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Fauna

Tales beyond belief

Fauna
Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Fauna, the Roman prophetic goddess of animals, wildlife, fertility and spring. She was a minor Roman goddess who, like her twin sister Flora, the goddess of flowers typified the fruitfulness of Spring and the birth of animals at this time. She was the consort of the god Faunus (Greek counterpart Pan) and the related forest spirits called Fauns or satyrs.

Fauna shared the duties of Faunus and was celebrated in the festivals dedicated to Faunus, Flora and other goddesses she was associated with.

Fauna, the minor Roman goddess of animals, wildlife, fertility and spring
Fauna was the Roman goddess of prophetic goddess of animals, wildlife, fertility and spring. Her name, Fauna, survives in the botanical term for the animal life in a particular region. Most people recognise the names of the twin goddesses as they are used in the context of Flora and Fauna to mean the plant and animal life. The Romans habitually adopted the gods and goddesses of conquered nations and, as with Fauna, assimilated them with their existing gods and goddesses which at times makes the study of the Roman deities confusing. Fauna was associated with a variety of goddesses including earth goddesses such as Gaia, Maia and Terra but most particularly with Bona Dea the Roman goddess of fertility, healing, virginity, and women.

Fauna and Fuanus
Fauna was the consort of the god Faunus whose Greek counterpart was Pan, the god of shepherds, goatherds, pastures, music and fertility. Pan was depicted as a vigorous and lustful man with the horns, pointed ears, and furred legs of a goat and Faunus was represented in a similar fashion. Faunus and Fauna, as his female counterpart, were also closely associated with fauns and satyrs, the strange, fun loving, sexual mythical creatures who like Pan were described as having the body of a goat from the waist down, with the body of a man from the waist up with the horns and ears of a goat. Faunus was an ancient Roman god originally referred to as Lupercus meaning "he who wards off the wolf", the protector of cattle and the presiding spirit of the woods and fields. He was one of the oldest Roman deities, known as the di indigetes, who were Roman deities not adopted from other religions. In ancient Roman religion, Fauna was perceived a the goddess of the fertility of woodlands, fields, and flocks. His festival was the Faunalia which was observed on December 5.

The Temples of Fauna
There is no mention of specific temples dedicated to Fauna, however, it is likely that offerings were made to her at the Temple of Bona Dea on the Aventine Hill. Neither is there specific mention to a Festival to Fauna, but as the twin sister to Flora possibly 'shared' the springtime Festival of Floralia held between April 27 and May 3 which included games called the Ludi Florales. An unusual feature of these games was an enactment of hunting small animals such as hares and goats which were set in an elaborate setting. This seems more applicable to Fauna than to Flora.

The Worship of Fauna - Sacrifices
Fauna, the Roman goddess of animals, wildlife, fertility and spring would have been worshipped in the same way as any other Roman divinity with prayers, making vows, dedicating altars, sacrificing animals and birds and making offerings of milk, honey, flowers and grain  to the goddess. White animals were sacrificed to the gods and goddesses of the upper world and the sex of a sacrificial animal or bird had to correspond to the sex of the goddess to whom it was offered.

Gods and Deities
Roman Gods and Goddesses

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