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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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Roman New Year

These are some suggestions for having a Roman New Year:
  • Clean your lararium on New Year's Eve, so that it is ready for the new year. Decorate it with flowers.
  • Make offerings to your Lares and to Juno, but first to Janus.
  • Whatever your livelihood, make a token start of it on New Year's Day. Students take up a book and read for a few moments. Carpenters tap a nail. Whatever your business, resolve to have a prosperous year, with the help of the immortal gods.
  • Guard your words, offer good wishes and prosperity to all. Avoid dire words.
  • Give gifts of sweet dried fruits and honey, or other similar sweets, such as honey dipped cookies.
If you are the resolving type, why not resolve to make at least a simple observance at your lararium twice a month, on the Kalends and on the Ides?
"The worship of Juno claims our Italy's Kalends
While a larger white ewe-lamb falls to Jupiter on the Ides." - Ovid, Fasti I
Cato the Elder's instructions for the vilica, (the wife of the overseer of the farm) probably reflect the duties that fell upon the materfamilias of every family: "On the Kalends, Ides and Nones, and any holy day, place a garland over the hearth and pray to the household gods as opportunity offers" (Cato, De Re Agricultura 143).

The Kalends and Ides rituals are a great way to start being active in the sacra privata of the Cultus Deorum, if you have not done so already.

If you are yet to set up a lararium, we have an updated guide for setting up a lararium. My personal opinion is that you should make your initial offerings, maybe incense, wine, bread, flowers, - ask the Lares to protect your household. Be attentive for signs of their acceptance. I think that your display of pietas is more important than fancy ritual or formality.

"Two-headed Janus, source of the silently gliding year,
The only god who is able to see behind him,
Be favourable to the leaders, whose labours win
Peace for the fertile earth, peace for the seas:
Be favourable to the senate and Roman people,
And with a nod unbar the shining temples.
A prosperous day dawns: favour our thoughts and speech!
Let auspicious words be said on this auspicious day."

Ovid, Fasti, translated by A.S. Kline.

Di te incolumem custodiant!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

PRO DIIS Report for 2011

We here at Cultus Deorum Romanorum are happy to support the organization PRO DIIS, so much so that we carry their donation gadget in the sidebar. PRO DIIS has just posted their report for 2011, and it is very impressive indeed.

PRO DIIS itself has advanced its organization, and notably the founder, T. Flavius Aquila is active once again. Even greater strides have been made in the construction of the aedes in Poltava. As the report shows, the builders are taking care that all legal requirements for building are met, and the materials for the coming year's construction have been purchased.

Their plan for the coming year includes:
  • to accept the Business plan for the next year;
  • to widen the consecrated templum for the Temple of Iuppiter and 16 altars for Roman Gods and Goddesses;
  • to build the podium and cella of the Temple;
  • to launch the new web-site of PRO DIIS.
There is every reason to believe that they will achieve these  goals, and we continue to offer them our support. Watch here for news of their progress.

Make a Roman calendar

Keeping a Roman calendar can help you keep pace with the cycles of the year. You can adapt your new 2012 calendar to include some basic dates and festivals from the ancient Roman calendar. To add a more authentic feel, write in UPPER CASE only, just like on real ancient Roman calendars. A 12 month wall calendar with ample space works best.

Put these on your calendar next to the English month names:

  • Ianuarius (January)
  • Februarius (February)
  • Martius (March)
  • Aprilis (April)
  • Maius (May)
  • Iunius (June)
  • Iulius or Quinctilis (July) *
  • Augustus or Sextilis (August) *
  • September (September)
  • October (October)
  • November (November)
  • December (December)

* Iulius and Augustus were the new names in Imperial times. Use Sextilis and Quinctilis to be authentic to the Republic.

Patron deities

A Young Flemish Hellenist posted recently on the topic of "patron deities". I too have seen a lot of talk of patron deities among the Hellenists and to a somewhat lesser extent among Cultores. AYFH points out:

The largest misunderstanding however, from a Hellenic point of view, is the assumption that there is such a thing as a personal Patron, that if one has a special connection or relationship with a certain God(ess) or a few Gods, and that this [makes them] ones Patron(s).

I think that this is true to an even greater degree for Romans. The "client-patron" relationship in Rome was a clearly defined thing, and one that involved obligations on both sides. I do not believe that anyone can unilaterally establish such a relationship with any deity. Even if a person feels a special connection, and even if that person feels "called" by a god, there is still no reason to believe that the bilateral client-patron relationship has been established. 

I encourage anyone interested in the Roman way of the gods, the Cultus Deorum, to engage with all the gods, and to avoid making the cultus into an alternative monotheism. 

One of the great features of the Cultus Deorum is that it provides opportunities for us to link our lives and our families together with our community, with other families and with all of nature's various rhythms and forces. Each aspect of life has its tutelary divinity, and if we are open to them all, and if we manage our cultus with a balanced pietas, then we are much more likely to keep our lives in healthy balance as well.