I hope you all have been having as stress-free a holiday week as you all can manage! I have a couple pieces of news regarding upcoming chats, as well as our next festival, the Kalends.
We had no chat this past week, since many of us will have family obligations around Christmas. Our chats will resume this week on Thursday, 1 January, at 21:30 EST in Skype as normal. Our topic then will be the ritual calendar for the new year (as we are in the process of revising it and making it more approachable for people who are newer to the Starry Bull tradition). Hope to see you then!
When we met a couple of weeks ago, our big topic was the Kalends, which we’ll be celebrating on New Year’s Eve going into New Year’s Day. This was, originally, a Roman festival: the Kalends was the first day of the new month–originally the first day the crescent moon was visible in the night sky, as with the Hellenic Noumenia; but when the Romans changed their calendar to a solar one, it became the first day of the solar months we’re used to using.
We have it recorded that the Kalends of January, which was also New Year’s Day for the Romans like it is for us, was a day of merry-making, Dionysian processions, and lewd humor even once Italy had been largely Christianized:
What wickedness takes place during this feast; fortune-tellings, divinations, deceptions and feigned madnesses. On this day, having been seized up by the furies of their bacchant-like ravings and having been inflamed by the fires of diabolical instigation, they flock together to the church and profane the house of god with vain and foolish rhythmic poetry in which sin is not wanting but by all means present, and with evil sayings, laughing and cacophony they disrupt the priest and the whole congregation applauds for the people love these things. (Richard of St.-Victor, Sermones centum 177.1036)
Of course, what Richard of St.-Victor didn’t get was that bawdy humor and loud noises do three things that are all good
- They scare away malicious spirits (or make those spirits laugh so hard they forget why they were malicious in the first place).
- They encourage festivity and connection to our transgressive God.
- They help create doorways through which our beloved Gods and Spirits can enter this world. (Okay, that may not be inherently ethically “good,” but it IS pretty cool.)
In the original Starry Bull Hymn Book, Sannion describes the Kalends as a day for masks, drunkenness, and obscenity. Now, not all of us can go out and get drunk on New Year’s Eve for a number of reasons, so that part is by no means mandatory (though if you are willing, please do!). In our last chat, we developed a couple ritual elements that we’re encouraging all Thiasos members to perform, if at all possible. We didn’t come up with a full ritual, since we’d hate to dictate what you do with your evening, but try incorporating these into your New Year’s Festivities:
- Before attending any New Years Eve festivities, set an intention–with prayers, incense, candles, or suitable offerings to the Starry Bull and His Pantheon–of receiving signs or doing divination for the new year. Perhaps bring divination tools along to any festivities you attend. Allow the celebrations to distract you from your intention, at least for a while. When you see a sign–and you’ll KNOW what the sign is–it will either be your sign for the new year, or it will be the sign to get the tools out and do divination for the new year.
- Feel free to share your divination results with us if you feel inclined to do so!
- At some point during New Years, preferably while drunk / high / tranced out, do something completely and hilariously obscene. Write a lewd song parody! Write your own take on a complex Dionysian myth! Write down a series of horrendously funny jokes! Or something similar. Share what you’ve done with us, over Facebook (or email it to me, or Markos Gage, or Erin Fortner, or the other mods of the Boukoleon and we can put it up there). You may wish to do an audio-recording or video-recording, especially if it’s a song (or a joke with a considerable visual element).
The point is to go out there and be good Dionysians–spread merriment, cheer, (intoxicating substances,) and all sorts of bawdy humor to ring in the New Year and make others laugh!
And to that end, I have a proposal: for any Thiasos member who submits their hilarious bit of obscenity on Facebook or by email to me, I will do the following:
- Post their work here on the Boukoleon (if they want me to);
- Keep their name on my altar and in my prayers for the month of January, asking for blessings for them for the upcoming year;
- Donate three dollars to one of our Starry Bull philanthrophy causes.
By the way–if you have questions or suggestions about a ritual calendar, feel free to post them in this thread on our Facebook page!
Emily Kamp is a Hellenic polytheist, devoted in particular to Hestia, Hermes, Apollo Soranus, and Dionysos the Starry Bull. When not teaching high-school Latin or making horrendous puns, she is the moderator of an online shrine to Hestia (which doubles as a daily devotional for polytheists of all stripes).