The Goddesses

Deities Associated with Friday – Frigg The Norse Goddess

 Legend Of The Dragon Princess
Deities Associated with Friday

Frigg The Norse Goddess

Areas of Influence: Frigg was the Norse Goddess of marriage, childbirth, motherhood, wisdom, household management and weaving and spinning.

She was the Queen of Aesir and the only one permitted to sit on the high seat other than her husband Odin.

This Goddess’s home was Fensalir (Marsh hall) in Asgard. All marshy and boggy ground was sacred to this Goddess.

As Goddess of weaving she was associated with weaving clouds and the threads of fate, known as Wyrd in the Nordic tradition. Despite this and the gift of prophecy she is unable to save her own son from his fate. The Goddess made him invincible to everything other than mistletoe but unfortunately Loki disguised himself and tricked her in to revealing this weakness.

She has more than ten handmaidens who assist her, the most well known of these are Hlin (Goddess of Protection), Gna (a messenger Goddess) and Fulla (a fertility Deity). Some academics have suggested that the attendants represent different faces of this particular Deity.

Barren women would invoke this Goddess and ask her to bless them with children.

Her name means “beloved one.” Other spellings of this Goddesses name include Frea, Fija, Friia, Frig and Friggja.

Origins and Genealogy: She was the daughter of Fjorgynn (the male personification of the earth) and was married to Odin with whom she had two sons, Balder and Hodr.

She was briefly married to Odin’s brother’s Vili and Ve as Odin had been away travelling a long time and was believed to be dead. When he finally returned, the marriage to Odin’s brothers was dissolved and she returned to her husband’s side.

Strengths: A loving mother and home maker.

Weaknesses: Unable to save her son.

Symbolism
Like Freya she wears a ravens clock.

She is associated with constellation the Orion’s Belt which was known as the Frig’s Distaff upon which she winds the threads of fate and weaves the clouds.

Sacred Birds: Ravens, hawks and falcons.

Sacred Plants: Frigg’s grass is a plant was traditionally used as a sedative during birth. Mistletoe is also sacred to her.

Frigg’s Archetype
The Mother
The Mother is a life-giver and the source of nurturing, devotion, patience and unconditional love. The ability to forgive and provide for her children and put them before herself is the essence of a good mother.
In its shadow aspect the Mother can be devouring, abusive and abandoning. The shadow Mother can also make her children feel guilty about becoming independent and leaving her. It is not necessary to be a biological Mother to have this stereotype. It can refer to anyone who has a lifelong pattern of nurturing and devotion to living things.

This Goddess was a devoted mother who was unable to prevent the death of her son. She is also a great domestic Goddess looking after the home.

How to Work With This Archetype
The Mother

You are exhibiting the features of the shadow Mother if you smother your children and are over protective. Encourage independence and allow children to make mistakes but be available to give care and advice when it’s needed.

The other shadow Mother is the one that abandons her children, or is so busy that she has no time for nurturing her young.

 

Source:

Goddess-Guide.com

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Deities Associated With Friday – Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love

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Deities Associated With Friday – Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love

Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and sexuality. According to legend, she was born fully formed from the white sea form that arose when the god Uranus was castrated. She came ashore on the island of Cyprus, and later was married off by Zeus to Hephaistos, the deformed craftsman of Olympus. Despite being married to Hephaistos, Aphrodite took her job as a goddess of sexuality seriously, and had a multitude of lovers, but one of her favorites was the warrior god Ares.

At one point, Helios, the sun god, caught Ares and Aphrodite romping around, and told Hephaistos what he had seen. Hephaistos caught the two of them in a net, and invited all the other gods and goddesses to laugh at their shame… but they had none whatsoever. In fact, Aphrodite and Ares had a good laugh about the whole thing, and didn’t particularly care what anyone thought. In the end, Ares ended up paying Hephaistos a fine for his inconvenience, and the whole matter was dropped.

At one point, Aphrodite had a fling with Adonis, the young hunter god. He was killed by a wild boar one day, and some tales indicate that the boar might have been a jealous Ares in disguise.

Aphrodite had several sons, including Priapus, Eros, and Hermaphroditus.

In many myths and legends, Aphrodite is portrayed as self-absorbed and cranky. It would seem that like many of the other Greek gods, she spent a lot of time meddling in the affairs of mortals, mostly for her own amusement. She was instrumental in the cause of the Trojan War; Aphrodite offered Helen of Sparta to Paris, the prince of Troy, and then when he saw Helen for the first time, Aphrodite made sure he was inflamed with lust, thus leading to Helen’s abduction and a decade of war.

A festival was held regularly to honor Aphrodite, appropriately called the Aphrodisia. At her temple in Corinth, revelers often paid tribute to Aphrodite by having rambunctious sex with her priestesses. The temple was later destroyed by the Romans, and not rebuilt, but fertility rites appear to have continued in the area.

In addition to her association with the sea and shells, Aphrodite is connected with dolphins and swans, apples and pomegranates, and roses.

 

Author

Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by About.com

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Brigid, Celtic Goddess of Imbolc

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments

Brigid, Celtic Goddess of Imbolc

 

Brigit is the central Irish Goddess. She is known as Brigantia in England and Bride in Scotland. She rules metal work and smithy, fire, poetry, midwifery and martial arts–but is primarily known as a major Mother Goddess. Brigit is a face of the Triple Goddess, and able to see all–often represented by an ever watchful eye. The three heart-shaped leaves of the shamrock recall the magical Celtic number of three, as well as the number of Brigit’s faces. From nine to Nineteen priestesses once tended an undying fire in her name at Kildare. Brigid is so central to Ireland that the newly converted people would not give her up, so her name metamorphosed into St. Bridgid, who in Irish Christian myth acts as tender and supportive friend of Mary and as the midwife at Christ’s birth. Barbara G. Walker writes that to the Irish people, however, she continued to be a Queen of Heaven and the mother of all the deities of the new religion. As the Saint, she also matched wits with St. Patrick, who is as mythical as she. At times they seem to be consorts, at others, adversaries. It cannot have helped their relationship that Patrick is known for ridding Ireland of snakes, and since Bridgid the saint descended from a pagan goddess and priestess persona, whose sacred healing totem is the snake. So when St. Patrick says he is ridding the isle of snakes, what he means is he is ridding it of pagans. Nevertheless, Patricius and Bridgid were often considered the primal Mother and Father, and were supposedly buried together at Derry Down.

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Deity of the Day for January 21 is Isis, Egyptian Goddess

Deity of the Day

Isis

Mother Goddess of Ancient Egypt

 

Mistress of Magic:

Isis (called “Aset” by the Egyptians), a daughter of Nut and Geb, is known in Ancient Egyptian mythology as a goddess of magic. Wife and sister of Osiris, Isis was originally considered a funerary goddess. After her resurrection via magic of Osiris, who had been killed by his brother Set, Isis was considered “more powerful than a thousand soldiers” and “the clever-tongued one whose speech never fails.” She is sometimes invoked as an assistant in magical rituals in some traditions of contemporary Wicca.

Her worship is also a focus of some Kemetic reconstructionist groups.

The Love of Isis and Osiris:

Isis and her brother, Osiris, were recognized as husband and wife. Isis loved Osiris, but their brother Set (or Seth) was jealous of Osiris, and planned to kill him. Set tricked Osiris and murdered him, and Isis was highly distraught. She found Osiris’ body within a great tree, which was used by the Pharoah in his palace. She brought Osiris back to life, and the two of them concieved Horus.

Depiction of Isis in Art and Literature:

Because Isis’ name means, literally, “throne” in the Ancient Egyptian language, she is usually represented with a throne as a depiction of her power.

She is often shown holding a lotus as well. After Isis was assimilated with Hathor, she was sometimes depicted with the twin horns of a cow on her head, with a solar disc between them.

Beyond Egypt’s Borders:

Isis was at the center of a cult that spread far beyond Egypt’s boundaries. The Romans were aware of the cult’s existence, but it was frowned upon by many of the ruling class. The emporer Augustus (Octavian) decreed that worship of Isis was forbidden as part of his attempt to return Rome to Roman gods.

For some Roman worshippers, Isis was absorbed into the cult of Cybele, which held bloody rites in honor of their mother goddess. The cult of Isis moved as far afield as ancient Greece, and was known as a mystery tradition among the Hellenes until it was banned by Christianity around the sixth century c.e.

Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood:

In addition to being the fertile wife of Osiris, Isis is honored for her role as the mother of Horus, one of Egypt’s most powerful gods. She was also the divine mother of every pharaoh of Egypt, and ultimately of Egypt itself. She assimilated with Hathor, another goddess of fertility, and is often depicted nursing her son Horus.

There is a wide belief that this image served as inspiration for the classic Christian portrait of the Madonna and Child.

Goddess of Magic:

After Ra created all things, Isis tricked him by creating a serpent which ambushed Ra on his daily journey across the heavens. The serpent bit Ra, who was powerless to undo the poison. Isis announced that she could heal Ra from the poison and destroy the serpent, but would only do so if Ra revealed his True Name as payment. By learning his True Name, Isis was able to gain power over Ra.

Goddess of Death and Rebirth:

After Set murdered and dismembered Osiris, Isis used her magic and power to bring her husband back to life. The realms of life and death are often associated with both Isis and her faithful sister Nephthys, who are depicted together on coffins and funerary texts. They are usually shown in their human form, with the addition of the wings that they used to shelter and protect Osiris.

Isis for a Modern Age:

Isis and Gardnerian Wicca

The Order of the Golden Dawn, founded by William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, recognized Isis as a powerful triple goddess. Later, she was passed down to modern Wicca when it was founded by Gerald Gardner.

Kemetic Wicca is a variation of Gardnerian Wicca that follows an Egyptian pantheon. Some Kemetic groupsfocus on the trinity of Isis, Orsiris and Horus and utilize prayers and spells found the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Other Isiac Traditions

A number of contemporary Pagan traditions have adopted Isis as their patron Goddess and she is often found at the heart of Dianic Wiccan groups and other female-centered covens. Although modern Wiccan worship does not follow the same structure as the ancient Egyptian ceremonies that were once used to honor Isis, today’s Isiac covens incorporate Egyptian lore and mythology into a Wiccan framework, bringing the knowledge and worship of Isis into a contemporary setting.

In addition to these widely recognized traditions, there are countless eclectic Wiccan groups throughout the world that have selected Isis as their deity. Because of the strength and power displayed by Isis, spiritual paths that honor her are popular among many Pagans and Wiccans who are seeking alternatives to traditional patriarchal religious structures. Worship of Isis has seen a resurgence as part of the “Goddess-oriented” spirituality that has become a notable part of the New Age movement.

 

Author

Paganism/Wicca Expert

Article published on & owned by About.com

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Deity of the Day for January 16th is Morrigan

Deity of the Day

Morrigan

 

Areas of Influence: The Goddess Morrigan represented the circle of life, she was associated with both birth and death.

 Her name means great queen or phantom queen. It is spelt in several different ways including Morrigu, Morgane, Morrighan and Morgan le Fay in the Arthurian legends.

She is one of the triple Goddesses, her different aspects are represented by Anu (the fertility maiden), Badh (the boiling mother cauldron) and either Macha (the death crone) or Nemain.

Morrigan is also a water Goddess, ruling over rivers and lakes. In one myth she appears as an old washer woman at the ford and offering her love to Cu Chulainne. He failed to recognize Morrigan on this occasion and on several others. Enraged she threated to hinder him in battle, when he is killed as a result of this she appears on his shoulder as a crow.

This Goddess also grants monarchs the power of sovereignty.

Origins and Genealogy: I can find no mention of her parentage but in some myths she was said to be the consort of Dadga

Morrigan was also one of the Tuatha de Danann (The tribe of the Goddess Danu). She protected her people by blowing a fog over the land, the lack of visibility discouraged invading armies.

Strengths: Fearsome and strong.

Weaknesses: She is vindictive, killing the person she loves when he fails to recognize her.

Goddess Morrigan’s Symbolism

As a symbol of death the Goddess Morrigan is linked with the festival of Samhain.

Sacred Bird: Crows and ravens.

Sacred Plants: Mugwort, yew and willow.

Morrigan’s Archetypes

The Celtic Goddess Morrigan has several powerful archetypes.

Shape-Shifter:

The Shape Shifter has the ability to change her physical appearance. They are also able to adapt easily to different environments by altering there behavior.

