Towards a Theory of Reconstructionist Religion (Part One)

It is often said that the Religio Romana is a “reconstructionist” faith, meaning that it attempts to reconstruct the ancient faith of the pre-Christian Roman peoples. While this vague description is sufficient to distinguish it from more modern eclectic and inventive religions such as Wicca in casual conversation, it is not satisfactory when one considers the details.

I’d like to begin exploring a more systematic approach to reconstructionism in general, which would apply to many faiths which fall under that banner, including Asatru (Norse paganism), Celtic Reconstructionism, the Religio Romana (Roman), Hellenismos (Greek), Romuva (Baltic), etc. While I’m mostly going to be using Roman/Religio Romana, and to a lesser extent, Norse/Asatru examples, the general principles involved should apply across the board.

At the outset, two fundamental issues must be recognized. The first is that, thanks mostly to the efforts of Christian supremacists to eradicate pagan and heathen religions, and the general ravages of time, we are often confronted with the fact that we have an incomplete record. Even the Religio Romana (Roman paganism), while blessed with a number of excellent contemporary primary sources, is lacking in many details. The situation is far worse with Asatru, where the literary corpus is almost entirely Christian in its provenance, and is almost entirely lacking in details (such as what rituals looked like, what words were spoken, etc.).

The second is that, by the nature of history and social evolution, it is fallacious to refer to “the Religio Romana” or “Germanic paganism” as if they were monolithic and never-changing edifices spanning centuries and hundreds or thousands of miles. We find, for instance, new gods introduced over the course of years, sometimes by instructions from the Sibylline Books, sometimes because of popular pressure. New religious ceremonies are introduced over the centuries, and old ones are maintained but their significance is completely lost. The religion in Rome itself is used as a template for the religions of allied and conquered peoples, so we see “Romanized” versions of Celtic, Germanic, and Semitic deities across the Mediterranean and Europe. The changes in Roman religion are legion and well documented.

In the Germanic corpus, we see much the same thing, including two distinct versions of the myth of the death of the Norse god Baldur, and the compete lack of the god Loki in the Anglo-Saxon corpus, among many, many other examples.

Given those two basic premises, we find ourselves faced with fundamental choices to make based thereon:

  • How do we identify gaps in the record?
  • How do we properly vet the material that we do have?
  • How do we go about filling in those gaps?
  • How do we identify Christian (or other) influences?
  • What do we do once we’ve identified it? Do we ignore it, or “de-Christianize” it, or something else?
  • Do we focus on a particular point in time and space, or do we use a more syncretic approach?
  • How do we set the boundaries of eclecticism and invention in a reconstructionist context?

I don’t pretend that my answers to these questions will be universally accepted, but I hope to demonstrate that attention to them will result in a much more robust and viable reconstructionist experience. Those questions will be explored in subsequent articles in this series.

Action from Below, Help from Above

I would like to discuss an organizational principle which I think should be central to our Res Publica.

That is the principle of Action from Below, Help from Above.

Many Nova Romans have a habit of waiting for permission (or, worse, instruction) before actually doing anything. This is crippling us, and it’s something which I want to see reversed if elected Consul.

Everyone who considers themselves an active member of Nova Roma, and whose circumstances allow it, should be looking to organize, attend, and publicize meetings of our citizens. Not everyone has the interest or wherewithal to create a reenactment legion or gladiator ludus, of course, but is there a museum near you with a Roman exhibit? Can you do a movie night in your home? Do you want to try your hand at Roman cooking, and share the results with some friends? Are you a gamer and want to play Roman-themed board games or miniatures wargames? Do you enjoy costuming? Want to put on a play (even if it’s just for you and your friends)? Want to learn Latin? Want to start a book club? Are you a cultore, and want to hold local rituals?

There are literally hundreds of ideas that people could do to get active, to get together, and everyone doing so moves Nova Roma forward in a way that squabbling on an email list could never do.

