Faunus – The Benefactor; The Wild One

Faunus, among the most ancient, primordial spirits of the Roman region, epitomizes the generative force inherent in the universe. He is the essence of unconstrained male vitality. Faunus is a woodland spirit, a spirit of the forest and wild nature. He represents the innate fertility of land and people, a surging force that cannot be contained. He is sometimes described as a grandson of Saturn. Another tradition says that Faunus (or his avatar) was a king of Latium, deified after death.

Faunus is a giver of oracles, a bestower of psychic ability. People once slept in his sacred groves in order to have their future revealed. He is petitioned to improve human fertility: his sexual vitality is so powerful that just being in his presence may have a positive effect. He is petitioned to heal infertility, male and female.

Faunus doesn’t know the slightest thing about romance: he is a spirit of unrepressed sexual force and the biological imperative toward procreation. He is the ancient essence of the forest, so primordial that he is pre-verbal. Faunus doesn’t talk; he cannot communicate as a human does, but speaks through forest noises and nature sounds. (See Also:Damballab; Leshii)

If you petition him for fertility and he visits you in a dream and hits you, consider yourself blessed. Faunus hits women with tree branches or leather thongs to help them conceive. (If he arrives and doesn’t hit you, hold out your hands, palms up, so that he will.) He’s not gentle; he’s violent. He’s the force of untamed forest growth, but he is benevolent and protective.

Faunus is not for the faint of heart. Those who petition him should be aware that his response traditionally comes in the form of nightmares and violent dreams. The good news is that nightmares provoked by Faunus are often a positive, auspicious sign. He doesn’t mean to be scary; he’s just so wild and primordial that his presence overwhelms, evoking primal human fears and emotions. Because of this, he is traditionally evoked alongside his more articulate, civilized allies: his daughter, Fauna, and especially Juno, who may arbitrate for him. He likes women although he may become sexually aggressive with them.

Faunus oversees the balance between livestock and wolves. He may be petitioned to guard livestock from wolves and wolves from people.




Roman region


Horned male spirit. He may manifest as a human male with horns or with only his upper torso in human form while the lower bears the form of a goat. Faunus wears a wolf skin. Images of Faunus are often mistaken for the more famous Pan.

February 14th, or the full moon of the last Roman month, marked the beginning of the Lupercalia, the annual festival honoring Juno and Faunus. The festival began when the Luperci, the priests of Faunus, arrived at the Lupercal, the cave on the Palatine where the wolf nursed Romulus and Remus. Sacrificed dogs and goats were eaten by the priests. Goat skins were sliced up. The Luperci were smeared with goat’s blood and dressed in “funo’s cloak,” torn patches of goatskin. Pieces of goatskin were formed into whips. The priests or specially chosen young boys would run around the Palatine striking people with these whips. Women who were struck were believed rendered fertile. Conception, easy childbirth, and healthy babies were believed to be ensured. Women positioned themselves strategically around the hill to guarantee that they would be struck, usually upon their outstretched hands. The Lupercalia was celebrated until 494 CE. In January 2007, Italian archaeologists announced that they had located the site of the Lupercal.


Goblet and wreath

Sacred animals:

Goat, wolf

Sacred dates:

5 December, the Faunalia; 14 February, the beginning of the Lupercalia, possibly Rome’s oldest ceremonial


Spring water; it may not be advisable to give him too much (or any) alcohol as he is uncontrollable enough without it; offerings on behalf of wolves, especially Italian wolves; attempts to preserve wild nature



Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.