Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ante Diem XVII Kalendas January

Modern Date : December 16th

Ante Diem XVII Kalendas January
Seventeenth Day to the Kalends of January

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

Feast of Sapienta
The goddess of wisdom, Sapienta or Sophia, was honored with a feast today before the beginning of Saturnalia. Sophia, or Hohkma or Sapienta etc... is the primary female figure of Judeo-Christianity, She was once very important, but because of the efforts of men who had a very serious problem with the female force in nature and themselves She has all but been exsponged from modern Bibles. She was the veiled holy spirit of wisdom, pregnant with knowledge and inviting us to drink deeply from Her cup. Old Jewish literature tells of Her role as God's co-creator, "She reaches out from one end of the earth to the other with full strength and orders all things well...Herself unchanging, she makes all things anew." without Her God is powerless. She shares God's throne, and is his creative breath. The Shakers recognized her in the rhyme: "Wisdom holds the Mother's seat, and is the Father's helper-meet." The Christian "Holy Spirit" is Sapienta, the female aspect of God.

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.

Venus in Aquarius
On this day Venus exits the sign of Capricorn and enters the more hospitable air sign of Aquarius for a very brief visit. Venus "goes retrograde" on the 24th, and will move back into Capricorn on New Year's day. She will re-enter Aquarius on March 6.

Las Posadas
In the Roman Catholic calendar, the year's most efficacious novena--that is, nine-day prayer cycle--begins now on the ninth day before Christmas. This novena, also called Las Posadas in Hispanic countries, commemorates the journey of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph toward Jerusalem for the birth of Jesus.

In Mexico during the nine nights before Christmas, children re-enact the drama of Mary and Joseph searching for room at the inn. They dress up and process from house to house, looking for shelter (Las Posadas means inn or shelter). One child, dressed as an angel heads the procession, followed by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph (or carrying statues of Mary and Joseph) followed by others carrying lighted candles. At each home they come to, they sing a vilancicos, a medieval Spanish carol, which features improvised lines by the members of the group. "En nombre del ciel," they beg ("in heaven's name") but the reply is always "Marchad a otra parte, y buena venture" ("move on elsewhere and good luck") until they read a house where one family sings "Pase la escogida" ("Let the chosen one enter").

Once inside they place their lighted candles around the nacimiento (nativity scene) and say a prayer and a blessing for their generous hosts. Then it's time for a party featuring fruit, hot punch, bunelos (pastries) and sometimes tamales or pozole (a thick stewlike dish).

In some parts of Mexico a pinata is broken on each of the nine nights of Las Posadas. In other places, it is broken only on Christmas Eve. The pinata, made of paper mache applied over a clay pot, is filled with treats including nuts, fresh limes, sugar canes and small green fruits.

Pastorelas, or shepherd's plays, are also performed during this time period. These plays were introduced by Franciscan friars. A group of shepherds start towards Bethlehem, but are tempted by devils. Angels rush in to rescue the shepherds and drive off the devils. These plays feature singing, dancing and satire, much like the medieval English mummer's plays which were often performed during the winter holidays.

Moon Overhead
On the fifteenth day of the eleventh Chinese lunation, shadows look extremely short. Small boys and girls wait until the moon is overhead and then look at the odd shapes cast by shadows.

Ante Diem XVIII Kalendas January

Modern Date : December 15th Market Day

Ante Diem XVIII Kalendas January
Eighteenth Day to the Kalends of January

This day is for special religious observance.

The Consualia
This day is sacred to Consus, the deity of Time, or who we sometimes personify as Father Time, whose exit we celebrate with the coming new year. The Temple of Consus is uncovered on this day and opened to public worship. Horse races and mule races were held in the Circus Maximus in his honor. As part of the ceremonies, the rex sacrorum would appear in full garb riding his horse-drawn chariot once around the Circus Maximus.

The emperor Nero, one of the most incompetent emperors ever to hold power, was born this day in 37 AD. He was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus at Antium (Anzio). Spoiled from birth, he was incapable of handling the affairs of state and spent his days languishing in feasts, orgies, and musical and poetic entertainment.

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.

Full Moon in Gemini
Full Moon in Gemini, opposite Sun in Sagittarius. This Full Moon is typically one of the year's most festive and joyous, combining as it does the hearty enthusiasm and cheer of Jupiter, ruler of the sign of the Archer, and the quick communicativeness of Mercury, who rules Gemini, both aligned at the feast-while-you-can moment just before the onset of winter.

Note, however, that Pluto in Sagittarius conjoins the Sun, thereby suggesting that this time there will be weightier and more urgent priorities at hand, and holiday geasting may have the status of a lucury this time around.

In Celtic/Druidic and Wiccan calendars, this December Full Moon is called Oak Moon. Also Moon of the Long Nights, as this Full Moon is often closest to Mother Night and the Winter Solstice.

At Kasuga Shrine in Japan's ancient capital of Nara, the gods are treated to an amazing four-day performance of music, theatre and dance at the On-Matsuri (winter festival). This is one of the world's many December feasts in which sacred images are removed from their shrines, purified and reinstalled. The rare feature of the On-Matsuri is that the gods are placed in a temporary shrine fronted by a stage on which they, and humans who also like to come and watch, get to see for four days any and every kind of traditional performance Japan has.

Rural Dionysion
The ancient Greeks celebrated this holiday at different times in different neighborhoods but usually around the time of the full moon in Poseidon. Plutarch complained that the rustic festival he remembered from his youth, featuring a jar of wine, a vine, a goat, a basket of raisins and a depiction of a phallus had been replaced with an elaborate procession featuring gold vessels, decorated horses and people wearing costumes and masks. This was a time for revelry including phallic songs, games (the kind played at church picnics like one-legged hopping or playing tag) and eventually, under the influence of the City Dionysia at Athens, the production of plays.