Osirian Mysteries

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The month of Koiak (November) was the time to celebrate the Osirian Mysteries. For 3000 years, the chief sanctuaries of Osiris reenacted the epic story of Isis and Osiris. If you are familiar with this early myth, you know that Osiris was killed by his brother Seth, and hacked into fourteen pieces and thrown into the Nile. Upon learning of this dastardly deed, his wife Isis began her search for the remains of Osiris. Her grief was deep and dark and it carried her along the river for miles and miles. Wherever she found a body part, a temple was built in his name. It is thought that each temple celebrated the mysteries of Osiris in a different way depending on the body part found there. For thousands of years, these holy sites were extremely important for pilgrimage and worship…

#AncientEgypt #EgyptianMythology #Osiris #Isis #Seth

Colossus of Rhodes

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The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios, on the island of Rhodes in 280 BC. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it was constructed to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over the ruler of Cyprus in 305 BC.

According to most contemporary descriptions, the Colossus stood approximately 33 metres (108 feet) high—the approximate height of the modern Statue of Liberty from feet to crown—making it the tallest statue of the ancient world.

Unfortunately It collapsed during an earthquake in 226 BC; although parts of it were preserved, it was never rebuilt. Fast forward to today and there are tentative plans to rebuild the Colossus at Rhodes Harbour although the exact position of the original is unknown.

