Correspondences for Sacred Plants of the Winter Solstice

Sacred plants of the Winter Solstice

by Selena Fox

HOLLY

Symbolizing: Old Solar Year; Waning Sun; Protection; Good Luck

Forms: boughs over portals, wreaths

Divinities: Holly King; Old Nick; Saturn; Bacchus; Wood Spirits; Holly Boys

Traditions: Roman, Celtic, English, Christian

 

 

MISTLETOE

Symbolizing: Peace, Prosperity, Healing, Wellness, Fertility, Rest, Protection

Forms: boughs, amulet sprigs above doorways, kissing balls

Divinities: Oak Spirit; Frigga and Balder

Traditions: Celtic, Teutonic

 

 

IVY

Symbolizing: Fidelity, Protection, Healing, Marriage, Victory, Honor, Good Luck

Forms: crowns, wreaths, garlands

Divinities: Dionysius; Bacchus; Great Goddess; Ivy Girls

Traditions: Greek, Roman, English, Christian

 

 

FRANKINCENSE

Symbolizing: Sun, Purification, Consecration, Protection, Spiritual Illumination

Forms: incense, oils

Divinities: Sun Gods, Ra at Dawn, Bel

Traditions: Babalyonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Jewish, Greek, Roman, Christian

 

 

MYRRH

Symbolizing: Healing, Death and Afterlife, Purification, Inner Peace

Forms: incense, oils

Divinities: Isis, Ra at Midday

Traditions: Egyptian, Jewish, Christian

 

 

WHEAT

Symbolizing: Sustenance, Abundance, Fertility, Good Luck

Forms: grain, straw figures and symbols, cookies, cakes, breads

Divinities: Earth Goddesses; Saturn & Ops; Goat Spirit; Fairy Folk

Traditions: Roman, Celtic, Scots, Teutonic, Sweedish, Christian

Can Runes Be Used for Divination?

Can Runes Be Used for Divination?

by: Donald Tyson
The earliest allusions to runes concern divination. The Roman historian Tacitus, writing in 98 A.D., describes how the German priests would cut a bough from  a tree and divide it into pieces, then distinguish them by carving into their bark “certain marks.” The twigs were cast over a white cloth at  random, and after the priest invoked the gods, with eyes raised to heaven he would select three of the twigs and read their meanings. It is very likely these  divinatory marks were runes.
In modern occultism rune divination has become most closely associated with something called rune stones, which  are not stones at all but small squares of ceramic impressed with runes. There is nothing wrong with putting runes on ceramic, which has an earthy, natural  feel, but there is no ancient precedent for it, either. Many people are under the mistaken notion that this is the original medium of runes. In pagan times  runes were carved into wood for divination, specifically segments of a fresh bough lopped off a fruit-bearing tree such as the apple.
For less formal occasions, should an individual wish to divine for family or friends, or a professional wish to use the runes in paid readings, one can  create or purchase rune cards and rune dice.
Rune cards are similar in some ways to the Tarot . Each card shows a rune and two illustrations that convey its  active meaning and its symbolic emblem, as well as its number, name, meaning, and its place in its rune family, or aett. Avoid using a rune card deck that  minimizes the runes in favor of the images chosen to represent them. This is a major error. Divinations are done through the runes themselves, which have  many possible interpretations, not just the one image selected by the artist who illustrated the cards. In this respect rune cards are unlike the Tarot,  which consists only of its images. It is a vital distinction that is apt to be overlooked by those who rely on a colorful representation of the runes.
There is no ancient precedent for putting runes onto cards, because cards did not exist in Europe at the time the runes were being used for magic. However,  early playing cards from China are very long and slender, shaped more like wands than modern cards. Also, there is a type of Korean card which consists of  thin flat sticks with Korean characters painted on them (see A History of Playing Cards, C. P. Hargrave, pp. 6-12). The early Chinese cards were  invented in the period of active rune magic. It is probable that all playing cards have their origin in divination sticks similar to rune wands.
Rune dice are four cubes, each bearing three pairs of runes. The pairs are oriented to the three dimensions of space, and they create interlocking rings of  occult energy about the dice through their revolutions when the dice are cast. Each cube stands for one of the four occult elements – Fire, Water, Air and  Earth. By casting the dice and reading the four runes that fall uppermost, as well as the pattern of the dice and the relationships between the elements,  very detailed, lucid readings into general and specific questions are possible.
It may seem at first that putting the runes on dice trivializes them, but this is not so. Dice have been used from time immemorial for divination. They were  employed for this purpose by the Greeks and Romans, and significantly, by the ancient Germans, who were avid gamblers as well as diviners. Roman historians  report that the Germans divined by means of “lots.” such lots for the Romans meant small blocks of inscribed wood, as were used for divination in  their own temple of the goddess Fortuna. It cannot be proven, but it is at least possible that something very similar to the rune dice existed in ancient  times.
Runes are unsurpassed for divination because they represent a set of manifest qualities that are archetypal in significance. They define the essential  building blocks of the human conception of the world. They convey meaning on all levels, and can be interpreted literally as trees, cattle, water, and so on;  personally as human virtues and experiences such as dreams, desires, courage, eloquence, and service; or spiritually as good, evil, truth, justice, honor,  and wisdom. On all levels the message of the runes is explicit, because the rune symbols arise out of the world of Nature. They possess the clarity and  definition of the stones in a field and the trees on a hilltop. This makes them easier to interpret than the I Ching, the Tarot, or the symbols of   geomancy . I have used all major types of divination, and find that runes speak in a more straightforward  manner than any of them.

