Thursday, 4 August 2016
"Last Days in the Desert" REVIEW
Topic: Movie Review
This past weekend I saw a biblical pic. Yeah it was one of those biblical movies. Once in a while, a director will make one that just screams desperately for a critical review. Such a movie is Last Days in the Desert, director Rodrigo Garcia’s highly stylized and reimagined take on the temptation of Jesus in the desert. For reference, the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness can be found in Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4.
Garcia takes us all into the world of first century AD Palestine….sort of. At least, they did make southern California look like the Negev desert. I have to say, I was really excited about this movie initially, just on the merits of the cinematography and the cast. Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Big Fish) portrays Jesus of Nazareth, Claran Hinds (Rome, The Nativity Story) a stonemason and father, Ty Sheridan (X-Men Apocalypse) the son, and the lovely Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer (Daredevil, Man of Steel) as the sickly wife and mother bring gravitas at all four corners of this ensemble. It sounds positively epic, right? Yeah, I thought so too.
This was the most asymmetrical treatment of the forty days in the wilderness you could imagine. The trajectory of this movie made me question whether there was even a director on set. It looked like an exercise in improvisational directing, in which the director was not even there. Granted, the traditional story—or I should say, the legacy of the traditional story—carried this movie, while ironically not referencing much of that story, and dialogue didn’t need to be excessive.
Perhaps the most interesting contribution to the film is that Ewan McGregor also portrays the devil, who just so happens to look exactly like Jesus in this film. I don’t even have a problem with this—in fact, this may be the most accurate element of the film. Satan has traditionally mocked Christ and his vision is always a blasphemous reversal and bastardization of that of Jesus. Had I been a fly on a rock in the desert, it would not have surprised me to see the devil mocking Jesus in such a manner. McGregor’s taunting Satan in the guise of Jesus was the best part of the film….and here’s why: OF ALL THE ELEMENTS OF THE MOVIE IT”S THE ONLY ONE THAT MAKES SENSE!!!
That’s it—that’s the only good. This story involving a harsh father, his dying wife, and their estranged young son, welcoming Jesus in for a brief stay, is not even apocryphal. That, at least would make it interesting. Garcia, apparently was not paying attention when Darren Aronofsy made his cinematic debacle Noah. Aronofsy diverged from the story in Genesis, made a mishmash of apocrypha and his own vision, and produced a monstrosity of the traditional story that alienated the biggest part of his potential audience. Last Days in the Desert follows the same formula. Hey look, I love new takes on biblical stories, but there’s only so much you can tweak before you destroy the story. What is it about Hollywood directors who feel their visions will be more popular than stories which have been popular in their traditional forms for thousands of years? My advice to these artists is to take a page from the master of historical epics, Ridley Scott. Consider his Exodus: Gods and Kings, which was essentially true to the spirit of the Exodus story.
In the case of the forty days in the wilderness, the story is already there. Hey, do something with Jesus’ suffering from exposure as he fasts in the desert. Use the imagery of all those grand temptations to weave a visual feast. For crying out loud! The story is there Garcia, all we require is for you to make the movie. But you didn’t.
Terrible, awful movie. Don’t waste your time. Go see these actors in productions much superior in quality to the travesty that is Last Days in the Desert. I’ll give it one star out of five, for McGregor’s mocking devil performance.
Posted by anthrojudd
at 11:18 PM EDT
Thursday, 17 March 2016
ST. PATRICK: SOME BIOGRAPHICAL MAERIAL
Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 493. Some sources say 460 or 461. --Ed.
He had for his parents Calphurnius and Conchessa. The former belonged to a Roman family of high rank and held the office of decurio in Gaul or Britain. Conchessa was a near relative of the great patron of Gaul, St. Martin of Tours. Kilpatrick still retains many memorials of Saint Patrick, and frequent pilgrimages continued far into the Middle Ages to perpetuate there the fame of his sanctity and miracles.
In his sixteenth year, Patrick was carried off into captivity by Irish marauders and was sold as a slave to a chieftan named Milchu in Dalriada, a territory of the present county of Antrim in Ireland, where for six years he tended his master's flocks in the valley of the Braid and on the slopes of Slemish, near the modern town of Ballymena. He relates in his "Confessio" that during his captivity while tending the flocks he prayed many times in the day: "the love of God", he added,
and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.
In the ways of a benign Providence the six years of Patrick's captivity became a remote preparation for his future apostolate. He acquired a perfect knowledge of the Celtic tongue in which he would one day announce the glad tidings of Redemption, and, as his master Milchu was a druidical high priest, he became familiar with all the details of Druidism from whose bondage he was destined to liberate the Irish race.
Admonished by an angel he after six years fled from his cruel master and bent his steps towards the west. He relates in his "Confessio" that he had to travel about 200 miles; and his journey was probably towards Killala Bay and onwards thence to Westport. He found a ship ready to set sail and after some rebuffs was allowed on board. In a few days he was among his friends once more in Britain, but now his heart was set on devoting himself to the service of God in the sacred ministry. We meet with him at St. Martin's monastery at Tours, and again at the island sanctuary of Lérins which was just then acquiring widespread renown for learning and piety; and wherever lessons of heroic perfection in the exercise of Christian life could be acquired, thither the fervent Patrick was sure to bend his steps. No sooner had St. Germain entered on his great mission at Auxerre than Patrick put himself under his guidance, and it was at that great bishop's hands that Ireland's future apostle was a few years later promoted to the priesthood. It is the tradition in the territory of the Morini that Patrick under St. Germain's guidance for some years was engaged in missionary work among them. When Germain commissioned by the Holy See proceeded to Britain to combat the erroneous teachings of Pelagius, he chose Patrick to be one of his missionary companions and thus it was his privilege to be associated with the representative of Rome in the triumphs that ensued over heresy and Paganism, and in the many remarkable events of the expedition, such as the miraculous calming of the tempest at sea, the visit to the relics at St. Alban's shrine, and the Alleluia victory. Amid all these scenes, however, Patrick's thoughts turned towards Ireland, and from time to time he was favoured with visions of the children from Focluth, by the Western sea, who cried to him: "O holy youth, come back to Erin, and walk once more amongst us."
