Tag Archive: mars


Goddess Ninkasi

* For today’s entry, Patricia Telesco names “Braciaca” as today’s Goddess. However, my research revealed that Braciaca is “an obscure god of Roman Britain remembered in an inscription at Haddon House, Derbyshire” [1]  and was associated with Bacchus (Dionysus) and Mars [2].  I was going to do an entry on his consort if he had one, but apparently nothing is known of him except for a single inscription on an altarstone found at Haddon Hall, Derby, Derbyshire. [3]  Since Braciaca was associated with malt and is pretty much accepted to be a god of brewing, I am focusing today’s entry on the Goddess Ninkasi, the Sumerian Goddess of beer.

“Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian matron Goddess of the intoxicating beverage, beer.

Her father was Enki, the lord Nudimmud, and Her mother was Ninti, the queen of the Abzu. She is also one of the eight children created in order to heal one of the eight wounds that Enki receives. Furthermore, She is the Goddess of alcohol. She was also borne of ‘sparkling fresh water.’ She is the Goddess made to ‘satisfy the desire’ and ‘sate the heart.’ She would prepare the beverage daily.

 

Sumerian Beer Recipe, 3200 BCE

The Sumerian written language and the associated clay tablets are among the earliest human writings. Scholarly works from the early 1800s onward have developed some facility translating the various Sumerian documents. Among these is a poem with the English title, ‘A Hymn to Ninkasi‘. The poem is, in effect, a recipe for the making of beer. A translation from the University of Oxford describes combining bread, a source for yeast, with malted and soaked grains and keeping the liquid in a fermentation vessel until finally filtering it into a collecting vessel.” [4]

 

 

Woman brewing beer in ancient Egypt

In a detailed article entitled Nin-kasi: Mesopotamian Goddess of Beer, Johanna Stucky writes, “Not only was Nin-kasi Herself the beer — ‘given birth by the flowing water…’ (Black, Cunningham, Robson, and Zólyomi 2004: 297) — but She was the chief brewer of the gods. So it is not surprising to learn that, in early times in ancient Sumer (southern Mesopotamia), brewers were usually female. Women made beer at home for immediate consumption, since it did not keep. It is possible also that temple brewers were priestesses of Nin-kasi. Later, when beer production became an industry, men seem to have taken over the process, but women still made beer for home use (Homan 2004: 85). Perhaps because they brewed the beer, women were often tavern keepers. For instance, Siduri, a minor Goddess whom Gilgamesh met at the end of the earth, was a divine tavern keeper.” [5]

 

 

 

 

 

“Ishtar” by Lisa Iris

I did find references that She was associated with wine as well.  On one site, it stated that She actually somehow became “incorporated” into the Goddess Ishtar [6] though I could find no reason or explanation as to how and why.  However, my guess is that because according to Patricia Monaghan, “Ninkasi has been described as another form of Siduri” [7]; and Siduri (meaning “young woman” in Hurrian), maybe an epithet of Ishtar. [8]

 

 

 

Sources:

Answers.com, “Braciaca“.

Celtnet.org.uk, “Brâg“.

Dl.ket.org/latin3/mores/, “Mars Braciaca“.

Inanna.virtualave.net, “The Goddess Ishtar“.

Monaghan, Patricia. Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Ninkasi” (p. 73).

Wikipedia, “Ninkasi“.

Wikipedia, “Siduri“.

Stuckey, Johanna. Matrifocus.com, “Nin-kasi: Mesopotamian Goddess of Beer“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Beeradvocate.com, “Ninkasi, the Sumerian Goddess of Brewing and Beer“.

Faraci, Devin. Badassdigest.com, “The Badass Hall of Fame: Ninkasi“.

Frothnhops.com, “Ancient Gods of Beer“.

Goddess-Guide.com, “Sumerian Goddesses“.

Peyrafitte, Nicole. Nicolepeyrafitte.com/blog/, “Ninkasi: ‘The Lady who fills the Mouth’“.

 

And just for funNinkasibrewing.com

Goddess Nemetona

“Mother Nature” by Rozairo

“Nemetona’s themes are wishes, protection, joy, fairies, magic, luck and nature. Her symbols are Hawthorn trees (or trees in general).  In Romano-Celtic regions, Nemetona guards groves of trees with a special protective presence that marks the area as a sacred site. Within this space, the soul is hushed and calm, becoming one with nature and the Goddess. Nemetona’s name means ‘shrine’ giving new depth of meaning to William Cullen Bryant’s poetic phrase ‘the groves were God’s first temples.’

