Thursday, 12 March 2015

Prayer to Venus

"Tannhรคuser in Venusberg" by Collier (1901)
Venus is the Goddess of love in all its guises, as well as fertility, regeneration and divine protection from harm, for she is a life-giver. Ancient sources suggest that the offerings that most please her are roses, mint, myrtle, garlands of flowers, wine* and incense. As she is a maternal Goddess, milk** is also a suitable offering, perhaps even more so if mixed with crushed poppy and honey removed from the comb (Ovid recommends that newly wed women should drink this mixture in honour of Venus), or with a small amount of rose water added. More elaborate offerings might include baked goods in the shape of a dove, a horned ram or a bull (these animals were sacrificed to her in ancient Rome); golden jewellery, especially necklaces, and pearls may also please the Goddess. During rituals in her honour, it is traditional for worshippers to wear white if possible, and to cover their heads (capite velato), as it is when praying to most Roman Gods. Prayers should be made with open palms (manu supina) and respect for her images is well conveyed by blowing a kiss in their direction. 

Here follows several prayers to Venus. I wrote the first, though it is heavily influenced by Boyle and Woodard's translation of Ovid's Fasti. For more on Venus see Venus, Goddess of Love and Life and In Praise of Venus.


Prayer I
Genial Venus, generous and kind,
Who gives laws to heaven, earth and sea,
Who captures every creature with your charm,
Who liberates man from savagery,
And breeds elegance, peace and beauty.
Goddess of love, most bountiful,
Delight of men and Gods,
We pray that you bless this household,
And that this offering find favour with you.
(Written after reading ancient Roman poetry by various authors, especially Ovid’s Fasti)

Prayer II

Delight of men and Gods, Venus most bountiful,
You who beneath the gliding signs of heaven
Fill with yourself the sea, bedecked with ships,
And earth, great crop-bearer, since by your power
Creatures of every kind are brought to birth
And rising up behold the light of sun;
From you, sweet Goddess, you and at your coming
The winds and clouds of heaven flee all away;
For you the earth well skilled puts forth sweet flowers;
For you the seas’ horizons smile, and sky,
All peaceful now, shines clear with light outpoured.
(Extracted from “On the Nature of the Universe” by Lucretius, translated by Ronald Melville)

Prayer III

Delight of men and Gods, Venus most bountiful,
You who fill with yourself the sea, and earth, 
Since by your power, creatures of every kind are brought to birth
And rising up behold the light of sun and stars;
We ask that you bless this household, and all that is ours
Sweet Goddess, and that our hearts may be loving, gentle and kind
That our spirits be generous and unconfined,
That arrogance, self-righteousness and hatred stay far away 
And that this humble offering pleases you on this day.
(Inspired by the extract above from “On the Nature of the Universe” by Lucretius,  as translated by Ronald Melville)

Prayer IV 
Attend my prayer! O! Queen of rapture! bring
To these fond arms, he, whom my soul has fired;
From these fond arms removed; yet, still desired,
Though love, exulting, spreads his varying wing!
Oh! source of every joy! of every care
Blest Venus! Goddess of the zone divine!
To Phaon’s bosom, Phaon’s victim bear;
So shall her warmest, tenderest vows be thine!
For Venus, Sappho shall a wreath prepare,
And Love be crowned, immortal as the Nine!
(An extract from Robinson’s “Prayer to Venus”, based on a poem by Sappho. Note that Phaon is the name of the man with whom Sappho was said to be in love; “the Nine” are the muses who inspire artistic and intellectual creativity)

Prayer V

Goddess, I do love a girl,
Ruby-lipped, and toothed with pearl;
If so be I may but prove
Lucky in this maid I love,
I will promise there shall be
Myrtles offered up to thee.
("A Short Hymn to Venus" by Herrick)

Prayer VI

Sea-born Goddess, let me be
By thy son thus graced, and thee,
That whenever I woo, I find
Virgins coy, but not unkind.
Let me, when I kiss a maid,
Taste her lips, so overlaid
With love's syrup, that I may
In your temple, when I pray,
Kiss the altar, and confess
There's in love no bitterness.
("A Hymn to Venus and Cupid" by Herrick)

Prayer VII

O gentle tips of camellias, perfumed and filling the air with sweetness 
...
Clover honey and honeysuckle nectar … I offer you, that you may hear me.

Light as the foam upon the deep ocean
I worship you, Venus, in your many forms.
Curved as the many shells which line beaches and shores.
Gentle as the doves which coo and play together in the skies.
Coy as a young coquette, blushing before her mirror.
Merry as maidens about to play a trick on their beloved.
Sweet as new lust and love, beneath the willows by the river.
Rippling as laughter, being chased and caught and again escaping.

I worship your statues, at noon and early evening
With baskets of fruit and roses, and scented candles ...
Come, look down upon your devotee and worshipper ...
Do not punish me with loss of your presence,
The coldness, the lack of laughter, the tears of loneliness.
Do not leave me to fulfill the endless tasks of life 
without reason or joy.
Do not make me a sage, wise and yet alone.

... make me your voice, your servant, your footstool
That I may bask in your joyful presence ...
Laughing and roaming through city and countryside
Offering to all that I meet
Your gentle, mocking love.
(Extracted from "Hymn to Venus" by Denosky, sourced from crystalrivers.com)

--------- *My own experience suggests that brandy is fine as well.

** But note that my own experience suggests that milk can be a tricky offering. There are a range of ethical issues surrounding contemporary dairy farming (eg, see rspca.org.au/campaigns/dairy-cows), which may serve to spiritually contaminate the product (because it was produced in league with unkind farming practices). I have ceased to offer dairy products to Venus where I suspect some of these issues, such as those relating to the treatment of bobby calves, are present.


"Venus, Cupid and Satyr" by Bronzino (circa 1554)

Written by M. Sentia Figula. Find me at neo polytheistRoman Pagan and on Facebook.

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