Saturday, January 15, 2011

How do you say "retcon" in Latin?

I swear, I was going to do a post purely about actual, practical magickal work. Yeah, well, that was until I started researching tonight. I read/research every day. It's a habit I like to cultivate. I don't sit in a library, surrounded by dusty tomes for 8 hours, but I do take the time to read and to look up books and authors and information on the daily.

My views on the Catholic Church are no secret: Catholicism is genetically modified Paganism and was institutionalized to consolidate secular power over a vast empire with many diverse sects. Why not the other popular religion of the time, Mithrasism? Because "Mithranity" sounds stupid. Besides, they used the mythos of Mythras anyway.

My mission, since one of the lines of my Family tradition was very influenced by Catholicism, is to strip away the christian veneer and get down to the Pagan origins of our Magick. Tonight's example: The Novena.

For Catholics, a Novena is a prayer said every day at the same time for 9 days, or a prayer said every hour for 9 hours in a single day. Novenas are typically addressed to saints, tho you will find several for the various forms of Mary and of Jesus, including Baby Jesus (who apparently cries every time I get a hit on this blog). Since there is a saint for everyone and everything, there is a novena for it too.

What is "retcon" anyway? Retcon stands for retroactive continuity.

What's the deal with the number 9? The numbers of Mars and action? Somehow related to Pythagorean or Chaldean numerology? Our old pal, Livy, spoke several times about "the nine-days festival" on the last day of which there was a celebration for a specific deity and in the days preceding, a daily sacrifice made. I've read an account of Ceres and Mars. An oracle was consulted whenever something funky happened (like when a swarm of moths all gathered on the statue of Mars in the Colosseum). It seems to be an off hand account, as in these things were well known, even in the time the Ancient Romans would call "antiquity."

In The Iliad and The Aeneid there are references to 9 days of mourning after a death with a feast held on the 9th day.

Then there are Catholics who have claimed that it is done for 9 days because it's one day for each month Mary was pregnant with Jesus... er... seriously? When it was already commonly known before the start of christianity? That's what inspired tonight's post title. Retcon! Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the practice likely came from the above examples as well as the Parentalia Novendialia. The wha? The Parentalia was a 9 day festival from February 13 - 21 where "Romans remembered their dead, especially parents, including in the process some heavy drinking. On the 21st, they visited cemeteries outside the city and placed flowers, milk and wine on the graves of their parents. By doing this, they hoped to stop the dead from feeling hungry and returning to plague the living." Sound a bit like an October holiday we know? Don't get me started on the business of moving the festivals of the dead to October. I'll start on that in September.

So back to the novena business, and to the Saints for that matter. Many early saints were christianized pagan deities. Many local saint festivals were just a cover for local rites of antiquity. Google "Saint Domenic Snake festival." Domenica, in Italian, means Sunday. Day of the sun. Pagan sun god? Apollo. Whose snake handling cult resided in the area where Domenic's festival is now held? You guessed it. Domenic, whether he was a real person or not, was used as a cover for a festival that started over a thousand years before Domenic existed.

Novenas are a perfectly valid pre-christian magickal practice for a Pagan to use. The prayer is typically accompanied by lighting incense and a candle. Novena candles are readily available, especially thanks to the internet, or, light any size candle to begin and blow it out after. You can use the Catholic novenas: A book of these read like a well organized spell book (which it is), or use your own prayer to your own deity. There is something to be said for repetition- it reinforces your magickal intent, it helps you focus more clearly, and you are sacrificing your time and energy in exchange for something. Especially these days, time set aside, rearranging a schedule, is a sacrifice. And, as the ancient Greeks said, time is money. The candle and incense won't hurt either. The ancients knew the advantage of the number 9. (I've said it before: There's a reason why prices are $x.99 -to move you to action.)  A novena is typically: praise, petition, more praise, thanks. This can be done using an Orphic hymn written to a deity.

Orphic novenas? Here's one to Hermes:

Hermes, draw near, and to my pray'r incline, angel of Jove, and Maia's son divine;
Studious of contests, ruler of mankind, with heart almighty, and a prudent mind.
Celestial messenger, of various skill, whose pow'rful arts could watchful Argus kill:
With winged feet, 'tis thine thro' air to course, O friend of man, and prophet of discourse:
Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine, in arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine:
With pow'r endu'd all language to explain, of care the loos'ner, and the source of gain.
Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod, Corucian, blessed, profitable God;
Of various speech, whose aid in works we find, and in necessities to mortals kind:
(make your petition here)
Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere, be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear;
Assist my works, conclude my life with peace, give graceful speech, and me memory's increase.

Do you use catholic novenas? Pre christian ones? Your own version? Do you vary devotionals based on the petition or deity petitioned? My answer: Yes. Yours?

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