Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Justification by Conflation

 I posed the following request on the Facebook group:

We celebrate Diana's feast on the ides of August (13 - 15). There is evidence in the historical record of this observance- the festival of Diana Nemorensis. I've seen others celebrate this date as Hecate's feast. Why? We celebrate Hecate's feast in November. With no sarcasm intended, will someone please refer me to evidence in the historical record of the ides of August being celebrated as Hecate's feast? I would like to have actual references. Thanks!

I also sent the request to a friend who is celebrating a feast of Hekate on the ides of August, and his response was a Sorita d'este video on the justification for the idea of celebrating Hekate on that date.

In this video (  she talks almost exclusively about the Italian Nemoralia and says that since Diana, Artemis and Hekate had similar attributes she assumes that one may also honor Hekate on this date. This video is justification by conflation. Sorita assumes that because Hekate and Diana share attributes that it's ok to call it a festival of Hekate when it's actually a festival of Diana. But then she goes on to say that each deity is distinct... So how can this be justified?

You don't call on the Maiden at a festival of the Crone. You don't call the Mother at the festival of the Maiden. We call Diana, Hecate and Proserpine, but not interchangeably- each has different aspects and a different function. Each has their own festival and their own place in the cycle of the year. In my Nemoralia celebration a token is given to Hekate and to Proserpine, but the focus is on Diana. Just as at the feast of Hekate, Proserpine and Diana are given tokens and at the feast of Proserpine, Diana and Hekate are recognized. Again, the focus stays where it should be.

Conflation and assumption that Italic practices are all Greek in origin are two of my biggest pet-peeves. The Nemoralia is a pre-Roman Italic festival, not a Greek festival. It is tied to the location. It's not like every lake in Italy or Greece was circled by women who left offerings. It's a festival of place. The only reason the date was later adopted at Rome was political- Aricia was a competitor politically and financially.

Sorita also assumes that the torches are the main aspect of the festival and that because Hecate is depicted with torches that this is justification for her to be celebrated as well. The torches were not the focus of this festival, the torches were the means by which people left the city and went to the lake at night. The offerings were mostly votive or perishable in nature. There is no evidence that anything was floated on the lake until Nero put a ship on it. 

If there is historical evidence of Hekate being celebrated on this date, I'd be glad to know it. So far, I have seen no evidence that this was ever an historical practice- not in the Chaldean Oracles, or even the Hellenic recon calendars. The closest is the _monthly_ honoring or kourotrophos on the 16th, which was done every month, not just in August. 

This video really struck a nerve with me. It's rare enough to have a pre-Roman Italic feast make it past Roman syncretism and Greek syncretism, but again as this is a Festival specific to a place, it is not Greek in origin or Roman in origin. And here comes someone who ignores all but one aspect of Hekate, ignores her historical times of worship, has said Hekate is all the Goddess you need, and then proceeds to interject Her where She never was in the first place.

I am more than willing to say "I'm wrong, thanks for the info." I love new info, especially when it broadens my understanding, not only when it matches my currently held beliefs. I don't think people believe that others are capable of this. I'm a Libra who loves debate, who loves to learn. If you have facts, please present them!

The best source of fact based information I have seen about this feast is Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia. I've talked about it on the blog before. It's expensive, but google books has a nice preview of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment