One of the most important term in the Traditional Roman Religion is the verb colere (to cultivate) from which derives the expression: Colere Deos/Deas. It resumes a particular feeling and a way of living still very shared among the modern Cultores. Not accidentally, terms like cultura (culture) and cultus (cult) derive from this verb.
Cultores do not "pray" in conventional terms: Gods/Goddesses must be "cultivated". Colere actually describes also the act of farming, taking care of a field according to the inner Nature’s laws (agri-culture). Cultivating a field and cultivating Gods/Goddesses state an active relation of taking care with a spiritual disposition and concrete actions inspired by the perception of the immutable laws on the Nature and the Universe.
Colere Deos/Deas, Colere Agros describe the same modality to approach the Divine Sphere which coincides with the modality to approach Nature based on “respect” evidencing our limits and our right place in the natural order.
Colere Deos/Deas is firstly a spiritual attitude involving a constant personal commitment through the practice of Virtus and Pietas, fundamental principles to undertake the Roman Via and to maintain its course. This attitude can be materialized in rituals and ceremonies but above all it presupposes the adoption of some basic values. For example Fides, describing the reciprocal religious duties between mankind and Deities and among humans, is embedded in loyalty, honesty, fairness in actions and expressions. Constantia, the coherence and firmness in principles and purposes, appears in everyday life through the firmness and perseverance in behaviours. Gravitas, a peaceful and sound force deriving from personal ethic values, can be manifested by dignity and composure in actions and expressions.
Cultivating plants and cultivating Deities are forms of respecting the natural course, practicing a virtue, a spiritual discipline, an ancient knowledge linked to the Ancestors. Acknowledging the living presence of the Deities in Nature, any action of cultivating represents a way to improve and cultivate the individual material and spiritual life. This explains why any activity related to Earth and Nature (i.e. agriculture itself) is considered sacred because fundamentally seen as a rite.
As a good farmer, a modern Cultor, as in the past, practices a conscious attention towards signs and signals coming from Gods/Goddess also as energies of Nature: he/she makes all considered necessary to live in harmony with those energies and forces giving life to reality (Pax Deorum).
Religion and agriculture are thus very similar spheres because both dimensions imply a (re)connection with Nature, her energies, time and rhythms where physical and spiritual elements are (re)joined together.
This living flow is sacralised in several Divine expressions as manifestations of rhythms of life, signs and values coming from a living environment speaking not only a biological and physical language but also a spiritual one.
Today the concept of Colere Deos/Deas is likely to have therefore greater importance: it implies, among others, an opportunity to understand again the language of Nature and the Universe to communicate again with our Mother Earth.
This sound feeling in honouring Nature as expression and manifestation of honouring Deities was broken down by Christianity: according to Augustine of Hippo, Nature is “
diaboli et perditionis”. Such a view is
at the base of the modern de-sacralization of Nature seen as object, a dis-organic mass of inert
matter, to be manipulated by science and technology. massa
As consequence of this, agriculture for example today is a totally de-sacralized activity, just a profane act based only on land exploitation for economic goals. Deprived of its religious meaning, agriculture is often a highly polluting non-sense job: the same can be evidenced in all the human activities deprived of this sacred dimension. Anything is thus polluted at environmental, health and psychological level.
Colere Deos/Deas describes therefore a “rejoining path”, a Via to become again in harmony with the Earth and Nature which today are likely to be completely separated from us by a high wall only partially solved by the illusion of science and technology. When one can feel to be again integral part of the Nature, with no claims to dominate her and consequently to dominate Deities, this wall will disappear and the Nature and the reality around us won’t be no longer sources of anxiety, fear and anger.