October 5, 2021

October - Mundus Patet

Our October Calendae was a big hit, with nine attendees! Thank you everyone who showed up!

For October, we celebrated the Roman ritual of Mundus Patet, which translates as, "The Earth is open". Mundus can mean the ground, or ...it can mean the universe. In this case, it is talking about the surface of the earth being opened in a passage to the Underworld. Varro, one of Rome’s greatest scholars and a prolific author, said, “Mundus cum patet, deorum tristium atque inferum quasi ianua patet.” When the mundus is open, it is as if a door stands open for the sorrowful gods of the Underworld.

In the Comitium, an open-air public meeting space, lay the entrance to this passage, known as the Mundus Cerialis, the world of Ceres, whom the Greeks called Demeter, goddess of the grain. This passage was shaped like an enormous bowl, to mirror the vault of heaven, and it was usually sealed with the Lapis Manalis, the stone of the spirits of the Dead, the Manes. Three times a year, in August, October and November, at the three harvest times, the stone was rolled away and offerings from the harvest were made. But as the offerings went in, the Manes came out, and the influence of the gods below was felt.

The three primary gods to whom these offerings were made were Ceres, Proserpina, her daughter and Queen of the Underworld, and the King of the Underworld, whom the Romans called by many names, including Hades, Pluto, Orcus, and Dis Pater. In addition to the Lord of the Dead, he was the god of wealth, because precious metals and gems came from beneath the earth, which was his realm, and with the bounty of the harvest which grew from the earth. He was both feared and honored greatly, too holy even to have a temple in Rome, as even that brought him too close to mortal things and mortal contamination, although he and Proserpina did have an altar, which was buried deep underground when not uncovered for use in propitiatory rites.

After pouring an offering of hulled barley into a stone mortar with a stone lid, which served as the Mundus Cerialis and Lapis Manalis, we took a journey to the Underworld, where each of us received individual messages from Proserpina, Ceres, and Dis Pater, and then Ceres had a message for us all:

My children, it fills my heart with great joy that you have come to visit us in this realm of darkness beyond darkness. I hope you remember all that you see, and feel, and hear, and experience here. Take it back with you to the realm of mortal kind. This, then, is the message I would have you collectively remember: you have one planet! Only one planet. Only one world. The actions of humanity as a current collective must move swiftly to maintain the balance of you do not want an extreme shift to happen to the ways things are currently done. I love you. I want all of you to grow, and to thrive, and to worship us—the Gods whom I know you dearly love, whom I know you dearly revere. But please, take care of your oceans. Take care of your land. Take care of your skies, your mountains, your rivers, your lakes, your wetlands, your deserts. I cannot give you another. You have only one. Find a way. We have given you the knowledge. We have given you the science. Use it. Benefit from it. May your children’s children’s children’s children thrive in the decades that are to come. This is my message to you.

(Thanks to Likniteia for the transcription)

And then we had a chance to visit briefly with our Beloved Dead, before we returned to the world above.

Until next month, Salve et vale, Hail and farewell!