Monday, April 22, 2013

The Rite of Spring

"April Is Sacred Sex Workers Month"  
by Finnchuill

Along with transgender and genderqueer people modern paganism has by and large shied away from celebrating the sacred sex work that was an important part of many ancient cultures. Many well-known deities like Venus had aspects that were matrons of sex workers, and others had sex workers involved in their festivities and rites like those of Bona Dea.
Prostitutes had a role in several ancient Roman religious observances, mainly in the month of April. On April 1, women honored Fortuna Virilis, "Masculine Luck," on the day of the Veneralia, a festival of Venus. According to Ovid, prostitutes joined married women (matronae) in the ritual cleansing and reclothing of the cult statue of Fortuna Virilis. Usually, the boundary between respectable women and the infames was carefully drawn: for example, when a priestess traveled through the streets, attendants moved prostitutes along with other "impurities" out of her path.
On April 23, prostitutes made offerings at the Temple of Venus Erycina which had been dedicated on that date in 181 BC, as the second temple in Rome to Venus Erycina (Venus of Eryx), a goddess associated with prostitutes. The date coincided with the Vinalia, a wine festival. So-called ‘pimped-out boys; (the pueri lenonii) were celebrated on April 25, the same day as the Robigalia, an archaic agricultural festival aimed at protecting the grain crops from the plant pathogen rust. It was dedicated to a god or numen of ambiguous gender, either named as Robigus or Robigo who was propitiated with the sacrifice of a puppy (the Romans were weird!).
On April 27, the Floralia, held in honor of the goddess Flora , women characterized as prostitutes erotic dancing and stripping. According to the Christian writer Lactantius, "in addition to the freedom of speech that pours forth every obscenity, the prostitutes, at the importunities of the rabble, strip off their clothing and act as mimes in full view of the crowd, and this they continue until full satiety comes to the shameless lookers-on, holding their attention with their wriggling buttocks." The poet Juvenal also wrote about the nude dancing, and perhaps prostitutes fighting in gladiatorial contests.

Flora-lora-laralia. Meanwhile, we at Revue Blanche celebrate the next event. Read Lara's latest interview at Pick Your Poison Book Reviews: