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Romans, though you’re guiltless, you’ll still expiate
your fathers’ sins, till you’ve restored the temples,
and the tumbling shrines of all the gods,
and their images, soiled with black smoke.
~Horace, Odes, III, 6; A. S. Kline trans.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Calendar for March

Sacra Publica
1st: Matronalia
1st - 24th: Feriae Marti
15th: Anna Perenna
17th: Agonalia, Bacchanalia
19th: to 23rd: Quinquatria
23rd: Tubilustrium
30th: Festival of Salus
The first day of each month is the Kalends, sacred to Juno. The Nones falls on the 7th. The Ides, sacred to Jupiter, falls on the 15th. The 2nd, 8th and 16th are unlucky (ater).

March, originally the first month of the year, is named for Mars, who, unlike the Greek Ares, has a dual aspect; war and agriculture.

Come Mars, God of War, lay aside your shield and spear:
A moment, from your helmet, free your shining hair.
(Ovid, Fasti, III)
The theme this month may be said to be "good health and safety".

Matronalia: 1st. The kalends is always sacred to Juno, and this month the kalends is also the anniversary of the dedication of the temple of Juno Lucina (Juno who brings children into the light) on the Esquiline, where Dionysius of Halicarnanus says Servius Tullius began the practice of depositing a coin at the birth of a child. The Matronalia festival celebrates childbirth and motherhood. "[M]atrons offered prayers to Juno and her son Mars at the Temple of Juno Lucina on the Esquiline. On this feast day, husbands traditionally gave their wives presents, and female slaves were given special meals and relieved of work.(McManus)". Only women were permitted at this festival, where they untied the knots in their clothing and unbound their hair, symbolically loosening the perils of childbirth.

New fire in the temple of Vesta: 1st. On this date the Vestals renew the sacred fire in the Temple of Vesta.

Feriae Marti: 1st - 24th. Much of the month is taken up with the Feriae Marti, featuring the leaping priests, the Salii. Their leaping is sometimes understood in relation to agriculture, encouraging crops to grow. Whatever the meaning, the Romans thought that the establishment of the Salii predated the republic.

Anna Perenna: 15th. Anna Perenna is the eternal circle of the year. Offerings are made to her "so that the circle of the year may be completed happily" ("ut annare perannareque commode liccat") (Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.12.6)
The happy feast of Anna Perenna is held on the Ides,
Not far from your banks, Tiber, far flowing river.
The people come and drink there, scattered on the grass,
And every man reclines there with his girl.
Some tolerate the open sky, a few pitch tents,
And some make leafy huts out of branches,
While others set reeds up, to form rigid pillars,
And hang their outspread robes from the reeds.
But they’re warmed by sun and wine, and pray
For as many years as cups, as many as they drink.
(Ovid, Fasti, III)
A fountain dedicated to Anna Perenna was recently discovered in Rome (report, in Italian) in which was found a large number of curse tablets (report on the tablets, with photos, in English). Some people didn't want others to have a happy year, it seems!

Bacchanalia and Liberalia: 17th. According to Varro, this is also known as the Agonalia or Agonium Martiale. Priests and priestesses wearing garlands of ivy carried portable altars on which offerings were burned. They carried wine, honey, cakes and sweet-meats. 16 year old boys received the toga virilis today.
Liber, before your birth the altars were without offerings,
And grass appeared on the stone-cold hearths.
They tell how you set aside the first fruits for Jupiter,
After subduing the Ganges region, and the whole of the East.
You were the first to offer up cinnamon and incense
From conquered lands, and the roast entrails of triumphal oxen.
Libations derive their name from their originator,
And cake (liba) since a part is offered on the sacred hearth.
Honey-cakes are baked for the god, because he delights in sweet
Substances, and they say that Bacchus discovered honey.
The Dionysia were introduced from Greece into Italy, becoming the Bacchanalia, but at some point things got out out of hand (so said the authorities) and in the early 2nd century BCE (See Livy XXXIX) the Bacchanalia was suppressed and the Liberalia took its place.

Quinquatria: 19th to 23rd, ending with the Tubilustrium on the 23rd.
... the rites of Minerva are performed, Which take their name from the sequence of five days. The first day is bloodless, and sword fights are unlawful, Because Minerva was born on that very day. (Ovid, Fasti, III)

Festival of Salus: 30th. Salus is not only health, but prosperity in general. Coins often show Salus standing, feeding a snake (a symbol of prosperity) from a patera. A temple of Salus was built on the Quirinal in the late 4th century BCE (aedes Salutis a C. Iunio Bubulco censore locata est, quam consul bello Samnitium voverat Livy IX.43) but the cultus there is believed to be much older. There was also a statue of Salus in the Temple of Concord, who was also honored along with Janus and from the time of Augustus there was a celebration at the Altar of Peace. (... Ianus adorandus cumque hoc Concordia mitis et Romana Salus Araque Pacis erit. Ovid Fasti III)

Ideas for celebrations in March

The date of Mother's Day varies around the world and in many countries March 8th is International Women's Day. We can celebrate our "Mothers' Day" now, and you can add a second one following the customs of your own country.

If the weather permits, have an informal outdoor party. In Japan, it is nearly hanami season, and the feeling is much like celebrating Anna Perenna. Party with friends outdoors and pray for long life!

The vernal Equinox is March 21st. Your own Liberalia is not only a great chance to celebrate the end of winter (in the northern hemisphere at least), but it is also the best time to learn to make some liba: step by step instructions; photos and recipe.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who we are and why you are welcome

There are questions floating around these days, as one of the Roman-related groups that we know carries out a kind of "cleansing", and so I want to make a couple things clear.

This is my personal blog. Even though I occasionally ask some of my friends to contribute here, I am responsible for the content. My purpose is to report on activities of followers of the Cultus Deorum, for followers of the Cultus Deorum. It is a kind of cultural newsletter. I'm happy to say that there is a lot to report.

I also want to share some information with the community. I started with a few pages here, but that rapidly grew in size and popularity, so the website was created. There is a lot of information there, and although it is still a "work in progress" it is already a valuable resource, I think.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Active group in Warsaw.

I have received a report from a new group of Cultores in Warsaw, Poland. They had 11 people attend a get-together that was planned to last for 2 hours but lasted almost 4 hours. It was a Lupercalia celebration (with red ribbons instead of blood).

They are planning another event for the 1st of March and they intend to make a regular ritual celebration on the September Ides (the 13th). Gaius Pandion writes:
"The Valentines heart on the wall was hung before by the pub-owner, so not knowing how many of us would be present, we left it, but had added two Lupercalia celebration texts and a wolf-card. Every attending person got a red ribbon with explanation of what it meant and a Lupercalia commemorative card to keep in one's wallet till next Lupercalia. We read the texts on Lupercalia and shared good wishes and good memories."
Their Meetup page shows five more events planned for the coming year.

I think that their idea about the red ribbons was great; maybe more people will try that next year. So congratulations to everyone in this group in Poland! May be gods favor you all!

A Spanish-Roman practitioner at UNESCO

This is a translation of a post from the Spanish-language blog "Cvltvs Deorvm". My thanks to the author, Carlos Sánchez, for permission to post it here and both to Carlos and to C. Iulia Agrippa for the translation.

Yesterday, January 30th, I attended the annual meeting of interfaith dialogue groups, AUDIR (UNESCO Association for Interfaith Dialogue). The day was much more enlightening than I expected, I met many people from different religious traditions, including pagan people, so I left that meeting with a pleasant aftertaste.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rise of the Romano-Celts!

I spend a lot of time looking at cultus-related websites, and for some reason I've been running into Romano-Celtic sites quite a bit lately. Of course, interest in Romano-Celtic religion is nothing new; it has been studied for a long time. There is a lot of new activity, though, and I suppose that is part of the new look being taken recently at all of the pre-Christian religions of Eurasia. Just the other day, our friend Ursus posted on Romano-British deities. Here is more of the recent activity I've found:

I don't speak for any of these folks, but what I have found is that many Romano-Celtic pagans are in agreement with the "Basic Principles" statement (the one about religio, pietas and superstitio) and keep a household shrine. To my mind, this means that we are all part of the same community, the same cultural group.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sarmatian Days 2011

I just saw a note that Sarmatian Days 2011 will be held over August 1 - August 8 in Poltava, Ukraine. More information later, but mark your calendars now!

Sarmatian Days 2010 report

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Community Update

There is a lot of good news to report. First, as the snapshot from the blogroll shows, we have a very active community of bloggers. All of these blogs have been updated within the past week. Not only are these blogs active, they are all very high quality and they are all dedicated to the Cultus Deorum in a solidly reconstructionist way. The fact that all of these blogs are reporting from a shared cultural perspective is the best possible news.

Several languages are represented because these blogs are scattered all over the Earth. We have writers from South America, North America, Eastern Europe and Western Europe. (If any of our readers from South Africa and the Pacific region know of any sites that we should add, please contact us.)

Our Meetups map shows that a lot of groups are now forming. We are working on a Meetup guide to help you all organize effective gatherings. I'll report on that here when it is finished. My experience is that the first meeting is the most difficult and frustrating, because getting the word out initially is one of the hardest things to do. Once you have a few people, word of mouth kicks in and the second meeting happens much more easily. So if you are still waiting for that second person to sign up so you can kick off your group, be patient. These things take time.

One group that has existed for a long time is the Temple of Venus Genetrix in Nashville. They have scheduled a Feralia for February 19th and Quinquatrus for March 19th. They list 48 members, so I expect they will have a good turnout for these events.

There is a group now forming in Malibu that has scheduled a Parentatio for February 13th.

On the same date, there is now a meeting scheduled for the new group in Warsaw, Poland.

There is a meeting planned in Madrid for April 21 - the "Birthday of Rome".

There are a number of festivals in April, including the Vinalia, so if you don't have anything planned now, I suggest planning for a date in April. The 21st falls midweek this year, but the following weekend would be a good choice.

Finally, work continues on the new Cultus Deorum site, where we are now working on "Beginners' Guides" in a number of languages. I hope you will visit there, already there is a good deal of useful material, and it is being added to almost daily.