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Lupercalia ia a Roman ritual of purification and fertility dating from
such an ancient time that even the Romans of the first century B.C.E.
had forgotten its origin and to which Gods it was dedicated and even the
meaning of some of its symbolism. (Contrary to Z Budapest's statements,
it was not known whether it was to Faunus and in fact I think it may
have been sacred to the more ancient founding Goddess, Rumina, the
She-Wolf of Rome.)  Central to the ritual is the lustration (light
flogging) with a goat skin scourge (see, Gardner didn't
invent it).  This was often accompanied by much rowdiness and horse-pla-
y.  The purpose was the purification of the people from curses, bad luck
and infertility.  The ritual is performed on February 15.  The name of
the month comes from the februa, anything used in purifying including
wool (used for cleaning), brooms, pine boughs (which make the air sweet
and pure), etc.

The rite began in the cave of the She-Wolf in the city of Rome where
legend had it that the founders of the city, Romulus and Remus, had been
suckled by the wolf before they were found by a shepherd.  The sacred
fig tree grew in front of the cave.  Vestals brought to the site of the
sacrifice the sacred cakes made from the first ears of the last years
grain harvest.  Two naked young men presided over the sacrifice of a dog
and a goat.  With the bloody knife, their foreheads were smeared with
blood, then wiped clean with wool dipped in milk.  The young men laughed
and girded themselves in the skin of the sacrificed goat.   Much
feasting followed.  Finally, using strips of the goat skin, the young
men ran, each leading a group of priests, around the base of the hills
of Rome, around the ancient sacred boundary of the old city called the
pomarium.  During this run, the women of the city would vie for the
opportunity to be scourged by the young men as they ran by, some baring
their flesh to get the best results of the fertility blessing (you can
see why the Christian church tried so hard to get this ritual banned,
but it was so popular that it continued for quite some time under the
new regime.)

Except for the intrusion of foreign cults, this was the only Roman
ritual where a goat was sacrificed.  Dogs were only offered to Robigus
(a guardian associated with crops), the Lares Praestites (the guardians
of community), and Mana Genata (ancestral guardians).

Because of the cave, the fig tree, the milk, and such, I suspect the
very oldest forms of this rite honored a Goddess.  Unlike some of the
other Roman rites like the October Horse sacrifice, there is no other
Indo-European equivalent in Vedic, Scandinavian, Irish, or Indo-Iranian

With modifications, the Temple of Pomona performed Lupercalias and has
a great time.

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