Bawming the Thorn‘ is a ritual that takes place around this time of year in Appleton, England. It is an occasion for the community to gather together and decorate a hawthorn tree in the center of town. Local people believe this was a spot of ancient Pagan worship, which is highly likely since hawthorns are sacred to both witches and fairy-kind. In magic traditions, carrying a hawthorn ensures happiness and promotes good luck (not to mention bearing a bit of Nemetona with you). Wherever the oak, ash and thorn grow together is a very magical spot filled with Nemetona’s power and one that will be visited regularly by fairies!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Queen of Forest” by maillevin

Patricia Monaghan tells us that Nemetona was “the British ‘Goddess of the sacred grove’ as one of the divinities worshiped at Bath, where Sul was honored as patron of the thermal springs.  Nemetona was depicted as a seated queen holding a scepter, surrounded by three hooded figures and a ram” (p. 228).

I found what Sora Nalani wrote to be very informative and inspiring: “A Continental Deity revered during Roman times; Her name may be cognate with the Irish Valkyrie Nemain, and in fact the Romans seem to have regarded Her as having some connection with Mars.” [1]

“Nemetona is a very ancient Goddess of the Celts, specifically those in Gaul (what is now France). As well, She is thought to have been the eponymous deity of the Nemetes, a group of Germano-Celtic people living by the Rhine in an area now called Trier in Germany. The Celts, in general, did not build temples, but rather practiced their spirituality in sacred groves and Nemetona personifies this belief in the sacred land. Her name literally means ‘sacred space’, from the Celtic root ‘nemeto’ which means ‘sacred area’. She is related to the druidic concept of nemeton, the designation of sacred spiritual space.

Nemetona was worshipped primarily in what is now France and Germany, but Her worship extended into England, where there is an altar dedicated to Her in Bath. Her name survives through many place names including Augustonemeton (France), Nemetacum/Nemetocerna Atrebatum (Northern France), Nemetobriga, Nemetodurum (modern Vernantes), Nemetatae (A tribe in Northern Spain), Nemetostatio (England), Vernenetum and Medionemeton (both in England).

Loucetios Celtic God of light

Inscriptions found have shown that the Romans afflicated Nemetona with Mars. In Trier and Altrip, in Germany, inscriptions have been found pairing Her with Mars specifically and in Bath with Loucetios Mars. It is well know that as the Romans spread through the Celtic world that they paired their deities with the local deities, finding commonalities. Loucetios was a storm god, the divine mate of Nemetona, whose name means ‘bright’ or ‘shining one’. It is thought that he may be the original form of Lleu/Lugh, the Welsh god of light. With Lugh figuring as a ‘divine warrior’ in many myths, it makes a certain sense that the Romans would equate Loucetios with their god of war, Mars. Still, the fit is awkward and does little to retain the original power and meaning of both Nemetona and Her consort. As is often the case with the Roman deity overlays, it seems as if there was some breakdown of communication as the Romans tried to fit their war hungry gods over the more shamanistic gods of the Celts.”

Sora Nalani goes on to say: “At first I had found the fit of Nemetona and that of Mars to be almost ridiculous, it just didn’t seem as if it could be. But when I found a pairing of her with the Brythonic God, Mars Rigonemetis ‘King of the sacred grove’, a new picture began to form in my mind, one of a year King associated with the sacred Goddess whose tendrils of energy were inseparable from the land. It is very possible that Rigonemetis was the guardian of the sacred grove, the guardian of the sacred mother and wellspring of life; Nemetona. I then read that the Celtic ‘Mars’ was a god of protection and healing, along with agriculture in addition to the war-like aspects. Even Loucetios, a lightening god, is associated with sacred groves, as the druids associated lightening with sacred trees, in particular oaks. It is very possible the Loucetios would have been associated with ‘drunemeton‘: the sacred oak grove.

It seems a cruel twist of fate that some think She survives on as Nemhain, the Irish Goddess of battle frenzy . While the path from Goddess of the groves to the Goddess of the battlefield is not so farfetched through Her association with Her divine consort who inevitable was linked with Mars, the god of war, the pairing of Nemetona and Nemhain seems little more than a construct of similarity in names rather than an real evolution of Goddess worship.

I could not find many images of Nemetona but in the surviving iconography, She is pictured seated, holding a scepter surrounded by 3 hooded figures and a ram. This portrayal feels more Roman than it does Celtic, it seems more likely to me that her presence would have been found in the spiraling knotwork and the labyrinth iconology of the Celts.

“Nemetona” by Selina Fenech

Nemetona is a difficult Goddess to wrap my mind around. She is somewhat nebulous in my mind, partially because She seems inextricably linked with the land. She is the sacred grove and it is Her. She is sacred space, whether that is found within the majestic trees of a grove or if it is held simply within one’s heart. She is holy breath, the sanctuaries we create, not out of stone and mortar, but out of love and reverence. She is a sacred link between ourselves and the living planet. But in my mind, not in an all-consuming way, such as a deity like Gaia, but in a very personal , intimate way, our link to the land our feet walk on, to the trees our ears hear singing in the wind and the leaves that season with us. She is the animation of the living space around us, a reminder to create that which is sacred within and carry it through all our trials and journeys. She is the circle unto herself and we are within Her circle, found within our relationship with our most intimate and immediate environments. She is the wholeness within each single leaf on the plant that sits beside you, or the moving cells of your body, and the embodiment of all personal spiritual cycles. Simply put, she is sacred space.” [2]

Other names: Nemetonia, Nemetialis

 

 

Sources:

Joelle’s Sacred Grove, “Celtic Gods and Goddesses“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Nemetona”.

