Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Vinalia Rustica

Vinalia Rustica is not an Aphrodite festival I was ever familiar with until I read Laurelei Black's book, "Cult of Aphrodite".  In her book, she explains that Vinalia Rustica was actually a festival that honoured Venus and the establishment of her oldest temple (although it's not clear to me where this temple was). 

No doubt because Venus is simply the Roman equivalent to Aphrodite, Laurelei suggests adopting this festival and utilising it as a day to establish our own temples, shrines, altars, etc.  

Being the curious sort, I did a Google search on Vinalia Rustica.  Atlhough I believe Laurelei is far more well read on the subject than I will ever be, it was clear from what I found that there's a bit more to this festival than just the establishment of Venus' temple.  

Firstly, I noticed some sites proclaim this festival is celebrated on the 19th.  Some said it was the 18th.  My questions are: why either day particularly and what difference does it make?  I'm inclined toward the suggestion that the 18th is the day of this festival for no other reason than this is what I originally read and it feels right but I actually don't think there's any harm in celebrating on the 19th either if that winds up being the day someone chooses.

Secondly, the name, Vinalia Rustica, suggests this is a festival of the vine.  One site suggests the name means "Rural Festival of the Vine".  I could not find a translator that would translate the name but with "vin" and "rustic" both seeming quite obvious and recognisable words, I believe there is definitely something about wine and vegetation going on here! :) 

It was also clear from my reading that there are, in fact, two Vinalia festivals, i.e., Vinalia Urbana (or priora) celebrated some time in either late April or on the 1st of May (again, some disagreement about the actual dates) and then Vinalia Rustica (or altera) celebrated on or about the 18th of August.  

What I found was that these festivals actually originally honoured Jupiter.  Some sites suggested that Vinalia Urbana was when the wine casks from the previous season's harvests were opened and libations given to Jupiter and that Vinalia Rustica is when the season's grape harvests were celebrated and sealed into the casks to ferment over the winter until next year.  It was also said that on Vinalia Rustica, a lamb was sacrificed to Jupiter and His priest would break off the first grapes from the vine.   It was also suggested that Vinalia Urbana was a sacred day for Venus' prostitutes who would honour Her that day and that Vinalia Rustica honoured Aphrodite as Goddess of the garden and vegetation.  On one site in particular, it also mentions a third festival simply called Vinalia and suggests that this is when the new season's first wines were tasted to ensure they were fementing properly and libations were given to Bacchus to ensure that the fermentation process continued properly.  Indeed, a search for Vinalia on its own yielded results showing many modern day Vinalia celebrations going on not only in Italy but all over Europe.  

So how did Venus figure in to all of this?  Why inaugurate a temple to Her on this particular day?  

For me, it appears as a glaring affirmation of Venus, and thus Aphrodite, as a Goddess of the land.  It seems to me the only reason the ancients would have dedicated Her temple on this day is because it is a day already sacred to Her because She is a Goddess of the garden, vegetation, the harvest.  To back this up, apparently the Roman poet Ovid referred to Venus as a Goddess of the garden and wine (although I've never read Ovid, something I should remedy, so I'm taking this in faith as truth).  Could I be way off base here?  I accept I might be, but this makes sense to me.

As I read, I also made further connection in that this is like the Roman version of Lammas.  Instead of celebrating the first harvested grain and the baking of bread, we're celebrating the first harvested of grapes and the making of wine.

Creative license much?  Why yes, thank you.  Again, this makes sense to me and feels right.

So I suggest that today is not only a good day for establishing temples, shrines, altars, etc. but also a good day to celebrate Venus/Aphrodite as the Goddess of the Garden and Wine.  Let us establish our temples/shrines/altars to Her or clean and re-decorate our existing ones and make libations of wine to Her in gratitude for the harvest of the land and the manifestation of abundance in our lives, before raising a chalice of wine to our own lips in gratitude.

Have a wonderful day celebrating our Lady!  Hail and bide well in Your temple, Aphrodite!


  1. Very nice post, love. I'm really enjoying the many connections you made here! Good stuff!!

  2. Thanks Laurelei! I'm glad you are! Your books have inspired me a lot so thank you too! xoxo