Saturday, 20 October 2012

Roma Mater I

OK. I am starting to reread The King Of Ys by Poul and Karen Anderson. This will take a long time. Volume I, Roma Mater (London, 1989) - "Mother Rome" - begins:

"At noon upon that Birthday of Mithras..." (p. 13)

The Andersons' Note explains that Mithras' Birthday, 25 December, had been the winter solstice but the latter had moved. (p. 443) Although our family recognizes 25 December with a Christmas Tree, we are also invited to a Pagan friend's house for Yule on the current solstice, 21 December.

I understand that Mithraism emerged from Persian Zoroastrianism in the same sort of way that Christianity emerged from the Abrahamic tradition. However, another Andersonian Note adds, and other sources confirm, that Mithras reached Rome via Persia from the Aryans. That makes his origin considerably older.

I prepare for meditation by invoking a named deity. I do not believe that such beings exist but see no harm in continuing the tradition of our ancestors, as in the Hippocratic Oath. Asking to be led from darkness to light focuses attention on "light." I think that "Indra" is an appropriate name. As the chief Vedic god, he would have been known to Gautama and is mentioned in Buddhist scriptures. However, Mithras, with slight variations of spelling, is comparably ancient and the Andersons adapted a Latin prayer from Kipling's "A Song to Mithras":

" 'Tene Mithra, etiam miles, fidos nostris votis nos!' " (p. 347)

"Mithras, also a soldier, keep us true to our vows!" (p. 481)

Not bad. Although not literally soldiers, we sometimes engage in conflicts and need to practice the karma yoga, nonattached action, taught by Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. I would occasionally visit the Hindu Temple in Preston, which has images of Krishna and other deities on its ceiling, if I lived nearer to it.

5 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    Just off the top of my head, I think the Julian calendar had the winter solstice falling on December 25. But the Gregorian reform of the calendar correcting accumulated errors shifted the date to December 21. Logically, Christmas should have been celebrated on the new date as well. But people had gotten too used to December 25 to want to do that. So we still honor the birth of Christ on that date.

    Sean

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  2. Or rather, the solstice itself, an astronomical event, the Sun stopping its decline, "standing still", then rising higher in the sky each day, had moved from the 25th to the 21st? The solstice is the "rebirth" of the declining, apparently dying, Sun and the start of a new year so was mythologically the (re-)birth of the solar deity, Mithras. The celebration of the birth of a god continued on the 25th although meanwhile the solstice had shifted.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      I'm sorry, I was not clear enough, it seems. I had in mind how the scholars of Julius Caesar who reformed the chaotic Roman calendar, still made certain errors in their calculations which in time caused the calendar to fall out of proper sync with the seasons. So much so that Pope Gregory XIII appointed the commission which revised and corrected the calendar to the one we still use. I don't have the exact details, but the Jesuit scholars who carried out the reform did such a good job that it would now take many centuries for errors amounting even to a few minutes to accumulate. But this can easily be googled!

      Sean

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  3. Yes, I knew (something about) the changeover from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. The Andersons say it was the precession of the equinoxes that made the solstice move from 25 to 21 December.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      And that's getting into technicalities I'm not competent to comment on. I'm reminded of how Tolkien went into massive detail about the calendars used in his Middle Earth. In fact, we could use them!

      Sean

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