God of the Month: Minerva


Often conflated with Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Minerva is uniquely Roman. Adapting various aspects of the Etruscan Goddess Menrva, the Romans regarded Minerva as the Goddess of War and the Goddess of Wisdom. In war, Minerva counsels the generals on their strategy for battle. In peace, She guides the legislators in governing the state. (As one of the Capitoline Triad (with Juno and Jupiter), She governs the affairs of the country.)

Ovid referred to Minerva as the Goddess of a Thousand Works. Besides being a Goddess of War and Wisdom, She is the Patron of Doctors. As the Goddess of the Arts, Minerva invented numbers and music. She oversees crafts, learning, science and trade. In fact, I regard Minerva, the Goddess of Technology.

The Romans considered the Palladium (the Statue of Minerva) a gift from Her to them. The Vestal Virgins guarded this and other sacred items in their temple. Meanwhile, at her temple on the Esquiline Hill, people would place votive objects of healing into vaults (favissae).

The “Greater” Quinquatrus, the first of the two festivals for Minerva, is held from March 19 to 23. This festival is celebrated by artists, actors, students and writers. Because her temple on Aventine Hill served as guild headquarters, actors and writers would hold their sacrifices to Minerva there. Meanwhile the schools closed as their students celebrated the end of the school year. Teachers received their annual salary called a Minerval at this time.

The second festival, the “Lesser” Quinquatrus, takes place on June 13. Since Minerva is the Patroness of Musicians, the flute players would stage masked processions through Rome. In modern times, it is appropriate to listen to master flautists to honor Her.

Salve Minerva Augusta!
Goddess of Wisdom
Many are Your Attributes

Salve Minerva Augusta!
With Jupiter Capitolinus and Juno Regina,
You sagely govern us, your Quirites

Salve Minerva Victoria!
You who pierces ignorance
With Your Spear.
You who fends off stupidity
With Your Shield.
You who grants knowledge
With Your Helm.

Salve Minerva Augusta!
You who burst fully formed
Into my life
Guiding me to Rome,
Guiding me to Home,
I thank you.

Salve Minerva Augusta!
Goddess of Wisdom
Many are Your Attributes.


Feriae Sementivae: Early Spring Planting


Starting January 24, for seven days, the first half of the Feriae Sementivae is dedicated to Tellus Mater. The second half, on February 2, is dedicated to Ceres Mater. These Goddesses of the Earth bless and protect the seeds of the newly planted crop. During the Feriae Sementivae, the fields are “purified,” and made ready for planting. Prayers are said for the seeds to be protected after planting.

Tellus Mater houses the seed in the ground while Ceres Mater forms the seeds. Wheat cakes and pork are offered to each of the Goddesses. (Romans would sacrifice a pregnant sow to these Goddesses.) Meanwhile, people hang clay discs (oscilla) in the trees. These oscilla are decorated to ward off the evil eye from the farmers and the newly plowed land.

Prayers are said to protect the new shoots from the killing frost. Other prayers are said to save the seeds from the hungry ants and birds. Even today, the land and new sprouts still need our prayers. Diseases and the weather still wreck destruction on our crops.

Salve Tellus Mater
Tender Mother
Prepares the home
For the precious seeds

Salve Ceres Mater
Tender Mother
Forms the seeds
Of the precious seeds

Salvete Matronae
Tender Mothers
Thank You
For Your precious care.

The Laussel Goddess


Found in 1911 at Laussel Cave in France, The Woman with a Horn (Femme a la corne) has intrigued people ever since. Believed to be between 22,000 and 29,000 years old, the Laussel Goddess as She is also known as is considered to be an Upper-Paleolithic Venus. The Woman with a Horn has large breasts, belly, thighs, and genitals. As her left hand rests on her stomach, her right holds a horn above her head. The horn has thirteen lines etched on it.

Nobody really know what the Woman with the Horn is. The most common theory is that since She holds the Moon that the Laussel Goddess is the Great Mother who celebrates fertility. Through guiding women’s cycles by the waxing and waning of the moon, She ensures life.

Since She holds what seems to be a horn of plenty, the Woman could also be the Goddess of the Hunt. The horn acts an instrument to summon the spirits or a vehicle for the shaman to travel the worlds guiding the game to the people. Therefore, the Laussel Goddess could represent abundance.

