The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for April 2nd, 2012


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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Technically speaking, this post is day late and a dollar short, as the holiday of Veneralia was traditionally observed by the Romans on April 1. Given the prankster traditions of our modern culture that revolve around the date, however, it was decided to run an acknowledgement of the holiday today- if the story of Troy has taught us anything, it’s “Don’t mess around with the Goddess of Love”.

from wikipedia

Venus was offered official (state-sponsored) cult in certain festivals of the Roman calendar. Her sacred month was April (Latin Mensis Aprilis) which Roman etymologists understood to derive from aperire, “to open,” with reference to the springtime opening of trees and flowers.

Veneralia (April 1) was held in honour of Venus Verticordia (“Venus the Changer of Hearts”), and Fortuna Virilis (Virile or strong Good Fortune), whose cult was probably by far the older of the two. Venus Verticordia was invented in 220 BC, during the last tears of Rome’s Punic Wars, in response to advice from a Sibylline oracle, when a series of prodigies was taken to signify divine displeasure at sexual offenses among Romans of every category and class, including several men and three Vestal Virgins.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Veneration… the very root of the word comes from her name, this Roman deity named Venus. She wore many hats, and was worshipped in several aspects. The one which we at Newtown Pentacle HQ revere is the personification of Venus Cloacina, goddess of the main drain. Myrtle adorns the entranceway to that ceremonial room with ceramic tiles which we maintain, and rhyming prayers will be offered before a porcelain altar.

from wikipedia

In Roman mythology, Cloacina (Latin, cloaca: “sewer” or “drain”) was the goddess who presided over the Cloaca Maxima (“Great Drain”), the main trunk of the system of sewers in Rome. She was originally derived from Etruscan mythology. The Cloaca Maxima said to be begun by one of Rome’s Etruscan kings, Tarquinius Priscus, and finished by another, Tarquinius Superbus.

Titus Tatius, who reigned with Romulus, erected a statue to Cloacina as the spirit of the “Great Drain”. As well as controlling sewers, she was also a protector of sexual intercourse in marriage. Despite her Etruscan origins, she later became identified with Venus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Towering above the lowest point of New York City in Greenpoint, at the bottom of a geologic soup bowl (as it were), is the greatest temple of this goddess. If fancy strikes, as you drive along the BQE or traverse the streets of our ancient neighborhoods, remember to offer the ancient prayer:

“O Cloacina, Goddess of this place,

Look on thy suppliants with a smiling face.

Soft, yet cohesive let their offerings flow,

Not rashly swift nor insolently slow.

– courtesy


Your humble narrator will be narrating humbly at this year’s Obscura Day event on April 28th, leading a walking tour of Dutch Kills. The tour is already a third booked up, and as I’m just announcing it, grab your tickets while you can.

“Found less than one mile from the East River, Dutch Kills is home to four movable (and one fixed span) bridges, including one of only two retractible bridges remaining in New York City. Dutch Kills is considered to be the central artery of industrial Long Island City and is ringed with enormous factory buildings, titan rail yards — it’s where the industrial revolution actually happened. Bring your camera, as the tour will be revealing an incredible landscape along this section of the troubled Newtown Creek Watershed.”

For tickets and full details, click here :

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