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October Opens the Passage to Our Past

OCTOBER OPENS THE PASSAGE TO OUR PAST : The Writing Option Keep on Keeping ON

Roman Month Celebrating No More War—at least till Spring

Thank the Romans for their efficiency, as well as their need for ritual to take time to give their gods especial reverence at the harvest end of the year. Like many early civilizations, dependent on the Earth for growth, food, sustenance, this was a time of endings.

From a more advanced urban mindset, citizens welcomed home the troops in October, signalled primarily by the joy of seeing returning campaigning legions home for the winter: it coincided with—most important—grape harvest, along with publicly celebrated wine ratings in each vintage. So, naturally, there would be no-work days, time for parties.

And, most anticipated, the free-for-all Capitoline Ludi games.

Alabaster Mars god of War with his golden spear, made peace with Juno & Ceres at harvest time

After heavily-armored marches through alien and conquered territories, great importance was attached to receiving returning armies of footsoldiers with the blessing of Mars. A special entry into the city through a gate of purification allowed them to release all warlike thoughts, ritually cleanse their weapons for storage, and prepare to become peace-loving citizens—at least till spring.

An ancient trilithon gate, predating Caesar’s campaigns at one time marked a sacred portal into the city, through which soldiers returning home had first to pass in order to release their warlike passions and resume their roles as Quirites (people of Rome).

Jupiter usually presided over all festivities, but in October he shared the glory with Juno his wife, her attendants, and with Ceres, goddess of the harvest. Mars had his own Ludi on the Campus Martius, but biggest games of the season were held on the Ides (15th, half way through month). Then Jupiter let loose all his thunderbolts for the chariot races at the Capitoline games, celebrating the horse—Equus October—with feasting and sacrifice.

Surprisingly, our heavily-embedded Hallowe’en season at month’s end—disguised as frivolity, but aligned with pagan, Gaulish, Saxon, Celtic and Pictish tradition—was celebrated early in the Roman month, before the Nones (9th), in an attempt to appease their gods of the Underworld and Death. They witnessed Earth Opening Mundus Patet, before throwing the world’s most lavish party.

Public Blessing of Water Shrines

And, if you thought throwing a coin into the Trevi fountain was a modern happy-return charm, Romans gave offerings to Fons, god of springs, as part of FONTINALIA ‘Ante Diem III Idus Octobres’ runup to Ides games. Both were public holidays. Garlands were hung at springs and wells throughout the city. Custom of offering coins to wells and fountains in the ancient Mediterranean was widespread, as all sources of water were especially venerated by city and country people alike. Harvest depended on a good water supply.

Ante Diem III Nonas Octobras (3 days before Nones) Mundus Patet (EarthDoor Mundus is opened)

One of three times in Roman year—plus August 24th & November 8th— when the mundus, Gate to the Underworld, opened so the dead might communicate with the living. Pluto, god of Underworld, allowed traffic between the two!

Parrot familiar communicated with those gone before

“it is as if the door of the grim, infernal deities were open.” Varro

In Julian calendars it was technically a dies comitalis; no public business could be performed. No battles could be fought, no ships set sail, and no marriages could take place on days when the mundus to Hades was opened. All underworld spirits could roam the land, and therefore any actions undertaken on such a day would be inauspicious.


Feria Jovi —Feast of Jupiter, Equus October—October Horse—alongside Ludi Capitolini (Capitoline Games)

The Ides of each month were sacred to Jupiter, but the ides of October were nefastus publicus, something special. It included events dedicated to Mars rivalling those of Jupiter. Indeed Jupiter bountifully shared his glory. On this day, chariot races in honor of Mars were held on the Campus Martius—literally, Mars’ Field.

The right horse of the winning pair was sacrificed by the flamen Martialis on an altar to Mars right on the Field. Before being sacrificed, the horse’s head was adorned with loaves of bread, and cake, to acknowledge and thank Mars for protecting the harvest. Mars was primarily an agricultural protector-god, rather than sole warrior god.

All in honour of Mars.

After the horse was sacrificed, its head was cut off and decorated with cakes, while residents of two neighborhoods, Via Sacra and the Subura, in friendly rivalry vied for possession of the head. If the Via Sacra got it, it was nailed it to the wall of the Regia; kings’ palace. If Subura, tradition nailed it to the Turris Mamilia. Meanwhile priests collected the tail and genitalia of the sacrificed horse, still dripping blood, and paraded it to the king’s house, where it bled on the sacred hearth. Vestal Virgins then collected and kept the gore and ashes for distribution at Parilia, a spring festival.

October 19 ARMILUSTRIUM —Purifying Weapons of War Let in Light

A bunch of dirty, blood-thirsty, gritty warriors with nothing to do during the winter months wasn’t a good idea. To avoid contaminating the city and its civitates from being infected by contact with the blood of ‘colonials’, priests of Mars danced and sang in the streets to Mars. In a great lustratio, rite of purification on Aventine Hill, the tubae, sacred war trumpets—reminiscent of pagan Pictish carnyx, were sounded, as the arma and ancilla sacred implements of war were purified and put away until next year.