You don’t need to have an official group, sanctioned by the Senate, in order to get together. You’re free Citizens, come here to our Res Publica by your mutual love of Rome and all things Roman. That’s enough! If, after some time, you have a steady or growing group and want to do something more official, awesome! If you just want to keep it informal, that’s awesome too! But don’t wait for someone to set up an officially sanctioned municipium or whatever before you get together.

And that’s where Nova Roma could help. I want to see a locator on the website. Something completely voluntary, where people can say, “Yes, I’m interested in meeting other Nova Romans in my area.” And if someone is nearby, they can send you a message, and start working on setting something up. And then go public! Put it on here, and FaceBook, and Meetup, and wherever else you can think to find people. And use this as a way to find new people, too! Nova Roma doesn’t have a monopoly on great people who love Rome. Use this as a way to grow our Republic.

I’m doing this right now. In New Jersey (and northeast Pennsylvania, and Southeast New York); if you’re interested in getting together and getting to know your fellow Nova Romans, and maybe do some fun things, PM me!

If I am elected Consul, I’ll work to make this happen across our Republic.

Valete,

Flavius Vedius Germanicus

My Campaign Statement

Although I have been posting over the last few weeks concerning some of my ideas for how Nova Roma should proceed in the coming year, now that the elections are formally open it seems meet to do something of a recap.

First, for those who might not know me, I have the honor of bearing the title of Pater Patriae, as I founded our fair Res Publica along with Marcus Cassius Julianus, who is also running for Consul this year and for whom I wholeheartedly hope you will also cast your vote. Over the years I have served our Republic in a variety of offices.

The candidates for offices at all levels have many things in common as part of their platforms, which is a testament to the nature of the problems which face Nova Roma in the coming year. With such commonality among the candidates, it could be difficult to choose. Everyone wants to resolve the lawsuit, to have more real-world activities, to get the website back up and running properly, and so forth. Myself among them.

However, there is one issue which does differentiate me and my colleague Marcus Cassius Julianus from some of the others running for office this year. That is our commitment to reconciliation of the opposing sides in the recent strife. Settle the lawsuit and bring the members of both sides back into the fold with a true amnesty that doesn’t inflict any stigma or shame on either side. If we try to curb our anger, we can move forward with the mission of Nova Roma.

And that’s the other way Marcus Cassius Julianus and I differ from our fellow candidates. Nova Roma’s mission.

All of the candidates for office have lots of great qualifications, and most would probably serve well. But we remember the heady days of the founding, when everything was possible and the energy and creativity seemed boundless. We want to bring that energy, optimism, and sense of purpose back to Nova Roma.

I ask for your vote as Consul to set aside the animosity of the past and to bring back that feeling of pride and amazing possibility in what Nova Roma can be.

Reconciliation is not Inaction

I hope that everyone who subscribes to Nova Roma’s email list (the Forum Romanum) has learned the lesson of the past week. The endless bickering, recrimination, name-calling (and even name-cursing!!!), and over and over and over recitation of the law suit are just miserable. Nobody save the hardest of the hard core partisans wants to see this stuff in their inbox over and over. Nothing was gained, and a week of what could have been a great week of Nova Romans sharing and talking about cool stuff and planning activities was squandered while a few people reiterated their hatred for The Enemy, and how They were Wrong, once again.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who looked in his inbox, saw yet another email from Nova Roma, and thought “ugh” rather than “Cool!” I remember when it used to be the reverse.

That’s why I, and my fellow candidate for Consul, Marcus Cassius Julianus, are calling for reconciliation, a true amnesty, and a resolution of the lawsuit as swiftly as possible.

Many people seem to miss that last point, but I think it’s worth emphasizing.

Neither Marcus Cassius nor I want to do nothing about the lawsuit, nor do we advocate ignoring it or the law or any such thing. We want to see an agreement between the two parties, a compromise that can be set before the judge and put into effect as a settlement. Something that places the assets currently in the control of the corporation back at the disposal of the government of Nova Roma, and a replacement of the corporation with something more suited to our needs.

