Why the Goddess Fortuna?

I want to share with you how I am using visualization and story-telling tools, and to share the story behind a website that I designed which demonstrates these tools. This website was started as a personal effort, and later inspired the creation of a tax exempt organization.

The website, which is presently on loan to the organization until reliable and ongoing organizational funding and support allows for its secure transfer, attracts a modest daily viewing from around the world.

As I mentioned, the story behind the website was a personal one; a story which, at first glance, seems very unrelated to the website itself. This is the story of a small dog and his owner: me. Around 2007, which seems a long time ago, some communications issues which affected my neighborhood resulted in a wall being torn down between properties; an activity which ultimately resulted in the loss of one of my dogs.

Despite my efforts to find and return the dog, he is still missing, and the most inspiring idea I have heard is that perhaps he was so “cute” that perhaps someone stole him and gave him a nice home.

I have also heard some not-so-nice ideas about what may have happened and, without knowing what actually transpired, my imagination was running wild. By 2009, I had lost my job and became part of the vast unemployed population in the world.

I needed a positive outlet for my energies; both to keep up my spirits for job search, and to keep up my faith that my lost dog was okay. By day, I would be searching for work. By night, I was networking, learning internet skills, and reading stories about dogs who returned home after years of wandering. It was around that time I remembered my dog’s birthday.

He was expected on July 4, and was born on June 24, 2003. Not a very remarkable date, considering that his half-brother was born on October 31; a date very remarkable for household dogs who know it’s a big party and all the kids dress up and drop by for treats.

So, when I brought him home, I searched for a holiday. I had my choice of St. John’s Day or the Day of the ancient Roman Goddess Fortuna. Between the two, the ancient Goddess seemed more glamorous and attractive to a female owner, so I did a little websurfing and learned about this Goddess of good luck or good fortune for ancient Romans.

Fast forward to 2009; a time when good luck seemed like something in very short supply, and something that could really be to my advantage, if I could just find it and bring it home safely. I took a closer look at that birthdate, and at the idea of a people who believed in this Goddess. And I started to do more research.

I found that June 24 was one of many dates throughout the year that the Goddess Fortuna was observed in the ancient Roman calendar. Many other aspects of this Goddess were honored in other ways, on other days, throughout the Roman Empire. This little project started to become huge.

Each holiday of Fortuna had a story; a famous person who built and dedicated a temple for a particular reason or purpose. As I read into these stories, I found insight and morals, sort of like little bible stories …. excpet these were stories that didn’t appear in the bible, because they were distinctly Roman stories and Roman values.

As each story wound its tale, I began to wonder if this were a calling; if there were some spiritual reason that my dog was born on this particular day, that I lost him, and that I had a need to fill my imagination with positive ideas. Was this, in fact, a spiritual calling? And, should I share it?

I began to podcast these stories, and to create a mock-worship service on Sunday mornings, with the idea that there were valuable lessons and tales … amazing stories of women who banded together to stop a war when powerful men had tried and failed, an oracle that rivaled the popularity of the oracle of Delphi for at least a thousand years, insight into Roman marriage, and an eye-opening account of the vast influence of the Goddess Fortuna throughout the Roman Empire into Britain and beyond.

I also started putting together a website; at first with simple builders, and later with less expensive hosting I could share with my other websites. Podcasts were uploaded, calendars were added, and graphics were updated as I learned more.

All this was, at first, to relieve some of my personal pressures; yet the stories themselves began to convince me in ways that have attracted attention from people with a wide range of new age and alternative spiritualities, including NeoPagan, Wiccan, Goddess Spirituality, Roman Reconstructionist, Hellenistic Reconstructionist, and many others.

Musicians, spiritual leaders, icons within alternative spirituality, and just regular people with something to share began to join me in the podcasts. The story-telling began to stretch beyond my personal issues, and my own fascination with the current applicability of lessons learned from ancient spirituality, to a Sunday morning variety package of music, mentors and mantras.

I also found many, many graphics that helped with visualization in ways that go far beyond drawing stick figures. Many of the graphics are so old that they are in the public domain. Other graphics required permission. When I contacted the artists and photographers, I found that so many people really enjoyed what I was doing with the website, that getting permission for a credited image became easy. The website began to come alive.

