Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ante Diem IV Idus October

Modern Date : October 12th

Ante Diem IV Idus October
The Meditrinalia

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

The feasting and wine-drinking of the previous evening would have spilled over, most likely literally, into this and the subsequent days. Jupiter and Meditrina were honored again on this day. This day was also celebrated as a prelude to the Fontinalia, which starts presumably at midnight.

Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus celebrated a joint triumph this day in Rome in 166 AD.

On this day in 166 AD the sons of Marcus Antoninus, M. Aurelius Commodus and M. Annius Verus, were decreed the name Caesar, though they were but children. There was a ceremony, a celebration, and coins were struck in their honor.

October was the eighth month of the old Roman calendar and was sacred to the goddess Astraea, daughter of Zeus and Themis. The name October comes from Octo, meaning eight (March used to be the first month).

Aleister Crowley
The alleged "wickedest man in the world," Aleister Crowley, was born on this day in 1875. He was a member of several sects and founded the order of the Silver Star (Argentinum Astrum). His form of magick (as he spelled it) was unfortunately based on sex and drugs, and he died alone, scandalized, and bankrupt in 1947.

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."

Edward Alexander (Aleister) Crowley was born October 12, 1875 in Leamington Spa, England. His parents were members of the Plymouth Brethren, a strict fundamentalist Christian sect. As a result, Aleister grew up with a thorough biblical education and an equally thorough disdain of Christianity.

He attended Trinity College at Cambridge University, leaving just before completing his degree. Shortly thereafter he was introduced to George Cecil Jones, who was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Golden Dawn was an occult society led by S.L. MacGregor Mathers which taught magick, qabalah, alchemy, tarot, astrology, and other hermetic subjects. It had many notable members (including A.E. Waite, Dion Fortune, and W.B. Yeats), and its influence on the development of modern western occultism was profound.

Crowley was initiated into the Golden Dawn in 1898, and proceeded to climb up rapidly through the grades. But in 1900 the order was shattered by schism, and Crowley left England to travel extensively throughout the East. There he learned and practiced the mental and physical disciplines of yoga, supplementing his knowledge of western-style ritual magick with the methods of Oriental mysticism.

In 1903, Crowley married Rose Kelly, and they went to Egypt on their honeymoon. After returning to Cairo in early 1904, Rose (who until this point had shown no interest or familiarity with the occult) began entering trance states and insisting to her husband that the god Horus was trying to contact him. As a test, Crowley took Rose to the Boulak Museum and asked her to point out Horus to him. She passed several well-known images of the god and led Aleister straight to a painted wooden funerary stele from the 26th dynasty, depicting Horus receiving a sacrifice from the deceased, a priest named Ankh-f-n-khonsu. Crowley was especially impressed by the fact that this piece was numbered 666 by the museum, a number with which he had identified since childhood.

The upshot was that he began to listen to Rose, and at her direction, on three successive days beginning April 8, 1904, he entered his chamber at noon and wrote down what he heard dictated from a shadowy presence behind him. The result was the three chapters of verse known as Liber AL vel Legis, or The Book of the Law. This book heralded the dawning of the new aeon of Horus, which would be governed by the Law of Thelema. "Thelema" is a Greek word meaning "will", and the Law of Thelema is often stated as: "Do what thou wilt". As the prophet of this new aeon, Crowley spent the rest of his life working to develop and establish Thelemic philosophy.

In 1906 Crowley rejoined George Cecil Jones in England, where they set about the task of creating a magical order to continue where the Golden Dawn had left off. They called this order the A:.A:. (Astron Argon or Astrum Argentium or Silver Star), and it became the primary vehicle for the transmission of Crowley's mystical and magical training system based on the principles of Thelema.