That happens all the time in civil lawsuits in the United States; only 2% of civil lawsuits actually end in a trial, and there is absolutely no reason this one should be in that category. It’s part of the normal process of litigation. It’s the best way to end it.

That seems a simple enough goal; end the lawsuit with a settlement, stop re-litigating the lawsuit ad nauseum, stop insulting one another, and get on with talking about things Roman, holding real-world events, and honoring the Gods of Rome.

Some people seem to think those aren’t good goals. Marcus Cassius and I think otherwise, and if you do, too, we ask for your vote for Consul.

Grata Reconciliationis

One of the things that Marcus Cassius Julianus and I included as part of our election platform was the need for both sides in the current unpleasantness to come together in the spirit of Concordia. I would like to expand on this theme.

I’ve had very recent conversations with friends on both sides of the divide that have demonstrated that feelings are still running intensely high, and that both sides are not only utterly convinced of the rightness of their own side, but the utter wrongness of the other side. Both sides can present long, involved explanations of why they’re right and the other side is wrong. And both seem utterly convincing.

In fact, I’m very sure that there are people reading this who instantly thought to themselves, “Yes, but we’re actually right!”

I’m here to say that if Nova Roma is going to move forward, both sides are going to have to yield.

That means the corporate side is going to have to stop saying the government side is illegitimate. Stop saying the Senate and magistrates have no legal standing, and put the bank account, internet infrastructure, and registered trademarks back at the disposal of the government.

That also means the government side is going to have to stop saying that the corporation is illegally constituted, that any actions taken by the corporation and its officers are illegal, and that people who backed the corporation or voted for the dictatorship have to post some public and degrading mea culpa in order to rejoin Nova Roman life.

In short, both sides have to realize and agree that reconciliation does not mean capitulation.

Both sides are going to have to reach out and embrace the other. The dictatorship is a non-issue at this point; the dictator has left Nova Roma, and the Master of Horse is (literally) dead. The issue that sparked the conflict is moot. Stop re-litigating the lawsuit every time someone on the other side mentions something you don’t like. Just stop picking at “The Enemy” for the sake of propping up your own ego.

And let me be frank; that does not mean there aren’t issues that need to be resolved. The corporate entity needs to be reformed, or reconstituted, or something, in order to bring it back in line with macronational law. The government needs to bring us back to regular order when it comes to elections, and the website is in drastic need of an overhaul. But these are solvable problems, if we just stop ripping each others’ guts out whenever someone tries to fix them.

Look forward, Nova Roma! We have a glorious future ahead of us if we can just come together.

Announcement of Candidacy for Consul

Salvete omnes,

We, the co-founders and Patres Patriae of Nova Roma, are proud to announce our candidacies as Consuls of the Republic.

Our Republic has been through a very tough time, described by many as a civil war. It has been a time of division, bitter enmity, and recrimination. But now it is clear that it is time to come together and move forward as Nova Roma was originally intended to do.

As the co-founders of Nova Roma we humbly offer ourselves as the candidates best equipped to bring us back to that original mission. Our goal is to heal the divisions which have plagued our community.

Chief among our priorities as a Republic must be a resolution of the lawsuit. We believe we can be uniquely helpful in that regard as we have maintained friendships on both sides of the dispute, and we believe we can act as a mediating force between them. Once that is done a new corporate structure can be put together that better serves the needs of the people. What exact form it will take will depend on the nature of the resolution of the lawsuit and the input we receive from the many parties involved, including both the Senate and the people.

But in addition to the lawsuit itself we must heal the divisions among us. Our last co-Consulship invoked the goddess Concordia to bring the spirit of amity and cooperation to Nova Roma and we must work to achieve a similar spirit today. Reconciliation, the setting aside of old (and recent) grudges, and amnesty must be our bywords in the coming year. We must get Nova Roma back on track and the way to do that is not to spend another year bickering and tossing insults at one another.

