Lupercalia as I understand it is about purification, chasing evils away from home and hearth, health and fertility. It is the festival to purify the air for spring. It is the time of the wolf, shortly after the time of the bear for me. However, dancing naked hoping to get whipped by a bloody goat-skin strap is… Not exactly ‘accepted,’ in modern society.
Truth be told, I don’t know if I want to get arrested that badly.
It will culminate tomorrow night, the 15th, and I’m taking a queue from Dver and Sannion in regards to this sacred time. I will honor not only the wolf, but the canine, in the rituals of the Wolf Mother.
So, if there are any canines, domestic or otherwise that you want to honor, send me an email at email@example.com and I will give them as an offering because let’s face it: cats get all the credit in Paganism…. Let the dogs have their day!
Also, if there are any requests for oracles I will gladly take them. It’s time for this old bear to rise from the den – and get back into the swing of things.
So, with my goatskin drum I will honor the Wolf Mother, I take a moment to look with American eyes at the celebration. I sent the question to Lupa months ago, and patiently waited to see just what answer came back.
Out here, wolves and coyotes were called the ‘sharks of the plains,’ and there are still some stories of ‘ghost wolves,’ who destroy whole herds of cattle and were impossible to kill. The wolf represented that danger that lingered in the shadows just outside the guarded fences in settler mentality. But on the same coil they were also looked at as the ‘wilderness that can be befriended,’ meaning through understanding you can take control of one’s own world and in effect, one’s own destiny.
Coyotes, another wild canine, are well known as the tricksters in American folklore. Out here they were called the ‘brush wolf,’ and given the popularity of the coyote I’ll leave it at that as I move onto the dog itself.
Dogs were sacrificed during Lupercalia – and while I won’t be doing any such thing as an avid dog lover – I will be offering meal-cakes like the Romans did…
There is a wonderful collection of stories of the Ghost Dogs of the South, that I really encourage you to look at. I was told years ago to never let a cat into the forge – for they will soak up all the heat from your forge and take it with them… Keep a dog to guard it instead. And while it may sound like useless superstition – I kept to that rule of thumb quite heartily.
There is quite a bit of belief in the power of a dog’s healing. From the Celts to Romans, Germans, etc., the dog’s ‘licking their wounds,’ still rings in our ears even to this day. The dog has had it’s role as guardian, psycho-pomp, guide, companion, worker, and then some. Black Shuck anyone?? Dogs represent the good, the loyal, the dutiful – and have walked in the minds of our folklore on the verge between life and death, comfort and despair faithfully at our side. I’ve been reading quite a bit on the ‘ghost dogs,’ that have warned humans of disaster as late as WWII. Dogs are believed, myself included, to see things which we humans cannot see; from evil in another person, to hidden powers and spirits.
Blessed Wolf Festival if you celebrate, otherwise – I’m off to get myself another stiff glass of rum.