Friday, January 20, 2006

Ante Diem XIII Kalendas Februarias

Modern Date : January 20th

Ante Diem XIII Kalendas Februarias
Thirteenth Day to the Kalends of February

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

Marcus Antoninus bestowed the priesthood on his son Commodus this day in 175 AD, enrolling him in the college of priests, though he was only fourteen.

The emperor Gordian III was born at Rome this day in 225 AD. He became emperor when he was 13, and was murdered when he was 19.

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.

St. Sebastian
In the Roman Catholic calendar, this is the feast of St. Sebastian, one of the many notable martyrs from the last major wave of anti- Christian persecutions under Diocletian, at the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th, a few years before the reign of Constantine the Great, who was to designate Christianity the state religion of the Roman empire. St. Sebastian is famous as a "double martyr", so called because when the emperor's attempt to have his fellow soldiers execute him with arrows failed to finish him off -- a scene depicted in countless works of art, including this one by Mantegna -- Sebastian had the temerity to affirm his faith before Caesar a second time, and was then clubbed to death. The symbolism of the arrows is ancient and archetypal, linking with countless stories in which the wound of divine love brings both excruciating pain and ineffable joy. Sebastian remains to this day the patron saint of soldiers, archers and athletes.

St. Agnes' Eve
This is an evening for love divinations, even though the spurious St Agnes chose death rather than marry a pagan Roman officer. Most of the methods recommended for determining your future spouse are challenging.

Fair St Agnes, play thy part
And send to me my own sweetheart
Not in his best or worst array
But in the clothes he wears each day
That tomorrow I may him ken
From among all other men.

St. Agnes' Eve is traditionally a night for dreaming deeply and truly. If a virgin dreams tonight of a man, she sees her future husband. In one version, she must fast all day and eat only a salt-filled egg or a salted herring at night. Another charm employed on St. Agnes Eve was the baking of the "dumb" cake, so called since it was made in silence. The cake made of flour, spring water, malt and sugar, could be made by a single girl, or sometimes by a small group. Other traditions said you must stick a load of pins in the sleeve of your nightdress before retiring.

Aristotle’s Last Legacy (written in 1711) provides another method for provoking an oracular dream of your lover. All you need to do is sprinkle a sprig of rosemary and a sprig of thyme with urine three times, then put each sprig into one of your shoes and put your shoes by your bed and say:

St Agnes, that’s to Lovers kind
Come ease the Troubles of my Mind.

If these seem too unpleasant, you can always try the simple charm of peeling an apple in one long strip and throwing it over your left shoulder to see what initial it will make or simply paying careful attention to your dreams.