Shadow Shape shifter is fickle, lacking conviction and constantly reinventing themselves, like politicians trying to appeal to more people.

Morrigan is a bird Goddess who shape-shifts into the form of a hooded crow and a washer woman at the ford.

The Crone:

The Crone represents the wise old woman whose child bearing days are behind her. Other associations with this Archetype include: compassion, transformation, healing and bawdiness death and endings. She is the respected older woman or grand-parent at the heart of family who enjoys life and sharing her experience.

Unfortunately the word Crone or Hag often has negative connotations as many wise woman and midwives were persecuted as witches in the middle ages.

Shadow Crone is the bitter, old woman who has failed to learn from her life. She blames all her failings and unhappiness on a society that no longer respects the elders. As a result she becomes increasingly isolated and fearful.

The Warrior:

Warrior represents physical strength, and the ability to protect and fight for your rights and those of of others.

Whilst the shadow side of the Warrior reflects the need to win at all costs, abandoning ethical principals to prove your supremacy.

As the battle Goddess she appeared on the battlefield in the form of a crow and returned later to feed on the dead.

How to Work With This Archetype

The Shape-Shifter: A useful Goddess Archetype to have if you need to be flexible or perform lots of different roles.

The shadow side asks whether your chameleon like tendencies reflect a deep insecurity and inability to commit to any particular path.

The Crone: This maybe one of your Archetypes if you have gained wisdom, learning from your mistakes and showing a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances.

You are experiencing the Crone’s shadow if you have become rigid in your beliefs and have become stuck in a rut having lost all ability to let those areas of your life go that no longer serve you.

The Warrior:

If you are drawn to work with this Goddess you may require her Warrior spirit to help you to stand up for your rights and set firm personnal boundaries. This Goddess can be a great stereotype to work with if you want to take control in your life, and wish to no longer play the role of the victim.

You may also wish to call upon this Goddess to champion the cause of others.

Conversely this Goddess may appeal to you if you have a very strong sense of self and are proud of the victories you have achieved. The shadow side of this Goddess may be asking you to reflect honestly on the cost of these victories. Have they been at the expense of others or your principles?

 

Goddess-Guide.com

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Deity of the Day for January 16th is Artemis

Deity of the Day

 

Artemis

Greek Goddess of the Hunt, Forests and Hills, the Moon, Archery

Artemis is known as the goddess of the hunt and is one of the most respected of all the ancient Greek deities. It is thought that her name, and even the goddess herself, may even be pre-Greek. She was the daughter of Zeus, king of the gods, and the Titaness Leto and she has a twin brother, the god Apollo.

Not only was Artemis the goddess of the hunt, she was also known as the goddess of wild animals, wilderness, childbirth and virginity. Also, she was protector of young children and was know to bring and relieve disease in women. In literature and art she was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrow.

Artemis was a virgin and drew the attention and interest of many gods and men. However, it was only her hunting companion, Orion, that won her heart. It is believed that Orion was accidentally killed either by Artemis herself or by Gaia, the primordial goddess of the earth.

In one version of the stories of Adonis – who was a late addition to Greek mythology during the Hellenistic period – Artemis sent a wild boar to kill Adonis after he continued to boast that he was a far greater hunter than her.

Facts about Artemis

  • Artemis was daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister of Apollo.
  • According to one source, Artemis was born a day before Apollo. She then served as a guardian to him, which provided a context for her desire to protect and nurture.
  • She was primarily a virgin huntress, goddess of wildlife and patroness of hunters.
  • The bear was sacred to her.
  • She guarded her virginity carefully. Actaeon and Orion tried to dishonor or rape her, but anyone who threatened her purity met with a violent end.
  • She was an important goddess in the lives of women, especially when it came to marriage and young creatures.
  • When one of her nymphs was seduced by Zeus, Artemis transformed her into a bear and then killed her.
  • She was sometimes associated with the goddess of the moon.
  • Artemis acted out in anger whenever her wishes were disobeyed, especially if anyone transgressed against the animals that were sacred to her.
  • She punished Agamemnon, for example, when he killed a stag in her sacred grove.
  • Artemis appealed to Zeus to grant her eternal virginity.
  • Apollo and Artemis teamed up to kill the children of Niobe. Niobe bragged that she had birthed more children than Leto (the mother of Apollo and Artemis). The twins then hunted her children and killed them with their bows and arrows.
  • Artemis was worshipped widely in Greece but only as a secondary deity.
  • A temple built in her honor became one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.”
  • At least two festivals were celebrated in her honor of Artemis: Brauronia and the festival of Artemis Orthia.
  • Homer referred to her as a mistress of wild animals.
  • Artemis spent most of her time roaming the forests with her nymphs. She was described as both hunting animals and protecting them.
  • She armed herself with a bow and arrows made by Hephaestus and Cyclops.
  • In art, Artemis is often accompanied by a stag or hunting dog.
  • She is the protector of chastity and a nurturer of the young.

