Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ante Diem VIII Idus March

Modern Date : March 8th

Ante Diem VIII Idus March
Eighth Day to the Ides of March

This is one of the dies fasti on which legal actions are permitted.

This is the eighth day of the Festival of Mars. The daily spectacle of the priests of Mars leaping and dancing through the streets of Rome would continue this day.

Today is considered Mother Earth's birthday in China.

The month of March belongs to the warlike Mars, the deity who personifies the protection of the state and the productivity of the community.

The Greeks honored the Earth Mother on the 10th day of the lunar month, Elaphabolion. Gaia, known as Earth or Mother Earth (the Greek common noun for "land" is ge or ga). She was an early earth goddess and it is written that Gaia was born from Chaos, the great void of emptiness within the universe, and with her came Eros. She gave birth to Pontus (the Sea) and Uranus (the Sky). This was achieved parthenogenetically (without male intervention). Other versions say that Gaia had as siblings Tartarus (the lowest part of the earth, below Hades itself) and Eros, and without a mate, gave birth to Uranus (Sky), Ourea (Mountains) and Pontus (Sea).

Gaia took as her husband Uranus, who was also her son, and their offspring included the Titans, six sons and six daughters. She gave birth to the Cyclopes and to three monsters that became known as the "Hecatonchires". The spirits of punishment known as the Erinyes were also offspring of Gaia and Uranus. The Gigantes, finally, were conceived after Uranus had been castrated by his son Cronus, and his blood fell to earth from the open wound.

To protect her children from her husband, (the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires, as he was fearful of their great strength), Gaia hid them all within herself. One version says that Uranus was aghast at the sight of his offspring so he hid them away in Tartarus, which are the bowels of the earth. Gaia herself found her offspring uncomfortable and at times painful, when the discomfort became to much to bear she asked her youngest son Cronus to help her. She asked him to castrate Uranus, thus severing the union between the Earth and Sky, and also to prevent more monstrous offspring. To help Cronus achieve his goal Gaia produced an adamantine sickle to serve as the weapon. Cronus hid until Uranus came to lay with Gaia and as Uranus drew near, Cronus struck with the sickle, cutting the genitalia from Uranus. Blood fell from the severed genitals and came in contact with the earth and from that union was born the Erinyes (Furies), the Giants and the Meliae (Nymphs of the manna ash trees).

After the separation of the Earth from the Sky, Gaia gave birth to other offspring, these being fathered by Pontus. Their names were the sea-god Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto and Eurybia. In other versions Gaia had offspring to her brother Tartarus; they were Echidna and Typhon, the later being an enemy of Zeus. Apollo killed Typhon when he took control of the oracle at Delphi, which Gaia originally provided, and then the "Sibyl" sang the oracle in Gaia's shrine.

It was Gaia who saved Zeus from being swallowed by Cronus, after Zeus had been born, Gaia helped Rhea to wrap a stone in swaddling clothes, this was to trick Cronus in to thinking it was Zeus, because Cronus had been informed that one of his children would depose him, and so to get rid of his children he had swallowed them, Gaia's trick worked and Zeus was then taken to Crete.

Gaia being the primordial element from which all the gods originated was worshiped throughout Greece, but later she went into decline and was supplanted by other gods. In Roman mythology she was known as Tellus or Terra.

Forty Saints Eve
In Rumania before World War II, farm families asked the Forty Saints for good weather for the next 40 days by genuflecting 40 times before going to bed on the evening of March 8. The following day, barns were cleaned and farm tools organized. Clearly these are New Year customs.

On this Slavic holiday, people make minages, clay images of larks, smear their heads with honey and then apply tinsel. They carry around the minages singing vesnjnaki (invocations to the gods and goddesses of spring). Birds are thought to bring the Spring with them upon their return.

Children are given pastries in the shape of birds and they toss them into the air outside saying “the rooks have come.” The pastries ensure the return of the birds, who are seen as messengers of love and comfort and companionship.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Nonas March

Modern Date : March 7th

Nonas March
The Nones of March

This is one of the dies fasti on which legal actions are permitted. The rex sacrorum would appear on the steps of the Capitol on this day and announce to the people what days of the months would be holidays.

The Festival of Mars
This is the seventh day of the Festival of Mars. The daily spectacle of the priests of Mars leaping and dancing through the streets of Rome would continue this day.

This day is associated with Vediovis, an archaic deity to whom a temple was built by Romulus. Neither the temple, nor any adequate descriptions survive. Vediovis was a 'juvenile' version of Jove and a temple (the second of three) was dedicated to him on this day in 192 BC.

In 107 BCE, a purification of the city of Rome was conducted after an eagle-owl had entered the capitol buildingthis being an ill omen.

