After performing a caerimonia for the Volturnalia a few days ago, I feel very positive about my involvement in the religio. This, in contrast to a week ago when I was beginning to wonder whether the constant turmoil in Nova Roma was worth whatever benefit I might find. The difference between then and now, I see, is that by performing a ritual beyond my simple daily devotions I have re-affirmed the thing that drew me to Nova Roma in the first place. Here in Denver, it rained the entire day. I don’t know if rain at a harvest festival would have been a positive sign in the ancient world, but we have had a long drought here, so the rain was very welcome, and there were no floods. It seemed to me that all of the water gods were joining with me in rejoicing. I kept going outside to stand in the rain. More than anything anyone could have said to me, my present feeling tells me that I should stay out of politics and focus on what really matters to me.
Going with this feeling, today I submitted an application to become a priest of Neptunus. Neptunus is important to me on many levels, not the least of which is that he is the Roman equivalent of my old heathen patron Njörd. Although it will be irrelevant to the pontifices who will vote on my application, I was born on December 15th, the day of the Consualia in honor of Neptune and my mother thought that an auspicious day for my birth because my surname is Swanstrom, which in Swedish means “river of the swans.” My mother, perhaps frivolously, also asserts that we are descended from Njörd, so he has always been rather special to me despite the fact that I live a zillion miles from the sea. I am also mindful that I chose to become Flamen Volturnalis because Volturnus is a river god. Finally, I noticed with interest my reaction to the Neptunalia and the earlier Consulia this year, when Neptunus had no priest recognized by Nova Roma and no public rites were performed. I felt very down about it and was tempted to rush an application to the Collegium so that rites could be performed. The pattern of my devotions hangs together.
I thought about making my priesthood application for one of the gods I particularly honor. Faunus, perhaps, or Sulis Minerva, or Britannia. For one reason or another, none of them seemed to call to me as much as Neptunus. I also thought about applying to become a Pontifex. In fact, I veered off that course only at the last minute. I have a hard time understanding my reaction. For some reason, it just didn’t feel right. Perhaps I’m not ready and I recognize that on some level. Or, perhaps I am put off by the thought of taking part in the religious divisions of Nova Roma. I don’t know. I do know that I should not apply while I have even the least of reservations about doing so.
So, what will happen to my application to become a priest of Neptunus? Any religious decision in Nova Roma has political overtones. I wonder whether the Collegium will reject me and how I will react if they do. I have a bad record for being able to predict how I will feel in a given situation, but I rather think that this application symbolizes for me a gamble on Nova Roma and the religio. If I am approved, then the gods are still willing to accept my service within the religio. If I am rejected, I think I will believe — whatever the actual reason — that they no longer want me to structure my devotions along Roman lines. Bottom line: I feel unusually vested in the result of this application. It will be several weeks, probably, before it even comes up for a vote, and then, as a non-voting member of the Collegium Pontificum, I will have the opportunity to see who likes me, who dislikes me, and who thinks I need to work on what aspect of my religious life. What a fate!