Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ante Diem XIX Kalendas January

Modern Date : December 14th

Ante Diem XIX Kalendas January
Ninteenth Day to the Kalends of January

This is one of the dies fasti on which legal actions are permitted.

On the 29th of Tybi, Thoth sent Bast and Sekhmet to guide Egypt.

Decima, the middle Fate in charge of the present, presides over December, but the month may have received its name as the tenth month of the Roman calendar. Vesta, patroness of fire also laid claim to the month of December.

Halcyon Days
Alycone, whose name means Queen Who Wards Off Evil [Storms], was the daughter of Aeolus, the god of winds. She was so happy in her marriage with Ceyx, son of the Morning Star, that they called themselves Zeus and Hera (surely not the couple that comes to mind when searching Greek mythology for an example of a happy marriage). At any rate, this made Zeus mad and he struck down the ship on which Ceyx was sailing with a thunderbolt. When her husband's ghost appeared before her, Alcyone threw herself into the sea and drowned. Some pitying god transformed them both into kingfishers.

The legend goes that every winter during the Halcyon Days, seven days before the Winter Solstice and seven days after, the female kingfisher carries her dead mate to his burial, then builds a nest, launches it onto the sea, lays her eggs and hatches her chicks. While she is brooding over them, the sea is unusually calm since Aeolus sees to it that no winds blow. Aristotle refers to a poem about this time written by Simonides of Ceos: "when in the winter month Zeus brings calm to fourteen days that earthlings call the time when the wind is forgotten, the holy breeding-season of the many-colored alcyon."

Actually kingfishers do not nest on water, but lay eggs in holes by the waterside. Robert Graves(The Greek Myths) suggests that the myth refers to the birth of the new sacred king at winter solstice, after the Queen, who represents his mother, has conveyed the old king's corpse to a sepulchral island. The Mediterranean is typically calm around the time of the Winter Solstice.

There was another Alcyone in Greek myth, the daughter of Pleione ("sailing queen") and leader of the seven Pleiades. The rising of the Pleiades in May signalled the beginning of the navigational year, which ended when they set. Thus the legend seems to speak of a goddess who protects sailors from storms. The dried body of a kingfisher is used as a talisman against lightning.

Shakespeare refers to this legend in this passage from Hamlet:

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.
- Hamlet, I, i 157

Nostradamus, (December 14, 1503 – July 1, 1566) born Michel de Nostredame, is the world's most famous Judicial astrologer and author of prophecies. He is most famous for his book Les Propheties, called today - "The Centuries" - which consists of rhymed quatrains (4‑line poems) grouped into sets of 100, called Centuries.

Nostradamus predicted a copious number of events in world history, including the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution; World War I and World War II; the creation and use of the atom bomb, the rise of Napoleon and Adolf Hitler and the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Nostradamus' prophecies cover the full range of world history and forecasted the 2003 invasion of Iraq as well as the coming of the Third and last Anti-Christ.

The prophecies are strictly astrological in nature; requiring that the reader/interpreter be fully versed in the practice of "judicial astrology" - by which Nostradamus claimed was the science he used to predict the world's future from his era of the 16th Century. To accurately read and thus break the codes which his prophecies are based upon and locked against the uneducated, one must be learned in the celestial science of judicial astrology, according to Nostradamus.

St. John of the Cross
This is also the feast of St. John of the Cross, the mystic poet who was curiously canonized after his death by the same church that persecuted, imprisoned and tortured him, thus causing the suffering that apparently produced some of the greatest mystical poetry in the Christian tradition.

St. John of the Cross stands as one of the most important mystical philosophers in Christian history. The son of a rich merchant, John was born Juan de Yepes y Alvarez in Fontiveros, Spain in 1542. John's father died when the boy was quite young, leaving his mother, a member of a lower social class, to raise him alone. After gaining employment in a plague hospital, John, at age 18, began to study with the Jesuits. He entered the Carmelite Order in 1563, continuing his studies at the University of Salamanca, where he began to teach while still a student. After being ordained in 1567, John met St. Teresa of Avila, another of the great mystics of the Christian tradition.

Following Teresa's lead in attempting to reform his Order, John, in 1568, initiated a very severe form of monasticism in a tiny farmhouse. These monks went so far as to go barefoot, indicating their commitment to poverty, lending to them the appellation of "Discalced" or "shoeless." Over time, a rift arose between the traditional Carmelites and John's Discalced Carmelites, leading in 1576 to John's arrest and imprisonment. During this period of imprisonment, John wrote much of the poetry that would provide his greatest contribution to later generations.

Eventually, the rights of the Discalceds were recognized, and John took on various roles of leadership within the order. After some fifteen years of leadership, he died in 1591, leaving behind a number of remarkable works of Christian mysticism: Ascent of Mount Carmel, Dark Night of the Soul, and the Spiritual Canticle of the Soul.

Ember Day
The Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after December 13th are Ember Days, when Catholics say special prayers for the clergy.

The Hopi celebration of the return of life, Soyal, is a month long ceremony which begins with the new moon before the shortest day of the year. The major rights which occur approximately seven days before the solstice include a celebration of creation and rebirth dedicated to the Spider Woman and Hawk Maiden. A failed mock attack is made against the holder of the sun shield. This represents the sun's victory over winter's darkness.

Mevlana Festival
In the festival calendars of Turkey and some other Islamic countries, the Mevlana Festival, honoring the Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi, is held within these days. This anniversary day of Rumi's death is called an Urs, which literally means marriage, because it is the day on which the saint left his physical body to enter into union with Allah, the Friend, the Beloved.

"Enter the thicket of lions unafraid of any wounds. The shadows you fear are just a child's fantasy. There is no wound, and nothing to be wounded. All is mercy and love." (Version by Coleman Barks.)

