Bona Dea

The goddess Bona Dea has been worshipped in Rome since about the 3rd century BC. One of the goddesses merged with her was probably the Greek goddess Hygieia, who was responsible for the health of women – and thus also for fertility.
An animal that is directly or indirectly connected to all these goddesses is the snake. Bona Dea statues and pictures show not only a snake but also (usually) a “cornucopia”, an object that is actually attributed to the goddess Fortuna. This goddess also has a Greek origin (Tyche) and possible overlaps with Bona Dea.
There are further references and connections to Fauna, Ceres, Terra, Ops, Kybele… a blog entry would be worthwhile, but given the extent of this, I will limit myself today to the two first mentioned goddesses: Hygieia and Fortuna and their main attributes, snake, and cornucopia.

On the internet you will find – besides Wikipedia – a lot of information about the goddess and what “de facto” was handed down.

Here are some examples of quite extensive compilations (primarily in German):

One can even find the beginning of a dissertation on Bona Dea and her cult online.

It is remarkable that this goddess is still receiving such a great response – or again (in the age of the Internet) today. This is probably due to the fact that you have relatively much and secure information about her. The Bona Dea temple in Rome was located from the 3rd century B. C. to the 4th century A. D., covering a period of 700 years.

Bona Dea (or Ceres). By Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – Marble statue of Demeter-Ceres or Bona Dea (The Good Goddess), Nîmes Archaeology Museum, France, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Because the cult was secret, many legends entwine around Bona Dea. Sometimes she is considered the wife of the Faunus, sometimes as his daughter. She was said to be so shy that she never left the house, but got drunk with wine at home because she was so bored. Faunus was furious and beat her to death with myrtle branches. Later he repented of his deed and deified his wife.
As the daughter of Faunus, Bona Dea had it even harder for her own father followed her, and she was only safe from him when she turned into a serpent.
There is also the variant in which Bona Dea is the sister of Faunus.

Aesculapius and Hygieia. By, CC BY 4.0, Link

Hygieia was the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of healing art, and is invoked in the Hippocratic oath. This oath is used in Germany only as a moral-ethical yardstick, but since antiquity and also today in the USA it is also a solemn “oath” in the classical sense, which is read aloud when graduating from medical courses of study.
There are no dramatic stories about Hygieia, but this goddess also has several “own” connections to e. g. Salus, Sirona, or to all these here. 😉

Both Hygieia and Aeskulap (Aeskulap Staff) were associated with snakes as symbolic animals.
In the temple of Bona Dea there are said to have been even tame snakes.

Aesculapian-Stick. By CFCFOwn work, CC0, Link

The snake is a very interesting symbolic animal, its mythical existence even dates back to pre-worldly – paradisiacal – times.
It was the snake who allegedly encouraged Eve to bite into the apple of knowledge and then pass it on to poor, innocent Adam. 😉

Hercules (an ancient hero who will be mentioned below) is said to have strangled with his bare hands two snakes sent by his stepmother Hera/Juno to kill him.

Hercules as a baby.
By Internet Archive Book Images book page:, No restrictions, Link

The fall of man. By KopiersperreOwn work, Public Domain, Link

The Old Testament or the story in the first book of Moses was written in Hebrew, a language in which “the serpent” is masculine. It is called נחשׁ = nâchâsh, which sometimes serves as an explanation for the fact that the snake according to the translation of Seebass turns to the woman and not to Adam.

Adam’s first wife, Lilith, is also often associated with snakes.

Lilith. By John CollierOwn work, Public Domain, Link

That Adam had a first wife is told in the Talmud (a kind of commentary on the Tanach/Old Testament). The story – as absurd as it is true – goes as follows: Since there are two reports of creation in the Bible (once man/woman are created at the same time 1 Genesis 1:27, once Eve emerges from the rib of Adam 1 Genesis 2:26), an explanation was needed. The explanation was: Adam had a first wife, Lilith, with whom he had argued. It was supposedly about which of the two was allowed to have the upper hand (in sex). Lilith wanted to be on top, Adam too, but that didn’t work out, so Lilith decided to abandon paradise and leave Adam to himself. So the story was about who rules over whom or who is in charge.

Adam, Eve and Lilith (the snake). By Hugo van der Goes – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, Link

The core of this biblical story, if you like, can also be found in the goddess Bona Dea. Because their festivities were only open to women – and there is also the peculiarity that the celebrating women refused to give the hero Hercules something to drink (maybe because he killed two snakes as a baby?). Hercules then ordered women to be excluded from the festivities at his altar (ara maxima).
The offerings were also for the first time (?) only addressed to Hercules himself, since no other gods were allowed to be worshipped. In the course of time, rich patrician families at the ara maxima made sacrifices mainly for financial affairs, up to 10% of the profit of the trade was donated. There was a huge banquet, of which Crassus (a very rich Roman who was also an ally of Pompeius and Caesar) in particular, was remembered for hosting the Roman citizens for three months.

Hercules. By SailkoOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Hercules drinking. By Massimo Pallottino, The Etruscans, Indiana University Press, 1975 (1st edition: Etruscologia, Milan: Hoepli, 1942).References:Online commentary;Jean Bayet, Herclé, op. cit. p. 150 et pl. IV;A. J. Pfiffig, Herakles in der Bilderwelt der etruskischen Spiegel, 1980, p. 19., Public Domain, Link

The birth of the milky way. By Peter Paul Rubens[1], Public Domain, Link

So the question that arises right now: what did Hercules want to drink at the feast of Bona Dea? ):):):)

Although it seems certain that “Bona Dea” was the goddess for a pure cult of women, Brouwer points out in his above mentioned dissertation that emperor Augustus was possibly also involved as a priest (Introduction, p. XXIII.) It is also noticeable that many men gave or dedicated something to the goddess, e. g. an altar, their desires/prayers, or statues.