Pope St. Celestine I, who rendered immortal service to the Church by the overthrow of the Pelagian and Nestorian heresies, and by the imperishable wreath of honour decreed to the Blessed Virgin in the General Council of Ephesus, crowned his pontificate by an act of the most far-reaching consequences for the spread of Christianity and civilization, when he entrusted St. Patrick with the mission of gathering the Irish race into the one fold of Christ. Palladius had already received that commission, but terrified by the fierce opposition of a Wicklow chieftain had abandoned the sacred enterprise. It was St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, who commended Patrick to the pope. The writer of St. Germain's Life in the ninth century, Heric of Auxerre, thus attests this important fact: "Since the glory of the father shines in the training of the children, of the many sons in Christ whom St. Germain is believed to have had as disciples in religion, let it suffice to make mention here, very briefly, of one most famous, Patrick, the special Apostle of the Irish nation, as the record of his work proves. Subject to that most holy discipleship for 18 years, he drank in no little knowledge in Holy Scripture from the stream of so great a well-spring. Germain sent him, accompanied by Segetius, his priest, to Celestine, Pope of Rome, approved of by whose judgement, supported by whose authority, and strengthened by whose blessing, he went on his way to Ireland." It was only shortly before his death that Celestine gave this mission to Ireland's apostle and on that occasion bestowed on him many relics and other spiritual gifts, and gave him the name "Patercius" or "Patritius", not as an honorary title, but as a foreshadowing of the fruitfulness and merit of his apostolate whereby he became pater civium (the father of his people). Patrick on his return journey from Rome received at Ivrea the tidings of the death of Palladius, and turning aside to the neighboring city of Turin received episcopal consecration at the hands of its great bishop, St. Maximus, and thence hastened on to Auxerre to make under the guidance of St. Germain due preparations for the Irish mission.
It was probably in the summer months of the year 433, that Patrick and his companions landed at the mouth of the Vantry River close by Wicklow Head. The Druids were at once in arms against him. But Patrick was not disheartened. The intrepid missionary resolved to search out a more friendly territory in which to enter on his mission. First of all, however, he would proceed towards Dalriada, where he had been a slave, to pay the price of ransom to his former master, and in exchange for the servitude and cruelty endured at his hands to impart to him the blessings and freedom of God's children. He rested for some days at the islands off the Skerries coast, one of which still retains the name of Inis-Patrick, and he probably visited the adjoining mainland, which in olden times was known as Holm Patrick. Tradition fondly points out the impression of St. Patrick's foot upon the hard rock — off the main shore, at the entrance to Skerries harbour. Continuing his course northwards he halted at the mouth of the River Boyne. A number of the natives there gathered around him and heard with joy in their own sweet tongue the glad tidings of Redemption. There too he performed his first miracle on Irish soil to confirm the honour due to the Blessed Virgin, and the Divine birth of our Saviour. Leaving one of his companions to continue the work of instruction so auspiciously begun, he hastened forward to Strangford Loughand there quitting his boat continued his journey over land towards Slemish. He had not proceeded far when a chieftain, named Dichu, appeared on the scene to prevent his further advance. He drew his sword to smite the saint, but his arm became rigid as a statue and continued so until he declared himself obedient to Patrick. Overcome by the saint's meekness and miracles, Dichu asked for instruction and made a gift of a large sabhall (barn), in which the sacred mysteries were offered up. This was the first sanctuary dedicated by St. Patrick in Erin. It became in later years a chosen retreat of the saint. A monastery and church were erected there, and the hallowed site retains the name Sabhall (pronounced Saul) to the present day. Continuing his journey towards Slemish, the saint was struck with horror on seeing at a distance the fort of his old master Milchu enveloped in flames. The fame of Patrick's marvelous power of miracles preceeded him. Milchu, in a fit of frenzy, gathered his treasures into his mansion and setting it on fire, cast himself into the flames. An ancient record adds: "His pride could not endure the thought of being vanquished by his former slave".
Returning to Saul, St. Patrick learned from Dichu that the chieftains of Erin had been summoned to celebrate a special feast at Tara by Leoghaire, who was the Ard-Righ, that is, the Supreme Monarch of Ireland. This was an opportunity which Patrick would not forego; he would present himself before the assembly, to strike a decisive blow against the Druidism that held the nation captive, and to secure freedom for the glad tidings of Redemption of which he was the herald. As he journeyed on he rested for some days at the house of a chieftain named Secsnen, who with his household joyfully embraced the Faith. The youthful Benen, or Benignus, son of the chief, was in a special way captivated by the Gospel doctrines and the meekness of Patrick. Whilst the saint slumbered he would gather sweet-scented flowers and scatter them over his bosom, and when Patrick was setting out, continuing his journey towards Tara, Benen clung to his feet declaring that nothing would sever him from him. "Allow him to have his way", said St. Patrick to the chieftain, "he shall be heir to my sacred mission." Thenceforth Benen was the inseparable companion of the saint, and the prophecy was fulfilled, for Benen is named among the "comhards" or sucessors of St. Patrick in Armagh.
It was on 26 March, Easter Sunday, in 433, that the eventful assembly was to meet at Tara, and the decree went forth that from the preceeding day the fires throughout the kingdom should be extinguished until the signal blaze was kindled at the royal mansion. The chiefs and Brehons came in full numbers and the druids too would muster all their strength to bid defiance to the herald of good tidings and to secure the hold of their superstition on the Celtic race, for their demoniac oracles had announced that the messenger of Christ had come to Erin. St. Patrick arrived at the hill of Slane, at the opposite extremity of the valley from Tara, on Easter Eve, in that year the feast of the Annunciation, and on the summit of the hill kindled the Paschal fire. The druids at once raised their voice. "O King", (they said) "live for ever; this fire, which has been lighted in defiance of the royal edict, will blaze for ever in this land unless it be this very night extinguished." By order of the king and the agency of the druids, repeated attempts were made to extinguish the blessed fire and to punish with death the intruder who had disobeyed the royal command. But the fire was not extinguished and Patrick shielded by the Divine power came unscathed from their snares and assaults. On Easter Day the missionary band having at their head the youth Benignus bearing aloft a copy of the Gospels, and followed by St. Patrick who with mitre and crozier was arrayed in full episcopal attire, proceeded in processional order to Tara. The druids and magicians put forth all their strength and employed all their incantations to maintain their sway over the Irish race, but the prayer and faith of Patrick achieved a glorious triumph. The druids by their incantations overspread the hill and surrounding plain with a cloud of worse than Egyptian darkness. Patrick defied them to remove that cloud, and when all their efforts were made in vain, at his prayer the sun sent forth its rays and the brightest sunshine lit up the scene. Again by demoniac power the Arch-Druid Lochru, like Simon Magus of old, was lifted up high in the air, but when Patrick knelt in prayer the druid from his flight was dashed to pieces upon a rock.
