Future of Paganism
Ad Futura: The Ancient Religion of Rome in Modern Life
Organizations like Nova Roma and the Societas Via Romana have allowed cultores Deorum from distant places to meet one another. Nova Roma hosted its first European Conventus 2002 in Tongeren, Belgium, with the founders of the Societas Via Romana attending. The European conventions have since attracted people from all over the world to attend in Bologna, Segovia, Rome, Hadrian's Wall, Baiae Herculane, and again in Rome this year. A convention was also held in 2009 at the Parthenon in Nashville, TN (right) and one is planned later this autumn in South Carolina. These larger events generate more energy and stronger social bonds within the communities of cultores Deorum and between communities, allowing the development of more stable temple communities.
From my personal experience of attending the Conventus VI in Romania, it was a thrill to visit so many Roman sites -- Trajan's Bridge and the Roman fort at Dobreta, the Roman city of Ulpia Trajani with its ruins of Roman temples, the Iron Gates, the mausoleum at Trophaeum Trajani, all of the museums, the picturesque Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea. Unforgettable was to be in the city of Tomis on the 2000th anniversary of Ovid's exile to that distant outpost of the Roman Empire, to stand in the shadow of his statue in Plaza Ovid, for one old Roman spirit to connect with the spirit of a more ancient Roman. No less uplifting was to be with fellow cultores from so many countries, joining together in rituals to offer common worship for our Gods and Goddesses in public. Very spiritual for me personally was to purify myself for ritual in the River Ister, to spiritually meet with so many generations of Roman cultores Deorum who had visited the Danube frontier of the Roman Empire in the same way before the Gods.
Currently we are seeing cultores Deorum and Gentiles Romani bringing individual practitioners and families together into temple communities, following the examples of the Temple Religio Romana and the Clarion Temple. This is a movement away from internet-based organizations to local communities that gather at a dedicated shrine (templum) for common worship. In Eastern Europe the plan takes us one step further in that they are building neighborhoods of cultores Deorum living in close proximity, working and worshipping together.
As we look ahead, our effort shall be to bring individuals and families of cultores from different organizations together into the local temple communities. Then these local communities will link up with one another into statewide, regional, or national organizations. Thus, what had in recent years began as internet communities organizing from the top down are now changing over to grassroots organizing from the local level up. This shall become more important as the Religio Romana seeks wider recognition.
Scholarly interest in the religious traditions of ancient Rome has really come into its own only in the past couple of decades. The early history of a modern Religio Romana had the reconstruction of rituals as a primary interest, and thus practice was a main focus. Ritual practice has led to more experience in the tradition itself, and what we find today is that more and more cultores Deorum are finding spiritual experience through ritual. Formal Roman ritual involves pomp and repetition. The formalism and repetition leads into a state of ritual consciousness that can at times then lead into the other side of the Religio Romana which derives from its origin in an ecstatic tradition. This has led to an interest away from "reconstructionist" practice to the simpler and more pious practice of the Numa tradition. What this means for the future of the Religio Romana is the awakening of a new spirituality among cultores Deorum.