Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ante Diem III Kalendas October

Modern Date : September 29th

Ante Diem III Kalendas October
Third Day to the Kalends of October

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

On the seventh day of the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries, there were sports in which the victors were rewarded with a measure of barley, the first grain sown at Eleusis.

On this day in 522 BCE, the king of Persia, Bardya (Smerdis, Gaumata) was killed by Darius.

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

Today is a day sacred to warrior gods or their equivalent in Western societies.

Gwynn ap Nudd
Gwynn ap Nudd, lord of the underworld and the faerie kingdom is honored today. He is the equivalent to St. Michael. Glastonbury Tor is his sacred mountain. Gwynn ap Nudd is the south-Welsh god of the underworld. He abducted Creiddylad when she eloped with Gwythr ap Greidawl. She had long been fought over by the followers of Gwynn and Gwythr. This fight (which started on May Day) is believed to represent the seasonal contest between summer and winter.

Heimdall, orderer of society and watcher for the Norse gods, is captain of 432,000 Einheriar, the chosen warriors who defend Valhalla. Heimdall is the god of light, the son of nine mothers (variously given as the daughters of Geirrendour the Giant or of Aegir). He was born at the end of the world and raised by the force of the earth, seawater and the blood of a boar. Because of his shining, golden teeth he is also called Gullintani ("gold tooth"). His hall is Himinbjorg, The Cliffs of Heaven, and his horse is Gulltop. Heimdall carries the horn Gjallar.

He is the watchman of the gods and guards Bifrost, the only entrance to Asgard, the realm of the gods. It is Heimdall's duty to prevent the giants from forcing their way into Asgard. He requires less sleep than a bird and can see a hundred miles around him, by night as well as by day. His hearing is so accurate that no sound escapes him: he can even hear the grass grow or the wool on a sheep's back. At the final conflict of Ragnarok he will kill his age-old enemy, the evil god Loki, but will die himself from his wounds.

As the god Rig ("ruler"), Heimdall created the three races of mankind: the serfs, the peasants, and the warriors. It is interesting to note why Heimdall fathered them, and not Odin as might be expected. Furthermore, Heimdall is in many attributes identical with Tyr.

Michaelmas, The Feast of the Archangels
In the Roman Catholic Calendar, this day is the Feast of the Archangels, sacred to Sts. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel.

Also traditionally called Michaelmas in honor of Michael, the Warrior Angel, the Christian counterpart of Egyptian, Celtic, Greco-Roman, Norse and other warrior deities worshipped on this day since ancient times, and of the universal archetype of the winged warrior whose victory over the reptilian dragon symbolizes the ascendancy of skyborn intelligence over earthbound matter. The name of the Archangel Michael comes from "Mi Ka El" (Who is equal to God?"), the words Michael is said to have spoken just before he smote Lucifer and sent the rebel angel smoking toward the Earth.

This is the feast day of St. Michael and all the Angels. It is the most ancient of all the angel festivals. The Anglican church celebrates all angels, both name and unnamed on one day. Roman and Orthodox Churches separate them into two categories (with the unnamed angels having their feast day on October 2nd).

From fairly early on, Michaelmas was an important holiday, the religious or Christian equivalent of the Autumnal Equinox. In England, it was considered the start of a new quarter. It marked the start of a new business year, a time for electing officials, making contracts, paying rent, hiring servants, holding court and starting school. Obviously we still see the remnants of this in the timing of our elections and school year.

This is also a time when the weather is known to change. In Italy, they say "For St. Michael, heat goes into the heavens." In Ireland, people expect a marked decrease in sickness or disease. The Irish also consider this a lucky day for fishing:

"Plenty comes to the boat on Micheael's Day."

Barolini (Recipes and Recollections of Italian Holidays), records a nursery rhyme about hours of sleep:

Nature requires five,
Custom gives seven,
Laziness takes nine
And Michaelmas eleven.

Michaelmas became the fixed date for the feast otherwise associated with Autumn Equinox or the harvest. As early as 1014, the laws of Ethelred in England prescribe a three day fast for all Christians before the feast. Servants weren't allowed to work during these days. Michaelmas was a time when rents were due, and rents were often paid in food. The traditional rent for Michaelmas was a goose.

Eating something rich like goose at this turning point of the year brings good luck. In Nottingham they say "If you eat roast goose on Michaelmas day, you will never want money all year." In Norfolk, they say, "if you don't baste the goose on Michaelmas Day, you will want money all year." In Yorkshire, they use the condition of the meat of the goose to predict the weather:

If the goose breast at Michaelmas be dour and dull
We'll have a sour winter, from the start to the full.

Fitzgibbon (A Taste of Ireland: Irish Traditional Foods) says the Irish used to stuff the goose with potato to cut the grease and absorb the flavor. This is like the traditional onion sauce served with goose in the 18th and 19th centuries and made from onions cooked in half milk and half water, with a slice of turnip, then mixed with butter, nutmeg, cream, salt and pepper and mashed. Apple sauce is the most common topping today.

In Italy, where this is clearly considered a harvest festival, they say "For St. Michael all the last fruits of the year are honeyed and ripe."

Cosman (Medieval Holidays and Festivals: A Calendar of Celebrations), says that it is traditional to eat ginger on Michaelmas. She mentions ginger ale, beer and wine, gingerbread, ginger snaps, fish baked with ginger and two ginger desserts: charwardon (made with large succulent wardon pears, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger) and ginger caramels with curls of ginger-root shavings on top.

Michaelmas daisy is the name given to flowers of the aster family which bloom at this time.

St Michael
Michael is a warrior angel often pictured poised with a sword over a dragon (or demon) that he tramples underfoot. Other times he rides a white steed, and carries a three-pronged spear in his right hand and a three-cornered shield in his left. He cast Lucifer and the other evil angels out of Paradise. Thus, in the Middle Ages was invoked as the patron of knights and warriors.

He's been honored since ancient times as a protector. Most of his churches are on high places, for instance, Mont St. Michel in Brittany, the church on the tor at Glastonbury, the church on the tumulus at Carnac. They were often built on the sites where Lugh, the Celtic God of Light, was worshipped earlier.

Although all angels are sent as messengers from on high, Michael has a special task. He's sent to fetch the souls of those who have died for judgement. For this reason he is also considered the patron saint of all trades that use scales which mean he looks after pastry chefs and weighers of grain.

Shango and Elegba
Among the Yoruba and Santeria peoples, this day is the feast of Shango, the Orisha of male sexual vitality and the passion of love. Like other great Santeria festivals, this one aligns with a Christian feast, in this case St. Michael's Day. In the voodoo tradition, Michael is equated with Elegba, the messenger god. All ceremonies begin and end with petitions to Elegba, the god of the crossroads, whose shrine is behind the door.

The Uinal of Maize
In the Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Maize, the seventh of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (4 Imix, Tzolkin 121). The principle that rules this Uinal is Proliferation. This uinal is advantageous for medicine, birthing and prophecy. Its symbol is the Butterfly.