Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The 2014 Roma Lupercalia Weekend

On the weekend of February 22 and 23, the ROMA community held it's Lupercalia Festival. For those who don't know, it was a festival in ancient Roman times held in February. The name comes from the Lupercal, the cave in the south side of Palatine Hill in Rome of which it's legendary founders Romulus and Remus were supposedly nursed by a female wolf until found by a shepherd. The festival was best known for it's rite of naked youths lightly flogging people with goatskins in the belief that this would encourage fertility. At least one description had the goatskins soaked in milk first.

In celebration of this most ancient of festivals we will be performing a Roman ritual for Faunus Lupercus, the God of Wild Things and Lupa, the she-wolf who nourished the founding fathers Romulus and Remus. After the rite, we will have the Running of The Luperci - half-naked youths who bless the citizens of the city. The citizens will run ahead of the Luperci, who will lightly flog them with the goatskin floggers in hopes of fertility (both of mind and body). Following the ritual, we will have our traditional Lupercalia Feast - and clothing is optional!

The first and main event, the Lupercalia ritual, took place at 10AM in ROMA Transtiberim (68, 200, 54). The Lupercal cave was recreated there, and residents and visitors gathered to either observe or take part. The event was designated as "clothing optional," though few went completely nude, some instead wearing much fewer clothes. One resident had his legs completely in goatskin, with hooves on his feet, giving him a saytyr-like appearance. The sight of a fur led someone to make an "animal sacrifice" joke, which was countered, "(laughter) We don''t do animal sacrifice in ROMA." "It's a touch subject for the vegetarians."

Gaius Tiberius Curio (guillaume.mistwalker) and Maali Beck explained the ritual, Gaius saying, "The rite will begin in a moment, but before we start, we'd like to explain a bit about the Lupercalia and the rite. The Lupercalia festival was in honor of the She-Wolf (Lupa) who suckled the infant orphans, Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.  The name of the festival, Lupercalia, translates into 'Wolf Festival.' The festival was celebrated near the Cave of Lupercal on the Palatine (one of the seven hills of Rome), to expiate and purify new life in the Spring. The religious ceremonies were directed by the Luperci, the 'brothers of the wolf (lupus),' a corporation of priests of Faunus." Maali added, "In today's rite, we will invoke Faunus Lupercus (otherwise known as Pan in Greece), as He is the God that presides over Lupercalia. Lupercalia is primarily a festival of fertility, and Faunus was seen by Romans as the epitome of the lusty passion from which fertility is born."

Gaius continued, "The ancient festival began with the sacrifice by the Luperci of two male goats and a dog. Next, two young patrician Luperci were led to the altar, to be anointed on their foreheads with the sacrificial blood, which was wiped off the bloody knife with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and laugh; the smearing of the forehead with blood probably refers to human sacrifice originally practised at the festival." Maali added, "The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the sacrifice, dressed themselves in the remainder of the goat skins, in imitation of Faunus Lupercus. They then ran round the walls of the old Palatine city with the thongs in their hands in two bands, striking the people who crowded near."

Gaius went on, "Girls and young women would line up on their route to receive lashes from these whips. This was supposed to ensure fertility, prevent sterility in women and ease the pains of childbirth. Today, the blessing we ask is for the fertilty of body and of mind, a blessing on the creative process in all it's forms." Maali added, "Maali Beck: Here in our Roma, we do not practice blood sacrifice, but we will be celebrating the latter half of the festival, much as the Romans would have. After today's rite, we will lead you in the Running of The Luperci - as you race behind us, the other Luperci will follow behind you to bless you with their lashes as they pass."

Gaius and Maali roleplayed the ritual in both English and Latin, "I consecrate this altar. ... Immortal Gods, I call You. Please bless me. As it is said, so must it be! ... Hail, Father Janus - Janus of Beginnings, Two Faced Janus, Janus Door Opener, Janus Home Protector, Janus of the Folk! ... I pray to You so that You willingly might be well-disposed towards me. May I behold the Shining Gods! ... Hail, Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Almighty Father, King of Gods and Men. Or by whatever title else that You may have willed to be named." "If by obedience I am deserving, then give to me and to our Roma prosperity as well as happiness in our work." "Hail, Faunus Lupercus. With good prayers I offer to You this wine. May it be Your will to look with favor upon these folk who have honored You, for which purpose I make this offering. ... Faunus Lupercus, God of the Wilds, bless us this Lupercalia. Yours is the season of fertility, passion, and lust. Grant us fertility, not only of the body, but of the mind. Let our creative visions come to fruition. Grant us passion, not only of the flesh, but of the heart. Let our spirits be enflamed with the passion of living. Grant us lust, not only of our loins, but the lust for success, in all our endeavours. Let us acheive all our desires." "Father Janus, Father Jupiter, and Faunus Lupercus, if anything was displeasing to You in the offered gift from me, receive Ye this rite of atonement. ... "

After a few more lines, Gaius stated, "The rite is now ended - The Luperci will now lead you from the cave for the Running of the Luperci. This year we race to the field adjacent to the Field of Mars for our post-ritual celebration! Maali and I will lead you, and the other Luperci will follow behind the crowd, snapping their whips to bless you. (And hurry you along, perhaps!)" Unlike ancient Rome however, most of the Second Life Romans donning the goatskin flogs were female. Whom was going to whip whom this time?

We then ran out of the cave, going down the path up the hill, and at the spot chosen to be the site of the dance, near a roasting pig and a jar of wine. This time, a number of residents dropped their outfits to go about in the buff. Yours truly took several pictures, but after the one shown (left) was when several more showed up sans toga. Someone stated, "In ROMA specifically, you can be topless any time, but full nudity is only allowed at events like this."

People talked about a contest for the most imaginative lines for graffiti to be places in spots on the sim, and taking Latin classes. There was also general talk, "I think it's a good thing to be naughty once in a awhile. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone else."And there was some joking around, "She's a mer(maid) ... We have to dump water over her head once an hour or something." "So if I told her to 'go soak your head,' that wouldn't be taken as an insult? (grin)" "(giggle) Not at all! She'd probably thank you for offering."

Other lines included, "I resent that remark. am never a slut. I am just.... naughty." "I bet they really, really regreted pressing the self-destruct button in Pompeii." "And we thought you were just here to dance nakie and have fun!" "(This) is the one time of year i throw caution (and clothes) to the wind!"

Eventually the party wound down. Many would show up at the Wolf Hunt at Noon.

Time for another Hunt - ROMA's own version of hide and seek+tag with prizes! For Lupercalia, we will have cunning wolves for you to chase - how many can you tag in 1 hour? The Hunt is confined to Transtiberim, but the wolves are clever and hard to find! Prizes will be awarded to the ones who have tagged the most wolves - 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

I didn't make it to the wolf hunt, though I did catch the end of the last event for the day, the "Venus Truth or Consequences" which began at 1 PM. Much like the "Truth or Dare" games I'd seen earlier. People were sitting on a few pillows, with some standing, with a "spin the bottle" in a space in the middle of the scene.

A woman playing the part of the Goddess Venus had an "enchanted rose" which asked the questions. Among them were, "Has anyone ever seen you completely naked in SL. If yes, who?" Someone commented, "It's Lupercalia, is that fair?" The person asked answered, "ermmm ... a couple years ago the whole of Roma saw me in my birthday suit (grin). Damn SL would not rez my clothes." "What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you while you were having sex?" "Oh, the bed broke one time!" That answer got a number of chuckles, one saying, "Note to self: never have sex in a homemade bed."

On Sunday, there would be three more events. At 10 AM was the "Lupercalia Name That Quote Trivia."

Do you love trivia? Do you love movies? Well this game is both! In this trivia game, you'll be challenged to identify movie quotes - the theme for this Lupercalia edition is Romantic Quotes. The contestants with the most points at the end of the game will win 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place cash prizes.

Several people were taking part in the contest, with a fierce competition for first place.  Steelhead resident Cray Juliesse and Melanippe of Themiscyra (melanippe.karas) ended up tied for first with a score of 18 quotes correctly guessed each.The tie-breaking quote was, "I have this dream of being whole. Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing... I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for." And they needed to name the movie, the actor, and the character's name. Cray answered, "Practical Magic, Sandra Bullock, Sally." The Steelheader was declared the winner.

It would be about an hour until the next event, the Grand Feast, at Noon SL time.

