Daily Devotions

For me, being a Polytheist means daily devotions to the Gods. Like many modern Polytheists, my Gods do not all belong to the same Pantheon. Although I consider myself a Roman Polytheist, I do venerate Other Gods. Because of my brain injury and devotional work with the Dead, Anubis, Hekate and the Morrigan have requested devotions. Meanwhile, my Anglo-Saxon Ancestors want their family Gods honored. Finally for reasons unclear to me, the Gods of Babylon and Canaan have asked me for devotions.

To accommodate all the Gods Whom I honor, I had to set up a schedule. How did I go about doing this? First, I read the lore, and then did divination which days would be appropriate for which Gods. Finally, I broke my day into three parts – morning, afternoon, and evening for my devotions. Since we all have our daily rituals such as brewing coffee or checking our phones, including one for devotions seemed reasonable.

Mornings are devoted to the Household Gods. Before breakfast, I light a candle and offer incense. I offer to Janus (who always receives the first and last offerings) for his service in guarding the doors. Then to Apollo for the health of our family, and Juno Custos for guiding my family. Vesta, the Eternal Flame who warms our home, receives her offering and prayers next. Finally, the Genius of the Paterfamilias is thanked for guarding our family.

After I do this, I do my weekly devotions by splitting the various Gods into mornings and afternoons. My schedule is as follows – Monday – Anubis and Hecate (morning), The Lady of Beasts and The Morrigan (afternoon). Tuesday – Freya (morning), Anubis and Hecate (afternoon). Wednesday – Odin. Thursday – Hercules, Neptune and the Roman Pantheon (morning), the Gods of Babylon and of Canaan (afternoon). Friday – Frigga. Saturday – the Penates and Lars. Sunday – the Dead.

Why these particular days? Monday is “moon” day, and those deities prefer that association. Tuesdays is traditional for Freya, Wednesdays for Odin, and Friday for Frigga. Anubis and Hecate asked for Tuesdays, and the Gods of Babylon and of Canaan for Thursday. Since Thursday is Thor’s day, Hercules reminded me that it is his day also. The Roman Gods requested Thursday as well. Saturday is grocery day, which is when the cupboards are replenished. Sunday is for the Dead, since it is a day of reflection for me.

The evening is reserved for the Gods of the Month. Nightly, I say prayers to Them before going to bed. It is a part of my evening routine like brushing my teeth.

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Gods of the Month: December

For Romans, December is a month to honor the Gods, who ensure the fertility of the earth. People are concerned about the winter sowing and the future crops. It is also a month for family and friends, including the local Nature Spirits. Saturnalia, which celebrates the Golden Age of Saturnus (Saturn), occurs in the middle of December. It is a time of lights, games, and gift-giving. Gods of the Month: December 2016

These are the Gods of the Month that I honor.

BONA DEA: December 3 is the day of women’s mysteries for Bona Dea, the Good Goddess. This Goddess of Healing also ensures women’s fertility. God of The Month: Bona Dea

TIBER RIVER AND THE SEVEN HILLS OF ROME: Two festivals – one for the Tiber River and one for the Seven Hills – occur on December 8 and December 11 respectfully. God of the Month: Tiberinus and the Seven Hills

CONSUS: The second festival for Consus, the God of the Granary is held on December 15. God of the Month: Consus

SATURNUS (SATURN): Saturnalia from December 17 to 24 celebrates the time that Saturnus Pater ruled the earth. God of the Month: Saturn

OPS CONSIVA: The Opalia is held on December 19 for Ops Consiva (the Sower). This Goddess of Abundance is the Consort of both Consus and Saturnus. God of the Month: Ops Consiva

ANGERONA: At the Divalia, on December 21, Angerona, the Goddess of Secrets is honored. God of the Month: Diva Angerona

ACCA LARENTIA: On December 23, the Larentalia was held at her tomb. She is the Founder of Roman and Goddess of the Lars.

Non-Roman Gods that I honor:

FRIGGA AND THE DSIR: On the Winter Solstice which is Mothers Night, I celebrate Frigga, the Norse All-Mother, Her Twelve Handmaidens and the Mothers of my ancestral line. God of the Month: Frigga and the Disr

THE ACHEULIAN GODDESS: An ancient Goddess from Paleolithic times, the Acheulian Goddess is for me the Goddess of Beginnings. God of the Month: Acheulian Goddess of Prehistory

Gods of the Month: November

For Romans, November was the month of community and games. The Ludi Plebeii (The Plebeian Games) in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus were held for ten days. I see November as a month to celebrate the community and the blessings of the Gods.