Nalani, Sora. Spira, “Nemetona: Goddess of the Sacred Grove“.

Suggested Links:

Druidnetwork.org, “Nemetona“.

Eagle Feather, Lavender. The Simplified Witch, “Goddess Guidance…Nemetona

Nemeton – the Sacred Grove: Home of the Celtic gods, “Nemetona: A Gaulish and Brythonic Goddess (She of the Sacred Grove)“.

The Order of the Sacred Nemeton.

Wikipedia, “Nemetona“.

Goddess Shakuru

“Sun Goddess” by Cadgraphics

“Shakuru’s themes are theft, divination, the sun, truth and magic. Her symbols are the sun and gold/yellow items.  Pawnee daughter of the moon and Goddess of the sun, Shakuru joins summer celebrations by shining Her light on today’s ceremony, the Sun Dance. In Pawnee stories, Shakuru’s son became the first man on earth, making Her the mother of humankind.

About this time of year, the Plains Native Americans gather to welcome the sun and all it’s power. All manner of magical practices take place during this rite, including divinations to uncover a thief or murderer using totemic practices. For our purposes this might translate into divining for a totem animal whom we call on for guidance and energy in times of need. To do this, you’ll need a lot of animal pictures (cut from magazines or anywhere else you can find them). Make the images the same shape and size to ensure randomness. Sit quietly with these face-down before you ask Shakuru to guide you hand. Don’t move quickly, and wait until the paper below your hand feels warm, a sign of Shakuru’s presence. Turn it over and see what animal it is, then read up on that creature in folklore collections to see what message it’s bringing you.

As much as possible, try to move clockwise today (imitating the natural movement of the sun through the sky). Walk through your house going to the right, stir your coffee clockwise, clean windows using clockwise strokes and so forth. This honors Shakuru and draws the sun’s blessings into your life.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Unelanuhi” by Susan Seddon Boulet

In Pawnee mythology, the solar and lunar deities were Shakuru and Pah, respectively. Both Shakuru and Pah were created by the supreme Creator god, Tirawa (also called Atius Tirawa). Tirawa was believed to have taught the Pawnee people tattooing, fire-building, hunting, agriculture, speech and clothing, religious rituals (including the use of tobacco and sacred bundles), and sacrifices. He was associated with most natural phenomena, including stars and planets, wind, lightning, rain, and thunder. The wife of Tirawa was Atira, Goddess of the Earth. Atira was associated with corn.

Four major stars were said to represent gods and were part of the Creation story, in which the first human being was a woman. The Pawnee believed that the first woman was born of the Morning Star and Evening Star and the first man from the marriage of the Sun and Moon (Shakuru and Pah).  Legend tells that the first woman and the son of Shakuru then created the Pawnee people.

Archeologists and anthropologists have determined the Pawnee had a sophisticated understanding of the movement of stars. They noted the nonconforming movements of both Venus (Evening Star) and Mars (Morning Star). The Pawnee centered all aspects of daily life on this celestial observation, including the important cultivation cycle for sacred corn. [1]


Sources:

Genyuk, Julia. Windows2universe.org, “Tirawa“.

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Shakuru“.

Wikipedia, “Pawnee Mythology“.

 

Suggested Links:

Native-languages.org, “Native Languages of the Americas: Pawnee Legends and Traditional Stories“.

Wikipedia, “Pawnee People“.


Goddess Bellona

“Bellona – Goddess of War” by ~Anaxi

“Bellona’s themes are protection, victory, communication and strength. Her symbols are swords (or athame) and spears.  She who kindles the fire of the sun and the fire in the bellies of warriors, Bellona is both a mother and a battle Goddess, being the female equivalent of Mars with a distinct diplomatic twist. Those who call upon Bellona receive strategy, tactfulness and a keen sense of how to handle explosive situations effectively.

In ancient Rome, today was known as Tubilustrium in which Romans spent the day ritually cleansing their trumpets for battle and honoring the people who make the trumpets. In this part of the world, a horn not only signaled a charge but invoked the Goddess’s attention. So, for what personal battle(s) do you need to sound Bellona’s horn today? Find a horn with which to do just that (perhaps a kazoo or a piece of construction paper rolled to look like a megaphone). Shout your battle plans to Bellona so She can respond with all Her resources to help you.

