Susan Morgaine February 1, 2017
As I write this, it is the day after the presidential inauguration of 2017, and the day of the Women’s March(es) across the country and around the world. Millions of people, the majority of them women, took to the streets to protest what many see as a threat to the personal freedom of many communities, not only in the US, but everywhere around the globe. They see a threat to justice. They see a threat to liberty and freedom. They are afraid, and rightfully so. With this in mind, it seems a perfect time to speak of Libertas.
She symbolized independence, freedom from restraint, and personal and societal freedoms. Her Greek name is Eleutheria. She was, and is, the personification of Liberty and Freedom.
(Photo Credit: insightfulvision.com)
She is depicted wearing a long, flowing gown and holding a rod, called a vindicta, and a cap, called a pilleus, which were two of Her symbols. She sometimes is shown wearing a crown of laurel leaves and with a cat at Her feet.
The reason behind Her symbols was that, within Roman society, when a slave was given his freedom, her/his head was shaved, they were tapped with the vindicta, and given a pilleus. Appropriately enough, She was honored and worshipped by all freed women and men.
Her first temple, located on Aventine HIll was ordered by the Tribune, Tiberius Gracchas and was dedicated in 238 BCE. There is smaller shrine to her located at Cicero’s home on Palantine HIll, and there is a small statue of her inside the Roman Forum. Many Roman coins and seals of the time bear Her image.
Libertas’ likeness was used many times and in many places around the world to symbolize Liberty and Freedom.
Columbia was used as a poetic name for the United States and was one of the names of its’ female personification. She became a symbol in the 1700’s when Paul Revere created an obelisk using Her image to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act. It is believed that the name, Columbia, originated from Christopher Columbus. It is from Her that the name District of Columbia was born.
(Photo Credit: Pinterest)
In France, She became Marianne, standing for reason and liberty, and a symbol of the French Revolution in the 1780’s-90’s. The Great Seal of France bears Her likeness.
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
It was this Great Seal of France that became the inspiration for Frederic Bartholdi, when he designed and built the Statue of Liberty, the most visual and the most famous of all depictions of Libertas, because make no mistake, the Statue of Liberty *IS* the Goddess Libertas.
Even though She was a gift from France to the US, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom, liberty and justice to the entire world. Her original name was “Liberty Enlightening the World”.
This Libertas statue wears a crown of seven solar rays, which represent the seven continents and the seven seas. This crown is similar to that of Ishtar, the Babylonian Goddess, who crown was ringed with 8 stars. She holds the Flame of Freedom, or the Torch of Enlightenment in Her right hand. Her gown is remarkably similar to the original Roman Libertas. Her feet are surrounded by broken chains to symbolize Freedom.
(Photo Credit: everymanempire.com)
The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886. The era’s suffragettes, in a boat riding around Liberty island, proclaimed Her their symbol in their demand for the right to vote.
As a symbol of light and liberty, of freedom from tyrants and any tyranny, Her likeness abounds — on state flags, on the state seals of Virginia and New Jersey, on stamps, on both coins and paper money. She stands upon the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. When students demonstrated in Beijing, China in 1989, the Statue of Liberty as Libertas, became the Goddess of Democracy.
Many Pagans, Wiccans and Witches, invoke Libertas, in her guise as the Statue of Liberty, in their personal rituals for freedom and liberation from any form of tyranny.
Circle Sanctuary (circlesanctuary.org), located in Wisconsin, is a well-known Pagan church and community, which offers workshops, rituals, gatherings and more. Their religious freedom network is called “The Lady Liberty League”, and has done much for freedom of religion for all Pagans.
The Festival of Libertas is celebrated on April 13th, and, of course, the Statue of Liberty is celebrated on July 4th. Both of these are set aside to honor Her.
(Photo Credit: evilyoshida.com)
One way to honor Her is to stand up for personal freedoms, your own and others’; work against injustice, wherever you find it; fight for what you believe in, in whatever way you can, such as protesting, marching, writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Carry that work into the rest of the year, for liberty and freedom is hard won, but easily lost.
In personal work, place Her likeness on your altar as either Libertas, or in Her guise as the Statue of Liberty. You may ask for Her help in liberation from an addiction, from a hated job, from an unhealthy relationship, in whatever you personally feel that you need freedom from.
May we all continue to have the Liberty, Freedom and Justice that we hold so dear and is so important in a democracy.