List of Deaths in the Iliad

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List of deaths in the Illiad:
Antilochus (Greek) kills Echepolus (Trojan) (spear in the head) (4.529)
Agenor (Trojan) kills Elephenor (Greek) (spear in the side) (4.543)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Simoeisius (Trojan) (speared in the nipple) (4.549)
Antiphus (Trojan) kills Leucus (Greek) (speared in the groin) (4.569)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Democoön (Trojan) (spear through the head) (4.579)
Peirous (Trojan) kills Diores (Greek) (hit with a rock, then speared in the gut) (4.598)
Thoas (Greek) kills Peirous (Trojan) (spear in the chest, sword in the gut) (4.608)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Phegeus (Trojan) (spear in the chest) (5.19)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Odius (Trojan) (spear in the back) (5.42)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Phaestus (spear in the shoulder) (5.48)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Scamandrius (spear in the back) (5.54)
Meriones (Greek) kills Phereclus (Trojan) (spear in the buttock) (5.66)
Meges (Greek) kills Pedaeus (Greek) (spear in the neck) (5.78)
Eurypylus (Greek) kills Hypsenor (Trojan) (arm cut off) (5.86)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Astynous (Trojan) (spear in the chest) (5.164)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Hypeiron (Trojan) (sword in the collar bone) (5.165)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Abas (Trojan) (5.170)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Polyidus (Trojan) (5.170)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Xanthus (Trojan) (5.174)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Thoon (Trojan) (5.174)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Echemmon (Trojan) (5.182)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Chromius (Trojan) (5.182)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Pandarus (Trojan) (spear in the nose) (5.346)
Diomedes (Greek) wounds Aeneas (Trojan) with a rock (5.359)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Deicoon (Trojan), spear in the stomach (5.630)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Crethon (Greek)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Orsilochus (Greek)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Phlaemenes (Trojan), spear in the collar bone (5.675)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Mydon (Trojan), sword in the head, stomped by his horses (5.680)
Hector (Trojan) kills Menesthes (Greek) (5.714)
Hector (Trojan) kills Anchialus (Greek) (5.714)
Ajax son of Telamon kills Amphion (Trojan), spear in the gut (5.717)
Sarpedon (Trojan) kills Tlepolemus (Greek), spear in the neck (5.764)
Tlepolemus (Greek) wounds Sarpedon (Trojan) spear in the thigh (5.764)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Cocranus (Trojan) (5.783)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Alastor (Trojan) (5.783)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Chromius (Trojan) (5.783)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Alcandrus (Trojan) (5.784)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Halius (Trojan) (5.784)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Noemon (Trojan) (5.784)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Prytanis (Trojan) (5.784)
Hector (Trojan) kills Teuthras (Greek) (5.811)
Hector (Trojan) kills Orestes (Greek) (5.811)
Hector (Trojan) kills Trechus (Greek) (5.812)
Hector (Trojan) kills Oenomaus (Greek) (5.812)
Hector (Trojan) kills Helenus (Greek) (5.813)
Hector (Trojan) kills Oresbius (Greek) (5.813)
Ares kills Periphas (Greek) (5.970)
Diomedes wounds Ares in the gut (5.980)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Acamas (Trojan), spear in the head (6.9)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Axylus (Trojan) (6.14)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Calesius (Trojan) (6.20)
Euryalus (Greek) kills Dresus (Trojan) (6.23)
Euryalus (Greek) kills Opheltius (Trojan) (6.23)
Euryalus (Greek) kills Aesepus (Trojan) (6.24)
Euryalus (Greek) kills Pedasus (Trojan) (6.24)
Polypoetes (Greek) kills Astyalus (Trojan) (6.33)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Pidytes (Trojan), with his spear (6.34)
Teucer (Greek) kills Aretaon (Trojan) (6.35)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Ableros (Trojan), with his spear (6.35)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Elatus (Trojan) (6.38)
Leitus (Greek) kills Phylacus (Trojan) (6.41)
Eurypylus (Greek) kills Melanthus (6.42)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Adrestus (Trojan), spear in the side (6.76)
Paris (Trojan) kills Menesthius (Greek) (7.8)
Hector (Trojan) kills Eioneus (Greek), spear in the neck (7.11)
Glaucus (Trojan) kills Iphinous (Greek), spear in the shoulder (7.13)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Eniopeus (Trojan), spear in the chest (8.138)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Agelaos (Trojan), spear in the back (8.300)
Teucer (Greek) kills Orsilochos (Trojan), with an arrow (8.321)
Teucer (Greek) kills Ormenus (Trojan), with an arrow (8.321)
Teucer (Greek) kills Ophelestes (Trojan), with an arrow (8.321)
Teucer (Greek) kills Daitor (Trojan), with an arrow (8.322)
Teucer (Greek) kills Chromius (Trojan), with an arrow (8.322)
Teucer (Greek) kills Lycophontes (Trojan), with an arrrow (8.322)
Teucer (Greek) kills Amopaon (Trojan), with an arrow (8.323)
Teucer (Greek) kills Melanippus (Trojan), with an arrow (8.323)
Teucer (Greek) kills Gorgythion (Trojan), with an arrow (8.353)
Teucer (Greek) kills Archeptolemos (Trojan), with an arrow (8.363)
Hector (Trojan) wounds Teucer (Greek), with a rock (8.380)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Dolon (Trojan), sword across the neck (10.546)