Then in 1910 Crowley was contacted by Theodore Reuss, the head of an organization based in Germany called the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). This group of high-ranking Freemasons claimed to have discovered the supreme secret of practical magick, which was taught in its highest degrees. Apparently Crowley agreed, becoming a member of O.T.O. and eventually taking over as head of the order when Reuss suffered a stroke in 1921. Crowley reformulated the rites of the O.T.O. to conform them to the Law of Thelema, and vested the organization with its main purpose of establishing Thelema in the world. The order also became independent of Freemasonry (although still based on the same patterns) and opened its membership to women and men who were not masons.

Aleister Crowley died in Hastings, England on December 1, 1947. However, his legacy lives on in the Law of Thelema which he brought to mankind (along with dozens of books and writings on magick and other mystical subjects), and in the orders A:.A:. and O.T.O. which continue to advance the principles of Thelema to this day.

Feast of Dussehra
The 9-day Hindu Goddess Festival of Navaratri culminates in the feast of Dussehra. On this day in the Treta Yug, Ram (8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu), killed the great demon Ravan who had abducted Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his lovely wife Sita. The war against Ravan lasted for ten days and the story is recounted with affection and love in the great epic Ramayana.

Kautsa, the young son of Devdatt, a Brahmin, was living in the city of Paithan. After learning under the guidance of the rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting a present, or "gurudakshina". But the guru said, "Kautsa, to give 'dakshina' in return for the gift of wisdom is not proper. The disciple has become learned, this makes the guru happy, and this is the real gurudakshina." Kautsa was not satisfied. He still felt it was his duty to give his guru something. Finally the guru said, "Alright, you insist on giving me dakshina, so give me 14 crore gold coins, one crore for each of the 14 sciences I have taught you." Kautsa went to king Raghu. Raghuraja was an ancestor of Rama, famous for his generosity. But just at that time he had emptied all his coffers on the Brahmins, after performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. He asked Kautsa to give him three days' time. He immediately left to get the gold coins from Indra. Indra summoned Kuber, the god of wealth. Indra told Kuber, "Make a rain of gold coins fall on the "shanu" and "apati" trees round Raghuraja's city of Ayodhya." The rain of coins began to fall. King Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, and Kautsa hastened to offer the coins to Varatantu Rishi. But the guru had asked only 14 crores, so he gave the rest to Kautsa. But Kautsa was not interested in money. In those days honour was considered more valuable than wealth. He asked the king to take the remaining coins back. But the king would not. Finally Kautsa lavishly distributed the coins to the people of Ayodhya city. This happened on the day of Dussehra. In remembrance of this event the custom is kept of looting the leaves of the "apati" trees, and people present each other these leaves as "sone" (gold).

In ancient times kings used the feast of Dussehra to cross the frontier and fight against their neighbouring kingdoms. This border crossing is known as "seema ollanghan". Dussehra marked the beginning of the war season.

This was also the day to worship the weapons. According to legend, Pandav went to dwell in the forest. On the way he hid his weapons in the hole of a "shami" tree. After one year he returned from the forest and on Dussehra day he took again his weapons and worshipped the shami tree and the weapons. Hence the custom of worshipping weapons on this feast started.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, from today through Sunday, is celebrated as the divine emanation Ameretat, the green force, creator and driver of vegetable energy. Ameretat, Long Life or Immortality, is lord of the fourth creation, plants. After Angra Mainya destroyed Creation she spread seeds over the earth again to restore the plants so the homa ceremony would continue.

Yom Kippur
In the Jewish Calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins at sunset on 10/12, and continues until sunset the next day. This is a time of fasting, of righting wrongs committed over the year just past, and of giving and receiving forgiveness.

The 10th day of the Jewish lunar month of Tishri, is the Day of Atonement. During the ancient ritual, described in Leviticus 16, the high priest sacrificed a bull and a goat to purify the shrine, and sent away a second (scape)goat to cleanse the sins of the community. During the time of the Second Temple, the high priest appeared before the people three times and recited a formula of confession: the first an account of his own sins and those of his household, the second on account of the priestly tribe of Levi and the third on account of the whole people. The ceremony involved a triple entry into the Holy of Holies, a triple recitation of God's Most Holy Name and a triple prostration by the people. After these most solemn ceremonies, the young men and women danced in the fields and chose spouses for themselves.

