Friday, September 16, 2005

Ante Diem XVI Kalendas October

Modern Date : September 16th

Ante Diem XVI Kalendas October
The Ludi Romani

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

The emperor Severus II died near Rome this day in 307 AD.

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).

The Eleusinian Mysteries
The grand ceremonies of the Eleusinian Mysteries are performed in ancient Athens starting today. This most solemn and secret initiation rite in the Greek tradition is celebrated in the middle of Boedromion, the sixth month in the old lunar calendar that predates the Olympian solar calendar. As the Greek lunar calendar reckons from March as the beginning of the year, the Eleusinian Mysteries are always held while the Sun is in Virgo, symbolized by grain, grapes and other emblems of Earth's eternal latent abundance.

The Eleusinian Mysteries were annual initiation ceremonies for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times these were held to be the ones of greatest importance. These myths and mysteries later spread to Rome. The rites and cultic worships and beliefs were kept secret, and initiation rites united the worshipper with god including promises of divine power and rewards in life after death.

The Eleusinian Mysteries stems from the myth of Demeter and Persephone, when Hades, took Persephone (Kore -"maiden") down into the underworld. Demeter searched the world looking for her daughter, and while she searched Demeter neglected her duties and let the earth go barren. The gods were worried and Zeus, who had witnessed the abduction, intervened. Before she went back to the world of the living, Hades gave Persephone a pomegranate to eat, thus she would always be connected to his realm and had to stay there one-third of the year. This symbolic death and rebirth is the time the seed lies in the earth and then comes to life, reborn, as was Persephone. This was the basis of the cult, a fulfilling and happy afterlife. These ideas are a core belief in most religions. Life, death and rebirth. The cycle of nature. In the Christian religion, the Eleusinian Mysteries survives as Easter. In the Wiccan or Celtic paths the mysteries comes to us in the form of Beltaine and Samhain.

The full moon of the Greek month of Boedromion (September), signaled the beginning of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which began with a procession to Eleusis where the ceremonies were celebrated.

On the second day, the initiates went down to the ocean and bathed in the sea, then put on new garments of linen. On the third day, an altar was built around a tree and Demeter was honored by burning incense, pouring libations, sacrificing pigs and offerings of barley.

On the fourth day, Epidauria, participants processed through the town, with a cart carrying an image or representative of Demeter. The fifth day re-enacted Demeter's search for Kore, with initiates carrying lit torches and looking for the Kore. Matrons carried baskets filled with "Holy Things," sacred to Demeter: combs, grain, mirrors, snakes.

The sixth day culminated with Holy Night, the high point of the Mysteries. The initiates processed along the Sacred Way, stopping at a sacred fig tree and crossing two bridges. At one of the bridges they encountered the goddess Baubo who tried to lighten Demeter’s heavy mood by lifting up her skirts and making the goddess laugh. At the second bridge, they passed through some sort of challenge, which required knowing a password. The procession ended at a subterranean temple where the initiates waited in darkness. Probably there was a ritual drama. The early Christian fathers who disapproved of the rites claimed that the Hierophant and the High Priestess had sex. According to Hippolytus, the revelation at the heart of the ritual was the display of “the mighty and wonderful and most perfect mystery—a harvested ear of corn—in silence.”

"We are the poets! we are the children of the wood and stream, of mist and mountain, of sun and wind! We adore the moon and stars, and go into the ... streets at midnight seeking Their kisses as our birthright. We are the Greeks- and God grant ye all, my brothers, to be as happy in your loves! -and to us the rites of Eleusis should open the doors of Heaven, and we shall enter in and see God face to face! alas!
-Aleister Crowley's 'Eleusis'

"In silence is the seed of wisdom gained.
Does not the real secret of every mystery lie in its simplicity?"
Kerenyi, Introduction to Mythology, p 248

On the following day, Sports Day, the initiates participated in athletic games and races, with the winners rewarded with barley. The eighth and final day was called Second Initiation, and took place in caves. It may have been a repeat for those who had not fully grasped the Mysteries the first time through, or a confirmation of what had been realized at that time.

The plan of the rites (with day numbers in the month of Boedromion):

Day 13: Young men carry the Hiera, the sacred ritual treasures, in procession from Eleusis to Athens

Day 14: Priests and priestesses receive the Hiera outside the city, and carry them to the temple

Day 15 (Full Moon): secret Hiera rite at the temple

Day 16: Initiates take purificatory sea-bath

Day 17: Initiates' preparation and meditation rites

Day 18: The rite of initiation

Day 19: New initiates carry the Hiera back to Eleusis.

St Ninian's Day
St Ninian was a British Bishop, supposedly educated in Rome, who was much venerated in Scotland. Pilgrims flocked to his shrine at Whithorn and still visit his cave at the nearby seashore. His plant emblem is the southernwood, a strong-smelling member of the artemisia family, called "apple-ringie" in Scotland and pressed in bibles to perfume them. The Romans believed it protected men from impotence. The English called it "Lad's Love;" it was given as a love token.