Diomedes (Greek) kills twelve sleeping Thracian soldiers (10.579) (includes Rhesus)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Bienor (Trojan) (11.99)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Oileus (Trojan), spear in the head, (11.103)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Isus (Trojan), spear in the chest (11.109)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Antiphus (Trojan), sword in the head (11.120)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Peisander (Trojan), spear in the chest (11.160)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Hippolochus (Trojan), sword cuts off his head (11.165)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Iphidamas T), sword in the neck (11.270)
Coön (Trojan) wounds Agamemnon (Greek), spear in the arm (11.288)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Coön (Trojan), spear in the side (11.295)
Hector (Trojan) kills Asaeus (Greek) (11.341)
Hector (Trojan) kills Autonous (Greek) (11.341)
Hector (Trojan) kills Opites (Greek) (11.341)
Hector (Trojan) kills Dolops (Greek) (11.342)
Hector (Trojan) kills Opheltius (Greek) (11.324)
Hector (Trojan) kills Agelaus (Greek) (11.325)
Hector (Trojan) kills Aesymnus (Greek) (11.325)
Hector (Trojan) kills Orus (Greek) (11.343)
Hector (Trojan) kills Hipponous (Greek) (11.325)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Thymbraeus (Trojan), spear in the chest (11.364)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Molion (Trojan) (11.366)
Diomedes (Greek) kills two sons of Merops (Trojan) (11.375)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Hippodamas (Trojan) (11.381)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Hypeirochus (Trojan) (11.381)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Agastrophus (Trojan), spear in the hip (11.384)
Paris (Trojan) wounds Diomedes (Greek), arrow in the foot (11.430)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Deïopites (Trojan) (11.479)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Thoön (Trojan) (11.481)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Ennomus (Greek) (11.481)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Chersidamas (Trojan), spear in the groin (11.481)
Odyssues (Greek) kills Charops (Trojan) (11.485)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Socus (Trojan), spear in the back (11.506)
Socus (Trojan) wounds Odysseus (Greek), spear in the ribs (11.493)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Doryclus (Trojan) (11.552)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Pandocus (Trojan) (11.553)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Lysander (Trojan) (11.554)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Pyrasus (Trojan) (11.554)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Pylantes (Trojan) (11.554)
Eurypylus (Greek) kills Apisaon (Trojan), spear in the liver (11.650)
Polypoetes (Greek) kills Damasus (Trojan), spear through the cheek (12.190);
Polypoetes (Greek) kills Pylon (Trojan) (12.194)
Polypoetes (Greek) kills Ormenus (Trojan) (12.194)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Hippomachus, spear in the stomach (12.196)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Antiphates (Trojan), struck with a sword (12.198)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Menon (Trojan) (12.201)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Iamenus (Trojan) (12.201)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Orestes (Trojan) (12.201)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Epicles (Trojan), rock in the skull (12.416)
Teucer (Greek) wounds Glaucus (Trojan), arrow in the arm (12.425)
Sarpedon (Trojan) kills Alcmaon (Greek), spear in the body (12.434)
Teucer (Greek) kills Imbrius (Trojan), spear in the ear (13.198)
Hector (Trojan) kills Amphimachus (Greek), spear in the chest (13.227)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Othryoneus (Trojan), spear in the gut, (13.439 ff)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Asius (Trojan), spear in the neck (13.472)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Asius’ charioteer, spear in the gut (13.482)
Deïphobus (Trojan) kills Hypsenor (Greek), spear in the liver (13.488) (wounded?)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Alcathous (Trojan), spear in the chest (13.514 ff)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Oenomaus (Trojan), spear in the stomach (13.608)
Deïphobus (Trojan) kills Ascalaphus (Greek), spear in the shoulder (13.621)
Meriones (Greek) wounds Deïphobus (Trojan) spear in the arm (13.634)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Aphareus (Greek), spear in the throat (13.647)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Thoön (Greek), spear in the back) (13.652).
Meriones (Greek) kills Adamas (Trojan), spear in the testicles (13.677).
Helenus (Trojan) kills Deïpyrus (Greek), sword on the head (13.687)
Menelaus (Greek) wounds Helenus (Trojan), spear in the hand (13.705)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Peisander (Trojan), sword in the head (13.731)
Meriones (Greek) kills Harpalion (Trojan), arrow in the buttock (13.776)
Paris (Trojan) kills Euchenor (Greek), arrow in the jaw (13.800)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) hits Hector (Trojan) with a rock (14.477)
Ajax son of Oileus (Greek) kills Satnius (Trojan), spear in the side (14.517)
Polydamas (Trojan) kills Prothoënor (Greek), spear in the shoulder (14.525)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Archelochus, spear in the neck (14.540)
Acamas (Trojan) kills Promachus (Greek), spear (14.555)
Peneleus (Greek) kills Ilioneus (Trojan), spear in the eye (14.570)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Hyrtius (14.597)
Meriones (Greek) kills Morys (14.601)
Meriones (Greek) kills Hippotion (14.601)
Teucer (Greek) kills Prothoön (Trojan) (14.602)
Teucer (Greek) kills Periphetes (Trojan) (14.602)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Hyperenor (Trojan), spear in the side (14.603)
Phalces (Trojan) killed (death not mentioned but armor stripped) (14.600)
Mermerus (Trojan) killed (death not mentioned but armor stripped) (14.600)
Hector (Trojan) kills Stichius (Greek) (15.389)
Hector (Trojan) kills Aresilaus (Greek) (15.389)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Medon (Greek) (15.392)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Iasus (Greek) (15.392)
Polydamas (Trojan) kills Mecistus (Greek) (15.399)
