordia (Venus the Changer of Hearts) in 114 BCE. This Venus is the Protector Against Vice.

For his military victories, Pompey claimed that Venus Victrix (Venus Victorious) blessed him. To celebrate his triumphs, Pompey dedicated a temple to Her in 55 BCE. She shared the space with a permanent theater which Pompey also wanted to build.

Julius Caesar introduced the cult of Venus Gentrix, the Goddess of Motherhood and Marriage. His family, the Gens Julia, had long claimed Venus as an Ancestor. After Caesar, Venus Gentrix became the Mother of the Roman People. In 135 CE, Hadrian built a temple to Her and Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome). He considered Venus to be the Protector of Rome.

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God of the Month: Fausta Felicitas

Fausta Felicitas is the Goddess of Good Fortune and Luck. (“Fausta” is the adjective for “favorable.” “Felicitas,” the noun, means “good fortune.” This Goddess is depicted holding a caduceus for health and a cornucopia for wealth. She is also a protective Goddess of Peace and Prosperity. On October 9, Fausta Felicitas is worshipped with Venus Victrix (Conquering Venus) and Genius Publicus (Guardian of the People). Together, these three Gods protect the spiritual aspects of Romans.

Felicitas is a Roman virtue who became divine. As a public virtue, felicitas is the prosperity blessed under the protection of the Gods. As the Pax Divom, felicitas is the state of harmony with the Gods. At the beginning of rituals, Romans say, “Quod bonum faustum felix fortunatumque sit!” (May it be good, lucky, happy, and blessed!) This is to ensure the success of the rite.

Felicitas’ Aspects:
Felicitas Deorum: Luck of the Gods
Felicitas Perpetua: Everlasting Happiness
Felicitas Publica: The Divine Force of the People
Felicitas Republicae: The Fortune of the State
Felicitas Saeculi: Happiness of the Age
Felicitas Temporum: Prosperity of the Times

God of the Month: Fides

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Roman morality is governed by two sets of virtues – personal and public. These thirty-one virtues give Romans their moral, physical and spiritual grounding. Personal virtues are the qualities that ordinary people should aspire to. Meanwhile, public virtues are for the community to govern itself by. Because of their importance to Roman life, many of the public virtues have become deities.

Often mistaken to mean “faith,” fides is defined as “reliability between two parties, which is always reciprocal.” Fides is an essential quality for those who are in the public arena such as politicians. Since fides is the bedrock of relations between people and their communities, this virtue is now a Roman Goddess.

Rome’s second king, Numa Pompilius began the annual rites to Fides Publica (Public Trust) on October 1. Her temple in Rome held the state treaties. One of the oldest of Roman Gods, Fides holds the same place of importance with Jupiter Optimus Maximus (Jupiter the Best and Brightest) and Dius Fidius, the God of Oathtaking.

Salve Fides!
May we keep the trust of others.
May they keep our trust.
Let us have mutual faith.
Both are needed
For society to thrive.
Salve Fides!

Gods of the Month: October

This is Part Two of October festivals and other important days that I follow. Part One is Gods of the Month: October 2016.

October is a month to focus on the affairs of the state and of the community. Fides (Good Faith), Felicitas (Good Fortune) and Venus Victrix (Venus Victorious) are honored for the protection of the people and the continuing favor of the Gods. Di Penates (the Gods of the Pantry) are also given sacrifices for protecting the food stores.

Also, October is a month of transitions. The campaign season is over and soldiers return home. They and their weapons need to be purified before they can rejoin the civilian population.

For me in my personal devotions, I honor Hekate and Anubis (Gods of the Dead) who helped me in adjusting to life after my traumatic brain injury. October is also the beginning of the Wild Hunt by Odin, the All-Father of the Norse. I also honor Ba’al, Whose temples have been destroyed by religious fanatics.

FIDES PUBLICA
The Goddess of Good Faith and Trust, Fides Publica has sacrifices made to Her on October 1. This Goddess presides over oral contracts both political and social. Roman priests make offerings to Fides with gloved hands, to show their absolute trust in Her.

FAUSTA FELICITAS
On October 9, a festival is held for Fausta Felicitas, the Goddess of Good Fortune. As Felicitas Publica, She is the Divine Force of the State. People pray to Her in both aspects to keep the commonwealth prosperious and successful.

VENUS VICTRIX
The Roman Goddess Venus has many aspects. One of them is Venus Victrix (Venus Victorious), who protects the State. As Venus Genetrix, She is considered to be the Ancestress of the Roman People. As the Evening Star, Venus led her son Aeneas to Latium to settle.

DI PENATES
On October 14, Romans honor Di Penates, the Gods of the Pantry. Along with the Lars, Di Penates protect the household. Since They guard the food stores, Di Penates can be considered the Gods of the Food Banks. Taking canned goods to a food bank is one way to honor Di Penates.

