Thursday, December 29, 2011

Twelfth Night, or What you Will

Yes! More Shakespeare! This one involves more of the cross dressing, gender swapping, servant mischief, weddings, parties, and fun that we've come to expect from Edward DeVere's comedies. The story was based in part on an Italian tale, Ingannati (The Deceived/The Deception). The Italian play was hosted on the last day of Carnival in February, 1532. And here's where we get back into our year long theme of how calendars are much more fluid than we like to believe, or at least were more fluid than they are today! Speaking of fluid, this blog entry is not; It looks like I'll be jumping back and forth. I hope you can keep up with my bizarre train of thought because we'll be switching tracks often!

The debate about the birthday of baby Jesus includes January 6th as a potential date, 12 nights after the old solstice night of December 25th. The "epiphany" is said to refer to the birth of Jesus.

I've posted before about the feast of Lucia on December 13th being the 12 days before old solstice. December 25th was the old solstice date. Thanks to earth's strange tilt and wobble action on its axis, past and present astronomical timing varies. Thanks to the many varied changes in the calendar system, things are much further off than in ancient days! AKA: Ow, headache looking at the old and new calendars and the changes they went through!
Januarius was not always the first month of the year. Earlier it had begun, perhaps more sensibly, in March (Martius) with the onset of Spring. Januarius and Februarius were added by Numa Pompilius, one of Rome's kings in the pre-Republic days. He also moved the beginning of the year to Januarius and set the number of days equal to 29 because Romans considered odd numbers lucky. Notice that all of the festivals are held on odd-numbered days. Centuries later Julius Caesar set the length to 31, as well as adding days elsewhere to fix the problem of the months no longer corresponding to the seasons, a result of the fact that the Roman year was shorter than the actual solar year. 

So we have: A festival of the divine midwife 12 days before old solstice, the current celebration of the old solstice as birthday and a celebration 12 days after the old solstice. One month after that, we have the Parentalia Novindialia, a nine day festival honoring ancestors and Lares. The Celts had the Imbolc festival where we once again find a maiden wearing a crown of candles. The church then baptized the festival and called it candlemas. There's also a whole host of other Italian festivals throughout the remainder of January, including the Compitalia which moved every year, between December and January and was thought to be part of the continuation of the Saturnalia feast. And don't forget La Befana! The elder woman who brings gifts at the hearth for the children! I still believe her to be an aspect of Vesta or the Elder midwife, whereas Lucina is the younger aspect, She is the elder, sort of a reversal from Saturn's Old Man Winter and transformation into Baby New Year. I've never liked the story about "the wise men" asking La Befa for directions. Why? Men never ask for directions! ;) La Befana might well be derrived from L'epifania, the epiphany. Is She the personification of Light born into the world? Another case of the Man bringing down and covering up the Matriarchy? Turning Her into a crone who is forever chasing after the men? Yes! I knew I could work a conspiracy theory into this!

Just some fun confusion when trying to untangle the thread of past practices and their influence on what we do today. I find it interesting that Twelfth Night was first performed on what is considered the end of the carnival season which started on Hallow's Eve and ends with Candlemas. There was a superstition that your decorations had to be taken down by February 2nd. That has been changed to taken down on January 6th. I personally play it close to the later and take it down before the Festival of Janus on January 9th. Can't exactly make with the new year when you have decorations up for the old year.

Speaking of New Year... January was NOT the start of the year, it used to be March! We started, back in the day, with Spring and Mars, the Ram, as the dawn of the new year. However, the Roman calendar was shorter than the actual path of the earth around the sun, and so January and February were added to the calendar and January made the start of the year with honors due him, then to Februus, the month of cleansing, and then we came to March and the proper start of the year, or at least the start of the military campaign season. There's another example of the old calendar no longer matching up thanks to the tilt-a-whirl of a planet we're on: The Precession of the equinoxes! The Ram hasn't been on the horizon in 2,000 years. It's been the fish!

Let's add the next layer! Carnival! ok, wait lets not and say we didn't. Between all of this calendrical fun and my continued reading of Macrobius, I'm getting a thick headache. I have, however, been given a ritual for the new year. I've been contemplating which date to do it: Should it be on the first? On the 9th, which is the festival of Janus and the Full Moon? Both? ;)

The ritual involves the icon of Janus as the joining of Diana and Apollo. An ancient scholar, Nigidius, was a senator who was also "a Pythagorean and a Mage," is quoted by Macrobius as assuring us that Diana = Jana and Janus = Apollo, or Dianus with Apollo being an imported name and Dianus being a local name. This was the topic of one of my early posts, I just didn't have Macrobius and Nigidius on hand to back me up ;)

To review: Janus and Jana were most often spelled as Iana and Ianus. The names Jupiter and Juno were the same as well: Iuno and Iupiter. (Was it just easier to chisel an I than a J or was the J not in the Italic alphabet?)

The word "of" is rendered many different ways in Italian, including d'

Why is that interesting? Because now we have D'Iana and D'Ianus, or, Diana and Dianus.

This means that the symbolism of Janus is the creation of the universe. Diana divided Herself and created her brother. The Deus Biceps represents that moment of creation. That is why Janus is honored at all beginnings. Last night I said that Janus is potential energy itself. I will refine that: The symbolism represents Beginnings, both primal and mundane- the move from chaos to order, the original begetting of creation. For the kabalists out there, I'd say it represents the moment when Keter splits into Binah and Chokmah. Keter also has the title: The Primordial point. So am I rockin with the spheres now? Must ask the Evil Twin- it might be time to finish our Muppet Tree of Life! Ha!

Sincere apologies for switching tracks tonight. Looks like last night's post on Janus wasn't complete. I'm still not done with Macrobius, you'll be seeing more from there. Let's close with some famous words from Twelfth Night:
But be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
Let's make it a Great year!

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