Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cultural Survival

Today is the feast of Bona Dea, the goddess of fertility, healing, virginity, and women. She's also known as Fauna, for her father, the goat-legged Faunus (Greek name Pan). She was especially popular with lower-class citizens, slaves, and women, who would pray to her for healing or fertility. She was also the patron of freedom from slavery, hence the popularity with slaves.

Her festival was celebrated with secret rites held in the home of a prominent Roman magistrate. Only women were allowed, so I guess the magistrate himself was kicked out, and his wife ran the show (with the Vestal Virgins' assistance). You couldn't even have a male animal or a picture of a man with you. The words "wine" and "myrtle were forbidden, as there was a myth of Faunus beating Bona Dea with a myrtle stick when she got drunk, and it seems she didn't want to be reminded (this may be one of the few Roman festivals and/or ceremonies with no use of alcohol in copious amounts).

She was frequently depicted on Roman coins, often with her symbols, the cornucopia and the snake (a symbol of healing). Snakes were also kept in her temple in Rome.

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Last night my dad picked me up late and took me back home for the night; we ate Chinese food, watched a Christmas movie and had a nice fire, and I got to bed waaaaaay late, which is a bad habit I need to break...

The reason for this was this morning, when we drove down to Boston for the Cultural Survival Bazaar (after a stopover in. If you live in the Boston area, you should check this out; it's very cool. Merchants who do fair trade practices with indigenous/impoverished peoples will come to sell the crafts and foods (coffee, chocolate, and olive oil mostly) at the bazaar, and 40% of the profits go to help preserve indigenous culture. Whatever you think of the politics/idea, though, it's a great place to poke around, and the timing (first three weekends in December) make it good for Christmas shopping for the people who don't actually need anything, or who might find it interesting.

There's a lot of sub-Saharan African stuff, especially wooden decorated bowls and utensils; toys; and instruments. There are woven rugs from Peru and woolen hats from Nepal; Ojibwa dreamcatchers and singing bowls from Tibet. And lots and lots of jewelry, from pretty much everywhere. I actually got almost all my shopping done there; I had only three presents left (for my mom, my brother, and a little gift to give Ryter on Christmas Eve). We also ate lunch from the Indian food stand that was there; it was really good (mmm, chicken masala).

Then we went to the BU bookstore, because Shrewd has an employee discount (she works for BU Hillel) and we wanted to kill time before we checked out her place of employment (which wasn't open yet). There, I got my present for my brother, who asked for math books for Christmas (weirdo).

We then went to Hillel, where Shrewd works. She serves kosher food in a little cafe overlooking the Charles River. It's a very pretty place. We got the 20-second tour and ran into my cousin's boyfriend, who helped Shrewd get the job there (yay nepotism).

Then they took me back to campus, as there's supposed to be a blizzard tonight and none of us wanted to be caught in that...

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