Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Talisman of Mercury

Mercury was considered to be the third of the seven fabled planets of the ancients. The influence of Mercury is said to enliven the brain, the nervous system and breathing.

This talisman consists of the third and fourth pentacles of Mercury which are said to:

Invoke all spirits subject to Mercury.
Acquire understanding and knowledge of all things.
Aid in finding and penetrating hidden treasures.
Give a fine memory, skill in writing, artistic and scientific ability.
Enhance psychic communication.
Convey personal magnetism.
Help gain the impossible.
Bring success in business.
Make one eloquent.
Open all doors to secret knowledge.
Cause all wishes to be granted.
Inspire writers and remove writer's block.
The one talisman for writer's, poets or artists.

The priests, rabbis, and mystics of the ancient world believed that the "planets" had immense powers over the emotions, character, and physical attributes of mankind as well as the spirit world.

The Ancients knew of seven "planets": the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They believed that these magical symbols channeled the powers of the planets and then commanded the spirits of each planet to obey.

Sorry I haven't posted for so long. I had some serious health issues to work on.

By the Old Ways,

Friday, March 16, 2012

The wearin' of the.... RED!!!

How did I neglect to post about The Liberalia last year! :-o I suppose, like everyone else, my vision was clouded by the Irish celebration and the implications of a "saint" feast substituting for an older Pagan celebration. Point is: Everyone was gettin' drunk at this time of year!

What's the Liberalia? Just after the Ides of March (a whole other post) was the celebration of Pater Liber and Liberia. It was a state festival AND a personal feast AND considered a rustic festival as well, or a farmer's holy day of obligation. Liber and Liberalia are protectors of the seed, which has just been planted.

On the personal or family level, this is the Italian Bar Mitzvah! When Boys became Men (Girls became Women at menarche)! Boys would take the talisman they'd wear for protection from The Eye (the bulla) along with their boyhood clothes- the toga praetexta, and burn them in offering to The Lare. The boys would get their "Toga Virilis" and be officially welcomed into the company of men. No wonder there was so much drinking! I bet they'd drink the newly minted men under the table. No doubt there was also the visit to the sacred prostitutes and an "initiation into the art of love." Nice way of saying they got the new men drunk and lost their virginity. Stories are told about how Mothers would keep the son's bulla and not let it burn so their son would be protected through their life.

With all the talk of seed protection and drunkenness, it's hard to not think of Ceres, Proserpine and Bacchus. It was hard for the ancients too: There was a temple dedicated to this triad with Liber and Liberia being likened to/syncretized/identified with Bacchus and Proserpine.

This celebration had its high class elements and its low class elements. Liber and Libera were deities of freedom and therefore of slaves. Their fest was a way of letting off steam. Quoth the holy wiki"

Liber's festivals are timed to the springtime awakening and renewal of fertility in the agricultural cycle. In Rome, his annual Liberalia public festival was held on March 17. A portable shrine was carried through Rome's neighbourhoods (vici); Liber's aged, ivy-crowned priestesses offered honey cakes for sale, and offered sacrifice on behalf of those who bought them – the discovery of honey was credited to Liber-Bacchus. Embedded within Liberalia, more or less at a ritualistic level, were the various freedoms and rights attached to Roman ideas of virility as a divine and natural force.[2] Young men celebrated their coming of age; they cut off and dedicated their first beards to their household Lares and if citizens, wore their first toga virilis, the "manly" toga – which Ovid, perhaps by way of poetic etymology, calls a toga libera (Liber's toga or "toga of freedom"). These new citizens registered their citizenship at the forum and were then free to vote, to leave their father's domus (household), choose a marriage partner and, thanks to Liber's endowment of virility, father their own children.

Liber is credited with the invention of honey, which ties into the Bacchic and Dionysian lore. There was a LOT of overlap, including Liber being credited with protecting the grape. However, even in ancient days, Liber and Bacchus were seen as very distinct entities. In fact, Bacchinals were outlawed. Likely because of their Siclian/Southern Italian origins and the repression of the lower classes by the 1% (the more things change, huh?)

