Archives For Nova Roma

Top Story: A Pagan temple under construction in Poltava, Ukraine, was vandalized, and its keeper hospitalized, at the end of September, sparking waves of sadness and outrage among the global Pagan movement. M. Horatius Piscinus at the Patheos blog Religio et Pietas had the first report on October 1st, identifying it as a Nova Roma temple dedicated to Jupiter Perennus.

A message of "Die Heathens" left at the site.

A message of "Die Heathens" left at the site.

“The Kalends of September proved long and full, and now another Kalends comes upon us.  The Ides (13 Sept) celebrates the anniversary of the dedication of the Temple of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva atop the Capitoline Hill of Rome. It is therefore especially sad to learn that the Temple of Jupiter Perennus that is being built for our community in Poltava, Ukraine, was attacked last Monday night by a group of Orthodox Christians. Our chief priest of Jupiter, the Flamen Dialis Marcus Corvus was injured while defending the altar of Jupiter and has been hospitalized. This comes after news that another Christian band attacked a Romuva sanctuary in Lithuania. Even here in Ohio, some years ago, Christians attacked a sanctuary that was erected by a CUUPS group on the grounds of a Unitarian church in Fairlawn, a suburb of Akron.   While sad to hear such events continue today, it is no shock to learn of them. Not when ministers like John Hagey preach that “Tolerance is a sin,” when Pat Robertson, among others, blamed the 9/11 attacks on pagans, or when Rev. Billingsly, the former minister of the Akron Baptist Temple, once preached from the pulpit to his congregation that they ought to burn pagans at the stake.  Such is the face of the “New Christianity” that we are met with each day, and now it has touched my friend Corvus and his family.”

The next day, the Cultus Deorum Romanorum blog posted photos of the desecration, and Kenaz Filan pointed out that this isn’t an isolated incident in the Ukraine.

“Despicable as this crime is, it’s not the first such attack in Poltava.  On April 13, 2002, some 50 young men leaving a soccer game attacked a nearby synagogue:  hurling stones and yelling “Kill the Jews,” they broke some twenty windows and beat up two people, one the son of Kiev’s chief rabbi. In July 2008 a Holocaust memorial was smeared with paint and anti-Semitic graffiti.   And in October 2001 a Roma family’s house was set afire: five people died in the conflagration, including a six-year old girl and three-year old boy.  The Poltava police showed little interest in finding the responsible parties, which is unsurprising since a Poltava police officer allegedly led the assailants.”

Filan also points out that Pagan groups in the Ukraine aren’t completely blameless, and that some nationalistic strains of Paganism in that country have engaged in attacks on Orthodox churches. Still, the deeds of some Pagan groups in the Ukraine do not excuse violence towards any or all Pagans by Orthodox Christian mobs. At his personal blog, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus said he was “horrified”, but not surprised at this incident.

“With the way worldwide Christianity is progressing at present, particularly in some areas that don’t have the same views on religious liberty that the U.S. supposedly enshrines in its highest laws of the land, insecure Christians with something to prove (mostly to themselves, which is truly sad) feel the need to lash out at others. May their vandalism and intolerance be met with redoubled efforts on the part of the Flamen and his associates to honor their gods in the face of adversity, and may all of the gods of healing (perhaps including Ares) assist him in his recovery.”

You can find more commentary from a variety of Pagans and polytheists at Sannion’s blog as well. For those wanting to donate toward the rebuilding of what was destroyed, you can donate here.

In Other News:

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Patheos.com, a web site dedicated to religious and spiritual dialog, has been running a special series this Summer looking at the future of religion. Each week focuses on a different religious tradition or movement, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, and several others. This week the focus is on modern Paganism. I spoke with Star Foster, Patheos.com’s Pagan Portal Manager, who stressed to me how important it is for our communities to consider our collective future(s).

“The Future of Pagan religions is even more fascinating because we’ve never conformed to the future laid out for us. We were saying we would remain a fringe, occult community and now one of the cast members of the most popular cartoon show for the past 20 years has become Wiccan. We were insistent about transmitting information orally or by handcopying and now the internet has made Paganism an open-source community. You can find our classics at your local library. We’re growing and diversifying yet the concept of our future is very hazy to most of us. There are people who have been active in the community for decades who have no idea just how diverse we have become or how much we have grown. It’s safe to say that there are millions of us worldwide. Even if we only number 2 million, that’s still huge compared to 10 years ago. How many of us will there be 10 years from now? How will we respond to and accommodate that growth? How do we enter the mainstream without out losing our dynamic, autonomous qualities?”

