Monday, August 29, 2005

Ante Diem IV Kalendas September

Modern Date : August 29th

Ante Diem IV Kalendas September
Fourth Day to the Kalends of September

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

This day was Thoth 1 (Macedonian Dius 1), or New Year's Day of the Alexandrian Year, as it was known in Egypt from 26 BCE onwards.

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. He died today in 14 AD at the ripe old age 76.

The Nativity of Hathor
Hathor is a sky goddess who displaced Nut. She was also a goddess of beer and violence. She became merged with the frog goddess Hekt, a birth and resurrection goddess married to Khnumu. Before dawn, the Priestesses would bring Hathor's image out on to the terrace to expose it to the rays of the rising sun. The day ended in song and intoxication, rejoicing and carnival.

Hathor is noted as the Egyptian cow goddess. Daughter of Nut and Re. In early Egyptian mythology she was the mother of the sky god Horus, but was later replaced in this capacity by Isis. Hathor then became a protectress of Horus. She was depicted either as a cow or in human form wearing a crown consisting of a sun disk held between the horns of a cow.

Her name appears to mean "house of Horus", referring to her role as a sky goddess, the "house" denoting the heavens depicted as a great cow. Hathor was often regarded as the mother of the Egyptian pharaoh, who styled himself the "son of Hathor". Since the pharaoh was also considered to be Horus as the son of Isis, it might be surmised that this had its origin when Horus was considered to be the son of Hathor.

Hathor took on an uncharacteristically destructive aspect in the legend of the Eye of Re. According to this legend, Re sent the Eye of Re in the form of Hathor to destroy humanity, believing that they were plotting aganist him. However, Re changed his mind and flooded the fields with beer, dyed red to look like blood. Hathor stopped to drink the beer, and, having become intoxicated, never carried out her deadly mission. Sekhmet is also atributed to this legend. Red tide is still know today in Egypt as well as in other parts of the world. Red tide is a build up of red algae and is now connected with "Nile turning to blood" in the Biblical story of Exodus.

Hathor was often symbolized by the papyrus reed, the snake, and the Egyptian rattle known as the sistrum. Her image could also be used to form the capitals of columns in Egyptian architecture. Her principal sanctuary was at Dandarah, where her cult had its early focus, and where it may have had its origin. At Dandarah, she was particularly worshipped in her role as a goddess of fertility, of women, and of child birth. At Thebes she was regarded as a goddess of the dead under the title of the "Lady of the West", associated with the sun god Re on his descent below the western horizon. The Greeks identified Hathor with Aphrodite.

Beheading of St John/Salome's Day
The story says that John the Baptist condemned the marriage of Herod to his brother's wife and was thrown into prison as a result. During Herod's birthday party, Salome, the daughter of his new wife, performed a graceful dance which so pleased Herod that he offered her anything she wanted. Encouraged by her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist.

Barbara Walker suggests that Salome was performing the Dance of the Seven Veils as part of a sacred drama, depicting the death of the surrogate-king, his descent into the underworld, and his retrieval by the goddess, who sheds her seven garments at each of the seven underworld gates, thus making John the Baptist a ritual sacrifice, or a representative of the dying and reborn lover of the Goddess.

Urda and the Word of creation
Urda, eldest of the three Norns with charge of the past, was honored today.

"The female trinity of Fates (Norns) as she/they appeared in Scandinavia: also known as Weird Sisters, from Teutonic wyrd, "fate." The Prose Edda called them "three mysterious beings," High One, Just-As-High, and Third, who revealed the secrets of the universe and wrote the book of destiny; hence their other title, Die Schreiberinnen, "women who write." More common names for the Norns were Urth [or Urd] (Earth), Verthandi, and Skuld, variously translated Fate, Being, and Necessity, or like the ancient Egyptian goddess of past, present, and future, "Become, Becoming, and Shall-Be."

The original, single, eldest Norn was Mother Earth, Ertha, Urth, Urdr, Urd, etc., who represented Fate and the Word of creation. She was Wurd in Old High German, Wyrd in Anglo-Saxon, Weird in English. She/they lived in the cave at the source of the Fountain of Life, Urdabrunnr, the cosmic womb under the root of the World Tree. She/they were older than the oldest "heavenly father: and had power over every god.

The death-Norn, Skuld was a variant of Skadi, an eponymous mother of Scandinavia and a typical Destroyer. Norse poet-shamans indulged in witchcraft, or "skulduggery." Skuld would lay the death-curse on the whole universe at doomsday [Ragnorak]. Her name apparently gave rise to "scold," meaning a woman gifted with the power of cursing. Like the third of the Moirai, Skuld cut the thread of every life.

The Norns became "faeries"in romantic traditions of pagan balladry:

And lo! Reclining on their runic shields
The mighty Nornas now the portal fill;
Three rosebuds fair which the same garden yields,
With aspect serious, but charming still.
Whilst Urda points upon the blackened fields,
The faerie temple Skulda doth reveal.
B. Walker, 730-731.

Walker explains The Fates in this manner, "Nearly all mythologies bear traces of the Triple Goddess as three Fates, rulers of the past, present, and future in the usual personae of Virgin, Mother, and Crone (or Creator, Preserver, Destroyer). The female trinity assumed many different guises in western religion: the Norns or Weird Sisters of the north (from wyrd, "fate"), the Zorya of the Slavs, the Morrigan of the Irish, the triple Guinevere or triple Brigit of the Britons.

