Blog Archives

Seven-Day Prayer Cycle for Pudicitia

Day 1: She Who Preserves

You rise by moonlight, bright and shining,
cover Your head and seek the grace of offerings.
The resources of the home are at Your disposal.
You garb Yourself in respect, modesty, and self-control.
You are mindful of Your position and the obligations therein.
The incense You offer carries Your prayers to the Heavens,
for even the Holy Ones pray for a continuation of goodly order.
The wise wife follows Your example,
inspires the women in her home in piety,
honors her man with her integrity.
She is an adornment to Her home,
wealth beyond measure.
Goodness and bounty flow from her hands.
She restores and holds true to her commitments.
Bless us oh Goddess of chastity,
with the grace of mindfulness,
that we may honor You and the Holy Ones
in all we do.

 

Day 2 : She Who Guards

You are our first line of defense
in guarding our homes, our kin,
the integrity of our very souls.
It begins with the lessons You teach:
mindfulness, modesty,
the careful cultivation of virtue.
Nothing escapes You, oh Vigilant One.
Nothing is too small to warrant Your care.
With Your help, we will drive out pollution.
With Your help, with will remain clean
in our work, our hearts, and most of all
in the hallowed places of our spirits.
With Your help, nothing will shake us
from our reverence.
It begins with You, Pudicitia,
mindfulness in our words, our deeds,
our dress, our conduct, and everything
that we allow into our world, and most of all,
most importantly of all, with everything
we allow to shape our inner world.
With Your guidance, Oh Goddess,
may we make good choices.
Hail to You, Pudicitia,
called Patricia, because Your gifts
ennoble, called Plebeia, because your gifts
are for all.
Hail to You, oh Goddess. Always.

 

Day 4: She Who Inspires All

The ancient Romans knew how important Your blessings were.
They, a people whose history is strewn with inter-class strife
venerated You across those boundaries.
Your blessings were for everyone.
You sustained patrician and plebeian both
and so integral to the holy peace of the Gods were Your gifts,
that women alone tended Your shrines,
because women alone in that time and place
ordered the home passing on Your lessons to their children,
and ensuring each successive generation knew the rightness
of giving You honor.
Our world is very different today,
yet not so different in our need for the knowledge You bear.
Perhaps we need it even more than our ancestors did,
for our world, for all its marvels, is a far uglier and impious place.
Your blessings are there for us too,
if we have the sense our ancestors had,
to seek You out in veneration.
To learn Your lessons well,
and to work hard at maintaining them.
Your most important lesson,
(and one we generally do not like,
though we’d all do best to heed it well),
is that of the rightness of feeling shame
when we have wronged the Gods,
behaved un-virtuously, carelessly,
or when we have been needlessly cruel.
Yours are the gifts that tell us loudly and unswervingly,
when we have crossed a boundary more terrible
with every foolish step.
The pious awareness You grant warns us to reconsider,
and helps ensure that we maintain those sacred habits,
the precious relationships with our Gods and ancestors,
in good and working order.
It is by these things that we too are best sustained.
You give us the strength and the grace
to aid in our own cultivation,
to govern ourselves,
and to develop, if we persevere,
proper and nourishing instincts
toward the holy.
May we persevere,
and Goddess, Who looks wisely
upon Her people, of all classes,
all colors, all ages, all genders,
all everything,
and strives to teach us rightly,
grant that these instincts to piety,
that we should be working so hard to cultivate,
never fall into the mistake of scrupulosity,
anxiety, and fear.
May the habits of goodness You help us to cultivate,
ever be rooted in joy and a deep and abiding sense
of love for the Gods, and the rightness of devotion to Them.
Hail to You, Pudicitia,
may we ever heed Your lessons well.

 

 

Day 5: She Who Sustains the Heart
(by G. Krasskova & T. Vitta)

Great and Gracious Goddess,
this is my prayer to You today.
I come to You with humble heart
and in devotion.
Teach me to honor myself,
so that I may go into relationships clean.
teach me to love, without fear of commitment
those to whom I have chosen to commit,
to cultivate steadfastness, respect, fidelity,
to honor my boundaries
and the boundaries of those around me.
Teach me to be vulnerable
both in strength and submission
that I may never misuse my heart and my needs
in those relationships, I cherish.
Teach me to tease through the complications
in ways that bring value to my relationships, my home,
my commitments, that love may grow and be shared
in ways that honor You and all parties involved.
For when we truly honor ourselves and respect who we are,
and what those things mean to us,
that is when we can more fully love those around us,
respect them, appreciate them
and thus, better fulfill
our commitments to the Powers. 

