Lately I have been busy in a number of areas, tending still to my garden as well as to our religious community, and also making mola salsa for my own use. Winnowing proves to take more skill than I seem to have. During this time New York state passed a law to legalize same-sex marriage and I cannot pass it by without adding in some of my own comments. From the outset I must say that I support same-sex marriage both… Read more

Before the conclusion of Vestalia I should return to the Vestal Virgins in order to once again show the special role women play in the religio Romana. When Numa Pompilius founded our tradition he laid down regulations on the conduct of Roman sacrifices. It may be a surprise to some that Numa said, “Sacrifices are not to be celebrated with an effusion of blood, but consist of flour, wine, and the least costly of offerings (Plutarch, Numa 8.8).” Indeed, sacrifices… Read more

A front door safeguards what is inside by barring whatever is outside.  The Romans protected their doorways with a little religion, a little magic, and something that was a little of both. Foremost are the religious rites due to the minor gods of the doorway – Janus Janitor, Forculus, Cardea, Limitaninus and Limitanina.  Just inside the front door is the lararium, a shrine for the family Lares and patron deities. Daily rites are provided for the Lares at their lararium, which… Read more

When we think of a Roman house in consideration of the religio Romana we must put aside thoughts of the imperial palaces or those found at Pompeii. Instead we have to look back to the time of Numa Pompilius in the seventh century before the common era. The common house of that time was a round hut, with the door being the single opening in its walls. The roof was conical, held up by a central pole. Ritually that central… Read more

Felicitas. Today begins the festival of Vestalia, which will last through 15 June. In ancient times it meant that the inner sanctum of the House of Vesta would be opened to the matrons of Rome. They were led by the Flamenica Dialis who was the wife of the high priest of Jupiter. Normally throughout the year she would be adorned in the manner of a bride, veiled and with a special hairstyle for marriage.  But during this festival she would wear her… Read more

Tradition is never static. It flows with many currents in and around obstructions, sometimes even in contradictory directions. Little pools may form at high water, becoming separated later from the main stream, just as sects may break off from a tradition, only to stagnate and eventually dry up, but the mainstream tradition continues to evolve, adapt, adopt as it moves further on. Rather than looking backward on a fixed time in the history of a religious tradition, often time it… Read more

When first I attended school in the 1950’s one only had a choice between the decidedly Protestant public schools or the Catholic parochial schools. Neither were accommodating to non-Christians. I recall one time when a group of Catholic students transferred to public school and a teacher humiliated them for not knowing their school prayers as they were said by Protestants. Then there was a time when we found a boy tied to our tree in the front yard. The neighborhood… Read more

Discussion of the religio Romana today usually centers on matters of a superficial importance.  Topics of discussion concern poetic myths and philosophical speculations on the nature of the Gods, calendars of festival days, the priesthoods of ancient Rome, the little that is known about rites once performed for the Gods, and those few details of Roman practice that we might possibly recover today.  Roman authors were not writing for modern reconstructions, of course, so they did not have to explain… Read more

Grant, O Gods, that the earth may lie soft and gently upon the shades of our ancestors, and may their urns be filled with a perpetual springtime blooming with the sweet scents of crocus. The second day of Lemuria is held five days before the Ides of May. As with other Roman festivals, the Lemuria is held on alternating days because odd-numbered days were considered fortunate. Perusius, quoted above (Satura 7.207-208), again expresses a Roman conception of the afterlife in… Read more

On 10 May, and again on 31 May, the Roman legions at Duro Europa celebrated the Rosalia. This again connects the flowers of Spring with rituals for the dead, only this time the rituals were performed by military units for their fallen comrades rather than for family members. We learn of this celebration first with a military calendar from Syria. We do not know if the Rosalia was celebrated on the same dates by other legions throughout the Roman Empire,… Read more

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