The ides fall on the fifteenth of the month. This mid-month marker is a magical day that is traditionally recognized by special feasts and festivals. The Festival of Torches (Nemoralia) takes place on this day. This festival later became known as the Feast of the Assumption, which honors Mary, Mother of Jesus, and is still widely celebrated among Catholics today. In Poland, the ides is a Feast of Our Lady of Herbs.
I find it interesting how so many modern religious rites and holidays derive from early historical and sometimes legendary events. It’s no coincidence that for many of us, especially in Europe, people tend to take long vacations during the month of August. This month has always been known for its many feasts and festivals — some of our favorite pastimes.
August 13-15 was the time when Goddess Diana (Goddess of the Moon) was celebrated and when people came, carrying torches, to petition her for healings and blessings. Like Artemis, Diana is generally associated with the wild land, hunting and stags, as well as caring for the less fortunate.
As legend has it, Lake Nemi, was a sacred pool deep in a forest area near Rome, Italy. This lake had a special reflective mirror-like quality and there a temple for Diana was built. There are also many other temples to Diana, and “the lady of the lake” has been interpreted in too many ways to count, but Lake Nemi is where the Festival of Torches takes place.
Goddess Diana and also Goddess Hecate, both Moon Goddesses, are each a part of this ancient torch-carrying tribute (Mother and Crone). The procession of torch carriers, some wearing garlands of herbs and flowers as crowns — accompanied by their hounds similarly adorned — would make their way to Lake Nemi and the sacred grove.
What a fun way to spend mid-August and celebrate the Goddess! I encourage you to activate your imagination and come up with your own feast and celebration to honor Goddess Diana during the Ides of August.
To celebrate this magical time and invent your own festive tribute, bring a torch or lanterns to an outdoor area that feels sacred to you. You could also have a fanciful fête in your backyard with Goddess Diana as your theme. Write down messages with prayers, affirmations and petitions on long pieces of ribbon and tie charms on the ends. Hang them from the tree branches and shrubs around you.
If you have a dog, fashion a little crown of herbs and flowers for them — and one for yourself, of course! Offer up apples or other fruits and treats for Goddess Diana. Wear white and silver, or incorporate these colors into your fête decorations or in some other way.
This is a feast day, so make some things that are delicious to eat and drink. And remember to bring some dog treats! Hecate will love this, as she loves her hounds, especially during these last dog days of summer.
Goddess blessings and cheers to a Gorgeously Healthy feast!