Polites (Trojan) kills Echius (Greek) (15.400)
Agenor (Trojan) kills Clonius (15.401)
Paris (Trojan) kills Deïochus (Greek), spear through the back (15.402)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Caletor (Trojan), spear in the chest (15.491)
Hector (Trojan) kills Lycophron (Greek) spear in the head (15.503)
Teucer (Greek) kills Cleitus (Greek), arrow in the back of the neck (15.521)
Hector (Trojan) kills Schedius (Greek) (15.607)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Laodamas (Trojan) (15.608)
Polydamas (Trojan) kills Otus (Greek) (15.610)
Meges (Greek) kills Croesmus (Trojan), spear in the chest (15.616)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Dolops (Trojan), speared in the back (15.636)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Melanippus (Trojan), spear in the chest (15.675)
Hector (Trojan) kills Periphetes (Greek), spear in the chest (15.744)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Pyraechmes (Trojan), spear in the shoulder (16.339)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Areilycus (Trojan), spear in the thigh (16.361)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Thoas (Trojan), spear in the chest (16.365)
Meges (Greek) kills Amphiclus (Trojan), spear in the leg (16.367)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Atymnius (Trojan), spear in the side (16.372)
Thrasymedes (Greek) kills Maris (Trojan), spear in the shoulder (16.377)
Ajax son of Oileus (Greek) kills Cleobulus (Trojan), sword in the neck (16.386)
Peneleus (Greek) kills Lyco (Greek), sword in the neck (16.395)
Meriones (Greek) kills Acamas (Trojan), spear in the shoulder (16.399)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Erymas (Trojan), spear in the mouth (16.403)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Pronous (Trojan), spear in the chest (16.464)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Thestor (Trojan), spear in the head (16.477)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Erylaus (Trojan), rock on the head (16.479)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Erymas (Trojan) (16.484)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Amphoterus (Trojan) (16.484)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Epaltes (Trojan) (16.484)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Tlepolemus (Trojan) (16.485)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Echius (Trojan) (16.485)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Pyris (Trojan) (16.486)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Ipheus (Trojan) (16.486)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Euippus (Trojan) (16.486)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Polymelus (Trojan) (16.486)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Thrasymedes (Trojan), spear in the gut (16.542)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Sarpedon (Trojan), spear in the chest (16.559)
Hector (Trojan) kills Epeigeus (Greek), rock on the head (16.666)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Sthenelaus (Trojan), rock on the head (16.682)
Glaucus (Trojan) kills Bathycles (Greek), spear in the chest (16.691)
Meriones (Greek) kills Laogonus (Trojan), spear in the jaw (16.702)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Adrestus (Trojan) (16.808)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Autonous (Trojan) (16.809)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Echeclus (Trojan) (16.809)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Perimus (Trojan) (16.809)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Epistor (Trojan) (16.810)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Melanippus (Trojan) (16.810)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Elasus (Trojan) (16.811)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Mulius (Trojan) (16.811)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Pylantes (Trojan) (16.811)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Cebriones (Trojan), rock in the head (16.859)
Hector (Trojan) kills Patroclus (Greek) (16.993)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Hippothous (Trojan), spear in the head (17.377)
Hector (Trojan) kills Scedius (Greek), spear in the collar (17.393)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Phorcys (Trojan), spear in the gut (17.399)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Leocritus (Greek), (17.439);
Lycomedes (Greek) kills Apisaon (Trojan) (17.443)
Automedon (Greek) kills Aretus (Trojan), spear in the gut (17.636)
Menelaus (Trojan) kills Podes (Trojan), spear in the stomach (17.704)
Hector (Trojan) kills Coeranus (Greek), spear in the head (17.744)
Achilles (Greek) kills Iphition (Trojan), spear in the head (20.463)
Achilles (Greek) kills Demoleon (Trojan), spear in the head (20.476)
Achilles (Greek) kills Hippodamas (Trojan), spear in the back (20.480)
Achilles (Greek) kills Polydorus (Trojan), spear in the back (20.488)
Achilles (Greek) kills Dryops (Trojan), spear in the knee, sword thrust (20.546)
Achilles (Greek) kills Demouchos (Trojan) spear thrust (20.548).
Achilles (Greek) kills Laogonus (Trojan), spear thrust (20.551)
Achilles (Greek) kills Dardanus (Trojan), sword thrust (20.551)
Achilles (Greek) kills Tros (Trojan), sword in the liver (20.555)
Achilles (Greek) kills Mulius (Trojan), spear in the head (20.567)
Achilles (Greek) kills Echeclus (Trojan), sword on the head (20.569)
Achilles (Greek) kills Deucalion (Trojan), sword in the neck (20.573)
Achilles (Greek) kills Rhigmus (Trojan), spear in the gut (20.581)
Achilles (Greek) kills Areithous (Trojan), spear in the back (20.586)
Achilles (Greek) kills Lycaon (Trojan), sword in the neck (21.138)
Achilles (Greek) kills Asteropaeus (Trojan), sword in the stomach (21.215)
Achilles (Greek) kills Thersilochus (Trojan) (21.249)
Achilles (Greek) kills Mydon (Trojan) (21.249)
Achilles (Greek) kills Astypylus (Trojan) (21.250)
Achilles (Greek) kills Mnesus (Trojan) (21.250)
Achilles (Greek) kills Thrasius (Trojan) (21.250)
Achilles (Greek) kills Aenius (Trojan) (21.250)
Achilles (Greek) kills Ophelestes (Trojan) (21.251)
Achilles (Greek) kills Hector (Trojan), spear through the throat (22.410)