During the Neolithic, people were erecting stone monuments to mark the solstices. These structures demonstrate that Neolithic peoples were aware of the cosmic order of time and space. In this context, the Laussel Goddess is a timekeeper of the moon’s phases.

Following the phases of the moon is a common timekeeping method for many cultures. Ancient calendars are often lunar or have a lunar component to them. This is because the moon demonstrates a more concrete passage of time than does the sun. Since the Laussel Goddess does show the full and crescent moons, She offers a glimpse into the cosmology of the Neolithic peoples.

Modern Goddess worshippers see the Laussel Goddess as the “Keeper of Women’s Mysteries.” For them. She encourages women to embrace their womanhood and their bodies. As the moon changes, so do women. Together, each they dance the rhythms of creation, decay, and rebirth.

As for me, I see the Laussel Goddess as the Lady of the Cosmos. She ties magic, time, and space into a whole. Waxing and waning. She dances the cosmos into being. The Woman with the Horn gives birth to the universe and renews it. She maintains the harmony of the forces of life.

Oh Laussel Goddess
Woman with a Horn
Lady of the Cosmos
You dance the Universe
Into being
May we dance with You
May we honor Your Waxing and Waning
Oh Laussel Goddess
Woman with a Horn


God of the Month: AESCULAPIUS, the Healer


During a plague, the Romans went to Greece to seek the aid of Aesculapius, the Greek God of Healing. The priests at Epidaurus, his main cult center in southern Greece, refused to help the Romans. Then one of the snakes who lived around the temple came aboard the boat of the dejected Romans. Because this Snake was so heavy and large, they realized that It was Aesculapius, Himself. When they entered the Tiber River, the Snake left the boat and stayed on an island. There the Romans built a temple to Aesculapius to thank Him for His help.

At his temple on the island in the Tiber, people would come to be cured. They waited for the God to come to them in a dream and restore them to health. Afterwards, the people would offer votive figures of organs, arms, and legs to Aesculapius.

The Romans regarded the Aesculapian snake (the species of snake around the temple) synonymous with healing. Touching the snake would cure an ill person. Also this snake would point out various herbs for remedies. After transporting this species of snake in earthenware containers, the Romans would release Him around their baths and temples. For them, the Aesculapian snake was a representative of their God of Healing – Aesculapius.

A snake entwined around a rod has become the symbol for Aesculapius. Called by various names – Staff of Aesculapius, Rod of Aesculapius, Asklepian – this symbol now represents the medical profession. Many medical personnel such as first responders have it as part of their insignia.

Salve kind Aesculapius!
Gentle Healer
Come to us in our dreams

We pray for your mild touch
We pray for your tender compassion
Heal us, we ask.

Salve kind Aesculapius!
Gentle Healer


Gods of the Month: Acca Larentia of Rome

On the Larentalia (December 23), the famen (priest) of Quirinalis (the Divine Romulus) performs the rites of parentiatio at the gravesite of Acca Larentia. This Goddess is considered to be a Divine Ancestor of Rome. However, She has three conflicting myths about Her being a Founder of Rome.

The first is that Acca Larentia is a very old Etruscan Goddess who cares for the Beloved Dead and their living families. This benevolent Goddess is the Mother of the Lars. Besides being a Household God, She is a Goddess of the Underworld.

When Rome was expanding its borders in Central Italy, they created a second myth. Acca Larentia, a human, was the mistress of Hercules. Later, she married Tarrutius, a rich Etruscan. When her husband died, Acca Larentia donated his lands to Rome. This was the basis of the Roman claim on disputed territories. After Acca Larentia died, She became a Divine Ancestor.

When Augustus reformed the Roman religion, he changed what Acca Larentia, the human was. She became the wife of Faustulus, the shepherd. Together, they adopted Romulus and Remus and raised them to manhood.

In all these myths, Acca Larentia is tied to Rome and to the Ancestors. I see Her as the Mother of the Lars. She cares for Our Dead and for us, the living. For me, She is a Goddess of my household.

Salve Acca Larentia
Mother of the Lars
Mother of the Beloved Dead
Guardian of the Living
Guardian of the Dead
Goddess of the Underworld
Goddess of the Household
Salve Acca Larentia!


