This month: April

April is an enigmatic month with regards to its etymology. Aprilis may hide a connection to Venus, but that remains more of a possibility than a certainty. It is, in any case, a Spring month, rich in celebrations of fertility: the Great Mother, Ceres, Flora and Venus, all had (and have) a feast in April. There is also the Robigalia, the Vinalia, the Fordicidia and the Parilia. Of all of them, I keep only the latter, though as the anniversary of Rome and not a festivity for the purification of flocks. And then there are the Ludi Mercuriales, which are a creation of mine and may be linked to fertility through Mercury’s ithyphallic form and role as a protector of flocks.

The Calends, sacred to Juno, are on April 1, the Nones on the 5th day and the Ides, sacred to Jupiter, fall on the 13th. The first Wednesday of the month is dedicated to Mercury, the 19th day to Minerva and the 21st to Ingui. The 2nd, 6th and 14th of April are unlucky.

April 1-4: Ludi Mercuriales
The Mercurial Games are four days of offerings, devotionals and tributes to Mercury, from April’s Fool to the fourth day of the month. Breakfast will be in the dining room, next to the god’s shrine, with small portions being set aside and later burned in formal ceremonies. I’m also planning devotional activities – jogging, divination, pranks, feeding stray animals, language study and translation, etc. – and will be making flower wreaths to decorate the shrine and use as offering. I’ll be posting a few photos here.

April 11: Dies Laris Patriae
Another one of my Lares of the Homeland is John I of Portugal, born a bastard on 11 April 1357 and elected king on 5 April 1385. He’s part of the lore of my home city: his father is entombed in the local monastery and John’s own tomb is 24 kilometres away, close to the site of his greatest military victory. A village right next to my home city actually celebrates that battle every year and the region is full of stories and legends about John and his army – including his canonized general. The king is also deeply connected to Lisbon, where he was born and died: the city was pivotal in his struggle for the throne in 1383-4 and was awarded its current motto as a result. And when he passed away in 1433, John’s funerary procession lasted four days along 122 kilometres, from Lisbon to Batalha and with four stops, one of them in my home city’s monastery. He’s a national and regional hero and if for some reason I’m unable to visit his tomb, I honour his genius with offerings of incense and honeyed wine. I may also light a candle at a Catholic chapel dedicated to a saint of whom John I was a devotee.

April 21: Parilia
Originally a rural festivity for the protection of flocks, by the end of the republican period the Parilia was already considered the birthday of Rome. It is in the latter sense that I celebrate it, as a way of honouring the genius of the city from where much of my religious practices originate. To that end, I plan a formal ceremony with offerings of incense, wine and wheat or cakes, adding the Capitoline Triad to the opening section.

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