Aside from these two main objectives we will strive to encourage ever-more real-world events, and supporting the practice of the Religio Romana by our citizens who are practitioners or wish to be. We will also renew our efforts at outreach, to set us back on the path of growth with new citizens. These were our original goals back at our founding, and it’s easy to see how we’ve not been able to focus on them as much as we might have wanted to. But now we have a chance of renewal and the opportunity to seize the energy and enthusiasm that we had.  

We will try to bring us back to the spirit of those heady days twenty-plus years ago, when we were young, unified, and nothing seemed out of reach. Let’s regain it together.

We hope you will let us once again serve the Res Publica which we created, but which we all share.

Valete,

Flavius Vedius Germanicus
Marcus Cassius Julianus

What is Nova Roma?

So many people want Nova Roma to be so many things, that occasionally one is obliged to remind everyone just why Nova Roma was founded, and what are the implications of that foundation.

First, and foremost, Nova Roma was founded as a way to allow the Religio Romana to be practiced as it was in pre-Christian times. Specifically, prior to the removal of the Altar of Victory from the Senate in CE 357.

Everything Nova Roma was supposed to be, and everything it is, flows from that single fundamental purpose. Everything else is secondary.

Which is not to say those other things are unimportant or wrong, or that the non-Pagans who join our Res Publica are somehow second-class citizens, but Nova Roma cannot be understood in its proper context without that fundamental foundation. It is, and always has been, about restoring the Religio Romana.

That said, Nova Roma was formed as an independent nation — a micro-nation — specifically because doing so was the only way to properly allow for a complete restoration of the Religio Romana. Because so much of the Religio was centered around Roman civic life, and consisted of rituals, celebrations, and ceremonies designed to do honor to the Gods on behalf of the whole nation (the Religio Publica, as distinct from the Religio Privata that is done within the home), and because many of those rituals were and are performed by the publicly-elected magistrates, it was necessary to form a government capable of sustaining and supporting that aspect of the Religio Romana.

So…

There has been a lot of talk, for obvious reasons, about the corporate structure and who controls what and what the implications are for Nova Roma and so forth. But hopefully the above history and context will show my readers the truth of that relationship.

Nova Roma is in no way dependent on some corporate entity.

Let me say that again. Nova Roma’s existence, legitimacy, organizational structure, Constitutuon, leges, Collegia, Senate, and magistracies have nothing to do with any corporation. Who is in control of such a corporation is similarly irrelevant to the ongoing business, and the pursuit of the mission and objectives, of Nova Roma.

Now, a corporate entity is indeed needed to get along in today’s world. Such things as being able to collect and disburse money on any kind of useful scale, to get insurance, to rent space, to host Internet and social media presences, etc., are all greatly aided by the existence of some sort of corporate structure. In the case of a United States-based corporation, that would be a non-profit corporation, given Nova Roma’s religious and educational functions.

But never let it be said that Nova Roma’s Constitution, its laws, its magistrates, or its actions are somehow tied to the existence of some US corporate entity. From Nova Roma’s point of view, such a corporate entity is a convenience and a means to the end of fulfilling its purposes.

But when it comes down to it, Nova Roma does not need a corporation to survive or function. It managed for three years before the first corporation was created, and will continue to do so no matter what happens with the current corporate structure. Of course, we all hope for an amicable reconciliation with the current corporate Board of Directors and the government of Nova Roma. No one wants a swift and happy end to the dispute more than I. A warm and useful relationship between Nova Roma and the corporation can only be to the benefit of our Republic.

But Nova Roma is not the corporation, and never has been. Nova Roma is a sovereign nation created to restore the worship of the Gods of Rome, because such worship requires a sovereign nation. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

Munera Gladiatoria of the Ludi Romani

Salvete omnes!

