Sunday, January 08, 2006

Ante Diem VI Idus Januarias

Modern Date : January 8th

Ante Diem VI Idus Januarias
Sixth Day to the Ides of January

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

In Greece, this day was the Lesser Festival of Dionysius. Dionysius (Bacchus), the god of wine, was the son of Zeus and Semele. As wine was considered to have medicinal and cultural value, Dionysius was viewed as a promoter of civilization, a lawgiver, and a lover of peace.

This month is sacred to Janus, the god of Beginnings. Janus is the porter of heaven and considered the guardian deity of gates and doors. He is often shown as two-headed since doors face both ways.

Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei died this day in 1642. During his life, he was condemned for speaking the truth, that the world was round and revolved around the sun and was not, as the Church asserted, the center of the universe.

Galileo was born in Pisa on February 15, 1564. His father, Vincenzo Galilei, played an important role in the musical revolution from medieval polyphony to harmonic modulation. Just as Vicenzo saw that rigid theory stifled new forms in music, so his oldest son came to see Aristotelian physical theology as limiting scientific inquiry.

Galileo was taught by monks at Vallombrosa and then entered the University of Pisa in 1581 to study Medicine. He soon turned to Philosophy and Mathematics, leaving the University without a degree in 1585. For a time he tutored privately and wrote on hydrostatics and natural motions, but he did not publish. In 1589 he became Professor of Mathematics at Pisa where he is reported to have shown his students the error of Aristoteles’ belief that speed of fall is proportional to weight, by dropping two objects of different weight simultaneously from the leaning tower. His contract was not renewed in 1592, probably because he contradicted Aristotelian professors. The same year, he was appointed to the chair of Mathematics at the University of Padua, where he remained until 1610. In 1609 he heard that a spyglass had been invented in Holland. In august of that year he presented a telescope, about as powerful as a modern field glass, to the doge of Venice. Its value for naval and maritime operations resulted in the doubling of his salary and his assurance of lifelong tenure as a professor.

At Padua, Galileo invented a calculating "compass" for the practical solution of mathematical prelims. He turned from speculative physics to careful measurements, invented the microscope, built a thermoscope, discovered the law of falling bodies and the parabolic path of projectiles, studied the motions of pendulums, and investigated mechanics and the strength of materials. He showed little interest in astronomy, although beginning in 1595 he prefered the Copernican theory –that the earth revolves around the sun- to the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic assumption that planets circle around the earth. Only the Copernican model supported Galileo’s theory, which was based on motions of the earth. He encountered serious opposition from the Catholic Church, who admonished, summoned, condemned and also compelled him to abjure his theory. In October 1632, Galileo was found guilty of heresy by the tribunal of the Holy See in Rome. They sent him to exile in Siena and finally in December 1633, he was sentenced to house arrest to his villa in Arcetri where he died January 8, 1642.

Samuel Mathers
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers was born in 1854 and died 1918. As a prominent occult scholar, he was an author and a leader of the occult revival in the late 1880’s. He had a life long fascination with magic, mysticism and Celtic symbolism that led him to hold high office in the S.R.I.A. (Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia). He, together with Dr. William Wynn Westcott and Dr. William Woodman was a co-founder of the influential occult Order known as the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.”

Dion Fortune
Born Violet Mary Firth, Dion Fortune, also a member of the Golden Dawn, died today in 1946.

Uinal Before Dawn
In Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal Before Dawn, the twelfth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (13 Imix, Tzolkin 221). The symbolic bird for this uinal is the Quetzal, the symbolic planet Venus as Morning Star, embodiment of the beauty of the new day.

Waqf al Arafa
For Muslims on Hajj, this day begins the climactic last three of the pilgrimage. It is called Waqf al Arafa because pilgrims stand together on the plan of Arafa to pray for forgiveness and mercy.

Midwives Day
A Greek holiday honoring midwives and birth, appropriate at the start of the new year. The village midwife, surrounded by attendants, and adorned with gilded flowers, onion and garlic braids and necklaces of dried figs, currants and carob-beans (all fertility symbols) receives gifts from all the women of child-bearing age. They pour out water for her and kiss a large phallic symbol made from a leek or sausage and called the schema (meaning shape). Afterwards the women feast and drink, then lead the midwife through the streets on a carriage, sprinkle her with water from the fountain and sing, dance and tell lewd jokes. The men stay inside.


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