Dreams & Letting Go: 2.5k Words on My Current World

At the end of February, I had a dream that concerned me.  A bulldozer came down the hill behind my house, destroying the wooded space until I could see my neighbors’ homes.  Later in the day I went out to my backyard to see that someone had destroyed my shrines.  Every last one.  All of them Roman – Altars included.  Busted and broken.  Scattered.

I was terrified.  I ran to my home, slamming the door shut, but all the locks were broken.  I kept looking for my dog (which in reality I don’t have), but I couldn’t find him to protect me from whatever it was coming for me.  Everything was going to be destroyed and they were coming for me.  No one was there to help me.

The next day in my waking life, a friend was kind enough to come sit down and look into the space.  I was scared for my hill.  I was scared about being attacked somehow, and I made sure to ward my home more than I had in years. I realized I wasn’t really in danger, but it scared me all the same.  We sat next to the man-made stream and sat with the hill.

As we got to talking, she said that there was something coming.  That it was big, dark, and cold.  I remember chuckling, because I know Who she was talking about, because I’ve spent so long with Him now.  I admitted I was still scared, though, because I couldn’t see what was on the horizon.  So much of my life is up in the air and prone to change at any moment radically.

She asked me why I thought what was coming was a bad thing.

That answer was both easy and hard to answer.  Despite the chaos of all the changes in the last few years and the rending away of things that didn’t really matter, I’d held on tightly to other things that I’d worked so hard to obtain for myself – Things that had been my anchor during other points of upheaval in my life.  Things that I always fell back on when I felt like I didn’t have anything else.

What I was talking about were my Gods, the Roman pantheon, and the rituals that layout the groundwork of Roman polytheism.

I knew that my path wasn’t meant to remain in Roman cultus, but it’s been hard to let go of.  The Roman Revivalist group on Facebook is one of the few friendly and (relatively) drama free Pagan/polytheist groups I’ve ever been in, and I’m very proud of the members being willing to work to keep it peaceful and open.  (It’s like we can all be adults on the internet or something!)  I’d started the project of laying out framework for bringing more user-friendly education out, though that’s been stalled for so long.  I was offered a blog about Roman polytheism on PaganSquare.

All of this happened the same month I was told by more than one person that my home wasn’t going to remain in Roman polytheism.  My journey was going to go elsewhere.  These things had just been fought for or had fallen into my lap.  At the time I thought eventually I’d publish some work and build a stronger community.  I didn’t want to give that up.  The relatively small Roman community, especially at that point, didn’t have a lot of voices in the larger Pagan and polytheist communities.  As someone who slowly came into the bravery to say, “Yes, I am a Roman polytheist despite not being a stringent reconstructionist,” I was, and still am, afraid that the wrong voices will try to fill the void in the larger community.  I’m afraid they will be taken seriously.

People say we need to keep politics out of religion, and to some degree I agree.  I think the various religious communities in the larger community should take responsibility to remove those who are likely going to do more damage by speaking even subtly (but obviously) about things like racism.  If people put the word minority in quotation marks, for instance, that’s a sign to me that maybe they are harboring some sort of race issue.  To me that’s concerning, because if they’re given a platform to speak in an area where there’s a void of authoritative voices, we find things possibly taking an ugly turn.  If you see them swinging around accusations of fascism without any proof what-so-ever given to the community to judge, it’s equally as dangerous.

Especially if they’ve expressed more than once that they want to be in a place of leadership and have their hand in our traditions.  Even more so when they’ve said it regularly and have years worth of blog posts bragging about their power, authority, and greatness while talking down to any group they see as less worthy than them.

More concerning to me, though, is that people are aligning with these two extremes.  They’re giving them a platform to speak and that inevitably hands them power.  Power in a place where their words can reach the ears of those who may be vulnerable or needing guidance, because despite us not being monotheists we still have those vulnerable and searching for the truth.  Our lack of vetted clergy and professionally trained support systems makes it everyone’s duty to watch out for those we claim are in our communities and tribes.  When we choose no leaders, when we revel in our lack of hierarchy, when we deny the need for education in our clergy due to fear that man will be corrupted by power, but still rallying to the sides of those who are the simply loudest, we are required to step up and care for our own.  The loudest and most charismatic become our leaders, and when drama is kicked up people are made or broken in the shuffle to take sides.