I have the honor of being an Aedilis Curulis this year, and volunteered to run the gladiatorial games for the Ludi Romani. Here is my account.

We had two entries for the Munera Gladiatoria in this year’s Ludi Romani. Because of the limited number of entries, I am modifying the rules of the Regulae Ludorum into a “best of five” format to determine the victor. Each round represents a clash of arms, followed by a brief separation as the participants regain their breath.

I hereby present our participants and a recount of the match. Apologies in advance for any mistakes I make in the “color commentary”. The final result should remain unchanged.

The traditional pompa, tubicines, and other officials enter the arena, followed by the two fighters, greeted by the roar of the assembled crowd, here to honor the Ludi Romani with  a display of the gladiator’s art. As editor of the Games, I introduce our gladiators, shouting to the crowd their names and proud histories.

* * *

Edigius the Hoplomachus (sponsored by D. Aurelius Ingeniarius)
Born of the high mountains of Macedonia, Egidius would wrestle and play-flight among his childhood friends. Perched high on rocks and boulders he soon developed a liking for fending off his gaming opposition with large sticks. Sadly, as a young teenager, his village was raided by unknown tribesman. During the attack, a brief wave of courage swept over him. Using a makeshift lance he had crafted, he charged down an unknown warrior, spearing him through the back. He provided an opening for him and 3 other villagers to escape.  

He was taken in by a local gamesman of a nearby town where he was offered to perform in exchange for food and shelter. There he would fight various wild animal or wrestle with various challengers from the region.
Soon his reputation grew of his ability and now he fights in the name of Jupiter and for the glory of the Roman Republic.

* * *

Sudrenus the Murmillo (sponsored by M. Pompeius Caninus)
Sudrenus was born in Coria, a town and fort about 2 miles south of Hadrian’s Wall near its eastern end. He is 22 years old, 180 lbs, 5’9″, with brown hair and blue eyes. He has a sturdy build with muscular legs, broad shoulders and strong forearms. He learned leather working from his father but the call of the arena, the promise of fame and the rich lifestyle has drawn him to the arena.

He fights for the Ludus Venetus.

* * *

Those who are about to die salute you!

As the crowd roars its approval, I step aside, and allow the contest to commence.

Clash #1: Edigius rolls an 8, Sudrenus rolls an 8 (all die rolls include the appropriate modifications for type and tactic). 

The two opponents rush towards one another with a dizzying flash of blows. Edigius’ lance is easily deflected off of Sudrenus’ large shield, and the murmillo attempts to take advantage of the temporary opening to thrust with his gladius. The experienced hoplomachus sees the move coming, however, and twists his body, avoiding the blow. The crowd cheers the display of skill.

Neither man wins the first clash.

Clash #2: Edigius rolls a 3, Sudrenus rolls a 6.

Stepping back, the two opponents judge themselves from their initial contact, each getting the measure of the other. A brief moment, and then the two approach one another at the same time, without needing any signal save the warrior’s instinct. The young Sudrenus feints right with his gladius. Edigius swings his lance around to parry the threat, and then feels the staggering clang of Sudrenus’ small shield against the faceplate of his helm. Reeling back, he attempts to shake off the effects of the blow as the crowd erupts with applause.

Sudrenus wins the second clash.

Clash #3: Edigius rolls a 7, Sudrenus rolls a 9.

Sudrenus gives his opponent no time to rest, immediately pushing the attack. He thrusts with his gladius, glancing off his enemy’s large shield one, twice, three times, while easily fending off the lance with his small shield. Unable to gain any traction against Sudrenus, Edigius backs up, trying to buy time. He then spins unexpectedly and attempts a shield-bash of his own. The young murmillo dodges out of the way in the nick of time, but the more experienced hoplomachus can’t connect no matter how he tries.
Sudrenus wins the third clash.

Clash #4: Edigius rolls a 6, Sudrenus rolls a 4.

