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Here the old pagan roman goddesses shall dwell again.
So far I plan a shrine for Bona Dea (Fauna or Damia),
 Juno, Cybele, Terra mater (Tellus),
Vesta/Hestia.
Suggest me, which one should move in, too.

Updated 28/02/2013.

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Cybele

(Kubile, Kubala, Kubaba, Kubabat)

 


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A Near Eastern goddess whose worship spread from Phrygia into Greece, Rome and other neighboring cultures. Even in Athens' Agora there is a temple dedicated to her which is known as the Metroön or "Temple of the Mother". Cybele was involved with sacred prostitution, sacrifice in the form of castration and fertility rituals focusing on Attis, one of the many vegetation-gods. The cult of this Phrygian goddess has resulted in archeological monuments ranging in time from 6.000 BCE to the end of the Roman Empire, and recent finds have established that she was also worshipped among the Thracian peoples. She was identified with the Greek goddess Rhea.

Other names and titles:

Agdos name for Cybele , when she takes the form of a rock.

In his work on the Christian Black Virgins and their origins, Ean Begg relates Cybele to the Ka'bah.

"Her name is etymologically linked with the words for crypt, cave, head and dome and is distantly related to the Ka'aba, the cube-shaped Holy of Holies in Mecca that contains the feminine black stone venerated by Islam" Begg, p.57

Cybele, like the Ephesian Artemis and many other goddesses, was also venerated in the form of a black stone. Once this stone had been brought to Rome, both stone and goddess were worshipped in the Roman Empire until the 4th century CE.

A Roman name for this goddess was Mater Kubile, and sometimes also simply Magna Mater, meaning "Great Mother".

Article from Britannica.com:
Ancient Oriental and Greco-Roman deity, known by a variety of local names; the name Cybele or Cybebe predominates in Greek and Roman literature from about the 5th century BC onward. Her full official Roman name was Mater Deum Magna Idaea (Great Idaean Mother of the Gods).

Legends agree in locating the rise of the worship of the Great Mother in the general area of Phrygia in Asia Minor (now in west-central Turkey), and during classical times her cult centre was at Pessinus, located on the slopes of Mount Dindymus, or Agdistis (hence her names Dindymene and Agdistis). The existence, however, of many similar non-Phrygian deities indicates that she was merely the Phrygian form of the nature deity of all Asia Minor. From Asia Minor her cult spread first to Greek territory. The Greeks always saw in the Great Mother a resemblance to their own goddess Rhea and finally identified the two completely.

During Hannibal's invasion of Italy in 204 BC, the Romans followed a Sibylline prophecy that the enemy could be expelled and conquered if the "Idaean Mother" were brought to Rome, together with her sacred symbol, a small stone reputed to have fallen from the heavens. Her identification by the Romans with the goddesses Maia, Ops, Rhea, Tellus, and Ceres contributed to the establishment of her worship on a firm footing. By the end of the Roman Republic it had attained prominence, and under the empire it became one of the most important cults in the Roman world.

In all of her aspects, Roman, Greek, and Oriental, the Great Mother was characterized by essentially the same qualities. Most prominent among them was her universal motherhood. She was the great parent not only of gods but also of human beings and beasts. She was called the Mountain Mother, and special emphasis was placed on her maternity over wild nature; this was manifested by the orgiastic character of her worship. Her mythical attendants, the Corybantes, were wild, half-demonic beings. Her priests, the galli, castrated themselves on entering her service. 

Notice: I got an email from Friya, who says she is a priestess of Cybele in the modern tradition. She mentioned to me, that the galli actually should be named in the female term: gallae, so the archgalli would also be an archgalllia. This is important, for those man made a genderswitch for the goddess and should therefore be refered to as female. 

The self-mutilation was justified by the myth that her lover, the fertility god Attis, had emasculated himself under a pine tree, where he bled to death. At Cybele's annual festival (March 15-27), a pine tree was cut and brought to her shrine, where it was honoured as a god and adorned with violets considered to have sprung from the blood of Attis. On March 24, the "Day of Blood," her chief priest, the archigallus, drew blood from his arms and offered it to her to the music of cymbals, drums, and flutes, while the lower clergy whirled madly and slashed themselves to bespatter the altar and the sacred pine with their blood. On March 27 the silver statue of the goddess, with the sacred stone set in its head, was borne in procession and bathed in the Almo, a tributary of the Tiber River.

Cybele's ecstatic rites were at home and fully comprehensible in Asia, but they were too frenzied for Europeans farther west. Roman citizens were at first forbidden to take part in the ceremonies--a ban that was not removed until the time of the empire. Though her cult sometimes existed by itself, in its fully developed state the worship of the Great Mother was accompanied by that of Attis.

The Great Mother was especially prominent in the art of the empire. She usually appears with mural crown and veil, seated on a throne or in a chariot, and accompanied by two lions.

She  was regarded as the giver of life to gods, human beings, and beasts alike.

Abundantia/Abundita Roman Goddess of abundance. She is the potectress of wealth.
   

Adiona/Abeona/Adeona

The Goddess of departing. She is the guardian of children as they begin to explore the world as well as the guardian of travellers in general. 

Aestas

Roman Goddess of Summer. She is portrayed as naked and adorned with garlands made from ears of corn. Festival: 27 June

Aetna

Goddess of the vulcan mountain Etna.

Anna Furrinna

An Etruscan and subsequently Roman (river-)goddess whose fertility festivals were aimed at stimulating the fertility of both plants and humans. Her worship also involved sacred prostitution. Her ritual festival was celebrated on March, 15 in the Via Flamina in a grove.

(other spelling: Anna Perenna)

Acca Larentia

(Etruscan, "Lady Mother")

Also known simply as Lara, she is a goddess of sexuality in whose worship sacred prostitution played an important role. A semi-divine prostitute, she passed into Roman mythology as a benefactress of the lower classes and as the she-wolf foster-mother of Remus and Romulus, the mythical founders of Rome. Her festival, the Larentalia, took place annually on December 23rd.

Aurora

Goddess of the dawn. (greek: Eos)

 According to the Greek poet Hesiod, she was the daughter of the Titan Hyperion and the Titaness Theia and sister of Helios, the sun god, and Selene, the moon goddess. She bears in Homer's works the epithet Rosy-Fingered.

Eos was also represented as the lover of the hunter Orion and of the youthful hunter Cephalus, by whom she was the mother of Phaethon. In art she is represented as a young woman, either walking fast with a youth in her arms or rising from the sea in a chariot drawn by winged horses; sometimes, as the goddess who dispenses the dews of the morning, she has a pitcher in each hand.
Bellona
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" Lady of War": Bellona is an ancient, native Roman Goddess. In later years, She was assimilated to Mah of Asia Minor. Her faith was described as bloody and orgiastic.

She is often identified with the Greek war goddess Enyo. Although she was an ancient goddess, Bellona had no flamen, or dedicated priest, and no festival in her honor. Her temple, which was dedicated in Rome in 296BC, stood in the Campus Martius near the altar of Mars outside the gates of the city. Here the Senate met to receive foreign ambassadors. In front of Bellona's temple stood the columna bellica, or column of war. Here the fetial priests, who supervised the religious aspect of Rome's international affairs, performed ceremonies for the declaration of war.

Bona Dea

"The Good Goddess". She was a primary Women-Goddess. At the Aventin she had a temple. The name "Bona Dea" is also interpreted as a title of the old Roman goddess Fauna. The festival of the Bona Dea was a moveable festival, but it fell in early December (round the 3rd).

Her temple in Rome was situated a little north of the present church of S. Cecila in Trastevere. There are no remains left.

