Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ante Diem III Nonas March

Modern Date : March 5th

Ante Diem III Nonas March
Third Day to the Nones of March

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

The Festival of Mars
This is the fifth day of the Festival of Mars. The daily spectacle of the priests of Mars carrying shields while leaping and dancing through the streets of Rome would continue this day.

The month of March belongs to the warlike Mars, the deity who personifies the protection of the state and the productivity of the community.

Venus enters Aquarius
On this day Venus enters Aquarius, where she'll remain until April 6, when she enters Pisces. She enjoys all the talk and gossip that flow in the air sign of Aquarius -- but she prefers Pisces, where she is exalted in the water element of her deepest feeling.

Stella Maris/Isidis Navigium
The Romans celebrated the goddess Isis as the patroness of sailors and inventor of the sail. Apuleius has her say, “Devote to my worship the day born of this night…for at this season, the storms of winter lose their force, the leaping waves subside and the sea becomes navigable once more.

One of the main annual festivals of Isis in the Egyptian calendar, honoring Queen Isis as the Ocean Star or Stella Maris, as Mary would later be called in Latin, the guide and protector of navigators. As the Egyptians identify Isis with the great star Sirius, she is a main beacon point in the sky for Egyptian sailors. And as her heliacal rising - that is, the moment each year when Sirius can first be seen rising in the east just before the rising of the Sun - always fell each year on July 26, the day that heralded the annual Nile flood, Isis in her star role embodies the boundless and eternal loam and fecundity of the river. On the evening of this festival, there are ceremonies and songs on boats that blaze with lamps and colors. This day is also an important time marker. It is now 140 days, or 14 decans (10-day "weeks") until a new flow of red water should begin the next Nile flood on July 26.

When winter storms lose their force, a ship is dedicated to Isis as a new season of sailing begins. This is the ancient Egyptian festival of Isidis Navigium (the ship of Isis) or the Ploiaphesia which honored Isis' invention of the sail and her patronage of sailing-craft and navigation.

As part of the festivities, a parade was performed in honor of Isis. Following in a procession of mummers, the priests carry emblems of Isis. The Chief Priest carries a lamp, a golden boat-shaped light with a tall tongue of flame from a hole in the center. The second priest holds an auxiliaria (ritual pot) in each of his hands, and the third carries a miniature palm-tree. The fourth priest carries a model of the left hand with the fingers stretched out, the emblem of justice as well as a golden vessel in the shape of a woman's breast. From the nipple falls a thin stream of milk. The fifth cleric carries a winnowing-fan woven with golden rods, not osiers. The final man, not a priest, carries a wine-jar.

Next in the procession comes Anubis with a face black on one side and golden on the other and a man carrying a statue of a cow, representing the Goddess as the fruitful Mother of us all. After them walks a priest with a box containing the secret implements of Isis’ cult, and another priest carries a secret vessel in his robes.

It is a small container of burnished gold with thickly crowded Egyptian hieroglyphics and a rounded bottom, a long spout, and a generously curving handle. Along the handle is an asp raising its head and displaying its throat.

Waiting at the seashore is a beautifully built ship covered with Egyptian hieroglyphics. The sail is fashioned of white linen inscribed with large letters with a prayer for the Goddess's protection of the shipping lanes during the new sailing season, and the long mast is made of fir. The prow is shaped like the neck of Isis's holy goose, and the long keel is cut from a solid trunk of citrus-wood.

The ship is purified with a lighted torch, an egg, and sulphur, and then hallowed and dedicated to the Goddess. All present place winnowing-fans heaped with aromatics and other votive offerings on board while pouring milk into the sea as a libation. When the ship is loaded with gifts and prayers for good fortune, the anchor cables are cut, setting the ship free.

In Luxembourg, on the first Sunday of Lent, fires are lit on the hills at dusk, thus the name, burning of the Burg (derived from the Latin comburere,"to burn"). According to one source, the burning of the Lenten fire symbolized the triumph of the sun over winter, while the Easter fire represented the rebirth of nature, the St John's fire heralded the summer solstice and the St. Martin's fire stood for the fading away of autumn (thus we see Christian dates assigned to the fires of the Celtic quarter days).

In earlier times, the burning of the fires was a time of both exuberant celebration and prayers for the successful growth of the harvest. Now it's a time when young boys go from house to house, begging for straw and wood and sticks, which they take to the top of a nearby hill. A big pole with a wooden cross is wrapped in straw, stuck into the earth and the combustibles heaped around it. Sometimes a wheel is put on top of the pole and covered with rags soaked in oil, thus creating a Catherine wheel effect when lit. The most recently married man lights the fire. This was also the last day for drinking alcohol during Lent.

On the first two Sundays in March, the Japanese celebrate the Izanami, the mother goddess of Japan. Her temple at the Oagata-jinja shrine near Inuyama in central Honshu features large cleft rocks, huge clamshells and other sacred items that resemble female genitalia. At her festival, worshippers carry these items through the streets in procession.


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