Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ante Diem XII Kalendas December

Modern Date : November 20th

Ante Diem XII Kalendas December
Twelfth Day to the Kalends of December

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

On this day the Greeks celebrated the festival of Praetextatus and Paulina, who were the guardians of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Many Romans aspired to pass the initiation rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were presumably the mysteries of the Earth, but not all succeeded. Cicero succeeded, but the Emperor Nero failed.

The emperor Maximinus Daia was born in Illyricum this day in 270 AD. He committed suicide at age 43.

Diocletian became emperor this day in 284 AD, after Numerian was killed.

Diocletian celebrated his Vicennalia this day in 303 AD.

On this day in 393 AD, Honorius, the future Eastern Roman emperor, was made Augustus.

November is the ninth month (after March) and is a lucky month which is almost free of religious obligation.

Sekhmet and the Purifying Flame
In the Egyptian calendar, ceremony of Sekhmet and the purifying flame, first day of a four-day cycle honoring the lion goddess in her aspect as the purifying fire (Month of Tybi, day 5). Sekhmet was the fierce lion-headed Goddess of healing and retribution, from ancient Egypt, who wore the solar globe surrounded by a uraeus (fire-spitting cobra) on her head. Her great power as both healer and destroyer paralleled that of the desert sun and her breath produced the hot desert winds. She was a Goddess more ancient than the myths that told her story, described by 4000 different names. She also ruled over the Tablets of Destiny, holding everyone's fate in her hands.

Stir Up Sunday
The last Sunday before Advent begins was called Stir-Up Sunday in England, a name derived from the first words of the Collect read in Church on that day: "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people." This was creatively applied as an injunction to start making the Christmas puddings and pies, which folklore says, should be stirred clockwise with a wooden spoon, with all family members taking a turn in this order: mother, father, children and visitors.

St Edmund
King of East Anglia at age 14 on Christmas Day 855. A model ruler, concerned with justice for his people. Spent a year sequestered at Hunstanton learning the Psalter by heart. Following one of a series of armed engagement with invading Danes, he was captured. He was ordered to give his Christian people to the pagan invaders; he refused was beaten, whipped, shot with arrows and beheaded at Hoxne, Suffolk, England 20 November 870.

"Set garlic and beans at St Edmund the King
The moon in the wane, thereof hangeth a thing"

Advice from Thomas Tusser, who wrote a long rhymed poem offering seasonal advice for the farmer in the 16th century. Alas, the moon is waxing on St Edmund's Day this year. Gussow in her book on growing your own food says that she always plants her garlic after the first full moon (thus when the moon is waning) after the first frost, which would be this same tide.