The Many Names of Venus

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.

No official festival exists for Venus in the Roman calendar. However, April, as the beginning of spring, became associated with this Goddess. Although the Vinalia in April concerns wine, Roman prostitutes regarded this festival on April 23 to be a holiday of Venus.

Like many Gods, Venus has multiple attributes.
Venus Alma: Mother Venus, the Nurturing Mother
Venus Amica: Venus, the Friend
Venus Aurea: Golden Venus
Venus Caelestis: Venus, the Heavenly Goddess
Venus Calca: Venus, the Bald One. (Note 1.)
Venus Erycina: Venus from Eryx. Goddess of Prostitutes
Venus Felix: Favorable Venus (with Roma Aeterna) (Note 2.)
Venus Genetrix: Venus, the Universal Mother
Venus Libertina: Venus, the Freedwoman
Venus Libitina: Passionate Venus
Venus Murcia: Venus of the Myrtle (Note 3.)
Venus Obsequens: Indulgent Venus
Venus Physica: Venus of the Creative Force
Venus Verticordia: Venus, the Changer of Hearts
Venus Victrix: Venus, Victorious

Notes:
Note 1. The Romans have several stories to explain this. One is that Roman matrons gave their hair for bow strings during a siege of Rome. Another is that a Roman bride offers a lock of her hair to Venus.
Note 2. Hadrian built a temple to Venus Felix and Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome) as the Protectors of Rome.
Note 3. A myrtle tree grew in front of her sanctuary in Rome.

Planets as Characters: Mars and Venus: Robin and Marian

MARS
Denning and Phillips, in the “Rite of Approach in Mars” presents the proclamation of the adoration of the Divine Force of this Planet. They write “All powerful defender of justice and truth, thou noble inspirer of courage and endurance and of bold resolve! …Thou mighty adversary of the powers adverse, hail to thee!” (Note 1.)

This invocation describes Robin Hood of English legends. Living in Sherwood Forest, this bold outlaw, with his band of Merry Men, steals from the rich and gives to the poor. In “The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938),” Prince John (Robin’s antagonist) tells him, “By my faith, but you’re a bold rascal. Robin, I like you.” Meanwhile, Maid Marian observes that that he is strange for risking his life for helpless people. He replies, “Norman or Saxon, what that matter? It’s injustice, I hate.” Robin Hood best exemplifies the character of Mars as regarded by Denning and Phillips.

VENUS
Dykes and Gibson for the “First Advancement: Invocation of Venus,” write “You who are divinely robed in Light and possessed of perfect beauty, I call you forth. Flawless harmony and symmetry are your perfumes, for you are the lady of the house of jubilation and the one who fills the sanctuary with joy.” (Note 2.)

Long associated with Robin Hood, Maid Marian is Venus to his Mars. They act as a dyad strengthening each other, thereby ensuring the best qualities of both. In the various ballads and legends, Maid Marian choses to love Robin Hood, after losing in combat to him. Instead of being a damsel-in-distress, she graces the noble court of King Richard and Prince John as an equal of Robin Hood.

A paradox, she is both Robin Hood’s lover and always the Maid. In the May Festivities in the 16th Century, she was celebrated along with Robin Hood. These festivities focused on Maid Marian encouraging fertility and sexual activity for all.

Notes:

Note 1. Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips, “Planetary Magick.” Page 163.
Note 2. Benjamin Dykes and Jayne Gibson, “Astrological Magic.” Page 193.

Works Used:

“The Adventures of Robin Hood,” Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, Warner Brothers, 1938.
Denning, Melita and Osborne Phillips, “Planetary Magick.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 1989.
Dykes, Benjamin and Jayne Gibson, “Astrological Magic.” Cazimi Press: Minneapolis. 2012.
NicEilidh, Hester, “The Legend of Robin Hood,” 2002. Web. https://hesternic.tripod.com/robinhood.htm.
Storynory, “Robin Hood Archives – Storynory,” 2021, Web. https://www.storynory.com/category/educational-and-entertaining-stories/robin-hood/.
Wright, Allen, “Robin Hood: Bold Outlaw of Barnsdale and Sherwood,” 2020. Web. https://www.boldoutlaw.com/.

Gods of the Month: VENUS VERTICORDIA and FORTUNA VIRILUS

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After a series of unfavorable prodigies, that signified a breakdown in their relations with the Gods, the Roman Senate consulted the Sibylline Books. Three Vestal Virgins with their male partners had broken their vows. Although all of the people involved were put to death, the Gods were still upset by what had happened. What the Vestals did was nefas (contrary to divine law), and the Pax Deorum (Peace of the Gods) had to be restored. The Sibylline Books said to do this was to erect a statue of Venus Verticordia (the Changer of Hearts) in the temple of Fortuna Virilus (Bold Fortune). There She would be attended by modest young women, who were supervised by long married matrons. This statue to Venus Verticordia was dedicated on April 1, 114 BCE.

During the Veneralia, women would wash and dress the statues of Venus Verticordia and Fortuna Virilus. Then wearing myrtle wreaths, they would march into the men’s baths. There they prayed that their physical imperfections would be hidden from view.

At the Veneralia, people would ask both Goddesses for help in their love lives. Married people prayed for deepening while the unmarried requested someone to love. As Ovid said of Venus Verticordia, “beauty and fortune and good fame are in Her Keeping.”

Salve Venus Verticordia!
Changer of Hearts
Salve Fortuna Virilus!
Fortune, Who favors the bold
Help us deepen our love
Grant us the courage to ask another

Goddesses who know the human heart
Guide us in our love affairs
Salve Venus Verticordia!
Salve Fortuna Virilus!

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 centered on honoring the fertility of the land and protecting the crops. 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. Fortuna, Goddess of Rome God of the Month: Venus

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.  Gods of the Month: Ceres and 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. God of the Month: Pales

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 for everyone.

The Laussel Goddess

laussel

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