Who Were The Celts?

Who Were The Celts?

 

The Celtic empire once ranged across Western Europe, and their armies eclipsed even those of Rome. Who were these mighty people, and what became of them?

The Celts (Kel’tz) were a diverse group of people whose empire once spanned the European continent.  Archeological digs from Halsted, Germany to the Orkney Isles of Scotland have uncovered evidence of Celtic settlements as far back as the late Bronze Age.  But where did  these brash, nomadic people come from, and what became of them?

Recent archeological digs in Eastern Europe and Asia Minor indicate the possibility that the Celts were not indigenous to Europe at all.  The fact that the original Celtic stock were primarily a dark haired people with swarthy complexions only verifies this new theory. This theory is the migratory theory;  when applied the Celtics sometime in the millennia of the Bronze Age entered Europe from somewhere in Asia Minor.  It wasn’t long before they settled in the region of the Danube River basin and soon began raiding and conquering their neighbors.  The Celtic conquest continued until their tribal lands covered most of Western Europe, from the Danube to Rome and westward as far as current-day Belgium.

Though their rise to power was quick, the Celtic domination of Europe was short, as empires go.  Over the centuries following the Celtic Golden Age seen at Halsted, the Celtic people were pushed farther west by new conquerors and empires, sprouting up in Athens, Macedonia, and, eventually, Rome.  To the North, the savage Goths pushed the Celts southward as well, condensing the majority of Celtic society into Gaul and Iberia, which today make up France and Spain.

If the origins of the Celts are historically dubious, the name they identified themselves with remains a mystery.  While historical accounts exist, as well as a few Celtic carvings referencing tribal names, Celtic writings don’t make any reference to a racial name.  The only surviving accounts to make reference to the Celtic people were written by Roman and Greek historians.  In fact, it is from Greek texts that the Celts received their ethnic name, Keltoi, a Greek word for “stranger” or “outsider.”  This identifier was altered by late Roman writers and eventually adopted by the Celts as a means of identification in trade and war.

Many historians and archeologists believe that the original people who entered European millennia before the birth of Christ had no name by which to identify themselves as a people.  They were nomadic, in many ways, and little more than a loose conglomeration of independent tribes and family groups.  If this theory is true, it adds a new dimension to the mystery of the Celts with a question that might never be truly answered: Who were the Celts?

Historical records and archeological evidence have much to say about Celtic culture and society.  Predominantly in Roman histories, reference is made to the deep racial pride of the Celts, and their stubborn refusal to be dominated or ruled.  According to Roman chroniclers, a Celt would choose suicide over surrender.  Nor was Celtic society a fluid structure like the Hellenic or Roman empires, but rather a loosely-linked group of autonomous tribes, each headed by a separate chieftain.  Within each tribe, the people were further divided into extended family units known as clans.  Each clan was subdivided into lineages, called “˜fine’, represented by the paternal kinship. Roman writers, examining this pastoral mind frame from their urban vantage point, no doubt found much to disdain as barbaric and primitive in Celtic society.

However, far from the barbarians with which they were often identified, the Celts had a highly developed society.  The basic structure of Celtic society divided the people into three classes:  the royal clans, the warrior aristocracy, and the common people, often referred to as Freemen.  And, though slaves did constitute a small percentage of the population, slavery was generally frowned upon in Celtic society. However, though Celtic social structure appeared loose and primitive to the Romans and Greeks, the Celts were by no means the “savage race” which the Roman scholars often slurred them by. Archeological evidence has shown the Celts to be an advanced race, for their era.  They made use of chain mail in battle and utilized machines for reaping grain.  There is also evidence that the Celts had begun extended roadways across Europe centuries prior to the Roman Empire’s much-lauded road system, and it is widely believed by historians that it was from the Celts that the Romans and Greeks first learned the use of soap.

However, regardless of their apparent advancements, the Celts were not an urbanized people, and their tastes ran to simple rather than extravagant.  Certain themes appear repetitively in reference to Celtic culture, including the predominance of rural settlements, the traditions governing hospitable feasts, and the evidence of fellowship drinking. Pork tended to be a primary item of diet, and clothing often followed a plaid design. However, though rural themes predominated their society and many settlements were merely farming communities, the Celts were far from uneducated. They placed high regard on thorough education and life-long study. The Druids, who are believed to be the Celtic scholars and priests, were required to undergo a period of training which lasted around twenty years. Also contrary to popular belief, historians have concluded that the Celts had a written language as early as the third century BCE, but made little use of it except on coinage and memorials, placing a higher value on the ability to remember vast quantities of information correctly.

Celtic society declined in the face of Rome’s advancing power, however.  As Roman culture stamped more of the face of world politics and trade, the Celts soon found themselves with no choice but to accept Roman rule. And, as Roman culture began dominating the Celtic tribes, the tribal culture was replaced by a racial identity.  By the withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain in approximately 340 CE, Celtic culture had waned nearly into oblivion.  It would enjoy a brief period of renewal with the fall of Rome, only to be quickly conquered by the Germanic culture advancing across Europe. And so, the proud people who had once dominated the European continent would be lost to myth and legend, leaving more unanswered questions than road signs to their once-golden culture.

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LUNAR PHASES AND MAGICKAL WORK

