Monday, February 11, 2013

Lunar Cult in a Solar World

As an unabashed calendar nerd, I must admit that even I have trouble reconciling the ancient celebration dates with today's modern calendar. I'm not alone in this- even the ancients had problems with it! They would routinely add days to make the calendar coincide with the proper seasons and stars. So when do we celebrate the ancient feasts? There's some logic and some fudging, some guessing, and even some changes for the sake of convenience. That Catholics do this too, two examples: the recognition of Saint celebrations moved to the nearest Sunday and combining the Archangel celebration into one date.

So how do we plot our current season? I don't advocate trying to reconstruct the ancient calendar entirely for two reasons: The aforementioned date adding, and well, which version? Which period would you use? The years before Dionysus was added to the Lesser Mysteries? The period of the Republic? The reign of a certain Emperor? They shifted, added and removed celebrations as often as the Popes.

There is some research involved. It depends on the deities you work with. Solar? Lunar? Which phase of the moon? Which astrological sign? Which seasonal cycle are you following? A particular Mystery Tradition? A reconstructed cult of a certain era?

I will use Hekate's Deipnon as an example of modern. calendar issues:

Historically, Hekate's Feast was celebrated on the last day of the month. This is in reference to the LUNAR MONTH. That is, the last sliver of crescent of the Waning Moon. This is, in part, where some get the Hekate-as-Crone idea: If the first sliver of waxing crescent is the Maiden, and the Full moon is the Mother, some reason that the waning crescent is the crone. I don't agree with that assessment as I don't work with the Triple Goddess concept in that way, but that's a whole different conversation. As Aristophanes said of the timing of Her Deipnon: "kata ten noumenian hesperas," meaning: "on the eve of the new moon."

Hekate is a lunar deity. The Far-Darting one. Her parents are of the stars. She is why we see far- in the dark you see more of the night sky. She is to be celebrated on the last night of the lunar month, the Dark Moon. It irritates me when I see events celebrating Her feast on the last day of the solar month.

Please note: You should not care what I think. It is not my business what relationship you have with your deity. I am stating my opinion and the reasons for it. I do not judge you if you have done your research and come to your conclusions, or achieved gnosis with your chosen deity and set your date otherwise. What irritates me is the conflation of lunar and solar calendars as if they're interchangeable: They simply are not. That is lazy scholarship which is not at all respectful of the deity you're supposed to be honoring.

All said, I am personally conflating several celebrations this year: Parentalia was held on the 13th of the month, just as the moon waxed full. But which moon? The Wolf moon, as it was two days before Lupercalia. This year's "Wolf moon" was back on January 26th. The next moon is Feb 26th. How do we reconcile it? Which moon do we use? Part of the equation can be found in Astrology. For celebrations like Lupercalia, or the Lesser Mysteries, we look to the cross-quarter date, when we reach 15 degrees Pisces (It was Feb 4th this year). This week we have several celebrations: Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, and Love Day. I'm going to take advantage of this tide of celebratory energy, work with the fixed stars and astrological sign, and celebrate the Parentalia this week. How is that ok when I'm bitching about the misuse of the calendar in the case of the deipnon? The Parentalia wasn't a lunar celebration, it was a seasonal one, conflated with the lunar celebration of the day. The later timing also works astrologically with the Feralia, the last date of the 9 day festival.

There is a logic to it, there is an ancient rhythm. that exists even today, with our solar based calendar. If you look for this rhythm you'll find it. Unfortunately, the tide of lazy scholarship pulls so many out to sea like a nasty undertow.

So go out TONIGHT, on the DARK MOON, and catch the last chance to celebrate Hekate's Deipnon this month. Soon enough the first crescent of the NEW MOON will appear and we will celebrate Hera, on the Kalends, the first day of the lunar month. :-D

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