At her main celebration, however, only women really celebrated. In three weeks’ time, there will be more information about this.

A goddess with whom Bona Dea is also associated is the goddess Fortuna, in addition to the Hygieia mentioned above.

Here Fortuna in a medieval depiction to the left of the wheel of fortune. By Universidade Federal do Espírito SantoVitória [1], Public Domain, Link

Fortuna (greek Tyche) ancient. By DaderotOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Cornucopia. By bukkOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The cornucopia is also an interesting ancient symbol that stands for wealth, overflow and abundance. The cornucopia is also very often associated with Ceres (Goddess of grain and growth) and Plutos (God of wealth).

It goes back to the nymph (or goat) Amalthea, who fed the little Zeus with the horn of a goat or even was a goat herself. She is also the mother (or wife) of Pan, the god of shepherds and goats.

Zeus/Jupiter immortalized the goat (?) Amalthea in gratitude for his salvation (she had nourished him with her milk/filling horn) in the night sky as a constellation.

Capricornus constellation. CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The cornucopia is also connected with Hercules, because the ancient authors also report that Hercules had broken a horn in his struggle with the river god Acheloos, which then became a cornucopia.

Why Hercules did this is another interesting story.
Acheloos was just as interested in the beautiful Deianeira as Hercules. He fights with Hercules for the hand of the beautiful Deianeira (whose name means “male hater” by the way), turns into a snake and a bull (LINK), but all this did not help him, Hercules killed him.

Thomas Hart Benton (1947) put this fight into the limelight.

By Thomas Hart BentonThis file was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of a cooperation project., Public Domain, Link

But also the old Etruscans had a very frenzied look at the problems. By, Gemeinfrei, Link

It even continues. For the history of “Struggle with rivers/beings” repeats itself in the history of Hercules.
When he and Deianeira have to cross a river, the Kentaur Nessos offers to carry Deianeira over. Of course, he does not do this without ulterior motives, for he wants Deianeira for himself.

The beautiful Deianeira and Nessos. – What was Arnold Böcklin thinking of? 🙂 By Arnold Böcklin – 1. pfalzgalerie.de2., Gemeinfrei, Link

Hercules intervenes and wins by killing Nessos. But Nessos had previously planted a ruse in Deianeira’s ear. He advised her, if Hercules should ever become unfaithful to her, to give him a cloak of Nessos, which would guarantee her eternal fidelity.
Many years later, Hercules actually looks around for other women.
What does Deianeira do?
She gives Hercules the mantle, who then (not) dies in wretched torment.

However, she herself thinks that Hercules died (or left) and then kills herself. The parallels to Dido are obvious.

Deianeira in despair. By Evelyn De Morgan[1], Public Domain, Link

Hercules isn´t really dead. By Francisco de Zurbarán – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, Link

As the only son of Jupiter/Zeus Hercules is admitted to the Olympus by the gods. There he reconciles himself with his stepmother Juno/Hera and marries another woman: Hebe, the goddess of the rosy cheeks = the youth. (So no more male haters.)

In fact and with historical certainty, Hercules as God even made it into Buddhism:

He stands with his club on the right behind Buddha.
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link</

Bona Dea – and the goddesses belonging to it – lived and live (?) especially in some female saints.

Saints with the attribute “snake” are among others: Goar, Phillipus the Apostle, Wilburgis, Amandus of Maastricht, Hilarius of Poitiers, Jakobos of the Mark.
These saints have the serpent “only” as a symbol animal, some of them have other symbols, but they have no narrative connection to the animal.

For some saints with the attribute snake there are longer or shorter stories in which the animal appears in a positive or negative light.

Notburga von Hochhausen receives healing herbs from a snake after she loses an arm due to her violent father.

Patrick of Ireland is said to have left the island when he arrived in Ireland. But the last snake in Ireland was lured into a crate by him, promising to release it “tomorrow”. The next day, when the serpent asked for her release, he said,”Tomorrow.”

Thekla of Ikonium refused to marry a “heathen” because she had become a Christian. Since she lived in pagan Rome and was very disadvantaged as a Christian, she was taken to a dungeon full of poisonous snakes, but a ray of lightning killed the reptiles. Thekla experiences some other nasty things, but she is protected by God and does not suffer.

Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Benedictine order, to whom the beautiful saying ora et labora is attributed, should have been poisoned by his own monks. But the poison escaped as a serpent from the cup in which it was found when Benedict made a sign of the cross above it.

The cornucopia does not seem to have made it into the Christian world of thought. However, the prophet Joel (Old Testament) and the Holy Kajetan of Tiene seem to have a cornucopia of filling as an attribute (but without any plot behind it).

Finally, I would like to mention the martyrdom of Christina von Bolsena, who is cared for by snakes after suffering endless pain.
Even today there are festivities in Italy that reenact the fate of Christina. A great article with lots of photos can be found at Bizzarrobazar.  I really do recommend to read it.


