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Lemuria Information


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Lemuria Information

Lemuria was the festival to remove evil spirits from the home on the 9th, 11th, and the 13th of May. 


Rising just after midnight on the first night of Lemuria, a man, for it is he man of the house who is suppose to perform this ritual, performs a ritual for his Lares at the lararium, calling upon them to assist him in this night’s task.  He then moves throughout the house while barefoot and not bound by any belt or ties. Nine dried beans are placed in his mouth. Both hands are raised in the sign of the fica with the thumb thrust through clenched fingers.  The fica, or ‘fig,’ represents the protruding clitoris of Mater Manua, Mother of the Manes.  By this gesture, and the bare feet, She is called upon for protection against any unwanted Manes who may have entered the house.  One washes his hands and then casts some beans with his left hand over his left shoulder while looking forward; then he turns his head, averting his face to the right, as he raises the palms of both hands against the left as he says, “Haec ego mitto, his redimo meque meosque fabis.”  (“‘With these beans I throw, I redeem me and mine.”)  He does this nine times, covering every floor, if not every room in his house. Then washing his hands once more, he clangs a gong while shouting nine times “Manes, exi paterni!”  (“Ancestral spirits, depart!”)

The rites continue into the daytime hours with the women and children cleansing and purifying the house further. I recall as a child, in my years before I went to school, how my mother would rush us indoors before sunset on these days.  She would lock the doors, pull down the shades, turn mirrors to the walls, do everything to prevent the Lemuresfrom seeing us, for, as we were told, if the Lemures saw us, they would carry us away.  Then my bisnonna would gather us children to have us bang pot lids, rather than the gong of Temesan bronze that Ovid described, and howl like wolves, joined by neighborhood dogs, to frighten the Lemures away.  Meanwhile my grandmother would spin about, dispersing boiling water all around the room with a wooden ladle .  The water sometimes splattered onto us, making us howl all the more.

Where some of the rites of Lemuria are intended to dispel unwanted Manes and the evils they bring into the house, other rites invite the Lares to remain and bless the home. Having cleaned the house, it is then decorated with fragrant flowers. Offerings are left at the lararium for the ancestral spirits. Bowls of water with which to wash are set out for the Lares, as well as small towels. Bread, flour, salt, olive oil, honey and milk, incense and flowers, with perhaps some candles,  were traditional offerings given by the Romans.  Other things offered in my family were pebbles, stones, feathers, small statues, violets and wild flowers, trinkets and just about anything found that was unusual or colorful, like the smooth-edge shards of broken glass washed up on the shores of the lake. Images of the Lares are also brought from the lararium to the dining table for the family meal.  Today they might be photographs of our deceased family members, where as the Romans may have used the busts or death masks that they kept of their ancestors.

By M. Horatius Piscinus at Patheos.

Read the additional information threads for more information on the festival. 

Note: The month of May was viewed negatively for marriages.


Thread Advice

Each family is more than welcome to have their own thread to represent their household. Be sure to tag who's household it is, etc.

There will not be an official thread for this so post however you see fit. 


Additional Information


This event was suggest by @Sharpie

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