Monday, January 30, 2006

Pridie Kalendas Februarias

Modern Date : January 31st

Pridie Kalendas Februarias
Day before the Kalends of February

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

Eve of Imbolc
Tonight starts the three day Festival of Imbolc, celebrating the lactation of the ewes, the midpoint of winter, and the Great Mother Goddess in her aspect of fire. Her oldest incarnation is as Kali in India. As peoples and ideas moved west her named has changed into; Inanna (Syria),Hecate and Diana (Greece and Rome), Sekhmet (Egypt), and by the time she reached the outer edges of the Roman Empire, Brigantia (England) and finally Brighid in Ireland.

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.

Feast of Hecate
In Greece, this day was celebrated as the Feast of Hecate, lunar goddess of crossroads, witches, and the underworld, known to the Romans as Diana Lucifera. Statues of her were erected at crossroads where offerings were made to her at this time and during monthly Hecate's Suppers sacrificed on the Full Moon. These suppers consisted of dogs, eggs, honey, milk, and black ewes. Hecate is also Kali, and embodies as well the fiercest energies of Scorpio. Like her opposite number Shiva, she destroys in order to create anew. She is linked to Sekhmet, Inanna, Pele and other goddesses who purify through the fire of love.

King Lear
Lear: So young, and so untender?
Cordelia: So young, my lord, and true.
Lear: Let it be so; thy truth then be thy dower:
For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecate and the night,
By all the operation of the orbs
From whom we do exist and cease to be,
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee from this for ever.

Diana had three manifestations, Luna in the Heavens (the moon), Diana the Huntress on earth, and Diana Ludifera in Hades, the Underworld. Diana was the goddess of the moon and was called Diana Lucifera which means the Bringer of Light. The name Lucifera was also applied to the morningstar Venus. The Christians gave the name negative connotations in their systematic attempts to discredit the Roman and Greek gods. The name Lucifer was tacked onto the images of nature horn gods i.e. Pan, Kernunos and the Fauns and became the "Satan" we know today. The Greeks knew Diana as Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo, and daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was born under Mount Cynthus in Delos and hence was also called Cynthia and Delia. She was the goddess of hunting, carried a bow and quiver like her brother, and was especially fond of music and dance. Diana was never conquered by love, and submitted to no man, hence she was the goddess of a "chaste" moon and, except for her family, tolerated only female companions. Her priestesses were all chaste, so writers have said.

February Eve
February Eve is the start of the festival of Imbolc or Brigantia. Brigit travels throughout the countryside on the Eve of her festival, bestowing her blessings upon humanity. Brigantia is the Celtic (British) tutelary goddess of the Brigantes in Yorkshire and the goddess of the rivers Braint and Brent, which were named after her. Brigantia was also a pastoral goddess associated with flocks and cattle. During the Roman occupation she was associated with the Roman goddess Caelestis as Caelestis Brigantia.

The Feast of Soldag
The Valkyries and the Norns are honored today. The Feast of Soldag is held to commemorate the appearance of the sun at the end of January in northern Climes. Soldag translates to English as "Sunday"

Al Hijra
Not suprisingly, given that it started as a lunar religion, in the Islamic calendar, this day is Al Hijra, first day of the month of Muharram and the lunar New Year, which is celebrated for the next 10 days. Muslims have always associated this annual feast of renewal with the Hijra or Hegira, the pivotal moment in 622 CE when the Prophet Muhammad, his family and supporters rode from Mecca to Medina to establish a new faith based on the revealed word of the Qu'ran. Medina has ever since been second in dignity only to Mecca itself.