Sunday, August 07, 2005

Ante Diem VII Idus August

Modern Date : August 7th

Ante Diem VII Idus August
Seventh Day to the Ides of August

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

The emperor Trajan died this day from a stroke, as had his predecessor Nerva, at Selinus in Asia Minor, in 117 AD. He was 63.

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.

Opet Festival
In Egypt, this was the celebrated day known as The Breaking of the Nile, or the Opet Festival. The original festival lasted 11 days but was later extended to 27 days. The statue of Amun, the state god of Egypt, was taken in a floating procession from Karnak to Luxor.

Centered in Thebes, this boisterous festival was held in the second civil month and was set according to a lunar calendar. It was perhaps not as old a celebration as some of the other feasts, though during the New Kingdom particularly, the celebration of Opet was predominate. Its duration of twenty-seven days in the 20th Dynasty shows how significant the celebration became. However, we know virtually nothing about the celebration prior to the 18th Dynasty and the rise of Thebes.

Theban citizens and their guests from afar celebrated the fruitful link between their pharaoh and the almighty god, Amun, who in the New Kingdom became a state god. During the celebration it was thought that the might and power of Amun were ritually bequeathed to his living son, the king. Therefore, the celebration belonged to the official royal ideology of the state and, not surprisingly, witnessed the personal involvement of the pharaoh.

Because of the flooding, work was temporarily suspended in fields. The people joined in a dramatic procession honoring Amun that began at the Temple of Amun in Karnak and ended at Luxor Temple one and a half miles away at the south end of the city.

Gaia Consciousness Day
Gaia Consciousness Day, created in recent years to honor Mother Earth in ceremonies of healing and renewal. Anniversary of the first photograph of Earth from Space taken on 8/7/1959.

The Japanese call these the Dog Days, the most dangerous time of the year because of the heat which brings with it vermin and illness. The best way to stay healthy during this time is to eat lots of eels, whose slippery coolness is the proper antidote.

The Lady of the Lake
On the first Sunday in August, the Welsh used to make pilgrimages to Llyn y Fan fach (a lake near Llanddeusant in Dyfed) to watch for the annual reappearance of the fairy from this lake who married a mortal but returned to the lake the third time he struck her. Before she left, she bequeathed her knowledge of herbal medicine to her sons, who became the ancestors of the renowned physicians of Myddfai.

Most pilgrims use the outer pool, though it is also possible to bathe in the inner pool. They traditionally immerse themselves in the water three times. This is a reminder of St Beuno’s prophecy that Winifred would be able to grant her petitioners’ requests, if not at the first time of asking, then at the second or third. (The triple request is also reminiscent of Celtic legends – three wishes, three curses, the three times that the lady of Llyn y Fan Fach was beaten by her husband.) Near the pool is Beuno’s Stone, on which the saint is said to have sat to teach his niece (or to have stood to say farewell to her). Pilgrims kneel on the stone to complete their devotions.