Friday, August 26, 2005

Ante Diem VI Kalendas September

Modern Date : August 27th

Ante Diem VI Kalendas September
The Volturnalia

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

The Volturnalia
The Volturnalia is a festival dedicated to Volturnus, the river god (of the Tiber) and an alter-ego of Janus. Volturnus was the father of the goddess Juturna and they were both honored this day with feasting, wine-drinking and games.

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.

The Planet Mars
On this day Mars reaches his closest proximity to Earth in many thousands of years. This may be just as well, as Mars has traditionally been viewed as a baleful, "malefic" planet who has a nasty habit of being in stress with other planets when rage erupts and violent, cataclysmic events occur. There is something to all this, of course, as astrologers have known ever since the astronomer priests of Mesopotamia methodically correlated the moves and "aspects" of Mars (that is, his angular relationships with other planets) with news of wars and riots, naphtha fires and chariot wrecks from around and beyond the realm. Inevitably, there will be dire predictions this month of explosive, bloody events. There always are, especially now that people of power become ever more skillful in using myths, spin and now the "frame" of fear to control and exploit their people. Even if Mars were graciously hosting a vegan soiree and serving mango smoothies to all the other planets, doom pimps would still be peddling disaster to all who will listen.

The actuality is that while Mars' most dangerous qualities do come out while he's in friction with other planets -- this is why you don't want to take flying lessons when Mars is conjunct Uranus, or challenge a type A boss when Mars is square Jupiter -- Mars is in fact ethically and spiritually neutral. He represents the masculine energies of assertion, direct action and drive, and the competitive will to win. He can save you from a burning building or torch your town, depending on who's directing and paying him, as the only things he naturally seeks are great sex, trophies and beer, and the acclaim of other men he respects. He can be trained to matchless efficiency in the heroic arts of emergency service and fear management. Or he can fire on his own neighbors, and if he is questioned about how anyone could possibly do such a thing, he can claim he was only following orders. Once the basic contours of the Mars type were understood by ancient peoples, it was only a matter of time before someone would begin to forge the most clueless, malleable Mars personalities into armies -- just as it was also inevitable that someone would organize the more protective Mars personalities into fire departments.

Nativity of Isis
In Egypt, this day was known as the Nativity of Isis. Although originally a foreign deity, the worship of Isis became popular among many Romans. Isis was the daughter of the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut.

Isis, though worshipped all over Egypt, was specially venerated in certain cities, and the following are among the most common of her titles: --"The great lady, the God-mother, lady of Re-a-nefer; Isis-Nebuut, lady of Sekhet; lady of Besitet; Isis in Per Pakht, the queen of Mesen; Isis of Ta-at-nehepet; Isis, dweller in Netru; Isis, lady of Hebet; Isis in P-she-Hert; Isis, lady of Khebt; Usert-Isis, giver of life, lady of Abaton, lady of Philae, lady of the countries of the south," etc. From a list of title of the goddess collected by Dr. Brugsch, it is clear that Isis was called Usert, in Thebes, Aat, in Heliopolis, Menkhet, in Memphis, God-Mother, in Coptos, Hert, in Letopolis; and "Hent," i.e., "Queen," in every nome; and another important list tells us that Isis was called Ament, in Thebes, Menhet, in Heliopolis, renpet, In Memphis, Sept, in Abydos, Hetet, in Behutet, Hurt, in Nekhen, Thenenet, in Hermonthis, Ant, in Dendera, Sesheta, in Hermopolis, Heqet, in Hibiu, Uatchit, in Hipponus, Mersekhen, in Herakleopolis, Renpet, in Crocodilopolis, Neb-tept, in Arsinoe, That, or Tchetut, in Aphroditopolis, and Shetat, in Bubastis. Among her general titles may be mentioned those of "the divine one, the only one, the greatest of the gods and goddesses, the queen of all gods, the female Ra, the female Horus, the eye of Ra, the crown of Ra-Heru, Sept, opener of the year, lady of the New Year, maker of the sunrise, lady of heaven, the light-giver of heaven, lady of the North Wind, queen of the earth, most mighty one, queen of the South and North, lady of the solid earth, lady of warmth and fire, benefactress of the Tuat, she who is greatly feared in the Tuat, the God-mother, the God-mother of Heru-ka-nekht, the mother of the Horus of gold, the lady of life, lady of green crops, the green goddess (Uatchet), lady of bread, lady of beer, lady of abundance, lady of joy and gladness, lady of love, the maker of kings, lady of the Great House, lady of the House of fire, the beautiful goddess, the lady of words of power, lady of the shuttle, daughter of Seb, daughter of Neb-er-tcher, the child of Nut, wife of Ra, wife of the lord of the abyss, wife of the lord of the Inundation, the creatrix of the Nile flood."

