Monday, June 14, 2010

Juno

      As I was doing some research on the month of June, as I have tried to do for every month since I started the blog, I couldn't find much of anything, but I did find one interesting thing.
     The month of June comes from two possible explanations, one is in the honor of Juno, Queen of the Gods in the Roman world. Also the name might have come from the word juniores, meaning young men and juniors.
     I did some further research on the Roman goddess, Juno, and found some very interesting facts that I thought you, my readers, would enjoy as well. Upon further investigation of the Roman goddess, her mystery got deeper.
     In the Roman world, Juno wasn't just a goddess but also a protective spirit of woman, marriage and birth. Men had their own protective spirit which was called Genius.
     As the goddess she was considered the protector and special counselor of the Roman state and the queen of the Gods. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister / wife of the chief god Jupiter. She was also the mother of Jurentas, Mars and Vulcan. Under the name of Regina 'queen', she was the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman empire. With Jupiter and Minerva, she was worshipped as a triad on the Capitol in Rome. The peacock with many eyes was her symbolic animal. In Greek mythology, Juno can be identified with Hera, but Juno was quite the opposite of Hera. Juno was sometimes depicted wearing a diadem on her head.
     In Roman mythology, Juno had many, many different names which was used to describe the different faces of Juno or the Juno.
     These are a few that I found:
       Juno Moneta meaning She Who Warns
       Juno Virginetis - Juno of the Virgin
       Juno Matronalis - Juno of the Married Woman
       Juno Pronuba - Juno of the Bride
       Juno Jugalis - Juno of Marriage
         * This is probably why June is famous for having the most weddings of the year.
       Juno Caprotina - the Fertility aspect
       Juno Lucina - Goddess of Celestial Light
       Juno Fortuna - Goddess of Fate
       Juno Sespita - The Preserver
       Juno Regina - Queen of Heaven & Protector of the Roman people
       Juno Martialis - The virgin mother of Mars
       Juno Caprotina or Februa - the Goddess of Erotic Love
       Juno Populonia - Mother of the People
          and the list goes on.

     As the Juno Moneta, she guarded over the finances of the Roman empire and she had a temple close to the royal mint. From this title, we get the word money.  On many coins she can be seen in many forms. The most common coin shows her as Juno Lucina with a child in her arms with two more at her feet. She is also shown as Juno Regina in which she is shown with a scepter, patera, veil or a peacock.  A legend came from the Juno Moneta. There was a Gallic attack on Rome by Brennus in 390 BC. The Romans had retreated in a citadel. While there, they were awakened while they slept one night by some geese, which was sacred to Juno. Thus the geese alerted the coming of the Gaels.
     Under the title of Juno Caprotina, which was her fertility aspect. Here she is associated with goats and figs, which were symbols of fertility. The Romans held a festival in her honor which was called Nonae Caprotina or the "Nones of Caprotina". It was held on nones or the 7th day of July. This festival was celebrated mostly by the women and slave women of Rome.
     The festival of Nonae Caprotina comes from when Rome had survived a siege by the Gauls. The Gauls had taken advantage of Rome's weakened position during that time period. The Gauls demanded to have the Roman women in marriage. If their demand wasn't made they would destroy the city. While the Senate was deciding on what to do, a slave woman name Tutela and a group of slave women dressed themselves as free women. They went to satisfy the men Gallic men. Later during the wedding feast, the Gauls got drunk. When they feel asleep, the slave girls took their weapons while Tutela climbed up in a nearby fig tree and waved a torch to signal the Romans to attack. After the victory, the Senate gave the slave women their freedom and a generous dowry.
     In remembrance of the victory, the Nonae Caprotina was celebrated with fig branches and the milky sap of the fig tree were offered to the Juno. Festivities, feasts and rites were held in the fig grove of the Campus Martius also known as the Plain of Mars.
     There was another festival called Matronalia, which honored Juno Lucina, goddess of childbirth and of motherhood. This festival was celebrated the first day of the year. This date was thought to be associated with the dedication of the temple to Juno Lucina on the Esquiline Hill in 68 BCE.  Woman would participate in the rituals at the temple. The women would wear their hair loose. The Roman law dictated that women would wear their hair up. The women were also allowed to wear no belts and not to knot their clothing in any place. The women would also prepare a meal for the slaves of their households and they would be given the day off. On this day lambs and other cattle were sacrificed to her.
     So needless to say, when I thought I couldn't find anything on the month of June, I found a treasure trove of history, legends and information. I found this journey learning about the Roman goddess Juno, a very rewarding journey. I hope that you feel the same.

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