LUNAR PHASES AND MAGICKAL WORK  

  
Moon Myths
When people lived with Nature, the changing seasons had a great impact on religious    ceremonies. The Moon was seen as a symbol of the Goddess. Because of this, the light of the Moon was considered magical, and a source of energy. Wiccans    often practice magic at a Full Moon to tap into this energy thought to exist at this time. Plutarch once said “Egyptian priests called the Moon the    “Mother of the Universe,” because the moon, “having the light which makes moist and pregnant, is promotive of the generation of living    beings..” The Gnostic sect of Naassians believed in a primordial being known a “the heavenly horn of the moon.” The Moon was the Great Mother. Menos meant “Moon” and “power” to the Greeks. To the Romans, the morality of the Moon Goddess was above that of the Sun God. In many cultures the Moon Goddess and the Creatress were the same. Polynesians called the Creatress Hina, “Moon.” She was the first woman, and every    woman is a wahine, made in the image of Hina. Scandinavians sometimes called the Creatress Mardoll, “Moon Shining Over the Sea. Ashanti people had a    generic term used for all their deities, Boshun, meaning Moon. Sioux Native Americans call the moon The Old Woman Who Never Dies. Iroquois call her    “Eternal One.” Rulers in the Eritrean zone of South Africa held the Goddesses name “Moon.” The Gaelic name of the Moon, gealach, came    form Gala or Galata, the original Moon-Mother of Gaelic and Gaulish tribes. Britain used to be called Albion, the milk-white Moon-Goddess. The Moon was    called Metra, which means Mother , “whose love penetrated everywhere.” In the Basque language, the words for deity and moon are the same. The    root word for both “moon” and “mind” was the Indo-European manas, mana, or men, representing the Great Mother’s “wise    blood” in women, governed by the Moon. The derivative mania used to mean ecstatic revelation, like lunacy used to mean possession by spirit of Luna, the Moon.
To be Moon-Touched or Moon-Struck meant to be chosen by the Goddess. When patriarchal thinkers belittled the Goddess, these words came to mean    craziness. Orphic and Pythagorean sect viewed the Moon as the home of the dead, a female gate known as Yoni. Souls passed through on the way to the    paradise fields of the stars. Greeks often located the Elysian Fields, home of the blessed dead, in the moon. The shoes of Toman senators were decorated    with ivory crescents to show that after death they would inhabit the Moon. Roman religion taught that “the souls of the just are purified in the Moon.” Wearing the crescent was “visual worship” of the Goddess. That was why the prophet Isaiah denounced the women of Zion for wearing    lunar amulets. Because the moon was the holder of souls between reincarnations, it sheltered both the dead and unborn, who were one in the same. If a man    dreams of his own image in the Moon, he would become the father of a son. If a woman dreamed of her own image in the Moon, she would have a daughter. The    Moon Goddess created time, with all its cycles of creation, growth, decline, and destruction. This is why ancient calendars were based on phases of the    moon and menstrual cycles. The Moon still determines agricultural work in some parts of India. Indonesian moon priestesses were responsible for finding the    right phase of the moon for every undertaking. The Moon was to have been the receptacle of menstrual blood by which each mother forme the life of her    child. This sacer, taboo moon-fluid kept even the Gods alive. The moon was “the cup of the fluid of life immortal, quickening the vegetable realm and    whatsoever grows in the sub-lunar sphere, quickening also the immortals on high.” The Moon was supposed to rule life and death as well as the tides. People living on the shores were convinced that a baby could only be born on an incoming tide and a person could not die until the tide went out. It was often said birth at a full tide or a full moon means a lucky life. Girls in Scotland refused to wed on anything but a Full Moon. Witches invoked their    Goddess by “drawing down the Moon.” It is said to be a rite dating back to moon worship in Thessaly, centuries before the Christian era.
Esbats   
Lunar holidays are also known as Esbats, but any Wiccan ritual held at any time other than a Sabbat is an Esbat. Due to the rotation of the earth, the Wiccan calendar contains 13 Full Moons and 8 Sabbats, also known as Days of Power. A full moon happens every 28 1/4 days. Full Moon energy is used for banishing unwanted influences, protection and divination. A Full Moon is also a good time for planning, releasing and working backwards in time. Full Moon Magic can be done for seven days, three days before the full moon and three days after the full moon.
There are thirteen Full Moons. Each has a traditional name.
Wolf Moon January
Storm Moon February
Chaste Moon March
Seed Moon April
Hare Moon May
Dyad Moon June
Mead Moon July
Wyrt Moon August
Barley Moon   
September Blood Moon
October Snow Moon
November Oak Moon
December Blue Moon variable
The New Moon is used for personal growth, healing, the blessing of a new project etc. Between the New Moon and Full Moon is the phase called Waxing Moon. Magic for this phase includes attraction magic, increasing, growth, and gain. Between the Full Moon and New Moon is the phase called the Waning Moon. Magic for this phase includes banishing magic, such a loosing negative emotions, bad habits etc. Three days before the New Moon is known as the Dark Moon, as it is not visible in the sky. Traditionally, no magic is performed    at this time. It is a time for rest.

The Wicca Book of Days for June 19 – The Celtic Pantheon

The Wicca Book of Days for June 19

The Celtic Pantheon

The Gods and Goddesses venerated by the European Celtic people were local divinities identified with features of the landscape, the creatures and trees that inhabited it, and the tribes that lived there (Brigantia being the Goddess whom the Brigantes worshiped in Britain, for instance). Because the Celtic tradition was oral, the nature of these deities remain imprecise but something of their individual characters survived if they were subsequently fused with Roman divinities or Christian saints. Perhaps the best know Celtic God is Cernunnos, or the Horned God.

Circles and Spirals

Circles and spirals were important mystical symbols to the Celts, representing as they did the Sun and Fire, eternity, fertility and life itself. Wear jewelry bearing one or other of these dynamic symbols next to your skin today and become infused by the energy that it emits.

Deity of the Day for Feb. 14th – Venus

Venus

Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and military victory. She played a key role in many Roman religious festivals. From the third century BC, the increasing Hellenization of Roman upper classes identified her as the equivalent of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Roman mythology made her the divine mother of Aeneas, the Trojan ancestor of Rome’s founder, Romulus.

In myth, Venus-Aphrodite was born of sea-foam. Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life. Her male counterparts in the Roman pantheon, Vulcan and Mars, are active and fiery. Venus absorbs and tempers the male essence, uniting the opposites of male and female in mutual affection. She is essentially assimilative and benign, and embraces several otherwise quite disparate functions, She can give military victory, sexual success, good fortune and prosperity. In one context, she is a goddess of prostitutes; in another, she turns the hearts of men and women from sexual vice to virtue.