 

Pagan Roots: Saturnalia, Yule and Christmas

 

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“It’s a mistake to say that our modern Christmas traditions come directly from pre-Christian paganism. you’d be equally wrong to believe that Christmas is a modern phenomenon. As Christians spread their religion into Europe in the first centuries A.D., they ran into people living by a variety of local and regional religious creeds.”

~ Ronald Hutton, Historian at Bristol University in the United Kingdom.

“Christian missionaries lumped all of these people together under the umbrella term pagan.”

~ Philip Shaw, who researches early Germanic languages and Old English at Leicester University in the U.K.

Early Christians wanted to convert pagans, but they were also fascinated by their traditions.  Christians of that period are quite interested in paganism.  It’s obviously something they think is a bad thing, but it’s also something they think is worth remembering. It’s what their ancestors did.  That’s why pagan traditions remained even as Christianity took hold. The Christmas tree is a 17th-century German invention, but it clearly derives from the pagan practice of bringing greenery indoors to decorate in midwinter. The modern Santa Claus is a direct descendent of England’s Father Christmas, who was not originally a gift-giver. However, Father Christmas and his other European variations are modern incarnations of old pagan ideas about spirits who traveled the sky in midwinter.

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The two most notable pagan winter holidays were Germanic Yule and Roman Saturnalia. Christian missionaries gave these holidays a makeover and they are now known to us as Christmas:

Saturnalia was a lawless, drunken time in Rome where literally anything was okay.  This was the original Purge, in which laws were suspended for a brief stretch of time.  Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, liberation and time, was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, It was a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. (i.e.: gender-bending sex, drinking, telling people off, trading gifts and doing whatever you want).  After solstice, the darkest night of the year, the renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

Scholars have connected the Germanic and Scandanavian celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht. Yule-tide was traditionally celebrated during the period from mid-November to mid-January.  Nordic countries use Yule to describe their own Christmas with its religious rites, but also for the holidays of this season. Present-day customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from the original pagan Yule, but are used in Christmas celebrations now, especially within Europe.  As leaders were baptized and converted, they shifted their traditional celebrations covertly, as not to upset the Chieftains. Yule was traditionally celebrated three days after midwinter, but shifted to reflect Christian dates.  Modern Wiccans and other neopagan religions often celebrate Yule as well. In most forms of Wicca, it’s celebrated at winter solstice as the rebirth of the Great horned hunter god, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. Some celebrate with their covens while others celebrate at home.

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Why this fixation on partying in midwinter, anyway? According to historians, it’s a natural time for a feast. In an agricultural society, the harvest work is done for the year, and there’s nothing left to be done in the fields. It’s a time when you have some time to devote to your religious life. It’s also a period when, frankly, everyone needs cheering up.  The dark days that culminate with the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, could be lightened with feasts and decorations.

“If you happen to live in a region in which midwinter brings striking darkness and cold and hunger, then the urge to have a celebration at the very heart of it to avoid going mad or falling into deep depression is very, very strong.”

~ Ronald Hutton

“Even now when solstice means not all that much because you can get rid of the darkness with the flick of an electric light switch, even now, it’s a very powerful season.”

~ Stephen Nissenbaum, Author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist “The Battle for Christmas”

Without a Biblical directive to celebrate Jesus’s birthday and no mention of it in the Gospels of the correct date, it wasn’t until the fourth century that church leaders in Rome embraced the holiday. At this time many people had turned to a belief the Church found heretical: That Jesus had never existed as a man, but as a sort of spiritual entity.  If you want to show that Jesus was a real human being just like every other human being, not just somebody who appeared like a hologram, then what better way to think of him being born in a normal, humble human way than to celebrate his birth?”

Midwinter festivals, with their pagan roots, were already widely celebrated, and the date had a pleasing philosophical fit with festivals celebrating the lengthening days after the winter solstice.

“O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born…Christ should be born.

~ Thaschus Cæcilius Cyprianus (c. 200 – September 14, 258 AD) Bishop of Carthage

In the 16th century, Christmas became a casualty of this church schism, with reformist-minded Protestants considering it little better than paganism. This likely had something to do with the “raucous, rowdy and sometimes bawdy fashion” in which Christmas was celebrated.  In England under Oliver Cromwell, Christmas and other saints’ days were banned, and in New England it was illegal to celebrate Christmas for about 25 years in the 1600s. Forget people saying, “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”  If you want to look at a real ‘War on Christmas,’ you’ve got to look at the Puritans, they banned it!

While gift-giving may seem inextricably tied to Christmas, it used to be that people looked forward to opening presents on New Year’s Day.  They were a blessing for people to make them feel good as the year ends. It wasn’t until the Victorian era of the 1800s that gift-giving shifted to Christmas. According to the Royal Collection, Queen Victoria’s children got Christmas Eve gifts in 1850, including a sword and armor. In 1841, Victoria gave her husband, Prince Albert, a miniature portrait of her as a 7-year-old; in 1859, she gave him a book of poetry by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Let’s take on some of the traditions:

Almost every culture has someone like Santa Claus. He’s primarily based on St. Nicholas, a Fourth Century Lycian bishop from modern-day Turkey. One story says that he met a kind, impoverished man who had three daughters. St. Nick presented all three of them with dowries so that they weren’t forced into a life of prostitution, as dowries were expected to “pay off” families to take on the daughters.  Sinterklaas is the Dutch figure and Odin is the Norse god that Santa resembles. It wasn’t just Santa or men who did the gift-giving in those myths. There’s also the legend of La Befana, a kind Italian woman who leaves treats for children on the “Good” list, and the Germanic Frau Holle, who treats women during Solstice.

While people rarely show any excitement around the fruit-laden cakes these days, they were a real treat in times of yore. The cakes actually have origins in Egypt and were later disseminated by the Romans as they conquered parts of Europe.  Those cakes of Egypt were just about as dense and long-lasting as the brandied, fruit-studded cakes of today. Egyptians placed cakes of fermented fruit and honey on the tombs of their deceased loved ones so that they’d have something to munch on in the afterlife. Romans took similar cakes into battle made of mashed pomegranates and barley. Christians went into the crusades with honeycakes.  Fruitcakes are everywhere, no matter how hard you try to avoid them.

Caroling actually began as the Germanic and Norse traditions of wassailing. Wassailers went from home to home, drunk off of their asses, singing to their neighbors and celebrating their “good health.”  The traditional wassail beverage was a hot mulled cider, spiked with alcohol or fermented.

Mistletoe was considered a magical plant in Europe, especially among the Druids and Vikings, and holds significance in Native American cultures. Mistletoe is no modern quirk of Christmas, even Romans partook in fertility rituals beneath the mistletoe. Mistletoe stood as a neutral ground for feuding Norse tribes, who laid down their weapons in order to negotiate beneath the peace plant. The Druids thought it could protect them from thunder and lightning, as well.  Whether you’ve got the urge to make out, hide from a storm or talk it out, beware as mistletoe is super poisonous.

Romans loved wreaths and decorated everything with Laurel. Holly, ivy and evergreen are the more popular modern options today, and each one holds significance. Egyptians didn’t have evergreens, so they used palm fronds to celebrate Winter Solstice.  Christians love holly because the red berries symbolize the blood of Christ and the pointy leaves symbolize the crown of thorns. However, the advent of holly decor was around long before Christianity. Pre-Christian pagan groups believed that the Holly King did battle with the Oak King. They also thought holly could drive off evil spirits.  Romans, of course, were into laurel wreaths, but laurel was not easily procured throughout the northern reaches of the empire. Instead of laurel, they used evergreens.

All of this gift-giving and revelry, along with the secular embrace of Christmas, now has some religious groups upset. The consumerism of Christmas shopping seems, to some, to contradict the religious goal of celebrating Jesus Christ’s birth. In some ways excessive spending is the modern equivalent of the revelry and drunkenness that made the Puritans frown.   There’s always been a push and pull, and it’s taken different forms.  It might have been alcohol then, and now it’s these glittering toys.