The goddess Bubona

Cow Cow and calf. By CgoodwinOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Today’s article could end after a few lines or fill entire libraries. About the goddess Bubona one knows almost nothing, but at least that her name derives from the Latin noun “bos” and that she was the goddess of protection for cattle and herds in the Roman Empire.
The meaning of “bos” contained in Bubona is already fixed with regard to the declension that seems crazy for Latin nouns.
While the common nouns of the 3d declension (or consonantal declension) usually have regular endings to the root,”bos” stubbornly adheres to its ancient Greek  βοῦς (bous)/ βῶς (bōs) and has already driven some Latinists to despair. In addition, the word has two genera, male and female.
„Bos“, in English “bovine” has various subgenera such as aurochs, yak, water buffalo – and from there the path is no longer far to a cow-animal with what is probably connected the most widely ramified mythical storyline at all:
the bull or “taurus”.

Bull. By Benno Adam, Public Domain, Link

Minotauros Minotauros in a modern interpretation. By Stefano.questioli at Italian Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, Link

Cow-animals were very important for the early humans. If you had one, you could say that you were set for life. They supplied not only food and clothing, but also fertiliser, medicine, heat and labour.
Cow dung is still used today to build simpler houses, there is a part of Ayurvedic medicine in which cow dung is used, and if dried properly, it can be used for heating a long time.

Armenien Wall of dung in Armenia. By Rita Willaert from 9890 Gavere, Belgium – Aragat – Armenia, CC BY 2.0, Link

dung Burning dung. By Petrol.91Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The bull in the original sense was called “taurus” by the Romans. In this word you can still see the etymological connection to Mino-taurus. The noun “taurus”, by the way, refers to the sexually matured male cow.

However, the beef – or the bull – did not really gain importance in the Roman era. It is even more likely to be assumed that the religious significance of cattle and other farm animals has diminished since classical antiquity (i. e. with the Greeks and Romans) unless one had a professional relationship with them. For example, as a shepherd who for a long time still worshipped the goddess Bubona.

Hirte und Nymphe Sleeping nymph and shepherd. With Amor. By Angelica KauffmanVictoria and Albert Museum, Public Domain, Link

During classical antiquity, a special literary genre emerged, the so-called “Bucolic” or “bucolic poetry”, to whose main representatives the Greek Theokrit (3rd century B. C.) was the most important. On the one hand, it deals with the idyllic way that shepherds live, whilst on the other hand it makes fun of them because they were not really familiar with mythology – in contrast to the citizens of Polis, where the stories were performed. It caused laughter among the educated citizens of Athens when two shepherds told each other twisted stories of cyclopses and human women, for example.
As a city dweller, one was something better and had moved away from these “profane” things like cattle.
At the same time, the Roman upper class developed an ever finer and more generous desire to eat.

Here is a short insight into a satire of Horace (Satire 2,8 – 1st century B. C.), a Roman humorist who sharply targets the eating habits of the Romans.

Although the guests have long gorged themselves up, the host always serves them more and more delicious delicacies. Among other things:
a Lucanian boar caught in a mildly blowing southwind, birds, mussels and fish, a ragout of echinoderms and turbot, a moray eel in the midst of floating crabs, a disassembled crane, the liver of a fig-fattened goose, blackbirds with tanned skin… and so on and so on and so forth.
The guests then decide to flee together, because the meal becomes a torture, but first loot the wine cellar to avenge themselves.

One of my favourite phrases in Latin: Nos nise damnose bibimus, moriemur inulti. If we don’t get drunk unrestrained, we’ll die unavenged.

So when you are concerned with the goddess Bubona, you cannot avoid questioning your own eating habits or the view of farm animals. In an early age, the cattle was considered to be very sacred to mankind and it is obvious to assume that this also applied to the people who owned many animals (cattle, sheep, goats).

By the way, n the 17th/18th century there was a kind of renaissance of the “Bucolic”, which can be seen in the countless paintings with shepherd and animal motifs of that time.

Van de Velde (17. Jahrhundert) By van de Velde, Adriaen (1636 – 1672) – Possibly afterDetails of artist on Google Art ProjectmwEaSahFiFkfNw at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, Link

From the early cultures of history we know bull and cattle pictures, especially of the Minoans in Crete, who used them to decorate their palace.

Stier Minoan Bull, 1200 B.C. By Olaf TauschOwn work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Wall painting in the palace with typical Minoan bull’s jump. Approx. 1500 BC. By JebulonOwn work, CC0, Link

Stierkopf Famous Minoan bull-head 1500 B.C. By JebulonRéférences/references:ici/hereOwn work, CC0, Link

Minoer The most important symbol of the Minoans – next to the double axe: bull horns. By JebulonOwn work, CC0, Link

But you can go even further back in history and discover:

Altamira Bison in the cave of Altamira (Spain), approx. 15000 BC. By RameessosEigenes Werk, Gemeinfrei, Link

Cow animals were then regarded worldwide as sacred, at least where they existed. Until the 16th century, when the country was colonized by Europeans, there were no cattle in Australia and America.

Cattle Which has changed a little, though. By Peer VOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

A good example of the religious and cultural importance of these animals is India. There the cow appears in the ancient writings of the Vedas (around 1000 B. C.) as the embodiment of the “Mother Earth” Prithivi Mata. A cow named Kamadhenu fulfilled wishes. The blue god Krishna grew up among cowherds, cows then also play an important role in his further life and the companion animal of the god Shiva is the bull.
The animals are still considered sacred there today, but are hunted illegally and transported to slaughterhouses.

