Monday, September 26, 2005

Ante Diem V Kalendas October

Modern Date : September 27th

Ante Diem V Kalendas October
Fifth Day to the Kalends of October

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

The fifth day of the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries commemorated the Evening of the Holy Night. It was called the ton lampadon hemera, the torch day, because on the following night the people ran about with torches in their hands. The torches were typically dedicated to Ceres, and assertions were made over who should offer the biggest in remembrance of the travels of the goddess and of her lighting a torch in the flames of Mount Aetna. It was also called agyrmos (Hesychios), "gathering." In the morning the procession of mystai assembled, leaving the city by way of the potters' quarter and the Sacred Gate to march along the Sacred Road to Eleusius where it would arrive in the evening.

On this day in 48 BCE, Pompey landed in Egypt after being defeated by Caesar and was promptly murdered by Ptolemy XIII.

September is the 'magical' seventh month (after March).

The Birthday of Athena
The Greeks celebrated this day as the Birthday of Athena. Athena (Minerva) was the goddess of Wisdom and was also known as Pallas Athena and the Maid. She was the daughter of Zeus and Metis. She was endowed with the power of prophecy which she could bestow on mortals. She was the patroness of art, science, and learning. Athena also governed the feminine industry of spinning and weaving. It was for Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, that the Greeks built the Parthenon and in which was housed one of Phidias' greatest works of art, a gold covered statue of the goddess. The Christians, under the emperor Theodosius II, removed the statue to Byzantium, where it was stripped of its gold and destroyed without a trace.

The Day of Willows
In Mesopotamia, this is the Day of Willows. This was a festival for Belili, Astarte or Aeea(origin of Hebrew Succoth). Belili was probably a denizen of the underworld. She is the sister of Dumuzi. Astarte was the Phoenician goddess of fertility and reproduction and the principal deity of the port city of Sidon. As Astarte she was worshipped as far west as Carthage, Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus. She was also the sister and co-consort of Baal, sharing this role with their sister Anath. Astarte is also known as Istar in Akkadian and Athtar in Sabaean. Aeea seems to be an island place name and Succoth, is the name of a place in Egypt and of three in Palestine. There is very little known about this ancient festival.

From Mother to Crone
The evening of 9/27 is sacred to the ancient Celts and other central European peoples as one of the year's most important Goddess festivals, marking the transition of the Triple Goddess from Mother to Crone or Wise Woman. The transition from Crone to Virgin again comes around Jan. 31, at Imbolc, the great Mid-Winter Festival.

The Dark Mother is the most misunderstood of the triple aspects of the Goddess. Her color is Black and she absorbs everything, including light and life. The dark of the Moon is Her time, the Abyss and darkness of space Her home. Her number is nine, symbolizing wisdom and sacred magick. Nine is also the number of completion and the completion of beginnings is the Crone's place in the cycle of birth-life-death. The greatest fear in Western Society is the fear of death and so many have turned away from this face of our Mother. We see this in our fevered need for eternal "youth and beauty" (as defined by society) and in the medical community's fight against aging and death.

In Ethiopia, the Feast of the Holy Cross is celebrated on the 27th rather than the 14th of September; "Maskal" means cross. People build huge structures called demera in a meadow, basically teepees made of logs and decorated with yellow Maskal daisies. There is a feeling of spring in the air (even though Ethiopia lies north of the equator, the summer rainy season is called "winter" because it's so cold.) In the late afternoon, the priests bless the demera, and everyone circles them three times (for the Trinity). At sunset, the demera is lit on fire. Then the people feast and sing and dance into the night. The following day, they draw a cross on their forehead with the charcoal from the demera fire, but this is not a solemn day but a day for feasting and visiting.

St. Cosmas and St. Damian
According to legend, these two twin Arabian brothers who were famous healers, were martyred in Syria because they were also Christian. Some scholars believe they are Christianized Pagan Gods, inheriting some of the qualities of the Dioscuri, the twin sons of Zeus (also known as Castor and Pollux, the twins of the constellation Gemini).