 

Source:
Artemis: http://greekgodsandgoddesses.net – Greek Gods & Goddesses, September 19, 2014

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Deity of the Day for January 16th is Hecate, Goddess of the Witches

Deity of the Day

Hecate

 

Hecate, Greek goddess of the three paths, guardian of the household, protector of everything newly born, and the goddess of witchcraft — once a widely revered and influential goddess,  the reputation of Hecate has been tarnished over the centuries. In current times, she is usually depicted as a “hag” or old witch stirring the cauldron.

But nothing could be further from the image of Hecate’s original glory.

A beautiful and powerful goddess in her own right, the Greek goddess Hecate was the only one of the ancient Titans who Zeus allowed to retain their authority once the Olympians seized control. Zeus shared with Hecate, and only her, the awesome power of giving humanity anything she wished (or withholding it if she pleased).

Usually classified as a “moon goddess”,  her kingdoms were actually three-fold . . . the earth, sea, and sky. Having the power to create or withhold storms undoubtedly played a role in making her the goddess who was the protector of shepherds and sailors.\

A lover of solitude, the Greek goddess Hecate was, like her cousin Artemis, a “virgin” goddess, unwilling to sacrifice her independent nature for the sake of marriage. Walking the roads at night or visiting cemeteries during the dark phase of the moon, the goddess Hecate was described as shining or luminous.

In other legends she is invisible, perhaps only glimpsed as a light, a “will-o-the-wisp”.  Perhaps it was this luminous quality that marked Hecate as a “moon goddess”, for she seemed quite at home on the earth.

Some scholars believe it is also was because her mother was Asteria (the Titan goddess of the Shining Light or “Star”) or perhaps it was because she sensibly always carried a torch on her journeys.

Like Artemis, Hecate was usually depicted with her sacred dogs, although Hecate and even her animals, were sometimes said to have three heads and that they could see in all directions. Although usually depicted as a beautiful woman having three human heads, some images are fearsome indeed (one with a snake’s head, one with a horse’s, and the third a boar’s head).

This farsightedness, the ability to see in several directions at once (even the past, present, and future) featured largely in her most famous myth, the abduction of Persephone.  For it was the goddess Hecate who “saw” and told the frantic Demeter what had become of her daughter.

The goddess Hecate continued to play an important role in the life of Persephone, becoming her confidante when she was in the Underworld. Hades, thankful for their friendship, was more than hospitable, honoring Hecate as a prominent and permanent guest in the spirit world. Surely this had the effect of enhancing her reputation as a spirit of black magic with the power to conjure up dreams, prophecies, and phantoms.

Hecate’s ability to see into the Underworld, the “otherworld” of the sleeping and the dead, made her comfortable and tolerant in the company of those most would shun out of fear or misunderstanding.

In her role as ‘Queen of the Night’, sometimes traveling with a following of  “ghosts” and other social outcasts, she was both honored and feared as the protectress of the oppressed and of those who lived “on the edge”.  In Rome many of the priests in her sacred groves were former slaves who had been released to work in her service.

The goddess Hecate was often accompanied on her travels by an owl, a symbol of wisdom. Not really known as a goddess of wisdom, per se, Hecate is nevertheless recognized for a special type of knowledge and is considered to be the goddess of trivia.

Hecate’s farsightedness and attention to detail, combined with her extraordinary interest in that which most of us discount as irrelevant or arcane, gave her tremendous powers.

She knew what the rest of us did not.

