Kalends rite for Janus

Kalends rite for Janus January 12, 2013

M. Horatius Pont. Max. cultoribus, Quiritibus, et omnibus s. p. d.


Over the last fifteen years some of our sacerdotes have written rituals that they have used in addressing Janus on the kalends of each month. In addition to my own efforts in this area we should thus recognize L. Cassius Cornutus sacerdos Ianialis, C. Marius Basilius, and Pontifex Cn. Cornelius Lentulus, and Pontifex Gryllus Graecus.

Most of the rituals that have been devised during these years followed a template based on what Cato the Elder had instructed in the second century before the common era. Thus they have more than two-thousand years of tradition behind them. The rituals follow a rigid pattern, much as Hindu pooja follow a specific pattern of conducting an offering ritual. There is a time and a purpose for rigid ritual formulae to follow, but they do not always meet your individual needs. I encourage you to devise your own rituals, and to share them with us. You can use the following rituals as examples of the kalends ritual commonly used among cultores Deorum Romanorum, later adding in other elements to suit your household.

Offerings that are appropriate for Janus on the kalends are dried bay laurel leaves for incense, roasted lamb, wine, and strues. Struesis a simple bread. You’ll find a recipe below.  In the photo below of the Temple of Janus as it stands today, you can see that caper bushes have taken up residence on its outer walls. Pickled capers are the buds of this flowering plant, but it would be the buds picked from these particular caper bushes, due to their provenance, that might also make an appropriate offering for Janus.

Portus Janus Today

So here is a suggested ritual for Janus, which can be used at any time, even as part of a longer, more involved caeremonia. First it is presented in English, followed by its Latin version.

Ritus Iano

Approach the altar bearing gifts and with your right hand held forward, palm up, in a gesture of offering.

“Come, be present, Father Janus, the Opener. Arise Planter (of the Stars). All things, truly, I entrust to Patulcium the Opener. Now You are Janus the Gatekeeper, now Cerus the Good Creator, now Janus the God of Good Beginnings.  Come, now most especially, God of Gods, You who are the better of these kings.”

Offer incense of bay laurel and sweet scented flowers.

“Janus, though I propitiate other Gods, I do offer wine and cakes to You first, so that I may obtain access through You, Janus, to any of the other Gods I may call upon.”

“In You, dearest Father, in Your hands do we place our safekeeping. Janus, in offering to You this incense I pray good prayers that You may favor me, my children, our house and our home.”

Pour a libation of honeyed wine:

“Father Janus, be strengthened by this bread, be warmed by this small portion of our wine.”

“Janus, come! Father Matutinus, or else Janus, if You so prefer to hear, regarded by men as the beginning of works and life’s labors, so does it please the Gods, may You begin my prayer.” (Insert prayers)

Finish by pouring a second libation as before. Then turning around, your hand held liberalis, to pray:

“Thus for these reasons, as I have said, that You might be favorable to me, to my children, our house and our home, therefore may You be honored by this small portion of wine.

“Thus it is done. May the immortal Gods make it so, as fortunate as it is pious.”

Janus herm of Aricia

In the following version the prayers are instead given in Latin:

Ritus Iano

Approach the altar bearing gifts and with your right hand held forward, palm up, in a gesture of offering.

Hus ades, Pater Iane, Codievi oborieso. Omnia vero ad Patulcium commisse. Iane iam es, duonus Cerus es, duonus Ianus. Veni potissimum melios eum recum, Deorum Deus.

Offer incense of bay laurel and sweet scented flowers.

Quamvis aliorum numina placem, Iane, tibi primum tura merumque fero, ‘ut posso aditum per tu, qui limina serves, ad quoscumque volo habere deos.

In tua, pater carissime, in tua sumus custodia. Iane, te hoc ture ommovendo
bonas preces praecor, uti sis volens propitius mihi liberisque meis domo
familiaeque meae.

Pour a libation of honeyed wine:

Iane pater, uti te strue commovenda bonas preces bene precatus sum, eiusdem rei
ergo macte vino inferio esto

Iane, veni: Matutine pater, seu Jane, libentius audis, unde homines operum

primos vitaeque labores instituunt, sic dis placitum, tu caminis esto principium.

Finish by pouring a second libation as before. Then turning around, your hand
held liberalis, to pray:

Harumce rerum ergo sis volens propitius mihi liberisque meis domo familiaeque
meae, sicuti dixi, ergo macte vino inferio esto

Ilicet. Di immortales faciant, tam felix quam pia.


Note: Strues Bread Recipe.

Preheat oven with a baking stone at 350 F. Mix together one tablespoon of
millet flour, three tablespoons of spelt flour, and a dash of salt. Add three
tablespoons of water and mix into a pasty dough. Divide dough into three parts
and form into wafers or form into balls and slit tops. Strew corn meal on the
baking stone. Place the wafers on the baking stone and cover with a ceramic
bowl. Bake for 15 minutes.

This should produce thin, crispy wafers that can be easily burned in the focus of an altar.

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