The same way celtic based wicca eclipses every tradition out there (it's been called the loud neon light of paganism), I'm tired of every Irish holiday eclipsing the Italian ones. I remember the stories about how the Irish immigrants lived on one side of the street and the Italian immigrants on the other side and there was constant fighting. Literal fisticuffs. Kids getting jumped on the way to/from school It was Jets n Sharks time and the cops didn't care because who cares when the rabble fight amongst themselves?

Italians wear Red on this festival day for many reasons, not the least of which being to piss off their Irish neighbors! Red is, of course for Rome, protection against The Eye (which Pater Liber was- He was the horn which warded off evil! That's one reason why the phallus processed through the town). Red is also the different color in the Irish and Italian flags. Orange was worn, allegedly, by those protesting the church- the rebellious Irish. Red was worn by the Italians as an FU ;) (Also, St Joseph's day is March 19th and red is worn on his day too!). The Green/White/Red stripe flag of Italy wasn't adopted officially until after WW2 so it was likely an early start to the Italian feast of St. Joseph, but who knows- a lot of these clashes were happening in the 40s and 50s- The Irish showed up and settled, then waves of Italians came so the Irish were no longer low man on the ladder and picked on the Italians until new waves of immigrants arrived from other lands.

So when I wear red tomorrow, know that I'm flippin all of you the bird and taking back this drunken celebration of Spring for Italia! ;) And I'm still gonna make zeppoles on the 19th! Ha!

PS: Patrick was Roman :P Haha!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dancin the night away

Actually, I've been dancing the week away!

Last Thursday I taught a Tarantella class at the Sacred Space conference in MD. After my class, I went to a trance-prophecy dance where Lakshmi was very present with me. On Friday, I went to a conjure dance and thankfully stopped myself before I was taken. On Saturday, I danced with Alessandra Belloni at her show in NYC. On Sunday I took a drum and dance class with her. On Monday I picked up my new castanets and spent a few hours breaking them in while dancing and teaching kiddo how to use them and the steps to the dance.

I'm taking today off from dancing!

Tomorrow I'll post the outline from the class along with a reading and reference list.

Here is a bit of what I've been doing with the castanets:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Origin Peeve!

I'm always reading and researching ancient Italia and Sikelia, even when I'm not boning up for a class or a presentation. Lately, however, I've been turning my attention specifically toward Tarantella, the difference between southern/Sicilian and northern styles, and it's origins, before the cult of Dionysos.

So many sources which discuss Tarantella in Italy claim that because Italy was part of Magna Graecia, the Greeks must have brought this practice, as well as their pantheon and any and all magic to Italy. 


I'm not denying influence and exchange and cross-over, but this is like saying the Pilgrims brought corn to the Americas and taught the Native Americans how to cultivate and use it! Eventually, the religion of the colonists was adopted, but it doesn't mean the folk practices were ever forgotten or discontinued.

Colonists are as changed by the Natives as the Natives are by the colonists. In this case, the Sikels and Sicels and Elmyans were already there when the Greeks showed up. Enna was already a site of Mother/Daughter Goddess worship way before the Greeks ever set foot on Her shores. So why aren't the ancient Sicilians given credit for doing the influencing?

It's lazy research and lazy writing to assume that because two groups touched, the group we know more about are the ones who did the influencing instead of the ones who were influenced. The Greeks are still around (tho it's lazy to assume there's one homogeneous group) while the Etruscans are not. Actually, it would be a better comparison to say the Etruscans were absorbed into larger Roman, and later, Italian culture while the Spartans were absorbed into the larger Athenean and later Greek culture. We don't know which traditions specifically came from where.

The Romans had a few of their own rites and customs but they learned from the Etruscans and the Sabines. This is documented by the ancient writers (judge the veracity as you will). No one is claiming the Greeks came along and taught the Etruscans how to consecrate a city or the art of Augury.

So why are we talking about the Greeks inventing Tarantella? Sacred dance existed before Athens, before Attica. Sacred dance was used by the Sicilians, the Egyptians, the Babylonians the Israelites and the Sumerians too. Every group has their sacred movement. Again, Native Americans had their sacred movement and no one is saying that the Pilgrims taught them how to do it.

I think my head of steam has run its course. As always, I love to hear the opinions of others and get new insight and perspectives.