For Vulcanalia – The Roman Festival of Fires !

The 23rd of August marks Vulcanalia – the Roman observance for the Power of Fire. Not only Forge-Fire, as one might perhaps expect … but also large bonfires, the fires of kiln and oven, and perhaps (via inference) even the lamps which give illumination so that one might read – and pierce the darkness with a flame.

This particular fine work of sculpture is, perhaps, a bit of an ironic one – it is the Vulcan of Herculaneum. Which was, as it would happen, destroyed a day after the Vulcanalia of 79 A.D.

Now, as one might expect – the actual observance of Vulcanalia consisted of … fires, large fires, and the ‘feeding to’ the fire of the customary offerings.

This is a fundamental principle of Indo-European piety – and invites us to draw fairly obvious points of comparison with what is known in the Indo-European East amidst the utilization of Agni [‘Living Flame’] to devour and transmit particular forms of offering up to the Gods.

Something perhaps only strengthened with the ‘Red Bull’ offerings to Vulcanus that were also involved.

However, in truth, the direct functional equivalent to Agni in this specific regard is the role held by Hestia in the Hellenic sphere – and by Janus and Vesta within the Roman.

The situation of Janus in this regard is quite interesting – as like Agni, He is ‘Two-Faced’. And, also like Agni, we find an intriguing ‘constellation’ of elements pointing toward a Sky Father deific identification (and I have my own thoughts as to Vulcan / Hephaestus in this particular regard, as well).

But let us not get into that here.

Vulcan was one of the oldest Gods honoured in Rome – His Temple of the Vulcanal dating all the way back to the mid-700s BC in its situation … and, to my mind entirely uncoincidentally, being located fairly directly upon the locale where the Peace of the peoples of Romulus and the Sabines had been concluded. Quite literally a ‘foundational’ act for Rome.

Now, why do I say ‘entirely uncoincidentally’?

Because it is a well-attested Indo-European custom to swear solemn oaths with the Fire as our Witness. ‘Forging An Oath’, you might say.

Of course, the Fire there is the Altar-Fire. And we should draw fairly direct comparison to the constellation of Ara (the proverbial ‘First Altar’, set amidst the Stars), where the Ouranian Cyclopes (Themselves quite the adroit Forge-Lords, and depicted actively co-operating with Hephaestus / Vulcan in just such endeavours in later myth) had manufactured the Holy Fire and its Housing, about which the Gods swore Alliance under Zeus to make war against the Titans.

This speaks to something else incredibly foundational to the Indo-European religious perspective: the Role of the Priest.

Something that, as I have observed elsewhere, there seems a remarkably consistent ‘development’ or ‘derivation’ into a Smith.

It can be observed not only with the situation of Vishvakarman / Tvastr and the Ribhus (or Rhbus, if we are anglicizing that way) – but I suspect rather strongly also with Vulcan.

It is a situation that makes logical sense. Both the Priest and the Smith are engaged in working about a hot blaze. Both the Priest and the Smith are engaged in works of ‘creation’, and ‘binding’ (even of Worlds Themselves). Both the Priest and the Smith are possessed of incredible – and vital – secrets to their respective professions that are subject to grave protocols and ‘initiations’ (or ‘apprenticeships’).

And both the Priest and the Smith are, ultimately, responsible for the production of Weaponry (whether Physical or Metaphysical) of the highest caliber and quality.

Whereas in the Vedic sphere, we have those lovely lines concerning a certain priest-warrior Who ‘Sings Forth His Weapons’; or we have other such ritual elements speaking to the ‘Sung’ production of the Thunder Weapons of the Gods … in the later-attested Roman paradigm of texts, we are unsurprised to find that these are forged into existence more conventionally – by Vulcan, the Ouranian Cyclopes, et co. And with some intriguing association to Minerva / Athena – as we should expect, for reasons we have detailed capaciously elsewhere.

We are, therefore, similarly entirely unsurprised to hear that that archaic shrine to Vulcan, the Volcanal, was utilized as a Rostrum .. indeed the Rostrum .. in the days before the Rostrum proper became the ‘Speaker’s Platform’ to all of Ancient Rome at its most vital (political and national) heart.

And so, therefore, upon this occasion of Vulcanalia – some near three millennia after the foundation of that Temple to Vulcan aforementioned (and near twenty centuries distant from the erection of the notable Vulcanic site upon the Quirinal Hill following the Fire of Rome – for reasons that ought be obvious) …

We cast forth our own sparks out into the firmament of the electronic age. Hoping to help draw back the darkness ourselves, in most ancient emulation.

Hail, indeed, to the Great Craftsman !

2 thoughts on “For Vulcanalia – The Roman Festival of Fires !

  1. Pingback: For Vulcanalia – The Roman Festival of Fires ! – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

  2. Pingback: For Vulcanalia – The Roman Festival of Fires ! — arya-akasha | Vermont Folk Troth

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