My Imagining a Roman Afterlife

umbilicusurbi

Because of my brain injury, my ability to imagine things is difficult. Because of that, I decided to flesh out the Roman Afterworlds. What people think are the Roman Afterworlds were copied wholesale from the Greeks. What I came up with is based partially on Roman traditions, which leaves out any details of an afterworld.

The traditional entrance to the Underworld is the Mundus (the Pit). During the three days that the Mundus is opened, the Dead could roam freely among the living. Therefore the entrance and exit to the Roman Underworld would be the Mundus. This is the place the Newly Dead would head to when they died. The living could enter the Underworld through the Mundus.

The Mundus also serves as an underground granary and altar for Consus, the God of the Granary. When the Mundus is opened, He is concerned with the safety of the living. Therefore, Consus guards the entrance with Seia (Goddess of Sown Grain Seeds) and Tutilina (Goddess of Stored Grain). Consus would note the comings and goings of the Dead, ensuring that the grain stores are not disturbed.

Meanwhile, Mania Genita, the Goddess of the Dead, ensures that no Dead leave the Underworld except on appointed days (the Parentalia, Caristia, and Lemuria). Furthermore, She oversees the Lars, Gods of the Household and Families. The Lars are the Dead who watch over their former families. They roam freely among the living to protect their families and others.

Libitina, the Goddess of Corpses and Funerals would conduct the Newly Dead from their dying to the Underworld. At her temple, Romans did keep their registers of their dead. They also stored the equipment for burials to be borrowed by mourners there.

Once the Dead enter the Underworld, they are greeted by the Fates (Parcae). Morta, the Goddess of Death (of the Parcae) decides where the Dead go next. Poena, the Goddess of Punishment will take the impious Dead with Her. The virtuous Dead will be taken by Vediovis, a God of the Underworld and of Plagues.

Poena punishes the impious Dead by depositing them in disease producing swamps. In the middle of these swamps are volcanoes, with vents that emit hot gasses and poisonous vapors. Mefitis, the Goddess of Stench and Sewers, governs this place. She oversees the agony of the impious Dead, who cannot leave. Ill and gaunt, they wander about unable to find any rest.

Meanwhile, Vediovis takes the virtuous Dead to a place of land of amber fields and sparkling springs. Under the sky of an autumn afternoon, it is always harvest time. Thus, the virtuous Dead do not want for anything.

These Dead live in neighborhoods with their clans and families. Their houses are stone with large porches to sit outside. Each home has simple but comfortable furniture. They also contain a large mirror for the Dead to watch their descendants. The houses surround a magnificent garden which has a large mirror in its midst. This particular mirror allows the Dead to go into the world of the living when needed.

This afterlife would be peopled by people who follow the Roman religion. The Heroes of Rome would be there, along with the various Roman kings and consuls. Since they were deified, the Emperors would be with the Gods.

The virtuous Dead would enjoy the sciences and the arts. They would argue philosophy and hold athletic contests. They would be involved with the pursuits of their descendants.

This part of the Underworld is self-governing. The Gods of the Underworld are more concerned with the treasures and the fertility of the earth. Therefore, They have the virtuous Dead set their own laws.

In Roman tradition, the Dead are involved with the living. In my Afterworld imagining, I give the Dead a place to be instead of roaming the world. The virtuous Dead can leave to tend to their families, but the impious Dead cannot leave their miserable volcanic swamp.

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Monotheistic Filter: Alphabets: Monogenesis

photography of the temple

Photo by David Besh on Pexels.com

This is an example of how the Monotheistic Filter affects thinking in other areas.

In the 19th Century, experts in language studies formulated their equivalent of Darwinism called monogenesis (Note 1). According to this theory, writing progressed from the most primitive of symbols to the most evolved of letters. Chinese, which is symbolic (logographic), was considered primitive while the Roman alphabet, which is consonant and vowel based, was the most advanced. Of course, monogenesis implied that the pinnacle of civilization was Western European culture.

They believed that language started in a primitive form. (According to some linguists, Adam spoke the original language – probably Hebrew.) As people become more civilized, their language developed more complexities. Again this implies that only Western Europeans had the most advanced language. (Note 2).

