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Goddess of the Month: Diana

Updated: Jan 5, 2023


The Luminous One; Holy Mother; Lady of the Grove; Mothe of the Forest; Lady of the Wild Creatures; Opener of the Womb


Diana is an ancient goddess with origins in Italy. Diana has dominion over magic, witchcraft, women, and children, wilderness, fertility, hunting, and wild animals. She is also the matron of slaves and outlaws.


A temple was eventually dedicated to her on Rome’s Aventine Hill, sometime in the fifth century BCE. Diana may have initially been the preeminent goddess of the Roman region paired with important male spirits such as Janus and Jupiter. Some say she was the ruler of the night and Jupiter ruler of the day. She is considered an anarchic goddess, but also a spirit of ecstasy and independence.


Although the Romans incorporated Diana into their pantheon and venerated her, she was somewhat marginalized and diminished, associated with slaves, immigrants, and disreputable people while Juno become the official state goddess.


Diana was nonetheless adored throughout Europe. Efforts to associate or identify her with Artemis may have been part of the process of diminishment. Diana’s identity was eventually subsumed by Artemis and over the centuries Diana has become intensely identified with Artemis – their names are often used interchangeably.


Diana’s following was so popular throughout Europe and Asia Minor that early Christians perceived her as among their major rivals. The subsequent destruction of Europe’s forests and wildlife, especially wolves, may have been a method of trying to eradicate Diana’s power and influence. By the time Christianity achieved political power, Diana was completely vilified. No deity was more associated with witchcraft during the Burning Times than Diana.


Devotion to Diana survived the witch hunts and remains vital to this day. She is among the most beloved of contemporary deities and is central to the Italian witchcraft tradition, Stregheria.


Diana’s feast day is August 13, the Festival of Torches. During this festival, women carried torches to her temples and engaged in torchlit processions. On August 15, women would journey to the woods to offer their thanks and beseech Diana for future blessings. They were accompanied by crowned hunting dogs, leashed so as not to disturb Diana’s wild creatures. A Friday the 13th falling in the month of August is considered especially sacred to Diana.


Diana favors thieves, outlaws, slaves, shamans, witches, and fortune-tellers. As mentioned Diana has dominion over women but she was also worshipped by men just as passionately – what was described as werewolves may actually have been wolf-shamans or lunar priests dedicated to Diana.


Animals associated with Diana are all wild creatures, but especially wolves, dogs, deer, and black cats.


Diana’s planet is the moon and the elements associated with her are fire and water.


If you wish to create an altar or venerate Diana here are her favorite offerings:


Diana likes a drink, Strega liquore, supposedly inspired by a witch’s recipe, is her favorite, but she’ll also drink grappa as well. Cakes in the shape of the moon, topped with lit candles are a traditional offering.


At Diana’s annual festival, the meal included wine, roasted young goat, cakes served hot on plates of leaves, and apples still hanging in clusters on their boughs. Offerings on behalf of wolves, wild creatures, and preservation of wilderness may also be appreciated by Diana.



 

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