Roman 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. At the Ides, a nail is driven into a post at Jupiter’s Temple. This was to advert the plague for another year. (By counting the nails, a person would arrive at the current year.)

Traditionally, the Ides of September was the end of the political year. The campaigning season for political office was over. In the early years of the Republic, the Consuls would take office at this time.

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 Rome. 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.

For my own practice, I hold a feast inviting the Gods to my table. At the feast, I thank Them for wise government for my community. I pray that the Gods may continue in their counsel. I make offerings that we may experience justice and fairness for the coming year.

Roman Gods for July

Hot and dry July (Julius) has Romans focusing on the Gods of Water. The major festival for Neptune, the God of the Waters, is held in July. Also, Apollo, as the God of Healing, has games held in his honor. Other festivals held in July include the Nonae Caprotinae (Nones of the Wild Fig) and Lucaria (Grove Clearing). Meanwhile, July, the month itself, was under the guardianship of Jupiter.

Before the calendar reforms of Julius Caesar, July was Quinctilis, the fifth month. Later it was renamed for Caesar, himself, since Quinctilis was his birth month. In the last ten days of July, games were held in his honor as the Divine Julius.

Apollo
On the advice of the Sibylline Books, Romans held games for Apollo for to ask for help in the Second Punic War (212 BCE). They had just experienced several major defeats. Then later, the games became yearly to thank Him for his help in ending a city-wide plague. The Ludi Apollinares (Apolline Games) are held from July 6 to 13. They include theater performances, games, and fairs. People would wear garlands and feast at the entrances of their homes.

Apollo was first considered to be a God of Healing by the Romans. Since He was a Greek God, his temples were built outside of the official boundary of Rome. During the Empire, the Romans also considered Him to be a God of Bards and Diviners. (Sol Indiges is the Roman God of the Sun.)

Pales
The second Parilia is held on July 7. (The April Parilia is for small livestock.) The July Parilia is for sheep and cattle. Animals and their pens are cleaned out and smudged with sulfur. Pales are/is the God/s of Livestock.

Juno Caprotina
Also on July 7, the Nonae Caprotinae is held. Traditionally, offerings of figs were given to Juno Caprotina under the wild fig (caprificus). This is to honor Her as the Goddess of Serving Women. In modern times, it can be celebrated by giving figs in Juno Caprotina’s name to service workers.

Honos, Virtus, and Victoria
On July 17, these three Gods are honored. Honos and Virtus is honor and bravery in the military respectively. Victoria is victory in war. This is a good day to honor those who have served in the military.

Silvanus and the Forest Gods
Lucaria, the Festival of the Grove, is held on July 19 and 21. Traditionally, the Romans would clear land or thin woods at this time. They made offerings of a pig to Silvanus and the Forest Gods for permission to clear wood. Lucaria also included votive works of arts placed in the standing groves. On these two days, I make offerings to the stands of trees near my home to Silvanus Lucaria.

Neptune and Furrina
Coming into the driest part of the summer, the Romans were concerned about their water supplies. Held on July 23, the Neptunalia celebrates Neptune in his role as the God of Irrigation. Neptune (Neptunus) is the God of Fresh Water, and Salacia, the Goddess of Salt Walter, is regarded to be His Wife. (Neptunus Oceanus is Neptune of the Oceans.) On July 25, the Furrinalia was held for the Goddess Furrina, who watched over wells and other underground water sources. Modern Roman polytheists hold ceremonies to thank both Gods for water.

Divus Julius
From July 21 to 31, games were held honoring Julius Caesar as the Divine Julius. Before his assassination, Caesar was named Parens Patriae, Father of the Fatherland. The Senate also decreed that he should have a cult image (simulacrum) to be carried with the Gods. After his death, the Senate made Caesar a God.

Roman Gods of the Month: April

April for Romans is the time of opening buds. Flowers appear, trees come into leaf, and new crops are coming up. At this time, most of the festivals are centered on honoring the fertility of the land and protecting the crops. The Gods honored are either female or ambiguous. Of the various festivals that I follow are:

VENUS VERTICORDIA and FORTUNA VIRILIS
On April 1, the Veneralia is held. During this festival, women would go where the men are. While they would pray to Venus Verticordia (Venus, the Changer of Hearts) and Fortuna Virilis (Fortune the Bold) for support in their love lives. Later the festival included everyone, married and single, male and female asking these two Goddesses for help in matters of the heart. (Venus is considered the tutelary God of April.)