Thus was the final blow given to paganism in the presence of all the assembled chieftains. It was, indeed, a momentous day for the Irish race. Twice Patrick pleaded for the Faith before Leoghaire. The king had given orders that no sign of respect was to be extended to the strangers, but at the first meeting the youthful Erc, a royal page, arose to show him reverence; and at the second, when all the chieftains were assembled, the chief-bard Dubhtach showed the same honour to the saint. Both these heroic men became fervent disciples of the Faith and bright ornaments of the Irish Church. It was on this second solemn occasion that St. Patrick is said to have plucked a shamrock from the sward, to explain by its triple leaf and single stem, in some rough way, to the assembled chieftains, the great doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. On that bright Easter Day, the triumph of religion at Tara was complete. The Ard-Righ granted permission to Patrick to preach the Faith throughout the length and breadth of Erin, and the druidical prophecy like the words of Balaam of old would be fulfilled: the sacred fire now kindled by the saint would never be extinguished.
The beautiful prayer of St. Patrick, popularly known as "St. Patrick's Breast-Plate", is supposed to have been composed by him in preparation for this victory over Paganism. The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
St. Patrick remained during Easter week at Slane and Tara, unfolding to those around him the lessons of Divine truth. Meanwhile the national games were being celebrated a few miles distant at Tailten (now Telltown) in connection with the royal feast. St. Patrick proceeding thither solemnly administered baptism to Conall, brother of the Ard-Righ Leoghaire, on Wednesday, 5 April. Benen and others had already been privately gathered into the fold of Christ, but this was the first public administering of baptism, recognized by royal edict, and hence in the ancient Irish Kalendars to the fifth of April is assigned "the beginning of the Baptism of Erin". This first Christian royal chieftain made a gift to Patrick of a site for a church which to the present day retains the name of Donagh-Patrick. The blessing of heaven was with Conall's family. St. Columba is reckoned among his descendants, and many of the kings of Ireland until the eleventh century were of his race. St. Patrick left some of his companions to carry on the work of evangelization in Meath, thus so auspiciously begun. He would himself visit the other territories. Some of the chieftains who had come to Tara were from Focluth, in the neighbourhood of Killala, in Connaught, and as it was the children of Focluth who in vision had summoned him to return to Ireland, he resolved to accompany those chieftains on their return, that thus the district of Focluth would be among the first to receive the glad tidings of Redemption. It affords a convincing proof of the difficulties that St. Patrick had to overcome, that though full liberty to preach the Faith throughout Erin was granted by the monarch of Leoghaire, nevertheless, in order to procure a safe conduct through the intervening territories whilst proceeding towards Connaught he had to pay the price of fifteen slaves. On his way thither, passing through Granard he learned that at Magh-Slecht, not far distant, a vast concourse was engaged in offering worship to the chief idol Crom-Cruach. It was a huge pillar-stone, covered with slabs of gold and silver, with a circle of twelve minor idols around it. He proceeded thither, and with his crosier smote the chief idol that crumbled to dust; the others fell to the ground. At Killala he found the whole people of the territory assembled. At his preaching, the king and his six sons, with 12,000 of the people, became docile to the Faith. He spent seven years visiting every district of Connaught, organizing parishes, forming dioceses, and instructing the chieftains and people.
On the occasion of his first visit to Rathcrogan, the royal seat of the kings of Connaught, situated near Tulsk, in the County of Roscommon, a remarkable incident occurred, recorded in many of the authentic narratives of the saint's life. Close by the clear fountain of Clebach, not far from the royal abode, Patrick and his venerable companions had pitched their tents and at early dawn were chanting the praises of the Most High, when the two daughters of the Irish monarch — Ethne, the fair, and Fedelm, the ruddy — came thither, as was their wont, to bathe. Astonished at the vision that presented itself to them, the royal maidens cried out: "Who are ye, and whence do ye come? Are ye phantoms, or fairies, or friendly mortals?" St. Patrick said to them: "It were better you would adore and worship the one true God, whom we announce to you, than that you would satisfy your curiosity by such vain questions." And then Ethne broke forth into the questions:
"Who is God?"
"And where is God?"
"Where is His dwelling?"
"Has He sons and daughters?"
"Is He rich in silver and gold?"
"Is He everlasting? is He beautiful?"
"Are His daughters dear and lovely to the men of this world?"
"Is He on the heavens or on earth?"
"In the sea, in rivers, in mountains, in valleys?"
"Make Him known to us. How is He to be seen?"
"How is He to be loved? How is He to be found?"
"Is it in youth or is it in old age that He may be found?"
But St. Patrick, filled with the Holy Ghost, made answer:
"God, whom we announce to you, is the Ruler of all things."
"The God of heaven and earth, of the sea and the rivers."
"The God of the sun, and the moon, and all the stars."
"The God of the high mountains and of the low-lying valleys."
"The God who is above heaven, and in heaven, and under heaven."
"His dwelling is in heaven and earth, and the sea, and all therein."
"He gives breath to all."
"He gives life to all."
"He is over all."
"He upholds all."
"He gives light to the sun."
"He imparts splendour to the moon."
"He has made wells in the dry land, and islands in the ocean."
"He has appointed the stars to serve the greater lights."
"His Son is co-eternal and co-equal with Himself."
"The Son is not younger than the Father."
"And the Father is not older than the Son."
"And the Holy Ghost proceeds from them."
"The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are undivided."
"But I desire by Faith to unite you to the Heavenly King, as you are daughters of an earthly king."
The maidens, as if with one voice and one heart, said: "Teach us most carefully how we may believe in the Heavenly King; show us how we may behold Him face to face, and we will do whatsoever you shall say to us."
And when he had instructed them he said to them: "Do you believe that by baptism you put off the sin inherited from the first parents."
They answered: "We believe."
"Do you believe in penance after sin?"
"Do you believe in life after death?" Do you believe in resurrection on the Day of Judgement?"
"Do you believe in the unity of the Church?"
Then they were baptized, and were clothed in white garments. And they besought that they might behold the face of Christ. And the saint said to them: "You cannot see the face of Christ unless you taste death, and unless you receive the Sacrifice." They answered: "Give us the Sacrifice, so that we may be able to behold our Spouse." And the ancient narrative adds: "when they received the Eucharist of God, they slept in death, and they were placed upon a couch, arrayed in their white baptismal robes."
In 440 St. Patrick entered on the special work of the conversion of Ulster. Under the following year, the ancient annalists relate a wonderful spread of the Faith throughout the province. In 444 a site for a church was granted at Armagh by Daire, the chieftain of the district. It was in a valley at the foot of a hill, but the saint was not content. He had special designs in his heart for that district, and at length the chieftain told him to select in his territory any site he would deem most suitable for his religious purpose. St. Patrick chose that beautiful hill on which the old cathedral of Armagh stands. As he was marking out the church with his companions, they came upon a doe and fawn, and the saint's companions would kill them for food; but St. Patrick would not allow them to do so, and, taking the fawn upon his shoulders, and followed by the doe, he proceeded to a neighbouring hill, and laid down the fawn, and announced that there, in future times, great glory would be given to the Most High. It was precisely upon that hill thus fixed by St. Patrick that, a few years ago, there was solemnly dedicated the new and beautiful Catholic cathedral of Armagh. A representative of the Holy See presided on the occasion, and hundreds of priests and bishops were gathered there; and, indeed, it might truly be said, the whole Irish race on that occasion offered up that glorious cathedral to the Most High as tribute to their united faith and piety, and their never-failing love of God.