From a number of passages in the texts of various periods we learn that Isis possessed great skill in the working of magic, and several examples of the manner in which she employed it are well known. Thus when she wished to make Ra reveal to her his greatest and most secret name, she made a venomous reptile out of dust mixed with the spittle of the god, and by uttering over it certain words of power she made it to bite Ra as he passed. When she had succeeded in obtaining from the god his most hidden name, which he only revealed because he was on the point of death, she uttered words which had the effect of driving the poison out of his limbs, and Ra recovered. Now Isis not only used the words of power, but she also had knowledge of the way in which to pronounce them so that the beings or things to which they were addressed would be compelled to listen to them and, having listened, would be obliged to fulfill her bequests. The Egyptians believed that if the best effect was to be produced by words of power they must be uttered in a certain tone of voice, and at a certain rate, and at a certain time of the day or night, with appropriate gestures or ceremonies. In the Hymn to Osiris it is said that Isis was well skilled in the use of words of power, and it was by means of these that she restored her husband to life, and obtained from him an heir. It is not known what the words were which she uttered on this occasion, but she appears to have obtained them from Thoth, the "lord of divine words," and it was to him that she appealed for help to restore Horus to life after he had been stung to death by a scorpion.

In the Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead is found a Chapter (No. clvi.) which was composed for the purpose of bestowing upon the deceased some of the magical power of the goddess. The Chapter was intended to be recited over an amulet called thet, made of carnelian, which had to be steeped in water of ankhami flowers, and set in a sycamore plinth, and if this were laid on the neck of a dead person it would place him under the protection of the words of power of Isis, and he would be able to go wheresoever he pleased in the Underworld. The words of the Chapter were: -- "Let the blood of isis, and the magical powers (or spirits) of Isis, and the words of power of Isis, be mighty to protect and keep safely this great god (i.e., the deceased), and to guard him from him that would do unto him anything which he abominateth."

The symbol of Isis in the heavens was the star Sept (Sirius), which was greatly beloved because its appearance marked not only the beginning of a new year, but also announced the advance of the Inundation of the Nile, which betokened renewed wealth and prosperity of the country. As such Isis was regarded as the companion of Osiris, whose soul dwelt in the star Sah, i.e., Orion, and she was held to have brought about the destruction of the fiend Apep, and of his hosts of darkness by means of the might of her words of power. As the light-giver at this season of the year she was called Khut, as the mighty earth-goddess her name was Usert, as the Great Goddess of the Underworld she was Thenenet, as the power which shot forth the Nile
flood she was Sati, and sept, as the embracer of the land and producer of fertility by her waters she was Anqet, as the producer and giver of life she was Ankhet, as the goddess of cultivated lands and fields she was Sekhet, as the goddess of the harvest she was Renenet, as the goddess of food which was offered to the gods she was Tcheft, and lived int he Temple of Tchefau, and as the great lady of the Underworld, who assisted in transforming the bodies of the blessed dead into those whrein they were to live in the realm of Osiris, her name was Ament, i.e., the "hidden" goddess. In this last capacity she shared with Osiris the attribute of "giver of life," and she provided food for the dead as well as for the living; as Ament also she was declared to be the mother of Ra. In fact, at a comparatively early period in Egyptian history Isis had absorbed the attributes of all the great primitive goddesses, and of all the local goddesses such as Nekhebet, Uatchet, Net, Bast, Hathor, etc., and she was even identified as the female counterpart of the primeval abyss of water from which sprang all life. From what has been said above it is manifestly impossible to limit the attributes of Isis, for we have seen that she possesses the powers of a water goddess, an earth goddess, a corn goddess, a star goddess, a queen of the Underworld, and a woman, and that she united in herself one or more of the attributes of all the goddesses of Egypt known to us.

The relationship between Isis and Horus influenced the early Christian conception of the relationship between Mary and the infant Jesus Christ. The depiction of the seated holding or suckling the child Horus is certainly reminiscent of the iconography of Mary and Jesus.

