Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Neptunalia Festival

Today is the Neptunalia Festival in honor of the god Neptune. The Neptunalia was the festival of Neptune on July 23, at the height of summer. The date and the construction of tree-branch shelters suggest a primitive role for Neptune as god of water sources in the summer's drought and heat. The most ancient Roman calendar set the feriae of Neptunus on July 23, two days after the Lucaria of July 19 and 21 and two days before the Furrinalia of July 25. (Read more here on my previous post.)

I don't live near a large body of water, the ocean, lake or the beach, but thanks to my mom's love off all things beach side and seashell I have plenty of items to choose from for my altar in honor of Neptune. I have placed some coral pieces, seashells, a small dolphin figurine, seahorses, a pewter sand castle, and a small chalice of water. Plus I have lit my go-to incense , Frankincense and Myrrh. My day will be a casual show of respect for the god with candle and incense and incantation.

Neptune was the god of water and the sea.  Unlike the Greek Oceanus, titan of the world-ocean, Neptune was associated as well with fresh water. Georges Dum├ęzil suggested that for Latins, who were not a seafaring people, the primary identification of Neptune was with freshwater springs. Like Poseidon, Neptune was worshipped by the Romans also as a god of horses, under the name Neptunus Equester, a patron of horse-racing

I found this prayer to Neptune on a Yahoo groups post:

"Gods, who delight in preserving bold ships and turning from them the 
perils of windy seas, make smooth and placid these waters, and attend 
with good council my vows, let not my words be drowned out by roaring 
waves as I pray:

"O Neptune, grand and rare is the pledge we make to You, and in what 
we commend into the depths of the sea. Young Maecius it is whose 
body we commit to the sea, far from the sight of land, that he, the 
better part of our souls, traverses the sea's length and depth (to 
the Western Lands). 

"Bring forth the benign stars, the Spartan brothers, Castor and 
Pollux, to sit upon the horns of the yard arm. Let your light 
illuminate sea and sky. Drive off your sister Helen's stormy star, I 
pray, and expel it from all the heavens. 

"And you azure Nereids of the seas, whose good fortune it was to 
attain mastery of the oceans – may it be allowed to name you stars of 
the seas – rise up from your glassy caverns near the foaming waves 
that encircle Doris, and tranquilly swim circles around the shores of 
Baiae where the hot springs abound. Seek after the lofty ship on 
which a noble descendant of Ausonians, Celer, mighty at arms, is glad 
to embark. Not long will you need to look, for she lately came 
across the sea, leading a convoy laden with Egyptian wheat and bound 
for Dicarcheis. First was she to salute Capreae and from her 
starboard side offer a libation of Mareotic wine to Tyrrhenian 
Minerva. Near to her, on either side, circle gracefully around her. 
Divide your labors, some to tighten fast the rigging from masts to 
deck, while others high above spread forth canvass sails to the 
westerly Zephyrs. Still others replace some benches, others send 
into the water the rudder by whose curved blade steers the ship. 
Another plumbs the depths with leaden weights while others to fasten 
the skiff that follows astern, and to dive down and drag the hooked 
anchor from the depths, and one to control the tides and make the sea 
flow eastward. Let none of the sea green sisterhood be without her 

"Then let Proteus of manifold shape and triformed Triton swim before, 
and Glaucus whose loins vanished by sudden enchantment, and who, so 
oft as he glides up to his native shores, wistfully beats his fish 
tail on Anthedon's strand. 

"But above all others you, Palaemon, with your goddess mother, be 
favourable, if I have a passion to tell of your own Thebes, and sing 
of Amphion, bard of Phoebus, with no unworthy quill. 

"And may the father whose Aeolian prison constrains the winds, whom 
the various blasts obey, and every air that stirs on the world's 
seas, and storms and cloudy tempests, keep the North wind and South 
and East in closer custody behind his wall of mountain, but may 
Zephyr alone have the freedom of the sky, alone drive vessels onward 
and skim unceasingly over the crests of billows, until he brings 
without a storm your glad sails safe to the Paraetonian haven."
~ P. 
Papinius Statius, Silvae 3.2.1-49

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