Janus, God of the New Year

Our modern calendar is based on the old Roman one, which ordered the months from January to December from about 700 BCE.  The Romans called the first month Januarius after the god Janus (‘Door’), [1] the two-faced god who simultaneously looked back to the past and forward to the future, and presided over all beginnings and endings, movement and change. [2] He was considered the initiator of all things, [3] and was worshipped not just at the new year, but at the beginning of any enterprise, such as the harvest and planting times, marriages, deaths and other commencements. In Rome, any rite or religious act began with an invocation of Janus first, and finished with an invocation to Vesta, the hearth goddess. [4]

[1] F. Altheim, History of Roman Religion, London, 1938

[2] Macrobius Saturnalia I 9 7:

[3] Macrobius. Saturnalia, I, 9, 16.

[4] Ovid Fasti I 173-4.


Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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