Sunday, January 23, 2011


There was a post kicking around in my head all day. I even started to type it out here, but some things aren't meant to be casual posts. I do intend to write out some of these, and will likely share them here, but some are destined to be articles, some destined for a book.

I was going to post something from Ovid about keeping your girlish looks by applying lead to your face, but I changed course while reading. In Art of Beauty, Ovid refers to Juno's Bird: The Peacock. So let's go there tonight:

There is a superstition among Italians about keeping a bird in the house, especially a peacock. You just don't do it. Birds are kept outside and are not pets. You don't keep a peacock feather in the house because it can give the evil eye.

What's the big deal about Peacocks and why are they sacred to Juno? It started with Jupiter. You knew I'd say that... Jupiter was fooling around with a river Goddess, Io. Juno figured out what he was up to and went to catch him in the act. Jupiter turned Io into a cow, but Juno wasn't fooled. Juno demanded the cow as a gift. Caught, Jupiter had to give it to her or admit what he did. Juno had Argus, the 100 eyed Giant who never slept (some of the 100 eyes on his bodies were always open), guard "the cow." Jupiter wanted to spring Io from her cow-captivity. He sent Mercury lull Argus to sleep and kill him. Mercury was successful. Poor Argus :( Juno took all of his eyes and set them into the Peacock.

After our chat last night about Juno and Diana, I've gone back to reading The Aeneid. From the very start, Juno is trying to kill Aeneas. She hates Aeneas and is trying to do everything she can to stop him from founding Rome. In the future, she knows, he's going to use Rome to trash her beloved city of Carthage.

One side of my family didn't believe in this superstition. Perhaps because they're Sicilian, not Italian. Sicily had a closer relationship with Carthage, and in fact, some of the economic conditions leading to the slave revolts I recently posted about arose because whomever in Sicily had been loyal to Carthage had their land taken away by Rome and given to Roman generals as reward for service.

I suppose there's a certain logic to the peacock bias: Who would want the keep one of the eyes loyal to Juno in their home, especially if she is an enemy of Rome?

I have a peacock feather on my front door. It's like my magickal peep hole lol Of course I would honor the Goddess of Marriage in my home. It's attached to a broom, which, according to custom, should be by your door to sweep away any funky vibes from the outside.

And because I know you're wondering, here's some of what I was reading from Ovid. I know you want that ancient lead recipe (but don't use it!).

The bird of Juno, when his plumage is praised, spreads out his tail to be admired, and dumb though he be, is proud of his beauty. To kindle in us the fires of love, dress is more potent than the dark arts of the magician...

Then make haste and bake pale lupins and windy beans. Of these take six pounds each and grind the whole in the mill. Add thereto white lead and the scum of ruddy nitre and Illyrian iris, which must be kneaded by young and sturdy arms. And when they are duly bruised, an ounce should be the proper weight. If you add the glutinous matter wherewith the Halcyon cements its nest, you will have a certain cure for spots and pimples. As for the dose, one ounce applied in two equal portions is what I prescribe. To bind the mixture and to make it easy of application, add some honey from the honeycombs of Attica."

Yeah... don't try this at home!

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