If you use a sword, athame (sacred knife) or wand in magic, today is an excellent time to take out that tool and invoke Bellona’s blessing upon it. Oil and sharpen the blade, polish the wood, then hold it in your hand as if it were a weapon, say,

‘Bellona, see this implement of magic, which as any, has two edges – for boon and bane. May only goodness flow through this tool, and may I ever remain aware of the responsibility for its use. So be it.'”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Painting by Howard David Johnson

According to Patricia Monaghan, “Often described as a feminine shadow of the god Mars, Bellona was actually much more, for Her domain included the entire arena of conflict, diplomatic as well as military.  Ever Her name shows Her importance, for the Latin word for war, bellum, derives from Her name.

In the temple of this serpent-haired Goddess who bore a bloody lash, the Romans began and ended their military campaigns.  Before Bellona’s temple, Her priests began war by raising a ceremonial spear and hurling it into a section of ground that symbolized enemy territory.  When the war was finished, it was in Bellona’s temple that the Senate determined the best reward for the victorious generals.  And during peacetime, the Senate used Bellona’s temple to receive the ambassadors of countries in conflict with Rome.

When Roman divinities began to be identified with those of the countries Rome conquered, Bellona found Herself assimilating the Cappadocian Goddess Mah, a late form of the Sumerian Mami.  Both symbolized territorial sovereignty and both represented the armed conflict necessary to defend claims to rulership.  The Roman Goddess was called Mah-Bellona in the later days of the Roman Empire.  She was associated as well with Erinys (Furies) and with Discordia.” (p. 68)

Digital artwork by *Alayna

Thalia Took has this to say about Bellona: “Bellona is the Roman Goddess of War, closely associated with Mars, the Roman War-God. She is invariably His companion, although She can be called His wife, daughter, sister, or charioteer. Her origins are probably Sabine (an ancient tribe from the lands north-east of Rome), and the Claudii, a Sabine family, are credited with instituting Her worship. Her temple was built in the Campus Martius, the low-lying field by the Tiber consecrated to Mars, located outside of the city walls. The area around Her temple was considered to symbolize foreign soil, and there the Senate met with ambassadors, received victorious generals, and there war was officially declared. Besides Her temple was the columna bellica, or war column, representing the boundary of Rome. To declare war a javelin was thrown over the column by one of the fetialis, a type of priest involved in diplomacy, and this act symbolized the attack on a foreign land.

Bellona was believed to inspire a warlike frenzy and enthusiasm (much like that of the Norse berserkers), and Her earliest sacrifices are said to have been human. The worship of the Anatolian Goddess Ma, who is of a similarly martial nature, was brought to Rome by Sulla where She was assimilated to Bellona, and called Ma-Bellona. Her priests were called the Bellonarii, and during the rites to Ma-Bellona they mutilated their own arms and legs, collecting the blood to either drink or offer to the Goddess to invoke the war fury. In later times this act was toned down to become merely symbolic. These rites took place on the 24th of March and so accordingly that day was called the dies sanguinis (“day of blood”).

Bellona had several shrines and temples in Rome, though most are known only from inscriptions referencing them, as well as a temple in Ostia, the port city of Rome. In 48 BCE, a shrine to Ma-Bellona was accidentally destroyed when the demolition of the temples of Isis and Serapis in Rome was undertaken; within the ruins of the shrine were found jars containing human flesh, said to be evidence of the orgiastic nature of Ma-Bellona’s worship and to link it with the Egyptian religions, though how I’m not sure, unless perhaps the jars were functioning as the so-called canopic jars that housed the internal organs of the dead in Egyptian funerary practice.

Bellona is usually shown in a plumed helmet and armor, armed with sword and spear and carrying a shield; sometimes She carries a torch with a blood-red flame. She is described as loud and active, barking orders or war-cries, Her weapons clanging as She runs. She is credited with inspiring violence, starting wars, and goading soldiers into battle; Virgil described Her as carrying a bloodstained scourge or whip. She was believed to make wars and battles go well for those who invoked Her. Her name comes from the Latin for war, bellum, and Her original feast day was June the 3rd.

She is identified with Nerio and Vacum (both Goddesses of Sabine origin, like Bellona). Ma, or Ma-Bellona is a Goddess of Cappadocian origin (a region in Anatolia, modern Turkey) who was identified with the Italian Bellona, and for whom a separate temple was built in Rome.

“Bellona” by ~jeffsimpsonkh

Also called: Bellola, Duellona (from an earlier Latin word for war, duellum); Bellona Pulvinensis; Bellona Insulensis, from a shrine on the Tiber island. She is described as ‘dark Bellona, with bloody hand’, by Publius Statius (court poet to the Emperor Diocletian). Dollars to donuts She is the namesake of the ever-grouchy and rather hostile B’Elanna Torres from (Star Trek) Voyager.” [1]

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Bellona”.

