Carmenta, also called Carmentis, is the Roman goddess of prophecy, charms, spells, midwives and childbirth; The Greek equivalent of this deity is identified as Themis. In ancient Rome, the goddess Carmenta was honored each year on Jan. 11 and Jan. 15. Monthly rites were also performed in honor of Carmenta.
In “A Classical Manual: Being a Mythological, Historical, and Geographical Commentary on Pope’s Homer and Dryden’s Aeneid of Virgil,” the author explains that the Carmentalia was held in ancient Rome in order to pay honor to the prophetess Carmenta; She was originally named Nicostrate, but she was later referred to as Carmenta when she began conveying prophetic messages in verse; In the same text, the goddess Carmenta is identified as one of the Dii indigetes. According to Nova Roma, the Dii indigetes, meaning “hero gods” in Latin, are “a group of mysterious deities formed by native tutelary deities, river gods or deified heroes.” In the “Bibliotheca Classica,” it is explained that Carmentis was a famed oracle in Italy who was later given divine honors.
In “A Classical Manual,” the anonymous author also reveals how Carmenta is commonly depicted; She is often portrayed as a young woman with long hair; Sometimes she is holding a lute and she has a crown made of bean leaves on her head or woven through her hair.
In “Plutarch’s Lives,” Plutarch writes that Carmenta was honored by mothers since the goddess presided over the destinies of children; She was considered by some as one “addicted to divination” and one who receives prophetic messages from the god Apollo; Her name is derived from the word “carmina,” meaning verse or “songs.” Plutarch also writes that Carmenta’s “proper name is Nocostrata” and that she was later renamed with a name derived from the words “carere mente,” meaning “to be insane”: The reference expressed her “enthusiastic fury” when using her prophetic gifts. Plutarch identifies Carmenta as one of the Fates.
In “A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities,” it is revealed that Carmenta was invoked as Carmenta Postverta or Carmenta Provsa when called upon during the birth of a child. A temple and altar were established for this goddess and there were monthly rites performed in her honor.
Ancient methods of honoring Carmenta
Any person who entered her temple was not permitted to wear the skin of a dead animal or to bring any part of the deceased animal into the sacred temple of Carmenta. In “Curiosities of Popular Customs and of Rites, Ceremonies, Observances, and Miscellaneous Antiquities,” it is explained that the second day of the Carmentalia that women gathered and honored two Carmentes, Postverta and Porimma: both names being understood as meaning “past and future.” In the same text, it is explained that Carmenta had a special priest called a Flamen Carmentalis: one of the flamines minors in ancient Rome.
Honoring Carmenta today
Carmenta is an ideal deity to call upon when working with any form of divination. As the goddess of charms and spells, Carmenta is also a good goddess to work with when spell casting. When making any offerings to this goddess, it is best to offer items that are not associated with animals in any way: Herbs, flowers, stones or fruits and vegetables are appropriate offerings. Since Carmenta is inspired by Apollo and she is a goddess who presides over births, all workings involving creativity, birth, new beginnings, innovations and inspiration are appropriate workings when aligning with the energies of this deity. Practitioners can also meditate on The Empress card in the Tarot: a card depicting a female who is sometimes pregnant in certain decks. The Empress card can help a practitioner to reflect on new beginnings, spiritual growth, abundance, gratitude, health and methods for living a balanced, harmonious life.
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