The emperor Antoninus died of an illness this day at Lorium in 161 AD and Marcus Aurelius became the new emperor.

The emperor Geta was born at Rome this day in 189 AD.

This was the traditional date on which Romulus established the inter duo lucos.

The month of March belongs to the warlike Mars, the deity who personifies the protection of the state and the productivity of the community. Mars was known to the Greeks as Ares, the god of war.

St. Thomas Aquinas
The feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (born 1226), the celebrated Angelic Doctor whose Summa Theologiae is the ultimate product of scholastic philosophy, and its effort to construct an intellectual foundation for the Roman Catholic faith.

Thomas Aquinas lived at a critical juncture of western culture when the arrival of the Aristotelian corpus in Latin translation reopened the question of the relation between faith and reason, calling into question the modus vivendi that had obtained for centuries. This crisis flared up just as universities were being founded.

Thomas, after early studies at Montecassino, moved on to the University of Naples, where he met members of the new Dominican Order. It was at Naples too that Thomas had his first extended contact with the new learning. When he joined the Dominican Order he went north to study with Albertus Magnus, author of a paraphrase of the Aristotelian corpus. Thomas completed his studies at the University of Paris, which had been formed out of the monastic schools on the Left Bank and the cathedral school at Notre Dame. In two stints as a regent master Thomas defended the mendicant orders and, of greater historical importance, countered both the Averroistic interpretations of Aristotle and the Franciscan tendency to reject Greek philosophy.

The result was a new modus vivendi between faith and philosophy which survived until the rise of the new physics. Thomas's theological writings became regulative of the Catholic Church and his close textual commentaries on Aristotle represent a cultural resource which is now receiving increased recognition.

Espousals of Our Lady
The date Mary was espoused to Joseph, as decreed by Paul II on 1537.

Pridie Nonas March

Modern Date : March 6th

Pridie Nonas March
Day Before the Nones of March

This is one of the dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.

The Festival of Mars
This is the sixth day of the Festival of Mars. The brotherhood of Roman warriors, the Salii, dance in honor of Mars in ancient Roman warrior garb. Leaping about, they rhythmically beat their figure-eight shields (ancilia) while holding spears.

Household gods in Rome are honored today as well. The Manes and Lares are honored at the Compitalia.

The title of Pontifex Maximus was conferred on Augustus in 12 BCE on this day.

The month of March belongs to the warlike Mars, the deity who personifies the protection of the state and the productivity of the community.

In the ancient Greek calendar, these days leading up to the Pisces New Moon are celebrated as the Anthesteria, honoring Dionysus as Plouton, Lord of the Dead. On these days, when the Sun has just entered Pisces and has begun the month of preparation for the New Earth Year on March 21, the virtuous dead may visit from Elysium to witness and sanctify the rite of the New Wine, when the first libations are poured in the god's honor, thus marking the passing away of the old vine and the fruition of the new.

Clean Monday
In Greece, the first Monday of Lent is called Clean Monday. Athenians spend the day outside, flying kites and picnicking, much like the Persian holiday of Thirteenth Outside.

The first meal of Lent consists of fish salads like taramosalata, a special kind of flat bread studded with sesame seeds and served only on this day of the year, and lots of wine.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ante Diem III Nonas March

Modern Date : March 5th

Ante Diem III Nonas March
Third Day to the Nones of March

This is one of the a dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.

The Festival of Mars
This is the fifth day of the Festival of Mars. The daily spectacle of the priests of Mars carrying shields while leaping and dancing through the streets of Rome would continue this day.

The month of March belongs to the warlike Mars, the deity who personifies the protection of the state and the productivity of the community.

Venus enters Aquarius
On this day Venus enters Aquarius, where she'll remain until April 6, when she enters Pisces. She enjoys all the talk and gossip that flow in the air sign of Aquarius -- but she prefers Pisces, where she is exalted in the water element of her deepest feeling.

Stella Maris/Isidis Navigium
The Romans celebrated the goddess Isis as the patroness of sailors and inventor of the sail. Apuleius has her say, “Devote to my worship the day born of this night…for at this season, the storms of winter lose their force, the leaping waves subside and the sea becomes navigable once more.

One of the main annual festivals of Isis in the Egyptian calendar, honoring Queen Isis as the Ocean Star or Stella Maris, as Mary would later be called in Latin, the guide and protector of navigators. As the Egyptians identify Isis with the great star Sirius, she is a main beacon point in the sky for Egyptian sailors. And as her heliacal rising - that is, the moment each year when Sirius can first be seen rising in the east just before the rising of the Sun - always fell each year on July 26, the day that heralded the annual Nile flood, Isis in her star role embodies the boundless and eternal loam and fecundity of the river. On the evening of this festival, there are ceremonies and songs on boats that blaze with lamps and colors. This day is also an important time marker. It is now 140 days, or 14 decans (10-day "weeks") until a new flow of red water should begin the next Nile flood on July 26.

When winter storms lose their force, a ship is dedicated to Isis as a new season of sailing begins. This is the ancient Egyptian festival of Isidis Navigium (the ship of Isis) or the Ploiaphesia which honored Isis' invention of the sail and her patronage of sailing-craft and navigation.

As part of the festivities, a parade was performed in honor of Isis. Following in a procession of mummers, the priests carry emblems of Isis. The Chief Priest carries a lamp, a golden boat-shaped light with a tall tongue of flame from a hole in the center. The second priest holds an auxiliaria (ritual pot) in each of his hands, and the third carries a miniature palm-tree. The fourth priest carries a model of the left hand with the fingers stretched out, the emblem of justice as well as a golden vessel in the shape of a woman's breast. From the nipple falls a thin stream of milk. The fifth cleric carries a winnowing-fan woven with golden rods, not osiers. The final man, not a priest, carries a wine-jar.

Next in the procession comes Anubis with a face black on one side and golden on the other and a man carrying a statue of a cow, representing the Goddess as the fruitful Mother of us all. After them walks a priest with a box containing the secret implements of Isis’ cult, and another priest carries a secret vessel in his robes.

It is a small container of burnished gold with thickly crowded Egyptian hieroglyphics and a rounded bottom, a long spout, and a generously curving handle. Along the handle is an asp raising its head and displaying its throat.

Waiting at the seashore is a beautifully built ship covered with Egyptian hieroglyphics. The sail is fashioned of white linen inscribed with large letters with a prayer for the Goddess's protection of the shipping lanes during the new sailing season, and the long mast is made of fir. The prow is shaped like the neck of Isis's holy goose, and the long keel is cut from a solid trunk of citrus-wood.

The ship is purified with a lighted torch, an egg, and sulphur, and then hallowed and dedicated to the Goddess. All present place winnowing-fans heaped with aromatics and other votive offerings on board while pouring milk into the sea as a libation. When the ship is loaded with gifts and prayers for good fortune, the anchor cables are cut, setting the ship free.

In Luxembourg, on the first Sunday of Lent, fires are lit on the hills at dusk, thus the name, burning of the Burg (derived from the Latin comburere,"to burn"). According to one source, the burning of the Lenten fire symbolized the triumph of the sun over winter, while the Easter fire represented the rebirth of nature, the St John's fire heralded the summer solstice and the St. Martin's fire stood for the fading away of autumn (thus we see Christian dates assigned to the fires of the Celtic quarter days).

In earlier times, the burning of the fires was a time of both exuberant celebration and prayers for the successful growth of the harvest. Now it's a time when young boys go from house to house, begging for straw and wood and sticks, which they take to the top of a nearby hill. A big pole with a wooden cross is wrapped in straw, stuck into the earth and the combustibles heaped around it. Sometimes a wheel is put on top of the pole and covered with rags soaked in oil, thus creating a Catherine wheel effect when lit. The most recently married man lights the fire. This was also the last day for drinking alcohol during Lent.

On the first two Sundays in March, the Japanese celebrate the Izanami, the mother goddess of Japan. Her temple at the Oagata-jinja shrine near Inuyama in central Honshu features large cleft rocks, huge clamshells and other sacred items that resemble female genitalia. At her festival, worshippers carry these items through the streets in procession.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ante Diem IV Nonas March

Modern Date : March 4th

Ante Diem IV Nonas March
Fourth Day to the Nones of March

This is one of the a dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.

The Festival of Mars
This is the fourth day of the Festival of Mars. The daily spectacle of the priests of Mars leaping and dancing through the streets of Rome would continue this day.

In 1968, the Church of All Worlds (CAW) formed in Missouri to become the first Wiccan Church to do so in the US.

The month of March belongs to the warlike Mars, the deity who personifies the protection of the state and the productivity of the community.

In Greece, this day was celebrated as the Anthesteria. The three day Greek festival of Anthesteria honors departed souls or keres. It is a festival dedicated to Flora, Hecate, and Dionysus with the intent to "feed" the dead in the hope that the ancestors might bring good fortune to the living and not cause any mischief around living family members.

The festival begins with flowers, phallic processions, and the opening of the newly fermented bottles of wine. The living ritually purify themselves by bathing and making sacrifice to Dionysus. They slaughter calves and share the meat with the god, incinerating some of the meat that it might float up into the air (the custom for sacrificing to all Olympian gods), and eating the rest of it as a shared feast.

