Babylonian Month: September/October

The Babylonian calendar is divided into two halves – the vernal and autumn equinoxes. They usher in the periods of disharmony between the Sun and the Moon. From March to September, Utu, the Sun, is triumphant, and from September to March, Nanna-Suen is more visible. At the spring equinox, the Akiti Se-kintu (the Festival of the Harvest) is held. At the autumn equinox, it is the Akiti-Su-numun (the Festival of the Seeding). In the month of September/October (Note 1.), the focus is on the Autumn Equinox and the coming darkness.

Nanna-Suen
At the Akiti-Sunumun, the emblems of Nanna-Suen are cleaned. Hailed as “Father Nanna, when You sail (across the sky) like a ship on flood waters,” the Moon God loads his Boat with gifts of trees, plants, and animals. He sails from city to city bringing the people fertility. For this reason, The Boat of Nanna-Suen also receives offerings. The Great Offerings to Nanna-Suen are made at the New Moon (the first of the month), the Quarter Moon (seventh), and Full Moon (the fifteen). Modern Sumer Reconstructionists will bake cupcakes for the Great Offerings. (Note 2.)

Kinunu (Brazier Festival)
From the eighth to the eighteenth days of the month, the Kinunu (Brazier Festival) is held. For this festival, people wear their new clothes. Using fresh olive oil, they light their braziers to keep burning throughout the Kinunu. The First Fire of the coming cold and early darkness is honored.

Duku (Festival of the Sacred Mound)
At the end of the month, the Duku (Sacred Mound) festival is held. After feasting with family and friends, homage is made to the Ancestors. Lamentations are read and milk is offered to Endukuga (Lord of the Sacred Mound) and Nindukuga (Lady of the Sacred Mound). They are the Great Ancestors of the Elder Gods, who lived at the Duku. (This was the place of Heaven and Earth before the two parts were separated by Enlil.)

Inanna
At this time, the Descent of Inanna is re-enacted to ensure that the land is fertile. Her Descent into the Underworld is the hinge between the dry and rainy seasons. Inanna dies but is rescued. Since someone has to replace Her in the Underworld, Dumuzi, Her Shephard Consort, goes down for six months. His sister, Geshtinanna, Goddess of Autumn Wines, takes his place the other six months.

Note 1: In Sumer, this month is called “Duku”, and in Babylon, “Tairitu.”
Note 2: The Great Offering was originally cattle, beer, milk, honey, and grain. Today, cupcakes made with grain, honey, and milk are offered.

Roman Gods of the Month: September

For Romans, September is the month of sacred games to honor Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Later in the month, the Capitoline Triad, the Gods of State, is honored with a feast. The harvest is finished and now is the time to relax and to focus on matters of government.

JUNO REGINA

On September 1, Juno Regina, the Queen of Heaven is honored. In 392 BCE, following a vow, Marcus Furius Camillus raised a splendid temple to this Goddess. Using the rite of evocatio, Camillus promised Uni of Veii that if She allowed him to conquer her city, he would build a temple to Her in Rome. Agreeing, Uni left the Etruscan city to become Juno Regina of Roman. She rules the State with Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Minerva as the Capitoline Triad.

JUPITER OPTIMUS MAXIMUS AND THE CAPITOLINE TRIAD

The Ludi Romani are held for Jupiter between September 5 -19. These sacred games (ludi) began in 566 BCE. The Romans held parades, races, and theatrical performances. Contrary to popular belief, there were no gladiatorial combats during the Ludi Romani.

The feast for the Capitoline Triad, known as the epulum Iovis (Feast of Jupiter), is held September 13. Statues of these Gods are dressed, wined, and dined. Traditionally only the Senators and magistrates attended this feast.

For my own practice, I hold a feast inviting the Gods to my table. At the feast, I thank Them for wise government for my community. I pray that the Gods may continue in their counsel. I make offerings that we may experience justice and fairness for the coming year.