Took, Thalia. The Obscure Goddess Online Dictionary, “Bellona“.

Suggested Links:

Bar, Tala. Bewildering Stories, “Goddesses of War“.

Gangale, Thomas. The Temple of Bellona, “Bellona“.

Roman Myth Index, “Bellona“.

Theoi Greek Mythology, “ENYO: Greek Goddess of War“.

Wikipedia, “Bellona (goddess)

Wikipedia, “Temple of Bellona (Rome)“.

Goddess Flora

"Flora" by Evelyn de Morgan

“Flora’s themes are beauty, sexuality, love, spring, and fertility.  Her symbols are all flowers.  Roman prostitutes considered Flora their own Goddess, protecting all acts of beauty, especially heartfelt lovemaking. She is also a spring Goddess from whom we get the word flora, meaning ‘blossom’ or ‘plants’. Symbolically, this flowering pertains to the human spirit too, one that can appreciate beauty in the body without necessarily making it into a sex object.

Wearing bright colors on this day is customary, as is decorating everything with a plethora of flowers, each of which has Flora’s presence within. If flowers prove difficult to obtain or too costly, think floral aromas instead. Pull out a blossoming air freshener, light floral incense, or wear a floral perfume. Flora is as much a part of the scent as She is the petals, conveying love and passion on each breeze!

Another traditional activity for this day is erotic dancing. If you have someone special in your life, tantalize them with a bit with slow, sexy movements. Let Flora’s passion fill both of you to overflowing, then let nature take Her course.

Finally, make yourself a Flora charm that incites the interest of those from whom you seek it. Take three flower petals and tuck them in your clothing, keeping an image of your partner in mind, and say:

 ‘One for interest
Two for Flora’s desire
Three to light passion’s fire.'”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Flora is the Roman Goddess of flowering plants, especially those that bear fruit. Spring, of course, is Her season, and She has elements of a Love-Goddess, with its attendant attributes of fertility, sex, and blossoming. She is quite ancient; the Sabines are said to have named a month for Her (which corresponds to our and the Roman April), and She was known among the Samnites as well as the Oscans, where She was called Flusia. She was originally the Goddess specifically of the flowering crops, such as the grain or fruit-trees, and Her function was to make the grain, vegetables and trees bloom so that autumn’s harvest would be good. She was invoked to avert rust, a nasty fungal disease of plants that causes orange growths the exact color of rusting iron, and which was (is) an especial problem affecting wheat. Hers is the beginning of the process that finds its completion with Pomona, the Goddess of Fruit and the Harvest; and like Pomona, Flora had Her own flamen, one of a small number of priests each in service to a specific Deity. The flamens were said to have been instituted by Numa, the legendary second King of Rome who succeeded Romulus; and whether Numa really existed or not, the flamens were undoubtedly of ancient origin, as were the Deities they served.

"Flora" by InertiaK

In later times Flora became the Goddess of all flowering plants, including the ornamental varieties. Her name is related to Latin floris, meaning naturally enough ‘a flower’, with the additional meaning of ‘[something] in its prime’; other related words have meanings like ‘prospering’, ‘flourishing’, ‘abounding’, and ‘fresh or blooming’. In one story, Flora was said to have provided Juno with a magic flower that would allow Her to conceive with no help from a man; from this virgin-birth Mars was born. A late tale calls Flora a courtesan and gives Her a story similar to Acca Larentia: Flora was said to have made a fortune as a courtesan, which She bequeathed to Rome upon Her death, and for which She was honored with the festival of the Floralia. As Flora was originally a Sabine Goddess, and as the Sabines were a neighboring tribe whom the Romans conquered and assimilated into Rome, perhaps this is an acknowledgement of the land so acquired, put into legendary terms.

"Flora" by Louise Abbéma

Flora had two temples in Rome, one near the Circus Maximus, the great “stadium” of Rome where chariot races were held, and another on the slopes of the Quirinal Hill. The temple on the Quirinal was most likely built on the site of an earlier altar to Her said to have been dedicated by Titus Tatius, King of the Sabines, who ruled alongside Romulus for a time in the very early (hence legendary) days of Rome. Her other temple was built quite near to the Circus Maximus, though its exact site has not been found, and was associated with a neighboring temple dedicated to the triad of Ceres (the Grain Goddess) and Liber and Libera (God and Goddess of the Vine). These Deities and Flora were all concerned with the fertility and health of the crops. Flora’s temple by the Circus was dedicated on the 28th of April in 241 (or 248) BCE in response to a great drought at the command of the Sybilline books, and this day became the starting date of Her great festival, the Floralia. In Imperial times (1st century CE) this temple was rededicated (I assume after some restorations were made) on the 13th of August, and this date was given to a second festival of Flora, coinciding with the ripening of the grain, whose flowers She had set forth.

Proper Piatti (and workshop): Floralia, 1899

The Floralia of April was originally a moveable feast to coincide with the blossoming of the plants, later becoming fixed with the dedication of Her temple on the 28th (or 27th, before the calendar was reformed–I mention this because holidays were almost always held on odd-numbered days as it was considered unlucky to start a festival on an even-numbered day), though ludi or “games”–horse-races or athletic contests–were not held every year. By the Empire the festival had grown (or should I say, blossomed) to seven days, and included chariot-races and theatrical performances, some of which were notoriously bawdy. It was given over to merriment and celebrations of an amorous nature, much like that northern flower-and-sex festival Beltaine whose date neatly coincides. Prostitutes considered it their own special time, and the Floralia gained a reputation as being more licentious and abandoned than the Saturnalia of December, whose name is legendary even now.

"Flora" by Neonescence

At the chariot-races and circus games of the Floralia it was traditional to let goats and hares loose, and lupines, bean-flowers and vetch (all of which have similarly-shaped blossoms and are a sort of showier version of wheat in bloom) were scattered, symbolic of fertility. Brightly colored clothes were a must, as were wreaths of flowers, especially roses; and the celebrations drew great crowds. Of the two nationalized chariot-teams who shared a deep rivalry, the Greens and the Blues, the Greens (of course) were Hers, and She had been invoked at chariot-races from ancient times. The last day of the festival, May 3rd, was called Florae; it may be a special name for the closing day of the Floralia, or it may refer to a seperate ceremony conducted in Her temple on the Quirinal.

Ancient Roman Fresco - Flora (Khloris), the Goddess of flowers, fills Her basket with freshly picked blooms.

Flora was depicted by the Romans wearing light spring clothing, holding small bouquets of flowers, sometimes crowned with blossoms. Honey, made from flowers, is one of Her gifts, and Her name is said to be one of the secret (holy) names of Rome. She is sometimes called the handmaiden of Ceres. Ovid identifies Her with the Greek flower-nymph Chloris, whose name means ‘yellow or pale green’, the color of Spring. The word flora is still used as a general name for the plants of a region.

Alternate names/epithets: Flora Rustica, ‘Flora the Countrywoman’ or ‘Flora of the Countryside’, and Flora Mater, or ‘Flora the Mother’, in respect to Her ancient origins. Among the Oscans She was known as Flusia.” [1]

Here is a little visual tribute to the Goddess Flora set to Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, “La primavera” (Spring) by Antonio Vivaldi for your viewing and listening pleasure

Sources:

Took, Thalia. The Obscure Goddess Online Dictionary, “Flora“.

Suggested Links:

Agaliha. Mystic Wicks, “Flora {Goddess of the Week}“. 

Carnaval.com, “May Day“.

Gill, N.S. About.com, “Floralia“.

MoonBird, Maeve Cliodhna. The Goddess Within, “Beltane-Celebrating the Goddess Flora of Springtime and the May Queen“.

Theoi Greek Mythology, “Khloris“.

Wikipedia, “Flora (mythology)“.

Anna Perenna

"Spirit" by crimsonvermillion

“Anna Perenna’s themes are cycles, peace, kindness, grounding and longevity.  Her symbols are circular items (rings, wheels, wreaths) and wine.  Anna Perenna, like Ala, symbolizes the entire year’s cycle. Even Her name translates as ‘enduring year’. Legend tells us that Anna was once a real woman who showed benevolence to refugees from the Roman aristocracy by giving them food until peace was re-established. It is this gentle spirit with which Anna comes into our lives, offering the spiritual harmony engendered by random acts of kindness.

Romans honored Anna Parenna around this date because March was the first month of the Roman calendar. In true Roman fashion – that looks for any excuse for a party – they spent the day praying that Anna would let them live one more year for each cup of wine drunk this day.

Wine (or grape juice) remains a suitable libation to Anna Parenna when asking for longevity. As you pour the liquid, say:

‘A long life of health
Blessed from winter to spring
Anne Parenna, longevity bring!’

To encourage inner peace and security in your life, keep a pinch of the soil-wine mixture in any round container as a charm. Open the container and put the blend under your feet when you feel your foundations shaking, or when stress wreaks havoc in your heart.

Wearing any ring, belt or other circular item today stimulates a greater understanding of Anna’s cycles in nature and your life.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Anna Perenna was an old Roman deity of the circle or “ring” of the year, as the name (per annum) clearly indicates. Her festival fell on the Ides of March (March 15), which would have marked the first full moon in the year in the old lunar Roman calendar when March was reckoned as the first month of the year, and was held at the Grove of the Goddess at the first milestone on the Via Flaminia. It was much frequented by the city plebs.

