Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ante Diem III Idus August

Modern Date : August 11th

Ante Diem III Idus August
Third Day to the Ides of August

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

Hadrian became emperor this day in 117 AD, succeeding his adoptive father Trajan, who had just died.

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.

Dog Days end
This end of the ominous period associated with great heat and danger.

The Perseid Meteor Shower
Since 830 AD the Perseid meteor shower has been documented, appearing every year. It takes its name from the constellation Perseus where shooting stars appear and is associated with the Swift-Tuttle Comet.

Swift-Tuttle's orbit has been traced back nearly 2,000 years and is now thought to be the same comet that was observed in 188 AD and possibly even as early as 69 BC. Back in the early 1990s, astronomer Brian Marsden calculated that Swift-Tuttle might actually hit Earth in the year 2026. More observations quickly eliminated all possibility of collision, but he that the comet and Earth might experience a cosmic near miss (about a million miles) in 3044.

Tiu Chen, Laying Down of Needles, Star Festival
On the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, the Chinese honor the Weaver Woman who wove the robes of the deities. All needlework is admired on this day. Girls put a needle into a bowl of water and look at in the sunlight. They inspect the fineness of the shadow and the patterns it makes (of flowers or clouds) for predictions of the quality of their needlework. Threading a needle by the light of the moon brings a girl good look in needlework in the future.

At this time of the year, the star Vega (known to the Chinese as the Maiden) seems to cross the Milky Way (which the Chinese called the Bridge of Magpies) and join the star Altair (known as the Cowherd). The myth which explains these stellar movements tells about how the Cowherd and the Maiden were going to be wed. She was so happy she stopped weaving. The Sun-God ordered a flock of magpies to bridge the Heavenly River and ordered the Cowherd to cross to the other side. Now the two only meet once a year on this day, when the Magpies form a bridge for the Maiden to cross. But she cannot do so if it rains, so women pray for clear skies. They also ask the Maiden for skill in needlework and make offerings to her of cakes and watermelons.

Tun Li-Ch'en has a slightly different version of this legend, which he says is often enacted as a play on this holiday. The Spinning Damsel (identified with the constellation Lyra) was banished from Heaven to earth where she met and married the Oxherd (identified with the constellation Aquila). When she was forced to return to Heaven, he tried to follow but was blocked by the Milky Way. Only once a year, when magpies form a bridge over the Milky Way, can they see each other again.

In Korea, they say that few magpies are seen on this night as they have all flown to the Milky Way to form the bridge for the two lovers. In the morning, they can be seen everywhere but they are baldheaded as the lovers walked on them the night before. Rain is expected on this night, usualy a light, warm rain, which are said to be the tears of the lovers: tears of joy at meeting, tears of sorrow at parting.

This is the fourth of the five big festivals of Japan. In the country, people decorate for this festival by placing freshly cut bamboo sticks into the ground in front of their houses, adorned with pieces of colored paper, inscribed with poems praising the Weaver Princess, which are written by children the evening before. The following day the bamboo branches are thrown into the nearest stream.

Birthday of the Seven Old Maids
On the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, the Taiwanese honor the seven old maids, Chhit-niu-ma, daughters of the god of the hearth, Tsao Shen. The Spinning Maid is the youngest of these sisters, who are the protectors of children. Parents seek their aid when they want to conceive or solicit good health for their children, by making a promise to give to charity or sponsor an opera or puppet show. They also hang the banner of the Eight Immortals over the door and invite friends and relatives to a banquet. If the child for whom this aid is sough lives to be sixteen, the family at that time must fulfill their vow to the Seven Sisters by killing a pig.

Young women are supposed to lay out offerings for the the Seven Sisters (or sometimes just the Weaver Girl) under the moon. These offerings include incense, fresh flowers, fruit, face powder and other cosmetics. In Hong Kong, unmarried girls often form clubs to contribute money to create these displays. If a girl should marry after she subscribes, she must continue paying through the next festival.