Other Festivals and Observations:

MARS: In October, the Roman armies came home from the wars. The Armilustrium is the purification of the weapons and trumpets (tubae) on October 18. Gods of the Month: Mars

MANIA and DII MANES:  The Opening of the Mundus (the Well to the Underworld) is conducted for the second time in the year on October 5. The Mundus, Well to the Underworld

MEDITRINA: The Meditrinalia, the Festival of First Wine, is held on October 11.
FONS: Fons, the God of Springs, is honored at the Fontinalia on October 13. God of the Month: Meditrina

ODIN: Because my Anglo-Saxon Ancestors have an altar to their Gods, I make observances for these Gods also. The Norse Winternights, the beginning of the winter is From October 29 to November 2. The Wild Hunt starts at this time and continues through the winter. Ghost Riders in the Sky or the Wild Hunt

God of the Month: Ereshkigal of Sumer

The Queen of the Great Below, Ereshkigal rules the Underworld (Irkalla). This is the final destination from which there is no return – either for Gods or mortals. Ereshkigal keeps the Dead where They need to be, so the Dead do not wander off and plague the living.

For the Sumerians, the Dead went to the world beneath the Earth’s surface. Called the Lower World, a stairway, from a cave in the earth, went down to the First Gate. As the newly deceased moved downward, They would give gifts to the various Galla who guarded the Gates. After going through the Seven Gates, the Dead would arrive before Ereshkigal. She would pronounce the sentence of death on Them as her scribe, Geshtinana recorded their names.

Ereshkigal never leaves Irkalla, nor do the Great Gods visit Her except for Nergal, Her Fourth Consort. Nergal (The Unsparing) has his escorts keep the Gates open when He returns every six months to sit by her side. During that time, Nergal rules with Her. The other six months, He wages war and sends the newly killed to Her.

Her Son Ninazu, God of Healing, and his son Ningishzida (God of the Dawn) would conduct business for Her in the Upper World. Namtar (Fate-Cutter), also Her Son, would go to the Upper World to spread the plague and pestilence. Her daughter, Nungal is considered the Goddess of Prisons and Punishment.

God of the Month: Inanna (Ishtar)

ndIshtar-star-symbol-encircled.svgInanna, who is known by many names – Inana, Ishtar – is a complex Goddess. Thought to be a mixture of Sumerian and Semitic Gods, She is both the Goddess of Love and the Goddess of War. Her origin is thought to stem from the Semitic God Attar becoming Ashtar, then the female Ishtar. This Goddess merged with the Sumerian Inana of Uruk to become Inanna. She now possesses male and female qualities. In modern times, Inanna has become a part of the Goddess Religions as a Goddess of Self-Actualization and Avenger of Women who have been wronged. She can be considered a fluid Goddess, who changes through the ages for the people who revere Her.

Traditionally, Inanna has three aspects. As the Goddess of Love, She has no permanent consort but a series of lovers. Inanna governs Sex and Sexual Pleasure, and is the Patron Goddess of Prostitutes. In some Babylonian songs, She will refer to Herself as a prostitute. Some vases have been found that show Inanna receiving offerings from naked men.

Her second aspect is the Goddess of War. Inanna lusts for blood and power, and glories in battle. Sargon of Akkad had Her as his Patron riding beside him as he formed his empire. Later, his grandson, Naram-Sin often invoked Inanna for his royal power and military might in putting down rebellions.

Meanwhile, King Solomon of Israel sang:
“Who is this arising like dawn
Fair as the Moon,
Resplendent as the Sun
Terrible as an army with banners?” (Song of Songs 6:10)

Venus, the morning and evening star, is Inanna’s thirst aspect. “I am Inanna of the Sunrise,” She declares. After the sun and the moon, Venus was important in divination for the Babylonians. Depending on where Venus was, the harvest could be successful, war would break out, or famine would come. Also, Venus determined the fate of kings.

My sense of Inanna is that She is fluid. She is independent and beholden only to Herself. Passionate, Inanna freely acts on her emotions. She is worshipped for Who She is.

From the hymns, some of her titles are:
The Great-hearted Mistress
The Impetuous Lady
Proudest Among the Great Gods
Great Bull Trusting in Its Strength
Turner of Midday to Darkness, and Darkness to Light
The Lady of Heaven and Earth
Great Lady of Fearsome Powers

The Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno, Minerva)

The Capitoline Triad oversaw the affairs of Rome and her people. Jupiter Optimus Maximus (Brightest and Best) protected the state. In addition, Juno Regina was the guardian of Rome. Together, They guided the affairs of the Roman people. Meanwhile, Minerva was the Patron of Doctors and the Arts.

After the wars with the Sabines, King Tarquin Priscus asked the Deities of a shrine on Capitoline Hill to move so that he could build a temple to Jupiter Optimus Maximus. In exchange for their leaving, he promised Them a new temple elsewhere (exauguration). (Note 1) All the Gods did except for Terminus, the God of Boundaries. The Romans regarded this as a good omen. The new temple was dedicated to Jupiter, Juno Regina, and Minerva (the Capitoline Triad). (However, a part of it remained a shrine to Terminus.) On the Ides of September, the praetor maximus (head magistrate) would drive a nail into the wall of the temple (cella Iovis). This was to ward off the plague for another year.

The main temple for the Capitoline Triad had three rooms with each God having their own space. Jupiter Optimus Maximus occupied the center cella (room), with Juno Regina on the left and Minerva on the right. Although the temple was built during the time of Roman Kings, it was dedicated by the first Consul of the Roman Republic.

Note 1. Exauguratio (exauguration) is to change the purpose of a sacred site. It usually involves asking the God who resides there to move elsewhere.

Read also from 2016: Gods and Politics: Civics from the Roman Triads