Laverna is the matron of charlatans, con artists, card sharps; plagiarists; counterfeiters; thieves and bamboozlers of all kinds. She is the goddess of illegally gotten funds and goods. She is invoked by the light-fingered for blessings and protection. Author Charles Godfrey Leland, an authority on Italian witchcraft, describes Laverna as the “patroness of pilfering.”
Laverna may also be petitioned for protection from crime and for the return of stolen articles; however, be forewarned: Laverna’s sympathies tend to be with the thieves. She is invoked to avenge theft. She may be sympathetic towards you if you know who committed the crime: Laverna gets annoyed with shoddy crime and bungling.
In her earliest incarnation, Laverna seems to have been a goddess of darkness, night and the underworld. Thieves traditionally operate under cover of the night and so Laverna became their matron. She became identified with the criminal underworld rather than the underworld realm of death.
Laverna is also identified with illicit pregnancy. Both men and women may request her assistance when pregnancy is inconvenient, embarrassing or worse. She’s not a moralist: Laverna will help dead-beat dads escape obligations and assist women whose pregnancies threaten to wreck their lives.
Laverna continues to adapt: in recent years she has become associated with media piracy; bootlegging and illicit downloading. Laverna is traditionally worshipped in silence. Her name may derive from the verb Levare meaning “to lift” as in literally to lift a load but also to lift your wallet.
Thieves (especially clever thieves and shysters; as opposed to thugs)
Laverna is a great shape-shifter. She has a clever, sardonic wit. Allegedly those who first invoke her see only her head.
Those who prove to be bunglers will see only her body. Clever thieves who find favour in her eyes witness Laverna with head and body intact.
Rome’s Lavernal Gate (Porta Lavernalis) on the Aventine Hill was named in her honor. She had a sanctuary there as well as a sacred grove on the Via Saleria, the ancient highway that cut across the Apennine Chain from Rome to the Adriatic Sea. Highway robbers invoked Laverna’s aid. Thieves traditionally rendezvoused at Laverna’s shrine to divvy up their plunder.
Tools of the trade
- 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.