Rumina, the Roman goddess of breastfeeding, protected all nursing infants–whether they were animal or human. In addition to nursing women, she is particularly noted to have watched over dairy cows with her consort Rumino. The name “Rumina” means “the nourisher,” and offerings to her were never wine, but rather milk. Rumis or Ruma is latin for breast, and the Ficus ruminalis is the latin name for fig tree–which plays into her mythology.
Rumina was also know by the name Diva Rumina, because—obviously! She was the original Diva who protected all suckling babes! Sadly though, because she was one of the minor goddesses, any elaborate mythology that pertained to her veneration is unknown to us now. As Romans assimilated more Greek gods into their own pantheon, the minor local gods and goddesses often lost ground, leaving in the history books less details as to their specific ritual or religious significance.
Rumina did have a sacred temple: it was near the Ficus Ruminalis – a wild fig tree that had religious and mythological significance in ancient Rome. The tree grew at the foot of the Palatine Hill, very near the river Tiber. Fig trees are associated with fertility, male and female, because the sap is milky coloured and is said to represent both mother’s milk and semen. Fig fruit also contains a lot of seeds, thousands per individual piece: another connection to fertility. The fig tree’s location in ancient Rome was very near to where Romulus and Remus, Rome’s legendary founders, were suckled and raised by a she-wolf after their abandoned cradle washed ashore.
Rumina had two sisters, Cuba and Cunina, who watched over little children in their beds (Cuba) or infants in their cradles (Cunina). The three are associated with Educa and Potina who bless the food and drink of children, as well as Juno – the roman mother-goddess who took after the Greek Hera, and was prayed to for success in childbirth, the health of children, as well as the strength of the family – as expressed in the union of marriage.
We honour Rumina in order to connect moms of today with moms of old, naming our lactation boosting tea after her: Rumina’s Milk Tea. Rumina’s Milk Tea is crafted from seeds rich in phyto-oestrogens to balance and optimize female hormone levels and increase milk supply for mamas who are struggling with supply issues: Anise, Fennel, Fenugreek and Caraway encourage milk production, warm the digestive system, and may help prevent colic in the breastfed baby, while Lemon Verbena Leaf provides a light, lemony note to balance the stronger aromatic flavours of the other ingredients.