Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of March 29th - April 4th,  2002

The Queen of Heaven

Columns Archive


   As we continue our exploration of Ovid's Fasti, this week we come to a crossroads. According to Ovid's reckoning the Julian calendar, instituted under Caesar when he was Pontifex Maximus (the chief priest in charge of this office) in 46 BC, labels the date we are examining as February 1st. Our premise from the start has been that the theme at work here has been the correlation of the lunar and solar cycles to the older calendar of the Republic, the one to which many traditional Roman rituals had originally been attached. What all this boils down to is that the reformed calendar of Caesar gave January 31 days, while the older calendar of the Republic listed only 29 days for this month. The question then must be asked, which date was the real February 1st?

   Obviously, the answer is simple. If we are remain true to our Republican model, February 1st in this system must correlate to January 30th of the Julian calendar, otherwise we will have a two day discrepancy in the lunar placement.

Juno and Jupiter

Juno and Jupiter

   The 1st of February was dedicated to Juno. As is typical of many of the gods and goddesses, there are various accounts of her life. One is that she was born in Argos and was entrusted to the care of the Seasons for her upbringing. Like the other gods, she was devoured by Saturn, and regurgitated when Metis gave him an emetic forcing him to cough up the stone which he had swallowed, thinking it to be Jupiter. By her marriage to Jupiter, a celebration attended by all the Olympians, mankind, and the rest of creation, Juno became Queen of the Gods, mistress of both heaven and earth. She was the matroness of all women, and governed their concerns from birth until death. Indeed, she was also thought to rule over childbirth, and in this capacity was known to the Romans as Juno Lucina. As Juno Moneta, she governed finances. The Roman mint was located in her temple on the Capitoline Hill. She protected cleanliness, presided over marriage, and particularly patronized the most faithful and virtuous of her sex, severely punishing incontinence in matrons. She was also the goddess of power and empire, and the patroness of riches.

   Because we're examining February 1st, it would be tempting to associate Juno as Queen of Heaven with Aquarius, the lunar placement on this day. Aquarius is universal energy, pouring out its waters equally to everyone. Because Juno was honored on the Kalends,
Coin of the Realm- Juno

Coin of the realm- Juno

the first day of each month, this would make sense, as Aquarius rules astrology, and has sway over each of the twelve signs of the zodiac. She was raised by the Seasons, and was associated with the multicolored rainbow of Iris.

   However, after due reflection, I do not feel this to be the case. It is the Moon's exaltation in Taurus that better fits the personality of this goddess. First, it better describes her role as Queen of Heaven and Earth, with the Moon in the position of its greatest dignity. Second, it better describes her association to women, childbirth and the New Moon of each month. Third, her role as the goddess of empire and riches equates to the tradition and security of this fixed earth sign, while her being raised by the Seasons corresponds to the cycles of nature, what we think of today as Mother Nature. Finally, when all the gods were chased out of Greece by Typhoon, Juno assumed the form of a cow and hid in Egypt.


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