Friday, August 26, 2005

Ante Diem VII Kalendas September

Modern Date : August 26th

Ante Diem VII Kalendas September
Seventh Day to the Kalends of September

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

On this day in 55 BCE, Julius Caesar invaded and conquered Britain. He was not the first Latin on the island -- a colonizer with the eponymous name Brutus had landed there centuries earlier, according to legend.

August was originally called Sextilis, or the sixth month (after March). It was renamed in honor of Augustus Caesar, the most revered of the Roman emperors.

Nativity of Seth
In Egypt, this day was the Nativity of Seth. Seth was son of the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, and the brother of Isis. He was the god of chaos.

In Egyptian tradition, the god Seth or Set "stands for the forces of chaos and destruction, or energy misplaced. He was the manifestation of Apep or Typhon, opposers of the power of light."
- Murray Hope, Practical Egyptian Magic

"In the Pharaonic religion Seth was the great enemy of the other principal gods; of Osiris, of Isis and of Horus. In this character he was ritually cursed in the great myths and in ceremonies held in the great temples. However, he also had his own cult, in some places officially: some of the Pharaohs - The Sethi - even claimed him as the patron god of their dynasty. We can read, in Plutarch's treatise on Isis and Osiris, an exegesis of the mythical relations between Seth and Osiris, derived from sources which seem to have been quite authentically Egyptian, in which we find what is almost a Gnostic dualism. In the magic of the later period Seth is identified with the monstrous Greek genie Typhon, son of Tartarus, who has a serpent's body. He is supposed to have an ass's head, a feature which recalls the elongated snout and long ears of some African animal, with which Seth is sometimes represented in Pharaonic iconography. More often he seems to be identified with a sort of headless demon whose eyes are placed in his shoulders, the Akephalos."
- Jean Doresse, The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics

"...Seth-Typhon is the principle of all which burns, consumes. He has red hair, for example, for he represents the desert rocks, arid and sterile."
- Lucy Lamie, Egyptian Mysteries

"The original Priesthood of Set in ancient Egypt survived for twenty-five recorded dynasties (ca. 3200-700 BCE). It was one of the two central priesthoods in predynastic times, the other being that of HarWer ('Horus the Elder'). Unification of Egypt under both philosophical systems resulted in the nation's being known as the 'Two Kingdoms' and in its Pharaohs wearing the famous 'Double Crown' of Horus and Set.

"Originally a circumpolar/stellar deity portrayed as a cyclical counterpart to the Solar Horus, Set was later recast as an evil principle by the cults of Osiris and Isis. During the XIX and XX Dynasties Set returned as the Pharaonic patron, but by the XXV Dynasty (ca. 700 BCE) a new wave of Osirian persecution led to the final destruction of the original Priesthood of Set. When the Hebrews emigrated from Egypt during the XIX Dynasty, however, they took with them a caricature of Set: 'Satan' (from the hieroglyphic Set-hen, one of the god's formal titles)."
- Murray Hope, "The Temple of Set FAQ"

"In the Gnostic myths which transform the God of Genesis into an evil god, and similarly turn various other values of Biblical doctrine upside down, this Seth - the enemy of the chief Egyptian gods - acquires a definite position. One may even wonder whether, perchance, some of these myths did not bring him into such contact with his homonym, Seth the son of Adam, as to create some confusion between them."

"...Certain Egyptian theologies reported by Plutarch (essentially in the De Iside) set up an antithesis between Seth and Osiris, closely analogous to that which the Gnostics developed between Ialdabaoth-Sacla and the divinity of the light. A Greek Hermetic text even suggests that in the Roman epoch, the Egyptian religion, arraigned its Gnostics as 'sons of Typhon'."

" known in Islam, and usually assimilated to Agathodaimon, who is one of the great figures of Hermetic literature. The prophetic prestige with which the Gnostics endowed him, he still possesses, especially in the traditions of various Shi'ite groups, therefore chiefly in Mesopotamia or in Iran. In these particular doctrines the survival of Gnostic themes is ubiquitous and seems immense..."
- Jean Doresse, The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics

Illmatar or Luonnotar
This is also the day of Illmatar or Luonnotar, the Water Mother was the Creatrix of the World according to Finnish legend. Upon her knees the eagle laid the six golden eggs and the one iron egg from which the world was made. In the beginning there was only Illmatar, the void and a great deal of wind. Illmatar, tired of counting rainbows and letting the wind play with her hair, began to long for a son.

Her longing was so great that the East Wind itself took pity. She found herself buffeted and tossed by the wind's tempestuous love-making until, exhausted, she could bear it no longer and collapsed. And there inside her was conceived Vainmoinen, the child of the wind.

Unfortunately he didn't seem inclined to make an appearance, and after seven centuries or so she began to give up hope of seeing him. Then one day she noticed a Celestial Eagle flying overhead.

The poor bird was desperately pregnant and looking for somewhere to land. So Illmatar helpfully raised her knee and the bird came swooping down. Half a dozen Cosmic Eggs were laid, followed by an egg made of iron. The bird then gathered them all up, sat upon them and went to sleep...

And now Illmatar was faced with a problem familiar to anyone with a household pet. How do you move without waking them up? Her leg was aching, her knee was hotter than an incubator and she desperately wanted to go to the bathroom.

Slowly, carefully, she began to stretch out her leg.. and slowly, inevitably, the seven eggs rolled off and fell majestically into the raging sea.

Now, Cosmic Eggs are delicate things, and no sooner had they touched the water than the shells cracked and a vast Cosmic Omelette was formed upon the waves. Illmatar watched in amazement as the churning mixture solidified into Heaven and Earth. One yolk slipped into the sky to form Paivatar, the Sun, while the egg white became Kuu, the glistening Moon. Stars were made from pieces of speckled eggshell, and thus the world was formed.

You may be wondering what happened to the iron egg. Well, the black yolk became a thundercloud. (That egg didn't have a white as you can't have a black white, well maybe grey.)

Illmatar was delighted with events, and busied herself shaping the lands and adding finnishing touches. And then she felt a stirring inside her. Vainamoinen had woken up after so many years and was eager to see the new world. He had quite a struggle to get out as noone seemed very keen to help him, but he managed in the end and emerged, a bouncing bonny old man.

We're not sure what happened to Illmatar after that. Is she still tending to creation? What happened to the Celestial Eagle? You are welcome to celebrate her feast day celebrations today - and don't forget the scrammbled eggs!

Birthday of Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 27, 1910. Her family was of Albanian descent. At the age of twelve, she felt strongly the call of God. She knew she had to be a missionary to spread the love of Christ. At the age of eighteen she left her parental home in Skopje and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After a few months' training in Dublin she was sent to India, where on May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun. From 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta, but the suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948 she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. Although she had no funds, she depended on Divine Providence, and started an open-air school for slum children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and financial support was also forthcoming. This made it possible for her to extend the scope of her work.

On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, "The Missionaries of Charity", whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after. In 1965 the Society became an International Religious Family by a decree of Pope Paul VI.

Mother Teresa's work has been recognised and acclaimed throughout the world and she has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971) and the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding (1972). She also received the Balzan Prize (1979) and the Templeton and Magsaysay awards.

Mother Teresa was Beatified October 19, 2003 in Rome. This is the first step in Catholic Sainthood.


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