Spirits of the Home: Brownies

Since I discovered that Brownies are Spirits of the Home, I decided to mediate on how to meet one. At first, I tried the usual forms of meditation. However outside of being refreshed, I could not envision to how contact any. Therefore, I decide to mull over what to do next.

As strange as it may seem, I felt a presence while I was vacuuming the living room rug. Not sure of what I was experiencing, I continued with my cleaning chores. As I was wiping out my kitchen sink, I heard a deep voice coming from behind me. “Do not forget to shine the faucets while you are at it.” Startled, I dropped my dishtowel. Whoever the voice belonged to was not of this earth.

While wiping down my stove, I glanced out the corner of one eye. Careful not to look directly, I saw a squat brown figure in brown rags. As I kept my focus on scouring the stove burners, I pondered what I saw. I believe that I encountered a Brownie in my home. (Being part Scottish, I was not surprised about having one in my home.)

I continued cleaning as if there was nothing out of the ordinary happening in my kitchen. I stuck my head into the microwave oven to wipe down the inside. The deep voice then said “I prefer listening to Frank Sinatra.” Upon hearing that, I nearly banged my head on the roof of the microwave. This whole exchange was entirely unexpected. I did have enough presence of mind, not to speak to the Brownie, who was standing in the middle of my galley kitchen. I also did not turn my head to look directly at him.

When I do my chores, I often enter a trance. The chores have a rhythm and focus to them that invites meditation. Since I have a set routine, I often do housework on “automatic pilot.” I remembered that Brownies expect tidiness and cleanliness. Therefore contacting one while doing the vacuuming then did seem natural.

Later, I reviewed what I had learned about Brownies. They have rules that the people living the house need to follow. Usually, a meeting of the minds between both parties has to happen. I could agree to keeping a neat home since they dislike messes. Another thing that I could do was to make food offerings in odd places.

Later I left some bread heels near the furnace closet. When I went to wash the floor, the food was gone. Then I put some cereal by the stove. That disappeared as well.

As for the Brownie’s preference for Frank Sinatra, I was flummoxed. There was nothing in the lore about what music Brownies liked. Somehow, I expected that Celtic music was what they preferred. A Brownie asking for the songs of Frank Sinatra was the farthest from my mind.

Since Sinatra was what the Brownie asked for, Sinatra, it would be. I did not want a Good Brownie go bad, and turn into a Boggart. Since I did not know which of Sinatra’s songs, the Brownie liked, I would play a variety of them.

Some nights later, when I was dozing off in bed, I heard a deep bass voice singing. The Brownie was crooning “Young at Heart,” “When the Wind was Green,” and “New York, New York.” The first two made sense since they concerned things that interest the Fae. However, the last song puzzled me. Perhaps the Brownie had hidden ambitions for Broadway. I was reminded that Brownies and other Fae do not conform to human notions about them.

Works Used:
Daimler, Morgan, “Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folks.” Moon Books: Winchester (UK). 2017.
…,” A New Dictionary of Fairies: A 21st Century Exploration of Celtic and Related Western European Fairies.” Moon Books: Winchester (UK). 2020.
…, “Pagan Portals: Fairy Witchcraft.” Moon Books: Winchester (UK). 2014.
Lecouteux, Claude, “The Tradition of Household Spirits.” (Translated by Jon Graham). Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2013.
…., “Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies.” (Translated by Clare Frock). Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2003.
McCoy, Edain, “A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 1994.
Moorey, Teresa, “The Fairy Bible.” Sterling: New York. 2008
Sanchez, Tara, “Urban Faery Magick.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2021

Astrology and Tarot: Temperance

In the Major Arcana of the Tarot, Temperance (XIV) is the card of Alchemy: the reconciliation of opposites. The card depicts Michael, the Archangel of Fire with one bare foot standing on the rocks and the other in the water. From one golden cup to another, He is pouring the Waters of Life. The Archangel Michael transforms the individual elements of fire and water into a new whole.

