Tag Archives: roman

Vepar the demon spirit of Augustus’s tenth

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How useful are the spirit lists for identifying what each spirit does?  Where they are given descriptions, they are often at odds and we are left with trying to find references to the limited amounts of symbolism we are given. What I found was that some of this symbolism might be a little obscure.

Vepar is a demonic spirit whose name means “Boar.” Yet the spirit lists describe him appearing as a mermaid who is a “guide of the waters” and in charge of shipping weapons and infecting wounds. What does that have to do with a boar? How does infecting wounds, so they kill people in three days become part of the remit for a spirit who guides troop ships?

It is a little more possible to flesh out details when you apply decan meanings (particularly the GD ones which would give you Saturn in Taurus) but this is artificial and probably off track.  The symbols do give us some clues and might point at the spirit’s source.

Searching for Vepar, I came across one source which I had not thought of. Roman Legion unit names and symbols. These unit symbols were often packed with symbols for many different reasons.

One of my researches though down the Vepar symbolism found the Legio X Fretensis (“Tenth Legion of the Strait”) was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It got its name from a battle it won in the Strait of Messina although it also was part of the fleet that won the Battle of Actium.

This Roman legion had the symbols of the bull, a ship, the god Neptune, and a boar. The Bull might be because the unit was formed when the sun was in Taurus or because it was a symbol of Venus (who was Augustus’s family spirit).

Either way, we have the full set – sea, troop ship, boar, Taurus, and Venus. It also was part of the army which destroyed Jerusalem.  It garrisoned the city for at least 200 years afterwards.  It might be that the spirit lists had somehow demonised the Roman legion which helped destroy the “holy city” and because a symbol of a pagan boot on the throat of Jews and Christians living in the area.  When Legio X Fretensis and the other Roman legions celebrated their victory they did so for three days, according to Josephus.

HEROES IN MAGIC

In the Geometric Greek period (8th Century BC), there was an interesting development from Ancestor Worship to the worship of Heroes.  This was inspired by the rise of Homer and other poets.

The belief was that the Heroes had been so significant in life that they could act as go-betweens between the living and the dead.

Despite their often bloodthirsty acts in life, they became  defenders, healers and oracles and guaranteed fertility of the land.  The idea that they had created an access of power by their heroic acts is similar to the idea of Christian saints which came much later.

In this case, they filled a role often associated with stone circle’s as the guardians of the land.  Often they were fixed to a particular region where it was believed they were buried.  This was not always the case as some heroes (particularly Hercules) were worshipped all over the Greek states. Like Catholic Churches different towns claimed they had a particular hero.  There was also not much of a cult of relics associated with the heroes.

Worship of Heroes was less personal than that of ancestor rituals.  It was something carried out for the good of the Polis or the region.  Most of the time worship was centred on old Mycenaean tombs, which were considered the graves of the heroes.  However later heroes could be anyone from founders of cities, top politicians, sporting greats and top poets.  Basically anyone who other people were prepared to worship after they had died.

Ignoring the hero was considered bad as they could cause crops to fail.  Food dropped on the floor was assumed to have been taken by the hero and could not be picked up.

There were cases of anti-heroes.  These were spirits of people who were outright nasty and continued to haunt a particular area. Often these were worshipped whatever their crime because of their ability to do harm and to go into the underworld.

This also made the words of Homer, Hesiod and other the epic poets,  guides to using these spirits.  We can see in the Greek Magical Paprii the words of Homer being used on magical spells presumably to link the talisman or spell to the spirit of the Hero.

Worship continued until Christianity replaced paganism, although curiously the texts of the heroic poets, which were effectively magical texts for this form of spirit work were mostly preserved.

Indeed, the idea of Saints were just Christian heroes replacing pagan ones.

The modern idea of a hero has fallen away from this.  If a famous person dies we do not believe that they will curse or bless us.  In fact ,it is an interesting point that dead modern heroes have the shelf life of fresh milk and are soon forgotten.

It is just as well.  Who the hell would worship Kane West, Steve Jobs or any of the other shallow celebs we have created.  But Military and other heroes names are also forgotten, which means that we might be missing the chance to have an underworld communicator.

Other than that there are long lists of Greek and Roman Heroes who could act as underworld go-betweens.