jademermaid: (Dirty hippie)

Last night was the Nemoralia, A.K.A. the Festival of Torches, A.K.A. the Festival of Diana. It is a very popular celebration in ancient Rome, but one that is not on the official state calendar. It is a celebration by and for women, and one that took place out in the country at Lake Nemi. It was said one could see the fiery snake of torches for miles away, as the women walked to the lake and made their prayers. I have always been fascinated with this ritual, because it is so powerful and beautiful. This year we did a lot more than last year, and the prayers we made were heartfelt and unplanned.

First we washed each other's hair in water infused with rosemary and mint. This is something I recommend for anyone in this heat-it will cool you right off, but it is also documented in Ovid that they washed their hair together. Then we let my outside cat, Greyboy join us in the fun and wet his head with a little of the hair rinse. He didn't understand, but didn't run away. In fact he stayed with us for the entire ritual.

Then we placed flower garlands on our heads, which we both enjoyed making earlier. It turns out the hippies knew what they were doing, you simply can't be somber or unhappy with a bunch of pretty flowers on your head! Then we walked down to the shrine area, wearing our chitons. I wanted to walk with candles, but there was a breeze last night, and the candles didn't want to stay lit for us (Note for next year-use lanterns!). We made our normal greeting with incense, and then started the invocation, I to Diana, and Rose to Hecate, and then offered an apple and a head of garlic respectively.

Earlier we had written several prayers on slips of paper, and we placed these in a strand of red wool wrapped three times around the altar, something I read in Virgil's Epodes a long time ago, and that seemed to fit perfectly.

It was a lovely ritual and I have pictures! A couple were really washed out because it was nighttime, so I had some fun with them.

On to the pictures! )
jademermaid: (Diana)

Tonight is the Nemoralia (Festival of Torches-Ritual to Diana/Hecate)

From Ovid's Fasti:

In the Arrician valley,
there is a lake surrounded by shady forests,
Held sacred by a religion from the olden times...

On a long fence hang many pieces of woven thread,
and many tablets are placed there as grateful gifts to the Goddess.
Often does a woman whose prayers Diana answered,
With a wreath of flowers crowning her head,
Walk from Rome carrying a burning torch...

There a stream flows down gurgling from its rocky bed..."

Last year's Nemoralia:


Diana is, for many women, the first goddess that they become acquainted with. It doesn't seem to matter what religion they are to start with, most every woman knows and recognizes Diana/Artemis. She represents strength and power, which can help as a meditative archetype through rough times. She is prayed to for ease of childbirth, athletic ability, guidance and even revenge.

For me she was what got me through a bad relationship, and led me to embrace the duty of the Religio as I do now. She also gives me a strong visual and emotional signpost against my arthritis pain, and I'm pretty sure she will always be deep in my heart because of how much I've gone through with her. So, Lady, watch over me today. I am planning a lovely ritual to you this evening.
jademermaid: (Diana)
[livejournal.com profile] mezzanotterose came by for the ritual, with her hair already damp from being washed, mine had just dried. I used some rosemary in the rinse water, which I may do again, I love the smell of rosemary. I haven't found out exactly why the women made such a big deal of washing their hair, maybe it was just a bonding thing to do at the lake, or a symbol of the day being about women. In any case, we went out to the shrine with our burgundy chitons and freshly washed hair.

Next year I hope to make this a larger ritual, with lots of women and actual torches. We could actually wash our hair together if the pond is done by then. I think that would be beautiful.

It was dark, but the candles we carried actually were enough light to see by. I had already placed the bowl on the altar as a symbol of Lake Nemi and had dedicated the altar earlier that day. We placed our candles and started our prayers.

There is something very easy about when we ritual together. We go back and forth like some sort of religious machine. I said my prayer to Diana that I have used for years now, and Rose said a prayer to Hecate, also appropriate on this day for her connection via Trivia. I also asked Diana to look out for a friend of ours that is going in for throat surgery.

It is also the feast day for Pomona and Vertumnus, so we said a prayer for her as well, which was perfect since we were already under the apple tree.

Hail Diana, She of the shining moon, she who races in the wood, she of the stag and dog, hear this prayer from a humble heart. Let my injuries be silenced, my muscles stay limber, and my dance be fluid and proper. I pray that you will be favorable to my home, family and animals.

Nemoralia-Festival of Torches 2006


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