Earth Goddesses – FAUNA

Earth Goddesses – FAUNA 

Fauna, the Roman goddess of nature and animals, was most often called Bona Dea (“the Good Goddess”), which is a title, not a name. Sometimes she was referred to as Bona Mater, which means “Good Mother.” To say the actual name of Fauna was taboo in ancient Roman society. Fauna was a Earth Goddess and was worshipped primarily by women. She was the daughter (sometimes represented as consort) of the nature god Faunus. It was said that after her marriage, she never laid eyes upon another man. This chastity. Improved her ranking among the gods. She was a country goddess, the protector of cattle and farmlands. She also presided over virginity and fertility in women. Today the word fauna is used to encompass all animal life.

Fauna is depicted as an old woman with pointed ears. She is represented holding the horn of plenty, and a snake is her symbol. It is said that the snake represents her phallic nature; however, men were not allowed at her temples or festivals. Her image is often found on Roman coins.

Bona Dea had two major festivals, one in May and the other on December 3 or 4. (This feast was moveable.) The festival held in December was a secret rite. It was unique because it was often held in the homes of high-ranking Roman magistrates as opposed to public temples. It was an invitation-only affair. Men were not allowed, nor was any depiction of a man welcome. Paintings and statues that included a male figure were covered up or removed. This festival was said to be a lesbian orgy; however, it has been suggested that it was actually a purification rite. It was forbidden to use the word “wine” or “myrtle,” because Fauna’s father had beaten her to death with a myrtle stick upon finding that she had gotten drunk. Wine was forbidden to women under Roman law. However, it was also her father who gifted her with her divinity, be repenting of her killing and bestowing divinity upon her. Wine was served at her festival but was called milk. It was traditionally kept in a jar covered with cloth. The jar was referred to as the honey pot.

Fauna’s May celebrations took place in her temple and was held on May 1. Wine was served in the same manner as in the December rites. The temple was decorated with vines, flowers, and plants, with the careful exclusion of myrtle. This celebration was public and open to all women. The festival was rumored to included the ritual sacrifice of a pregnant sow.

Fauna’s temple was built over a cave that housed consecrated serpents. Enslaved women were prominent among the worshippers. In fact, Fauna was the only Roman deity to allow freed slaves to serve among her priestesses. Her rites were unique because she allowed high-ranking Roman women, poor women, prostitutes, and slaves to worship together side by side.

Fauna was also seen as the mother of the fairies. In this role she was a prophetess and seer. In addition, Fauna was the female essence of wildlife. In this role she was the companion of Faunus, who served as the male essence.

Fauna was a healing goddess and her temple garden was filled with medicinal herbs. The sick were brought to her temple gardens to be healed.

Today We Honor The Goddess Athena

In Greek religion and mythology, Athena or Athene (play /əˈθnə/ or /əˈθn/; Attic: Ἀθηνᾶ, Athēnā or Ἀθηναία, Athēnaia; Epic: Ἀθηναίη, Athēnaiē; Ionic: Ἀθήνη, Athēnē; Doric: Ἀθάνα, Athana), also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene (play /ˈpæləs/; Παλλὰς Ἀθηνᾶ; Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη), is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Minerva, Athena’s Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes.[4] Athena is also a shrewd companion of heroes and is the goddess of heroic endeavour. She is the virgin patron of Athens. The Athenians founded the Parthenon on the Acropolis of her namesake city, Athens (Athena Parthenos), in her honour.[4]

Athena’s veneration as the patron of Athens seems to have existed from the earliest times, and was so persistent that archaic myths about her were recast to adapt to cultural changes. In her role as a protector of the city (polis), many people throughout the Greek world worshiped Athena as Athena Polias (Ἀθηνᾶ Πολιάς “Athena of the city”). The city of Athens and the goddess Athena essentially bear the same name, “Athenai” meaning “[many] Athenas”.

Athena as the goddess of philosophy became an aspect of the cult in Classical Greece during the late 5th century BC. She is the patroness of various crafts, especially of weaving, as Athena Ergane. The metalwork of weapons also fell under her patronage. She led battles (Athena Promachos or the warrior maiden Athena Parthenos) as the disciplined, strategic side of war, in contrast to her brother Ares, the patron of violence, bloodlust and slaughter—”the raw force of war”. Athena’s wisdom includes the cunning intelligence (metis) of such figures as Odysseus. Not only was this version of Athena the opposite of Ares in combat, it was also the polar opposite of the serene earth goddess version of the deity, Athena Polias.

