Lupercalia embodies important symbols for me personally, the Wolf, Purification, Pan, the Shepherd, and DANCING! This Roman festival derives from an earlier purification festival “Februna” which was held on the same date in Ancient Rome. Februa lends its name to our modern 2nd month of the year, February. This festival was a “Spring Cleaning” celebration with the Latin word februare meaning purification with water, deriving from an earlier word referring to purging.
The ancient festival Lupercalia is observed February 13th-15th to purify the community and send evil spirits packing. This festival is meant to cloak its people in health and fertility in the coming Spring. Lupercalia is also a festival to honor Lupa the she-wolf of mythology that raised the orphan founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.
The wolf symbolizes family, learning, co-operation, insight, stealth, strength, leadership, loyalty, freedom, individuality, psychic energy connected to the moon (hidden wisdom), sharing knowledge and wisdom, cunning, hunting, seeking, introspection, listening, magick, dreams. There are many deities of many cultures that are connected to the wolf. I mainly work with animal’s spirits and use them as a way to connect with different cultures since I’m not 100% anything when it comes to heritage.
Instead of following the ancient tradition of animal sacrifice for purification of the city and dancing naked through the streets in a Michigan Winter, I’ve created a Modern Lupercalia Ritual. Gone are the days of dancing naked in the streets, and to be honest, I’m not one for skyclad, outside, unless its with my partner, in seclusion tucked away in nature.
photo: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
Modern Lupercalia Ritual
Things You’ll Need:
- Dirt or Salt
- Objects / Tools you want to cleanse
- Wolf Totem of any kind
Cleanse the Space, Ground, Cast the Circle, and by smudging with a sage stick or choice of incense loose with your kadylo (incensor) or with stick incense. As you circle your space say a blessing. This is usually said three times as you walk the circle three times. How you bless your space is up to you.
Now call your Watchtowers, Elements, or Directions. When I’m alone and feelin’ witchy, I call the watchtowers, when I’m with a group we generally call the Elements. I use the Watchtowers because I work heavily within the ideas of Spirits looking out for you and being eternally watching like the Sumerian Votive Figures. Here are the Elements correspondences if you want to use them: East –Air, South—Fire, West—Water, North—Earth, Space—Spirit.
Invoke the Deities of your choice (if you want), in this case it’s Lupa, Lupercus, Faunus, and Pan. I also like to invite Bacchus / Dionysus anytime there’s a party. Then tell them why you’ve called upon them. Ask for them to lend their hand as you purify your space and those in it. This is also a good time to cleanse anything that might have some bad juju or just a routine cleansing. Instead of the full cleansing prayer listed below you can chant “Smoke rise, Let us be wise” as you cleanse your objects. To cleanse pass your object over the flame, through the incense smoke, sprinkle it with earth or salt, and bless it with water.
[Set your Wolf Totem on your Altar or on your body if its jewelry. Light your candle or flame and ready the smudging. When it’s ready say a blessing as you walk the circle three times with the smudge. The following is a common Pagan blessing when drawing the circle]
“I cast this circle thrice about to keep unwanted spirits out” [3x]
I call to the Watchtowers of the North, the South, the East, and the West. Watch over me as I call to the Gods and as I walk on after this night until the next.
My Personal Invocation:
Bacchus, my heart, waken from your slumber, its almost time to come join us, come to our circle and share our celebration and dance.
Lupa, mother She-wolf, I call to you to nurture and guide us into the Spring.
Lupercus God of shepherds, come join us and watch over us into the Spring.
May we live as the shepherds and follow you into the lush green that is yet to come out of the snow. Guide us as we guide our flock into the warmth of Spring.
Lastly, On this night, dear Faunus & Lover Pan, share with us your ecstasy and make our hooves to dance like yours as we circle round the fire to your song.
We gather tonight to ask for your hand in purification and blessings of prosperity and fertility for the coming Spring. Encircle us as we cleanse ourselves.
[Now its time to cleanse your items or objects you’ve brought to the altar, or just yourself. Pass your object over the flame, through the incense smoke, sprinkle it with earth or salt, and bless it with water.]
Smoke rise, Let us be wise. Cleanse this (name of object) and cloak it in love.
So It Will Be.
After you have completed the ritual play some music if you don’t already have it on or start a drum circle and dance magic dance! Oh and just a note, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I don’t release the Gods that I call. I don’t do that because I don’t believe in conjuring or commanding the Gods to come to my space and work with me. I always ask them, I never tell them to visit. They come or they don’t. And they will always have the free will to come and go as they please. Sometimes the Gods don’t want to hang around after ritual, they’ve got other places to be! But most always… when there’s a party… you can feel their essence flow through your blood as you celebrate. The Gods never turn down a party in their honor, would you?