Blog 2 Midsummer New Year of Johns Eve 2012
|Awakening to the Dawn|
Just as Christianity ‘old style’ was replaced by Christianity ‘new style’, so New Years of Johns Eve ‘old style’ has been replaced by ‘Midsummer what?’ (new style).
Latvians may ask themselves how come they always manage to adopt the ‘new style’, while the ‘old style’ is sent on with a
100 grams of “one for the road”. Unfortunately, the 100 grams is topped off with yet another 100 grams, until the ‘old style’ no longer feels any pain, and falls into a road-side ditch.
There is a story or explanation to this ‘happening’, though Latvians have few if any historians, sociologues, or philosophers to tell about it. As in the previous blog, where I began to quote from the poet’s book “The White Goddess”—and coming from Wales, Robert Graves, the good poet that he is, Graves has not forgot the “historical grammar of poetic myth” as Latvians have. Here is Robert
Graves on the destruction of the hawthorn (vilkābele) in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crataegus: Ireland
|The Crew that Awakens.|
“The destruction of an ancient hawthorn tree is in Ireland attended with the greatest peril. Two nineteenth century instances are quoted in E.M. Hull’s ‘Folklore of the
British Isles’. The effect is the death of one’s cattle and children and loss of all one’s money. In his well documented study, ‘Historic Thorn Trees in the British Isles’, Mr. Vaughn Cornish writes of the sacred hawthorns growing over wells in Goidelic provinces. He quotes the case of ‘St. Patrick’s Thorn’ at Tin’ahely in : ‘Devotees attended on the 4th of May, rounds were duly made about the well, and shreds torn off their garments and hung on the thorns.’ He adds: “This is St. Monica’s Day but I do not know of any association (my underline).” Plainly, since St. Monica’s Day, New Style, corresponds with May 15th, Old Style, this was a ceremony in honor of the Hawthorn month, which had just begun. The rags were torn from the devotees’ clothes as a sign of mourning and propitiation.” County Wicklow
|The Ritual of Awakening.|
Mourning and propitiation was on behalf of the coming sacrifice of one John on Midsummer Eve.
Interestingly, using my method of conflation of new-old-styles, the month of hawthorn (hawthorn also known as Common Hawthorn C. monogyna), monogyna translates as ‘single Žēņa’ or ‘abstinent John’. This meaning takes us back to the month of May, which in the Old Style was the month for sweeping out the temples in preparation of the Midsummer New Year of Johns.
Robert Graves quotes the poet Ovid from his work “Fasti”:
“…an oracle given him [Ovid] by the priestess of Juppiter about the marriage of his daughter—‘Until the Ides of June [the middle of the month] there is no luck for brides and their husbands. Until the sweepings from the Temple of Vesta have been carried down in the sea by the yellow Tiber I must myself not comb my locks which I have out in sign of mourning, nor pare my nails, nor cohabit with my husband though he is the Priest of Juppiter. Be not in haste. Your daughter will have better luck in marriage when Vesta’s fire turns on a cleanthed hearth.’
“The unlucky days came to an end on June 15. In Greece the unlucky month began and ended a little earlier. According to Sozomen of Gaza, the fifth-century ecclesiastical historian, the Terebinth Fair at Hebron was celebrated at the same time and with the same taboos on new clothes and sexuality, and with the same object—the washing and cleansing of the holy images.”
Therefore, the sexual abstinence in the month of May is not only a kind of fast in honor of the Goddesses at the Temple, but a preparation for the sexual orgies came the Midsummer New Year of Johns.
|St. John of the Forests in Latvia.|