The major ritual of the festival is the Choe, libations poured for the dead. The living drink wine and eat with the dead, believing that Dionysic revelry is not limited to the living, but that in his Chthonic aspect as the “Lord of Souls,” that he grants ecstatic experiences to the dead. It is of importannce that the wine and food for the dead and the wine and food for the living never mix. For the food reserved for the dead is just that, not fit for the living. On the last day, visiting spirits are dismissed back to the underworld.

Feast of Ra
In the Egyptian calendar, the feast of Ra, Neter of the Sun, is held at Heliopolis' "City of the Sun", the original center of Ra worship. This festival honors in particular the life-giving properties of the Sun, and his role in marking the order of time (Month of Parmuti, day 19).

St. Casimir
In the Roman Catholic calendar, this is the feast of St. Casimir (born 1458), king of Poland. Given a choice between certain death from the austerities in which he sought mortification of the flesh, or a cure by food and marriage, Casimir chose a bony death at 25. His relics have long been especially efficacious; and when his tomb was opened in 1595, his body was incorrupt, and emitted the sweet odor of sanctity.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ante Diem V Nonas March

Modern Date : March 3rd

Ante Diem V Nonas March
Fifth day to the Nones of March

This is one of the a dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.

Festival of Mars
This is the third day of the Festival of Mars. The daily spectacle of the priests of Mars leaping and dancing through the streets of Rome would continue this day.

The month of March belongs to the warlike Mars, the deity who personifies the protection of the state and the productivity of the community. In this context Mars represents the terrestial origin of life and the rhythm of the ensuing year. This day was considered to be Mars' birthday. Mars was known to the Greeks as Ares, the god of war. The war god was wild and ungovernable, a god who glorified in strife for its own sake and revelled in slaughter. He was thought to gloat over the death and destruction he caused. He was typically accompanied by his two sons Deimos (Fear or Terror) and Phobos (Dismay or Flight from Fear). The Romans held a milder, more honorable view of Mars, honoring him as the son of Zeus and the father of Romulus.

The month of March belongs to the warlike Mars, the deity who personifies the protection of the state and the productivity of the community.

Aegir/St. Winnal
Aegir, the Norse sea god is honored today. He and his Christian counterpart, St. Winnal, control the sea's tide and weather. This day is associated with storms.

Aegir is the god of the sea in Norse mythology. He was both worshipped and feared by sailors, for they believed that Aegir would occasionally appear on the surface to take ships, men and cargo alike, with him to his hall at the bottom of the ocean. Sacrifices were made to appease him, particularly prisoners before setting sail.

His wife is the sea goddess Ran with whom he has nine daughters (the billow maidens), who wore white robes and veils. His two faithful servants are Eldir and Fimafeng. The latter was killed by the treacherous god Loki during a banquet the gods held at Aegir's undersea hall near the island of Hler (or Hlesey). Aegir was known for the lavish entertainment he gave to the other gods.

St Winnal is the Christian version of Aegir, a Teutonic god of the sea. When it’s stormy on this day, the month will grow milder. Cf the old saying When March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.

First comes David,
Next comes Chad,
Then comes Winnal,
Roaring mad.

If it’s not stormy and windy the first three days in March, it’s saving itself for the three borrowing days at the month’s end. The winds of March were considered to dry out the fields and make the soil right for seeding.

Winwaloc(Winnal): Abbot-founder, also called Wonnow, Wynwallow, and Gwenno. Born at Ploufragen, in Brittany, France, he was of Anglo-Saxon descent. At the age of fifteen he entered the monastery on Lauren Island under Abbot Budoc. Several years later he and eleven monks founded Landevenne Monastery near Brest, in Brittany on land donated by Prince Gallo. Winwabe died there. As there are several churches in Cornwall, England, dedicated to him, it is possible that he had some connection with that region or that some of his relics were translated there in later years.

The Japanese Doll festival, O-Hinamatsuri, is celebrated with paper dolls designed to either draw off illness and evil spirits or to act as representatives of the good attributes people want to draw to themselves. The Girls Festival, Jomi No Sekku or Munakata-no-kami, also occurs today. Most Shinto temples actively participate in the Hina-matsuri, Momo-no-sekku, or Jomi-no-sekku.

There are mainly three kinds of dolls: the hina, the tachibina (a paper doll and probably the oldest) and also wooden dolls. Every town is decked with dolls, and every doll-shop in Tokyo, Kyoto, and other large cities is gaily decked with O Hina Sama, the whole Japanese Court in miniature. Many hina dolls are family heirlooms, handed down from mothers to daughters for generations. The regular set (Dairi-hina) consists of fifteen dolls: the lord and lady (Dairi-sama), three ladies-in-waiting (Konjo), five musicians, two retainers and three guards. Many modern hina now represent actors, actresses, baseball players, etc.