Devaki an East Indian Mother Goddess is also honored today. 'Devak' was the brother of the emperor 'Ugrasen'. Devaki was his daughter. The demon king 'Kansa' was Devaki's cousin and was elder to her. So Kansa had great affection towards her and loved her very much.

Devaki was married to Vasudev, the descendant of the Yadava clan.

After the marriage, when Devaki was being sent off to her in-laws house, Kansa drove the chariot carrying Vasudev and Devaki. While Kansa was riding the chariot, suddenly he heard a voice from the sky: " O fool Kansa, your sister's chariot which you are riding with so much love, her eighth child would kill you."

Hearing this, Kansa became sad. The love and affection, which he had towards his sister vanished immediately and his heart was filled with anger. He jumped down from the chariot and caught Devaki by her hair, took out his sword and thought that it would be better if he kills Devaki because then there will be no possibility of her, giving birth to any child.

Vasudev, with great patience, begged Kansa and promised that if Devaki's life was spared then each child born to them would be brought to him, so that he could kill them one by one.

Kansa believing Vasudev's words, spared Devaki's life but after thinking for a while, decided to put both of them in prison. Devaki gave birth to seven children in the prison and the cruel Kansa killed all one by one. Lord Vishnu manifested himself as the eighth child of Devaki, in his full glory and form. Devaki had a mixed feeling of joy and sorrow. She was filled with joy as Lord Vishnu himself had taken birth as the eighth child and she was sad as Kansa would kill him.

Lord Vishnu showed Devaki his divine appearance. Devaki being fearful of Kansa, requested him to conceal his divine form. Lord Vishnu then asked Vasudev to carry him to Nand's house at Gokul and bring the girl child which was born from Lord Vishnu's own illusionary powers from there.

Vasudev followed the instructions by carrying Lord Krishna (Vishnu) to Nand's house and returned back with the girl with him.

When Kansa came to know about the birth, he came to the prison and as soon as he lifted the girl to kill her by dashing her against a rock, the girl slipped away from his hands, went up in the sky and warned Kansa of his imminent death by saying: " Kansa! Your assailant has already taken birth."

Lord Krishna grew up at Gokul. Devaki lived in separation with her heart always longing for Krishna's sight. Later, when Krishna grew up, he killed Kansa and freed his real parents. He asked his parents to forgive him for causing them pain and anguish due to the separation and for non-fulfillment of his duties towards them. In this way, Lord Krishna had shown his devotion and respect for his parents.

Later on when Lord Krishna had left Mathura and started living at Dwarka, Devaki lived with him. Though Krishna had grown up as a young man by that time, but for Devaki he was still a small child. She still treated him like a small child by feeding him with her own hands. Lord Krishna also acted like a small child. Devaki had forgotten about the divine appearance of Lord Vishnu that he had shown to her at the time of his manifestation.

But Lord Krishna wanted to help Devaki in attaining real knowledge. When Devaki heard that Krishna had brought the dead son of his 'Guru' (teacher) back to life to pay his ' Gurudakshina', she insisted him to bring all his previous seven dead children back alive. Krishna along with Baldev went to the Paatal Loka (nether world) and brought back all the seven dead children. All of them were alive and in the same state of infancy.

Devaki was filled up with emotions of motherhood, fed all the seven children with her milk. After being fed, all of them went to the world of the deities.

Now, Devaki had realized that her son was not any ordinary soul but the Lord of the whole universe. She became free from all kinds of attachments and illusions and with this blissful knowledge, her mind was absorbed in meditation of the Lord. In the end, Devaki and Vasudev came to know about the death of Lord Krishna from 'Daruk', while fighting among themselves in the region of Prabhas (presently in Saurashtra) and Lord Krishna annihilated the Yadavas and he too departed to his 'Vaikuntha' (abode of Lord Vishnu),

Both of them reached 'Prabhas' and not finding Krishna there, left their bodies made up of five elements and went to the abode of their dear son Krishna.

Also in the East Indian calendar, this is one of the year's most joyous feasts: Sri Krishna Jayanti, also Krsna Janmastami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, the most celebrated and beloved of all the avatars of Vishnu. His feast is observed with fasting until midnight, followed an all-day festival of chanting and music, culminating in a midnight punja.

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.