It had been a very long time since I did any reading on Romulus and Remus, so earlier this week, I read up on them to refresh my memory. The following are my thoughts on the story, some of the themes, how it relates to the craft, and some thoughts about the meaning of the part of my dream I expanded on above.
Before I get into the details of the legend, I’d like to talk about twins. Romulus and Remus are of course twins, and this is very important. Twins are very common in legends, myths, and folk lore. There’s something about twins that people find magical, unusual, mystical, or frightening. Twins hold a special place in our psyches, and in the secrets of the universe. What is a twin? Our other half? Our reflection? Our doppleganger? Some cultures see twins are evil, bad omens, demons. Others see twins as a sign of favour from the gods. In some cultures, twins, or the second twin, are killed, in others, revered. A twin that dies can haunt their sibling or be a guide or protector. But regardless of the cultural views, twins capture our imaginations, because they reflect spiritual truths and we know, whether we “know” or not, that these are important.
To look at a few sets of twins, I’ll start with Cain and Abel, the first two children of Adam and Eve in the Torah. Though I don’t see anything in the Hebrew to show whether they were twins or not, traditionally, they have been seen as such, and I think the parallels with Romulus and Remus are important. Everyone’s heard the story. Cain raised grain and Abel raised livestock. Abel makes an offering to G-d or the first born of his stock and G-d accepts it (probably with fire from heaven). Cain makes an offering of the first of of his crops and G-d doesn’t accept it. There’s a lot of debate on why G-d doesn’t accept it, but that doesn’t matter for this post. Cain gets upset and kills his brother. Abel’s blood from the land cries out to G-d, and G-d comes and asks Cain where Abel was. Cain says he’s not his brothers’ keeper. G-d makes him a wanderer. Cain says everyone will try to kill him, so G-d puts a mark on him to protect him. Many witches claim descendence from Cain, but I’d like to look at this a little differently. You can parallel Cain with Romulus and Abel with Remus. Depending on the version of the legend, Romulus killed Remus like Cain killed Abel. I will talk later about Romulus being the Establishment, the Orthodox, those in control, and Remus being Witch, the source of change in the world. Remus is a challenge to Romulus’ control. Likewise, Abel being accepted by G-d was a challenge to Cain. And, of course, Abel’s blood in the earth crying out has echoes in spirits of the land and of the call of the ancestors, of the Mighty Dead.
Another set of twins were Castor and Pollox. I don’t know a lot about them, so I can’t say much. They were the children of Leda. According to some versions of the story, even though they were born as twins, Castor was the son of Tyndareus and Pollox the son of Zeus (in swan form). Pollox was immortal and Castor mortal. They were raised by Tyndareus in Sparta. There’s no story of a twin killing a twin here. Castor dies in a cattle raid and Pollox goes to Zeus to intercede for him. There are a lot of things that could be explored in this story, but not really anything I can relate to this post.
I’m not going to go into much detail here, but the Divine Twins are very important in Feri. I’ve made a lot of posts about them in the past. They appear in many different guises, but they can be seen as the two sides of the same thing: the Summer and Winter King, life and death, creation and destruction, past and future. The big thing related to this post is the interconnectedness. Romulus and Remus, Cain and Abel, Castor and Pollox, you can’t have one without the other. The story is about the twins, not about on or the other. It’s the interaction of the two that makes the story. Witch moves in relation to the world around her, not just the natural world but the social world. Sometimes he works against the world, sometimes with it, but change needs something to interact with or it isn’t change. The stillness interacts with the movement of the Cauldron.
Robert Cochrane calls two of the Wind Gods, Lucet and Tettens twins:
(Lucet and Tettens are the Twins, the Children of Night and the Serpent, brothers and some say one and the same person. Fire and Air, growth and decay. One looks forward, the other backward. One creates, the other destroys, Castor and Pollox.)
In Voudou, you find the Marassa, the twins. There’s a secret here, because the two become three. the Marassa are mischievous and can be dangerous. There’s a lot that can be said about the Marassa, but I’ll move on for now.