CERES and TELLUS
From the 12th to the 19th, the Cerialia is held to honor Ceres, Goddess of Agriculture and Gain. The festival is to thank Ceres for the earth’s fertility. Many of the ceremonies of the Cerialia are held in private with the participants wearing white. An Ancient Roman tradition was to set loose foxes with burning torches tied to their tails. (It was believed to drive out diseases of the land.) For Ceres, I usually walk the nearby field three times and offer milk, a traditional offering.

During the Cerialia, the Fordicidia is held on April 15. In Ancient Rome, pregnant cows were sacrificed to Tellus, the Goddess of Productive Power of the Earth, for the fertility of the cattle and fields. The ashes of the unborn calves were burnt and use in the Parilia later in the month. Modern Romans will burn meat and mix it with soil as an offering to Tellus.

PALES
On April 21, the Parilia is held. Similar to the Celtic Beltane Festival, the Parilia focuses on the purification of sheep and shepherds. Bonfires are lit and sheep are driven through them. Grain and milk are offered to Pales of Shepherds and Sheep. For this festival, I pray for healthy livestock and put a stuffed sheep between two candles.

Pales is a mystery as to what They are – male or female, plural or singular. This/these ancient Roman God/s are from the time before the Romans were shepherds, which adds to the confusion of who Pales is/are. I prefer to regard Pales as the entirety of all the concepts about Them.

(The Parilia is also considered the Founding Day of Rome.)

ROBIGUS (ROBIGO)
To save crops from wheat rust, the Romans sacrificed dogs to Robigus, the God of Wheat Rust during the Robigalia on April 25. Traditionally, red animals were offered at the boundary of Roman territory to ensure protection of the crops from mildew and blight. Today, people offer red wine requesting that Robigus leave the crops alone.

FLORA
The Floralia, honoring Flora, the Goddess of Flowering Plants, is held from April 27 to May 1. (Fauna, the Goddess of Wildlife, is her Sister.) Coming after the Robigalia, the Floralia affirms the safety of the growing plants from harm. During this time, people adorn themselves and their homes with flowers. They also wear colorful clothing to reflect the emerging flowers. Traditionally, goats and rabbits were set loose in the crowds, while priests threw lupines, bean flowers and vetch about. This was to ensure fertility of everyone and everything.

OTHER GODS
April 5: The Anniversary of the Temple for Fortuna Publica (Fortune of the State)
April 13: The Anniversary of the Temple for Jupiter Victor (Jupiter Victorious)

Mater Matuta of Rome

nature sky sunset the mountains

Photo by NO NAME on Pexels.com

An ancient Italic Goddess, Mater Matuta is the Goddess of the Dawn. Often confused with the Greek Goddesses Ino or Leukothea, Mater Matuta had none of their attributes. As the Goddess of the First Light, She cares for the newborns. (Romans consider the dawn to be the luckiest time to be born.)

At the Matralia (June 11), single women and married women (in their first marriage) would meet at her temple. Bringing toasted cakes in earthenware, they would make offerings to this Goddess. After praying for their sisters’ children, the women would drive a slave from the temple.

The focus of the Matralia is to consider the importance of parenting children. At this time, the women reestablish their ties with their nieces and nephews. The women are directed by Mater Matuta to care for these children if their parents died. The ousting of the slave demonstrates their resolve not to have their sisters’ children be raised by strangers.

Salve Mater Matuta!
Goddess of the Dawn
You smile on the Newly Born
Goddess of First Light
You gather the children in your arms

Salve Mater Matuta!
Guide us with our nephews
Guide us with our nieces
Salve Mater Matuta!
Help us smile upon them
Help us gather them in our arms

Salve Mater Matuta!
Goddess of the Dawn
Goddess of First Light

Girra (Gibil): God of Fire of Babylon/ Sumer

ndvolcano

The God of Fire, Girra (Gibil) is also the God of Light. His temple in Mesopotamia was called the “House of Awesome Radiance.” Because fire is basic to civilization, He is regarded as the “Founder of the Cities.”

As fire, Girra has many forms. He is the burning heat of summer, the destroyer of crops. Burning the fields, Girra sears the plains. He is the heat that warms the home and cooks the food. As the fire of purification, Girra burns away the baleful energies. He brings the creative fire to the smith and mason.

Note: Gibil and Girra were once regarded as separate Gods. Later, they were merged into one God.

Noble Girra
You purify the temples
You purify the bridal beds

Noble Girra
You sear the land
You set the mountains on fire

Noble Girra
You warm our hearts
You cook our food

Noble Girra
You set the brain on fire
You spark new ideas

Noble Girra
You are the Founder of Cities