From Ulster St. Patrick probably proceeded to Meath to consolidate the organization of the communities there, and thence he continued his course through Leinster. Two of the saint's most distinguished companions, St. Auxilius and St. Iserninus, had the rich valley of the Liffey assigned to them. The former's name is still retained in the church which he founded at Killossy, while the latter is honoured as the first Bishop of Kilcullen. As usual, St. Patrick's primary care was to gather the ruling chieftains into the fold. At Naas, the royal residence in those days, he baptised two sons of the King of Leinster. Memorials of the saint still abound in the district — the ruins of the ancient church which he founded, his holy well, and the hallowed sites in which the power of God was shown forth in miracles. At Sletty, in the immediate neighborhood of Carlow, St. Fiacc, son of the chief Brehon, Dubthach, was installed as bishop, and for a considerable time that see continued to be the chief centre of religion for all Leinster. St. Patrick proceeded through Gowran into Ossory; here he erected a church under the invocation of St. Martin, near the present city of Kilkenny, and enriched it with many precious relics which he had brought from Rome. It was in Leinster, on the borders of the present counties of Kildare and Queen's, that Odhran, St. Patrick's charioteer, attained the martyr's crown. The chieftain of that district honoured the demon-idol, Crom Cruach, with special worship, and, on hearing of that idol being cast down, vowed to avenge the insult by the death of our apostle. Passing through the territory, Odhran overheard the plot that was being organized for the murder of St. Patrick, and as they were setting out in the chariot to continue their journey, asked the saint, as a favour, to take thereins, and to allow himself, for the day, to hold the place of honour and rest. This was granted, and scarcely had they set out when a well-directed thrust of a lance pierced the heart of the devoted charioteer, who thus, by changing places, saved St. Patrick's life, and won for himself the martyr's crown.
St. Patrick next proceeded to Munster. As usual, his efforts were directed to combat error in the chief centres of authority, knowing well that, in the paths of conversion, the kings and chieftains would soon be followed by their subjects. At "Cashel of the Kings" he was received with great enthusiasm, the chiefs and Brehons and people welcoming him with joyous acclaim. While engaged in the baptism of the royal prince Aengus, son of the King of Munster, the saint, leaning on his crosier, pierced with its sharp point the prince's foot. Aengus bore the pain unmoved. When St. Patrick, at the close of the ceremony, saw the blood flow, and asked him why he had been silent, he replied, with genuine heroism, that he thought it might be part of the ceremony, a penalty for the joyous blessings of the Faith that were imparted. The saint admired his heroism, and, taking the chieftain's shield, inscribed on it a cross with the same point of the crozier, and promised that that shield would be the signal of countless spiritual and temporal triumphs.
Our apostle spent a considerable time in the present County of Limerick. The fame of his miracles and sanctity had gone before him, and the inhabitants of Thomond and northern Munster, crossing the Shannon in their frail coracles, hastened to receive his instruction. When giving his blessing to them on the summit of the hill of Finnime, looking out on the rich plains before him, he is said to have prophesied the coming of St. Senanus: "To the green island in the West, at the mouth of the sea [i.e., Inis-Cathaigh, now Scattery Island, at the mouth of the Shannon, near Kilrush], the lamp of the people of God will come; he will be the head of counsel to all this territory." At Sangril (now Singland), in Limerick, and also in the district of Gerryowen, the holy wells of the saint are pointed out, and the slab of rock, which served for his bed, and the altar on which every day he offered up the Holy Sacrifice. On the banks of the Suit, and the Blackwater, and the Lee, wherever the saint preached during the seven years he spent in Munster, a hearty welcome awaited him. The ancient Life attests: "After Patrick had founded cells and churches in Munster, and had ordained persons of every grade, and healed the sick, and resuscitated the dead, he bade them farewell, and imparted his blessing to them." The words of this blessing, which is said to have been given from the hills of Tipperary, as registered in the saint's Life, to which I have just referred, are particularly beautiful:
A blessing on the Munster people —
Men, youths, and women;
A blessing on the land
That yields them fruit.
A blessing on every treasure
That shall be produced on their plains,
Without any one being in want of help,
God's blessing be on Munster.
A blessing on their peaks,
On their bare flagstones,
A blessing on their glens,
A blessing on their ridges.
Like the sand of the sea under ships,
Be the number in their hearths;
On slopes, on plains,
On mountains, on hills, a blessing.
St. Patrick continued until his death to visit and watch over the churches which he had founded in all the provinces in Ireland. He comforted the faithful in their difficulties, strengthened them in the Faith and in the practice of virtue, and appointed pastors to continue his work among them. It is recorded in his Life that he consecrated no fewer than 350 bishops. He appointed St. Loman to Trim, which rivalled Armagh itself in its abundant harvest of piety. St. Guasach, son of his former master, Milchu, became Bishop of Granard, while the two daughters of the same pagan chieftan founded close by, at Clonbroney, a convent of pious virgins, and merited the aureola of sanctity. St. Mel, nephew of our apostle, had the charge of Ardagh; St. MacCarthem, who appears to have been patricularly loved by St. Patrick, was made Bishop of Clogher. The narrative in the ancient Life of the saint regarding his visit to the district of Costello, in the County of Mayo, serves to illustrate his manner of dealing with the chieftains. He found, it says, the chief, Ernasc, and his son, Loarn, sitting under a tree, "with whom he remained, together with his twelve companions, for a week, and they received from him the doctrine of salvation with attentive ear and mind. Meanwhile he instructed Loarn in the rudiments of learning and piety." A church was erected there, and, in after years, Loarn was appointed to its charge.
The manifold virtues by which the early saints were distinguished shone forth in all their perfection in the life of St. Patrick. When not engaged in the work of the sacred ministry, his whole time was spent in prayer. Many times in the day he armed himself with the sign of the Cross. He never relaxed his penitential exercises. Clothed in a rough hair-shirt, he made the hard rock his bed. His disinterestedness is specially commemorated. Countless converts of high rank would cast their precious ornaments at his feet, but all were restored to them. He had not come to Erin in search of material wealth, but to enrich her with the priceless treasures of the Catholic Faith.