Nowadays, the shofar sounds the end of the Day of Atonement and people perform the blessing of the moon in the courtyard and exchange wishes for the new year. In Yemen, a quince is the fruit eaten to break the fast in Yemen. In Tunis, the fast is broken with bulu, a pastry of flour, eggs and raisins.

Ante Diem V Idus October

Modern Date : October 11th

Ante Diem V Idus October
The Meditrinalia

This day is for special religious observance.

The festival of the Meditranalia begins the festive period of the month. Meditrina is the goddess of healing and wine would have been consumed in her honor as it was considered to have medicinal properties. Meditrina lends her name to the Mediterranean sea which in Roman times was called Mare Nostrum [our sea]. Jupiter also, as a wine-god, was honored on this day. Feasting and games were in order for this and the next several days. Romans on this day sampled both old wine and the new wine, wine that was not yet fully fermented. This ritual sampling cured disease, according to this verse which was recited:

Novum vetus vinum bibo,
Novo veteri morbo medeor.
I drink new and old wine,
I cure new and old disease.

This is the third and final day of the Thesmophoria in Greece.

October was the eighth month of the old Roman calendar and was sacred to the goddess Astraea, daughter of Zeus and Themis. The name October comes from Octo, meaning eight (March used to be the first month).

Chrysanthemum Day
One of the five sacred festivals of ancient Japan, celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (or the ninth day of the ninth month). People drink chrysanthemum wine (warm sake sweetened and flavored with chrysanthemum petals), eat chrysanthemum cakes and admire chrysanthemum flowers. Often the chrysanthemum viewing goes on throughout the ninth month.

According to Ha, chrysanthemum cakes are dumplings made from mixing yellow chrysanthemum petals with rice flour. Ha also mentions a beverage made of honey water with mandarin oranges, pears, pomegranates and pine-nuts floating in it. You can also make chrysanthemum wine by placing a petal in a cup of sake. You should also place a cup of sake with a complete flower in it on your altar.

Erskine (Japanese Festival and Calendar Lore) records a custom called "cotton nursing of the chrysanthemum" which he observed in 1933. On the eve of the festival, people put cotton wool on the chrysanthemum flowers. The next morning they collected the damp cotton and used it to wipe their bodies. He comments that this shows a desire both to protect the flowers from frost and to use the dew for healing.

In many parts of Japan, people made puppets and scenes entirely out of chrysanthemums. The puppets were slightly larger than life-size, with heads, hands and feet made of wax or paste, but clothes of chrysanthemum petals, grown inside a framework and trained to cover the surface with a velvety coat of petals. Since these figures were expensive to make, often an entrance fee was charged to enter the parks where they were displayed.

The day before Yom Kippur is a time to make reparations. One traditional way of doing this is to sacrifice a chicken--a rooster for men, a hen for women. The fowl is held in the left hand, while the right hand is laid on its head and then it is swung around three times while saying "This is my substitute, this is my exchange, this is my atonement. This fowl will go to death and I will enter upon a good, long life and peace." The chicken is slaughtered, and its liver, kidney and guts put out for the birds. In some places, the meat is given to the poor; in other places, a donation of the cost of the chicken is made instead.

In some places, Kapparot is done with food plants instead of animals. Early in Elul (the month preceding Tishri), children fill baskets with dirt and seeds of wheat, barley, peas and beans. By the eve of Yom Kippur, the plants are a few inches tall, and ready to be swung about the head with the same invocation and thrown into a stream. In other places, it is the custom to take 18 coins, held in a fist over the head of each child, which are then whirled as Kapparot and given to the poor.

During the afternoon, people visit ritual bathhouses to purify themselves for the following day. In many parts of the world, people spend all night in the synagogue praying.