Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Moveable Feast

1)Mithras had a supper and a kind of eucharist ritual where a bull is slain and eaten. In the two photos above, two versions of Mithras. The colourful one depicts Mithras with a cape of the universe with all the stars inside. The relief carving is from Iran and depicts Mithras on the left with radiant sun coming from his head. Other foods celebrating the new year in Iran are apples, wheat sprouts, bakalava, garlic, sumac berries, eggs and apples.


2) "If the tauroctony did not represent an Iranian myth, what did it represent? Starting in the mid-1970's, several scholars (including Roger Beck of the University of Toronto, Stanley Insler of Yale University, Michael Speidel of the University of Hawaii, Alessandro Bausani of the University of Rome and me) put forward new interpretations of the tauroctony (and of Mithraism) based on the hypothesis that the picture is actually a star map." from
  • Scientific American 1989.

  • Mithras temple in Capua, Italy.
    3) "This remarkable explanation of the tauroctony is based on two facts. First, every figure found in the standard tauroctony has a parallel among a group of constellations located along a continuous band in the sky: the bull is paralleled by Taurus, the dog by Canis Minor, the snake by Hydra, the raven by Corvus, and the scorpion by Scorpio. Second, Mithraic iconography in general is pervaded by explicit astronomical imagery: the zodiac, planets, sun, moon, and stars are often portrayed in Mithraic art (note for example the stars around the head of Mithras in the carving of the tauroctony illustrated above); in addition, numerous ancient authors speak about astronomical subjects in connection with Mithraism. In the writings of the Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry, for example, we find recorded a tradition that the cave which is depicted in the tauroctony and which the underground Mithraic temples were designed to imitate was intended to be "an image of the cosmos." Given the general presence of astronomical motifs in Mithraic art and ideology, the parallel noted above between the tauroctony-figures and constellations is unlikely to be coincidence."

    4) Sunrise in spring entering megalithic mounds in Ireland built to see dawn. Some mounds in Ireland have been dated inconclusively between 4300 and 3500BC.

    5) Vishu, a predominantly Hindu celebration, when the zodiac enters Mesha/Aries occur dependant on astronomical calculations. For Vishu ritualistic food includes raw rice, golden cucumber, betel leaves arecanut and some ritualistic objects include fresh linen, a metal ball, mirror, yellow konna flowers and coins. These often recall prosperity or fertility. A sacrifice and sharing for prosperity in the coming new year. 6) A new year is a re-birth, a reincarnation of celestial personas and seasons. 7)A connection between ash wednesday(40 days before Easter) and Vishu is of note that some practitioners " put on their forehead the marks of ashes and sandal paste and go to the temple for worship. After worship, they prepare a feast which is moderate and elegant."

    8) For Vishu there is another connection to Easter besides the date and ash. There is a morning surprise (like egg hunting?). To wake up and go to an altar and what you see forecasts your future year. The mirror, the abundant food symbolizing prosperity and abundance.(fertility?)

    Does the following sound familiar?

    9) Legend: The Kollam era is said to have begun on the day Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, created Kerala by making the waters of the Arabian Sea recede. Parashurama had vowed to exterminate the Kshatriya caste from the face of the earth. In keeping with this oath, he went to war with Rama, who was a Kshatriya.

    10) During the battle, he realised that Rama was none other than the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. He realised that the purpose of his own life had come to an end and decided to spend the rest of his life in meditation. For this, he wanted a place where he could meditate in total peace. The gods granted him a boon according to which, he was to throw his battle axe into the sea and land would rise along the distance it covered. This is how Kerala was created.

    11) I find for me it recalls several stories. King Arthur, Hamlet, and Moses?

    12) April was once called Eosturmonath: Easter being derived from Eostur/Ishtar-month. The date of our ritualistic eating for both Vishu and Easter is determinded by the moon...and often changes so that is why it is a moveable feast.

    13) Not only does our celebration of rebirth move each year because it is dependant on astronomical calculations but this spring festival has navigated between eras, belief systems, millenia and continents.

    Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


    Tink said...

    That's interesting stuff! I knew some things, but learned new ideas too. Great list you're sharing with me!
    Thanks for visiting my oracle TT. Most oracle cards differ from the plain playing cards. Tarot is a fixed form, in oracle cards the form is more free to the maker.

    Unknown said...

    This is great. I tuck all this away for future story ideas. :)

    Carmen said...

    I feel all educated now!

    D.R. Cootey said...

    I knew about the Goddess Oestre and how the poor widdle rabbit didn't have a gift to give her so he painted some robin's eggs thus starting a new tradition. I didn't know about the other tidbits you shared.

    I'm Christian and Easter is the hardest holiday for me. It has so very little to do with Christ. At least with Christmas gift giving could be likened to the gifts of life that Christ has given us, but Easter is just about the candy loot. :) Metaphysical ideas of rebirth and resurrection are lost on kids whose mouths are filled with jelly beans and chocolate.

    My Thursday Thirteen


    Anonymous said...

    As I writer, I have to agree with Christine. I was reading and thinking how any of this might spark a story idea. Thank you for sharing what had to have taken fair amount of time to research.

    Anonymous said...

    Wow, Candy -- really fascinating stuff. I learned a lot reading it, and as Gabriella and Christine said, it also got my writer's wheels turning!

    Happy TT, and thanks for visiting my blog!

    Dane Bramage said...

    So much to take in. I knew some but most is new to me. Thanks for sharing and thanks for visiting my Thursday Thirteen #36; 13 Things about the Book Trucker's Tales. My friend Scott appreciates it too!

    Darla said...

    Oh, this is fascinating. I love seeing the parallels across different cultures and religions.

    But I have to admit, any celebration that includes baklava is one I'm 100% behind. (I got a little sidetracked when you mentioned it. Drooled all over my keyboard. It was a mess.)

    Anonymous said...

    I must admit I'm so hungry at the moment even the betel nuts made my mouth water. Loved the information on Mithras---I'm interested in the early gnostic cults but I am wondering if I ever will have time to do more than just scratch the surface about them.

    Wylie Kinson said...

    Can I get a university credit for studying this?

    Excellent TT, as always, Candy.

    Amy Ruttan said...

    Very cool. I've always wanted to go to see those ancient temples. *sigh* one day, one day.

    Happy TT!!!

    Anonymous said...

    I like the megalithic subway tunnels! Hey I just watched Elizabeth -weird movie, the ending scene is powerful - she struts about in that lead head - early performance art.

    Here's my bet of the day:
    George Bush does not eat wheatberrys!


    Gardenia said...

    Loved Mithras with the Universe Cape! Fascinating research! Civilization is wrought with the fascinating things that come from mankind's mind! Also some rich art ideas in all of it - as well as delish food too - the food spread reminded me of the Hare Krishnas' feast I attended once in New York - - yum

    Joy Renee said...

    comparative mythology is one of my passions so I knew some of this but there was much new to me and the juxtoposition of stories always makes new connections. The picture and your explanation of Mithras' cape gave me goosebumps because I created a character for a sci-fant novel about twenty years ago who wears a cape with moving pictures that tell stories and starscapes were a significant feature. This was several years before my serious comparative myth and religion studies commenced mind you.

    thanx for visiting my TT 13 thing i neglected to an embarrassing extent since recieving news of the impending library closure four months ago. now that the doors are locked, my mission over the next several weeks is to grope toward balance in my life.

    Bijoy said...

    Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

    Warm Regards

    Biby Cletus - Happy Vishu