The Calendar Has Been Decided

Well, sort of.

Remember the time I was scratching my nonexistent beard over which calendar to declare “official” for our feast-days? Well, just before the New Year, we decided that it would be best to go dual. This means that the festivals will be reckoned according to both the civic (Gregorian) calendar and a lunar one.

2015calendar

NYU’s Department of History calendar is looking gorgeous.

Names of the months

  • Civic months are to remain the same in name and sequence as the Gregorian calendar (ie. January is the 1st month, February is the 2nd, and so on); however, there is some debate whether it would be better to rename these months as “First Month”, “Second Month” (and so on), so as not to affect the ritual “moods” of the months (and by this we mean not necessarily seeing March as a martial month).
    • The calends of every civic month are to be celebrated using ritus romanus at home, and between 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning; the household gods are especially worshipped during this time.
    • It has not yet been decided if the nones and ides are to be celebrated as religiously as the calends.
  • Most of the lunar months will retain either their Makedonian or Athenian names; others will take new names to reflect the major cultic activity within that month.
    • New moons (noumênia), full moons (dikhomênia), and other lunar-reckoned festivals are to be celebrated using ritus graecus, outdoors if possible, and between 6:00 to 9:00 in the evening; the pan-Hellenic gods are especially worshipped during these times.
  • The final names have yet to be decided.
vasilopita-1-of-3-1024x1024

Googled image of “Greek New Year”

Date of the New Year

  • There are two dates for the New Year: a Roman one and a Graeco-Egyptian one (since, we’re basically a Romano-Hellenistic tradition centred around ancient Alexandria): the Roman one occurs on the calends of January and the Hellenistic one is… yet to be finalised.
  • Just recently, we changed the Hellenistic New Year from the Makedonian reckoning to — wait for it — the Chinese one (beginning on the second noumênia after the winter solstice). It has been a long-standing practice to observe both civic and lunar new years in the mestizo (multicultural) cities of the Philippines, so we’ve decided to officially incorporate this into our Hellenistic cycle (check out the previous article for more).
  • Thus, lunar months are to start from the “Chinese New Year” or the beginning of Anthestêriôn.
    • However, there is an alternative New Year which starts from the first new moon after the summer solstice (on the same date as the Athenian New Year) which is when the dry season ends and the monsoon winds return to our islands (this is around the same time rice-planting resumes).
  • Wep Ronpet, instead of being another New Year, will be transformed into the “Festival of the Rising of the Dog-star“. Year-end customs, such as the breaking of pots and the cutting of Apophis, will be absorbed into the civic calendar’s New Year.

Solstices-and-Equinoxes-The-seasons-are-about-to-change

Seasons

  • Seasons will, of course, follow those of our city, although, there is an interesting reversal between our tropical climate and that of the fatherland in the Mediterranean.
  • The year is divided into 3 primary seasons: the first half is hot-wet whilst the second half is divided into cold-dry and hot-dry.
  • Most of the seasonal or agrarian festivals will follow local seasons, not those of the Mediterranean. As such, “harvest-time” generally refers to the rice harvests that happen around October to March, unless specified otherwise.
  • Naturally, this affects the mythology of the year:
    • The Maiden’s descent into the Underworld happens in the short season of drought between the months of late March to late May, which, coincidentally, is the time of flowering in the Mediterranean. Does she leave the islands to make way for the West? Who knows.
    • The hot-dry season is also caused by the exile of the Thunderer from his halls; he is annually defeated by Drought who usurps the throne; the Thunderer returns around early June or July, defeating Drought with a vengeance, around the same time the hot-dry season begins around the Mediterranean.
      • Propitiatory rites are done for the Thunderer during the onset of the monsoon season (similar to ceremonies done for Zeus around Maimakteriôn and Poseideôn in ancient Greece).
  • Some harvest festivals, however, will be Mediterranean, such as the grape or olive harvest.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema's Vintage Festival

Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s Vintage Festival

Festival dates

  • Hellenic, Jewish, Qadish, and Hindu festivals follow lunar reckoning whilst Roman festivals follow the Gregorian calendar.
  • Egyptian festivals follow Neos Alexandria’s Egyptian calendar (based on the actual rising of Sirius at Alexandria, Egypt).

So, there it is, folks. Whilst far from finished, this new calendric system stands until further improved. May it be so!

Again, suggestions are welcome if you have any.

Advertisements

Those Pesky Calendars!

After serious efforts to align the religious festivities that I celebrate into a unified calendar, I have decided to…

Actually, I haven’t decided on anything yet. I’ve been working on this for months, and yet, here I am, still confused.

I need your help, people. For the longest time, I’ve been using the old Attic calendar out of convenience, but I’ll be really honest with you: most of the month names don’t resound with me; not with the collective cultus of my household and not with our locale. [Insert very long argument about pagan religions being about the “here” and the “now”.]

image via iStockphoto

image via iStockphoto

I’ve been wanting to do something similar to what Sannion and Helio have done, so I decided to collect all the festivals that have meant something to me. They’re all neatly placed in a spreadsheet, but I honestly don’t know what to do with them.

Should I retain a lunar calendar (for tradition’s sake) and just reinvent the names? Should I go full Gregorian for practicality? Or a dual one? What about the Egyptian feast-days?

Of course, ultimately, our household will have to decide on it, but hey, maybe you have better ideas.

Today Is the Sixth of February And the Sixth of Anthestêrion Too

This dual-calendar gentile couldn’t be happier. For the first time in a while, the first day of the secular month was also the first day of the lunar. On the Chinese New Year, no less!

Tikoy and chai meet grapes and wine as we celebrate the beginning of the 1st month in the Chinese calendar, the 2nd in the Roman calendar, and the 8th in the Athenian.

Tikoy and chai met grapes and wine as we celebrated the beginning of the 1st month in the Chinese calendar, the 2nd in the Roman calendar, and the 8th in the Athenian. Mestizo paganism, at its best!

Now, if only the rest of the year could be as uncomplicated as February 2014.

P is for Prayer Routines

Through the years serving as some sort of “proxy-priest” for my family, I’ve experimented on several prayer routines, and despite being a devotional pagan for almost half of my life now, I’ve only been performing daily rituals for about 3 years. Before that, I would only hold rituals on special occasions or on days that I “felt” like it. In short, I wasn’t as “religiously religious” as I had hoped.

Things changed immensely after my father made his final journey West as I took the household rites a little more seriously with daily devotions offered to the ancestors and our gods, and regular sacrifices and libations, too. To me, it felt like I needed to take on bigger responsibilities as the paterfamilias [of ritual matters].

IMG_20131028_134148[1]

Our annual kathiskos jar and representations of our Lares, Penates, and Ancestors

I started out by establishing a steady routine with bi-daily prayers on behalf of the family to our Lares and Penates. Soon after, I began involving our tutelary gods as a whole, then each of them (sometimes in pairs or triads) on different days of the month.

My current prayer calendar repeats on a monthly basis, based largely on traditional Athenian customs, but also on certain Roman and other traditions, as well. (You might also want to check out Jonathan’s and Elani’s, too, for a more strictly Hellenic approach.)

Needless to say, every prayer starts with an invocation to Hestia–first born and last–and Hermês (“Nothing without Hermês!”). I find the hymns of Homer, 24th and 29th, to be perfect for this.

IMG_20131028_134056[1]

Mother Hêra and Father Zeus with Auntie Hestia in the middle, flanked by Brother Hermês as the Holy Child of Atocha and the elephant-headed Ganesh

  1. New Moon (also called Noumênia or Kalends): The first of every lunar month–or when the first sliver of the crescent is visible–belongs to the Moon and Apollon Noumênios (Apollôn of the new month), and also Hêra and Hermês-Thoth (following the Roman tradition of the first day of the month being sacred to Iuno Regina and Ianus); first offerings of fruit, grain, and/or drink are presented to the pantheon and are stored in the kathiskos jar by the lararium.
  2. Traditionally reckoned as dies atri or a “dark day” for Romans, the day after the new moon is regarded as auspicious by the Hellenes, and is dedicated to Zeus Ktêsios (Zeus of the pantry), the Agathos Daimôn (good spirit or Lar familiaris) of our house, and fair-hearted Harmonia.
  3. The third day is dedicated to the gods who look after human civilisation: Athêna as Protector of cities and Goddess of many skills, and Hêphaistos the Divine Craftsman.
  4. The fourth day is to Hermês-Ganapathi, Aphroditê Pandemos, and Erôs (and sometimes, also Hermaphroditos as child of Hermês and Aphroditê).
  5. Fifths are dies atri in my calendar as per Hesiod: “Avoid fifth days: they are unkindly and terrible. On a fifth day, they say, the Erinyes assisted at the birth of Horkos whom Eris bare to trouble the forsworn”.
  6. The sixth celebrates Lêto’s daughter, Artemis.
  7. The seventh belongs to Lêto’s son, Apollôn and his son, Asklêpios, first of physicians (who would otherwise be celebrated by Athenians on the next day).
  8. The eighth sings of Poseidôn, Lord of waters, and the Dioskouroi.
  9. The ninth (nones or énatos) is for the Mother of the Gods (often Rhea-Cybele, but also sometimes Athirat or Durga)
  10. The day after nones is dies atri.
  11. The eleventh is given to the family guardians and the individual daimôn (genus/juno) of all living members of the family, but especially of the head of the household.
  12. The twelfth celebrates our universal parents, Heaven and Earth, as well as Ptah the Maker of worlds.
  13. The thirteenth (AKA ‘Phallus Day’ and ‘Imported God Day’) is for the thirteenth Olympian, Dionysos, and Ingwaz.
  14. The fourteenth–if not already the full moon–is given to the Sun.
  15. The day of the full moon (Dikhomênia or Ides) belongs to the King of the Gods (Zeus-Ammon) as per Ovid: “The worship of Juno claims our Italy’s Kalends, while a larger white ewe-lamb falls to Jupiter on the Ides…”
  16. The day after the full moon is dies atri.
  17. The seventeenth sings of Hathor and Sekhmet.
  18. The eighteenth is dedicated to purification and apotropaic rites; Sobek and Seth are given honours.
  19. The nineteenth is given to Arês and Hêraklês; purification and apotropaic rites continue.
  20. The twentieth belongs to Isis of Ten Thousand Names.
  21. The twenty-first or the waning tenth–which belongs to Apollôn in much of Hellas–is given to Horus in my calendar.
  22. The waning ninth is given to Anath and Astartê, protector-goddesses of Lebanon (which is my paternal ancestral homeland along with Greece).
  23. The waning eighth belongs to the mother-daughter duo, Dêmêtêr and Korê-Persephonê (sometimes, also Plouto as Lord of the underground).
  24. The waning seventh reflects the waxing seventh, but focuses on Apollôn as Apotrópaios (Warder of evil).
  25. The waning sixth also mirrors the waxing sixth and is given to Artemis Potnia Thêrôn (Mistress of animals) and Bast.
  26. The waning fifth reflects the waxing fifth when most of the gods are not named in prayer and major sacrifices are withheld.
  27. The waning fourth, considered an “impure” day (along with the next three days), is given to Hermês Propýlaios as Guardian of the gates, standing between worlds (can also be for Hekatê Propýlaia or as Hermêkatê).
  28. The waning third is given to the Heroes.
  29. The waning second is given to the Ancestors and Hermanubis (Anoubis + Hermês Psykhopompós).
  30. The last day of the month or the Dark Moon (Hena kai Nea or “the Old and the New”) belongs to Hekatê, so she may bridge the old and the new months; to cut the old and worn from the new and budding. The contents of the kathiskos jar are emptied and cleaned for her.

If that sounds like a mouthful, take note that these prayers only take around 15-30 minutes a day in total. Aside from the days of the new, full, and dark moon, all other days are really very simple: you wake up, wash up, and open the day; in the evening, you wash up, close the evening, and sleep. I don’t like very lavish or complicated rituals unless it’s actually a very special occasion or a feast-day that only repeats once a year.

I’m still getting used to all of it, though, and I’m, by no means, done experimenting. I especially need getting used to the waning days as I’m a little paranoid over too much exposure to the “darker” (but undoubtedly necessary) sides of certain gods. You can never be too careful when proxy-praying for an entire household.

I’ve written something about my yearly rituals, too, but I’ll save that for another time. Does anybody else have an established prayer schedule that repeats every month? or every week, perhaps? Do share if you do.