Kuh Cow and cow-container containing food for the animals (or garbage). By Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia – Holy Cow Container, India, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

A comparison of Indian and European cow myths would be interesting, one of the best-known Euoprean myths is certainly the story of Minotauros.

Pasiphaë A woman named Pasiphaë and a beautiful bull. By Gustave MoreauOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Pasiphaë Pasiphaë climbs into a dummy cow. By Giulio ROmano –, Public Domain, Link

kleiner Minotauros Pasiphaë – mother of the Minotauros. By Settecamini Painter – User:Bibi Saint-Pol, Own work, 2010-02-06, Public Domain, Link

Minos, the legendary king of Crete and mythical founder of the Minoans, asked the sea god Neptune to help him establish his kingdom.
Neptune then sent him a beautiful white bull, which Minos was supposed to sacrifice. Minos liked the bull so much that he didn’t want to sacrifice it and chose another animal.
Neptune noticed this of course and cursed Mino’s wife Pasiphaë to fall in love with the unoffered bull.
What happened then can be seen from the pictures above.
The famous architect Daedalus, who later also built the labyrinth for the Minotauros, was at that time on the island of Crete and helped Pasiphaë to develop the above depicted “dummy cow” -construction, into which she climbs in the middle picture.

But not only Pasiphaë developed, let’s say, a peculiar sex life. She had cast a peculiar spell on her husband, King Minos, so that when he was with another woman, he would ejaculate scorpions, snakes and centipedes – and kill his loved ones most of the time.

Minos Why do you think Michelangelo painted Minos like that?
By see filename or category – scan: De Vecchi, Cappella Sistina, 1999, Public Domain, Link

The donkey ears are said to signify stupidity, whereby Minos is declared judge of the dead after his own death by Pluto/Hades. The reason for this is the fact that he was a son of Jupiter/Zeus. Hades/Pluto is the brother of Jupiter/Zeus and King Minos, thus something like his nephew. All in the family.

But before all this happened, the child of Pasiphae and the bull, the Minotauros, was locked in a large labyrinth built by the scholar Daedalus (Daedalus and Ikarus).The half man half bull monster is fed with virgins every year and when there are almost no more on Crete, the beautiful king’s daughter Ariadne (the half-sister of the Minotauros) would have been the next victim, but at this very moment the hero Theseus passes by and everything is turning for the better. (Firstly.)
He heads into the labyrinth with Ariadne’s ball of wool, kills the Minotauros and marries Ariadne. But then he has to leave her, for he is to become the mythical founder of Athens.
Apart from the fact that there are unmistakable parallels to Aeneas and Dido Ariadnes fate has not been so bad. She was then found and loved by the cheerful wine god Bacchus/Dionysus.

Theseus Theseus Mosaik. By Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – Theseus Mosaic, discovered in the floor of a Roman villa at the Loigerfelder near Salzburg (Austria) in 1815, 4th century AD, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

A mythical story that changes from sacrifice of a bull to human sacrifice for the (evil) bull and then the dead of the evil animal.
Why that was the case can only be assumed. Gerd Hellmoodhas written an interesting, profound psychological interpretation of the story (told by Dürremat) in German. My approach therefore would be culturally anthropological.
Considering that the upper classes of the Romans and Greeks were probably starting to consume beef frequently, the myth could also be a subsequent or parallel “explanation” as to why it was okay to deviate from the original, probably only religiously legitimated meat consumption.

However, some of the “holy beef” has been preserved. Cultic bull sacrifices were still a big part of the Mithras cult , Jesus was born in a stable “between ox and donkey”, the symbol for the evangelist Luke is a bull and it took a while until cattle developed into a general consumer good.

Burger. By Fritz SaalfeldOwn work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

MC MC Donalds branches worldwide. There’s only chicken in India. By Ukelay33 and others, see file history – Self-published work by Ukelay33, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Anzahl Filialen Number of branches per million inhabitants. By Karfreitag64Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Last but not least, this can be seen in the existence of the goddess Bubona during the Roman Empire. For even though the goddess does not come along with great significance, she was nevertheless the goddess of protection for cattle and oxen for centuries.

And there are other figures like Cyrene, that can probably be linked to the goddess Bubona.

Cyrene Cyrene. By Edward Calvert (1799-1883) –, Public Domain, Link

Cyrene was a nymph whose ancestors included the Okeanos and the sea goddess Tetys. She was not so much interested in the work of women (weaving and sewing), but rather loved to protect her father Hypseus’s herds with sword and shield against savage animals. The sun god Apollo was so impressed by this, that he fell in love with Cyrene, married her and had two children (Aristaeus and Idmon) with her.
The descendants of Cyrene then became hunters, reached high positions (kings, accompanying the Argonauts, founding cities), but it is striking that both Idmon and Aktaion, the son of Aristaeus, died in hunting accidents.
Idmon was wounded by a giant boar and died. The story of Aktaion, Kyrene’s grandson, is a little more drastic.

Not amused The moon goddess Diana is not pleased when Aktaion she (accidentally?) observes while bathing.

