Liber is the primordial spirit of libido and vitality. He is the essence of life; male procreative energy. Liber is the spirit of irrepressible fertility, invoked to stimulate agricultural abundance. At his most primordial stage, Liber was partnered with his female counterpart, Libera, the yin to his yang. He was then partnered with Ceres, spirit of grain. Liber protects all kinds of seeds: plants as well as sperm. Eventually Liber was identified with Dionysus. The name Liber is sometimes used to indicate Dionysus but they were originally distinct spirits.
Liber was served by older priestesses. His festival the Liberalia celebrated boys who had crossed the threshold into manhood. At the Liberalia, boys removed clothing identifying them as children and donned the toga virilis, official men’s clothing marking them as Roman citizens. The festival incorporated processions in which a huge wooden phallus was carried through fields and streets; repelling the Evil Eye and beaming fertility energy to women, animals and land. At procession’s end, a matron deemed exceptionally virtuous was chosen to place a wreath over the phallus.
Games held in Liber’s honour were wild and raucous, as befitting his nature. By the Roman poet Ovid’s day (43 BCE-circa 17CE), the games were suppressed in favour of a calmer joint celebration with Ceres on 19 April. Liber’s games were briefly revived in the 4th century until the abolition of Pagan religion. Saint Augustine wrote disapprovingly of Liber’s phallic processions.
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Liber Pater (essentially Papa Liber)
17 March (the Liberalia)
His traditional offering was a cake called a libia formed from honey and olive oil; phallic imagery; fruits and vegetables; packets of seeds
Liber, Libera and Ceres form the Aventine Triad named for Rome’s Aventine Hill. This was a rustic part of the city; the deities worshipped here were beloved by the masses as opposed to official government deities. It was also a centre for Mystery and fertility traditions.
- 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.