You can find my website with the search terms “Temple of Fortuna”, or just go to “Temple of Fortuna dot com”, the story and visual tools can be seen on page one. Podcasts are at the “worship” tab on the website, and credits for the podcast guests, as well as research credits are at the bottom of that page.

From what seemed, at first, to be a very unimportant birthdate of a lost dog has come a wealth of knowledge, spirituality and appreciation of ancient tales of ethics and success. The tools of visualization and storytelling have been very powerful in sharing.

That Fabulous British Empire

This week I am completing the short course “Empire: The Controversies of British Imperialism” given through University of Exeter at Future Learn. If you’ve never heard of University of Exeter, it’s where the bestselling author, now multimillionairess, J.K. Rowling earned her diploma. Just so my writing efforts aren’t completely absorbed by the website, I will share my final paper here in this blog:

“So much material has been covered in this short course, and at the same time I’ve been learning a new job, so the educational process has been liberally sprinkled with a manager’s loud voice exclaiming the benefits of solar energy and how to relate this to potential customers.

Hopefully, everything will come together in a cohesive way that makes sense for this University of Exeter (English University) FutureLearn assignment about the legacy of British Empire and Imperialism. Suffice it to say, in the winter, practically everyone worships the sun.

Map of the world showing the extent of the British Empire in 1886. Public Domain Image by Walter Crane
Map of the world showing the extent of the British Empire in 1886. Public Domain Image by Walter Crane

Clearly, British Empire grew from the influence of the ancient Roman Empire, which was in itself inspired by the conquests of Alexander the Great of Greece; both cultures having Pagan deities linked to the sun. The grand festivals, triumphs and spectacles of Rome, as well as the wonderful legacy of built works such as architecture, preceded British Imperialism. Much of the negativity has been buried.

The presence of Roman Empire in Britain under leaders such as Hadrian, whose name graces a famous wall, clearly put a stamp on the scenery and it’s within the realm of possibility that intermarriage between Romans and Britons was an influence on the desire for adventure, conquest and colonization that later inspired Britons to engage in their own vast Empirical influence.

The romantic tales mentioned in the previous week’s videos, as well as the emphasis on exotic fashion of the “raj”, point to a glamorization of Empire. This glamour is, in my opinion, the most enduring and beloved legacy of the British Empire.

As with the ancient Empires, whose legacy included legal structures, architectural design, medicine and fabulous statues, much of the negativity of British Imperialism has been swept under the rug. The days of slavery are fading into a dim memory; many of USA’s highest paid entertainers are descended from former slaves, perhaps invoking a comparison with Servius Tullius, the Roman king who was a slave.

Today’s world is as fascinated with glam, exotic places and fashions as at any time during the Empire, and international communication is only strengthening this link. Videos, photos, stories about glamorous celebrities and what they wore to such and such event are part of our daily lives. What happened at the forum has been replaced by what’s on YouTube.

Sir Charles Warre Malet, Concluding a Treaty in 1790 in Durbar with the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire, oil on canvas public domain (USA) painting by Thomas Daniell, 1805
oil on canvas public domain (USA) painting by Thomas Daniell, 1805

But what links this fascination with the grand glamour of the very wealthy to most popular influence of British Imperialism?

In the case of much of Hollywood, it is the English language itself which provides the link, as well a country that traversed an enormous continent and grew westward from a British Imperial colony on the east coast to create a grand and United country.

This language and history is what defines contemporary Hollywood glamour as a globally fascinating legacy of the British Empire; a phenomenon which is often equated to wealth and is empowered by the elitism of the small number of individuals in the upper socio-economic levels of the movie industry, along with the pop stars and divas of the United States of America entertainment businesses.

Neptune Resigning to Britannia the Empire of the Sea, public domain painting by William Dyce
public domain painting by William Dyce

So, as I explore the fine art of selling solar energy, the inspiration of the British Empire comes forth; I learn the “lines” of my pitch like an aspiring actor, ready to conquer new marketing territory and bend clients to my will in the hope that I, too, may become empowered with wealth, the ability to purchase glamorous outfits, and attend fabulous events.”