  • The temple was decorated with vine-branches, and other plants and flowers. Wine was served, but it was referred to as "milk" and the jar in which it was served, a "honey-pot." A sow was sacrificed to her at the ritual.
  • A secret ceremony was held in December. The rites were conducted annually by the wife of the senior magistrate present in Rome in his home - assisted by the Vestal Virgins. Men were strictly forbidden. This was unlike the other festival in May: Not celebrated in the goddess' temple, not paid for by the state and the night of its celebration was not fixed. This ritual was unlike the May celebration an invitation only affair and pretty exclusive.
  • The celebrations seem to have been part of a mystery cult.  The worship seems to have been agricultural in origin and the careful exclusion of myrtle (associated with flagellation) may actually suggest origins as a purification ceremony.

In the italian city Volterra you can find the remains of a little temple built in the III. century A.D. and devoted to the Bona Dea. Behind the roman theatre there are also the remains of the Baths of Bona Dea.

Plutarch, Life of Caesar 9-10: 

The Romans have a goddess whom they call Good, whom the Greeks call the Women's Goddess. The Phrygians say that this goddess originated with them, and that she was the mother of their king Midas. The Romans say that she was a Dryad nymph who married Faunus, and the Greeks say that she was the Unnameable One among the mothers of Dionysus. For this reason the women who celebrate her rites cover their tents with vine-branches, and a sacred serpent sits beside the goddess on her throne, as in the myth. It is unlawful for a man to approach or to be in the house when the rites are celebrated. The women, alone by themselves, are said to perform rites that conform to Orphic ritual during the sacred ceremony.

 

Cardea "Lady Protectress": Though ridiculed as the Goddess of Door Hinges, Cardea was in fact an important Deity of the Roman family. She is often in company with Janus, the two-faced God of Thresholds and Beginnings and Endings.
Ceres "Lady of Grain": The native Roman Goddess Ceres was assimilated with the Greek Goddess Demeter. The story of Demeter and Persephone is well-known. In Rome, Persephone was known as Proserpina.

Diana
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(greek: Artemis) Roman Goddess of the moon, free nature, wild beasts and hunting. Her cult centers were manly holy groves all over Italy (f.e. Capua/Aricia). Her festival was on August 13. She also had a main temple in Rome on the Aventin. See in due time more information under Artemis (Greek Realm)

Diana, a native Roman Goddess worshipped especially at Lake Nemi, was easy assimilated with the Graeco-Asian Goddess, Artemis. In psychotherapy and Jungian psychology, Artemis/Diana has come to represent the multifaceted, contradictory, beautiful, violent aspects of the feminine psyche. Her temple at Ephesus was one of the Wonders of the Ancient World and the site of one of Saint Paul's least-successful missions.

In the sixth century the Romans erected a temple for Diana outside the citygates on the Avent-hills. The statue which was kept in this temple was a copy of the Artemis of Massalia (Marseilles), which was itself a copy of the Artemis of Ephesus.

   

Flora
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Picture: Susan Boulet


Wonderful Picture from 

the artist Genevieve Amy
British Columbia, Canada

 

Italian Springgoddess. Goddess of flowers and blooming plants. Her cult festival "Floralia" was between 28th April and 3rd May. In the year 238 b.c. the Romans build a temple for her in the west of the Circus Maximus.

Flora, Lady of Flowers
Though not counted among the Olympian Twelve, Flora was a Goddess much loved by the Roman people. Her festivals were popular occasions. The reason for Her popularity and importance eluded historians who failed to recognize the connection between flowers, sex and reproduction.

Fortuna
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Goddess of luck (greek: Tyche). She was a very popular and common Goddess. To her woman prayed for childbirth and her cult included fortunetelling with an oracle picking lots (this was located in Praeneste).

In the beginning Fortuna was a goddess of plenty and had birth and the protection of children under her control. Later she was seen as a Goddess of chance.

Furiae

"The Angry" (greek: Erinyes. Chtonian three-shaped Goddess of anger and revenge. "Vengeful Ones": Also known as Eumenides, "Kind Ones," these Greek Goddesses were adopted by the Romans, who called them Furiae. More ancient then the Olympian pantheon, the triune Erinyes once served the Great Goddess, punishing those who broke Her laws.

