|Head of Etruscan Goddess|
Carna is a very complex Divine Energy playing however a critical role in the contemporary cults of Traditional Roman Spirituality .
Carna, a feminine divine force, represents the sacralization of the integrity and purity of the human body, its womb and the assimilation of food: these symbolic material/immaterial elements are strictly interconnected.
It is important to highlight that the essential key-element to get in contact with Gods and Goddesses is purity, rather than faith, of both in the body and in spirit (chastity) in a very wide and deep sense.
Ritually pure man and woman, who live the everyday life in a sacred manner avoiding anything impure, are in harmony with themselves, with nature, with Gods and Goddesses. All forms of impurities (in a material and immaterial sense) render man and woman hateful to the Divine dimension, contaminated and not in harmony with Nature.
As regards the physical sphere, an intact body (in sacred and not profane sense) is a pure body. Every organ in the human body is sacred to a specific divine power, but its integrity is sacred to Carna: nothing must exit prematurely from the body. It is important to remember that the human body symbolizes the society as a whole, also emboding, in the dimension of the microcosm, the logic order of the macrocosm. The disintegration of the body, the leakage of organs or abnormal secretions, are the representation of social deviance and the disharmony of the cosmos. The ancient statues should be "read" also in this perspective.
The physical (male and female) body is an essential tool to think in symbolic and sacral terms: the "social body", as well as the "astral bodies" are symbolically represented through the human body. Carna therefore symbolizes the sacralization of the respect that everyone must have for his/her own body. All those "impure" actions who deliberately deteriorate the body (mutilation, self-injury, corporal punishment carried on themselves) are therfore examples of profanations.
Carna in particular sacralized the integrity of the child's body as not yet defined material and symbolic universe. Carna symbolically accompanies the child's body to its final definition in the body of an adult.
In this perspective, Carna therefore plays a critical role because man and woman are bodies, but at the same time, they have bodies. The body is a subject and an object being the individual foundation for the perception of himself/herself. The body is a harmonious structure bounded by fragile, weak and insicure borders where microcosm, macrocosm and society are simultaneously represented. This means that Carna sacralized the image of a living primary harmonious structure defined by its external profile, the skin. These margins and all orifices are critical zones because they are areas of contact with the outside world where what should not come out, could get out and where impurities could get in; disharmony could occur breaking the physical and symbolic coherence of the body.
For this reason Carna sacralized the most important phase of the physical contact the body has with the outside world: Food and Food assimilation. One should not eat randomly: eating is a sacred rite, essential to keep intact body and defend it from impurities and contamination.
Another critical aspect of the cult of Carna is the relationship with the blood. The blood circulating in the body is pure, the blood protruding from the body is potentially impure. This is why war is and remains an impure act: the soldiers returning from military campaigns had to be purified because blood had been shed: crossing the arch was then a rite of purification and re-establishment of a cosmic order. Similarly death, which disrupts the bodies, leads to forms of impurities. Also in this case the definition of a period of time of purification and specific rituals involve the restoration of that cosmic order that a family involved by the death had lost.
The case of bloodshed that was once involved in the sacrifices is rather different. These rituals implied the consumption of meat of the sacrificed animals (which were previously im-molated thus placed outside the ordinary dimension of existence): the word Macte - "grow", expressed during the sacrifice, stressed precisely the relationship between the killing, the disintegration of the body, death, food intake, food assimilation and the continuation of life. It is a sacredly controlled bloodshed. We have the same as modern Cultores and Cultrices: we normally eat meat or (never forget it) the (even if profane) result of a technically controlled bloodshed. The war on the contrary involves an uncontrolled bloodshed: for this reason rites of purification were therefore necessary.
What comes out of the body and dissipates from the body is a violation of the sanctity of Carna. An uncontrolled interaction occurs between an "inside world" and an "outside world". There is a violation of a physic and metaphysic boundary (the skin), between two realities that must remain separate which have entered into crisis. In this issue you can see the strong bond existing between Carna and Janus.
The purification rites required by the cult of Carna therefore are related to water. Water dissolves and washes what is spilled untidily from the body, the skin and the body return to their cleaning, water clarifies the boundary line of the body. As Carna represents purity and physical integrity of the body, the same representation is transmitted to the spiritual condition also involving sincerity, clarity and concentration of the mind, the interior cleanliness and tidiness, simple and uncorrupted materials, to clear, basic and elementary colors.
Respecting our own body then implies a respect for all that is simple and natural, original, harmonious and pure in form, the purity of the experience of touch. In all this lies the deeper meaning of the cult of Carna.