Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 13, 2013

Natalis Dianae 2013

Today is the Natalis Dianae in the Ekklesía Antínoou and for many people who follow Roman polytheist practice. I’ve written on this festival in previous years: in 2010, in 2011, and in 2012.

As mentioned in one of yesterday’s posts, a song sort of hit me the other day as being potentially very relevant to this day as well: Andy M. Stewart’s “Man in the Moon,” from his album of the same name, with lyrics by Bill Dickson and music by Kathy Stewart. Here’s a video (not exactly, but it’s the better of the two that I found on YouTube for it) of the song.

The lyrics are rather fascinating, and open to a variety of interpretations:

I come from the land
of the long grass and gorse
I flew with the eagle
and I ran with the horse

And I played with the wild wind
and whistled its tune
I ebbed with the ocean
and I slept in the moon

And you brought me down gently
you brought me down clean

You fed me the summer
you fed me your dreams

Your hands held the wound
and heart healed the pain

And your eyes stole the light
of the moon as it waned

We journeyed the moorlands
and oceans so blue
We slept with the dawn
and we rose with the dew

And we sang with the breezes
of the year to be born
we lay in the long grass
when the scythe took the corn

And you brought me down gently
you brought me down clean

You fed me the summer
you fed me your dreams

Your hands held the wound
and heart healed the pain

And your eyes stole the light
of the moon as it waned

I will fall with the leaves
I’ll turn with the land
I’ll chill with the first frost
that stings on your hand

But I gathered the seeds
from the gorse and the broom
“I’ll lay them forever”
said the Man in the Moon

And you brought me down gently
you brought me down clean

You fed me the summer
you fed me your dreams

Your hands held the wound
and heart healed the pain

And your eyes stole the light
of the moon as it waned

I come from the land
of the long grass and gorse
I flew with the eagle
and I ran with the horse

And I played with the wild wind
and whistled its tune
I ebbed with the ocean
and I slept in the moon

And you brought me down gently
you brought me down clean

You fed me the summer
you fed me your dreams

Your hands held the wound
and heart healed the pain

And your eyes stole the light
of the moon as it waned

Lovely, isn’t it?

Now, while any pagan of a variety of stripes could find a lot of material here to enjoy and to interpret as they may prefer as far as their own traditions or seasonal celebrations are concerned, I find it particularly relevant to Antinous, and possibly for this day. Why? Partially because Antinous was said to have been thought of as the “face in the moon,” as related by Tatian the Assyrian (a Christian source, incidentally–but one that fell out of favor as he was later considered a heretic). But, due to this lunar connection, and the fact (which is a “fact” in the phenomenological sense, even if it lacks theological reality) that Diana/Artemis is considered a moon goddess, and in the papyrus hymn fragment from the beginning of Diocletian’s reign Antinous’ deification was said to have been done by Selene/Luna (who may or may not be the same as Artemis/Diana–syncretism later suggested a connection, but I think they are separate beings personally), it almost feels like the various journeys of Antinous and Hadrian, or even of Antinous and the goddesses mentioned (Artemis/Diana and Selene/Luna), then resulted in him being “brought…down gently” and “brought…down clean” in his death and deification. Hadrian (who, let’s not forget, restored the temple of Artemis of Ephesus) might be the “eagle” that was flown with in the song; and perhaps Bendis, the Thracian goddess who was also syncretized to Artemis, might be the “horse” that was run with in the song. As often as modern pagans interpret the moon as feminine, Indo-Europeans took it originally to be masculine, as is still reflected in the gods Men, Endymion, India’s Varuna and Chandra, and perhaps Midir in Irish, and in other non-Indo-European cultures like Egypt’s Thoth and Japan’s Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto. So, the folk songs and tales of the “Man in the Moon” may indeed have a greater depth to them than their relatively recent provenance might indicate otherwise.

I have to admit, I’m a bit sad today, because I had hoped to have been able to celebrate this holiday with friends and co-religionists again this year, as I had done last year. I even made some provisional plans to do so; but, rides didn’t line up like I had hoped they would, people didn’t stay in contact, and buses would have been difficult and expensive to do at present, and wouldn’t have been able to get me back to where I would need to be in the morning for work in enough time. Drat. So, I’m having to do this festival–like so many others in my life these days–on my own, with perhaps some dogs to help me, but little else.

So, in addition to everything else, and because of the Lanuvium focus of the origins of this holy day, I’m also remembering Virbius this year, as I did last year, with the song that I wrote there.

And, today is also the holy-day of a variety of other Roman deities, including Vertumnus, Hercules, Castor (of the Dioskouroi), and Pomona and Flora as well. The former three are all syncretized to Antinous as well. What are the connections, though? Castor and Hercules are somewhat easier: both were mortal, and both were to some extent deified; and, Castor, like the moon, waxes and wanes in his immortality. And Vertumnus, as the god of seasonal changes, also seems to vary like the moon…and in that respect, the song “Man in the Moon” has many connections to him as well.

Last year, on this day and the day after, I tried to write a poem connecting the various deities mentioned above together, and while I got relatively far with it, I ended up abandoning it. I might attempt to see if I can work on it again later today, depending on how a few things go meanwhile.

But, for now, a poem for the main goddess of the day, on her natal day!

Prayer to Diana of Lanuvium and Aricia

Those whom you have chosen
and who have chosen you
when they came to the three ways
or the forked branch on the tree
receive your love and your power
when they die in sacred waters.

So it was with Virbius;
so it was with Antinous.

You are the great light in the dark sky,
the huntress clad in white who never tires,
the queen of the night when you appear
and the stalker in the forest when you are invisible,
the foul fate of Actaeon
and the good death of Hippolytus.

So it was with Virbius;
so it was with Antinous.

May I be among those that you choose–
though I am deficient in the forest chase,
though I am ignorant of the tracks of the stars,
though I am not a hero far-famed–
because I have given you my heart
and expected nothing for having given it.

So it was with Virbius;
so it was with Antinous…
May it be so for me as well.

*****

Ave Luna Diana Noctis Regina! Ave Castor et Hercules et Vertumne! Ave Virbie! Ave Pomona et Flora! Ave Ave Antinoe!


Responses

  1. […] to the connections of the lunar and human menstrual cycles (probably); and yet, in many cultures, as I mentioned recently, the moon is male. (Another one I forgot there is Mani in Norse culture; and, I also recall Lukian […]


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