According to Macrobius, related that offerings were made to Her ut annare perannareque commode liceati.e. “that the circle of the year may be completed happily” and that people sacrificed to Her both publicly and privately.  Johannes Lydus says that public sacrifice and prayers were offered to her to secure a healthy year.  Ovid in his Fasti (3.523f) provides a vivid description of the revelry and licentiousness of Her outdoor festival where tents were pitched or bowers built from branches, where lad lay beside lass, and people asked that Anna bestow as many more years to them as they could drink cups of wine at the festival.

 

"Water Nymph" by broughl

Ovid then tells that Anna Perenna was the same Anna who appears in Virgil‘s Aeneid as Dido‘s sister and that after Dido’s death, Carthage was attacked by the Numidians and Anna was forced to flee. Eventually Anna ended up in ship which happened to be driven by a storm right to Aeneas‘ settlement of Lavinium. Aeneas invited her to stay, but his wife Lavinia became jealous. But Anna, warned in a dream by Dido’s spirit, escaped whatever Lavinia was planning by rushing off into the night and falling into the river Numicus and drowning. Aeneas and his folk were able to track Anna part way. Eventually Anna’s form appeared to them and Anna explained that She was now a river nymph hidden in the “perennial stream” (amnis perennis) of Numicus and Her name was therefore now Anna Perenna. The people immediately celebrated with outdoor revels.

Ovid then notes that some equate Anna Perenna with the Moon or with Themis or with Io or with Amaltheia, but he turns to what he claims may be closer to the truth, that during the secessio plebis at Mons Sacer (the Sacred Mountain) the rebels ran short on food and an old woman of Bovillae named Anna baked cakes and brought them to the rebels every morning. The Plebeians later set up an image to Her and worshipped Her as a Goddess.

 

Next Ovid relates that soon after old Anna had become a Goddess, the god Mars attempted to get Anna to persuade Minerva to yield to him in love. Anna at last pretends that Minerva has agreed and the wedding is on. But when Mars’ supposed new wife was brought into his chamber and Mars removed the veil he found to his chagrin that it was not Minerva but old Anna, which is why people tell coarse jokes and sing coarse songs at Anna Perenna’s festivities. Since the festival of Anna Perenna is in the month of Mars, it is reasonable that the Mars and Anna Perenna should be associated, at least in some rites at that time, as cult partners.

Ovid also tells that Anna, although Magistra Silverman believes Her to be fully grown, was actually a person of small stature. The idea of the good soul and the bad soul offering advice from above a person’s shoulders is thought to have come from the idea that Anna told Dido what to do with Aeneas.” [1]

 

Sources:

Wikipedia, “Anna Perenna“.

 

Suggested Links:

An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology, and You, “Anna Perenna“.

Myth Index, Greek Mythology, “Anna Perenna“.

Goddess Victoria

"Nike goddess of victory" by gregor999

“Victoria’s themes are victory, success and excellence.  Her symbols are wings (or feathers) and laurel.  Victoria, as Her name implies, is the Roman Goddess of attainment. Early in the year She inspires resolve within us to do everything we undertake, with excellence as a goal. In works of art, Victoria is often depicted with wings that allow her to surmount any obstacle or problem.

Drink a tea made from lemon balm, ginger, and a pinch of cinnamon to generate a successful attitude.

Remember : If you think you can, you can!

Put a leaf (a form of laurel) in you shoe so that Victoria’s triumphant energy can walk with you all day long. Later in the day, burn a few bay leaves on a fire source to fill your home with success. Alternative aromas that invoke Victoria’s favour are rose and red sandalwood.

To make a victory charm, find a feather (or cut paper in the shape of a feather) and empower it with this incantation:

‘With the wings of Victoria, I will rise
above all areas where trouble lies
Through diligence and mastery I will see
today begins my victory!’

Carry this token anytime you feel your confidence waning, or when you need a boost to get over any seemingly insurmountable obstacle.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

In ancient Roman religion, Victoria was the personified Goddess of victory. She is the Roman equivalent of the Greek Goddess Nike, and was associated with Bellona. She was adapted from the Sabine agricultural Goddess Vacuna and had a temple on the Palatine Hill. The Goddess Vica Pota was also sometimes identified with Victoria.

Unlike the Greek Nike, Victoria (Latin for “victory”) was a major part of Roman society. She was often associated with Jupiter, Mars and other deities and was especially worshipped by the army.  Multiple temples were erected in Her honor. She was normally worshipped by triumphant generals returning from war.  Victoria usually appeared in reliefs on the spandrels of triumphal arches, such as the Arch of Augustus, the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Constantine.  Augustus had an altar to Victoria installed in the senate building, the Curia Julia, with a statue of Victoria standing with one foot on a globe.  The cult of Victoria was one of the last Pagan cults to succumb to Christianity. When Her statue was removed in 382 CE by emperor Gratianus there was much anger in Rome.

