There are two months in which Mars was generally celebrated. The first (and obvious) one is March, which bears his name. The second is exactly half a year later, in October. On 1 October, I have traditionally celebrated the holiday I refer to as Mars Paternalia, honoring Mars as Mars the Father. Why? Because October 1st was (roughly) the traditional end of the warring season for Rome, when campaigns ended and soldiers went home to gather in the harvest, feast, rest, and celebrate.
How strictly this was followed in reality is besides the point. (I have my doubts about legions posted way in North Africa going “home” for anything while on campaign…). The point is that the summer of slogging and working (and here in Florida, God’s humidor, sweating and suffering) is OVER. Blissfully, we had our first cold front promptly on the morning of October 1st. As if a spell was broken, the weather has turned gorgeous, spirits have lifted, and my kitchen has been filled nonstop with the delicious smells of cooking. Will I get fatter from making cupcakes, muffins, banana bread, shepherd’s pie, and cookies? Quite possibly. Will it be worth it? Again, quite possibly.I am filled with this need to cook and feed everyone around me, so I’m riding it out and enjoying my motivation to get sh*t done while it lasts.
Finally, my first real, honest-to-goodness experience with a goddess has occurred. (I’ve had flirtations with Ariadne, but that’s besides the point. She always came as part of package with Dionysos, not of her own accord). And somehow, it was so obvious all along, and yet I was completely oblivious to it. (There’s actually a picture of her in the toolbar above, which I didn’t realize when I put it together, but I liked the image so much I kept it.) And that was the beautiful queen of the gods, the mother of Mars herself, Juno — or as I call her, Iuno.
I’m not sure what first made me look her up. Maybe it was the fact that I am getting married in just over a month, and I wondered. Maybe it was this novel by Dan Simmons I’m reading called Olympos where she seduces Zeus in quite a lurid scene. But I got to wondering what the difference between Hera as she’s represented in Greek mythology (which I always found distasteful) and Iuno as she was worshiped by the Romans was. And to be frank, Iuno is full of win and awesome–everything I’ve ever looked for in a goddess to worship. (I know it sounds strange and a little arrogant, but go with me. I have issues with my feminity.)
I have always been looking for a goddess to worship, but none of them seemed to “fit.” Artemis was fascinating but always distant. Aphrodite, another obvious choice… didn’t want much to do with me when I approached her. Athene, never heard a peep from (strangely enough; maybe it’s my thing for Ares getting in the way). But Iuno… when I approached her, finally acknowledged and prayed to her, I was flooded with a sense of Finally — in that slightly rebuking and amused tone you might imagine. There is so much more to her than just being the “jealous wife of Zeus.” Seriously. Look it up. She was part of the traditional Capitoline Triad. She was a true goddess of war in a different sense than Athene. And most of all, she is the mother of my own patron, Mars. How could I not worship her?
Look out for a post on Iuno soon. I’m still in the tender getting-to-know-you feeling-it-out stage, but I should have something good written soon.