Sunday, 28 May 2017

Bull and bird

Recently I came across these two interesting vases:

The Sub-Minoan (1150-1100 BC) vase from Crete decorated with a bull and a bird. 

The Mycenaean (1300 BC) vase from Enkomi, Cyprus, decorated with a bull and a bird

Apparently similar vases were also found in Jordan, but I couldn't find any pictures of them.

Now what do these images symbolize? Well it could be just bulls and a birds. They are often seen together. 

But Minoans considered both bulls and birds sacred and clearly attributed a symbolical meaning to both animals. This is a Minoan symbol, Larnax, 1300 bc. A bird (duck) sitting on labris which is positioned between the bull horns. 

So is there a deeper meaning to these images?

In my post entitled "Leto" I talked about the link between Slavic words "let" meaning "flight" and "leto" meaning "summer, year".

In short, the period between these two "let" (flights) of migratory birds, between their arrival and their departure, is "leto" (summer). This beginning of the new "summer" is the beginning of the new period of vegetative growth and abundance, the "important" part of the year. Which is why Serbian word for "summer" and "year" is the same: "leto"...

In Slavic mythology, Jarilo was the son of the supreme Slavic god of thunder, Perun, his lost, missing, tenth son, born during Velja Noć (Great Night), the pagan Slavic celebration of the New Year. We don't really know what the "Great Night" means, but I believe that this Great Night was originally the night before the beginning of winter which in the Irish calendar is marked by Samhain, the 31st of October, and in the Serbian calendar by St Mitar day (Mitrovdan) the 8th of November. I believe that this night was originally the night of the 5th of November, the mid point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. 

I also believe that the expression Great Night was also an euphemism for Winter, the time of cold and death. Right in the middle of the winter is the night of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, which is also the middle of the winter, the middle of the darkest part of the year. This is the night when new fires are rekindled, to symbolize rekindling of sun's fire, the birth of the new sun, new solar year. This new sun is Jarilo, whose name means the young one, but also the hot one.

However, on the same night when he was born, according to the Slavic tradition, Jarilo was stolen from his father and taken to the world of the dead, where he was adopted and raised by Veles, Perun's enemy, Slavic god of the underworld and cattle. The Slavs believed the underworld to be an ever-green world of eternal spring and wet, grassy plains, where Jarilo grew up guarding the cattle of his stepfather. In the mythical geography of ancient Slavs, the land of the dead was assumed to lie across the sea, where migrating birds would fly every winter. This land of the dead was by Slavs known as Iriy, Irij or Vyriy (Russian: ирий, ирей, вырий). And when do the migrating birds leave the land of the living? By the beginning of the winter, which is marked by Samhain (Mitrovdan).

With the advent of spring, Jarilo returned from the underworld, bringing spring and fertility to the land. Spring festivals, actually more precisely summer festivals of Jurjevo/Jarilo, St Georges day,  that survived in the Slavic folklore celebrate Jarilo's return, the return of the summer heat. This is also the time when in Irish folklore we find Beltane, the day of bonfires, which also celebrates the return of the summer heat...

And when does Jarilo return from the land of the dead? When the migratory birds return from Irij, the land of the dead, where they spend winter, the period between Samhain (Mitrovdan) and Beltane (Jarilo day, Djurdjevdan)...

You can read more about the old Celtic and Serbian calendar in my post "Two crosses". 

Now Beltane (Jarilo day, Djurdjevdan), the day when Jarilo returns from the land of the dead, the beginning of Summer, is celebrated on the 6th of May. This date, falls in the middle of the Taurus (Bull) zodiac sign (21 April – 21 May), which marks the beginning of the calving period of the Eurasian wild cattle

So the arrival of migratory birds is immediately followed by the beginning of summer, which falls in the middle of Taurus (Bull) zodiac sign...

Is this what is symbolically depicted on the above two vases? 6th of May, Beltane, (Jarilo day, Djurdjevdan), the beginning of summer? I think so. 

What do you think?

Monday, 22 May 2017

He must increase and I must decrease

In John's Testimony about Jesus, St John the baptist says this about Jesus:

"He must increase and I must decrease."

What does this statement mean?

John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher in the early first century AD. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus. Scholars generally believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus' early followers had previously been followers of John. Some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes...

But the connection between John the Baptist and Jesus is much much deeper: They were cousins born exactly six months apart. 

At the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she would conceive of the Holy Ghost, he also informed her that Elizabeth, her cousin, was already six months pregnant with John the Baptist (Luke 1:36). 

Considering that Jesus was born on Christmas day, the 25th of December, John the Baptist, who was conceived six months earlier was born six months earlier, on the 24th of June, which is celebrated as the Nativity of John the Baptist. 

The Nativity of John the Baptist is one of the oldest festivals of the Christian church, being listed as a principal festival in 506 when it was celebrated in the same way as the Nativity of Jesus: it was a day of rest and was celebrated with three Masses: a vigil, at dawn, and at midday.

Now Christ was born on the 25th of December. At the time of the birth of Jesus, 25th of December was known as Brumalia. Brumalia was an ancient Roman, winter solstice festival. The name Brumalia comes from "brvma", [ˈbruːma] meaning "Winter solstice".

Brumalia was always celebrated on VIII Kal. Ian. (Servius A. 7.720). The eighth day before the Kalends of January was always December 25th in the Julian calendar, because December always had 31 days.

John the Baptist, being born exactly six months earlier, was born on the 24th of June. If at the time of the birth of Jesus, 25th of December was the winter solstice day, 24th of June, the date exactly six months away must have been the day of the summer solstice. So John the Baptist was born on the day of the summer solstice. 

So Christ was born on the day of the Winter solstice, the shortest day, after which days start getting longer. And John the Baptist was born on the day of the Summer solstice, the longest day, after which days start getting shorter. 

And so finally here is my proposed explanation for John's statement about Jesus: "He must increase and I must decrease". It is the light of the sun, the duration of the day that increases from winter solstice (birth of Jesus) to summer solstice, and decreases from summer solstice (birth of John the baptist) to winter solstice. 

Is this solar symbolism a coincidence?