Help us, oh Goddess, for when we do not know ourselves
we run the risk of being subsumed in the needs of others,
and in so doing forgetting ourselves, our sacred work,
our obligations to Gods, family, community, and our own souls.
Bless us, Oh Goddess, with the wisdom of growth,
even when we struggle.

Hail to You, Goddess of boundaries,
for honoring boundaries is the first step
to cultivating a deep and abiding love.
Hail, Pudicitia, called Patricia, called Plebeia.
Honored by high and low alike.
Hail.

 

Day 6: She Who Teaches

Your lessons are about self-preservation
and cultivation, Oh Goddess.
You are firm and rightly insistent
that we must hold high standards for ourselves,
because in the end, mentored or not
by human beings, we each alone
are responsible for our devotional lives,
our relationships with the Gods, the ancestors,
the spirits of the land in which we live,
and our communities too.
We cannot foist the blame off
on others, for what we ourselves
have failed to accomplish.
We cannot lay at the feet of strangers,
responsibility for our own poor choices,
be those choices of action or of inaction,
no matter how much we might like to do so,
or how much our culture says it’s ok.
You are there to remind us, Patricia,**
that we are each expected to cultivate,
to the best of our ability, piety,
devotion, and good sense,
toward the Gods and ancestors,
the spirits of the land,
and toward those people in our world
whose lives touch ours.
There are no excuses for what we fail to do.
Our life’s challenges are there to inspire us,
and like an athlete honing his body with weights,
to hone our character too.
Like a good and proper Roman matron,
we have been given a house to tend,
and it is up to us to do that well.
But You are there when we ask for help.
and though You accept no excuse,
You will help us up when we stumble,
and give us guidance when we ask,
and ever support us in our devotions,
that we may become the best person
it is within our living capacity to become
on the inside where it truly counts,
and in our lives writ large as well.
You do not care about our pretty words.
It is our conduct day to day, and especially
in sacred matters
– and everything is a sacred matter to You—
that You would have us govern ourselves.
Hail to You, Patricia.
May You always guide us in this endeavor.

 

Day 7: She Who Safeguards

You have been honored by empresses,
by the elite matrons of Rome,
and by humble wives of plebeians too.
Your shrines have been beautiful temples,
but also, a modest room within a woman’s home.
Yours is the royal road of wisdom
that every foot is invited to walk,
and You hear all prayers offered to You.
Women have ever been Your special retainers,
You have charged them with a heavy task:
that of being good examples to all
within and without the haven of their homes.
You want Your women to be seen,
that their carefully cultivated examples
of Your most sacred cardinal virtues:
modesty, piety, and respect,
might be seen as well.
Thus, do You firstly teach,
through those who espouse Your veneration.

Your shrines were always tended by married women only.
Girls unmarried were too young and too inexperienced
to be trusted with such a task.
It would have been a cruelty
to expect maidens to uphold the values You teach,
without guidance, without support.
You are not cruel and those values enhance the world
and our devotion to the Holy Powers within it.
They are not meant for harm.
To a child on the brink of womanhood,
wrestling with the challenges adulthood soon brings,
it is better to have exempla of her elders to guide her,
than to shoulder such a heavy, heavy burden alone.
No, Your ways are meant to be cultivated little by little,
taught from mother to daughter, and yes, mother to son,
so that when the world beckons,
Your wisdom will already be knit into our souls.
You are She Who inspired Lucretia,
and fierce Verginia, who refused to be denied
veneration of You, and rightly so.
May we have the stubborn courage to refuse as well,
when those in our world foolishly undermine
the values You teach.
Hail to You, Plebeia,
May I never close my heart
to Your tutelage.

 

Pudicitia

 

 

** “Patricia” from the word ‘patrician’ was one of Her epithets, as was “Plebeia” from ‘plebeian.’

(prayers by G. Krasskova; image by W. McMillan).

Day V : for Pudicitia

Great and Gracious Goddess,
this is my prayer to You today.
I come to You with humble heart
and in devotion.
Teach me to honor myself,
so that I may go into relationships clean.
Teach me to love, without fear of commitment
those to whom I have chosen to commit,
to cultivate steadfastness, respect, fidelity,
to honor my boundaries
and the boundaries of those around me.
Teach me to be vulnerable
both in strength and submission
that I may never misuse my heart and my needs
in those relationships, I cherish.
Teach me to tease through the complications
in ways that bring value to my relationships, my home,
my commitments, that love may grow and be shared
in ways that honor You and all parties involved.
For when we truly honor ourselves and respect who we are,
and what those things mean to us,
that is when we can more fully love those around us,
respect them, appreciate them
and thus, better fulfill
our commitments to the Powers. 

Help us, oh Goddess, for when we do not know ourselves
we run the risk of being subsumed into the needs of others,
and in so doing forgetting ourselves, our sacred work,
our obligations to Gods, family, community, and our own souls.
Bless us, Oh Goddess, with the wisdom of growth,
even when we struggle.

Hail to You, Goddess of boundaries,
for honoring boundaries is the first step
to cultivating a deep and abiding love.
Hail, Pudicitia, called Patricia, called Plebeia,

honored by high and low alike. Hail.

(by T. Vitta and G. Krasskova)

Two prayers

Day 1: for Pietas

In the morning, before the sun rises,
while the moon still illuminates the sky,
gently inspiring with His beauty,
You rise to tend Your day.
Before the frenetic rush and riot
of family, work, and all Your daily tasks
vie for Your attention,
You seek out the comfort of the moon,
moments of serenity in which to order Your tasks;
and in that ordering, in the sanctuary of heart and mind,
You finger each sacred obligation, each connection,
each covenanted commitment like the precious jewels they are,
and You remember, calling to mind their value, their importance,
and all the reasons You hold them true.
May we too do the same, oh Goddess,
may we restore and renew in the fastness of our beings,
all the sacred covenants to which we are bound.
May we remind ourselves again and again,
why we do this, and the love we bear
for our Gods and dead.
Hail to You, Pietas, may Your name
ever be spoken in reverence.

 

Day 1: for Pudicitia

You rise by moonlight, bright and shining,
cover Your head and seek the grace of offerings.
The resources of the home are at Your disposal.
You garb Yourself in respect, modesty, and self-control.
You are mindful of Your position and the obligations therein.
The incense You offer carries Your prayers to the Heavens,
for even the Holy Ones pray for a continuation of goodly order.
The wise wife follows Your example,
inspires the women in her home in piety,
honors her man with her integrity.
She is an adornment to Her home,
wealth beyond measure.
Goodness and bounty flow from her hands.
She restores and holds true to her commitments.
Bless us oh Goddess of chastity,
with the grace of mindfulness,
that we may honor You and the Holy Ones
in all we do.

(by G. Krasskova)

The Goddess Pudicitia

“She [the goddess Majesta, Majesty] took her seat high in the midst of Olympus, a golden figure far seen in purple vest. With her sat Pudor [Aidos, Modesty] and Metus [Deimos, Fear]. You might see every divinity modelling his aspect upon hers.” Ovid, Fasti 5. 29 ff (trans. Frazer) (Roman poetry 1st c. B.C.E. to 1st c. C.E..)

Here is my initial write up on the Goddess Pudicitia. Again, if any of you honor Her, or have any thoughts, please share them below. This is a brief write up because very little has been written about these Deities that I’ve been able to find. 

The word ‘pudicitia’ means ‘modesty’ in Latin. It often refers to sexual virtue but also more generally to personal restraint. There was very clearly an element of personal self-management in the way the Romans approached this. Pudicitia (or its root word ‘pudor’) was the conscious mindfulness that allowed one to live in a vibrant society, contribute, and behave with proper decorum. We today tend to think of ‘modesty,’ as something imposed upon women, but for the ancient Romans, it was a virtue expected of both women and men. It was often seen as analogous to personal self-control.

This was so important to the Romans that they venerated a Goddess by the same name. She had two temples in Rome, one for the elites (where she was venerated as Pudicitia Patricia) and one for the plebs (Pudicitia Plebeia). Livy, in his “ab urbe condita’ tells the story of two women, one the aristocratic Lucretia, and the other, the plebeian Verginia. Both fiercely fought for their integrity (in very Roman ways, mind you. Let us keep in mind that, as the saying goes, “the past is another country. They do things differently there.”). Their stories came to embody the virtue of pudicitia for the ancient Romans and both received heroine cultus. In many ways, they became synonymous with the overall integrity of Rome. The second temple of this Goddess was built as a result of Verginia being driven out of the patrician one for marrying a notable plebeian. According to what I’ve been able to find out, no woman married more than once was permitted to touch her statue. (From everything that I’ve read, it seems this cultus was primarily tended by women).

The Greek equivalent of this Goddess was Aidos and there is some indication that the Greeks and Romans considered them the same Deity. I’m not sure. I suspect this is a difficult Goddess for most of us to approach today. Modesty is an incredibly charged idea in our culture, an embattled one. Still, I very much believe the Gods are worthy of veneration…all of Them, not just the Ones we like.

7176123875_4aa29de583

“Have respect for Aidos (Aedos, Shame), the helpmate of spear-fighting Aretas (Valour).”( Timotheus, Fragment 789 (from Plutarch, How the young man should study poetry) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric V) (Greek lyric 5th C. B.C.E.)

Roman Pietas and Pudicitia

Piety was the defining characteristic of Roman religion. It was a complex and multivalent term that intersected with nearly every aspect of Roman life and thought. It is essential to understanding Roman religion as the Romans practiced it and it is essential for those of us approaching Roman Gods today to at least have some comprehension of why this was so important a part of the religion and how it was put into play. Otherwise we risk disrespect to the Gods and a cognitive and spiritual disconnect with actual Roman cultus. This is an issue in Heathenry as well, which I’ll touch on below. Roman writers like Tacitus commented on the intense piety of the Germanic peoples in contrast even to Rome itself).

Let’s start first with what the word ‘pietas, pietatis” means. (1) Generally according to the OLD it’s translated as piety and first and foremost duty toward the Gods (christians retranslated that as love toward God), also loyalty, patriotism, duty, conscientiousness both to the Gods and one’s civic duties. (2) In many respects ‘pietas’ was inseparable from ‘civitas’, civic consciousness.

Pietas was also a Goddess. She had two temples at Rome as did the Goddess Pudicitia — Modesty. (3) Modesty is a loaded term for us isn’t it? For the Romans it was a matter of *self* regulation. One was expected to behave modestly, i.e. with moderation as part of being an adult and it didn’t matter if one was male or female, the expectation was the same.(4)

I think this is difficult for those of us who assume separation of church and state. It is impossible to separate Roman religious values from their social ones. The two were inextricably intertwined. Now what does that mean for a modern practitioner of cultus deorum? (and what does it mean for Heathens because the same thing could be said of the Germanic peoples)?. I think for one thing, it means that when we run into contemporary mores that are incompatible with those of our religion, or vice versa, religious mores that are perhaps incompatible with the modern world we must consider them carefully, not immediately expunging one in favor of the other without deep thought. A process of translation of religious culture comes into play and one would hope that the wishes of the Gods in these matters would also come into play as well.(5)

I was going to keep this going and bring in quotes by Cicero, and Livy, Tacitus, and Pliny, and certain modern scholars on the importance of piety and modesty in Roman religion but I’ve decided not to do that. I was telling my husband what I was writing and suddenly this question hit me and this is where I want to end this piece because for me, this is all that matters.

The Romans venerated the Goddesses Pietas and Pudicitia. They gave Them temples and cultus, in Rome, in the heart of the city. As we struggle to restore polytheisms today, (in this case Roman polytheism, but one can extrapolate for other polytheisms too), and as we are faced with discomfort as our modern values conflict with ancient religious ones here’s the question with Pudicitia:

Are all our gods worthy of veneration except Her?

Notes:

1. We cannot assume that simply because we speak Latin derived languages that we have the same religious understanding and mindset as the ancient Romans. To do so ignores two thousand years of Christian cultural and religious influences.
2. OLD = Oxford Latin Dictionary. See also the entry here. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=pietas&la=la#lexicon
3. In similar fashion, Eidos, shame was Deified among the Greeks and Pudicitia, modesty was deified amongst the Romans. Obviously modesty — self moderation—was rather important to their religion when they went through the trouble of ascribing it to a Deity. Given how often the idea of modesty is used to devalue women, it’s important to note here that modesty was not expected solely of women in ancient Rome. It was a virtue equally expected of women and men.
4. “Modestia” actually means ‘moderation.’ ‘Pudicitia’ is specifically sexual modesty and restraint. I suspect the role of pudicitia for both men and women had to do with a separation of public vs. private. Romans lived much more of their lives in what we would consider the public eye. The division between what was public and what was private was much more permeable than for us today, at least in American culture (my swiss mother used to lament this lol). I suspect pudicitia was connected in some way with delineating private spaces, including the space of the body.
5. There is a saying familiar to anyone working in translation studies: “traduttore, traditore” which in English means “translator, traitor” the idea being that once you translate a text, no matter how diligent you try to be, you run the risk of betraying the original text and intent of the author. We need to be certain as we translate our practices into the modern day that we don’t do this with our gods and ancestors. There is a way to do translation well but it requires care.