"Italian Girl Drawing Water," William-Adolphe Bouguerea, 1871, WikiArt photo.
“Italian Girl Drawing Water,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1871, WikiArt photo.

Part 1: Visions of the Invisible

Far distant from temples and priests, Livia
Struggled with her beliefs, rocky outcropping
Where she prayed, images of Pales, stone and
Wood carvings, protected Etruscan corn fields,
Daily labours of her family, growing grains,
Grapevine tending, goats and sheep, cottages
Overlooking sailing ships on Ligurian Sea.

Obedient daughter, flower-adorned Livia cele-
Brated rustic fertility rites, her chaste breasts
Bared during bonfire dances to gods neither
Seen nor heard, she knelt in prayers to Pales,
Family decorating blood-sprinkled doorways
With laurel boughs, plague-averting chants,
Ancient sanctification of man and beasts.

Illuminating hearth stones, pale moonlight
Spoke to Livia, shadows of dancing tree bran-
Ches conveyed images of milk offerings, lamb
Sacrifice, krater bowls and bronze knives, gods
And worshipers, fertility ceremonies at Sabine
Mountain springs, visions of the invisible, Pales
And higher-reigning female Eturian gods.

"Minerva of Peace," Elihu Vedder, Library of Congress mosaic, Wikipedia photo.
“Minerva of Peace,” Elihu Vedder, Library of Congress mosaic, Wikipedia photo.

Livia’s mind rose from dewy pasturelands to
Cloud-swept moon, obscured and reappearing,
Mysteries of sacred Bona Dea, healing Earth-
Goddess, her voice instructed Livia, “Obtain
Tree trunk or stout straight limb, waist-high,
Carve my painted form, holy union, goddess
And tree affixed as one.”

At Livia’s beckon, kinsmen felled stout oak,
Solid without blemish, carved image of dark-
Eyed Bona Dea, radiant face, throne-seated,
Wreathed in healing snakes, deep folds of
Verdant gown, presenting pitcher and bowl,
Fleshed hues of Livia’s own pricked blood,
Pastoral montage of fabric, feathers, and fur.

For more on Bona Dea, see this link.
Click here  for more on Pales.

Next is “Part 2: Livia’s Pilgrimage.”

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