Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ante Diem XI Kalendas December

Modern Date : November 21st

Ante Diem XI Kalendas December
Eleventh Day to the Kalends of December

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

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

Kukulcan (Quetzalcoatl)
The Mayans celebrated the arrival of Kukulcan around this time every year. They would fast, burn incense, offer food, and create exquisite banners of colored feathers for several days before his arrival. Quetzalcoatl ("feathered snake") is the Nahuatl name for the Feathered-Serpent deity of ancient Mesoamerica, one of the main gods of many Mexican and northern Central American civilizations.

The Feathered Serpent deity was important in art and religion in most of Mesoamerica for close to 2,000 years, from the Pre-Classic era until the Spanish conquest. Civilizations worshiping the Feathered Serpent included the Olmec, the Mixtec, the Toltec, the Aztec, and the Maya.

Mesoamerican priests and kings would sometimes take the name of a deity they were associated with, so Quetzalcoatl and Kukulcan are also the names of historical persons. The reason being that Quetzalcoatl called twelve to reign in his stead after he left the people of the Yucatan. He also called one man, who he gave his rights, priviledges and powers to administer in his religious duties. This one took on the name of the Deity, as to show the power had been given to this man. The name was pronounced differently, to denote this man a mortal, in contrast to Quetzalcoatl, Kate-Zal, or Kukulcan the God of wind and waves.

The exact significance and attributes of Quetzalcoatl varied somewhat between civilizations and through history. Quetzalcoatl was often considered the god of the morning star and his twin brother, Xolotl was the evening star (Venus). As the morning star he was known under the title Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, which means literally "the lord of the star of the dawn". He was known as the inventor of books and the calendar, the giver of maize corn to mankind, and sometime as a symbol of death and resurrection. Quetzalcoatl was also the patron of the priests and the title of the Aztec high priest.

Most Mesoamerican beliefs included cycles of worlds. Usually, our current time was considered the fifth world, the previous four having been destroyed by flood, fire and the like. Quetzalcoatl allegedly went to Mictlan, the underworld, and created fifth world-mankind from the bones of the previous races (with the help of Cihuacoatl), using his own blood, from a wound in his penis, to imbue the bones with new life.

His birth, along with his twin Xolotl, was unusual; it was a virgin birth, born to the goddess Coatlicue. Alternatively, he was a son of Xochiquetzal and Mixcoatl.

One Aztec story claims Quetzalcoatl was seduced by Tezcatlipoca into becoming drunk and sleeping with a celibate priestess, and then burned himself to death out of remorse. His heart became the morning star.

Quetzalcoatl is one of many "Hero" gods or "Sacrificing" gods found throughout the world's religions. Among these gods are Horus, Mithras, Buddha, Krishna, Hercules, and Jesus, known as the Christ. All these gods have simular traits including virgin birth, rebirth after a three day desent into the underworld, and a promise to mankind to return.

The Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II initially believed the landing of Hernán Cortés in 1519 was Quetzalcoatl's return. Cortés played off this belief to aid in his conquest of Mexico.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints incorporated the Quetzalcoatl story and graphed it to that of Jesus. In their beliefs, Jesus after his resurrection, appeared to the peoples of Mexico to spread his message, therefore Jesus became the feathered serpent of Mesoamerican lore.

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
According to Hoever in Lives of the Saints, this was the day on which Mary's parents took her to be presented in the temple. Apparently the Jews often dedicated their children to God, sometimes even before birth, and brought them to be presented before their fifth birthday. Sometimes they remained in the temple, learning to serve the sanctuary and the ministers by making vestments and ornaments, assisting at the services, etc.

Our Lady Halfsower/ Our Lady Manysower
In Greece, a good farmer should have sown half his field by the date of the Presentation of Mary, whence the name. It was also traditional to eat a dish made of several kinds of grain called polispermia (manyseed) or panspermia (allseed), a custom previously linked with the Greek lunar holiday celebrated on the 7th day of Pyanepsion. These special dishes were sent to friends. Handfuls of grain were thrown into fountains and wells with the wish, "As the water flows, so may riches flow."

In Anatolia, if the Pleiades set below the horizon, the weather will remain the same for the next forty days. The Macedonians say that seed sown before November 21st will sprout in a few days but seed sown afterwards will not come up for forty days.

Francois Marie Arouet (pen name Voltaire) was born on November 21, 1694 in Paris. Voltaire's intelligence, wit and style made him one of France's greatest writers and philosophers.

"If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."

Young Francois Marie received his education at "Louis-le-Grand," a Jesuit college in Paris where he said he learned nothing but "Latin and the Stupidities." He left school at 17 and soon made friends among the Parisian aristocrats. His humorous verses made him a favorite in society circles. In 1717, his sharp wit got him into trouble with the authorities. He was imprisoned in the Bastille for eleven months for writing a scathing satire of the French government. During his time in prison Francois Marie wrote "Oedipe" which was to become his first theatrical success and adopted his pen name "Voltaire."

In 1726, Voltaire insulted the powerful young nobleman, "Chevalier De Rohan," and was given two options: imprisonment or exile. He chose exile and from 1726 to 1729 lived in England. While in England Voltaire was attracted to the philosophy of John Locke and ideas of mathematician and scientist, Sir Isaac Newton. He studied England's Constitutional Monarchy and its religious tolerance. Voltaire was particularly interested in the philosophical rationalism of the time, and in the study of the natural sciences. After returning to Paris he wrote a book praising English customs and institutions. It was interpreted as criticism of the French government and in 1734, Voltaire was forced to leave Paris again.

At the invitation of his highly-intelligent woman friend, "Marquise du Chatelet," Voltaire moved into her "Chateau de Cirey" near Luneville in eastern France. They studied the natural sciences together for several years. In 1746, Voltaire was voted into the "Academie Francaise." In 1749, after the death of "Marquise du Chatelet" and at the invitation of the King of Prussia, "Frederick the Great," he moved to Potsdam (near Berlin in Germany). In 1753, Voltaire left Potsdam to return to France.

In 1759, Voltaire purchased an estate called "Ferney" near the French-Swiss border where he lived until just before of his death. Ferney soon became the intellectual capital of Europe. Voltaire worked continuously throughout the years, producing a constant flow of books, plays and other publications. He wrote hundreds of letters to his circle of friends. He was always a voice of reason. Voltaire was often an outspoken critic of religious intolerance and persecution.

At 65 he spent all of three days writing one of his most famous works, Candide. When he was an old man, Voltaire was advised to foreswear the Devil. He declined, saying “This is no time to make new enemies!”

Voltaire returned to a hero's welcome in Paris at age 83. The excitement of the trip was too much for him and he died in Paris. When he was dying, a priest was sent for. “Who sent you here, Monsieur l’Abbe?” the philosopher asked. “God himself, Monsieur Voltaire.” “Ah, my dear sir,” Voltaire replied, “and where are your credentials?”

Because of his criticism of the church Voltaire was denied burial in church ground. He was finally buried at an abbey in Champagne. In 1791 his remains were moved to a resting place at the Pantheon in Paris.

In 1814 a group of "ultras" (right-wing religious) stole Voltaire's remains and dumped them in a garbage heap. No one was the wiser for some 50 years. His enormous sarcophagus (opposite Rousseau's) was checked and the remains were gone. His heart, however, had been removed from his body, and now lies in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. His brain was also removed, but after a series of passings-on over 100 years, disappeared after an auction.