Star Foster and Patheos.com have assembled an impressive line-up of modern Pagans from a wide array of faiths, traditions, and perspectives to give their input on the subject. This week will see contributions from scholars like Helen Berger and Sarah Pike, renowned Pagan journalist Margot Adler (check out The Wild Hunt interview), author Christopher Knowles, mystic and ritualist T. Thorn Coyle, and several prominent clergy and leaders, including M. Horatius Picinus, Pontifex Maximus of Nova Roma. Right now you can already read entries from Ellen Evert Hopman, Elder of the Order of Whiteoak, K.C. Hulsman, Gythia of Urdabrunnr Kindred, Haitian Vodou initiate Kenaz Filan, Northern Tradition shaman Galina Krasskova, Wiccan author Mya Om, and Ekklesía Antínoou co-founder P. Sufenas Virius Lupus (a guest-poster at The Wild Hunt) who discusses the importance of “specialized, localized, niche religious groups” to the future of the modern Pagan movement.

“The plurality, as well as the success, of many ancient religions was in their particularity, not in their universality. Cultic action was directed toward specific divinities, not “the divine” in general. Moving from a discourse that speaks in terms of “the divine” instead of in specific, personal, and individual terms about specific, personal and individual deities, will make these niche religious situations far more effective and relevant to individual communities. There are doctors and other medical professionals who can be reached in most communities at any time, and this is important to know; but it’s also important to have a relationship with an individual doctor who knows your health history and your own specific needs in order to get those needs met more fully. Calling “Doctor!” might get you some assistance in certain situations, but knowing the name and the number of a specific doctor will be more likely to turn up results. The same is true of the divine world. There has been too much emphasis on the unity of divinity, when there needs to be more emphasis on the plurality of divinities for future effective Pagan theologies to take root in niche religious contexts.”

Many more contributions will be rolled out as the week progresses. This is an audacious undertaking on the part of Star Foster, and she’s done us a great service by making the Pagan contribution to this project at Patheos.com so robust and far-reaching in its scope. I hope you’ll take the time this week to read the many fine essays in the Future of Paganism series. The Pagan Portal at Patheos.com has become something truly special within the larger Pagan media ecosystem, and we are all the richer for its presence.

The Indianapolis Star reports on a mother who is investigating the death of her son, Sgt. Joseph A. Ford, who was serving in Iraq’s Anbar province. The official statement says his vehicle rolled over and he died as a consequence, but fellow soldiers have told her that the turret Ford was riding in came loose, and that he was thrown from the vehicle.


Sgt. Joseph A. Ford

“Dalarie Ford, a wife and mother from the Northern Indiana town of Knox, had never been one to rock the boat. She voted, but not passionately. Never had she felt wronged. But now she senses injustice. She’s on a mission to find out precisely what happened in Iraq’s Anbar province on May 10, the day her son died. Sgt. Joseph A. Ford was 23, a soldier with the Indiana National Guard’s 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He was a gunner in an Armored Security Vehicle, a sort of tank-on-wheels that’s commonly used to guard convoys that haul food and supplies for U.S. troops. The vehicle rolled over. Ford was killed. That’s the extent of the military’s public explanation. Ford’s mother says soldiers privately provided her with additional details. “They said the turret came loose and he was thrown out of the vehicle and the vehicle rolled over on him and it impacted his chest and face,” she said.”

Dalarie Ford, since launching this investigation, has discovered that ASVs are vulnerable to rollovers, and that this isn’t the first time the gunner’s turret has broken away. She has been contacting her state officials in an effort to make sure what happened to her son doesn’t happen to other soldiers.

As for Sgt. Joseph A. Ford, the paper reveals that he was a member of Nova Roma, a group dedicated to reviving the “Cultus Deorum Romanorum” (the religion of Rome). The group’s banner hung at his funeral.

“His friends and teachers describe him as intellectual, curious. He often had a book under his arm. He attended the University of Southern Indiana, where he majored in history. Ancient Rome fascinated him. He practiced the religion of Roman paganism. At his funeral, a banner hung on the lectern. “SPQR,” it said — shorthand for the Latin “Senatus Populusque Romanus,” or the Senate and the people of Rome.”

Ford had only been in Iraq for two months when the accident occurred. While some commentators are saying that such accidents are part of the package of military service, I can’t imagine a turret breaking off and killing its rider should be considered a normal or acceptable situation. If shoddy equipment is indeed responsible, the military should take responsibility for Ford’s death. It is the very least they can do to honor his sacrifice.

Finally, depending on burial plans, I do hope that Nova Roma enquirers with Dalarie Ford to see if her son would want an official emblem of his faith engraved on his military tombstone or marker. Perhaps this would be an excellent time for Nova Roma to join the growing coalition working for an expanded selection of Pagan and Heathen emblems of belief from the VA.

May Ford rest with his gods and ancestors, may his sacrifice be honored, and may his family find the closure and justice needed to move forward.