Battersea [Brittonic] shield typical of British-Caledonians’ armour against Rome

October All Over

Brittonic military might, including combined armies of Brigantes, Iceni, Caledonians and Pictish Men of Fortriu were a force to be reckoned with. Septimius Severus and Agricola were in no doubt about their tentative hold on the Ultima Thule of Britain. Safety was always envisioned as returning to Rome for comfort, family and celebration. After all, the tribes of that remote colony had challenged the Empire on several occasions—most threatening being Queen Boudicca’s AD61 uprising which destroyed Roman Londinium and St. Alban’s.

Writing Emulates Ancestors in Hallucinating through Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en nowadays is almost a relief, after touching on its antediluvian origins. Masks replace masque balls temporarily in 2020, but the urge to write—to create audibly, visually or virtually—has become commonplace in times where solitude and catchup reading have been life savers.

If we read the portents for October 2020—Jupiter conjunct Saturn with Pluto; Mars rivalling the full moon—Draconid meteor showers in progress until month’s end— we scribes in the writing community may be forgiven for choosing the nose-to-the-grindstone option of holing up in our writer’s cave, locking the door and… writing.

Either that, or throwing in the towel. Not yet, I hope. We need one or two ancient goddesses in our corner, if only because next month is NaNo time <; Thank you Juno, Ceres, Vestals alongside Mars, Jupiter; and long-lost Britannia.

©2020 Marian Youngblood

October 8, 2020 Posted by | ancient rites, art, astrology, authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, festivals, fiction, pre-Christian, ritual, sacred sites, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feline Intelligence to Encourage Insecure Writers

IWSGers and Others who Care to Join Us

Smilodon not smiling—after his experience at the Library

Smilodon not smiling—after his experience at the Library

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea—Robert A. Heinlein

TRICK OR TREAT—Ultimate Hallowe’en Trick
Smilodon is a very educated cat. He has been to the Library.

The chief librarian has even taken out an honorary library card for him.
“She is a wewwy kind lady—cataclysmically cat-fwendly. I knowz zat cuz she shared her sangwitch wit’ me,” he confided after his experience, licking his curvaciously-dentured lips at the reminisce. His saber tooth gleamed.

I asked for more information after he went missing last week, during a fairly heavy crowd of visitors driving by his beach-front yard.

Whether he was kidnapped—as he breathlessly claims—or his exuberance in someone’s back seat got him turfed out at the next stop—the town shopping plaza—may never be known. But it is reported that he was chased by a homeless dog from the bus stop, ran for the museum and library buildings, as nearest and safest and found a safe haven. One assumes. He is not sharing his scaredy-cat-ness ;(

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly”
Kurt Vonnegut Cat’s Cradle

“It’s a very inconvenient habit of kittens,” Alice had once made the remark, “that, whatever you say to them they always purr.”
Lewis Carroll

Ahhh—The Lib-erry—A Cat Port in a Storm

After it was explained to him that he was welcome at the Li-berry, Smilo consented to being interviewed

After it was explained to him that he was welcome at the Li-berry, Smilo consented to being interviewed

A sharp-eyed gardener heard him meowing loudly and discovered him hiding at the library back door. He ‘rescued’ him inside until next morning, when the head librarian showed up for her duty and immediately ‘rescued’ him even more. She gave him a tuna fish sandwich.

He draws breath between bouts of explanation, on his return to home ground.

“She is a wewwy nice Li-berrian. Wewwy nice,” he keeps muttering between gulps of tea, milk, ice water, while topping up on dry cat food.

“No, you can’t have tuna fish sandwiches every day,” I try to tell him when he gives me that Smilo smile. “Normal cats eat this.” I repeat.

“Li-berrians haz nicer stuffs”, he meows. But tucks in anyway, between purrs.
Even prehistoric cats knowz when to quit complaining and appreciate the status quo.

Cat Lives: One Down—Eight to Go

In short—or rather in human reportage—last week, unfortunately for him, because his demeanor is friendly—Smilo’s smile will even get to doglovers—as a pre-Hallowe’en prank he traveled all the way to Saunders Plaza in Trinidad, CA. He was dropped off, after the joke failed. In a blinding storm, he made his way to or was chased by a dog to The Li-berry where he sheltered from the lightning.

Depending on whose story you are listening to—the people at the bus stop or Smilodon’s own version, the dog was wewwy large. And not on a leash.

We won’t go into the leash part, because Smilo doesn’t have one either ;(

Back to normal—the writing cat

Back to normal—the writing cat

‘You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? Radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat’
Albert Einstein

Smilodon agrees with Mr Einstein totally. In his world, EVERYthing is cat-related.
And, now that he is a true blue intellectual—card-carrying, no less—his conversation has become incessant. I, like Einstein, Carroll and Heinlein, have no problem with that. But his brothers—and no doubt all his feline neighbors—are getting a little tired of the story.

Perhaps he should write a book.

All my fellow IWSGer cohorts in this group would surely agree.

Meanwhile, now that Celtic New Year—Samhainn—is upon us, the rest of the cat population is wiping brow, thanking lucky stars that they can get back to normal trick-or-treating.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

November 2, 2016 Posted by | authors, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, festivals, fiction, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Back on the Horse—Insecure Writers Are Survivors


Monthly Insecure Writers’ Reassurance Corner

Is there Life for Writers—aka IWSGers—After Hallowe’en & Before Onset of the Festive Season?

Subterranean rumblings from Yellowstone's sub chamber don't deflect Old Faithful from his regular spout, courtesy National Parks Service

Subterranean rumblings from Yellowstone’s sub chamber don’t deflect Old Faithful from his regular spout, courtesy National Parks Service

For centuries humans have dreamed of inner worlds. Numerous writers, inspired themselves, have embedded the idea in our human subconscious. Those—like Tarzan’s creator Edgar Rice Burroughs (At the Earth’s Core, 1914), Edgar Allen Poe (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, 1838) and, most famously, Jules Verne’s 1864 novel A Journey to the Centre of the Earth have been adapted for film, and are an integral part of our now Culture. They continue to inspire our own Inner Search.

Many of us IWSGers are voracious readers—even expanding our horizons beyond the beloved sci-fi kingdom of our Dear Ninja Leader, Alex—into the realm of the…b.e.y.o.n.d.

Losing the human form brings the freedom to remember your self.
Losing the human form is like a spiral.
It gives you the freedom to remember.
This, in turn, makes you even freer.
Don Juan

A [spiritual] Warrior knows that he is waiting.
He knows also what he is waiting for.

And so while he waits, he feasts his eyes upon the world.
The ultimate accomplishment of a Warrior is joy.
Carlos Castaneda The Eagle’s Gift

I recall reading every one of the Castaneda series—Don Juan’s wisdom in small snacks—from Journey to Ixtlan through The Eagle’s Gift, and never once seeing a resolution to the cycle. It’s probably a good technique for retaining one’s readership! But recent love-hate guru Dallas Thompson—given his modesty of transmission and innocence of presentation—gets to the (spiritual) point in one book.

Dallas Thompson’s The Cosmic Manuscript lit a few media fires when it first came out in 2002. Since then, it has relaxed into a semi-oblivion of those who have read and those who refuse to read him.

Today I see butterflies dancing by my window, playing in the sunlight,
lilies in my garden, stars shining so bright in the sky, as I learn to usher
the Cosmic water. Meditation has helped me calm my mind and get in touch with the wonder of Celestial Creation – the colors, the light, the peace and the love. And I feel beautiful, I feel transformed as the darkness recedes. I do not really understand it all yet, but the discovery is so exciting. I feel like a new born baby – struggling to breathe, kicking, screaming – and yet so happy to be alive and play in the light. In your words like a celestial butterfly learning to fly, and dance to Eternities Tone

Earth's polar vortex, according to several famed fantasy authors, pulls on our Solar generator for power

Earth’s polar vortex, according to several famed fantasy authors, pulls on our Solar generator for power

According to several meditation enthusiasts, Zen Buddhists, and Tibetan mystics, all these fancy accoutrements are useful for Life on Earth.

“If you have attained noble titles at your University, and have not in the process built a relationship with your Spirit, you are not complete”
Sufi wisdom

Essentially we’re in for a shock when we show up at the Pearly Gates and they ask us if we’re ready to transfer to the Other Side. If you and your Spirit aren’t one by then, it will come as a bit of a surprise that your triple Ph.D. won’t wash.

Like a BoyScout: Be Prepared—or
How to Make Your Chosen Comfort Zone Comforting

For that eventuality, Dallas has a solution—prepare ahead of time! Get with the spiritual program before you need your arsenal of warrior gear.

We are all in spiritual flight in our Inner Worlds

We are all in spiritual flight in our Inner Worlds

Thompson is writer-recluse—we IWSGers know ALL ’bout that—keeping his (sorry, proverbial) light under a bushel in SoCal. He prefers not to be interviewed. Following initial best-seller status of his 2002 Manuscript, he attracted major Media attention to hype a near-death experience. His NDE, combined with an earlier gift of a “Speaking Stone” by a Hawaiian Kahuna, gave simple steps to everyday enlightenment, lovingly laid out for all who wish to imbibe. He promises inner joy, focus, and gentle guidance along a sometimes painful path.

Postscript for IWSGers—Sharing Insecurities Can Brighten Your Day 😉
Bottom line—According to the Cosmic Script, the more you share, the more comes your way. Or
The Better it Gets, the Better it Gets. Apply pressure on the Arm of the Muse, and she may grant us a ‘festive’ audience.

After all, when the Year starts winding down—when the clocks fall back—we writers know we have to hit the keyboard.

In other words—another deadline awaits.

Thanks for listening, fellow scribes~~~ Arlee Bird, Alex, Hart et al. beloved IWSGers.
Keep on writing.
©2015 Marian Youngblood

November 4, 2015 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, festivals, fiction, publishing, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment