Monday, February 20, 2006

Ante Diem IX Kalendas March

Modern Date : February 21st

Ante Diem IX Kalendas March
Ninth Day to the Kalends of March

This is one of the dies fasti on which legal actions are permitted.

The Feralia
This is the last day of the Parentalia and the temples would be opened at noon. The Feralia is a religious holiday sacred to Jupiter, whose surname was Feretrius. On this day the ongoing celebrations forming part of the dies parentalis and the tempus religiosum came to a close.

Some sources say Feralia lasted for one day only, which is variously stated as the 17th and 21st. Others extend it over a period of 11 days, from the night of the 8th to the day of the 18th. Instituted by Numa Pompilius, this is the last day of Mania and Parentalia. Family reunions are held and the Lares, the ancestral spirits guarding homes, are honored. This is the Roman All Souls' Day, during which each household makes offerings at the graves of its dead. The spirits of the dead are abroad in the world and hover over their graves. Food and goods are left to appease them. Mania takes part in the festivals of the Compitalia and the Feralia.

"Votive garlands, a sprinkling of grain, a few grains of salt, bread soaked in wine and some loose violets; these are enough; set these on a potsherd and leave it in the middle of the path. Now doth the ghost fatten upon his dole," wrote Ovid.

According to Blackburn(Oxford Companion to the Year), an ugly old woman, surrounded by girls, performed rituals to appease the Silent Goddess, a gossiping nymph whose tongue was plucked out by Jupiter. The rituals included putting incense in mouseholes and casting spells over threads and tying them to pieces of lead. While holding seven beans in her mouth, the old woman roasted a fish-head sealed with pitch, pierced with a pin and sprinkled with wine, and then drank the rest of the wine herself, giving a little to the girls. The point of these rituals was to bind the tongues of others so they couldn't do harm.

February is a month sacred to the gods Mars (as Quirinus, or Romulus) and Juno, the wife of Jupiter. Juno (Hera) was the mother of Mars, called Ares by the Greeks, and sometimes Enyalius. Ares was often accompanied in his bloody campaigns by Enyo, the murderess goddess of war who was known as Bellona by the Romans. Ares paid no attention to which cause was right or wrong and was concerned only with where he could cause maximum carnage. The Romans held a milder, more honorable view of Mars, honoring him as the son of Zeus and the father of Romulus.

Day of Nut
In Egypt, this was the Day of Nut. She was the goddess of the sky and the heavens. The Egyptians believed that the world had been created by a divine act of sex between the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. Of necessity, the goddess Nut was on top, while Geb reclined.

Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries
Among the ancient Athenians, and pilgrims from throughout the Greek world, these days are the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries, celebrating the transformation of the Winter goddess Persephone back into her Spring aspect as Kore, and her annual marriage to Dionysus. This rite heralds the coming of Spring at the Equinox. Note that while the Greater Mysteries of summer culminate at the Full Moon in Virgo, the Lesser Mysteries begin at the New Moon in Pisces.

Ante Diem X Kalendas March

Modern Date : February 20th

Ante Diem X Kalendas March
Tenth Day to the Kalends of March

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

The Parentalia continued this day, and was a celebratory period in which ancestors were honored. It lasted from February 13 through the 21st. The temples would all be closed during this period. Offerings of small amounts of wine, bread, a sprinkling of salt, or flowers were made at the tombs.

February is a month sacred to the gods Mars (as Quirinus, or Romulus) and Juno, the wife of Jupiter. It is also a month in which particular reverence was shown to the spirits of deceased ancestors. This was a month devoted to fertility, both of men and women, and of the land, and celebration of the coming Spring.

Butter Week
In Russia, the week before Lent is known as the "Butter Week." In the 19th century, the rich celebrated by bundling in furs and traveling by troika to their summer cottages where they could skate on the frozen rivers and picnic in the snowy woods, sipping on vodka and eating blinis. In the city of St. Petersburg, the Tzar put on a spectacle for the public each of the seven days. Everyone ate blinis, and topped them with butter, caviar, herrings or salmon.

St Wulfric
Feast day of St Wulfric (Ulric; Ulrick; Ulfric) of Haselbury, England. His life or legend, is a testament to what I call the insainity of faith. Wulfric's abuse of his body can, in my view, only be attributed to a sick mind that wished to be extinguished. Given that it is a mortal sin to commit suicide in the Christian faith, looking over Wulfric life, one wonders if he did what he did because he couldn't take his own life.

St Wulfric, who died in 1154, was born near Bristol, England. He became a priest, and kept dogs and hawks for sport, till he met a beggar who asked for alms. When Wulfric said he didn't know if he had anything to give, the beggar said “Look in thy purse, and you shall find twopence halfpenny.” He found as he was told and gave it to the beggar, who prophesied that Wulfric would become a saint.

He became a hermit, fasting often. “His daintiest food was oaten-bread and water-gruel”, wrote a chronicler. Those who sought his advice had to knock on his window and converse with him through the window of his cell.

Wulfric never slept unless he could not stay awake, and slept leaning against a wall. Waking up, he would chastise his body for being so lazy. After a hair-shirt became too comfortable, he changed it for an iron coat of mail. In winter he sat in a tub of cold water reciting psalms.

He shortened his coat of mail, distributing the small rings of metal to the people, and they were cured by the metal. It was even said that he cut the chain mail with scissors as if it were linen. Envying such rare goodness, a demon attacked him till the apparition of a virgin stopped it.

The joints of his iron coat dissolved and it miraculously fell down around his knees. Upon this he said he would die on the following Saturday, and this indeed came to pass. Or, so it is said.

He is venerated at Haselbury Plucknett (mentioned in the 11th century Domesday Book as Halberge, meaning ‘the hazel tree hill’, from the Old English haesel and beorg; the suffix was acquired later when it was held by Alan de Plugenet c.1265), Somerset, UK, where he is buried in the cell in which he lived, which is now the site of the church's vestry.

Wulfric had the gift of prophecy and predicted the death of King Henry I of England. He also foretold that his own death and burial would cause conflict, and as if to make the prognostication come true, the Cistercians laid claim to Wulfric’s relics, as did the monks of Montacute Priory, who had been feeding him and attempted to seize his body by force. However, the saint was unaffiliated with any religious order. Wulfric was a very popular saint during the Middle Ages, and his tomb was visited by many pilgrims.