As all the world knows, today is the natalis Inuicti or ‘birthday of the Unvanquished’. Inuictus is an epithet bestowed on many deities—certainly Mithras and Hercules, but also (inuicta) Isis and others besides—but it is most often associated with Sol. Given that it’s so dark this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, the theme of solar rebirth is obviously relevant and on everybody’s minds, so on balance I do agree with the consensus that the notation natalis Inuicti in the Cosmography of 354 refers to Sol Invictus.
And there was much rejoicing.
I basically followed my usual ritual format for ante diem VIII Kalendas today, with a few embellishments: (1) lighting seven candles for the seven planets, with one large central pillar candle to represent Sol and celebrate his rebirth; (2) offering frankincense to Sol Invictus; (3) reading the Homeric Hymn to Helios before, and the Orphic Hymn after, this offering (in English translation); (4) adding, in addition to the usual imprecation that the god look favourably on me, my household and my family, a plea for justice and peace in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria, and everywhere else that the Sun’s rays fall. (Sorry Antarctica, you’ll have to wait a few weeks!)
One of the sun god’s key mythological functions is to act as ‘eye’ of the gods, witnessing mortals’ acts of injustice and calling them to account. I thought that under the circumstances it might be best not just to pray for peace, but for victory to the just, and comfort and restitution for the suffering. After all, Pax, Victoria and Justitia are not strangers to each other, but goddesses whose work is closely intertwined.