Mater Matuta is the goddess of the dawn light but also has dominion over infants and sea travel. Her festival incorporated elaborate theatrical rituals enacted by Roman ladies of status in precisely this order:
• A slave woman brought into Matuta’s temple was then driven out with slaps and blows.
• The women carried their sisters’ children in their arms to receive Matuta’s blessings.
Exactly what these rituals meant to the Romans is now unclear, but the first part is often interpreted as a reenactment of Dawn vanquishing malefic nocturnal spirits. The second part may represent Matuta’s nurturing the sun, who is not her child but a relative. Alternatively it’s a reminder to entrust your children to family, not to strangers or slaves. This was a women’s Mystery tradition. There may have been an accompanying myth that is now unknown. (See the Glossary entry for Mystery.)
Matuta is invoked to protect your sister’s children. An aunt must perform the invocation, not the mother.
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Newborn babies whom she protects. Obviously, others may petition on their behalf.
11 June, the Matralia; before revision of the calendar, this was very close to the Summer Solstice.
Fortuna shares the same feast day. The two goddesses had temples next door to each other in the Forum Boarium.
Harbors and ports where she also possessed shrines
Cakes, traditionally baked in terra cotta; flowers
- Bona Dea;
- 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.