The Roman goddess Juno rules over new beginnings, and as such, the first day of every month is sacred to this deity; As the sister-wife of Jupiter, she is the queen of the heavens and the gods. She is a protectress of women, ruling over birth and marriage. Juno has many names, titles, and aspects. As, Juno Sospita, the ancients viewed her as a protectress of the Roman State. She is analogous to the goddess Hera in the Greek pantheon. The ancient Romans dedicated a temple to Juno in Lanuvium and celebrated the dedication on Feb.1.
Depictions and aspects of Juno Sospita
In “The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic,” William Warde Fowler writes that the Roman celebration of the dedication of Juno Sospita’s temple occurred annually on Feb. 1. By Ovid’s time, the temple “had fallen into decay.” In “The Remains of Ancient Rome,” John Henry Middleton writes that in order to honor a vow made before battle, C. Cornelius Cethegus, a consul of the Roman Republic, built the Temple of Juno Sospita in 197 B.C.; Middleton explains that depictions of the Roman goddess Juno reveal her as a warrior goddess wearing a goat’s skin covering on her head and carrying a shield and spear. In “A Numismatica Manual,” John Y. Akerman writes of the associations between Juno and the peacock and that the goddess sometimes holds a hasta-pura or spear. If portrayed as Juno Pronuba, she wears a long veil stretching down to her feet. Just a few of the alternative names for Juno include Juno Pronuba, Juno Lucina, Juno Lecetia, Juno Moneta, and Juno Februata; She is also known as Juno the Preserver, Juno the Savior, and Juno the Deliverer.
In “A Dictionary of Polite Literature, Or, Fabulous History of the Heathen Gods and Illustrious Hereos,” Juno is described as the daughter of Rhea and Saturn, with some myths indicating she was born in Samos, and others, Argos. Juno, when depicted in her role as queen of the heavens, carries a scepter and wears a crown of roses and lilies while riding in a chariot drawn by peacocks. The same source explains that Homer depicts the goddess Juno in “a chariot adorn with gems” and made with silver nails, ebony wheels, and drawn by horses wearing reins of gold; Images of the goddess in Corinth depict her seated upon a throne holding a pomegranate in one hand and a cuckoo or scepter in the opposite hand. On medals, the goddess sometimes has peacocks at her feet and carries a palladium: A sacred object believed to serve as a safeguard or form of protection. Sometimes the goddess wears flat sandals, sometimes she is barefoot, and in alternative depictions, she is wearing pointed sandals.
The temple of Juno Sospita
The Roman historian, Titus Livius Patavinus (Livy), writes of the Temple of Juno in “Ab Urbe Condita” or “The History of Rome.” Livy writes that during one winter following the beginning of the Second Punic War, a number of miraculous, extraordinary events occurred, among them including an incident where a raven flew down into Juno’s temple, later landing on her couch. Some translations of Livy’s work suggest that the Juno’s spear “vibrated spontaneously,” while other translations suggest, “a slain victim stirred within her temple.” In response to such events, the Romans made an offering to the goddess Juno at Lanuvium, in order to appease her, in the form of forty pounds weight of gold. On the Aventine, one of seven hills serving as a foundation for ancient Rome, matrons also dedicated a bronze statue to the goddess.
Victor Duruy writes in “History of Rome and of the Roman People from its Origin to the Establishment of the Christian Empire,” that some Roman coins depict the goddess with a serpent because the Romans kept and nourished a serpent in her temple. In an issue of “Journal,” produced by the British and American Archaeological Society, it’s revealed that the serpent at her feet was so placed because, “in the wood near her temple at Lanuvium was a grotto in which a serpent or dragon was worshipped.” Some sources suggest that the serpent represents safety and health for which the ancients believed they were indebted to Juno. Images of Juno as the "Queen of the Heavens" with a snake at her feet are akin to images of the Virgin Mary with a snake under foot. Juno is also a goddess who was invoked by shepherds as a protectress of flocks.
Honoring Juno Sospita today
Since Juno’s festival falls on Imbolc, rituals honoring her on the sabbat are appropriate. Practitioners can decorate the altar with items sacred to the goddess Juno or symbols associated with her. Roses and lilies are ideal flowers and peacock feathers are suitable décor for one’s altar. In the Tarot, the High Priestess card relates to Juno and a practitioner can use the card as a meditative tool to attune to Juno’s energies. Practitioners can call upon Juno in matters related to marriage, birth, health, safety, protection and new beginnings.
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