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A divine spirit of some sort. It comes from the Latin word numen, numinis,n. which has the same definition.

The early Romans practiced numinism, which is basically just a form of animism in which every object, as well as every abstraction, has a numen. There were numina of the door, the hinge, of cattle-breeding, of the planted seed, the growing seed, et cetera. There was even Limus, the numen of the sidelong glance.

It is important to point out that numina were not gods, but merely divine spirits. They had no personality or mythology, but were merely presences that could harm those who offended them. The early Romans would appease these numina by making sacrifices to them to bring good luck or to offset some offense they were about to perform. However, the sacrifice had to be of high quality; if the innards of a pig were deformed, for example, it would be a sign that the numen thought it was an unworthy sacrifice.

Due to the awfully anal and meticulous nature of the numina, the rituals had to be performed exactly right or they would consider them null and void. Since simply an unexpected sound could ruin a ritual, worshippers enjoined in silence with the words favete linguis. The celebrants would cover their heads with a fold of the toga to ensure any exterior noises would be unnoticed. The ritual methods were so precise that prayers, hymns, and practices that had been trasmitted orally from generation to generation, mangled by centuries of cultural change, were still practiced to the letter, even though they were incomprehensible to most Romans. Any alteration, it was said, might offend the numina.

After the development of more sophisticated deities, in particular the Dei Consentes, numina were still considered an important part of state and private religion.

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