Sunday, November 6, 2011

Private vs Public

Last week was the very public celebration of Hallows Eve. However, it wasn't the astrologically correct celebrations of Hallows. That happens just after midnight on Tuesday when the sun reaches 15 degrees Scorpio. It coincides with the opening of the Mundus, an act which was allegedly adopted from the Etruscans wherein the portal to the underworld is opened and the spirits of the dead are allowed to roam for a time and food along with other offerings are tossed into the pit as an offering to the spirits of the departed and of the land.

With all of the hullabaloo last week, I wasn't able to do anything grand, as I am wont to do, so I will be out in my Grove tomorrow night working the work. Something to keep in mind, as one of my compatriots reminded me, is that most festivals lasted for day. I also wanted to add that there were both public and private aspects to most festivals. Duty was done in the home, on the private land, in the town center, in the temple and in whichever place was sacred to the deities or spirits involved in the celebration. My obligation to the public face of this holiday has been fulfilled and now it is time to fulfill my obligation at home.

From our Nova Roma friends:

Gate to the underworld
One such stone covered the mundus Cereris, a pit thought to contain an entrance to the underworld. Most cities of Latium and Etruria contained a similar pit or ditch; Plutarch describes the custom of a mundus as being of Etruscan origin, and states that it was used as a place where first-fruits were deposited.

The Latin word mundus simply meant "world".  Festus, quoting Cato this time, explains that:
Mundo nomen impositum est ab eo mundo qui supra nos est.(The mundus gets its name from that world which is above us.)

The Roman mundus was located in the Comitium , on the Palatine Hill. This stone was ceremonially opened three times a year, during which spirits of the blessed dead (the Manes) were able to commune with the living. The three days upon which the mundus was opened were August 24, October 5, and November 8. Fruits of the harvest were offered to the dead at this time.

"When the mundus is open, it is as if a door stands open for the sorrowful gods of the underworld. -Varro

Check out this cable published in the NY Times nearly 100 years ago! 

My feast will conclude on Thursday with the full moon. Then on Friday we'll turn our attention to the winter holidays and the week of decorating! Until then my halls will continue to be decked with black, purple, orange, pumpkins, ghosts, masks and other accoutrement of this hallowed holiday.

Upcoming topics: Daylight savings, Magic of the Renaissance, and, suggested indirectly by a paisan: "Who was the first one to look at an artichoke and decide that it would be a tasty treat?" Yeah!

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