Placed beneath the main dolls are various tiny household utensils and furniture, including trays with food bowls, mirrors, musical instruments, boxes, smoking units and many other things. The dolls are offered mochi (rice cakes) dyed in three colors - red, green and white, as well as shirazake, a sweet mild rice wine. New furniture is often added annually. Traditionally, this festival is said to commemorate the birth of the three Muna Katano-Kami, the three daughters of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. It is also a favorite day for marriages.

This day is also known as Momo-no-Sekku or Peach Blossom Festival. Originally celebrated on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month, it more closely coincided with the blooming of the peach blossoms.

Lesser Mysteries of Rhiannon
Rhyfeddod Lleiaf o Rhiannon, the Lesser Mysteries of Rhiannon, begins at sundown and continues till dawn of March 6th. Rhiannon is the Welsh ancestor goddess of the moon and horses. The horse is a shamanic animal symbolic of movement between worlds. Rhiannon is similar to Epona and Mare, two other goddesses of horses. Mare brings dreams and Epona has the power of transformation at her disposal.

An old Irish custom has it that if fires are lit just before dawn at each corner of a perfect crossroad (according to the cardinal points) before sitting down at the side, you may be able to spy Epona fleeing from the coming sunrise.

Tibetan Great Prayer Festival
In the Tibetan Buddhist calendar, these are the 4th through the 15th days of Monlam, the Great Prayer Festival, culminating at the Full Moon following Losar, the lunar New Year. Over these solemn 12 days, the bright, raucous fun of Losar is followed by New Year ceremonies held in the monasteries. Monlam rites are prohibited in Lhasa, and vistors to the unofficial Travel Tibet website maintained by Tibetans will see a moving box with Chinese red letters warning China's citizens of the penalties for visiting Tibetan blogs.

In some other Buddhist countries of Asia, this two-week period is called Bumjudawa, or "Buddha's 15-day Miracle Time", when the karmic effects of beneficent actions are said to be multiplied 100,000 times.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ante Diem VI Nonas March

Modern Date : March 2nd

Ante Diem VI Nonas March
Sixth Day to the Nones of March

This is one of the a dies fasti on which legal actions are permitted.

The Festival of Mars
This is the second day of the Festival of Mars. The daily spectacle of the priests of Mars carrying shields, leaping and dancing through the streets of Rome would continue this day.

Mars was known to the Greeks as Ares, the god of war. Ares was often accompanied in his bloody campaigns by Enyo, the murderess goddess of war who was known as Bellona by the Romans. Ares paid no attention to which cause was right or wrong and was concerned only with where he could cause maximum carnage. The Romans held a milder, more honorable view of Mars, honoring him as the son of Zeus and the father of Romulus.

The month of March belongs to the warlike Mars, the deity who personifies the protection of the state and the productivity of the community.

Mercury Retrograde
Mercury "goes retrograde" in Pisces, until March 25. For the most mercurial people, not just Gemini and Virgo natives, but anyone with Mercury promimently positioned or related to other planets - this can be the most trying, maddening, fury-flavored Mercury retrograde time of them all. Mercury is said to be "in detriment," or "in fall" in Pisces - or even both. One way to get the picture is to imagine that all the usual troubles with commerce, communication and transportation that come during Mercury retrograde are happening, only now they're either in a chilly fog or downright underwater, and the people you ask for directions to some warm, cheery place are either on drugs or deceiving you for the sheer perverse fun of it. Mercury retrograde in Pisces: there is, thanks be to whatever one worships, nothing quite like it.

This day is sacred to Ceadda, god of healing springs and holy wells. He is also known as Saint Chad of Lichfield. His symbol is the Crann Bethadh, the tree of life.

Born in Northumbria, Chad became an abbot in Yorkshire, founded a monastery in Lincolnshire, and a bishop of the Mercians at Lichfield. His name is associated with wells and springs that heal. He is also noted for his love of walking. St Theodore of Canterbury insisted he ride a horse because walking was beneath him.

He is often associated with St David in agricultural rhymes:

Sow beans and peas on David and Chad
Be the weather good or bad.

By Valentine’s Day
Every good hen, duck or goose should lay
By David and Chad
Every hen, duck or goose should lay, good or bad

Kalendas March

Modern Date : March 1st Market Day

Kalendas March
The Kalends of March

This day (NP), is for special religious observance.