Not surprisingly, the people thought it best to give the goddess Hecate (and any friends that might be accompanying her) a lot of honor and a fairly wide berth. When darkness descended they wisely retired to the fireside for supper, but put the leftovers outside as an offering to Hecate and her hounds.

That the homeless and destitute were often the actual beneficiaries hardly mattered…after all, they were under Hecate’s protection.

In a similar fashion, food was often left at the crossroads to honor Hecate, especially at junctions where three roads converged –what we often call a “Y-intersection”.

Frequently a pole was erected at the intersection and three masks would be hung from it to pay homage to Hecate and to request her guidance in helping to choose the right direction.

Three-faced masks also adorned the entrances of many homes, honoring the goddess Hecate who could, of course, wield her influence over “the spirits that traveled the earth” to keep them  from entering the household.

It is hardly surprising that a woman who needed to make a trip alone at night would say a brief prayer to Hecate to seek her protection. The goddess Hecate, like her cousin Artemis, was known as a protector of women, especially during childbirth.

Not only was Hecate called upon to ease the pains and progress of a woman’s labor, but especially to protect and restore the health and growth of a child.

Similarly, Hecate played a role that, in contemporary times, we would describe as “hospice nurse”, helping the elderly make a smooth and painless passage into the next life and staying with them, if need be, in the otherworld to help prepare them for their eventual return to the earth in their next life.

Familiar with the process of death and dying as well as that of new birth and new life, the goddess Hecate was wise in all of earth’s mysteries.

The Greek goddess Hecate reminds us of the importance of change, helping us to release the past, especially those things that are hindering our growth,  and to accept change and transitions. She sometimes asks us to let go of what is familiar, safe, and secure and to travel to the scary places of the soul.

New beginnings, whether spiritual or mundane, aren’t always easy. But Hecate is there to support and show you the way.

She loans her farsightedness for you to see what lies deeply forgotten or even hidden, and helps you make a choice and find your path. Oft times she shines her torch to guide you while you are in dreams or meditation.

Hecate teaches us to be just and to be tolerant of those who are different or less fortunate, yet she is hardly a “bleeding heart”, for Hecate dispenses justice “blindly” and equally.

Whether the Greek goddess Hecate visits us in waking hours or only while we sleep, she can lead us to see things differently (ourselves included) and help us find greater understanding of our selves and others.

Although her name may mean “The Distant One”, Hecate is always close at hand in times of need, helping us to release the old, familiar ways and find our way through new beginnings.

 

 

Source:

Goddess Gift

 

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Deity of the Day for January 15th is Feronia

Deity of the Day

Feronia

In ancient Roman religion, Feronia was a goddess associated with wildlife, fertility, health and abundance. She was especially honored among plebeians and freedmen. Her festival, the Feroniae, was November 13, Ides of November, during the Ludi Plebeii (“Plebeian Games”), in conjunction with Fortuna Primigenia; both were goddesses ofPraeneste.

Origins and functions

Varro places Feronia in his list of Sabine gods who had altars in Rome. Inscriptions to Feronia are found mostly in central Italy. She was among the deities that Sabinemoneyers placed on their coins to honor their heritage. She may have been introduced into Roman religious practice when Manius Curius Dentatus conquered Sabinum in the early 3rd century BC.

Many versions of Feronia’s cult have been supposed, and it is not quite clear that she was only one goddess or had only one function in ancient times. Some Latins believed Feronia to be a harvest goddess, and honoured her with the harvest firstfruits in order to secure a good harvest the following year.

Feronia also served as a goddess of travellers, fire, and waters.

In Vergil’s Aeneid, troops from Feronia’s grove fight on the side of Turnus against Aeneas. The Arcadian king Evander recalls how in his youth he killed a son of Feronia, Erulus, who like Geryon had a triple body and a triple soul; Evander thus had to kill him thrice. Erulus, whom Vergil identifies as king at Praeneste, is otherwise unknown in literature.

Georges Dumézil considers Feronia to be a goddess of wilderness, of untamed nature and her vital forces, but honoured because she offers man the opportunity to put those forces to good use in acquiring nurture, health and fertility. She fecundates and heals, therefore despite her being worshipped only in the wild she receive the firstfruits of the harvest, because she permits men to domesticate the wild forces of vegetation, favouring the transformation of that which is uncouth into that which is cultivated.