In “Tarot Beyond the Basics,” Anthony Louis relates who Michael is. The name of this Archangel means “Like unto God.” Michael, who leads God’s Army of Angels, is neither excessively proud not humble. He has achieved a position of harmony as depicted in Temperance (XIV).

In the background of this Tarot card, there is a road ascending to distant mountains. Hovering over them is a sun with a crown. In the foreground are yellow irises. Each element has a symbolic meaning that adds to the whole.

In her book, “21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card,” Mary Greer explains the symbols depicted in Temperance (XIV). The rocks that Michael stands on is the steadfast foundation of the virtue of temperance. The distant mountains indicate the challenge that a person should aspire to which is spiritual attainment. The road that connects the pond to the mountains encourages that journey to enlightenment.

Nevill Dury, in “The Tarot Workbook,” explains the deeper meaning of the iris flower. These flowers are sacred to Iris, the Goddess of the Rainbow. In addition, God’s promise to humanity is the rainbow. Moreover, the rainbow is the union of water and fire.

In “The Essential Guide to the Tarot,” David Fontana asserts that the sun with the crown means victory over ego. Is the sun rising or setting? Or does it reflect the theme of Temperance (XIV), and lies between these liminal places.

Fontana relates that the stream of water moving between the two cups creates an active balance. Michael, as the Alchemist, is mixing fire and water. Transmuting the male (fire) and female (water) into one being, the Archangel balances between what was and what will be.

The Astrological Sign associated with Temperance (XIV) is Sagittarius, the Archer. Moreover, Sagittarius is the Centaur, who is half man and half horse. Like Temperance (XIV), Sagittarius is the melding of opposites – an active balance between man and beast. His is the joining of intellect and instinct. Sagittarius’ energy is mutable fire, which is like the rainbow, refined and ethereal.

As The Archer, Sagittarius shoots his arrow upwards. He aims for higher aspirations. Like the road in Temperance (XIV), the arrow leads beyond the mountains. Sagittarius, Himself, flies through time and space to the farthest shore.
Sagittarius is the Ruler of the Ninth House, which is also associated with Temperance (XIV). This House governs philosophy, higher education, and travel. In Astrology, the Ninth House is paired with the Third House, which is ruled by Gemini. The Ninth House expands on the Third House, in which lies the beginnings in learning and traveling. In the Tarot, Gemini governs The Lovers (VI). This pairing indicates that Temperance (XIV) is the joining of The Lovers (VI) in perfect harmony.

Corrine Kenner writes in “Tarot and Astrology,” that Temperance (XIV) is like the Ninth House. The two both bridge the wide distances of time and space to experience wonders. The Ninth House and Temperance (XIV) focus on philosophy and religion becoming balanced and optimistic.

Works Used:
Chang, T. Susan and M.M. Meleen, “Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric Symbolism in Modern Tarot.” 2021. Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN).
Drury, Nevill, “The Tarot Workbook.” 2004. Thunder Bay Press: San Diego (CA).
Fontana, David, “The Essential Guide to the Tarot.” 2011. Watkins: London.
Gillett, Roy, “The Secret Language of Astrology.” 2011. Watkins: London.
Greer, Mary “21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card.” 2006. Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN).
Hall, Judy, “The Astrology Bible.” 2005. Sterling: New York.
Louis, Anthony, “Tarot: Beyond the Basics.” 2014. Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN).

Babylonian Month: August-September: The Washing of the Goddesses

For the people of Mesopotamia, the month of August-September is for washing the statues of the Goddesses. In mid-month, the Ezem-Inanna-Ka occurs. This is the festival to prepare Inanna for her descent into the Underworld. People wash and consecrate her statues (usually in a river). For Sumer, the month is called “Kin-Inanna” (the work of Inanna), for Babylon, “Ululu” (to purify).

The washing and the re-consecrating the statues of the Gods is a venerable Polytheist tradition. Keeping holy items neat and clean is a duty of piety. Sacred things should always be kept pure. Therefore, cleaning statues, altars, and temples are encouraged at this time.