Tag Archives: the romans

TIME OF THE SUN’S RETURN

Good evening to you on the day of the Winter Solstice! sun1

This is the text written for my original blog a year ago but it speaks about timeless matters so I have translated it and am reposting it this year. Many happy Returns of the Sun to you sun !

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These will be non-Christmas but very sunny wishes zeby. I do not celebrate Jesus’ birthday but this does not mean I do not enjoy mid-winter time. In the end it used to be particularly happy time for the ancient tribes. The Romans had been enjoying the festival of Saturnalia first and later the feast of Sol Invictus, ‘The Unconquered Sun’, which was established by Emperor Aurelian on the basis of the Persian solar cult of Mithra. It was such a popular holiday that early Christians did not even try to fight it. Instead they adopted the if you can’t beat your enemy, join them tactics and started to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. It has to be clearly stated that there is no historical evidence nor archaeological data confirming Dec, 25th as his date of birth.  On the contrary, some researchers claim that Jesus was actually born in spring 6-7 before Christ (!).

sillychristian

By the way, it was an ‘arch-Christian’ Emperor Constantine who established the last day of the week to be The Day of the Sun. No need to mention that winter solstice was celebrated by many different tribes all over the world, most popular contemporary traditions originate from Yule, the holiday of Germanic tribes. If you dig deeper, it turns out that the whole December was the festival time in many cultures worldwide (more about it here). Personally I was amazed to read about the time of Yalda in Iran where in the evening families gather and eat pomegranate and water melon and ajil (nuts) and they read poems of Hafez. Can’t we really exchange Christmas for Yalda, please?! zeby

This is why I do not feel compassion for Catholic priests crying over growing consumerism and losing the mysticism of this holiday. I do not like being stupified nor brainwashed. Winter solstice is mysticsm itself. It is the time when the Light overpowers the Darkness; the Sun returns after the shortest day of the year, daytime is becoming longer and spring is getting closer and closer. The more I study goddesses cards, myths and ancient beliefs the better I understand an universal rule of recurrence which gives hope that even when we’re stuck in the biggest frost and snow, the time of resurrection and joy is already awaiting us. I could never stand winter, frost, chill, catching colds, trudging in the monotonous snow etc. I have already felt depressed at the end of summer. I could not stop thinking that all the good things are dying together with summertime and nothing positive awaits me any longer.

It was not until two years ago that I started to realise a deeper meaning of seasons change. When I was analysing the card of Demeter for my forum, I began to understand the myth of her parting with Kore Persephone. The ancient people were much more dependant on the rhythm of seasons’ change than we are. They had no electricity so when the sun went down, all they could do was either to go rest or to sit down by the fire and to listen to tales. They had no supermakets so if they did not manage to gather enough crops, they were starving in the early spring. It was natural to respect cycles. Earth is not able to grow crops, vegetables and fruit without breaks, it is necessary to let her rest. Ground is never dead, even covered with snow in the wintertime it still undergoes processes which prepare it for the revival when warm and sunny days come back. Because spring WILL eventually come back. In most ancient cultures the motif of Birth – Death – Rebirth is omnipresent and this tells us about the wisdom of those times. The ancient people had neither microscopes nor computers nor any sophicticated devices which would allow them to do scientific research. However, observing the world around them they realised that there is some kind of power which makes flowers bloom, trees send forth new leaves and cereals to be ready to harvest at a particular time. And consequently at particular time this power suddenly dissapears. So where is it? If it is not on the ground then it must be underground. It is strictly logical, isn’t it? This is why one had to go underneath and bring it back!

The ancient people have created many beautiful legends to explain process either by maternal  or lover’s feelings. This is why Isis, Demeter, Kore Persephone, Inanna or Ishtar had to literally or figuratively descend into the darkness of the Underworld to be reborn and bring Life back to the ground. Indeed, the Underworld is natural for us because we belong to it just by the fact we were born. Each of us has the right and often even necessity do enter it at some moments of our lives. You cannot stay happy, satisfied, smiling and energetic all the time. Each of us has the right to feel fear, sadness, uncertainty and weakness, it is consistent with our inner cycle and the law of the Universe. The only thing inconsistent with the law of the Universe is staying in the Underworld for too long.  We live on the surface of the Earth, not underneath it. It took me a lot of time to realise it but eventually I understood that I am and I want to be Ishtar, not Ereshkigal.

And that is exactly the mysticsm of the Sun’s Return, the mysticsm which had existed long before Jesus was born no matter in which year it happened. That is exactly hope, joy and inspiration I would like to share with you. All the best to you, I hope you will enjoy many more Returns of the Light in your livessun1!

greetingseng

MAAT

MAAT

An Egyptian goddess of cosmic order, justice, wisdom, law, truth, balance, harmony and morality. She was the one to keep the stars in movement, seasons changing and to maintain the order on both Heaven and Earth.  According to the Egyptian beliefs the world has not come into existence until Ra the god of the Sun had replaced Isfet (Chaos) with his daughter Maat. Pharaohs were to guard the goddess and to make sure no one would disrupt the balance. Her name was also written as  Ma’at, Māt, Maae’t or Mayet and its meaning was probably Truth, Truthfulness.

ABOUT GODDESS

The earliest writings where Maat is mentioned date back to the Old Kingdom  (more than 2300 years ago). Even though she is depicted as a person, she in fact symbolized an Egyptian faith that the universe was logical and stayed in order therefore any disturbances in its functioning must have been caused by people. Maat was a guarantee of an order in Egypt and she represented a cosmic harmony which was in power as long as laws and customs were respected. The Egyptians believed in an inner balance and unity prevailing in the universe which meant that any disturbances could have brought Chaos back and could have caused a danger for people and institutions. It concerned all the aspects of life: authority, trade, seasons changing, movement of planets, religious ceremonies, signing contracts, fairness and truthfulness in everyday life. This is why the Egyptians treated such troubles as e.g. the delay of the Nile’s flooding as a sign of gods’ anger and a pharaoh, the priest of Maat, who did not respect laws would be perceived as a threat (like in the case of Ankhenaten who by the way was said to be particularly devoted to Maat*).

In ancient Egypt the skills of expressing thoughts and writing were highly valued as well as impartiality and the sense of justice (one of the texts quotes the words of Ra that he had created people equal, Maat orders the rich to protect the poor and the weak, not to exploit workers building graves and to take care of the widows and the orphans). Maat was uniting everything in the Universe in one integral wholeness: the world, the state and individuals. Maat was something that we call the SPIRIT of the law, not the exact LETTER of the law. Judges were wearing her image to remember about delivering fair jedgements and keeping justice. Interestingly when Egypt was conquered first by Alexander the Great and then by the Romans, the Egyptian law co-existed with the laws of the intruders for some time but was later replaced (and so women who were so far able to act regardless of men’s agreement and to have their own properties, were deprived of these rights).

At the beginning Maat existed as an independent goddess but later when male and female dieties were paired, Maat became the wife of Thoth god of writing and thus the patroness of scribes. Scribes were very important in Egypt because their abilities to read and write were essential in the correct functioning of the state. They were of course supposed to live in accordance with the laws of Maat. In some beliefs Maat and Thoth created Ogdoad i.e. eight deities worshipped in Hermopolis. Both Maat and Thoth were presented together with Re in his solar barge.

Egyptians believed that Maat was present when the sentence was passed over the soul of a dead person. After death their spirit was going to Duat, the Underworld, where the heart was put on one scale and the feather of Maat was placed n another one (the Egyptians believed that human soul was hidden in heart). If the deeds of deceased stayed in balance with the feather, that person was to go to Aaru, the field of reeds, ruled by Osiris. If their deeds were heavier, the soul was devoured by the lion goddess Ammit and the dead had to stay in Duat. 42 Confessions (Principles) of Maat were also the part of this ritual.

Even though Maat was such an important goddess, it was not until the New Kingdom (around 1500 – 1000 bC) when people began building temples for her. There are proofs that her shrines were situated in Karnak, Memphis and Deir el-Medina.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Maat was depicted as a young woman either standing or sitting, sometimes winged. She was often portrayed holding the was sceptre in one hand and ANKH in the other. An ostrich feather was her headress (or the ostrich feather itself represented Maat). Her statue was a stone platform depicting the stable foundation on which order was built and the primeaval mound that emerged from the waters of Chaos.

  

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

Positive: a peaceful and balanced person who dislikes quarrelling and respects the law. In work this may be a supervisor or a person who watches over the procedures. Someone who likes harmony, is sensitive to the needs of others and delicate while contacting other people.

Negative: a conformist, someone who puts the blame for their faults on others, avoids taking ultimate decisions, is changeable, shallow, superficial and messy. May have problems with law and to be dishonest.

Professions: a lawyer, a judge, a clerk, an official, an auditor, a controller.

ADVICE

In this situation you must be honest, otherwise you will have to face serious consequences. Accept the responsability for the mistakes you have already made. May your thoughts, words and deeds be oneness. You must make choice. Legal or official problem. Ask an attorney or a legal counsellor for help. It is advised to continue studying or to improve qualifications.

Love

If you are in the relationship: depending on your martial status this card signifies either marriage or divorce. It is advised to go to a mediator. Lie. Perhaps you are too hard on your partner and you critisise him/her too much.

If you are single: do not play with the feelings of other people. Make sure you are not giving someone false hope. Be responsible.

Finances

Court case. An official control at work. You should keep the letter of the law.

Health

Possible problems with keeping a healthy weight. In negative meaning this card signifies an imbalance (surrounding cards inform what kind of imbalance it is and which system or organ it concerns). A deficiency or an excess. Psychosomatic diseases. Endangered parts of the body: kidneys, lumbar region of spine and back.

CARDS

Maat with the primeaval mound in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Maat with scales in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Maat with a jar in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Maat in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Maat in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Maat in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Maat in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Maat with a feather in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Weird and rather ridiculous image of war-like Maat in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Maat as Justice with scales and ANKH in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Based on English Wikipedia, http://www.philae.nu/akhet/NetjeruM.html#Ma’at and http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/maat.html .

*Just like Ankhenaten Hatshepsut seemed to somehow violate then existing order. After her husband’s death she became the regent for her minor nephew but in fact she seized the throne  and became the pharaoh herself. She adopted Ma’atkare (Maat – Ka – Re meaning ‘Truth Is the Soul of Re’ or ‘Justice is the Soul of Re’) as her throne name. The legacy of both Ankhenaten and Hatshepsut was rejected after their deaths, their names were being erased, their statues and images destroyed and yet in modern times they became very popular. The documentaries are being made about them, books are being written, webpages created… I shall let you decide yourself whether it is all caused by the protection of goddess Maat .