Ba’al Hadad of Canaan

The Polytheism of the Canaanites is usually contrasted with the Monotheism of the Israelites. While the nomads of Israel are usually depicted as being morally upright and virtuous, the urbanites of Canaan are always shown to be depraved hedonists who made child sacrifices. The truth is that the Israelites were ethnic Canaanites who split off during the early Iron Age. The Canaanites divided into the Israelites in the south and the Phoenicians to the north. The Canaanite Polytheistic practices that are condemned in the Old Testament are actually Israelite ones. The later editors of the Old Testament wanted to emphasize the pure Monotheism of the Israelites.

The God most often mentioned as the bane of Yahweh and the Israelites is Baal. The particular Baal in question is Ba’al Hadad of Mount Tzapunu, who is known as King and Judge. Ba’al in the Canaanite language means “Lord,” and became a way of addressing Yahweh as well.

Since Ba’al Hadad had died and returned from the Dead, the Canaanites regard Him to be the Protector of Humanity. In the Ba’al Epic, He fights with Yammu, the God of the Sea and Storms. After He defeats Yammu, Motu, the God of Death and Sterility decided to kill Ba’al. Dying, Ba’al goes to Betu Khupthati, the Canaanite Underworld. In his absence, the drought and heat destroys the earth.

Meanwhile, ‘Anatu, the Female Warrior Ally of Ba’al, searches for Him and Motu. Finding Motu, She chops Him up and feeds Him to the birds. Afterwards, Shapshu, the Sun Goddess and Protector of the Dead returns Ba’al Hadad to the Living. After She restores Motu, Shapshu referees the continuing dispute between the two Gods.

Ba’al Hadad keeps the world of humans fertile. He rides the clouds bringing the rains to ensure the earth’s fertility and abundance. These autumnal rains move from the coast eastward to the desert. Therefore, Ba’al Hadad keeps the balance between the desert of Motu and the ocean of Yammu, with his refreshing rains.

O Ba’al Hadad, King and Judge
Your Voice is Thunder.

O Ba’al Hadad, Rider of the Clouds
Mightiest of the Warriors,
You slew Lotan the Seven Headed Dragon
Lord of the Sky
Lord of the Earth
You Bring the Autumn Rains
You allow the crops to grow

O Ba’al Hadad, Protector of Humans
You calm the storms of the sea
You stay the sands of the desert

Further Reading:
Philip West, The Old Ones in the Old Book
Tess Dawson, The Horned Altar and Whisper of Stone


Fortuna, Goddess of Rome

One of the most popular Gods of the Romans is Fortuna, the Goddess of Luck and Fate. It is said that She smiled upon Rome and granted the city, its destiny of being a great empire. When She arrived in the city in 600 BCE, Fortuna discarded her wings and took off her shoes. Afterwards, She pronounced Rome to be her true home.

Since luck and fate comes in many forms, Fortuna, Herself, has many aspects. Fortuna as Fate is Fortuna Primigenia (First Born), who sets the fate of the new-born child. This ancient Goddess controls the life, fortune, and death of each person. Depicted with a ship’s rudder, Fortuna steers the fate of all. As Fortuna Viscata (the Fowler), She catches and holds people in her net. Since She is “Sticky Fortune,” Fortuna fixes their fate from which they cannot escape.

Fortuna oversees the luck of people in various ways. Fortuna Liberum watches over children, as Fortuna Barbata (boys) and Fortuna Virgo (girls) oversees their transitions into adulthood. Fortuna Muliebris cares for the well-being of women, and Fortuna Virilis for men. Fortuna Privata provides for the luck of the individual, and Fortuna Publica, that of the nation.

As “Luck-bringer,” Fortuna is worshipped in her many aspects. Some of them are Fortuna Blanda (False), Fortuna Dubia (Dubious), and Fortuna Brevis (Fickle). Fortuna keeps the balance by being fickle in bringing both good and bad luck. Meantime, Romans often paired Fortuna Manens (Enduring) with Fortuna Mobilis (Changeable).

Fortuna Bona (Good) balances out Fortuna Mala (Bad). Fortuna Mala is able to ward off bad luck since She brings it. Because Romans regard Her as a force of balance in the universe, She has an altar alongside Fortuna Bona. Together, They ensure that none have perpetual good or bad luck, and all will experience both.

Salve Fortuna Huiusce Diei!
Bring us good luck this day!

Salve Fortuna Balnearis!
Ancient Fortuna of the Baths
Bring all the soldiers, health and well-being.

Salve Fortuna Redux!
Watch over the traveller.

Salve Fortuna Obsequens!
Indulgent One,
Look kindly upon us
We thank You.