Aktaion That’s why she turns him into a deer. By HaStOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Aktaeon Aktaion is then hunted as a deer by his own companions and mauled by his dogs. Public Domain, Link

Similar to the story of the Minotauros, “wild animals” become dangerous for humans in this myth – perhaps it goes too far, but possibly patriarchal or matriarchal thoughts also play a role here. The story of Aktaion (approx. 1200 B. C.) is considerably younger than that of the Minotauros (approx. 1700 BC)

A few speculative, concluding thoughts:
Like the Minotauros, Aktaion is also a “half” human being, because he is still aware of his state of transformation.
Aktaion is created by the moon goddess Diana, the Minotauros is in the responsibility of Neptune, King Minos` and Daedalus.
Both hybrids are killed.

I suspect that both stories may represent the detachment from the “animal” as something “holy”. Because humans (Minotauros, Aktaion) who are over-identified with animals are being killed.
If we consider the initiators – once it was men, once a woman – then all that remains to be said is that both genders were somehow involved in this development.

Lady Gaga Lady Gaga’s meat concert. By John Robert Charlton[1], CC BY 2.0, Link

Anna Perenna

Anna Perenna is a quite unknown Roman goddess, who was worshiped in ancient times in a small shrine on Via Flaminia. Besides, she had a sanctuary in Sicily, and in Rome itself, there was a well at which she was celebrated in honorable festivals.

The origin of Anna Perenna lies in the dark. She could
1. have been an ancient Etruscan mother-goddess,
2. Perhaps she was (also) the sister of Dido, a Carthaginian queen,
3. or she was an elderly woman, who had taken care of the plebeians (the simple people) during the Roman class struggle – and was therefore honored by them as a goddess.

Anna Perenna also has many references to other goddesses, especially the moon goddess Diana / Artemis.

In the following, I will write about the possible origins of Anna Perenna, starting with the celebrations for the goddess.

Via Flaminia

Part of the Via Flaminia, which connected Rome with the Adriatic coast. By No machine-readable author provided. Samba~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public Domain, Link

Brunnen Anna Perenna Finds from the fountain of Anna Perenna. By Self-photographed by Szilas in the Museo Nazionale Romano – Terme di Diocleziano – Own work, Public Domain, Link

Anna Perenna Possible profile of the goddess on a coin (found in Italy or Spain), 1st century BC.
By Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

I wonder if the custom of throwing coins into a fountain is probably due to Anna Perenna?
In addition to these “money sacrifices”, feasts are also known in honor of the goddess.
Her main day was celebrated in March. It is said that wine was pouring, and there were rough jokes and obscene songs. It was a feast for the common people, the so-called “Plebeians,” celebrated in the Ides, which took place about the full moon time.

The Roman calendar (a moon calendar) had certain dates for each month based on the moon times.

Ides (full moon),
Calends (New Moon)
Nons(?) (latin: Nonae) (increasing moon)
Terminalia(?) (decreasing moon)
(For Nonae and Terminalia, I could not find a certain translation.)

In total, there were 13 months. Most of them are still known today, though they have other names, and the Romans had a 13th “leap month” called Mensis intercelaris, or – according to Plutarch, – Mercedonius. The calculation of the switching month was extremely complicated and therefore in wartime sometimes was omitted. Normally, the month Mercedonius was “switched” three times over a period of eight years, and then appeared between February and March.
It is controversial to what extent the switching month also had an impact on interest rates. It is possible that interest would have stopped during this month. (Coin money – in an extension, as we know it today, including rental, etc. appeared for the first time in the 3rd century BC (in Greece, Rome, Persia, India).

When you look at the main festival of the goddess Anna Perenna, it has to be noted that the first full moon in March is close to the equinox of spring. In some modern cultures (Iran, etc., Nouruz) the beginning of the year is fixed at this event. The New Year begins when the “light” (day) just overtakes the “darkness” (night). In our Christian culture, on the other hand, the beginning of the year lies in the period of the winter solstice (when the days are getting longer) around 21/22. December and January 6th. Among other things, this was due to the Romans who, in the second century BC, decided to start the year of office/service on the first day of January, though the official New Year’s Day still remained to occur in March.
There are far more other cultural ways to end/start the year. It, therefore, seems to be difficult to identify which date was the “most original” one. It is noticeable, however, that the younger dates of beginning have moved away from the cosmic events.

Bild mit verschiedenen Tag und Nachtgleichen Overview about equinox and so on. By Horst Frank aus der deutschsprachigen Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

solstice An illustration of solstice. CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

But whenever the year begins and/or may end, the following is certain:

Ende des Jahres The old year will be history. By John T. McCutcheon – Cartoon by John T. McCutcheon, scanned from book “The Mysterious Stranger and Other Cartoons by John T. McCutcheon”, New York, McClure, Phillips & Co. 1905. Book reprints a collection of McCutcheon’s cartoons, some dating back a few years., Public Domain, Link

It should be noted that similar to the development of “earth” and “wind/rain/thunder” to more abstract versions = gods and goddesses, the division of time into a phase with “beginning” and “end” is an invention of man in the past thousand years.

Starting from the possible origin or first idea of God as “earth mother” and “weather god”, it would be conceivable that the division of the year was also based on this.
The following thoughts are hypothetical and speculative, but it seems logical to me that the cycle of sowing, rain/fertilization and harvest, which was so important for the early man, served as the basic structure to divide time into pieces.
If you add the concept of anthropomorphic beings like “weather god” and “mother earth”, which mutually enjoyed each other, then only the question arises when “it” really begins.
Does life begin with “fertilization”? = Start of time/a new circle in spring.
Does life begin with the return of the sun, with hope for “fertilization”? = The year starts in the winter season.
Does life go along with birth? = Beginning of the year at harvest time.
Maybe spring is already a kind of “birth”?

