Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ante Diem VI Idus September

Modern Date : September 8th

Ante Diem VI Idus September
The Ludi Romani

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

The Ludi Romani, the great games in honor of Jupiter (Jove) continued this day and were celebrated through to the 19th.

September is the 'magical' seventh month (after March).

Today is a powerful day of the Goddess. Look at the connections below.

Nativity of Mary
Mary has a number of holidays in the autumn months because she took over many of the religious functions of the grain goddesses, like Demeter.

According to Yoder, who writes about the folklore of the Pennsylvania Dutch:

It's Blessed Virgin's Birthday,
The swallows do depart;
Far to the South they fly away,
And sadness fills my heart.
But after snow and ice and rain
They will in March return again.

This sounds very much like the story of Persephone. Persephone is the goddess of the underworld in Greek mythology. She is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of the harvest. Persephone was such a beautiful young woman that everyone loved her, even Hades wanted her for himself. One day, when she was collecting flowers on the plain of Enna, the earth suddenly opened and Hades rose up from the gap and abducted her. None but Zeus, and the all-seeing sun, Helios, had noticed it.

Broken-hearted, Demeter wandered the earth, looking for her daughter until Helios revealed what had happened. Demeter was so angry that she withdrew herself in loneliness, and the earth ceased to be fertile. Knowing this could not continue much longer, Zeus sent Hermes down to Hades to make him release Persephone. Hades grudgingly agreed, but before she went back he gave Persephone a pomegranate (or the seeds of a pomegranate, according to some sources). When she later ate of it, it bound her to underworld forever and she had to stay there one-third of the year. The other months she stayed with her mother. When Persephone was in Hades, Demeter refused to let anything grow and winter began. This myth is a symbol of the budding and dying of nature. In the Eleusinian mysteries, this happening was celebrated in honor of Demeter and Persephone, who was known in this cult as Kore. The Romans called her Proserpine.

In Italy, this is a name day for all women named Maria. Barolini says that she always eats blueberries on this day, either in muffins or on cereal or pancakes, as the blue color symbolizes the Virgin Mary's blue robe.

Artemis Agrotera
On the fifth day of Boedromion, the Greeks celebrated Artemis of the Field, or Artemis the Huntress, with a sacrifice and a feast of goat meat. The daughter of Leto and Zeus, and the twin of Apollo. Artemis is the goddess of the wilderness, the hunt and wild animals, and fertility (she became a goddess of fertility and childbirth mainly in cities). She was often depicted with the crescent of the moon above her forehead and was sometimes identified with Selene (goddess of the moon). Artemis was one of the Olympians and a virgin goddess. Her main vocation was to roam mountain forests and uncultivated land with her nymphs in attendance hunting for lions, panthers, hinds and stags. Contradictory to the later, she helped in protecting and seeing to their well-being, also their safety and reproduction. She was armed with a bow and arrows which were made by Hephaestus and the Cyclopes.

In one legend, Artemis was born one day before her brother Apollo. Her mother gave birth to her on the island of Ortygia, then, almost immediately after her birth, she helped her mother to cross the straits over to Delos, where she then delivered Apollo. This was the beginning of her role as guardian of young children and patron of women in childbirth. Being a goddess of contradictions, she was the protectress of women in labor, but it was said that the arrows of Artemis brought them sudden death while giving birth. As was her brother, Apollo, Artemis was a divinity of healing, but also brought and spread diseases such as leprosy, rabies and even gout.

Among the Yoruba and Santeria peoples of Africa, this day is sacred to Oshun, the Orisha (divine principle) of love, compassion and healthy birth. According to Luisah Teish, she likes offerings of honey, cinnamon, oranges, pumpkins and French pastries. Originally the Yoruba goddess of the river named for her, Oshun's emblem is the brass bracelet worn by her worshipers, and a pottery dish filled with white stones from a river's bed. In her African homeland, Oshun mated with the god Chango, with whom she had human children. Their descendents, who still live along her waters, are forbidden to eat snails or beans, or to drink beer made from sorghum.

Oshun is still honored in Nigeria with an annual ceremony called Ibo-Osun. A feast of yams begins the evening, then women dance for the goddess, hoping to be chosen as one of her favorites. Those who are selected are granted new names which include that of the goddess: Osun Leye, "gift of Oshun," or Osun Tola, "treasure of Oshun." Once selected in this way, the woman serves her community as advisor, particularly assisting with family problems and illnesses. Oshun is especially consulted by those who wish to have children, for she encourages this womanly activity.

Oshun is the primary divinity of Oshogbo, an African orisha religion, where she is honored with brass objects, as well as jewels and yellow copper. Her chief festival there celebrates the arrival of the ancestral family on the banks of Oshun's river. While bathing, one of the princesses apparently drowned, but reappeared soon after attired in gorgeous garments which, she said, Oshun had given her. The alliance with the river goddess has continued to this day.

In the African diaspora, Oshun gained new names and titles: Oxum in Brazil; Ochun in Cuba; Erzulie-Freda-Dahomey in Haiti. When she possesses dancers, their movements are those of a woman who loves to swim, who makes her arm braclets jangle, and who admires herself in a mirror. Her appearance is greeted with welcoming shouts of "Ore Yeye o!" In Brazilian Macumba, Oshun is goddess of waters; she is depicted wearing jewels, holding a mirror, and wafting a fan. Altars to her hold copper braceelts and fans, as well as dishes of Omuluku (onions, beans and salt). She rules love, beauty and flirtation. In Santeria, Oshun is revered as "Our Lady of La Caridad," patron of the island of Cuba.

Ukrainian women who embroider goddess cloths consider this the birthday of the harvest goddess, Berehynia. Her name means "Nymph." The term Berehynia itself derives from the name of a minor river nymph who protected river banks (berehy), but at some point in the 19th century the nymph evolved into an earth-mother symbol. In contemporary Ukraine, she has undergone yet another metamorphosis. Today this hearth-mother (or domestic Madonna) is associated with the guardianship of not only the family, but also the nation.

Berehynia now has iconic status, and iconic is a word used advisedly. In 2001, President Leonid Kuchma unveiled a monumental statue of a woman, arms held high above her head, reminiscent of the Praying Virgin of the Eastern Orthodox, known as Oranta, except that instead of raising her hands in prayer and adoration, she holds aloft a sprig of the snowball berry. Folk wisdom has it that the berry is the bearer of human souls, making this Berehynia a powerful representation of generational continuity. Initially, the statue was dubbed Berehynia-Oranta, but Kuchma christened it Oranta-Berehynia, elevating this Ukrainian archetype to sacred status. No longer was she simply Berehynia, mother of the nation; the ideal Ukrainian woman had been reconceptualized to signify the "mother of us all." A pagan matriarch, or domestic Madonna, had been conjoined with the Virgin Mary to form an even more compelling symbol of Ukrainian womanhood.


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