The development of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writing contradicts this theory. Developed over 3,500 years ago, Chinese writing has changed little since. It serves the spoken language well. In 1949, the Chinese government standardized the written characters. However, many Chinese still continue using the older forms.

In the 5th Century, the Japanese adopted Chinese writing, since they respected the Chinese culture. Because the Japanese language was so different from Chinese, women developed the hiragana alphabet while the men used the characters (kanji) for sounds and meaning. Later, katakana was developed to read Buddhist scriptures written with Chinese characters. Today, Japanese use all three – kanji, hiragana, and katakana as one writing system. Their writing system is logo-symbolic.

Meanwhile, the Koreans, who also used Chinese writing for their language, developed one alphabet. Like the Japanese, they used the characters for both meaning and sound until the 15th Century. At that time, King Sejong devised Hangul (Korean letters), which is a consonant and vowel alphabet. Today, many Koreans use Hangul instead of Chinese characters.

The Chinese developed symbols to write down their speech. The Koreans and Japanese then adopted the Chinese system for use in writing their respective languages. Because Chinese was different from Korean or Japanese, they used Chinese characters as a basis to devise their own systems of writing. The result was that each culture chose writing that suited their unique traditions and languages.

Notes:
Note 1. This concept differs from claiming that there was a one original language spoken by early hominids.

Note 2. According to modern linguists, there are no primitive languages. For example, Kivunjo, a Bantu language of Africa, has fourteen tenses and twenty noun cases. In contrast, English has seven tense forms and three noun genders.

Roman Divination and Mathematics

ndturkeyvulture

I practice a form of Roman divination that involves quartering the sky and looking for certain species of birds. To begin, I set up a perimeter using local landmarks. I quarter what I have marked off, then quarter within each quadrant again, forming a matrix of sixteen squares. I set a beginning and ending time to watch for birds entering, exiting or staying within the quadrants.

The six species used for this divination are the eagle, vulture, hawk, goose, woodpecker and crow. The eagle, vulture and hawks are good signs, the goose a warning, the woodpecker a conflict, and the crow a bad sign. The directions of ill omen are north and east, good omen – south and west. An odd numbers of birds is a good sign, while an even number is a bad sign. If no bird appears in the allotted time, it means a neutral event.

Each species of bird has their own methods of appearing. Woodpeckers move up and down trees, therefore I would look for a tree in a quadrant that I marked out. Meanwhile, vultures rarely land and instead circle the sky. Geese move in flocks, while hawks and eagles fly alone. Sometimes, several species will appear together such as crows and vultures. If a crow is exiting a northern quadrant, while a vulture is circling in an eastern one, it is a sign that your luck will be variable that day. Shades of meaning come from species of birds, their movements, their number, and their placement in quadrants.

The setting up of the quadrants sets a beginning probability of a bird appearing in one of the squares. Adding to this, the number and species of bird creates compound probabilities. Then there is the probability of that omen coming true such as sighting a vulture in the south-west quadrant.

Magic and Probability

animal blur close up cute

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My garden condo building of ten units was built about seventy years ago. Field mice frequently come in from the outside and nest in the building. I have been working with the exterminator to get rid of the mice in my kitchen. Therefore, I decided to write a spell to banish the mice from my unit.

My knowledge of spellcraft is limited. Therefore, I consulted various spell books for suggestions. I came up with a very simple spell. It requires a minimum of knowledge and follows standard magical correspondences. If it fails, I have the exterminator to fall back on. Since we began, the numbers of mice killed have been decreasing. Therefore, I feel detached enough from the result to do the spell.

For the spell, I would place two candles in the kitchen – one black, one pink. The color black is traditionally used in banishment spells. (Also, it is associated with the Dark Moon, a potent time for banishing.) As I focus on that burning candle, I would chant, “Mice, mice go away, Stay outside and play.” (I want to direct them to go out of the building.) I would light the pink candle afterwards to fill the kitchen with happiness.

To have the spell be as potent as possible, I need to do it at the Dark Moon, which is the traditional time for banishing. The three days of the Dark Moon is considered best for the removal of pests. A major problem, for me, is that it can only be done once a month during a three-day period.

To strengthen the correspondences, I would need to do the spell at the waning of the year. However, it’s springtime and I want the mice gone now. Since this is the waxing of the year, the banishing spell will be weakened. The object of magic is to have as many associations as possible within the working, since the whole is greater than the parts.

The traditional day and time to do a banishment spell is an hour after sunrise on a Saturday. The hour after sunrise is still a liminal time, while drawing on the influence of Saturday. Saturday is also the day I make offerings to the Household Lars (Spirits), who usually take the form of a snake. Since snakes do hunt mice, doing the spell at that time would add to the number of correspondences.

However, the Dark Moon only comes every twenty-nine days. A Saturday Dark Moon only occurs three times in 2018. If I wanted to do the spell on Saturday with the Dark Moon, I would have to wait until August before doing the spell. Again, the correspondences for doing the spell now would be weaker.

The other problem is that I want the mice to leave my building and not just my unit. There are ten units in my building and eleven in the adjoining building, which shares a wall. I would have to be very specific as to where the mice need to go, which is outside. I also do not want them to return. That may be beyond my modest abilities.

For a replacement time, I could do the spell during the Taurus Dark Moon since it relates to the home. Since I am using candles, the best time is midnight. Because I want the full power of the Dark Moon for magic, midnight would be the prime time.

To further direct the mice to the outside, I would add green and brown candles to the spell. Green is the color of the grass and brown the seeds. Also, these colors represent the earth element of which mice correspond to. I would burn them both after the black candle.

It would be a good spell since I am already working with the exterminator. If the spell fails, I still have the advice of the exterminator on ridding the mice. We need to plug the holes under the stove where the mice are coming in. Meanwhile, the exterminator is checking the outside of the building for mice holes.

Works Used:
Hollard, Ellen, “The Spellcaster’s Reference.” Newburyport (MA): Weiser Books. 2009.
Paterson, Rachel, “Animal Magic.” Winchester (UK): Moon Books. 2017.
—- “Moon Magic.” Winchester (UK): Moon Books. 2014.
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon, “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.” Franklin Lakes (NJ): New Page Books. 2004.

Divining with an Eight-Ball

As a Roman Polytheist, I regard divination as a conversation between humans and the Gods. As a diviner, I need to know multiple forms of divination. Different Gods prefer different systems to speak to people. Some forms are traditional such as Runes for the Norse Gods or wooden staves for Apollo. Other forms help to clarify the answer, which has been given. Many diviners who work in various Polytheistic traditions usually know at least eleven systems to employ. I use four regularly and have another five in reserve for further needs. As a diviner, I do need to know a variety of forms to do my work well.

I use the 8 ball as a divination tool. For me, it is a simple tool for a quick answer and for clarification. Sometimes the answer from the original divination is unclear or the querent needs more information. The “Yes,” “No” and “Maybe” aspects are useful to me. In Roman divination, the question asked has three answers – “Yes, the Gods will allow it,” “No, They won’t,” and “They don’t care what you do.” The “Maybe” of the 8 ball acts as “The Gods are not interested.”

Mathematics of receiving a certain answer in an 8 ball.

The probability of a positive answer with an 8 Ball (includes “maybe”).

P=10/20, with M=10, 20=N. 50 percent for “yes.”

The probability of a negative answer.
P=5/20 with M=5. N=20. 25 percent for “no.”

My Brain on Mathematics

moby_dick_p510_illustration

About seven years ago, a wall fell on me while I was shopping. I ended up with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and severe PTSD. I lived in fear of any wall or shelf taller than me falling and crushing me. I refused to go outside without a bicycle helmet.

A major part of my recovery was to learn how to calculate the odds of a wall falling on me. Because one had, I assumed that it was a common occurrence. What I learned was that outside of construction work, it was rare.

I reviewed statistics on the various causes of TBIs. One third were from strokes, while another third were from falls. One sixth of TBIs were caused by car crashes. Of the remainder, the most came from sports injuries, such as being beaned by a flying hockey puck. Being crushed by a wall was an outlier. (These statistics had excluded military TBIs and gunshot victims.)