Read more at: Gods of the Month: November 2016

In the Wheel of the Year for Neo-Pagans, November is the time to remember the Ancestors. Two Gods of the Dead that I have devotions for at this time are Hecate and Anubis. Hecate has a festival day on November 30. (This is also Lost Species Day.)

POMONA: A festival thanking Pomona, the Goddess of Orchards for the ripe fruit is held on November 1. God of the Month: Pomona

MANIA and DII MANES: The Opening of the Mundus (the Well to the Underworld) is conducted for the third time in the year on November 8. The Mundus and Me

FORTUNA PRIMIGENIA AND FERONIA: On the Ides of November (the 13th), Fortuna Primigenia and Ferona are honored. As the Mother of Juno and Jupiter, Fortuna Primigenia sets the destiny of children at their birth. Meanwhile, Ferona is the Goddess of Agricultural Produce. God of the Month: Fortuna Primigenia  and God of the Month: Feronia

TIAMAT: November 6 is one of the festival days for Tiamat of the Mesopotamian Gods. As the Great Mother Creator, She created Heaven and Earth with Her Body. God of the Month: Tiamat of Babylon

Polytheism Begins at Home

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Roman Polytheism (Religio Romana) is first and foremost a home-based religion. The home is the temple for the family cultus of the Di Familiaris (the Guardian Gods of the Family). This includes the Lars Familiaris as the Guardian of the Family and the Genius of the Paterfamilias (the Protector of the Head of the Household. It also includes Di Manes (the Ancestors of the Household).

At the main altar (the Lararium) I make offerings of food and incense as well as say prayers. Janus receives the first offering and Vesta the second. During my daily devotions (morning and evening), I ask for guidance and help from the Household Gods, Ancestors, and other Gods.

The Goddess of the Hearth, Vesta, who lives in my kitchen, experiences my efforts at cooking. The Penates look out for my food stores. The Lars look out for the general well-being for the family and home. Janus and the other Gods of the Door (Cardea, Forculus, Limentinus, Portunes) guard the inside and the outside. They oversee the liminal places protecting my family. The Lars Loci (Guardians of the Place) who guard the windows are included.

A Polytheist’s home usually has many altars to different Gods. I have two for the Ancestors in my bedroom, and two for the Gods of Indoor Plumbing under my sinks. The altar to Vesta, the Lars and Penates sits in my kitchen. Each altar receives offerings on a daily basis. The Lars receive food and milk, the Others incense and perfume.

The home is where the family and the Gods interact daily on an intimate basis. The altars provide a liminal space for formal devotions. The Gods and Others are not remote, but are with us always.

Gods of the Month: Gods of the Pantry (Di Penates)

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Roman Polytheists have many deities who protect the household. Di Penates, the Spirits of the Pantry (penus) guard the food stores. Three times a month (Kalends (1st), Nones (9th) and Ides (15th), the Lararium (household altar) is decorated with garlands in their honor. On October 15, a festival is held for Di Penates.

Di Penates are the Spirits of the Ancestors who have become the Keepers of the Hearth and the Stores. They preside over cooking and meals, inspiring the family to make and eat nutritious meals. Di Penates also help the family care about food that they consume. During meals, They are thanked for their role in the family’s well-being.

Any food that falls on the floor is offered to Di Penates. I usually give Them cereal each day and any leftover scraps from cooking. Di Penates help me with my meal planning and cooking. They also ensure that I have a well-stocked pantry.

Traditionally Di Penates are represented by snakes. Even today, these reptiles are enticed to stay near the stove and are fed milk. If the snake leaves the home, then disaster will follow, since Di Penates no longer protect the family. I have a pewter snake next to my kitchen cupboard, which I give milk to.

The veneration of Di Penates have continued, in subtle ways, in modern times. In some parts of Europe, homes still have pots behind stoves for bits of food. These pots are for the “Masters of the House” (i.e. Di Penates). Meanwhile, a cricket on the hearth brings prosperity and good health. A cricket in the living room ensures good fortune. “The Cricket on the Hearth,” a novel by Charles Dickens, features the cricket as a guardian angel.

Salvete Di Penates!
Kind Spirits of the Home
Who protect our stores
May we remember You.
May we thank You always
Kind Spirits of the Home
Salvete Di Penates!

