Tag Archive: numa pompilius


Goddess Vesta

“Vesta’s  themes are home, love, fertility and peace. Her symbols are fire, donkeys and veils.

In Roman mythology, Vesta was part of every fire. As such, Vesta commends the sacred fires of the hearth, the heart of spiritual and emotional stability in your home. Today was one of her festival days, Christianized as the Feast of the Ass, which is a sacred animal to her. Traditional offerings for Vesta include homemade bread and salt cakes. In works of art, Vesta was never shown directly but always depicted her in veils, possibly to honor her importance in Roman society. The vestal priestess was one of the few people considered suited to negotiating peace during war threats.

The first month of the year is a good time to think about the spiritual warmth in your living space. Ask Vesta to kindle those fires anew. Do this by lightening any fire source you have handy – a match, the oven, a pilot light – or, alternatively, just turn on a light as a symbolic fire. Be sure to keep this lit all day. When a fire goes out on Vesta’s day, it’s considered a bad omen, indicative of love being lost.

To encourage peace on any battleground you’re facing this year, light a white candle (the color of truce) and put it in a window to invite Vesta’s presence (being sure it’s safe to do so, of course). Then take a piece of bread outside, breaking it into small bits so the birds can carry your wish of harmony across the earth (something I do every day!).”

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

Vesta is one of the most popular and mysterious goddesses of the Roman pantheon. Vesta is the goddess of the hearth, equated with the Greek Hestia. The way of the Romans was to adopt various elements from other cultures and civilizations. This included the Roman religion which was highly influenced by the Ancient Greek religion and gave the Greek God names the equivalent Roman names. The Roman priests then adopted the mythology or stories about the Gods and Goddesses and evolved a Roman Gods Family tree detailing how each of the Roman Gods and Goddesses, like Vesta, were related. Greek and Roman religion and mythology therefore become closely entwined.There is not much known of her origin, except that she was at first only worshipped in Roman homes, a personal cult. Her cult eventually evolved to a state cult. [1]

One myth tells that her service was set up by king Numa Pompilius (715-673 BCE). In her temple on the Palatine Hill, the sacred fire of the Roman state burned, which was maintained by the Vestal Virgins. At the start of the new Roman year, March 1, the fire was renewed. The sacred fire burned until 394 CE. Vesta’s temple was situated on the Forum Romanum and was built in the third century BCE. None of her temples, however, contained a statue of the goddess. Her festival is the Vestalia, which was observed from June 7 – 15. On the first day of this festival, the ‘penus Vestae’, the inner sanctum of the Vesta temple which was kept closed the entire year, was opened for women who came to bring offerings bare-footed. The temple was ritually cleansed on the last day.

The ass is Vesta’s sacred animal, whose braying supposedly kept the lascivious Priapus away. [2]

Goddess Carmenta

"Premières Caresses" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

In ancient roman religion and myth, Carmenta was a goddess of childbirth and prophecy, associated with technological innovation as well as the protection of mothers and children, and a patron of midwives. She was also said to have invented the Latin alphabet.

“Carmenta’s themes are children, fertility, foresight and birth. Her symbols are music and babies.
Carmenta, the Roman Goddess of prophecy and birth, joins in our new year festivities by teaching us the value of preparedness and productivity. The only offerings acceptable to Carmenta are vegetable matter – as a birth Goddess, taking life is abhorrent to her. Her magical, prophetic nature can be seen in Carmenta’s name, specifically the root word carmen, meaning a spell or charm in the form of a song.
Put on some uplifting music while you get dressed this morning. Let it motivate the resourceful aspect of Carmenta within you for the entire day.

In ancient Rome, today was the second to last day of a five-day-long festival honoring Carmenta. Pregnant women offered her rice for a safe delivery, while those wishing to have children ate raspberries to internalize her fertility. Try either of these to prompt the successful completion of a project or to improve your physical, emotional or spiritual fertility.

Romans considered this an excellent day to make predictions for a child. If you know someone who’s expecting, take a ring on a long string and hold it still over the mother’s belly. If the ring swings back and forth it indicates a boy; circular movements indicate a girl.”

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

Carmenta was the leader of the Camenae, a group of prophetic water goddesses or nymphs of ancient Rome, considered goddesses of Poetry as well as Birth-Goddesses who presided over springs, wells and fountains and who were invoked for healing.  The other three Camenae were Egeria (who was a divine consort and counselor of the Sabine second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius), Porrima (a baby is born head first when she is present), and Postverta (present at feet first births).

There is a grove outside the Porta Capena that is sacred to Carmenta.  Romans celebrated Carmenta’s festival January 11 and 15, during the first month of the  year, a symbol, perhaps of the beginning of life. The focus of this primarily female festival was on divination and reflection on the past.  Pregnant women made offerings to Her of prayers and rice in the hopes of an easy delivery.  The festivities began by making cream-filled pastries which were shaped as male and female genitalia which were eaten in honor of this Goddess of birth.  The wearing of leather or other dead animal skins were forbidden in their sacred places.

Alternate names for Carmenta: Carmentis, Themis, Timandra (Greek, “She who honors the male”?), Tiburtis (linking Her with the town of Tibur/Tivoli and Albunea, the White Sybil?)

For more information on the Camenae, click here.

 

 

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