Thence her shrines were all located in the wild, far from human settlements. Two stories about her sanctuary of Terracina highlight the character of Feronia as goddess of the wilderness. Servius writes that when a fire destroyed her wood and the locals were about moving the statues to another location, the burnt wood turned green all of a sudden. Pliny states that all attempts at building towers in times of war between Terracina and the sanctuary of Feronia have been abandoned because all are without exception destroyed by lightningbolts. The goddess thus refused any continuity and linkage with the nearby town.

Her lucus at Capena was a place where everybody was allowed to come for worship and trade, attracting people from different nations, Sabines, Latins, Etruscans and other even from farther away, providing everybody with a neutral territory in which peace must not be perturbed.

Dumézil compares her to Vedic god Rudra: he is similar to Feronia in that he represents that which has not yet been transformed by civilization, he is the god of the rude, of the jungle, at one time dangerous and uniquely useful, healer thanks to the herbs of his reign, protector of the freed slaves and of the outcast.

Feronia though has only the positive or useful function of putting the forces of wild nature at the service of man. Her name reveals she is one of the Roman and Italic goddesses whose name is formed by a derivate terminating with the suffix -ona, -onia of a noun denoting a difficult or dangerous state or condition: the deity is a sovereign of that danger only to help man to best avoid damage or get the greatest advantage, such as Angerona for the angusti dies near the winter solstice. Her name is to be derived from a Sabine adjective corresponding to Latin fĕrus but with a long vowel, such as the cognate words in every Indoeuropean language (e.g. Greek θήρ, θήριον). Fĕrus means “not cultivated, untamed” (Thesaurus Linguae Latinae), “of the field, wood, untamed, not mitigated by any cultivation (Forcellini Totius Latinatis Lexicon) which fits the environment of the sanctuaries of Feronia and is very close to rudis, rude, root of the name of Vedic god Rudrá as well.

Festus’s entry on the picus Feronius of Trebula Mutuesca testifies the goddess had also prophetic qualities among the Sabines, as did the picus martius of Tiora Matiena ascribed to the Aborigines.

Cult sites

Feronia had a temple at the base of Mt. Soracte which was near Capena. The Lucus Feroniae, or “grove of Feronia” (Fiano Romano) was the site of an annual festival in her honour, which was in the nature of a trade fair. The place, in the territory of Capena in southwestern Etruria, was plundered of its gold and silver by Hannibal’s retreating troops in 211 BCE, when he turned aside from the Via Salaria to visit the sanctuary; later it became an Augustan colonia. Its status as a colony is recorded in a single inscription, copied in a manuscript of the rule of the Farfa Abbey as colonia Iulia Felix Lucoferonensis.

Another important site was near Anxur (Terracina, southern Latium), in a wood three Roman miles from the town, where Servius recorded a joint cult of “the boy Jupiter” (puer Iuppiter) under the name of Anxyrus and “Juno the Virgin” (Iuno virgo), whom he identifies as Feronia. According to another tradition, slaves who had just been freed might go to the shrine at Terracina and receive upon their shaved heads the pileus, a hat that symbolized their liberty.

Her temple in the Campus Martius, in what is now Largo di Torre Argentina, was probably located in a grove as well according to an inscription found on the site. It was established before 217 BCE. It may have been dedicated by Curtius Dentatus following his victory over the Sabines. His building program also included the Anio Vetus, a major new aqueduct, and a number of fountains near the temple. Feronia’s cults at Aquileia and Terracina were near springs that were used in her rites. The Augustan poet Horace speaks of the water (lympha) of Feronia, in which “we bathe our face and hands.”

The Feralia on February 21 is a festival of Jupiter Feretrius, not Feronia.

Freedmen and Libertas

Varro identified Feronia with Libertas, the goddess who personified Liberty. According to Servius, Feronia was a tutelary goddess of freedmen (dea libertorum).A stone at the Terracina shrine was inscribed “let deserving slaves sit down so that they may stand up free.” Livy notes that in 217 BC freedwomen collected money as a gift for Feronia. Some sources state that slaves were set free at her temple near Terracina.

 

Source:
Wikipedia

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