FEBRUARY: MONTH OF SPIRITS AND MIST
By Pat Regan
February can be a frosty unwelcoming month when little seems to stir in the natural world.
This cold period takes its name from the Etruscan god of the underworld and purifications, Februus.
This deity is often equated with the Greek god Pluto/Hades and also the Gallic god of riches, Dis, who further links with the Roman Orcus. On the 17th or 21st day of February Februus was venerated during a feast known as the Feralia. All through this event marriages were not allowed, all other shrines and temples of other gods were closed and gifts were taken to the final resting places of deceased relatives/friends.
SOULS OF THE DEAD
The Manes (souls of the departed) were believed by the Romans to hover around the monuments and graves of the deceased, hence the presents served as a symbol of respect and propitiation for these spirits.
The Manes held much power in the underworld and because of this the Romans realised that only a fool would fail to give them the reverence they so rightly deserved.
Modern man can learn a lot about his/her subliminal fears of death and dying by relating intimately to this ancient festival. The number three was considered sacred to the Manes and because of this they were always invoked three times by adherents. Could the old maxim of three being "unlucky/lucky for some" have a connection here?
Gravestones were frequently inscribed with the prefix D.M. meaning Di Manes (or Di-Manibus) which is Latin for the "Good Gods."
The celebration of the Feralia was also called the Februa.
The great and influential goddess, Juno, was however frequently invoked under this title. Her patronage like that of the Gallic Dis also extended over riches. The purification aspect of this festival still remains with us today. We still feel the urge with the dawning of the lighter nights to get stuck in and have a vigorous bout of spring-cleaning. However, the Romans also did their spring cleaning on the spiritual level.
Contemporary man would probably feel a lot more at one with himself and his environment too if he took a page from the wisdom of the Feralia!
Modern Pagan folk also celebrate Imbolc (Imbolg) at the beginning of February. The festival marks the start of spring has been celebrated since primordial times.
It is a Cross Quarter Day forming a midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, it can fall between the 2nd & 7th of February when calculated as the midpoint between the astronomical Winter Solstice and the astronomical Spring Equinox.
I personally know it’s ‘that’ time when I seen the little snowdrops peeping through the hard, frosty, earth.
Pat Regan ©
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