They were probably personified curses but possibly were originally conceived of as ghosts of the murdered. According to the Greek poet Hesiod they were the daughters of Gaea (Earth) and sprang from the blood of her mutilated spouse Uranus; in the plays of Aeschylus they were the daughters of Nyx; in those of Sophocles, they were the daughters of Darkness and of Gaea. Euripides was the first to speak of them as three in number. Later writers named them Alecto ("Unceasing in Anger"), Tisiphone ("Avenger of Murder"), and Megaera ("Jealous"). They lived in the underworld and ascended to earth to pursue the wicked. Being deities of the underworld, they were often identified with spirits of the fertility of the earth. Because the Greeks feared to utter the dreaded name Erinyes, the goddesses were often addressed by the euphemistic names Eumenides ("Kind Ones"), or Semnai Theai ("Venerable Goddesses"). 

Iuno
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(greek: Hera): Roman Mothergoddess protecting childbirth, marriage and women in general. Wife of Jovis (Jupiter).

Juno, Queen of Heaven
Though generally equated with the Greek Goddess Hera, Juno was in fact a native Latin Goddess with a mythology of Her own; some has survived. Her disposition was also much different than Hera's, and She was accounted the wisest counselor and beloved wife of Jupiter, which she was not from the beginning of her worship.

She actually started as a Goddess of her own right and was responsible for youth.

There was a famous statue of Juno from the Etruscian city Veii, which the Romans transferered in 296 before our time to Rome after defeating the city.

The Church Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome was erected near the site of an old temple dedicated to Juno Lucina:  

Even in the late Empire a temple to the Roman mother goddess Juno Lucina was still flourishing on the Esquiline Hill and was frequented by many Roman matrons approaching childbirth. It is highly likely that a church to the Virgin Mother of God was erected to supplant the enduring pagan cult of Juno Lucina. In fact, some of Santa Maria Maggiore's marble columns came from the Juno Lucina temple, which was located, according to archeological findings, about 300 meters from the basilica's present site. (cited from: THE BASILICA OF SUMMER SNOWS by June Hager)

Iuventas

Goddess of youth.

Libitina

Roman Goddess of funerals. Her temple was in a grove were the grave-digger lived and prepared everything for the funeral rituals.

At her sanctuary in a sacred grove (perhaps on the Esquiline Hill), a piece of money was deposited whenever a death occurred. There the undertakers (libitinarii) had their offices, and there all deaths were registered for statistical purposes. The word Libitina thus came to be used for the business of an undertaker, funeral requisites, and, by poets, for death itself.

Libitina was often mistakenly identified with Venus Lubentia (Lubentina), an Italian goddess of gardens. Libitina may have been originally an earth goddess connected with luxuriant nature and the enjoyments of life; because all such deities were connected with the underworld, she also became the goddess of death, that side of her character predominating in later conceptions.

Minerva
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Alternative Names:
Achaea/Achaia at Luceria in Apulia.

Italian Goddess. Her origins are not sure; she might have been the etruscan goddess Falerii or a sabinian citygoddess. In Rome she was worshipped as a Goddess of wisdom, war and protection of the city. She also protected the arts and handicrafts. On June 13 and on March 19 there were festivals in her name.

She was commonly identified with the Greek Athena. She was one of the Capitoline triad, in association with Jupiter and Juno. Her shrine on the Aventine in Rome was a meeting place for guilds of craftsmen, including at one time dramatic poets and actors.

Her worship as a goddess of war encroached upon that of Mars. The erection of a temple to her by Pompey out of the spoils of his Eastern conquests shows that by then she had been identified with the Greek Athena Nike, bestower of victory. Under the emperor Domitian, who claimed her special protection, the worship of Minerva attained its greatest vogue in Rome. 

Pales

Roman Goddess of herdsmen. Her festival "Parilia" was on 21st April. She protected the herds and the herdsmen from illness and beasts.

Pomona

Italian Goddess of fruits that grow on trees.