To top off this festival weekend, we have The Grand Feast of Lupercalia! Join us for an evening of feasting, dancing, and good company, with live music by Taunter Goodnight - as well as our Lupercalia Costume Contest! Our costume theme this time around is Mythological Beasts. So come as a creature of myth or legend! We will vote for best male and female costume - the winners will receive $L1000!

Mark Allan Jensen (majjackslade) provided the music for the party, as people danced in the grass in the clearing beside the food table. Among the creatures present were a faun and naga, and a couple followers of Anubis.

The party didn't have much time to wind down when came the last event, the Harpastum game, a kind of Roman football.

Come join us as our Legio faces off in a game of Harpastum in honour of the Lupercalia! Harpastum, was the ancient Romans answer to soccer/football. For this game, you'll see the contestants display considerable speed, agility, and physical ability. All citizens are invited to participate in the game or watch from the sidelines!

The game area was set up in ROMA Vinovium. One team was led by Melanippe of Themiscyra. The other was led by Torin Golding. The game would be played much like Soccer/EuropeanFootball, except that the entire end of a field was a goal. If a ball fell into the depression behind the line, it scored a point for the opposing side. Five goals would win a game.

The first game went fairly easy for Torin's team, ending with a score of 5-1, Torin doing a victory animation with each. But Melanippe's team recovered, and won the second game. The third game was a hard fought match, with the score 4 to 4 at one point. But Torin's team got the last goal and the victory. The players on his team each got a prize.

And so ended Roma's Lupercalia Weekend of 2014, with lots of fun in the historical community.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Scenes from the Krewe Bayou Parade in New Toulouse

Last weekend at the New Orleans-themed sim of New Toulouse, the Krewe Bayou "Wild and Wonderful Creatures Parade" took place.

  If the parade looked a bit like Mardi Gras, it wasn't a coincidence. This was the first event of New Toulouse's Carnival season. People of all kinds from furs to tinies to not so ordinary humans, and avatars that defied description took part. The "Oh Lord What is That" marching band was aptly named.

 Nikita Weyman described the paraders in her New Toulouse Blog, "from the very tall Trombone Creature, who set the pace, to the Toad King bringing up the rear. Paraders included tinies, chariot drivers, a kraken on horseback, equestrian butterflies, a tiny Mayor Godenot, a deep-sea diver in an aquarium, a bird-headed man, and Superman; umbrella dancers added to the magic and the color of the event."

The parade went down the streets of early 20th Century New Orleans. Some were carrying hippo balloons. February 15 was supposedly "Hippo Day" in Second Life. There were also some beads being flung around.

Yours truly did his best to keep up with the throng of people. Someone passed to me one of the hippo balloons, and a couple beads were thrown my way.

 The parade ended  at the Town Square.

 And with that, the paraders danced where they were.

There was also a video of the event made, by Natascha Rant.

(Click here if the video fails to load)


Nikita stated later that evening, there was a fireworks show at the river (photo by Liza Veliz), "At nightfall, Taloosters who were not yet too drunk assembled at the city docks to ooh and aah at a spectacular fireworks display shot off from the top tier of the steamboat. There were cheers, funny comments, and admiration for the awesome display. Spectators were witness to a twenty-minute finale ..."

A great time was had by all.

Keep an eye out for Mardi Gras early next month on Tuesday March 4.


Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, February 17, 2014

Scenes from One Billion Rising 2014

Friday February 14, 2014 was the day of the Second One Billion Rising event in Second Life. The OBR blog (link) described the event across the world, "ONE BILLION RISING began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE is a call to women, men, and youth around the world to gather safely on 14 February 2014 outside places where they are entitled to justice – court houses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not."

The event in Second Life took place across four OBR sims. Among the greeters was SL Newser's Gemma Cleanslate, who look a number of pictures.

 There were poetry and open mike events.

 There were also music and dance events with inspirational songs.

 Earlier, Gemma had taken some pictures of art exhibits (link). During the event, Bixyl Shuftan showed up and took a few more.

 One art exhibit from the outside looked like a box with the symbol for women.

The inside was a bit spooky, dark and forboding with the dark outlines of dozens of figures around a lone female, illuminated in a glass cage.

For more information, check the following links:

Facebook Page:
Second Life Group: One Billion Rising
Twitter Stream:
Flickr Group:

One Billion Rising for Justice page:

Pictures from Gemma Cleanslate and Bixyl Shuftan