Dec 20, 2015

Posted by in Gods and Godesses, Holidays, Paganism, Saturnalia | 0 Comments

Offerings To Saturn

Offerings To Saturn
English: Temple of Saturn at Forum Romanum

English: Temple of Saturn at Forum Romanum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia traditionally began on December 17th. A sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn marked the start of this seven-day celebration that included feasts, gift giving, master and slave role reversal, a lot of strong drink, games, and a general loosening of the usually strict Roman code of conduct. I don’t know about you, but this is starting to sound awfully familiar!

Saturn was the Roman God of wealth, agriculture, and liberation. His Greek equivalent is Cronus, who was frequently conflated with Chronos, the God of time, so Saturn also added time to his list of duties. He had two consorts; the first was Lua, the Goddess of destruction, dissolution, and loosening, to whom the weapons of vanquished enemies were offered; the second was Ops, the Goddess of wealth, abundance, and fertility. Saturn was the first God of the Capitol of Rome. His rule was considered Golden Age, and that is what is reenacted at the Saturnalia.

To bring a little of the Golden Age into to 21st century, it might be fun to make a little altar to Saturn. It could be decorated with things like the glyph of the planet Saturn, a depiction of Father Time, a sickle, or some other harvest symbol. There are a number of stones and minerals associated with Saturn: Alum, Apache Tear, Coal, Hematite, Jasper (Brown), Jet, Obsidian, Onyx, Salt, Serpentine, and Tourmaline (Black). Any of these could be added to the altar.

There is a huge list of herbs and other plants that are associated with Saturn: Amaranth, Beech, Beet, Bistort, Boneset, Buckthorn, Comfrey, Cypress, Dodder, Elm, Euphorbia, Fumitory, Hemp, Horsetail, Ivy, Kava-Kava, Knotweed, Lady’s Slipper, Lobelia, Mimosa, Morning Glory, Mullein, Pansy, Patchouli, Poplar, Quince, Scullcap, Skunk Cabbage, Slippery Elm, Solomon’s Seal, Tamarind, and Tamarisk. Some, like cypress or ivy, could be used as decoration for a Saturn altar. Others, like patchouli, could be burned as incense. Altar candles could be black or grey.

Another way to bring the spirit of Saturnalia into today’s world would be to try some role reversal. If you’re the boss, try answering phones at the front desk for a while. If you’re a teacher, have your students teach you how to do something. Find someone who usually does the serving, and serve her or him for a change.

All kinds of games were played during Saturnalia. In Rome, that meant gladiatorial games, and games of chance, but it also meant household games as well. Ancient Romans played versions of backgammon, checkers, chess, and tic-tac-toe. Thus, having a tabletop game night would be a great way to put a little Saturnalia in your life!

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