Finally Edigius shakes off the effects of the head-shot. He circles slowly, feinting with his lance, looking for any weakness, any opening. Sudrenus, his confidence bolstered by his showing so far, tries to lunge past the large shield of his enemy. Edigius seizes the opportunity and thrusts his lance into his enemy’s thigh, which rips it out of his hand. Sudrenus goes to one knee, pain ripping through him, as he quickly pulls the lance loose and tosses it aside. Unsteadily, he regains his feet, seeing Edigius brandishing his dagger in his right hand. Blood flowing from his leg, Sudrenus stands, gripping gladius and shield tightly. The crowd can barely contain its excitement at the sight of blood on the sand.

Edigius wins the fourth clash.

Clash #5: Edigius rolls a 5, Sudrenus rolls a 13.

With but a dagger and small shield facing a gladius and large shield, Edigius circles his wounded enemy, hoping that blood loss will weaken him further. But Sudrenus, wounded as he is, throws forth a series of blows that are barely met by the hoplomachus’ small shield. Edigius manages some half-hearted thrusts with his dagger, hungrily eying the discarded lance but unable to reach it. Finally, the gladius finds its way home, thrusting into Edigius’ shoulder right above the point where his manica ended its protection. It’s a clean thrust, and Edigius goes to the ground, groaning in pain, and raising one finger to signal his acknowledgement of defeat. The crowd leaps to its feet, knowing the match is over. On and on they roar and hold their hands high, signaling their judgment on the loser…

Sudrenus wins the fifth and final clash. He was won 3 out of the 5 clashes of the match and is the victor.

Sudrenus looks around to the crowd and sees a sea of thumbs pointed down in the pollice verso. “Throw down your sword” they spoke to him with their gesture. Missio! He does so, and the crowd roars its approval and the palm branch of victory is placed into his hand.

Sudrenus holds it up with triumph, and has his place in history as the victor of the Ludi Romani.

Contra quod Parilibus Pacis Deorum

Salvete omnes,

(nn;ll* – the proposal was justified because of a nonsensical coincidence of dates, the conversion of followers of the ancient Gods is not something to be celebrated, we explicitly claim sovereignty over the city of Rome equal to that of the Vatican, Christianity doesn’t acknowledge the validity of our Religio, so there’s no reason we should recognize it.)

As one of the co-founders of Nova Roma, I wish to speak against the proposed item currently being discussed by the Senate, the ” Identification of Christianity as belonging among the traditions of Rome” which our esteemed Consul attempted to force through by edict, which was only stopped by the valiant actions of one of our Tribunes. 

I will speak plainly. This proposal is a dagger aimed at the very heart of our Republic. It is an evil, and can serve no possible purpose other than to undermine the very purpose for which Nova Roma was founded, and the very foundation stone upon which our Res Publica sits.

On its face, the fact is that this was brought into being upon the flimsiest of excuses – the fact that two holidays happened to coincide, which is an event which has happened dozens of times in the past, and which is dictated by nothing more than simple mathematics. It is worth pointing out that the date of Easter is variable even within Christianity, and that millions of Christians are only celebrating their holiday tomorrow, according to the Orthodox tradition. Add to that the fact that according to the Julian calendar, which was in effect during the period of pagan Roman civilization, which is defined in our Constitution as ending in 394 CE, when the altar of Victory was removed from the Senate, would place the two holidays on very different dates, and the folly of ascribing meaning to this coincidental nonsense become clear.

The substance of this proposal is much more insidious, however.
The author of this proposal has, it seems, forgotten the very reason for the foundation of our Res Publica. As someone who was there at the beginning, allow me to provide that much-needed context. Nova Roma was intended to provide a home for those of us who worship the ancient Gods of Rome; Jupiter, Venus, Mars, the lares and penates, and all the rest. The entire justification for needing a public polity was for the function of the Religio Publica, in order to provide the missing half of the Religio Romana for those people who were already practicing, or who intended to practice, the Religio Privata. That, in essence, is why there exists a Nova Roma in the first place. Everything else — the education in Latin, the educational outreach, the cooking, the clothing, the magistracies, the elections, the offices, the reenactment legions, and all the rest, while certainly wonderful and worthwhile — everything is secondary to that one, primary intention. The practice of the Pagan Religio.