Lady Orchard
Though a Goddess important to the Romans, little of Her mythology survived, even into the time of the Empire (first century CE). The one well-known myth is believed by modern historians to have been invented at a late date. Goddesses of fruit trees were common throughout the ancient world, as They still are today.

Salus

"salvation" The personified Roman goddess of health and prosperity, both of the individual and the state. As Salus Publica Populi Romani ("goddess of the public welfare of the Roman people") she had a temple on the Quirinal, inaugurated in 302 BCE (Livius X, 1, 9). Later she became more a protector of personal health. Around 180 BCE sacrificial rites in honor of Apollo, Aesculapius, and Salus took place there (Livius XL, 19). Her attribute was a snake or a bowl and her festival was celebrated on March 30. Salus is identified with the Greek Hygieia.

(Email from Annina)

Tellus,
Terra Mater

Italian Goddess of the earth. She gave fertility. (greek: Gaia). In the cult Ceres (greek: Demeter) and Tellus were worshipped together.

Also called TERRA MATER, ancient Roman earth goddess. Probably of great antiquity, she was concerned with the productivity of the earth and was later identified with the mother-goddess Cybele. Her temple on the Esquiline Hill dated from about 268 BC. Though she had no special priest, she was honoured in the Fordicidia and Sementivae festivals, both of which centred on fertility and good crops.

Venus
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above Picture: Susan Boulet

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Italian Goddess that later was identified with the greek Aphrodite. At first she was the Goddess of gardens, but turned into the Goddess of love. Her temple was build on the Capitol around 300 b.c..

Precious stone of Venus: Chrysopras and Dioptas. 

Mistress of Pleasure

Many modern people consider Venus to be nothing more than a Goddess of Sex; in fact, sex was only one of Her many responsibilities. Venus (Greek name, Aphrodite), was concerned with all aspects of Love, Pleasure, Beauty and Procreation.

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Vesta

Italian Goddess of the hearth ( identified with  the greek Hestia). Her festival was on 9th June. The priestesses of Vesta had to protect a state-fire and had to remain virgins. Her cult was one of the oldest in Rome and more important than the Hestia-cult to the Greeks.

In republican times of Rome every invocation had to begin with the God Janus and had to end with calling Vesta. (ref: Jones/Pennick: Pagan Europe, germ. P. 58)

From the earliest times Vesta had a prominent place in both family and state worship. Her worship was observed in every house and her image was sometimes included in the housealtar.

The state worship of Vesta was much more elaborate. Her sanctuary was traditionally a circular building, in imitation of the early Italian round hut and symbolic of the public hearth. The Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum was of great antiquity and underwent many restorations and rebuildings in both republican and imperial times. There burned the perpetual fire of the public hearth attended by the Vestal Virgins. This fire was officially extinguished and renewed annually on March 1 (originally the Roman new year), and its extinction at any other time, either accidentally or not, was regarded as a portent of disaster to Rome. The temple's innermost sanctuary was not open to the public; once a year, however, on the Vestalia (June 7-15), it was opened to matrons who visited it barefoot.

The days of the festival were unlucky. On the final day occurred the ceremonial sweeping out of the building, and the period of ill omen did not end until the sweepings were officially disposed of by placing them in a particular spot along the Clivus Capitolinus or by throwing them into the Tiber. 

In addition to the shrine itself and between it and the Velia stood the magnificent Atrium Vestae. This name originally was given to the whole sacred area comprising the Temple of Vesta, a sacred grove, the Regia (headquarters of the pontifex maximus, or chief priest), and the House of the Vestals, but ordinarily it designated the home or palace of the Vestals.

Vesta is represented as a fully draped woman, sometimes accompanied by her favourite animal, an ass. As goddess of the hearth fire, Vesta was the patron deity of bakers, hence her connection with the ass, usually used for turning the millstone, and her association with Fornax, the spirit of the baker's oven. She is also found allied with the primitive fire deities Cacus and Caca. (source: Britannica.com)

Victoria
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Roman Goddess of victory. Around 294 b.c. the Romans build a temple for her on the Palatin. Her cult was spread over the whole Roman empire.