The Matronalia
March 1st is the Roman New Year's Day the beginning of Spring as well as the new sacral year. This day was known as the Matronalia because Juno is the presiding deity of both the first day of the year, and the year as a whole. Juno, the matron, or wife, of Jupiter, is the mother of Mars. Juno, also called Saturnia and known as Hera by the Greeks, was the daughter of Cronus (Saturn) and regarded as a paragon of motherly virtues. She was the divinity of sacred marriage and childbirth. Presents were given to women on this day.

On this day the priests of Mars, the sacrarium Martis, would carry shields, leaping and dancing through the streets of Rome. This spectacle would continue through March 24th.

The Kalends of March were the last day of what came to be called Carnival, the period of celebration from the Terminalia to this symbolic first day of Spring. Mardi Gras continues to be celebrated, as the last great Roman holiday, but now ends on Fat Tuesday rather than specifically on March 1st.

March, named for Mars, was the first month of the Greek and Roman calendar. Mars is god of war but also of fertile soil, equivalent to the Greek Ares and Tiu or Tiwazn an old sky god of Europe. He is also equated with the Celtic Teutates and the Norse Tyr. Mars' original name was Mavors. After Jupiter, he is the chief Roman god, often called Marspater, "Father Mars." He has three aspects, the martial god Gradivus, the rustic god Silvanus, and the patron of the Roman state Quirinus. The wolf and the woodpecker are his sacred animals.

March was called Mi an Mháárta or am Mart in Ireland, the seed time, and Hrethmonath, "Hertha's month," by the Anglo-Saxons, honoring the earth mother Hertha or Nerthus. The Frankish name for March was Lentzinmanoth, "renewal month." The Asatru call it Lenting.

The first Full Moon of this month is called the Worm or Sap Moon. More northerly tribes referred to this as the Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. It shares the names Storm Moon with February and Moon of Winds with April. It may also be referred to as the Moon of the Snowbird, Sap Moon, and Lenting Moon.

The Order of the Golden Dawn was founded on March 1, 1888

Pisces and Aries hold power over March, the Zodiac turning to Aries around March 21st. The flower for those born in March is the daffodil and smaller jonquil. Bloodstone or jasper, or sometimes aquamarine, are the jewels for the month of March. Pisces birthstone is the amethyst, while diamond is the stone for Aries. Albite, amethyst, chrysoprase, fluorite, green tourmaline, labradorite, moonstone, and opal are other stones for Pisces, and Aries also lays claim to amethyst, carnelian, garnet, fire agate, pink tourmaline, and topaz.

Ash Wednesday
For Roman Catholics, this is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the season of austerity leading to the celebration of Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter. On this day the celebrant of the rite marks crosses of black ash on the third eye chakras of the faithful to remind them of the vanity of all worldly pleasures, and ask them to turn inward to cleanse the soul of all impurities in the weeks before the solemn rites of sacrifice and redemption are enacted. Ash Wednesday is yet another Christian adaptation of an earlier festival: the Adonia, a time of mourning for the Syrian demigod Tammuz, whose rites were observed at this time all over the eastern Mediterranean, especially at Byblos and the other major cities of Syria.

Lent comes from a word lenctene meaning to lengthen, as the days lengthen and spring begins. For many centuries this has been a time of purification and atonement, aligning with the energy of change and growth in preparation for the celebration and joy of Easter Sunday.

The Russian goddess named Mokos was said to wander during Lent, visiting houses, disguised as an old woman, worrying wool-spinners, guarding and fleecing the sheep herself. At night, strands of fleece were laid beside stoves as offerings to her.

St David’s Day
St David was an abbot and a bishop of the sixth century who established a monastery at Pembrokeshire in Wales, and is considered the patron saint of Wales.

March, various, fierce, and wild, with wind-crack’d cheeks
By wilder Welchman led, and crown’d with leeks!

— Churchill, “Gotham” iii 101

To show your Welsh allegiance, wear a daffodil. To become a honorary Welshman, eat a leek. Some say eating a leek celebrates a Welsh victory in the 6th century, where the Welsh, advised by St. David, wore leeks in their caps to distinguish themselves in battle from the Saxons. Others say it is the plant of Wales because it is green and white, the colors of the Welsh flag. There's also a tradition that eating leeks in March is good medicine.

Eat leeks in March and ramsons [wild garlic] in May
And all the year after the physicians may play

Upon St David’s Day
Put oats and barley in the clay

Folk custom says that sowing sweet peas between the feasts of St. David and St. Chad will produce larger and more fragrant flowers (also Mar 17 and Mar 21 when the same conditions apply).

The Sharp Days
This was considered the first day of the year in Venice and in Russia until the fourteenth century. It was also the first day of the Ottoman financial year.