And the proposal to officially recognize the Christian god entirely undermines that prime mover for our very existence. Of course, a Christian wouldn’t see it that way, so of course the point of view of the Gods of Rome doesn’t matter.
But we need look no further than the words of the proposal to see how it falls apart under scrutiny:

“There are still among us who cannot forget that Christianity eliminated our ancestral religion, however, during the 1500 years after the fall of Rome, Christianity also became an ancestral religion of Rome, and almost all of the ancestors of the present day Nova Romans were Christians generations after generations since the fall of Rome. The state religion of Rome was Christian ever since, and Christianity rules Rome and the inhabitants of Rome today. We cannot deny these facts, and as a polytheist culture, we cannot deny the divinity of the Christian god or the validity of the Christian religion, either. We cannot continue to consider the Christian god a foreign god, either, after his cult in Rome was established about 1950 years ago and it has been the official religion for 1600 years.”

No, no, and NO I say! This is completely pig-ignorant of not only Roman history, but Nova Roman history and law as well.

First, the fact that “almost all of the ancestors of the present day Nova Romans were Christians generations after generations since the fall of Rome” is not something to be celebrated. It is an infamia. The fact that our ancestors were weak and faithless enough to abandon the worship of the True Gods of Rome is something for which we should be conducting piaculum for on a daily basis, not celebrating and cheering on. This is a great shame for every single person who purports to worship the ancient Gods, and is something we should be seeking to apologize for with sacrifice, not be trying to put a nice face on. 

Of course, a Christian wouldn’t see it that way, so of course the point of view of the Gods of Rome doesn’t matter.

Second, to try to justify this evil by saying “Christianity rules Rome and the inhabitants of Rome today” is both an insult, reminding us collectively of a state of being which we should be actively trying to rectify, but also runs counter to the very Declaratio Novae Romae which I and my fellow Pater Patrius Marcus Cassius Julianus signed, and which was reaffirmed only last year. Has the Consul actually read that declaration? If so, how can he possibly accede control of our Holy City of Rome to the Christians, when Nova Roma explicitly lays claim to the same amount of territory within its precincts as the Catholic Church? Does he think that was a coincidence? It was NOT! It was a deliberate provocation and CHALLENGE to the sovereignty of the Christian church as a whole, and the Catholic church in particular, over the city that we explicitly claim as our “spiritual capital”. And if there are any questions as to what “spirituality” that capital is meant to embody, that very same Declaration claims identical, if temporary, sovereignty wherever the “gods and goddesses of ancient Rome” are worshiped.

This wording is not an accident, and was never intended to include the Christian god. Of course, a Christian wouldn’t see it that way, so of course the point of view of the Gods of Rome doesn’t matter.

Next, we come to the claim that as a polytheist culture, we cannot deny the divinity of the Christian god or the validity of the Christian religion”. This is the most offensive, and biased, statement, one can conceive of in this context. The very heart of the Christian religion is based on its claim of exclusivity!  Does not John 14:6 make this plain when it puts the following words in the mouth of the Christian god; “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”? Christianity by its very nature cannot abide any competitor, and will forever attempt to first undermine (while it is a minority) and then crush (when it has power) any theological rival. 

We already saw this played out in the very history that the Consul holds up as justification for his proposal, and it ended disastrously not only for the Pagans of Rome, but the Gods of Rome they worshiped. Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus Augustus in 311 CE issued his “edict of toleration” which proclaimed Christianity a legal faith within the Empire, to which this proposal can reasonably be likened, and it was a scant 79 YEARS later that the Religo, and other Pagan religions, were outlawed throughout the Empire.