Idus December

Modern Date : December 13th

Idus December
The Ides of December

This day is for special religious observance.

This day is sacred to Jupiter and rites would be performed this day in his various temples.

This day is also sacred to Tellus. Tellus was the goddess of the earth, by whose power plants potent for enchantments were produced.

Decima, the middle Fate in charge of the present, presides over December, but the month may have received its name as the tenth month of the Roman calendar. Vesta, patroness of fire also laid claim to the month of December.

Geminid Meteor Shower
The Geminid Meteor Shower peaks tonight and tomorrow. This can be one of the year's better celestial shows, with relatively bright (average magnitude 2.5) meteors appearing at a rate of some 50 - 80 per hour. The Moon is nearly full, however, so viewing will be less than perfect.

Feast of St. Lucy
In Christian calendars, the Feast of St. Lucy, Santa Lucia, the great north European winter Festival of Lights. This day is also Little Yule in the Norse calendar, followed a week later by the Yuletide cycle. Interestingly, the old Swedish feast of Lucia and the similarly-named Roman feast of Juno Lucina-- honoring the matron goddess Juno as keeper of the home fires -- developed independently in very ancient times, and merged later into the Christian feast of St. Lucy. The eldest daughter of each family is dressed in white and crowned with pine twigs and candles. She brings coffee to her parents in bed and is later given the seat of honor at a brightly lit breakfast. The Celts call it Gwyl o Golau.

Lucy is a Sicilian saint, the patroness of Syracuse where she was martyred in the reign of Diocletian. One story says that when a suitor admired her beautiful eyes she cut them out and sent them to him, asking to be left in peace thereafter (like most early Christian virgin martyrs, she refused marriage). Now she is the patron of eye diseases and the blind and is often depicted carrying her eyeballs on a plate.

Lucy means “light.” Lucina is the Sabine goddess of Light, who was often pictured holding a plate of cakes (later mistaken for eyeballs) and a lamp. She was later absorbed into an aspect of Juno, Juno Lucina, who is goddess of childbirth, bringing children to light. Since Lucy's day falls right before (or, before the calendar change, upon) the winter solstice, she can be seen as the midwife of the miraculous sun-child who is born at Yule.

In Italy, her feast day is celebrated with torchlight processions and bonfires, clear indications of her role as light bringer. Apparently untroubled by the gruesome imagery, Italians eat St. Lucy’s eyes, cakes or biscotti shaped like eyeballs. In honor of a miracle performed by St Lucy during a famine in 1582 (she made a flotilla of grain-bearing ships appear in the harbor — the people were so hungry they boiled and ate the grain without grinding it into flour), Sicilians don't eat anything made with wheat flour on her day. Instead they eat potatoes or rice in the form of arancine, golden croquettes shaped and fried to the color of oranges and filled with chopped meats. In Palermo, everyone eats cuccia, a dessert of whole-wheat berries cooked in water, then mixed with sweet ricotta.

The celebration of St Lucy spread over all of Europe. But the place where she is most beloved is Scandinavia, where light is especially welcome in the long hours of winter darkness. On her day, the eldest (or youngest) daughter rises before dawn and fixes a breakfast of special pastries and coffee for her family. She appears in their bedrooms, dressed in a white dress belted with a red sash, and wearing a wreath of greens and four (or seven or nine) lighted candles. Sometimes the wreath is made of green rue and decorated with red ribbons. She serves traditional pastries called lussekatter (or Lucy cats), x-shaped pastries, sometimes flavored with saffron. Other traditional foods served in her honor include saffron buns, ginger biscuits and glogg, a hot spiced wine with aquavit.

Later in the day, St Lucy makes a public appearance. Christina Hole describes a typical Swedish procession: St Lucy wearing her crown (of lingonberries or whortleberry twigs and surmounted with seven or nine candles) processes around the village followed by her attendants (young girls clad in white with glitter in their hair), star-boys (wearing white shirts and tall cone-shaped hats decorated with stars) and other children dressed as trolls and demons and old men. Sometimes St. Stephen (represented by a man on horseback) leads the way. In Switzerland, St Lucy strolls around the village with Father Christmas, giving gifts to the girls while he gives gifts to the boys. In Norway, Lucy is considered a loose woman, even a goblin, and is said to lead the Wild Hunt.

In Hungary, bands of Kotylok (cacklers) or fortune-telling lads go from house to house singing ancient fertility chants. The Kotylok wish for hens and geese, for many eggs and bountiful blessings. If the mistress of the house welcomes the singers and gives them the traditional present of dried pears, blessings will follow. If not, the chicken population may be reduced to one and that one blind (St Lucy's connection with eyesight showing up again in a rather peculiar application).

Just as the Italian Santa Lucia (Loo-CEE-a) partakes of the qualities of Juno Lucina, the midwife aspect of Juno the Queen of Heaven, the Scandinavian St Lucia (pronounced LOO-sha) partakes of the qualities of Freya, Queen of Heaven. Helen Farias(The Beltane Papers) speculates that the constellation we now know as Orion was once viewed by Celts as the great goddess Bride (the girl representing Lucy is called the Lucy Bride) and by the Northerners as the Goddess Freya. (Orion’s belt was sometimes called “Freya’s Distaff”). Many centuries ago, this constellation processed across the sky during the winter nights, setting in the west at dawn about the time the daughter dresses herself as Lucy. Freya travels across the sky in a chariot drawn by cats. (Now Orion reappears in the North American sky in December.) Perhaps Lucy’s celebration replaced earlier rites devoted to Freya, thus explaining the Lucy cats and the star-boys.

This day is called Kolo-hajime in Japan, 'the beginning of things,' because preparations for New Year begin today. These include housecleaning, decorating, and the pounding of rice for cakes (mochi). Presents of money are made to servants at this time of year.