Libitina – Lady Death
Libitina is the goddess of death, corpses and funerals. She is Holy Death; her name became a synonym for death itself. Roman undertakers who may be understood as her priests were called libitinarii. It is theorized that she was originally a goddess of death and the life force: her name may be related to libido. However, eventually her associations with death became dominant.
Libitina’s sanctuaries were in sacred groves, often located in the centre of those gardens of death, the graveyard. Roman undertakers maintained offices in her temples. Her temple was where you would go to report a death and make funeral arrangements. Everything necessary for a funeral was housed in her sanctuary. Offerings were made to her following a death in the family.
Libitina is the matron of undertakers, gravediggers, funeral workers and anyone who earns a living or profits from death.
Libitina appears as a looming black-robed, dark winged presence. Her face is generally obscured. She hovers like a vulture or large bird of prey awaiting the precise moment of death.
Libitina was traditionally given coins and money. Cemetery maintenance and improvement would be an appropriate offering. Legend has it that one gate of the Forum was dedicated to her on behalf of fallen gladiators.
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.