The Three Virgins on the Nones

At the risk of stating the obvious, religious practice can take place on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. Personal devotion and tradition may determine how often each god is regularly worshiped, if at all, which again is obvious. My chosen days for Ingui and Mercury have already mentioned elsewhere in this blog and Roman tradition ascribes the Calends to Janus and Juno and the Ides to Jupiter. Then there are the Nones, which fall on the 5th or 7th day of every month and with no certainty on the presiding deity.

The name comes from the fact that the Nones were the ninth day before the Ides, which were on the 13th or 15th. Traditionally, the wife of the Sacred King offered a sacrifice to Juno and the holidays of the month were announced. However, since the Calends are already sacred to Juno and there’s no clear reference as to Whom, if any deity, the Nones were dedicated, modern cultores tend to use the day differently. Some ascribe it to Minerva, since She’s the only element of the Capitoline Triad without a known monthly ceremony. Others will worship Juno, due to the already mentioned reference to a sacrifice to Her on the Nones. Given the uncertainty, I decided to use the Nones to include in my monthly practices three goddesses to Whom I hadn’t yet ascribed a specific day, despite having a place in my home shrine.

The deities in question are Vesta, Minerva, and Diana. Like all the other divine beings to Whom I have made and given a small clay altar for private worship, I salute Them every morning and touch their altars after kissing the tip of my right hand fingers. But, unlike Mercury or Jupiter, They were without a monthly ceremony, even if just a simple and brief one, like offerings of incense and a decorative wreath, but exceptional in the sense that that is not done daily. And it occurred to me that, since some cultures sacrifice to Minerva on the Nones, I could do just that and add Vesta, since She’s also a virgin goddess, which in turn reminded me that I could add a third one, also a maiden, which is to say Diana. The solution was ideal: here was a special day in the Ancient Roman calendar, but apparently non-ascribed, and three virgin goddesses to Whom I had not chosen a monthly day.

It should be stressed that is not a historical attribution of the Nones. It is simply a modern twist that made use of an historical gap to solve a ritual problem. Call it practical sense or mere opportunism, depending on your own personal view on the subject. But it does allow me to have a regular monthly sacrifice to all of the Roman deities that have a place in my home shrine and, unless Vesta, Minerva, or Diana make it known that They’re not happy with the deal, it will be part of my sacra privata.

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