Therefore, when I go shopping, I repeat to myself how slim the odds are for being crushed by a wall. (I have since given up wearing a bicycle helmet.) It has become a habit of mine to assess the probability of being hit in the head. (I have no desire to reinjure my brain.)

One specific thing that I did which involved probability and my TBI:
I assessed whether the falling debris from the Chinese space station would hit me. When I heard the reports of this space station breaking up, I panicked. After finding out that the debris field would include where I lived, I had a severe PTSD attack. Therefore, I researched how much space debris actually do reach the ground. Most are burned up in the atmosphere upon re-entry. Since 1985, only two reported instances worldwide involved people. Therefore, the probability of any space debris hitting me was miniscule.

The picture of Moby Dick and the boat illustrates how remote wall falling actually is and the trauma I felt (and still feel).

Monotheistic Filter: Expulsion from Eden

The Goddess religions reject the over-emphasis of the masculine Divinity in Monotheist religions and the subjugation of women. These religions depict the expulsion from the Garden of Eden as the Goddess being deposed by the God. The patriarchy that many Goddess Pagans rail about destroyed the peaceful matriarchy of prehistory.

The work of Marija Gimbutas, Lithuanian-American archeologist, implanted the idea of the Great Mother Goddess in prehistory in Pagan minds. The original idea was started by Johann Jakob Bachofern, Swiss anthropologist, in the 1860s. He asserted that the early Europeans were matriarchal. Friederic Engels (of Marx and Engels) reformulated Bachofern’s idea into a matriarchal Golden Age that was dislodged by the patriarchy of the Indo-Europeans.

Marija Gimbutas described the former Goddess culture of Europe. Ruled by female shamans, this peaceful and egalitarian culture nurtured all life. Gimbutas continued, “Through an understanding of what the Goddess was, we can better understand nature and we can build our ideologies so it will be easier for us to live.” (Note 1) Joan Marler, American archeomythologist, added, “If her theories are correct, then peace, reverence for the earth and the honoring of life are not only human capabilities, they are the very underpinnings of European civilization itself.” (Note 2)

Because of the Great Goddess myth, various Deities of prehistory are seen as Great Mother Goddesses. The interpretation of the objects of prehistory have been subverted into a Goddess Culture. For instance, the Bird Goddess becomes the supreme image of the Holy, with Inanna of Sumer and Isis of Egypt, Her Aspects. The Monotheistic Filter employed by the Goddess religions eliminates the male to formulate the One Goddess.

Notes:

Note 1. “About Marija Gimbutas,” Belili Productions.

Note 2. Ibid.

Works Used:
“About Marija Gimbutas,” Belili Productions. 2007. Web: http://www.belili.org/marija/aboutmarija.html

Adkins, Lesley and Roy Adkins, “Dictionary of Roman Religion.” New York: Oxford University Press. 1996.

Black, Jeremy and Anthony Green, “Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia.” Austin: University of Texas Press. 2014.

Blair, Nancy, “Amulets of the Goddess.” Oakland (CA): Wingbow Press. 1993.
“Goddess for Every Season.” Oakland (CA): Wingbow

Gimbutas, Marija, “The Language of the Goddess: Unearthing the Hidden Symbols of Western Civilization.” San Francisco: Harper & Row. 1989.

Markale, Jean, “The Great Goddess.” Rochester (VT): Inner Traditions. 1997.

Marler, Joan, “The Myth of the Universal Patriarchy.” 2003. Web: http://belili.org/marija/eller_response.html

Orr, Emma, “Kissing The Hag.” Winchester (UK): O-Books. 2009.

Paper, Jordan, “The Deities Are Many.” Albany NY: State University of New York Press. 2005.

Penry, Tylluan, “Sacred Shadows: Ice Age Spirituality.” U.K.: The Wolfenhowlepress. 2013.

Ravenna, Morpheus, “Banshee Arts.” Web: http://bansheearts.com/blog/.
“The Book of the Great Queen.” Richmond (CA): Concrescent Press. 2014.