Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Parentalia/Faunalia

4456231_f496Parentalia was the ancient Roman nine day festival held in honor of family ancestors, beginning February 13. Its observances were mainly domestic and familial, These observances were meant to strengthen the mutual obligations and protective ties between the living and the dead. Flower-garlands, wheat, salt, wine-soaked bread and violets to the "shades of the dead" were placed at family tombs. Parentalia concluded February 21 in the midnight rites of Feralia, when the paterfamilias addressed the malevolent, destructive aspects of his Manes. Feralia was a placation and exorcism.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Faunus was the horned god of the forest, plains and fields; when he made cattle fertile he was called Inuus. He came to be equated in literature with the Greek god Pan. Faunus was one of the oldest Roman deities, known as the di indigetes.  The first of the two festivals to Faunus happens on the 13th with the second once taking place on December 5th. Faunus was worshipped across the Roman Empire for many centuries. Faunus was also worshipped in Gaul and is considered to be equivalent to the Celtic deity Dusios.

On the festival of Faunus today you can set a bowl of soil, gathered earlier in the year, and many small cups of soil, the figure of a goat, a plate of cookies shaped like goats, and a cup of wine, on an altar of green cloth. In the large bowl set many sticks of incense, with a single stick in each cup. His element is Earth and on this day you can give gifts of seeds to people who farm or grow produce around their home. Also a vegetarian meal is eaten on this day. Below is the invocation to Faunus:

faunusHail Blessed Faunus, Benefactor of the Fields!
You whose name means Favored One,
Favor us, as we stand here today!
Favor our fields, that they may yield.
Favor our gardens, that they may grow.
Favor our flocks, that they may increase.
Favor our faith, that it may grow as well.
Give us increase and abundance of all good things,
Enough to help us through times of dearth.
Give us luck, that we may find our way
Past all the obstacles that cannot be
Surmounted by skill alone.
Smile on us, Faunus, Gladsome One,
Goat-horned and goat-hooved
Like the animals you watch over,
Let those in our care not go hungry
Nor suffer the pangs of thirst.
Show us the future, Oracular One,
And we pray that it may be a future
We can all look forward to.
Hail, Faunus, Father of Bona Dea,
Son and wife of Marica the nymph,
Called Lupercus, He who wards off the Wolf,
Ward the evil from our lives
And watch over us as your flock.

The wine is poured out as a libation. One takes the great bowl of earth and purifies the altar room with its smoke. All others take a cup and walk alone to some place in the House or the lands in order to purify that place with the smoke.

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