Also unlike the Greek Nike, who was known for success in athletic games such as chariot races, Victoria was a symbol of victory over death and determined who would be successful during war.

Gold coin of Constantine II depicting Victoria on the reverse

 

Victoria appears widely on Roman coins (until the 3rd century CE), jewelry, architecture, and other arts. She is often seen with or in a chariot, as in the late 18th-century sculpture representing Victory in a quadriga on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. [1] [2]

Goddess Venus

“Aphrodite” by ischarm

“Venus’s themes are love, passion, romance and sexuality.  Her symbols are doves, flowers, berries, trees and pine cones.  Venus was originally an Italic Goddess of blossoms; heart and flowers have slowly become attributed to Her loving, passionate energies. In fact, Her name became the root for the word venerate – to lift up, worship or esteem. So it is that Venus greets pre-spring efforts for uplifting our hearts with positive relationships.

During Lupercalia, an ancient predecessor of Valentine’s Day, single girls put their names in a box and unmarried men drew lots to see with whom they would be paired off for the coming year. To be more modern-minded, try pinning five bay leaves to your pillow instead to dream of future loves. If you’re married or otherwise involved, steep the bay leaves in water and drink the resulting tea to strengthen the love in your relationship.

To encourage balance in a relationship, bind together Venus’s symbols, a pine cone and a flower, and put them somewhere in your home. Or, to spice up a passionate moment, feed fresh berries to each other and drink a berry beverage from one cup (symbolizing united goals and destinies).

In Roman tradition, anywhere there’s a large stone adjacent to a tall tree, Venus is also there. Should you know of such a place, go there today and commune with Her warm, lusty energy.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Venus is the Roman Goddess of love and beauty, but originally a vegetation Goddess and patroness of gardens and vineyards who had no original myths of Her own. Later, under Greek influence, She was equated with Aphrodite and assumed many of Her aspects. Her cult originated from Ardea and Lavinium in Latium. The oldest temple known of Venus dates back to 293 BCE, and was inaugurated on August 18. Later, on this date the Vinalia Rustica was observed. A second festival, that of the Veneralia, was celebrated on April 1 in honor of Venus Verticordia, who later became the protector against vice. Her temple was built in 114 BCE. After the Roman defeat near Lake Trasum in 215 BCE, a temple was built on the Capitol for Venus Erycina. This temple was officially opened on April 23, and a festival, the Vinalia Priora, was instituted to celebrate the occasion.

Venus is the daughter of Jupiter, and some of Her lovers include Mars and Vulcan, modeled on the affairs of Aphrodite. Venus’ importance rose, and that of Her cult, through the influence of several Roman political leaders. The dictator Sulla made Her his patroness, and both Julius Caesar and the emperor Augustus named Her the ancestor of their (Julian) family: the ‘gens Julia’ was Aeneas, son of Venus and the mortal Anchises. Ceasar introduced the cult of Venus Genetrix, the Goddess of motherhood and marriage, and built a temple for her in 46 BCE. She was also honored in the temple of Mars Ultor. The last great temple of Venus was built by the emperor Hadrianus near the Colusseum in 135 CE.  Roman statues and portraits of Venus are usually identical to the Greek representations of Aphrodite.” [1]

“Venus meant ‘charm’ and this Roman Goddess certainly knew how to do that!  Although She was a latecomer to Roman mythology, She rose quickly among the ranks.  Like the Goddess Aphrodite whose mythology She inherited, the Roman Goddess Venus assumed the divine responsibility for love, beauty, sexuality, military victory, not to mention marriage, procreation and domestic bliss.  Venus was the ultimate multi-tasker!  She was also known as Venus Verticordia, Goddess of chastity in women (despite Her numerous randy affairs with gods and mortals), as Venus Victrix, the Goddess of victory in war and also a nature Goddess, associated with gardens and the arrival of spring. When Her son Aeneas fled Troy and founded the Roman race, Venus became known as the divine ancestor of the Roman people (the Venus Genetrix) and was treated with special honor.

Venus had many identities before She came to Rome – Inanna, Ishtar/Astarte, and the Greek Goddess Aphrodite. She had been recognized since the beginning of time as the brightest “star” in the heavens, except, of course, for the Sun.

Because of Her association with love and with feminine beauty, the Roman Goddess Venus has been a favorite subject in art and poetry.  To this day, She is a cultural icon of love and beauty, a reminder of the awesome power of female radiance and beauty.  The primordial Venus (Inanna, Ishtar and Astarte) was a triple Goddess – the morning (and evening) star represented Her as maiden who rose every morning, renewed in Her youthful beauty, then waxing into Her fullness of motherhood and next becoming the crone, gradually waning in Her power and strength but planting the seed of wisdom for the next cycle as She faded into the darkness of eternal night.” [2]





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