In Greek myth the three Fates were Horae, Graeae, Muses, Gorgons, Furies, and other trinities as well as the principal trinity of Moerae or Fates. Nearly always, they were weavers. In Anglo-Saxon literature, fate is "woven." Latin destino (destiny) means that which is woven, or fixed with cords and threads; fate is "bound" to happen, just as the spells of faerie women were "binding."

The Moerae were Clotho the Spinner, Lachesis the Measurer, and Atropos the Cutter of life's thread. All were aspects of the archaic Triple Aphrodite, of whom it was said her real name was Moera, and she was older than Time. Moera was actually a late name for the Fate-goddess. In the Mycenaean period it meant a landholding, possessed by a female property owner according to the old matriarchal system. Hence, Moera was a lot: later, "allotted Fate."

Aphrodite's trinity was sometimes divided into three Horae, or celestial nymphs: Eunomia, Dike, and Irene, meaning Order, Destiny, and Peace. These referred to the "ordering" of elements to form the individual; the destiny established for him by the Mother; and the "peace" of dissolution as decreed at the end of life by Aphrodite Columba, the Dove of Peace.

If the weaving Fates could be induced not to cut the thread of life at a perilous moment, the individual would be spared; if not, he would die. Magick charms were often based on this notion. A Slavic charm for healing wounds was addressed to the Fate-weaver of the mystic isle of Bujan, or Buyan, the Goddess's paradise: "In the Ocean-sea, on the isle of Buyan, a fair maiden was weaving silk; she did not leave off weaving silk; the blood ceased flowing. According to the Russian myth, this maiden was the Virgin of Dawn, equivalent to the Latin Mater Matuta [Note how these words contain in Engish, anyway, words that relate to `matter', material, which are words we sometimes use to describe creation itself! These are feminine words relating to the Mother/Mater or She who brings forth, i.e, CREATES!], or the Greek Eos, traditionally the first Fate. The sun god went to rest on her magick isle, and rose again from it each day.

Other Greek names for the Fate-goddess were Tyche, Dike, and Nemesis. Romans called her Fortuna; a trinity or a monad. A terracotta medallion from Vienne showed her as a tutelary city -–goddess, wearing a mural crown, enthroned in a laurel wreath. As the Babylonian "Mother of Destiny," Fate was named Mammetun, the Creatress. All were based on the primordial Indo-European Mother of Karma, i.e., Kali Ma.

"Fate" was synonymous with "faery" in the Middle Ages. Alphonsus de Spina placed "Fates" first on his list of devils, remarking: "Some say they have seen Fates, but if so they are not women but demons." Burchardus of Worms complalined that the people honored the Fates or Weird Sisters at the beginning of every year, putting offerings of food and drink on a table for them, with three knives for cutting their meat—presumably so the death-dealing Cutter wouldn't be tempted to use her own knife.

Greeks still say the Fates visit the cradle of every newborn, to determine the child's future as his faerie [sic] godmothers. Parents used to chain up the watchdog, leave the door open, and set out dainty foods to put the Moerae in a good humor. Many faerie tales give stern lessons in the folly of offending faerie godmothers. Gypsies still say "three ladies in white" stand at the cradle of each child, and take back the soul when life has run its course, like the Three Queens of Arthurian legends. Greek laments for the dead are still called moirologhia, giving the deceased back to the Moerae.

The Yoruba of Nigeria celebrate Gelede. Gelede, the masquerade performances of ancestral spirits, provides an outlet in which men play a major role. This celebration is associated with a deified founding foremother, either earth or water along with a forefather. The Gelede honors and serves spiritually powerful women-elders, ancestors, and deities. A woman's status derives largely from her reputation in trading, her craftsmanship, and her wealth, rather than her husband's importance. Since the principal occupation of Yoruba women is trading, many Gelede masks depict marketwomen. These women are economically independent of their husbands and have the potential to earn even more money than the husband. Borrowing occurs, but with expectation that it will be paid back.

Ideals such as patience and control and reverence are personified as women, the same women that are made tribute to. "The mothers, who are united with all women by 'the flow of blood,' embody the concept of balance, a female quality that man must understand -indeed emulate- in order to survive". An elderly woman, her long years implying a secret knowledge and power may be regarded as a "witch". These elderly women and priestesses tend to be shown much affection. It is because of this special power that they have greater access to Yoruba deities. Any elderly woman, her longevity suggesting a mystical power and a secretive knowledge, is put into the same category as all those who hold important titles in cults for the gods and ancestors. Old age implies spiritual prowess taken from the end of menstruation. Thus menopause plays a role in the community that, unlike in the Western civilization, is very revered.

The Gelede masquerade consists of nighttime (Efe) and daytime (Gelede) performances, with different masks worn for each event. As a whole, Gelde celebrates womanhood, mothers to be exact. Yorubas claim that women possess the secret of life itself with both the powers to bring and remove life, in the form of beings into and out of the world. The power of the mothers is equal to if not superior to that of the gods, according to the people's beliefs. In these celebrations, masks known as Great Mothers are extremely revered and display the amount of respect for especially the elderly women and priestesses.