Janus : Lord of Beginnings

Janus is the two-faced spirit, but in the most positive sense of that term. Janus literally has two faces, indicating his power to see from all directions and perspectives. He sees the past and future simultaneously. Janus is a guardian and protector.

Janus is among the most ancient and significant deities of the Roman pantheon. He was in the Roman region long before the Romans arrived. Before the arrival of Jupiter, he may have been the preeminent male spirit. Officially superseded by Jupiter within the context of the Roman pantheon, Janus retained his right to be first.

Similar to modern traditions involving Eshu Elegbara, Janus is the first spirit invoked before any invocations, sacrifices, or offerings made to other Roman deities. Jupiter then follows as “king,” followed by whomever else might be invoked.

The Roman Temple of Janus had double doors, known as the Gates of War. The temple was a visible symbol of peace or war. When there was peace throughout Rome, the doors of his temple were shut. This was a rare occurrence.

In 153 BCE, the Romans changed their calendar, moving the New Year from the spring equinox to 1 January, the feast day of Janus, Spirit of Beginnings. With one face, Janus looks back on the old year; with the other he looks forward to the new. Roman New Year’s rituals incorporating the feast of Janus lasted for six days of joyous, raucous celebrating. Festivities included drinking, feasting, and decorating homes and buildings with holly, mistletoe, and lights.

• Invoke Janus when you wish to begin a new, when you need to make a fresh start.

• Invoke him before beginning new projects, ventures, and relationships.

• Invoke him to understand the past.


Giano; Dianus


Roman region


1 January


Diviners; he seems to like pretty women, too.


Janus has two faces: one looking forward, the other back. Sometimes one face is young; the other old.


His original consort seems to have been Jana (Diana), but he was eventually paired with Juturna.

Sacred site:

The Janiculum Hill in Western Rome, center of his veneration






The month of January is dedicated to Janus.


His traditional Roman offering was whole-grain farro wheat mixed with salt; also Ianual, a type of focaccia (flat, oven-baked Italian bread) made with flour, eggs, oil, and cheese served during rituals thanking Janus for providing a bountiful harvest.


  • Diana
  • Eshu Elegbara
  • Jupiter
  • Juturna


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.

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