Athena appears in Greek mythology as the patron and helper of many heroes, including Odysseus, Jason, and Heracles. In Classical Greek myths, she never consorts with a lover, nor does she ever marry, earning the title Athena Parthenos. A remnant of archaic myth depicts her as the adoptive mother of Erechtheus/Erichthonius through the foiled rape by Hephaestus. Other variants relate that Erichthonius, the serpent that accompanied Athena, was born to Gaia: when the rape failed, the semen landed on Gaia and impregnated her.. After Erechthonius was born, Gaia gave him to Athena.

Though Athena is a goddess of war strategy, she disliked fighting without purpose and preferred to use wisdom to settle predicaments. The goddess only encouraged fighting for a reasonable cause or to resolve conflict. As patron of Athens she fought in the Trojan war on the side of the Achaeans.

Nemausus

Nemausus

Deus Nemausus is often said to have been the Celtic patron god of Nemausus (Nîmes). The god does not seem to have been worshipped outside of this locality. The city certainly derives its name from Nemausus, which was perhaps the sacred wood in which the Celtic tribe of the Volcae Arecomici (who of their own accord surrendered to the Romans in 121 BC) held their assemblies (according to Encyclopædia Britannica 1911), or was perhaps the local Celtic spirit guardian of the spring that originally provided all water for the settlement, as many modern sources suggest. Or perhaps Stephanus of Byzantium was correct in stating in his geographical dictionary that Nemausos, the city of Gaul, took its name from the Heracleid (or son of Heracles) Nemausios.

An important healing-spring sanctuary existed in the town; it was established in some form at least as early as the early Iron Age but was expanded after the Romans colonised the region in the late 2nd century BC, when there was active Roman encouragement of the cult. Another set of local spirits worshiped at Nemausus (Nîmes) were the Nemausicae or Matres Nemausicae, who were fertility and healing goddesses belonging to the spring sanctuary.

The God Dis Pater

Dis Pater

Dis Pater, or Dispater was a Roman (Gaulish) god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades. Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

Dis Pater was commonly shortened to simply Dis. This name has since become an alternative name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, such as the Dis of The Divine Comedy.

Dis Pater was originally a god of wealth, much like the Roman god Pluto (from Greek Πλούτων, Ploutōn, meaning “wealthy”), who was later equated with Dis Pater. Dis is contracted from the Latin dis (from dives meaning “rich”), and pater (“father”), the literal meaning of Dis Pater being “Wealthy Father” or “Father of Riches.”

Julius Caesar writes in Commentarii de Bello Gallico that the Gauls considered Dis Pater to be an ancestor. In thus interpreting the Gauls’ god as Dis, Caesar offers one of his many examples of interpretatio Romana, the re-identification of foreign divinities as their closest Roman counterparts. The choice of Dis to translate whatever Celtic divinity Caesar has in mind – most likely Cernunnos, as the two are both associated with both the Underworld and prosperity – may in part be due to confusion between Dis Pater and the Proto-Indo-European deity Dyeus, who would have been addressed as Dyeu Phter (“Sky Father”). This name is also the likely origin of the name of many Indo-European gods, including Zeus and Jupiter.

Like Pluto, Dis Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth—gems and precious metals—was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dis Pater was over time conflated with the Greek god Pluto.

In being conflated with Pluto, Dis Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dis Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.

In 249 BC and 207 BC, the Roman Senate under Senator Lucius Catelli ordained special festivals to appease Dis Pater and Proserpina. Every hundred years, a festival was celebrated in his name. According to legend, a round marble altar, Altar of Dis Pater and Proserpina (Latin: Ara Ditis Patris et Proserpinae), was miraculously discovered by the servants of a Sabine called Valesius, the ancestor of the first consul. The servants were digging in the Tarentum on the edge of the Campus Martius to lay foundations following instructions given to Valesius’s children in dreams, when they found the altar 20 feet (6 m) underground. Valesius reburied the altar after three days of games. Sacrifices were offered to this altar during the Ludi Saeculares or Ludi Tarentini. It may have been uncovered for each occasion of the games, to be reburied afterwards, a clearly chthonic tradition of worship. It was rediscovered in 1886–87 beneath the Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Rome.

In addition to being considered the ancestor of the Gauls, Dis Pater was sometimes identified with the Sabine god Soranus. In southern Germany and the Balkans, Dis Pater had a Celtic goddess, Aericura, as a consort. Dis Pater was rarely associated with foreign deities in the shortened form of his name, Dis.

Encyclopedia Mythica