The month of April honors the foam-born Roman goddess Venus, just as March honored the war god Mars. (In Greece Venus was known as Aphrodite) The Veneralia was an ancient Roman festival celebrated on April 1  in honor of Venus Verticordia (“Venus the changer of hearts”).

The cult of Venus Verticordia was established in 220 BC. Her statue was dedicated by a young woman, chosen as the most sexually pure in Rome by a committee of Roman matrons.  Venus Verticordia was the aspect of Venus honored at the Veneralia. While Venus/Aphrodite is often associated with lust, as Verticordia, she was in charge of chastity.

In 114 BC Venus Verticordia was given her own temple. She was meant to persuade Romans of both sexes and every class, whether married or unmarried, to cherish the traditional sexual proprieties and morality known to please the gods and benefit the State.

300px-Bust_woman_mosaic_Met_38_11_12During the Veneralia, her cult image was taken from her temple to the men’s baths, where it was  undressed and washed in warm water by her female attendants, then garlanded with myrtle. They poured a libation and drank the potion that Venus drank on her wedding night: pounded poppy with milk and honey; flowers and incense were offered to her.  At the Veneralia, women and men asked Venus Verticordia for her help in affairs of the heart, sex, betrothal and marriage.

Veneralia: Day of Venus
Color: Sea green, golden yellow and pink
Element: Water
Altar: Upon cloth of sea green, golden and pink, set many shells, flowers, beautiful ornaments, pink candles, hearts, doves, incense of rose and violets, and a great chalice of white wine.
Offerings: Hearts and flowers. Giving a gift of love to someone.
Daily Meal: Seafood. Angel hair pasta. Sweet breads, cakes, and desserts.

Invocation to Venus
Hail, Lady of the Morning Star!
You who rose form the sea foam,
Born of the impersonal severed phallus of the sky
Immersed in the impersonal womb of the sea,
You who rode to shore on a shell of pearl
And whose powers no one can resist
Save the virgin goddesses,
You who bring the glow of gold
Into the lives of all whom you touch,
Lady, we revere you as the avatar
Of the love between equals
Who look each other in the eye,
The attraction and pursuit
Between every particle in the universe.
Hail, Lady of the Evening Star!
You who rule the night
With its darker passions,
You who tempt the wistful heart,
You whose hands reach out
To all the world and more,
Lady, we revere you as a force of nature
Far greater than merely the human heart,
For you are the force that binds together
All that dances with another of its kind
In the endless dance of creation.
(The wine is passed around, and poured as a libation to Venus. Each takes a flower and wears it until Hesperis, in honor of Venus.) –

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