The Greeks say that good weather begins on March 1st. Supposedly, a thread left out overnight on a rosebush, then tied around the wrist or big toe will protect the wearer and is worn until Easter Day. St John Chrysostom complained of this custom (March 22) and that of tying bells on children to protect them.

In the Dodecanese and elsewhere, children go around with the effigy of a swallow singing a song in honor of the bird and the fine weather it brings and asking for food offerings. This custom derives from ancient Rhodes.

The first three days of March are called Sharp Days: One should not wash clothes (for they will wear out), chop wood (or it will rot) or bathe (for one's hair will fall out).

Baba Marta’s Day
Before the first day of March in Bulgaria, people give each other martenitsas (or martenkas), red and white wool tassels, sometimes with a gold or silver coin attached. On the first day of March, the martenitzas are tied around wrists, trees, house doors, cars, young animals. People greet each other by saying Chestita baba Marta, which means “Happy Grandmother March.” She is considered to be as moody as the weather is changeable during the month of March.

You are supposed to wear the martenitsa until you see the first stork returning from the south, thus signaling the beginning of spring. The red and white colors come from blood and snow in an old story where a stork protects a child whose parents are away. It is said the red color protects you from disease and the white color helps you live longer. This sounds like a protection charm during the dangerous transition between winter and spring, similar to the way Brigid’s crosses are used in the northern Celtic countries. The red color shows up frequently in March, Spring Eve (March 21) and the red and white pastries of Hina Matsuri (March 3) and the name of Red Wednesday.

Dragon Raises Head
On the second day of the second lunar month, the Chinese eat dragon-scale cakes and dragon-whisker noodles. No one does needlework as needles might injure the dragon's eyes. Earlier this day was called Mid(spring) Harmony.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pridie Kalendas March

Modern Date : February 28th

Pridie Kalendas March
Day Before the Kalends of March

This is one of the dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.

Roman New Year's Eve
Being at the end of the original Roman year, and preceding New Year's Day on March 1st, made this day especially representative of rebirth, renewal and full of the promise of the coming Spring. This evening would be the Roman equivalent of New Year's Eve.

In the ancient Far East, this was held to be the day of conception of Buddha.

February is a month sacred to the gods Mars (as Quirinus, or Romulus) and Juno, the wife of Jupiter. Juno (Hera, was the mother of Mars. Mars was known to the Greeks as Ares, the god of war.

Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
This year the New Moon coincides with Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, the licentious and ecstatic all-nighter that culminates Carneval week (2/22 - 28), just before Ash Wednesday.

In some parts of the world Carnival begins on November 11th. In other places it starts the week before Ash Wednesday. For the members of the Samba schools of Rio de Janeiro and the Crewes of New Orleans, the planning begins as soon as this year's Carnival has finished.

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the final day of the celebration. The whole time of Carnival is a time of riotous activity, when there are no holds barred on behavior. Masked balls gave people an opportunity to disguise themselves and act out fantasies. The name Carnival derives from carne vale, "good-bye to meat," as devout Catholics abstained from eating any rich foods during the six weeks of Lent.

Shrove Tuesday is usually marked by the consumption of rich, fatty foods and especially meats. Each part of France has its own special dish: pigs’ trotters in Champagne, pigs’ ears in Ardeche, a leg of goat in Touraine. It's also customary to serve various rich, deep-fried pastries and cakes including pancakes, fritters, waffles, eclairs, doughnuts and cream puffs. In Venice, the pastry of the day is galani, egg dough fritters, made with white wine, eaten cold and powdered with sugar. In Russia, the special food of the day is the blini, which is served with butter, caviar, sour cream and other rich toppings.

Carol Field(Celebrating Italy) describes a variety of Carnival celebrations in Italy. One of the wildest is celebrated in Ivrea which imports a trainload of blood oranges from Sicily for wild battles in the Piazza which leave the combatants bruised and dripping, while the gutters run with the red juice. In previous centuries, the items thrown included confetti (sugared almonds), candles, beans, caramels and coriander seeds rolled in plaster or flour and left to dry. Some of these make sense—the beans, for instance, recall the Roman feast of Parentalia when black beans were thrown to propitiate the ancestors—while the candles evoke the candles of Candlemas. Nowadays shaving cream is sprayed everywhere leaving everyone and everything covered in white foam.

Masked balls are part of Carnival celebrations in many places, but particularly in Venice and Germany. Pam Mandel(Attack of the Jelly Donut), in her amusing chronicles of a winter spent in Austria, describes a sort of fancy debutante ball but in earlier times, the anonymity of masks and costumes allowed people to engage in licentious behavior that would normally be censured. Fasching is the name used in Germany and Austria for the masked figures, both grotesque and beautiful, that roam the street in search of food. Storace writes that in Greece, carnival provides an opportunity for free speech and uncensored social commentary. Costumes are used in this way, for instance to mock the pretensions of authorities. They also provide an opportunity for transvestism, not just sexual, but social, an opportunity to reveal what is normally hidden.

Celebrations of Carnival reached their height in Italy in the middle ages, especially in Venice. In 1214, in Venice, Carnival was celebrated with a sort of mock battle in which 12 noble ladies held a fortress which was attacked by assailants throwing flowers, perfumes and spices. Goethe attending a carnival celebration in Rome in 1787 wrote a beautiful passage about the effects of the candlelight processions of Shrove Tuesday which Carol Field quotes in her book on celebrations in Italy:

The darkness has descended into the narrow, high-walled street before lights are seen moving in the windows and on the stands; in next to no time the fire has circulated far and wide, and the whole street is lit up by burning candles.

The balconies are decorated with transparent paper lanterns, everyone holds his candle, all the windows, all the stands are illuminated, and it is a pleasure to look into the interiors of the carriages, which often have small crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, while in others the ladies sit with coloured candles in their hands as if inviting one to admire their beauty.

Sia ammazzato chi non porta moccolo. 'Death to anyone who is not carrying a candle.' This is what you say to others, while at the same time you try to blow out their candles….

Orloff's(Carnival: Myth & Cult) description of Carnival customs still observed in Telfs in the Tyrolean Alps gives us a glimpse of some of the ancient aspects of this festival. At dawn, a baker, an innkeeper, a chimney sweep, and a peasant carry a golden sun on a pole through the village, begging the sun to shine down on the carnival. Later the Wilden appear, men and boys in grotesque masks and costumes of moss, representing winter. They roam the streets, drunk and riotous, attacking anyone who crosses them. There is a simulated bear hunt, then another procession headed by a lantern bearer whose role is to search for carnival in the darkness of winter. He makes room for the Schleicher, the spirits of spring. Each wears a fantastic hat, a mask showing the face of a young person and a giant bell. Each carries in his right hand a stick stacked with pretzels (symbols of the sun) and in his left a linen handkerchief. The Schleicher do a magic circle dance, with slow, deliberate steps, their bells awaken the slumbering earth. This is followed by a mock tribunal (making fun of local politics and gossip) and the squirting of the crowd with water from the mouth of the carnival baby.

In Finland, Shrove Tuesday or Laskiainen is a time for outdoor parties. Everybody lends a hand to build a toboggan slide, and children as well as adults take part in the fun. Lanterns and candles are hung in surrounding trees and afterwards everybody comes back into the house for pea soup and almond-filled Lenten buns for dessert.

Bulgarian carnival celebrations feature masked dancers known as koukeri or startsi (which means old man). They dance at dawn in groups of seven or nine and perform comic scenes from every day life. They are often accompanied by other characters such as a bride, a king or an Arab. In parts of eastern Thrace they dress in women's clothing; in the Strandza mountains they dance on stilts. In some places they dance around a mast topped with a basket of straw which is ignited on the first day of Lent.

Like Groundhog’s Day, Shrove Tuesday is day for weather prognostication for the Pennyslvania Dutch who predict the height of the flax by the length of the icicles on Shrove Tuesday.

Kalevala Day
Finns celebrate the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, and its first compiler, Elias Lonnrot. This epic which combines mythology and hero tales influenced many writers including Tolkien in his writing of The Lord of the Rings (his Elvish resembles Finnish).

Out with the Shvod
Armenians roust the house guardians out of their lazy beds and into the fields for growing season duties on this day by banging on the walls with sticks and saying, "Out with the Shvod and in with the March."

St Radegund of the Oats
A saintly sixth-century queen (she married Clotaire, King of the Merovingians, but fled from him after he murdered her brother), her worship replaced that of the earlier grain goddess. The legend goes that while she was fleeing from her husband, she passed a farmer sowing oats and asked him to tell anyone that followed that he had not seen a woman pass since he sowed the oats. In the next few hours, the oats grew so tall that Radegund could hide herself among them and when the farmer delivered his message to the King, he called off the search. (A similar story is told about St Mildburga (Feb 23), St Walburga (Feb 25) and the Virgin Mary.)

People brought oats as offerings to her on her feast day which was celebrated earlier in England, on February 11. St Radegund's other feast day is August 13, which further confirms her connection with a grain goddess, as this is the date of a great goddess festival, when Artemis, Hecate and later the Virgin Mary were asked to protect the grain as it stood in the fields awaiting harvest.