If you don’t consider yourself a part of the larger community, but you’re still selling services, educational materials, or items made specifically for the community that means you’re a member of it whether you want to be or not.  Many times those doing so are considered leaders or educators, and if they don’t see that then they are sadly not doing their duty to the group of people who are paying at least some of their income.  This may sound like it’s directed at a single person or one side, but it’s not.  Those who are in leadership positions of any capacity have a moral responsibility to protect their community from extremism, and we need to set aside our need to be right about something to realize that extremism comes in many, many forms.

In my moments away from blogging in the last few months and doing my best to stay out of this recent polarized The Neo-Right and Progressives are Eating Our Babies drama has made me realize something.  We waste so much time debating and warring against each other that could be spent building our traditions.  We do it on Facebook.  We do it on blogs.  We do it one other social media… Except maybe Pinterest, but that’s only because no one has written a blog on how to preserve the heads of our enemies in mason jars yet.  Though I’m sure someone is working on it.

I stop nearly every day and ask myself, “Is what I’m spending my time on what I want my legacy to be?  Is this how I want to be remembered if I were to die tomorrow?”

Lately I’ve been saying no a lot.  Especially when it comes to my religious community and my place within it.

A week or two ago one morning when I was drinking my coffee, I looked out my back window at my hill to see this:

A small piece of riding machinery cutting away a wooded area.

The cloud of dirt as the trees and plants were broken or ripped from the ground looked like what I’d seen in my dream.  I don’t live in a forest overlooking a lake, and my back yard isn’t covered in shrines due to having an open yard.  The hill is there, though, and the spirit living there and I have been talking for much longer than I’ve lived here.  It’s not happy with the changes coming, and really neither am I.  The wild space is getting smaller and smaller where we are.

It was warning to brace myself for what was to come.  I just didn’t know what.

A few days ago I realized that I’m tired.  I’ve heard myself say all too often lately that I just want to be the witch by herself in the forest that’s left to her own devices.  I’m tired of the fact that no matter what I say someone will always come along and tell me how I’m wrong.  Most of the time that involves personal attacks or some expectation that I’m going to cave because someone doesn’t want me where I am.  I am endlessly thankful for those who stand up for me while I sometimes struggle in finding my words, because sometimes it takes me a while these days.  Two days ago someone accused me of supporting a group which is considered a dangerous cult and is run by a convicted child molester. They had decided that due to my announcement that I’m a progressive democratic socialist (a fact that has never been hidden, mind you); the humorous thing to me is I’d never even heard of the group and had to look it up.  Others people in the Facebook group stood up for my choice to ban someone who had a history of being openly racist and polarizing.  I finally got my shock and anger in check enough to stand up for myself.

But I was left with this entirely too realistic feeling that I’m done.  I’m done with the constant assault of new people coming into the group and invariably having to learn that in some parts of the Pagan/polythiest internet, there’s a group that doesn’t run in a way that is regularly business as usual with insults and shit-flinging.  This shouldn’t have to be a thing we deal with.  We shouldn’t allow for disruptive voices and a lack of common decency, but as a whole our community is a petri dish for it.

This week I also found everything finally fell into place and I realized fully what my entire journey over the last few years meant.  I realized where I’m going religiously.  I realized what I’m meant to be doing with all of it.  And I really, really realized how emotionally done with the larger Roman community I am, because we are absolutely infamous for being a bunch of stringently petty assholes with too many obscure sources to look down upon the less educated.

I have spent so much of my energy on trying to change that over the last few years, and somehow there is a constant influx of people coming into my world who attack me typically due to something personal – My sexual orientation, my gender, my disability, or my politics that have been absolutely woven into the movement I’ve been trying to build with others.  And they do that because on the internet the loudest and most aggressively knowledgeable or verbally charged  are the ones who gain power.

