Terminalia: Honoring Boundaries

Environmental Art 2017 wall calendar

Image from our Environmental Art 2017 wall calendar. PaperBridge © Steve Messam / stevemessam.co.uk.

In ancient Rome, February 23 marked the end of the year and became a time to honor Terminus, the god of boundaries. Neighbors met at the boundary stones between their properties, with women bringing torches ignited on their hearths, sons bringing baskets of produce from the property, and daughters bringing special honey cakes.

The women kindled twin altar fires made of neatly interlaced sticks. The sons held their baskets over the fires, and the girls shook them three times to scatter their contents into the flames, then fed the cakes to the fire. Employees stood by dressed in white, wine in hand.

The two neighboring landowners would slaughter a lamb and a suckling pig and let the blood spatter on the stones. Then the two families would sit down for a feast.

This is a good day to honor boundaries of all sorts, from property boundaries to personal boundaries. How can you mark and define your space? What tokens will you set up to show others where your boundaries are? And how will you honor these?

Waverly FitzgeraldWaverly Fitzgerald is a writer, teacher, and calendar priestess who has studied the lore of holidays and the secrets of time for decades. She shares her research and her thoughts on her Living in Season website and in her book, Slow Time. She is currently working on a series of essays about looking for nature in the city and blogs for the Seattle PI as the “Urban Naturalist.”



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