Origins of Lupercalia

WOLVESOrigins of Lupercalia

Type of Holiday: Ancient

Date of Observation: February 15

Where Celebrated: Rome

Symbols and Customs: Blood, Februa, Goat, Milk, Wolf

Colors: Red and white, in the form of BLOOD and MILK , both played a part in the earliest observance of the Lupercalia. Nowadays these are the colors associated with Valentine’s Day, to which this ancient festival has been linked.

Related Holidays: Valentine’s Day

ORIGINS
The Lupercalia was a festival in the ancient Roman religion, which scholars trace back to the sixth century B . C . E . Roman religion dominated Rome and influenced territories in its empire until Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in the third century C . E . Ancient Roman religion was heavily influenced by the older Greek religion. Roman festivals therefore had much in common with those of the ancient Greeks. Not only were their gods and goddesses mostly the same as those in the Greek pantheon (though the Romans renamed them), but their religious festivals were observed with similar activities: ritual sacrifice, theatrical performances, games, and feasts.

The Lupercalia festival was held in honor of the WOLF who mothered Romulus and Remus, the legendary twin founders of Rome. During the original Roman celebration, members from two colleges of priests gathered at a cave on the Palatine Hill called the Lupercal-supposedly the cave where Romulus and Remus had been suckled by a she-wolf-and sacrificed a GOAT and a dog. The animals’ BLOOD was smeared on the foreheads of two young priests and then wiped away with wool dipped in MILK . The two young men stripped down to a goatskin loincloth and ran around the Palatine, striking everyone who approached them, especially the women, with thongs of goat skin called FEBRUA . It is believed that this was both a fertility ritual and a purification rite. It may also have been a very early example of “beating the bound, or reestablishing the borders of the early Palatine settlement.

There is some confusion over which god the Luperci or priests served; some say it was Faunus, a rural deity, and some say it was Pan, the god of shepherds who protected sheep from the danger of wolves. All that is certain is that by Caesar’s time, the annual ceremony had become a spectacular public sight, with young men running half-naked through the streets and provoking much good-natured hysteria among the women. February 15 was also the day when Mark Antony offered Julius Caesar the crown. Thanks to this historic event, and Shakespeare’s account of it in his play Julius Caesar, the Lupercalia is one of the best known of all Roman festivals.

It is interesting that such a rustic festival continued to be celebrated in Rome for centuries after it had been Christianized. Its survival can be partially credited to Augustus, who rebuilt the Lupercal in the first century B . C . E ., thus giving the celebration a boost. It continued to be observed until 494 C . E ., when Pope Gelasius I changed the day to the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. There is some reason to believe that the Lupercalia was a forerunner of the modern VALENTINE’S DAY: Part of the ceremony involved putting girls’ names in a box and letting boys draw them out, thus pairing them off until the next Lupercalia.

Source:
The Free Dictionary

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Celebrating 365 Days of Legends, Folklore & Spirituality for December 17 – 23 – Saturnalia

December 17 thru 23

Saturnalia

Out of all the ancient Roman festivals this was the most beloved. The festival grew out of the dedication-day of a temple to Saturnus, the God of seed and sowing. It is also equated with the Greek Kronos, father of Zeus, and supreme God during the age of the Golden Race. It was believed that Saturn had been the king of Italy in a time of equality and abundance.

The festival began with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, which was followed by a great public banquet. During the Saturnalia, all shops and schools were closed, and gambling-usually usually prohibited-was allowed. Each household chose a mock king to preside over the festivities, masters waited on their slaves, presents were given, and the entire household celebrated. Many of the time-honored traditions and customs of Saturnalia were absorbed into the later Christian Christmas that fell on December 25.

 

Calendar of the Sun for February 14th

Calendar of the Sun
14 Solmonath

Lupercalia

Color: Black and red
Element: Earth
Altar: Drape with black and set with the figures of wolves and a straw goat. There should also be a shallow bowl filled with the blood of a recently slaughtered animal, and a knife in the blood, and a goatskin whip.
Offerings: Cakes baked of “mola salsa”, heavily salted meal from the first ears of grain harvested during the last year. An agreement to study the predator and prey within you.
Daily Meal: Goat meat. Bread or cooked grains.

Lupercalia Invocation

Within us is the goat
Who is sacrificed
Who gives up its life
Who is torn apart
That others may live.
Within us is the wolf
That does the tearing,
Who is pitiless,
Who is implacable,
Who is the life for which
The prey lays it own down.
We are both wolf and goat
And to devalue one
Is to shame the other.

Call and Response:
Hail, Creature of Prey, Sacrificed One!
Hail, Predator who accepts the sacrifice!
Hail, Pan, Goat-God who runs on swift hooves!
Hail, Loba, Wolf-Goddess, who pursues him!
May we fear no pain!
May we fear no pain!
May we fear no pain!

(Two who have been chosen to do the work of the ritual stand naked before the altar. One takes the whip and whips the open presented palms of each person, saying, “Let the spirit of the Goat come into you.” The other takes the bloody knife and carefully wipes it across the foreheads of everyone present, saying, “Let the spirit of the Wolf come into you.” All join in a group howl.)

Seasons Of The Witch – Ancient Holidays (and some not so ancient!)

Seasons Of The Witch – Ancient Holidays (and some not so ancient!)

 

Blessing of the Grapes – In Armenia, the blessing of the Grapes takes place on the Sunday closest to the Assumption (they coincide this year). No grapes are eaten until today when they are taken to church to be blessed, then distributed to the churchgoers when they leave. Women named Mary have parties in vineyards or their homes (because this is considered their name day — as in many cultures, the saint’s day associated with your name is celebrated like a birthday). Spicer, Dorothy Gladys, The Book of Festivals, The Women’s Press 1937

 

Hera Thelkinia – On the 20th day of the lunar month of Metageitnion, the Greeks celebrated this festival in honor of Hera as Thelkinia, which some translate as the Charmer and others as the Enchanter.

 

Cat Nights -Someone thought that cats deserved their own month-long holiday after the Dog Days and decided that this was the starting date for it. Makes sense to me.

 

Portunalia – An obscure Roman festival associated with the harbor god Portunus, whose symbol was the key. He may have been a god of gates, or the keys that secure grain storehouses. Until AD 17, this was also the dedication day of Janus’s temple. Considering the value of stored grain, which is both food in winter and seed for spring, it makes sense that blessing the keys or transporting the grain to the storehouse at harvest time would become a sacred ritual.

 

China: FEAST OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS. Wide variety of offerings for those who died orphans, paupers or beggars & those who died far from home. Those lonesome & desolate souls may return to inhabit leaves & grasses, & spread plagues. If offerings are made, they may stay away.