Roman Virtues and Principles

ndfidesRomans are guided by three principles in their Polytheism. First, Do ut des (I give that you may give) focuses on the reciprocity between the people and their Gods. Second, Ius divinus (sacred law) governs the right relations between humans and Gods. Finally, Pax deorum (peace of the Gods) stresses maintaining harmony between people and the Gods. These principles are rooted in pietas (piety). For Romans, this includes devotion to their families, the Gods, and their communities.

Added to that are the many public and private virtues that every Roman aspires to. Of the list of private virtues relevant to political action would be dignitas (a sense of self-worth), firmitas (tenacity), gravitas (a sense of the importance of the matter), prudentia (personal discretion), severitas (self-control) and finally veritas (honesty). These particular virtues both guide the conduct of the Roman Polytheist in politics, as well as define how to be an effective advocate. Following these virtues ensures that one does not degrade those for whom they advocate nor the Gods Themselves.

Meanwhile public Roman virtues provide a structure on what to advocate for. Abundantia is enough food for all. Aequitas is fair dealing between the government and the people. When conducting affairs let concordia (harmony between nations and between people) and fides (good faith in contracts) be the guides. Iustitia points to having sensible laws, and salus, the concern for public welfare. In the throes of advocacy, bonus eventus (remembering positive events) and fortuna (acknowledging positive events) should not be forgotten.

Virtues who are Gods:
Abundantia: With her cornucopia, this Goddess distributes grain and money to all.
Aequitas: Aequitas is the God of Equity.
Bonus Eventus: Depicted with a patera (cup) in his right hand and a wheat shaft in the left, this God ensures good harvests and successful enterprises.
Concordia: This important Goddess has a festival on July 22.
Felicitas (Prosperity): This Goddess represents the best aspects of communities.
Fides: This Goddess oversees oral contracts between people.
Libertas (Liberty): This Goddess personifies liberty in all its aspects – personal and political.
Pax (Peace): When Augustus re-established peace after the Roman Civil War, he made Pax a Goddess.
Pietas: This Goddess is usually portrayed with a stork, a symbol of filial duty.
Pudicita (Modesty): This Goddess, once represented the modesty of women, but later oversaw the moral uprightness of citizens.
Salus: This ancient Goddess also preserves public health.
Spes (Hope): Depicted about to depart, this Goddess holds an opening flower.
Virtus (Virtue) and Honos (Honor): These two Gods are usually worshipped together. They are also Gods of Military Courage and Honor.

Gods of the Month: September

For Romans, September is the month of sacred games to honor Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Later in the month, the Capitoline Triad, the Gods of State, is honored with a feast. The harvest is finished and now is the time to relax and to focus on matters of government.

For Babylonians, September is the time of the autumn rains. The long hot dry season has finally ended. The fields are being prepared for the barley planting. At this time, the Descent of Inanna is re-enacted to ensure that the land is fertile.

JUNO REGINA
On September 1, Juno Regina, the Queen of Heaven is honored. In 392 BCE, following a vow, Marcus Furius Camillus raised a splendid temple to this Goddess. Using the rite of evocatio, Camillus promised Uni of Veii that if She allowed him to conquer her city, he would build a temple to Her in Rome. Agreeing, Uni left the Etruscan city to become Juno Regina of Roman. She rules the State with Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Minerva as the Capitoline Triad.

JUPITER OPTIMUS MAXIMUS AND THE CAPITOLINE TRIAD
The Ludi Romani are held for Jupiter between September 5 -19. These sacred games (ludi) began in 566 BCE. The Romans held parades, races, and theatrical performances. Contrary to popular belief, there were no gladiatorial combats during the Ludi Romani.

The feast for the Capitoline Triad, known as the epulum Iovis (Feast of Jupiter), is held September 13. Statues of these Gods are dressed, wined, and dined. Traditionally only the Senators and magistrates attended this feast.

INANNA (ISTAR) (Note 1)
At the autumn equinox, Babylonians re-enact the Descent of Inanna. Her Descent into the Underworld is the hinge between the dry and rainy seasons. Inanna dies but is rescued. Since someone has to replace Her in the Underworld, Dumuzi, Her Shephard Consort, goes down for six months. His sister, Geshtinanna, Goddess of Autumn Wines, takes his place the other six months.

Note 1: Inanna has many names – Inana and Istar are well-known.