Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ante Diem XVI Kalendas November

Modern Date : October 17th Market Day

Ante Diem XVI Kalendas November
Sixteenth Day to the Kalends of November

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

"quid non mortalia pectora cogis, auri sacra fames?"
Accursed hunger for gold, to what lengths do you not drive human hearts?
Vergil's Aeneid

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).

Full Moon in Aries
Full Moon in Aries, opposite Sun in Libra. There are currents of disharmony in this opposition, as it sets an impulsive female drive for self-assertion and power on a collision course with male resistance to movement or change. At the same time, the Sun-Moon tension and cohesion in the relationships of individual couples is, for the moment, sublimated into the spiritual activity of awakening into deeper awareness within larger community of friends, so all kinds of brainstorming and other co-creativity are greatly favored. As the Sun remains "in fall" in Libra (until 10/23), but is fortified now in conjunction with Jupiter and a sextile (60° angle) with Pluto, who is also trine (120° from) the Aries Moon from his position in Sagittarius.

At this Full Moon there is a partial lunar eclipse, visible in whole or in part through latitudes from central North America through the Pacific and the eastern area of the Indian Ocean. The center of the six-hour eclipse period is at 12:03pm Greenwich Meridian Time.

In the Celtic-Druidic calendar, this Full Moon is called Blood Moon. Also Hunter’s Moon and the Changing Seasons Moon before the New Year comes at Samhain, on Nov. 1.

Shukaku Matsuri
Today is Shukaku Matsuri or Kanname-Sai, "God-Tasting Event," a Japanese Shinto ceremony during which the first fruits of the year's rice crop are offered to the sun goddess and other imperial ancestors. The first fruits are offered to the Shinto gods in Japan. This is the date of the Festival of Departed Worthies, lasting for six days.

The Asatru festival of the Hengest commemorates the Anglo-Saxon settlement of eastern Britain during the 5th century by the generals Hengest and Horsa. The facts of his life are unknown, but according to Bede (writing nearly 200 years after the events in question), he and his brother Horsa were mercenaries for the British ruler Vortigern, hired to fight against the Picts. Following his victories over the Picts, Hengest invited more immigrants from Germany to settle in Britain and then rebelled against Vortigern, establishing himself as king in Kent.

Both Hengest and Horsa are described as being Jutes, and sons of a Jutish chief named Wihtgils.

The actual historical existence of both Hengest and Horsa has been called into question numerous times, with many historians labeling these two as legendary 'divine twins' or culture heroes along the order of Romulus and Remus. It is perhaps more likely that Hengest, meaning 'Stallion' in Old English (in modern German 'Hengst' is still the word for a stallion), was an honorific for an actual warlord, while Horsa was a later accretion to the story, perhaps as a misreading of a gloss in a manuscript that was written to define the name Hengest as meaning 'horse'.

Later accounts, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Historia Britonum, by Geoffrey of Monmouth, and by Robert Wace add further details from tradition and legend about Hengest's career. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle dates his death to 488, but does not provide a cause; according to some tellings of the Arthurian legend, he was killed by the British king Uther Pendragon. Hengest is the subject of the 1620 play Hengist, King of Kent, or The Mayor of Queenborough by Thomas Middleton.

Hengest is also a character in the Fight at Finnsburg narrative mentioned in the Finnsburg Fragment and the Beowulf poem. In these texts, Hengest is a Danish warrior who takes control of the Danish forces after the prince Hnæf is killed, and succeeds in killing the Frisian lord Finn in revenge for his lord's death.

The events in these accounts had a historical basis, and have been supposed by historians to have occurred approximately 450 A.D. This makes these events contemporary with the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England, though what connection (if any) exists between the two Hengests is unknown.

Nevertheless, some have speculated that the two Hengests are one and the same. A point against this theory is the fact that one Hengest is described as a Jute and the other a Dane, though this does not serve as a conclusive disproof, as distinctions between adjacent groups (both Jutes and Danes lived in Denmark) were sometimes vague.

St Audrey
Not remarkable for much except the evolution of the word "tawdry" because of the poor quality of the lace sold and much admired by country girls during a fair on her feast day on the Isle of Ely.

Around 640, there was an English princess named Ethelreda, but she was known as Audrey. She married once, but was widowed after three years, and it was said that the marriage was never consummated. She had taken a perpetual vow of virginity, but married again, this time for reasons of state. Her young husband soon grew tired of living as brother and sister and began to make advances on her. She continually refused. He eventually attempted to bribe the local bishop, Saint Wilfrid of York, to release Audrey from her vows.

Saint Wilfrid refused, and helped Audrey escape. She fled south, with her husband following. They reached a promontory known as Colbert's Head, where a heaven sent seven day high tide separated the two. Eventually, Audrey's husband left and married someone more willing, while Audrey took the veil, and founded the great abbey of Ely, where she lived an austere life. She eventually died of an enormous and unsightly tumor on her neck, which she gratefully accepted as Divine retribution for all the necklaces she had worn in her early years. Throughout the Middle Ages, a festival, "St. Audrey's Fair", was held at Ely on her feast day. The exceptional shodiness of the merchandise, especially the neckerchiefs, contributed to the English language the word "tawdry", a corruption of "Saint Audrey."

Feast of Sekhmet
On this day the Egyptian month of Koiak, sacred to the Lion Goddess Sekhmet, begins with Sekhmet's own Feast, celebrating her aspect as protector of the land and people. Sekhmet means "The Mighty One," and she was one of the most powerful of the gods and goddesses. She was the goddess who meted out divine punishment to the enemies of the gods and of the pharaoh. In this capacity she was called the "Eye of Ra." She also accompanied the pharaoh into battle, launching fiery arrows into battle ahead of him. Sekhmet could also send plagues and disease against her enemies, but was sometimes invoked to avoid plague and cure disease.

Sekhmet's capacity for destruction is well-documented. In one story, Ra sends her to punish those mortals who have forgotten him and she ends up nearly destroying the entire human race. Only the cleverness of Ra stops her rampage before it consumes every living thing.

Sukkoth, the Feast of Tabernacles
The two-day festival of Sukkoth, the "Feast of Tabernacles" is the beginning of a nine-day festival cycle culminating in Simhat Torah (10/25 - 26), begins today. Sukkoth is the annual Rite of Ingathering in the Jewish Calendar, honoring God for His protection of his people, and giving thanks for the grape harvest, celebrated in a dance ceremony and wine offering.