November 8 2018 Pagan Style
Ancient Greeks and modern Hellenists celebrate the Agathos Daimon. Agathos Daimon means “good spirit” in Greek and is a religious observance held on the second day of each lunar month, immediately following the Noumenia. It is the third celebration of a trio of household monthly observances. A good spirit usually refers to a type of divine being that is less powerful than a God, is personal to each family, and can bring the family good luck, protection, or some type of assistance. Household spirits are usually seen as either snakes or as a young man with a horn of plenty in hand.
Today is also Khalkeia, a festival of Athena Ergane and Hephaistos. The Khalkeia was primarily associated with artisans, especially bronze smiths. Few deities were linked as closely as Athena and Hephaistos were at Athens; not only was Hephaistos and Athena the de facto parents of Erikhthonios, the pseudo-mythical first king of Athens, but also in Athens, Athena was also addressed under the title of Hephaisteia. Apparently this festival involved a procession of workers with baskets of grain for offerings as well as meat sacrifices. Likely the workshops were closed on this day, an early version of Labour Day (Parke, p 92-93). Also, at this time the loom was set up for the weaving of the peplos which was to be offered to Athena at the Panathenaia, 9 months later in Hekatombaion (Parke, p 38).
The Ohitaki Festival at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Fushimi, Kyoto, is a Harvest thanksgiving festival when around 100,000 wooden prayer sticks are burnt to pray for family prosperity. Kagura dances are performed. Also the Japanese Festival of the Goddess of the Hearth. Clean your fireplace today (or your oven if you don’t have a fireplace.) Re-lay and light a fire (or cook a treat) remembering the hearth (or oven) as the center of the home and spiritual (or physical) nourishment.
Ancient Romans celebrated the third of the three days when the mundus ritual pit was opened. It honours the goddess Mania and the Manes (spirits of the dead). In this ceremony, an effigy representing the sky was placed upside down in a pit and covered with a large stone called the lapis manalis.
In Wales, today is Gwynn ap Nudd Day, when the lord of the Faerie kingdom opens the door to the lower world for one day. He is the ruler of Annwn or the Otherworld, according to the oldest literature.
Today is Yama Dwitiya. Yama Dwitiya is observed on Dwitiya Tithi (a special time of day) during the month of Kartik. Most of the time, Yama Dwitiya falls two days after Diwali Puja. King Yama, the lord of death, is worshipped on Yama Dwitiya along with Chitragupta and Yama-Doots, the subordinates of Lord Yama. Yamuna Snan (a holy bath) is suggested in the morning before Yamraj Puja (prayers to Yama) during Aparahna (a time of day). Arghya (offering respect) should be given to Lord Yama after Puja.
Apart from Yama Puja, the day is more popularly known as Bhai Dooj. On Bhaiya Dooj, sisters pray for their brothers to have long and happy lives by performing a Tika ceremony. Brothers offer gifts to their sisters. Bhaiya Dooj is also known as Bhau Beej and Bhathru Dwithiya. According to legend, the Goddess Yamuna fed her brother Yamraj on Kartik Dwitiya at her own home. Since then, this day is known as Yama Dwitiya. It is believed that sisters who feed their brothers on this auspicious day would be forever Saubhagyavati (married women) and eating at their sister’s home bestows long life to brothers. For this reason, on Bhai Dooj, sisters cook sumptuous food for their brothers and feed them with their own hands.
Today is the Gujarati New Year. Gujarati New Year is the time to close old account books and to open new account books. In Gujarat, traditional account books are known as Chopda. New Chopda(s) are inaugurated during Diwali Puja in the presence of Goddess Lakshmi to seek Her blessing. This ritual is known as Chopda Pujan. During Chopda Puja, new account books are marked with auspicious symbols to make the financial year profitable.
Today is also Diwali Dyuta Krida. The act of gambling has been known in Hinduism since the Vedic period. However, it was known as the game of Dyuta and called Dyuta-Krida. The board on which it is played is known as Chaupar and dice are known as Pasha. In modern India, the game of dice is known as Jua and it is taboo to play Jua in many families. Most states in India have banned all sorts of gambling activities. However, many families play it during Diwali for religious reasons. It is believed that the game of dice was invented by Lord Shiva Himself and it was played between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati the very first time. It was stated by Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati, "O Devi! I have created the game of dice for those who want to play it to make time pass, for those who want to amass sudden wealth and to destroy the wealth of someone". It is believed that the day of Kartik Pratipada, which is also known as Bali Pratipada and Govardhan Puja, is blessed by the Goddess Parvati. Whoever plays Dyuta Krida on this day is blessed by Her. The best time to play Dyuta is early morning during Pratahkal. Wearing new clothes after Abhyang Snan (a holy bath) on the first day of Kartik month should be followed by Dyuta Krida (the gambling game) and taking Mangal Aarti (special food) from female members of the family. Diwali day is an auspicious day for gambling and many believe whoever gambles on this day wins. We all know that cannot be correct as someone has to lose for someone to win in the game of dice. The reason why religious books suggest playing Dyuta is not that it is an auspicious day to win, but that it is the day to forecast for the coming year. If someone wins in the game of Dyuta on Kartik Pratipada, then the whole year would be good for that person and if someone loses then it is an omen of bad luck in coming year.
Today also marks the Jain New Year.
On this day in 392, Emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan worship in the Roman Empire and put an end to the Olympic Games. His ruling forbade the burning of incense and the lighting of a fire at home in honour of the house-god, the pouring of wine with a similar intention, and the adorning of trees. He also forbade the ritual of propter viam (because of departure), in which remainders of food were burned, for hygienic reasons, not pious ones. Punishment involvement confiscation of the house and prosecution for high treason, providing Christians with tacit approval to confiscate property, destroy relics and publicly attack and murder pagan believers.
According to Mayan history, this is the day in 1519 that the White Gods came to the City of Reeds. The Mayan people lived in Central America. White Gods was the name Mayans gave to Europeans, believing that the original White Gods of their legends had returned.
On this day in 1576, Bessie Dunlop, a gifted midwife and healer, was executed for witchcraft in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1610, the Witches of Zugarramurdi, a Basque village in Spain, were sentenced for witchcraft. Of the 40 accused, 18 confessed and were given salvation; six were burned at the stake; five died under the tortures inflicted during questioning and were burned in effigy, and the remaining 11 were presumed innocent.
On this day in 2003, the Santa Rosa County zoning board unanimously refused to let a Wiccan Church meet in a residential neighbourhood, a decision applauded by about 200 opponents. One person held up a Bible and pointed to it in front of the dozen or so pagans who attended the meeting. Others said it wasn’t a religious issue, arguing that a residential area is inappropriate for churches, citing traffic as a major problem. The Reverend William E. Livingston, chancellor of the Fire Dance Church of Wicca, said he would appeal the decision. The Wiccans had been meeting in Livingston’s back yard near Milton, Florida, until he received a notice that he needed a conditional use permit to operate the church in a residential neighbourhood.
Image: Japanese Hearth Goddess - Huchi-Fuji by Kris Walherr.