From time to time he withdrew from the spiritual duties of his apostolate to devote himself wholly to prayer and penance. One of his chosen places of solitude and retreat was the island of Lough Derg, which, to our own day, has continued to be a favourite resort of pilgrims, and it is known as St. Patrick's Purgatory. Another theatre of his miraculous power and piety and penitential austerities in the west of Ireland merits particular attention. In the far west of Connaught there is a range of tall mountains, which, arrayed in rugged majesty, bid defiance to the waves and storms of the Atlantic. At the head of this range arises a stately cone in solitary grandeur, about 4000 feet in height, facing Clew Bay, and casting its shadow over the adjoining districts of Aghagower and Westport. This mountain was known in pagan times as the Eagle Mountain, but ever since Ireland was enlightened with the light of Faith it is known as Croagh Patrick, i.e. St. Patrick's mountain, and is honoured as the Holy Hill, the Mount Sinai, of Ireland.
St. Patrick, in obedience to his guardian angel, made this mountain his hallowed place of retreat. In imitation of the great Jewish legislator on Sinai, he spent forty days on its summit in fasting and prayer, and other penitential exercises. His only shelter from the fury of the elements, the wind and rain, the hail and snow, was a cave, or recess, in the solid rock; and the flagstone on which he rested his weary limbs at night is still pointed out. The whole purpose of his prayer was to obtain special blessings and mercy for the Irish race, whom he evangelized. The demons that made Ireland their battlefield mustered all their strength to tempt the saint and disturb him in his solitude, and turn him away, if possible, from his pious purpose. They gathered around the hill in the form of vast flocks of hideous birds of prey. So dense were their ranks that they seemed to cover the whole mountain, like a cloud, and they so filled the air that Patrick could see neither sky nor earth nor ocean. St. Patrick besought God to scatter the demons, but for a time it would seem as if his prayers and tears were in vain. At length he rang his sweet-sounding bell, symbol of his preaching of the Divine truths. Its sound was heard all over the valleys and hills of Erin, everywhere bringing peace and joy. The flocks of demons began to scatter. He flung his bell among them; they took to precipitate flight, and cast themselves into the ocean. So complete was the saint's victory over them that, as the ancient narrative adds, "for seven years no evil thing was to be found in Ireland."
The saint, however, would not, as yet, descend from the mountain. He had vanquished the demons, but he would now wrestle with God Himself, like Jacob of old, to secure the spiritual interests of his people. The angel had announced to him that, to reward his fidelity in prayer and penance, as many of his people would be gathered into heaven as would cover the land and sea as far as his vision could reach. Far more ample, however, were the aspirations of the saint, and he resolved to persevere in fasting and prayer until the fullest measure of his petition was granted. Again and again the angel came to comfort him, announcing new concessions; but all these would not suffice. He would not relinquish his post on the mountain, or relax his penance, until all were granted. At length the message came that his prayers were heard:
- many souls would be free from the pains of purgatory through his intercession;
- whoever in the spirit of penance would recite his hymn before death would attain the heavenly reward;
- barbarian hordes would never obtain sway in his Church;
- seven years before the Judgement Day, the sea would spread over Ireland to save its people from the temptations and terrors of the Antichrist; and
- greatest blessing of all, Patrick himself should be deputed to judge the whole Irish race on the last day.
Such were the extraordinary favors which St. Patrick, with his wrestling with the Most High, his unceasing prayers, his unconquerable love of heavenly things, and his unremitting penitential deeds, obtained for the people whom he evangelized.
It is sometimes supposed that St. Patrick's apostolate in Ireland was an unbroken series of peaceful triumphs, and yet it was quite the reverse. No storm of persecution was, indeed stirred up to assail the infant Church, but the saint himself was subjected to frequent trials at the hands of the druids and of other enemies of the Faith. He tells us in his "Confessio" that no fewer than twelve times he and his companions were seized and carried off as captives, and on one occasion in particular he was loaded with chains, and his death was decreed. But from all these trials and sufferings he was liberated by a benign Providence. It is on account of the many hardships which he endured for the Faith that, in some of the ancient Martyrologies, he is honoured as a martyr.
St. Patrick, having now completed his triumph over Paganism, and gathered Ireland into the fold of Christ, prepared for the summons to his reward. St. Brigid came to him with her chosen virgins, bringing the shroud in which he would be enshrined. It is recorded that when St. Patrick and St. Brigid were united in their last prayer, a special vision was shown to him. He saw the whole of Ireland lit up with the brightest rays of Divine Faith. This continued for centuries, and then clouds gathered around the devoted island, and, little by little, the religious glory faded away, until, in the course of centuries, it was only in the remotest valleys that some glimmer of its light remained. St. Patrick prayed that the light would never be extinguished, and, as he prayed, the angel came to him and said: "Fear not: your apostolate shall never cease." As he thus prayed, the glimmering light grew in brightness, and ceased not until once more all the hills and valleys of Ireland were lit up in their pristine splendour, and then the angel announced to St. Patrick: "Such shall be the abiding splendour of Divine truth in Ireland."
At Saul (Sabhall), St. Patrick received the summons to his reward on 17 March, 493 [See note above — Ed.]. St. Tassach administered the last sacraments to him. His remains were wrapped in the shroud woven by St. Brigid's own hands. The bishops and clergy and faithful people from all parts crowded around his remains to pay due honour to the Father of their Faith. Some of the ancient Lives record that for several days the light of heaven shone around his bier. His remains were interred at the chieftan's Dun or Fort two miles from Saul, where in after times arose the cathedral of Down.
Writings of St. Patrick
The "Confessio" and the "Epistola ad Coroticum" are recognized by all modern critical writers as of unquestionable genuineness. The best edition, with text, translation, and critical notes, is by Rev. Dr. White for the Royal Irish Academy, in 1905. The 34 canons of a synod held before the year 460 by St. Patrick, Auxilius, and Isserninus, though rejected by Todd and Haddan, have been placed by Professor Bury beyond the reach of controversy. Another series of 31 ecclesiastical canons entitled "Synodus secunda Patritii", though unquestionably of Irish origin and dating before the close of the seventh century, is generally considered to be of a later date than St. Patrick. Two tracts (in P.L., LIII), entitled "De abusionibus saeculi", and "De Tribus habitaculis", were composed by St. Patrick in Irish and translated into Latin at a later period. Passages from them are assigned to St. Patrick in the "Collectio Hibernensis Canonum", which is of unquestionable authority and dates from the year 700 (Wasserschleben, 2nd ed., 1885). This "Collectio Hibernensis" also assigns to St. Patrick the famous synodical decree: "Si quae quaestiones in hac insula oriantur, ad Sedem Apostolicam referantur." (If any difficulties arise in this island, let them be referred to the Apostolic See). The beautiful prayer, known as "Faeth Fiada", or the "Lorica of St. Patrick" (St. Patrick's Breast-Plate), first edited by Petrie in his "History of Tara", is now universally accepted as genuine. The "Dicta Sancti Patritii", or brief sayings of the saint, preserved in the "Book of Armagh", are accurately edited by Fr. Hogan, S.J., in "Documenta de S. Patritio" (Brussels, 1884). The old Irish text of "The Rule of Patrick" has been edited by O'Keeffe, and a translation by Archbishop Healy in the appendix to his Life of St. Patrick (Dublin, 1905). It is a tract of venerable antiquity, and embodies the teaching of the saint.