First they come wanting “tolerance” and soon it turns into sovereignty. The Christian god, by his own admission is a jealous one, and will not brook any rival, let alone another God with pride of place. If we acknowledge the validity of Christianity, we must acknowledge this intrinsic intolerance, and to do so destroys the very reason for Nova Roma’s being.

And for that matter, does this mean we have to acknowledge the validity of other religions, too? We explicitly state that ” Nova Roma is open to people of all nationalities and races”. Does the Consul think we should explicitly acknowledge the gods of the Hindus, or the Buddhists, or the Shinto, or the Wiccans, or any of a thousand other faiths? Why single out Christianity for this honor? If one non-Roman faith gets this treatment, why not all the myriad of others?

Finally, the greatest insult both to Reason and to Rome itself, where the proposal states “we cannot continue to consider the Christian god a foreign god”. This is absurd on its face. We can acknowledge that Heracles is a foreign god, and Mithras is a foreign god, and the Great Mother is a foreign god, and all the hundreds of others who were brought to Rome, and who were content to fit themselves into the vast, expansive, and syncretic whole that is the Religio Romana. They were all able and willing to be worshiped alongside the other Gods of Rome. The Christian god very deliberately, and self-consciously, stood outside of that tradition. If Christians aren’t willing to acknowledge the existence of our Gods, why should we be acknowledging theirs? Especially when their whole faith is based on denying not only the existence, but the very concept, of our Gods? 

Let’s start seeing some of our Christian cives making offerings of incense to the Gods of Rome, and then maybe we can think about such a statement of inclusion; that would demonstrate that there has been a change in the Christian intransigence when it comes to acknowledging deities outside of their own faith, and thus that they have earned the right to expect such an acknowledgement by another, more syncretic faith. But history has already shown they’re not willing to even go that far; why are we even considering this, other than to undermine the very worship of the Gods for which Nova Roma was founded in the first place?

Valete,
Flavius Vedius GermanicusPater Patriae

__________
* An acronym for “non nimis longum legere”; the Latin equivalent of tl;dr. 😉

A brief introduction

Salve!

I am Flavius Vedius Germanicus. 21 years ago or so, I co-founded the micronation known as Nova Roma. The intention was to provide a home for Roman pagans, practitioners of the Religio Romana. Why a micronation? At the time, it was felt that in order to properly practice the Religio, the ancient Roman Republican system of magistrates and priesthoods was necessary, in order to act as the traditional intercessors with the Gods. The inclusion of non-pagans was, frankly, an afterthought.

My own history with Nova Roma has been tumultuous to be sure. I’ve come and gone from the Republic, been elected to magistracies and served in the Senate and various priesthoods, but for most of my life I myself have practiced Asatru (Germanic paganism).

A few weeks ago, that changed.

I began to feel a pull back to the Religio and the Res Publica that I created. But I was cautious. I had felt this before, and as a rule the bickering and invective in Nova Roma invariably turned me off and I left it to its own devices. But always the Religio was in the background, and a Lararium was always in my home. But this was different. Juno spoke to me.

At this point a vast swath of people are going to roll their eyes; mostly those who never took Nova Roma’s commitment to the Religio and the Gods seriously, who are themselves atheists, or Christians, or Jews, more interested in Roman culture, or wanting to play “king of the mountain” or whatever. But this was real. I had experienced it many times before as part of my Asatru experience. But hearing from the Gods of Rome was new, and needed to be heard.

Our Republic is in crisis, as most reading this will know. I have decided to come out of my retirement, and return to public life in Nova Roma, including a complete embrace of the Religio. This is not a temporary thing, either; the Borealis diis have told me my obligations to them are done. I am now given back to the Roma diis, to help our fair Res Publica, and the Religio it was designed to support, through these dark times and beyond.

Most of you reading this will not take it seriously, and I know it. But I do. And that’s what matters.