Egyptian Gods & Goddesses Of The Great Ennead

 

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Egyptian Gods & Goddesses Of The Great Ennead

The Ennead or Great Ennead was a group of nine deities in Egyptian mythology worshiped at Heliopolis: the sun god Atum; his children Shu and Tefnut; their children Geb and Nut; and their children Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys.

According to the creation story of the Heliopolitan priests, the world originally consisted of the primordial waters of precreation personified as Nun. From it arose a mound on the First Occasion. Upon the mound sat the self-begotten god Atum, who was equated with the sun god Ra. Atum evolved from Nun through self-creation. Atum either spat or masturbated, producing air personified as Shu and moisture personified as Tefnut. The siblings Shu and Tefnut mated to produce the earth personified as Geb and the nighttime sky personified as Nut.

Geb and Nut were the parents of Osiris and Isis and of Set and Nephthys, who became respective couples in turn. Osiris and Isis represent fertility and order, while Set and Nephthys represent chaos to balance out Osiris and Isis. Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, is often included in this creation tradition.

Atum —> Atum was the oldest of the creations gods worshipped by the Egyptians and they thought he existed before anything else. He created Nun, the celestial waters, and everything else through his thoughts. Thoth was Atum’s intelligence and put his creative thoughts into words to bring them to life. In the Book of the Dead, Atum was the setting sun and his images show him as a human wearing the double crown of Egypt.

Shu —> was the husband of Tefnut and the father of Nut and Geb. He and his wife were the first gods created by Atum. Shu was the god of the air and sunlight or, more precisely, dry air and his wife represented moisture. He was normally depicted as a man wearing a headdress in the form of a plume, which is also the hieroglyph for his name. Shu’s function was to hold up the body of the goddess Nun and separate the sky from the earth. He was not a solar deity but his role in providing sunlight connected him to Ra. Indeed, he was one of the few gods who escaped persecution under the heretic king Akhenaten.

Tefnut —> Tefnut was the wife of Shu and mother of Nut and Geb. She and her husband were the first gods created by Atum. She was the goddess of moisture or damp, corrosive air, and was depicted either as a lioness or as a woman with a lioness’s head.

Geb —> was the father of Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys, and was a god without a cult. As an Earth god he was associated with fertility and it was believed that earthquakes were the laughter of Geb. He is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts as imprisoning the buried dead within his body.

Nut —> was the mother of Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys, Nut is usually shown in human form; her elongated body symbolizing the sky. Each limb represents a cardinal point as her body stretches over the earth. Nut swallowed the setting sun (Ra) each evening and gave birth to him each morning. She is often depicted on the ceilings of tombs, on the inside lid of coffins, and on the ceilings of temples.

Osiris —> Osiris was originally a vegetation god linked with the growth of crops. He was the mythological first king of Egypt and one of the most important of the gods. It was thought that he brought civilization to the race of mankind. He was murdered by his brother Seth, brought back to life by his wife Isis, and went on to become the ruler of the underworld and judge of the dead.

Isis —> A very important figure in the ancient world, Isis was the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. She was associated with funeral rites and said to have made the first mummy from the dismembered parts of Osiris. As the enchantress who resurrected Osiris and gave birth to Horus, she was also the giver of life, a healer and protector of kings.

Set —> Also known as Seth, Setekh, Suty and Sutekh. Set was the son of Geb and Nut, and the evil brother of Osiris. He was the god of darkness, chaos, and confusion, and is represented as a man with an unknown animal head, often described as a Typhonian by the Greeks who associated him with the god Typhon. He is sometimes depicted as a hippopotamus, a pig, or a donkey. Seth murdered his brother and usurped the throne of Egypt and most of the other gods despised him.

Nephthys —> Daughter of Geb and Nut, sister of Isis, wife of Seth and mother of Anubis, Nephthys is depicted as a woman with the hieroglyphs for a palace and ‘Neb’ (a basket) on her head. She is thus known as “Lady of the Mansions” or “Palace.” Nephthys was disgusted by Seth’s murder of Osiris and helped her sister, Isis, against her husband, Seth. Together with Isis she was a protector of the dead, and they are often shown together on coffin cases, with winged arms. She seems to have had no temple or cult center of her own.