Haji Bektash
On this day the Sufis honor Haji Bektash (d. 1337), the master who initiated women into his order and advocated gender equality in Islam. Haji Bektashi Veli, united the Christian residents of Anatolia and Turkoman migrants with their educational and developmental activities and played an important role in the formation of cultural unity and central authority in Anatolia. Some holy men migrated to Anatolia, settled on mountains and empty crossroads and opened dervish lodges there. These institutions settled on empty land gradually became centers for culture, development and religious thought. In this manner, religious congregations spread everywhere, rules of morals, good breeding, attitudes and beliefs reached a high standard, knowledge and science were both produced and spread in these centers. The administration encouraged such holy men to settle in villages, and their educational activities gave them some privileges. As a result, even in the most desolate places in Anatolia, dervish lodges emerged, and with the effect of the education they provided, a common cultural structure began to form.

Haji Bektashi Veli was one of those figures who came to Anatolia from Khorasan with this purpose in mind. He was born in Nishabur, Khorasan in 1248, spent his childhood in Khorasan, and was trained in philosophy and social and positive sciences at Hodja AhmedYesevi’s school. After traveling to Iran, Iraq and Arabia, Haji Bektash settled in Sulucukarahoyuk in 1275/80.

At that time, Anatolia was under Mongol occupation, there was a severe social and economic crisis and fighting for political power. In that difficult climate, Haji Bektashi Veli settled in Sulucakarahoyuk, developed his philosophy and began to teach his students. His tolerance and human love based philosophy reached many people, and were taken up by them in the important center of Christianity of Cappadocia.

*Any road that doesn’t follow science, ends in darkness,
*Give education to women,
*Control on your tongue, hands and waist,
*The greatest book to read is man himself,
*Honesty is the door of a friend,
*Being a teacher is to give, not to take,
*The universe is for man, and man for the universe,
*Science illuminates the paths of truth,
*We travel in the way of science, comprehension and human love,
*Clean where you’ve settled and deserve the money you’ve made,
*Let’s be one, be big and energetic,
*Don’t hurt anyone, even though you’ve been hurt,
*Don’t ask anyone for anything that would be difficult for you to do,
*Don’t blame any nation or individual,
*Blessed are those who illuminate the darkness of thought,
*Keep on searching, and you’ll find,
*The beauty of the face consists of the words you speak,
*Don’t forget that even your enemy is human,
*The biggest God-given miracle is work,
*In the language of friendly conversation, you can’t discriminate between man and woman,
*Everything God has created is in order,
*To us, there’s no difference between man and woman, If you think there is, you’re mistaken.

His thoughts are based on human love and human existence. This vision is similar to the 1948 Charter on Human Rights. His thoughts were also shared by M. Kemal Atatürk 600 years later, and the Turkish Republic was built on the principles of secularism, democracy and respect for human rights. His thoughts are still alive and still lighten the way for many people.

St. Clare of Assisi
The Christian feast of St. Clare of Assisi, disciple and, as founder of the Poor Clares, counterpart of St. Francis of Assisi is celbrated today. Clare shared Francis' environmental awareness and is a patron energy of those working to assist Mother Earth.

St Attracta
What a great name! She was an Irish saint--the Celtic version of her name is Araght--who lived in the fifth or sixth century. Attwater is coy about what miracles she performed saying only that they were surprising. An old tradition says that she received the veil from St. Patrick which would place her in the later part of the fifth century. She founded her convent at Killaraght (Irish, Cill Adhracht, the church of Attracta) in Sligo and another in Roscommon. (Killaraght lies between Monasteraden and Boyle and today it is the site of one of the outlying churches in Gurteen parish). Attracta is co-patron, with St. Nathy, of the diocese of Achonry and her cult has been very strong and durable especially in the west of Ireland.

Her name was at one time very popular among Irish girls and is still to be found. She was credited with exceptional powers of curing the sick and her convents were famous for their hospitality and care of the poor. The strength of the veneration in which she had been held for fourteen centuries was illustrated by the Act of Pius IX in 1829 when he person- ally authorised the Mass of St. Attracta on her feast day in Achonry diocese. Her feast is on 12th August and there is still a ‘pattern’ at her well in Clogher, Monasteraden, on that day.