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Bona Dea, Roman Fertility Goddess

By Patti Wigington

In ancient Rome, Bona Dea was a goddess of fertility. In an interesting paradox, she was also a goddess of chastity and virginity. Honored originally as an earth goddess, she was an agricultural deity, and was often invoked to protect the area from earthquakes. Unlike many Roman goddesses, Bona Dea seems to have been particularly honored by the lower social classes. Slaves and plebian women who were trying to conceive a child might make offerings to her in hopes of being granted a fertile womb.

Although her principal temple was on the Aventine hill, secret rituals and rites were performed in private homes. Once a year, usually in early December, high-ranking women would gather at the house of Rome’s most prominent magistrates, the Pontifex Maximus. While there, the magistrate’s wife led secret rituals at which men were forbidden. It was even prohibited to discuss men or anything masculine at the ritual. While the details of these rites are unknown, it is believed they were related to agriculture and fertility.

Read the original article at: Pattis Paganism

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