Recently I’ve seen some discussion and suggestion about how we can keep our elders and leaders in our communities.  Typically they involve giving them more power (and maneuvering for said position).  You know what the number one step should be?

We should quit being assholes. (Myself included.)

My swan song in the Roman community is being sung at the point where I see how the future has the possibility for some very, very bleak moments that will never foster the type of activity that makes the polytheistic traditions of Rome having a major voice in the larger community.  I see a handful of voices shouting out above the constant drone of drama and dreams of temples being rebuilt, but save for those few voices I have yet to see the work done that would bring the traditions to their full potential and awareness in the larger community.  I’ve seen bullying and posturing.

The Roman community is a microcosm for the larger polytheist community.  I’m sure these struggles have played out in multiple places over the ages.  I’m not entirely sure I will see a future where the people I’ve met over the years, those who I feel have a good grasp of what the true beauty of Religio Romana or Cultus Deorum is, aren’t worn down by the masses wishing to dominate with their self-weighed superior scholarly skills.

Y’all, our rituals are supposed to be what’s perfected, not our accumulated book knowledge.  More than once in my life I’ve been chided about my focus on the home cultus over the grand festivals of the State religion.  Rome, they say, was a religion of the community.  What they fail to understand is that without the flame in the hearth being fed every day, the People starve, and if the People starve than there is no one there to honor the Gods as a community.

There is no larger community if the flame goes out.

If our traditions are tiny candles being lit across the world one-by-one in homes, how do we get the fire built to feed not only the Gods but the communities we wish to build?  How do we feed the flame instead of fanning the fire that makes it burn too hot and fast?  What do we need to do to keep the fires burning in our hearth?  The blazing funeral pyre destroys.  It doesn’t nourish.  There is no future if, in the deepest darkest of nights, the flame goes out.  We freeze to death instead.

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself while this blog has been generally silent.  I’m not sure I have answers yet, nor do I think I, alone, will ever have all them.

And for those of you worried that I’m going to run off from my community duties as soon as I hit publish on this, don’t worry.  I’m still going to stick around to wander into certain groups and say, “Hey, you crazy kids, be nice to each other” for at least a little while longer.  At least until I know my old sandbox is in safe hands.

I just can’t say I’m a Roman polytheist anymore.

My shrines have been destroyed and scattered by my neighbors.  My altars tumbled.  Well, metaphorically.  I’m not that impious.

But you know what?  There’s freedom in that.


A Modern Fasti: May Through June

A painting of a Roman woman offering in a niche by Waterhouse.  Caption reading, I feel like I should start off saying that this will not be what I’m practicing next year.  I’m currently finding myself with my hands in the pots of various historical traditions while stuck firmly in my own development of another tradition.  This is not very well-reflected here. The majority of the days’ observances are Roman in nature.  Whether or not that will be the case next year is another story.  I may have to change my graphic to reflect this.  But until then…

May 6th – June 7th

7 – Oracle for Apollon

Observed until 2021.  This will be held on the 8th this year.  For more info see here.

7-14 – Making of Mola Salsa

According to Fowler, the Vestals made at least some mola salsa from the first grains of wheat to be used at the Vestalia, the Ides of September, and at the Lupercalia. We will be making corn-based mola salsa in our home during this time for the year, since I’m directing June’s Vestalia towards a home-purification focus in my tradition. I hope in the future that the making of mola salsa can be one of my daughter’s religious duties for the year, so I will start teaching her this year.

9, 11, 13 – Lemuria

An offering of black beans over the shoulder are given to the restless, unburied, and/or angry Dead on all 3 nights of the Lemuria in my household. I will be posting in the next week over at my PaganSquare blog more detail about Lemuria and how it’s being observed this year in my home. On the 11th, I plan to develop a nocturnal offering to Hecate-Mania as Mother of the Dead.

15 – Mercuralia

Offerings to Mercury? This is probably not on the table this year as a full festival. More looking into what this point in my fasti is meant to be is needed. There’s a point needing to be marked here, but it will likely have a changed name and purpose. This was a merchant’s festival in Rome.

15 – Ides

Standard offering dinner feast to Jupiter in my home. I’m working on teaching my daughter the basic building blocks of Ritus Romanus while offering to the Lares at this point in the month with offering bird seed and water into a bird bath.

21 – Offerings to Vejovis-Asclepius

Formal offerings and prayers for the continued health of my family.

25 – Memorial Day

Pilgrimage to the large concentration of my family’s burial plots to decorate the graves and honor my Beloved Dead/Manes. This is actually a tradition of my family, and is quite easily one of the most radically influential traditions shaping my interest in the Lares and Manes. Extra offerings will be given to soldiers unrelated to me.

30 – Monthly offerings to Hekate

Dinner time offering as a family for my Matron. When I start working with the dying, this will also likely be my day to really, really ritually purify my home and surroundings.

1 – Kalends of June

Offerings to Juno, the Lares, and the Penates as described here.

7 – Nones of June

The day I plan to publish the next round of religious days.

7 – Oracle for Apollon

7 – Vestalia Begins

Ritual cleaning and purification of home, honoring of Vesta with offerings.  Runs until the 15th.

Possible future festivals: Ambarvalia at the end of May to assure a successful crop if living in an agricultural religious community.

A Perfect April Day


The Kalends isn’t over, but we’re taking a moment to rest in our day.  For me that means I get to do what seems to be becoming a job, but is still basically a hobby (This is my justification for it today, since I have always tried to not “work” on the Kalends, Nones, and Ides).

Yesterday over at my blog on Witches & Pagans’ PaganSquare, I wrote about my plans to observe the Kalends with my 3-year-old daughter for the first time.  The day is only half-way over, but I’ve been so moved by how the day has unfolded that I couldn’t wait to post.

My daughter had breakfast, and I had coffee with a few peanuts.  I fast for the Kalends, Nones, and Ides from sunset the night before, but my health issues require I don’t do a full fast these days.  I don’t feel that 3 is old enough to fast, but I explained why it was I wasn’t having my normal breakfast to her.

After breakfast we went out to find a stick to make our windchimes with.  We put it together while I explained that it was to bring good fortune and help protect us.

We went out to our front step.  I gave her the little broom she has, and together we swept off the step, making sure it was clean for where we were going to set up our offering.  We sat down the offering bowl.  Then we carried the tray off offerings out.

I showed her how to cover her head with a veil, and offered her a silk scarf I had picked out for this moment.  It’s a smaller one I bought years ago, and it was the perfect size for her.  She was so excited to have a veil to wear like mine that she kept it around her shoulders for quite some time afterwards.

I showed her how to hold her hands while praying, upturned to the sky.  She didn’t keep them that way, but I’ll be sure to demonstrate this position each time I pray in front of her to reinforce it.

And then came the offerings and prays.  I poured a little water into her special pitcher for her to put into the bowl, and she had picked tortilla chips (one of her favorite foods) to give to Janus, Juno, and the Lares today.  I offered the prayer and then directed her to pour and place chips into the offering bowl for each.

I admit that I am rarely moved to tears during rituals.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever cried during a formal ritual.  But as I sat there watching her pour and offer, her sweet face peaking out under her veil, I felt my heart grow 10 sizes with joy and pride.  My eyes welled up with tears.

We hung up our windchimes.

Afterwards we sat on the front step, watching the birds.  She asked me while looking around, “Where are the Gods?”

I chuckled.  I couldn’t help it.  She was clearly disappointed They’d not manifested in a way she could clearly see.  So I quietly explained that the Gods show themselves as birds, as the feel of the wind, that They are everywhere.  They are in the plants and the flowers.  They are inside of us, and They are the love we have for each other.

As I explained this, my arm wrapped around her little body, I understood this on a whole different level than I had before.

I thanked her for teaching me that lesson.