Popular throughout the Middle Ages, Cosmas and Damian were known as the "holy moneyless ones" because they cured without charging for their services and invoked as the patron saints of doctors (which seems contradictory). For many centuries, invalids made a pilgrimage to their shrine where they would fall asleep and the brothers would appear to them in dreams, diagnosing and curing them. One famous miracle that was recorded in many versions, told of a man who went to sleep in a church dedicated to Sts. Cosmas & Damian who dreamed that the saints replaced the diseased flesh of his thigh with a thigh from a black man recently buried in the churchyard. When he awoke, with his leg healed, the corpse of the black man was exhumed and it was noted that his thigh was missing.

In Sicily, bakers make special bread called pace rimacinato, shaped like the two brothers, hand in hand, on their feast day. Being a Gemini myself I find this most interesting.

Ante Diem VI Kalendas October

Modern Date : September 26th

Ante Diem VI Kalendas October
Sixth Day to the Kalends of October

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

Jerusalem fell to Vespasian's legions under Titus this day in 20 AD, ending the Jewish War, although the fortress Masada held out three years longer.

A solemn procession transpired on the fourth day of the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries. The holy basket of Ceres was moved about in a consecrated cart. On every side, the people cheered Ceres. Following the cart came women called the kisophoroi, who carried baskets in which were sesame, carded wool, grains of salt, a serpent, pomegranates, reeds, ivy, and ceremonial cakes. A libation was offered to Dionysus and to the other gods, but it was a feast of wine from which Demeter abstained during her period of mourning. Therefore those already within the cult imitated her and did not leave their homes. It was probably on this day that the contents of the kykeon (Barley, water and mint-pennyroyal) were made ready.

September is the 'magical' seventh month (after March).

Trung Thu Festival, Chinese Mid Autumn Day
The Trung Thu Festival (on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month), or Children's Day, apparently recalls a Duong-Dynasty evening when Emperor Minh-Hoang took his Empress to the shores of a beautiful lake. Beside the water, under the full moon, the ardent lover recited his moon-inspired poetry to his lady. However, the festival is not so much about wooing lovers as celebrating the result of such affairs.

On this day kids are given banh nuong (cakes made of sesame seeds and ground lotus flowers) and banh deo (glutinous rice dumplings). But the real treat is the lanterns crafted into shapes of boats, dragonflies, butterflies and even spacecraft.

The festival really begins after dark, when the children come out onto the streets to swing their colourful lanterns and dance in processions under the gaze of proud parents. If you catch this festival in any place with a high vantage point, then follow the crowds of families who will find the best view to light their children's lanterns and to watch the huge harvest moon rise in the sky.

Trung Thu is not all about indulging the kids. There is also an educational element whereby children learn from grandparents and parents how to prepare and present the festival dinner. There is usually a "doctor" made of paper or dough to remind them of high standards to be achieved in their studies.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also found in Hong Kong, Singapore and all over China. In Hong Kong the reason for the festival apparently dates back to a Mongolian uprising in the 14th century, when the cakes were invented to carry secret messages of war.

Mid Autumn Day
This is also a Scottish holiday, traditionally considered the start of mating season for deer. Today is also the Hermanus Whale Festival in Hermanus South Africa. I guess not every day has to have a religious component. Spending the day watching the Goddess's greatest ocean creation sounds fine to me. Opps! I found a saint...

St. Cyprian the Magi
This saint, so surnamed from his having, previous to his conversion, practised the arts of a magician or diviner, has been coupled in the calendar with Justina, a young Syrian lady, regarding whom a young pagan nobleman applied to Cyprian to assist him with his arts in rendering her more favourable to his suit. Justina was a Christian, and opposed, we are told, through the aid of the Virgin, such an effectual resistance to the devices of Cyprian, that the latter was convinced of the weakness of the infernal spirits, and resolved to quit their service. He consulted a priest named Eusebius, who encouraged him in the work of conversion, which he ultimately consummated by burning all his magical books, giving his substance to the poor, and enrolling himself among the Christian catechumens. On the breaking out of the persecution under Dioclesian, Cyprian was apprehended and carried before the Roman governor at Tyre. Justina, who had been the original mover in his change of life, was, at the same time, brought before this judge and cruelly scourged, whilst Cyprian was torn with iron hooks. After this the two martyrs were sent to Nicomedia, to the Emperor Dioclesian, who forthwith commanded their heads to be struck off. The history of St. Cyprian and St. Justina was recorded in a Greek poem by the Empress Eudocia, wife of Theodosius the Younger, a work which is now lost.