POEM: To the Queen of Heaven

juno_vatican

Let it not be said that there are no goddesses in heaven.

Let it not be said that all goddesses are of earth.

Let no one deny the sovereignty of Juno,

queen of heaven, lady of the sky.

Praise to Juno whose domain is the heavens.

Praise to Juno whose mantle is the clouds.

Praise to Juno whose handmaid is the rainbow.

Praise to Juno who both stirs and calms storms.

Praise to Juno, wife and mother, queen and matron,

protectress of all women whether slave or free, rich or poor.

Praise to Juno, equal to Jove, wise as Minerva,

steadfast as Vesta, free as Diana, beautiful as Venus.

Praise to Juno, protectress of women, shaper of heroes,

guardian of the nation, noblest of goddesses.

Ave Juno Dea!

 

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POEM: For Juno, on the Calends of her month

juno-sospita
Juno Sospites by Lykeia

I approach you, Dea Juno, Juno Regina: I see you

standing over me with queenly mien. Queen of heaven,

queen of gods, sovereign lady, you preside in state

on the Capitoline Hill with Jupiter and Minerva,

your husband and his daughter. Like Hera in Hellas,

you own the peacock as your bird; the stars are your eyes,

the rainbow your handmaid, the clouds your veil.

 

I come closer, and you are Juno Moneta, Juno Curitis.

Wrapped in the aegis, you advise the sacred king

and wield your spear in defense of the people.

Under your protection auguries are issued, coins

are minted, and you become the giver and preserver

of wealth. Records, too, are in your storehouse,

for it is memory that advises and counsels us at need.

 

I come closer to find Juno Sospita, Juno at Lanuvium,

mistress of fauns, she who purifies with whips.

Under your direction the Luperci hound but do not harm;

pain and laughter drive out the winter’s filth.

Juno Seispes Mater Regina, Savior, Mother, Queen,

your temple is a grove, and as Juno Caprotinae

you bring together slave women and free in revels

and accept the sacrifice of the lusty goat.

 

If I approach closer still, I see you as Juno Lucina,

she who brings to light, the midwife who helps

the birthing mother, who opens the doors of the womb

that the child may journey from dark to light.

You are our helper in the deepest pain, in the hardest

labour, in the most daring task: Bringing life to light,

bringing children from our bodies. Protectress

of marriage, of children, of matrons, you still

remind us that our sovereignty is our own.

 

At last I come face to face with you, great goddess,

and find your face to be a mirror of my own.

For my own inner deity, guardian spirit, better self

is also called juno. Or should I say that my face

is the mirror to yours, and if I look at you, Savior,

Mother, Queen, Wife, Adviser, Purifier, Defender,

I may become all this as well? Therefore I look to you,

Juno Dea, Juno Regina; I bow to you, great goddess,

divine matron, heavenly sovereign; I praise you,

glorious Juno, of peacock, spear, and cloud.

 

(Originally written 1/30/2015, for an agon in the goddess’ honor sponsored by Galina Krasskova)

Let’s talk about something else

There are a number of topics I’d rather not talk about right now, gentle readers, including but not limited to my hiatus in writing, whether trans women are really women (they are), and whether all goddesses manifest as Maidens, Mothers, and Crones (I think not). At a certain point one has to look at some of the shenanigans on the internet and say, “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” or perhaps, “Not my theology, not my deities.”
So let’s talk about something else. Here’s a suggestion: Are the Greek and Roman deities the same beings?

The ancient Greeks and Romans certainly identified their pantheons with one another. The Greeks interpreted the gods of Egypt in terms of their own gods; Zeus was Ammon or Amun, Dionysus was Osiris, Hermes was Thoth. The Romans interpreted the gods of the Celtic and Germanic tribes as Roman, building shrines and temples to Apollo Belenus and Mars Cocidios. Even late-comer Antinous was identified with Belenus.

So here is–I don’t want to call it my personal gnosis. Here are my impressions. Better yet, to borrow a fandom term, here are my headcanons about the gods, the things that are canonical for me, in my head.

Christian philosopher Nicholas of Cusa wrote that “God is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”. He was thinking of the Christian god, but I would apply those words to Hestia and Vesta. The hearth goddess, the sacred fire whose presence creates home and altar and temple, she is surely the infinite center of a circle whose circumference is everywhere and nowhere.

If I were to draw a Venn diagram of Hermes and Mercury, their two circles would overlap almost entirely. Hermes is a bit more tricksterish, Mercury concerned a bit more with business and commerce. But I tend to invoke them in the same breath, and to honor them together with Thoth, Seshat (the Egyptian goddess of records, archives, and libraries), and Hermanubis (the son of Isis and Serapis).

Aphrodite and Venus, on the other hand, seem to me to be quite distinct. My mental image of Aphrodite is of a golden-haired beauty who appears to be in her twenties, although if you look into her eyes, you see she is much older. My mental image of Venus is of a dark-haired woman in her forties–okay, basically my mental image of Venus is Gina Bell as Sophie Devereaux in Leverage. Dark-haired, olive-skinned, always perfectly dressed, and simultaneously the mom friend in any gathering and the embodiment of what a man desires in a woman, able to show each particular man the face he desires to see.

I have to admit that my perspective on Zeus and Hera has been influenced perhaps beyond saving by the myths about them I read as a child. I know intellectually that Zeus is more than the chronically unfaithful dad, Hera more than the scold who hides her hurt beyond anger at the wrong targets, but my emotions say Nope. Jupiter and Juno are easier for me to relate to, separately from those myths and from Zeus and Hera, as the god and goddess of the sky, of rain and cloud and weather, and as the granters and guardians of sovereignty, along with Minerva. They were worshipped as a triad on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, and I tend to approach them that way. Jupiter guards the sovereignty of the state and desires that it be good and just. Juno guards the sovereignty of women and, by extension, other minorities. Minerva guards what I would call intellectual integrity, public reputation, virtuous conduct as a citizen.

Apollo is just the same everywhere. The Romans were quite direct about having imported him, and likewise Dionysus, even if they called him Bacchus. I don’t have much relationship with Diana or Artemis, but my headcanon is that they are not the same goddess, but have closely overlapping interests. Demeter, Persephone, and Hades are such major deities for me that I have little sense of Ceres, Proserpina, and Dis Pater at all. My headcanon for Demeter, incidentally, is absolutely Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation. She even calls her daughter “little one” instead of her given name.

So that’s the end of my round in this game, gentle readers. Stop by and tell me who you think is the same or different in the pantheons of Greece and Rome, or anywhere else.