Posted by anthrojudd
at 6:35 PM EDT
Tuesday, 15 March 2016
REVIEW OF MOVIE RISEN
Topic: Movie Review
If you are looking for a different take on the Biblical epic, you must get thee to a theater and see Risen. This movie is a wonderfully-paced Biblical thriller that presents the search for the Nazarene Jesus after his death and “disappearance.” Kevin Reynolds (The Count of Monte Cristo) directs a stellar picture both faithful to the spirit of the story, and novel enough to interest even the most jaded audience. It packs all the emotion of a Passion of the Christ with the Roman perspective of a Gladiator.
The movie stars Joseph Fiennes (Luther, Enemy at the Gates, Hercules) as Roman tribune Clavius rising through the labrynthine infrastructure of Roman military authority, thanks in no small part to his usefulness against warrens of Jewish Zealots in first century Judea. After the execution of a rabbi named Yeshua (Jesus), the entombed body turns up missing. Pontius Pilate, portrayed by Peter Firth (Shadowlands, Amistad ), prefect of Judea, assigns Clavius with the daunting task of finding the body and the responsible party before the situation becomes an ill-timed fiasco, with none other than Emperor Tiberius arriving for an inspection of the province.
The questions presented in the movie are ones I have often wondered about as a historian. The Romans typically left no stone unturned (pun intended) in an investigation. What this movie does that makes it so unique is that it presents a manhunt from the perspective of a Roman commander. This man, Clavius, had life-and-death responsibilities and the weight of authority on his shoulders, and has to marshal resources to get the job done. But Clavius—harsh but fair—is looking for a reasonable answer to a question that defies reason. His incredulity is understandable, and we sympathize with him, until he is brought face to face with the impossible answer to his question: the hiding place of the disciples and among them, the man Yeshua who disappears before his very eyes. He is heretofore haunted by the face he saw at the crucifixion, there smiling and laughing in front of him. It impels him to follow the disciples to Galilee.
Clavius was an officer. He prayed to the god Mars faithfully. He dreamed of a life of accomplishment and peace beyond the savagery of war and blood. When Mars fails to deliver, in desperation he secretly prays to Yahweh, promising (in Roman fashion) temples, sacrifices, and games in his honor, if he can help him find the body of the missing Yeshua. It is in Galilee, not at the end of a long career, that Clavius’ questions are answered, and that ever-sought after peace is found.
Risen is an amazingly, well-done picture. It had me waiting for the next scene. I might add that it has something for everyone. If you are going for the message and Biblical epic, you won’t be disappointed. If you want a big Roman picture—Clavius and his men have some moves—with swords and fighting, you too will not be disappointed. If you want a murder-mystery, this is the ultimate in the genre. Risen is cerebral and physical, and manages to be epic and faithful to the Gospels without being preachy…..and yet, it preaches. I highly recommend it.
Posted by anthrojudd
at 2:05 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 March 2016 2:08 AM EDT
Tuesday, 8 March 2016
WATCHERS, WITCHES, AND WIZARDS
(THE GIANTOLOGY SERIES WILL RESUME SOON)
Sorcery—the practice of evil magic, anathema in every way to what a society considers moral. Essentially, this is the anthropological definition of sorcery (or witchcraft, with which it is often used synonymously). The characterization is also true from a Biblical perspective, with the qualification that the devil is the root source. As it was to the prehistoric and ancient worlds, sorcery is still problematic today.
To fully understand sorcery and its threat, we must more completely grasp the origins and the conveyance of sorcery from its beginnings through history. Students of the Bible and the history of giants understand what I am getting at. The Bible implies in Genesis and works like Enoch and the apocryphal texts enumerate that sorcery began in the antediluvian world. The Fallen Angels—Watchers, whom Genesis 6 refers to as the Sons of God—descended on Mt. Hermon in the days of Jared. They mated with human females and produced the Nephilim, the first generation of giants and chimerae. In exchange for this genetic access, the Watchers taught a combination of practical sciences and sorcery. All these events contributed to the corruption of humanity, the wide-spread wickedness on the earth, predicating the great flood.
After the flood, despite the fact that the Watchers had been punished and imprisoned, additional generations of giants emerged and the knowledge of sorcery and science disseminated, with the giants of the post-flood world being the gods of ancient polytheistic religions and often, the founders of societies and civilizations.
This series will examine in brief the emergence of Watchers and giants, their role in the creation of sorcery, and the survival of sorcery in later traditions and practitioners. We will look at—if you will—the connective tissue. At the source of it all, is understanding the tutelage of sorcery. A Watcher (and later demons) taught these skills to people, just as we know people who become demonized are taught and used by their oppressors.
We will continue with a look at the antediluvian origins of sorcery next time.
© 2016 Judd Burton
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THESE TOPICS, CHECK OUT THESE RESEARCH REPORTS ON THE WATCHERS, GIANTS, WITCHES, & WIZARDS:
Posted by anthrojudd
at 2:23 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 8 March 2016 2:27 AM EST
Friday, 4 March 2016
GIANTOLOGY: THOUGHTS ON THE DISCIPLINE AND METHODS
When an idea has its time, there is little that can be done to stop it. As such, it is safe to say that with all the research being conducted on giants, “giantology” has become its own field of study. There are certainly qualified researchers—academic and otherwise—who do great work in a multi-faceted field employing mythology, history, languages, archaeology, and anthropology. So there we have it: our own –ology, the study of giants.
However, our field is not without persons inexperienced or untrained in scientific process, testing, or logic. It is a field already sensational because of the nature of its subject matter, but there seems to be a tendency to sensationalize the topics of giants, which only serves to lampoon giantology. Hence, there are right ways to go about it, and wrong ways (which I’ll discuss in this series).
There are all manner of qualifiers which we might attach to the discipline. “Biblical” is usually the first that comes to mind, because of the Old Testament traditions of giants in the text. “World-“ or “Mythological-“ are others, and tend to focus on the ethnological breadth of traditions around the world over space and time (Giganthropology, if you will). “Historical” is yet another, which settles on the documented accounts of giants in the ancient and modern worlds. As a part of the family of giantology, for material evidences archaeogiantology would be the recovery of physical and artifactual remains of giants.
Species need a proper taxonomy as well, if we as giantologists are to place giants into the frame of faunal biology. In the most nominal and general terms, we are dealing with hominids of gigantic stature. Hence the scientific name Homo colossicus (“giant man”) or the more immediately recognizable as Homo gigantis (man of/from the giants) could suffice. Tribal divisions as outlined in the Bible would have little to do with taxonomy, but geography might. So the older giants might be Homo gigantis antediluvensis, or giants with Holy Land provenience might be Homo gigantis levantinus, or giants from North America showing physiological singularity might be Homo gigantis americanus, and so on and so forth. There is however the matter of satisfying the supernatural pedigree of giants in the taxonomic designation. In this scenario, Homo titanus (Titanic man), both addresses the supernatural origins (as Josephus equates the Nephilim with the Greek Titans) and satisfies the taxonomc criteria without being overly ostentatious.
Giantological research basically proceeds along one of three axes, or a combination of them. Firstly, the mythological/oral tradition/anthropological evidence comes to us from the mythological traditions of cultures from around the world. Secondly, the historical evidence for giants resides in written records preserved by ancient, medieval, and modern writers. Lastly, the material axis calls on archaeology and paleontology to recover physical remains of giants and the artifacts and features left in their wake. As a rule of thumb—in the order I have outlined—the evidence becomes scarcer. Genetics, epigenetics, physics, geology, and biochemistry also have the potential to provide new insights as well.
Research ethics should also be a high priority for any giant researcher. Thorough, scientific methodology should be applied to every project. Any original research in the form of journal articles and books should account for sources. This practice is responsible, and allows others to follow and corroborate or amend your work. There are any number of publications on the topic of giants with no footnote citations (far too many in my opinion). If we are to make a case to the world, our research needs to be presented in the language of science, ethically and responsibly. Dissemination of research project results should be equally mindful of such ethics, and should be in a timely manner. Most journals will likely be reticent to publish which means that other venues and even original peer-reviewed journals dealing with giants should eventually materialize through the efforts of (much needed) scholarly societies and professional organizations who study giants.
The above statements are all but a summary of the field of giantology. It is changing daily. There are many other issues to be fleshed out, which I will address as I can. For now, here are the rudiments for a discipline of giantolgy, each bearing consideration.
To learn more about these issues read “An Ethnology of the Giant Tribes and Clans in the Ancient Levant”: http://store.payloadz.com/details/2215418-documents-and-forms-research-papers-an-ethnology-of-the-giant-tribes-and-clans-in-the-ancient-levant.html
© 2016 Judd Burton
Posted by anthrojudd
at 5:33 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2016 5:35 AM EST
Wednesday, 13 January 2016
WATCHERS WATCHERS EVERYWHERE
Recently, I read a series of blog entries from the site Remnant of Giants containing analysis of another article on the mythology of the Watchers. This article, "Turning to the Angels to save Jewish Mythology" is a summary of recent research by Dr. Jonathan Ben-Dov, senior lecturer in Bible at the University of Haifa. The full article may be read by clicking here. The general claim of the article and subject of subsequent blog entries is that the Jewish tradition of the Watchers drew on other mythologies of the ancient Near East.
On one level--for the sake of argument--this is possible. The academic stance has long been at least a version of this thesis. There is certainly a long-established body of evidence demonstrating the influences of cultures from Mesopotamia and Egypt on Hebrew culture. However, most scholars contend that the idea of the Watcher angel (or at least the books that expound upon them) is a relatively late ideological construct (Second Temple Period), having been based on much older deities from the above-mentioned societies and their beliefs.
However, if we subscribe to a supernatural worldview--and moreso, a Biblical worldview--references and depictions of celestial beings such as the Watchers, giants, and indeed the flood, in ancient cultures are in actuality separate descriptions of the same events and personalities. Yes there are definitely going to be similarities in these depictions, the authors and artists are working from the same source material.
What the apocryphal material, such as Enoch, Jubilees, Jasher, and the lke, represent is the record of memory much older than the Hebrew language as a written system. Of course one will find similarities between Mesopotamian and Hebrew accounts. Not only were they geographically proximate, but this situation allowed for diffusion. These stories circulated.
Very interesting article with interesting points.
Posted by anthrojudd
at 3:43 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 13 January 2016 3:44 AM EST
Thursday, 30 July 2015
REVISITING THE TOMB OF GILGAMESH
As it has been more than 12 years since its discovery, I thought that I would post the classic article on the Tomb of GIlgamesh, the god-king of Uruk, often equated with the Biblical Nimrod. The timing of the discovery is interesting in that it coincided with the deployment of U.S.military forces in Iraq in the spring of 2003.
I always tell my students that mythology can always be a medium for at least some historicity. Gilgamesh seems to be no exception, as his name not only shows up in the Sumerian King's List (http://www.livius.org/k/kinglist/sumerian.html) in the early Third millennium BC as the ruler of the city of Uruk. This is just as it is recounted in the great heroic poem, The Gilgamesh Epic, in which he is described as being 2/3 divine and 1/3 human. For more background information on Gilgamesh, see the Epic and the Enuma Elish.
EPIC OF GILGAMESH: http://public.wsu.edu/~gened/orpheus/orpheus_gilgamesh.htm
ENUMA ELISH: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sumer_anunnaki/esp_sumer_annunaki01.htm
Was Gilgamesh a historical personage? I believe he was. Was he the fabled god-king of myth? I believe it is at leat possible, if not plausible. You must decide for yourself as you weigh the evidence.
Posted by anthrojudd
at 2:55 AM EDT
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
NEW BLOG FEED ON HOME PAGE
Greetings followers of all things Burton Beyond. You'll note that there are some new arrivals on the main page. In an effort to shudder and consoidate (kill two birds with one stone, fill in the blank with whatever simplifying metaphor you like) I've added a Twitter feed for BB news. The latest addition is an RSS feed from the blog, so that you may read and interact as you please. I'm still playing around with this last one, and the look may change over the coming weeks, but these feeds will stay to make your navigation of burtonbeyond.com more effecient. Godspeed and thanks again.
Posted by anthrojudd
at 11:03 PM EDT
Sunday, 2 November 2014
Friday, 31 October 2014
Here are some essays on the Celtic and Roman roots of Halloween:
ON November first was Samhain ("summer's end").
"Take my tidings:
"A chill wind raging,
The sun low keeping,
Swift to set
O'er seas high sweeping.
"Dull red the fern;
Shapes are shadows;
Wild geese mourn
O'er misty meadows.
"Keen cold limes each weaker wing,
Such I sing!
Take my tidings."
--GRAVES: First Winter Song.
Then the flocks were driven in, and men first had leisure after harvest toil. Fires were built as a thanksgiving to Baal for harvest. The old fire on the altar was quenched before the night of October 31st, and the new one made, as were all sacred fires, by friction. It was called "forced-fire." A wheel and a spindle were used: the wheel, the sun symbol, was turned from east to west, sunwise. The sparks were caught in tow, blazed upon the altar, and were passed on to light the hilltop fires. The new fire was given next morning, New Year's Day, by the priests to the people to light their hearths, where all fires had been extinguished. The blessed fire was thought to protect the year through the home it warmed. In Ireland the altar was Tlactga, on the hill of Ward in Meath, where sacrifices, especially black sheep, were burnt in the new fire. From the death struggles and look of the creatures omens for the future year were taken.
The year was over, and the sun's life of a year was done. The Celts thought that at this time the sun fell a victim for six months to the powers of winter darkness. In Egyptian mythology one of the sun-gods, Osiris, was lsain at a banquet by his brother Sitou, the god of darkness. On the anniversary of the murder, the first day of winter, no Egyptian would begin any new business for fear of bad luck, since the spirit of evil was then in power.
From the idea that the sun suffered from his enemies on this day grew the association of Samhain with death.
"The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the wither'd leaves lie dead;
They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's tread.
The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrub the jay
And from the wood-top calls the crow, through all the gloomy day.
"The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago,
And the wild rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow:
But on the hill the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood,
And the yellow sun-flower by the brook in autumn beauty stood,
Till fell the frost from the cold clear heaven, as falls the plague on men,
And the brightness of their smile was gone from upland, glade, and glen."
--BRYANT: Death of the Flowers.
In the same state as those who are dead, are those who have never lived, dwelling right in the world, but invisible to most mortals at most times. Seers could see them at any time, and if very many were abroad at once others might get a chance to watch them too.
"There is a world in which we dwell,
And yet a world invisible.
And do not think that naught can be
Save only what with eyes ye see:
I tell ye that, this very hour,
Had but your sight a spirit's power,
Ye would be looking, eye to eye,
At a terrific company."
These supernatural spirits ruled the dead. There were two classes: the Tuatha De Danann, "the people of the goddess Danu," gods of light and life; and spirits of darkness and evil. The Tuatha had their chief seat on the Isle of Man, in the middle of the Irish Sea, and brought under their power the islands about them. On a Midsummer Day they vanquished the Fir Bolgs and gained most of Ireland, by the battle of Moytura.
A long time afterwards--perhaps 1000 B.C.--the Fomor, sea-demons, after destroying nearly all their enemies by plagues, exacted from those remaining, as tribute, "a third part of their corn, a third part of their milk, and a third part of their children." This tax was paid on Samhain. It was on the week before Samhain that the Fomor landed upon Ireland. On the eve of Samhain the gods met them in the second battle of Moytura, and they were driven back into the ocean.
As Tigernmas, a mythical king of Ireland, was sacrificing "the firstlings of every issue, and the scions of every clan" to Crom Croich, the king idol, and lay prostrate before the image, he and three-fourths of his men mysteriously disappeared.
Tigernmas, the prince of Tara yonder
On Hallowe'en with many hosts.
A cause of grief to them was the deed.
Dead were the men
Of Bamba's host, without happy strength
Around Tigernmas, the destructive man of the north,
From the worship of Crom Cruaich. 'Twas no luck for them.
For I have learnt,
Except one-fourth of the keen Gaels,
Not a man alive--lasting the snare!
Escaped without death in his mouth."
--Dinnsenchus of Mag Slecht (Meyer trans.).
This was direct invocation, but the fire rites which were continued so long afterwards were really only worshipping the sun by proxy, in his nearest likeness, fire.
Samhain was then a day sacred to the death of the sun, on which had been paid a sacrifice of death to evil powers. Though overcome at Moytura evil was ascendant at Samhain. Methods of finding out the will of spirits and the future naturally worked better then, charms and invocations had more power, for the spirits were near to help, if care was taken not to anger them, and due honors paid.
OPS was the Latin goddess of plenty. Single parts of her province were taken over by various other divinities, among whom was Pomona (pomorum patrona, "she who cares for fruits"). She is represented as a maiden with fruit in her arms and a pruning-knife in her hand.
"I am the ancient apple-queen.
As once I was so am I now--
For evermore a hope unseen
Betwixt the blossom and the bough.
"Ah, where's the river's hidden gold!
And where's the windy grave of Troy?
Yet come I as I came of old,
From out the heart of summer's joy."
Many Roman poets told stories about her, the best known being by Ovid, who says that she was wooed by many orchard-gods, but preferred to remain unmarried. Among her suitors was Vertumnus ("the changer"), the god of the turning year, who had charge of the exchange of trade, the turning of river channel, and chiefly of the change in nature from flower to ripe fruit. True to his character he took many forms to gain Pomona's love. Now he was a ploughman (spring), now a fisherman (summer), now a reaper (autumn).
At last he took the likeness of an old woman (winter), and went to gossip with Pomona. After sounding her mind and finding her averse to marriage, the woman pleaded for Vertumnus's success.
"Is not he the first to have the fruits which
are thy delight? And does he not hold thy
gifts in his joyous right hand?"
--OVID: Vertumnus and Pomona.
Then the crone told her the story of Anaxarete who was so cold to her lover Iphis that he hanged himself, and she at the window watching his funeral train pass by was changed to a marble statue. Advising Pomona to avoid such a fate, Vertumnus donned his proper form, that of a handsome young man, and Pomona, moved by the story and his beauty, yielded and became his wife.
Vertumnus had a statue in the Tuscan Way in Rome, and a temple. His festival, the Vortumnalia, was held on the 23d of August, when the summer began to wane. Garlands and garden produce were offered to him.
Pomona had been assigned one of the fifteen flamina, priests whose duty it was to kindle the fire for special sacrifices. She had a grove near Ostia where a harvest festival was held about November first. Not much is known of the ceremonies, but from the similar August holiday much may be deduced. Then the deities of fire and water were propitiated that their disfavor might not ruin the crops. On Pomona's day doubtless thanks was rendered them for their aid to the harvest. An offering of first-fruits was made in August; in November the winter store of nuts and apples was opened. The horses released from toil contended in races.
From Pomona's festival nuts and apples, from the Druidic Samhain the supernatural element, combined to give later generations the charms and omens from nuts and apples which are made trial of at Hallowe'en.
Posted by anthrojudd
at 3:16 AM EDT
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