So, even if differently interpreted, there are fundamental similarities in all cultures of the world concerning the beginning of the year.
1. Orientation on a cycle of increase and decay.
2. The division of this cycle into ever smaller and more precise time bits.

Lebenskreis Circle of life. Bulgaria. By Edal Anton LefterovOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Kreis des Lebens Wheel of life. Northern India. CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Stonehedge Stonehedge. By Janßonius – Biblioteca Nacional de España, Public Domain, Link

Consider what has become of the weather gods.

Etruscan woman holding an egg Etruscan woman holding an egg (symbol for fertility and rebirth). By Anonymous (Etruscan)Walters Art Museum: Home page  Info about artwork, Public Domain, Link

The circle of the year is closely linked to the goddess Anna Perenna. Because her second name “Perenna” derives from the Latin adjective “perennis”, which means “annually recurring”. She was – as mentioned above – probably an Etruscan goddess. The Etruscans were already living on the Italian peninsula before the Romans, and they probably came from the Oriental region (Mesopotamia) before the first millennium BC.

Anna Perenna was probably revered as a classical mother deity, and then she was given different attributes over time. For example, as a “savior” of the plebeians who, according to legend, once emigrated from Rome because they no longer wanted to work there for the rich patricians.
The above-mentioned relation to Dido’s sister is also interesting for, from the middle of the first millennium BC, male divinity gradually dominates the faith of mankind. Clearly, this can be seen in the emergence of Manichaeism, Mithraism, and Christianity around the 1st century AD.

Mithraism Mithras and bull. Public Domain, Link

Mani Mani, the founder of Manichaeism. Public Domain, Link

Jesus Jesus and four archangels. By Internet Archive Book Images book page:, No restrictions, Link

The story of Dido – and Aeneas – represents multi-plane, this shift in thinking away from female to male gods.
Aeneas, the patriarch of the Romans, who had fled Troy and was to find a new home at the behest of the gods, landed during his journey across the Mediterranean sea in Carthage, which later became so hostile to Rome. (Three Punic wars, Hannibal, from the 3rd century BC onwards – that is historically testified and “correct,” and not a myth as the story of Aeneas and Dido.)
In Carthage, Aeneas met the beautiful queen Dido and fell in love with her immortal.
But Aeneas was not allowed to spend much time with his new love. The gods, especially Jupiter, who send the messenger-god Mercury, urged him to continue his journey and fulfill his destiny.
What Dido thereupon did can be seen in the following picture.

Dido Dido kills herself. By Augustin Cayot (1667-1722)Marie-Lan Nguyen (2011), Public Domain, Link

But not enough. As it can be seen in the picture above, Dido kills herself, whilst standing on a “pedestal” of wood. The odds are that she has burnt herself at the same time. All this happened on the beach of Cartage, where Aeneas could (and should?) see her as he moved with his crew to the coast of Italy.

Here a picture from happier days:

Aeneas und Dido Aeneas and Dido meeting for the first time. By Nathaniel Dance-HollandXQGCpNt3tbJiAw at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum Tate Images (, Public Domain, Link

Well to be seen in the background (left side) is Dido’s sister Anna. The Anna, who also is a possible match to “Anna Perenna”. Anna always stood by Dido, assured her even of the relationship to Aeneas.
After Dido’s death, Anna had to flee from Carthage and was finally turned into a river nymph after a long-term odyssey across the Mediterranean sea.

Perhaps it is going too far to say that the death of Didos is mythically a kind of “endpoint” of worshipping female deities. A closer look at Dido herself would be necessary, who actually appears here rather on the verge of “Anna Perenna”.

Anyone wishing to find some information about her, you can find it in the Wikipedia article here.
However, the article lacks in reference to the Carthaginian religion, which is, by the way, difficult to reconstruct since the victors over Carthage (the Romans), of course, did their best to condemn the city.
Thus, the story of Aeneas and Dido could also “only” include the fact that Vergil (the author of the so-called “Aeneis”) wrote a beautiful founding history poem and praise to Rome.

By the way, Aeneas himself lived happily ever after – and together with several women. (Perhaps even with Anna, the sister of Dido.)

Indeed, Odysseus, another Mediterranean traveler, whose myth is a little older than the Aeneis (about 9th century BC), despite many affairs finally returned to his one and only wife Penelope.

KreusaAeneas with his father Anchises on his back (who holds the house gods), his son Askanius in the foreground and Kreusa, his first wife, who unfortunately did not manage to flee from Troy.
By Federico BarocciWeb Gallery of Art, Uploaded to en.wikipedia 03:45 28 Jul 2004 by en:User:Wetman., Public Domain, Link

Lavinia Aeneas Roman wife Lavinia with her mother Amata and Bacchantes. By Wenceslaus Hollar – Artwork from University of Toronto Wenceslaus Hollar Digital CollectionScanned by University of TorontoHigh-resolution version extracted using custom tool by User:Dcoetzee, Public Domain, Link

Odysseus und Penelope
When Odysseus returns from his odyssey, he first has to fight all the suitors who had gathered around his wife Penelope. Those were the days! By kladcatWoodcut illustration of Odysseus’s return to Penelope, CC BY 2.0, Link

Gods and the wind


In the last contributions I´ve written on my first blog named clay oven, there were topics like the diversity and similarities of antique gods. They´re written in German and not translated into English yet, but if there is some interest, let me know and I would gladly manage to translate these thoughts as soon as possible.

Today the topic is about very old gods that have a lot in common with nature itself. Presumably, before mankind even started to imagine gods as “persons”, there might have been the imagination, that everything has its grateful place and time and divinity, even the clouds in the sky and the trees on the ground.
“Gods and wind” or “gods of wind”, “wind gods” is a very, very old idea of imagining God.
I would even say, this kind of thinking is somewhat closer to human reality than the idea of a single man with a long beard reigning in heaven on a golden throne.

God Michelangelos view of god, surrounded by the symbols of different religions. By Blok GloOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The wind is real. It surrounds you when you open the window or go outside. You can feel it on your skin. It blows, it raises, it ventilates, it circles … it moves the leaves of trees, it shifts even ships or windmills, today: giant wind turbines.
And the most important thing we care about is closely connected to the wind:
The weather.

Wind farm Wind farm. By KwerdenkerOwn work, transferred from de:Bild:Tauernwindpark.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Windswept trees Windswept tree. By Photo: Arcalino / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Weather map Weather during D-Day 1944. By Pierre_cben:Image:Ddayweather.jpg by Fuelbottle, Public Domain, Link

How did people in former times imagine the wind? What was its character like? And how come that the modern world only sees it as a value of calculation for the weather?

In ancient times, the world was stuck with wind and weather gods of quite different names.

For example Iskur (Sumerian), Adad (Akkadian), Tessup (Hurritic), Thor (Nordic), Djaramulun (Aborigines), Chaak (Maya), Anemoi (Ancient Greek) … and so on.

Probably the oldest known God is the Sumerian storm god Iskur (Adad). You may still join him today in crossword puzzles.

Adad Copy of Assyrian7th century B.C., the Sumerian version goes back to the second millennium B.C.
By Drawn by Faucher-Gudin after Austen Henry Layard – History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia and Assyria, Vol. III, Public Domain, Link

The parallels to the Nordic god Thor are unmistakable. (“Hammer”, horns (?), armor and beard.)

Thor Islandic Thor, 18th century. By Ólafur Brynjúlfsson[2]NKS 1867 4to, 94v. Digitized version available from Image processing (crop, rotate, color-levels) by Skadinaujo (talk · contribs), Public Domain, Link

The Sumerian god Iksur / Adad had a bull as a symbolic animal (sometimes also a liondragon) and a wife named Hepat and/or Shala, a kind of “earth-mother”.

Here is a very nice, (still) short overview in German about Gods of weather in Europ/Asia Minor, unfortunately mostly without their wives.
The English version is far more extensive.

If you are interested in the “marriages” of Weathergods, you may like to read a Wikipedia entry about “Mother Earth” or “Mother Goddesses”. Very extensive and detailed – and still under discussion – in my opinion, great work is done here for the consciousness of forgotten, female gods.

When reading these extensive articles it becomes clear that this duality (man/woman, rain/earth …) is also present in non-European cultural circles. Here, for example, some amiable representations:


Aborigines. Twentieth millennium B.C. By Thomas SchochThomas Schoch at, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Of course, it is very difficult to name the Aborigines way of thinking or imagination “gods”. There is, however, the idea of a “god” named Djaramulun who is responsible for thunder, as far as Wikipedia is properly informed. I think there is still need for research, especially when it comes to their wives. The picture above includes the ancestors/gods Namondjok, Namarrgon (“Weathergod”) and his wife Barrginj.

Australische Kunst

Australian art, that represents in some way the religious(?) or „intuitive“ content of Aborigines myths. By Albert_Namatjira_with_Jack_Kramer_and_Frank_Sedgman.jpeg: Unknownderivative work: M0tty (talk) – Albert_Namatjira_with_Jack_Kramer_and_Frank_Sedgman.jpeg, Public Domain,

Maya-God Chaak. By unknown Maya artist – Francis Robicsek: The Maya Book of the Dead. The Ceramic Codex, University of Virginia Art Museum (1981)., Gemeinfrei, Link

At the very outset of religion – it´s difficult to determine this “beginning” in time – there were in many areas of the world, where people lived, that worshipped the idea of the goddess “Mother Earth” and a God of “wind/rain”.
This seems logical, especially when one thinks that the rain and the earth fit very well in terms of fertility. Still today it is a good sign when it rains a little at a wedding. Especially if you want children.

In ancient Europe, the idea of weather gods and their wives has transformed in time.

Adad and his wife became forgotten and/or changed into several gods, “Hera/Zeus” or “Juno/Jupiter”. To be seen especially in the property of Jupiter as “God of thunder”.

Jupiter und Semele Semele is consumed by Jupiters Fire. By Bernard Picart, Public Domain, LinkBy Gustave MoreauOwn work Book scanBook scan of the book: Holle, Gerard du Ry van Beest (publ.), Kunstgeschichte, Mueller Karl, Erlangen 1994, ISBN 3860703528, p. 682 (further notes on p. 767, 4th row)., Public Domain, Link

There is a mythical story about the pictures above: Semele and Jupiter had an affair, but Semele was not aware who came to her night after night. Juno was not amused about the escapades of her husband and used an intrigue.
Semele herself asked Jupiter to show up in all his splendor and force. Because he had promised so, Jupiter had to do it, although he knew something bad would happen. He revealed himself as thunder and lightning being – and Semele died.
What then happened might be called manly emancipation. For Semele was pregnant with Dionysus/Bacchus and Jupiter did not let the child down but locked it in his thigh (!), from which it was then born in due time.
After birth, Jupiter gives it to another emancipated man and adoptive father: the Satyr Silenus.

Dionysus und Silen Silen and Dionysus. By Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada – France-003275 – Silene carrying Dionysus, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Considering historically that the Dionysian festivals were a feast until late antiquity, where women were going wild and outer edge … well, I digress.

Anemoi Sun and four winds. By Gérard Audran – Peace Palace Library, Public Domain, Link

Windrose Compass rose (about 18th century) By Adamantios Coray – Google books : Lettres de Coray à Chardon de la Rochette (1880), page 300., Public Domain, Link

Compass. By Brosen~commonswikiOwn work, CC BY 2.5, Link

Maya compass Maya-Kompass. By Ancient People from the Land of Aztec – Ancient Aztec Stone Compass, Public Domain, Link

In ancient Greece (and also Rome, whereby I restrict myself now to the Greek winds) there were the so-called “Anemoi”, which at about the same time (4th century BC) their more technical variant, the compass, became available.
Again, it should be pointed out that these winds exist not only in European antiquity, but also – in other forms – in the Mayan, Chinese, and even Aborigines culture.

In Greek antiquity the four main winds (heavenly directions) consist of the following fellows:

Boreas Boreas. North wind. With Oreithyia. Public Domain, Link

Zephyr und Flora Zephyr. West wind. With Flora. By Victorianaesthete at English WikipediaOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Notos Notos. East wind. A blustering loner. By MMOwn work (Original text: Self made photo), Public Domain, Link

Eurus Euros/Eurus. South wind. Loner. By MMOwn work (Original text: Self made photo), Public Domain, Link

There are much more “Anemoi,” but these four can be safely counted among the main gods. According to legend, they are derived from Eos (Roman Aurora, the goddess of dawn) and Astraios/Aeolos, a titan, and god of the dusk/wind god. Between Astraios and Aelos there are some overlaps. Possibly the gods of wind are also not “children”, but brothers of Astraios/Aeolos.
And because of the ancient division of season in only three phases, the wind Eurus existed later than his brothers.

Aeolos is commonly known as the patriarch of the Greeks. Around Boreas and the Zephyr, there are different myths about women’s breeches. Boreas actually derived from Thrace and becomes the son-in-law of the Athenians by the robbery of Oreithyia. Later, he helps them destroy the entire Persian fleet.
The Zephyr has a hanky-panky with Chloris, from which Flora emerges, a spring deity. Very beautiful to see at Botticelli: the third group of persons in the picture on the right side (Zephyr, Chloris, Flora – left to right).

Der Frühling Spring. Botticelli.
By Sandro BotticelliLivioandronico2013, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

But especially in the case of Zephyr, it depends on which ancient authors you read. There are countless other stories about him and women.
There are also as many other wind stories as stars in heaven. One of them the www-wind was blowing right up to me and I will take a last, outside European course on the subject.

Japanisches Märchen Japanese Fairytale. By Internet Archive Book Images book page:, No restrictions, Link

The fairy tale comes from Japan and is called “green willow”. The www-wind has blown it to me when I was searching for “thunder”. I met this little story collection, wherein is also a Japanese fairy tale about thunder. (The good thunder).  Here you can read it all – written in English.
The story “green willow” it is about love, disobedience, and honor. The willow is (probably) the pretty protagonist herself. In the story of the good thunder, the supreme Japanese Thunder God sends his son to the earth, who decides to live with ordinary people. References to Philemon and Baucis or even Jesus can not be dismissed.   … I do not want to reveal too much of the content, especially since I have to think about it for a while. Perhaps there is a kind of “basic truth” hidden in all the ancient tales of the world? I really do wonder about all the similarities of weather Gods that – despite the differences – are so obvious!
In European antiquity, for example, women are constantly transformed into trees (like the willow one), especially when the guys chase them (as a lot of wind gods do). In Japan it´s turned somewhat upside down – a tree becomes a woman, for she has fallen in love with a man …
At this point, we would like to thank you for the great gift Jonny Lindner aka Comfreak made to mankind! 😉
The following picture is absolutely brilliant and I had already thought about using it for the cover of my novel “Amor and Psyche”, but I guess I will choose a reduced, more cute variant.


Link to the artist:

Oh, God! Or do I take it? What do you mean? (I have the permission of Jonny Linder.) And just because I could still write hours (days, months !!!) on the topic: I declare today’s post for finished. If there are any questions or comments, let me know. I’ll answer everyone as soon as I can. I enjoy thinking and writing about these ancient topics a lot! It´s amazing! 🙂



Salve and a warm and hearty welcome to this lovely crazy place!

Did you know, that in Sumerian mythology, the “me” is one of the decrees of the gods that made civilization possible?

As you can see I really do love old things and thoughts like mythology, philosophy, and history, especially when it comes to the question of religion and/or gods. I´ve studied classics and felt always drawn to history much older than the ancient Romans or Greek. Right now, I write about topics I am interested in and mix them all up.

In December 2017 I will publish the remake of an old fairy tale and one of the first love stories of all times “Amor and Psyche”. First it will appear in German, but then I am going to translate it into English (probably summer 2018).

And if you prefer to read in German you can do that on my first blog named “Lehmofen”.