New Year’s Eve, Old Style, Witchcraft & Carmentalia January 11th

1375, French Caesarian Birth, (most likely to have killed the mother or be performed when she was already dead or dying.)

When Britain reluctantly joined the Gregorian Calendar, in 1752, we lost 11 days, so if you add 11 to 31st December you get to New Year Old Style. You can do this with any date, and when celebrating, feel you are being really authentic.

So, anything you did on the New Year’s Eve New Style (31st Dec), you can do today. Except, of course, you will need to convince your boss of the illegitimacy of the Gregorian Calendar, when you call in sick because of a hangover! In case you have forgotten what you should be doing on New Year’s Eve you can look here to look back on for New Year’s Eve, New Style.

It’s a particularly ‘witchy’ evening because it is the traditional Eve, not the newfangled one. Reginald Scot in his ‘Discovery of Witchcraft’ first published in 1584 reports on a way to find witches:

a charm to find who has bewitched your cattle. Put a pair of breeches upon the cow’s head, and beat her out of the pasture with a good cudgel upon a Friday and she will run right to the witch’s door and strike it with her horns

Reginald Scott’s book is available on this website and is a fascinating read., but I have to say don’t try this at home, as the method is not supported by scientific research.

When I first posted this in 2022. I did not, to my shame, know the background to the book, assuming it ‘believed’ this nonsense that a cow could lead you to whoever bewitched it. On the contrary. Reginald Scot was trying to debunk the absurd claims for witchcraft and magic. His book tries to prove that witchcraft and magic were rejected both by reason and religion, and that manifestations of either were ‘wilful impostures or illusions due to mental disturbance in the observers’ .

The book shows that the large number of people who were executed as witches in the 16th and 17th Century, were the victims of a QAnon-like conspiracy which was rejected by many educated and rational people who did not believe there were evil people with supernatural powers. Have a good look at the cover of this 17th Century edition of Reginald Scot’s book to get an idea of his standpoint. Scot was a member of Parliament for New Romney, in Kent.

Frontispiece of Scots Discovery of Witchcraft.


Carmenta or Nicostrata, black and white medallion of the Goddess of Childbirth
Carmenta or Nicostrata , Goddess of Prophecy, Childbirth, Midwives and Technical Innovations.
Published by Guillaume Rouille (1518?-1589) – “Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum”

It is also Carmentalia, the festival for the Roman Goddess of prophecy and childbirth. She was a much loved Goddess in the Roman pantheon, but little is known about her, perhaps because she has no clear match in the Greek.

She has a long history in Roman history, being said to be the mother of…. Well this may surprise you, she was the mother of Evander. And Evander is the founder of Pallantium, which was a City on the site of Rome that predated Rome!

Who knew that? (the people at Vindolanda Roman Fort know, and they have a great page on Carmenta here. ) Carmenta had two sidekicks who were her sisters and attendants. Postvorta and Antevorta, They might be explained by Past and Future. (or, After and Before) as part of her role in prophecy. Or the two figures might represent babies that are either born head or legs first. She also commanded one of the fifteen flamen. These were priests of state-sponsored religions. One of their jobs was to ensure no one came to the temple wearing anything of leather because leather was created from death, and not suitable for the Goddess of Childbirth.

The Vindolanda post makes the point that 2% of births in the past are likely to have caused the death of the mother. Because there was a high child mortality the Roman Mother would have to have 5 children on average to keep the population stable. With a 2% death rate, and 5 children, they estimate that each mother had a 12% chance of death by giving birth. Good reason to have a Goddess on the Mum’s side. She is also the Goddess of Midwives.

She was originally known as Nicostrata, and was credited with creating the Latin Alphabet by adding additional letters to the Greek one. So, she is also the Goddess of Technological Innovation.

First published in Jan 2022, revised January 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *