Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ante Diem V Kalendas November

Modern Date : October 28th

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

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

Maxentius became co-emperor this day in 306 AD. He died this same day, drowning at the Milvian bridge in 312 AD.

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).

The Isia
In Egypt, and many parts of the Roman Empire, this day was one of the days set aside to honor Isis. This day was called The Isia, but the Festival of Isis continues through on November 3rd. Isis was one of the most popular foreign deities in Rome. Isis was the Egyptian mother goddess. Although a foreign deity, Isis was honored with a temple at Rome. Professional singers, musicians, and dancers, mostly female, would perform at the temple during this festival. The performance involved actors playing the parts of Isis and Nephthys in the mystery plays celebrating the death and resurrection of Osiris. These were perhaps the oldest mystery plays on earth, predating even those of Mesopotamia.

This the 12th day of Koiak and the first day of the Isia - Zetesis and Heuresis, the six-day ceremony of the “Search and Discovery,” ending with the Hilaria on the 3rd of November. As the nights grow longer, darkness increases. The gilded image of a cow is shrouded with a black linen vestment to display as a sign of the mourning of Isis. This continues for four days. On the first day, actors impersonating Isis, Nephythys, Anubis, Horus, etc., searched for the body of Osiris. Hathor, in her aspect of the World Mother is honored. This is the Day of Transformation into the Bennu Bird.

The Norse festival of Fyribod or Forebode is a notable day for rain and bad weather. The festival denotes the death of Balder, the Norse god of the Sun, and the turning of the year towards winter. Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941) in "The Golden Bough" writes:

"A DEITY whose life might in a sense be said to be neither in heaven nor on earth but between the two, was the Norse Balder, the good and beautiful god, the son of the great god Odin, and himself the wisest, mildest, best beloved of all the immortals. The story of his death, as it is told in the younger or prose Edda, runs thus. Once on a time Balder dreamed heavy dreams which seemed to forebode his death. Thereupon the gods held a council and resolved to make him secure against every danger. So the goddess Frigg took an oath from fire and water, iron and all metals, stones and earth, from trees, sicknesses and poisons, and from all four-footed beasts, birds, and creeping things, that they would not hurt Balder. When this was done Balder was deemed invulnerable; so the gods amused themselves by setting him in their midst, while some shot at him, others hewed at him, and others threw stones at him. But whatever they did, nothing could hurt him; and at this they were all glad. Only Loki, the mischief-maker, was displeased, and he went in the guise of an old woman to Frigg, who told him that the weapons of the gods could not wound Balder, since she had made them all swear not to hurt him. Then Loki asked, “Have all things sworn to spare Balder?” She answered, “East of Walhalla grows a plant called mistletoe; it seemed to me too young to swear.” So Loki went and pulled the mistletoe and took it to the assembly of the gods. There he found the blind god Hother standing at the outside of the circle. Loki asked him, “Why do you not shoot at Balder?” Hother answered, “Because I do not see where he stands; besides I have no weapon.” Then said Loki, “Do like the rest and show Balder honour, as they all do. I will show you where he stands, and do you shoot at him with this twig.” Hother took the mistletoe and threw it at Balder, as Loki directed him. The mistletoe struck Balder and pierced him through and through, and he fell down dead. And that was the greatest misfortune that ever befell gods and men. For a while the gods stood speechless, then they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. They took Balder’s body and brought it to the sea-shore. There stood Balder’s ship; it was called Ringhorn, and was the hugest of all ships. The gods wished to launch the ship and to burn Balder’s body on it, but the ship would not stir. So they sent for a giantess called Hyrrockin. She came riding on a wolf and gave the ship such a push that fire flashed from the rollers and all the earth shook. Then Balder’s body was taken and placed on the funeral pile upon his ship. When his wife Nanna saw that, her heart burst for sorrow and she died. So she was laid on the funeral pile with her husband, and fire was put to it. Balder’s horse, too, with all its trappings, was burned on the pile."

This was a time when all house affairs were put into order. The war boats were put to shore in anticipation of the coming winter. The harvest, now over, the people celebrated the passing of the sun and buckled down for the long dark nights to come.

Days of the Dead
In Puebla in Mexico, the accidentados (the souls of those who died in accidents) return on this day, followed by the angelitos (the souls of dead children) who show up at noon on October 31, to be followed by the souls of dead adults on November 1st. Altars are adorned with candles, food, and marigolds, the flowers of the dead. Sometimes paths of flower petals are laid to guide the souls from the street to the altar.

Sts. Simon and Jude
They were among the Twelve Apostles. Some say they were shepherds to whom the Christ Child's birth was announced by the Angels. According to tradition Simon was martyred by being sawn in half, thus he is the patron of woodcutters. Jude is the patron of hopeless causes, because of his obscurity and unpopularity (due, no doubt to his association (by name) with the traitor, Judas).

In England, it is certain to rain heavily on the day of Simon and Jude. Venetians say San Simon Squarzavele brings the winter winds.