Happy Lupercalia

Today is the festival of Lupercalia, time of the wolf gods, when Ancient Romans engaged in ceremonies so old and mysterious that even they were unsure what half of it was about. Two priestly bodies, made up of wealthy young men, gathered in a cave - the Lupercal - to take part in secretive rites that involved the sacrifice of a puppy and a goat. The latter was skinned; the meat probably eaten, whilst the hide was cut into strips. The nearly naked priests ran round the Seven Hills, beating the bounds. Young married women wanting to become pregnant would line the streets hoping to get get thwacked with a goatskin thing (which would have been very soft, and probably still dripping blood and gobbets of fat!)
Lupercalia is still celebrated by some modern pagans, though in much more sedate ways these days. For some it is a way of honouring the She Wolf Lupa, foster mother of the abandoned twins, and the Roman Way in general. For others the focus is on wolves themselves as an endangered species, with Romulus and Remus as an afterthought.


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