Feralia and the Unclaimed Dead

ancient-21569_640Historically the month of February for a Roman had an overarching theme of purification and setting things right with the Lares (our Ancestors and Heroes) and the Manes (our Dead)1. Interestingly, this habit of feeding the Dead did not stop with Roman Polytheists at the time, but it was also a custom of early Christians. This custom has continued to be carried out into modern times, and we see its Christian heir in the varying traditions held in All Saints’ and All Souls Day. In fact, some scholars point to All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day being a modern survival of February’s Parentalia.

The Parentalia was a 9-day festival that was mainly celebrated in private, attending to your family’s unique Lares and Manes. It begins on the 13th of February. In my home, we also spend the 9-days of Parentalia sacrificing to the Lares and Manes with offerings of flowers, wine, salt, corn2, and cake. I’ve written more about how my family observes Parentalia, and Helio at Golden Trail also offers how he is observing Parentalia this year.

It’s the final day of Parentalia that I wanted to talk about, though. It was important enough to the Romans that it had its own name: The Feralia.

The Feralia was a public sacrifice for the Manes held at midnight on February 21st, the final day of the Parentalia. We have no surviving description of what the public rites entail, though if we take Ovid’s account in his poem, Fasti, it likely had magical undertones that one did not find in many Roman festivals. Ovid also speaks of the Dead being appeased by offerings of floral wreaths, a little grain, a little salt, bread soaked in wine, and violets, though other offerings are permitted. These were to be taken to the family’s tombs outside of the city, and they picnicked with their Dead.

Ovid tells the tale of a year when the Romans were so busy with fighting war that they neglected the Feralia. The Manes raised from their tombs and took to the street. They angrily howled and roamed until the living paid tribute.

I am still trying to build meaningful traditions for my family within regionally-sound cultus, and Feralia is one of the festivals that I find overlaps in other times of the year within my extended family’s traditions. When I think of Feralia, though, my mind keeps coming back to Ovid’s story of the roaming, forgotten Dead.

While I will privately honor my own Manes with a modest sacrifice of black beans, cracked corn, wine, and flowers, my mind continues to move back to a way to honor the Unclaimed Dead and those who have never been found. In November, I read an article from the L.A. Times about the large number of Unclaimed Dead that exist, and months later it still haunts me. I realized upon reading it that if in a large city like LA an average of 6 people a day go unclaimed, this means nationally the numbers of those unclaimed are likely huge. Or at least large enough that it would hurt my heart to try to calculate. Babies. People who were homeless. People whose relatives were unable to afford getting the bodies brought home. People who have no family.

As a Roman Revivalist, I seek to adapt historical Roman Polytheism to my modern life, which means that I am comfortable moving away from Reconstructionism when it is needed or simply the Gods wish it. In the case of the Feralia, I have taken the line from Ovid’s Fasti, as translated by Betty Nogle, which states, “They called this day Feralia because they do what’s fair.”

In other words, they brought what was due to the Manes, the Dead.

One of the things that drew me to Roman Polytheism so many years ago was the concept of public virtues as laid out by Nova Roma. These are virtues are those of a healthy, whole society. One of these virtues is Pietas, piety or dutifulness, which Rome claimed was their reason for success. When I speak of piety, I do not just speak of what we owe the Gods in a natural contract between humans and Powers. I speak of respect of our duty to our fellow humans, our communities and society at large.

In the United States especially we have turned away from this virtue on the very basic level of societal contract when we allow our fellow humans to starve and freeze to death on the streets. We shame those who find themselves in need of public assistance, ignoring that one of the icons of our country, the Statue of Liberty, the personification of what we believe to be an inalienable right, has a poem by Emma Lazarus that many of us can quote the end of:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

To me being a citizen of the United States means that every other person living in my country is, in a way, extended family. We are part of the same tribe, so to speak. When people are unable to provide for themselves, it is our duty to care for them, because we reasonably have enough as a collective body that no person should go without the basic needs of the living. We forget this. We attempt to quantify and qualify who deserves more or less based on their ability or circumstances in life. When we do this, we fall victim to hubris and the feeling that we are somehow superior to those of our extended, civil family in every way, shape, and form. We ignore that we are connected.

And if we are all connected, if we are all in this together, then it is the duty of those who believe in the Ancestors and Dead to care for them as well. The nameless, faceless Dead, forgotten and ignored by our society at large, are our family. They’re our brothers, sisters, and everything in between. Some of them we have failed while they were living. Some of them came into this world and out again in the blink of an eye. Some simply were not able to make their journey home to their final resting place.

But they shouldn’t be forgotten.

We Pagans and Polytheists have a chance to set these moments right. Those who believe that we still have a relationship with the Dead are able to reach out to them and let them know that They are not forgotten. That we honor Them. That we give Them what They are due as members of our extended family and tribe.

I invite you to observe the Feralia in honor of those Unclaimed Dead on February 22nd. As a larger community, let’s take a moment out of our year to give to those who may be lost and wandering still. When the sun goes down, let’s all take a moment to step outside and leave modest offerings to those so many forget. If you are able, consider joining me during the 9 days of Parentalia in performing an Ancestor Elevation for the Unclaimed Dead, along with your own personal Ancestors. For those unfamiliar with the ritual, Galina Krasskova has written a beautiful ritual that could easily be adapted to the purpose or done as is.

Even if on this day you’re only able to offer a moment of thought or prayer, please do so. Let us not turn our head away from the Dead, lest the Dead take to the streets demanding Their due.

Let us do what is right.

  1. It’s important to note that within the history of the Roman Religion that Lares and Manes are sometimes used interchangeably or in contradictory manners from source to source. For ease of establishing a basis for learning, when I speak of the Lares I am speaking of both historical and modern Heroes along with Ancestors I have not met in my lifetime. When I speak of the Manes, I speak of the recently deceased first but also the group I refer to as the Beloved Dead, or those for which we have recent familial ties such as deceased grandparents, parents, and siblings. The Manes also includes those who were unable to be buried with appropriate final rites, no longer have people attending their graves, and those who were never buried at all. This may not be the classification the next Roman Polytheist you meet agrees with, but for the sake of clarity in my own tradition and writing, this is mine.
  1. The traditional offering is wheat. We have a wheat and gluten-free household, and so we offer corn masa instead, which not only fits regionally as our most common grain crop but also speaks to my Ancestrial cultus having come from generations of corn farmers.


Georg Wissowa’s classifications of indigenous and foreign cults gives the best illustration of the obsessive search for the “true” religion of the Romans, of the illusory project of studying their religion in the purest state possible. Now like any culture or language, a religion is never and never can be pure, uncontaminated. It is always the result of mixture, even at the earliest stages we are able to identify. So the sorting out of Roman and non-Roman elements, or for later periods a concept like syncretism as opposed to a “pure” religion, are nonsense.

Graeco Ritu: A Typically Roman Way of Honoring the Gods, John Scheid, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Vol 97, Greek in Rome: Influence, Integration, Resistance (1995), pp. 15-31

I have about a billion emails I am trying to get responded to.  My head has been off in, well…  The Norse Nine Worlds, actually.  Not just in the clouds.  Those waiting for me will be getting responses by tomorrow afternoon.

Reblog: E Nos Lases Iuvate: Si vis pacem…

Preparation in time of peace, when it seems that everything runs smoothly and nothing seems to trouble us, means to achieve those tools – through study, practice of otium, care of the spirit, martial arts, the agricultural/gardening activities, walk in the way of meditation, spiritual exercises – necessary to deal with adversity. It is obvious that it is not an easy and simple path. It takes a lot of effort because the precondition for achieving the Pax Deorum is first resolve your own “inner war.” We must first be prepared to dominate our inner chaos, our agitation if we are to achieve spiritual peace. Inner peace is a precondition for peace outside. Unpreparedness introduces us into a state of war in which we will be surely defeated.

via E Nos Lases Iuvate: Si vis pacem….


I loved this entire article and wanted to share it.  I don’t feel that this is the only spiritual path towards being able to attain this, but this is an outlook I encourage others to explore for themselves in their own practice.  A solid foundation in the face of adversity through practice of what you are called to cultivate with the Gods and Spirits is a true gift that is attainable through dedication and strength of purpose even during the easy points in life.