Little information now survives regarding this ancient, mysterious deity. Ferronia may have started as an Etruscan or Sabine spirit, eventually adopted by Romans. Her rites included fire-walking. Devotees walked or danced over glowing coals and burning ploughshares.
She is a goddess of abundance, prosperity, and freedom. Her Roman temple featured a sacred stone. If a slave sat on that stone, their freedom was instantly granted. (It’s not clear exactly what kind of machinations were necessary in order to reach this stone.) The spirit of Ferronia allegedly still haunts the traditional marketplaces of Italy, territory she once ruled. Having been banished, post-Christianity, Ferronia apparently refused to abandon her old stomping grounds but transformed from a benevolent spirit of freedom and prosperity into a bad-tempered witch in the guise of a shabby, elderly, muttering beggar-woman.
Don’t let her disguise fool you: she’s still working magic. Those who are polite and kind to her discover themselves blessed with good fortune. Those behaving otherwise are treated to very effective (and feared) curses.
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Beggars, refugees, slaves
Ferronia haunts old-fashioned markets in the guise of an old, homeless beggar woman. She’s unlikely to be sweet and charming; rather, she is none too clean and worse for wear. She tends to accost people: be polite. The things she asks for are usually small: spare change, cigarettes, a bite to eat, maybe even a smile is sufficient. Her blessings and curses should be taken seriously.
Now she is Queen of the Marketplace but, once upon a time, she had temples, including one in Rome’s Campus Martius. She was venerated with Soranus at Mount Soracte.
- Roman Mythology
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.