h Phoenix Qi: April 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Many men-of-mud myths from various cultures

Greek terra-cotta doll c. 800 BC

Not every culture has myths about the first humans being fashioned from earth or soil; the Norse myth has the first man and woman being made from the ash and the elm tree. However, many cultures from China to Africa to Native America do have stories about the first humans being made from soil and then having the spirit breathed into them by a deity. For a story about that, see Breath and Spirit of Life on the Spirits In Harmony blog.

Here are a few stories from around the world about the earthly origins of human beings.



Christian Bible – the name Adam means clay…


Adam: This is the Hebrew word for "man". It could be ultimately derived from Hebrew adam meaning "to be red", referring to the ruddy colour of human skin, or from Assyrian adamu meaning "to make". According to Genesis in the Old Testament Adam was created from the earth by God (there is a word play on Hebrew adamah "earth").


Genesis 2: 7-8: "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Thus the man became a living creature."


The word for "ground" is adamah. Adam was made of adamah (a female form of the noun).22

-- Footnote 22 - Perhaps this is where the idea of "Mother Earth" originated. Nations the world over speak of "Father Heaven" and "Mother Earth."

Man was formed. But he was still lifeless. There was no continuity whatever with any lower form of life. Man was lifeless until something else happened. The next phrase says, "He breathed (or blew) into his nostrils the breath of life, the mishnat chayyim (the very breathing in and out of life) and man became a living soul (or being)."

When God blew man's breath into his nose, He also blew in his being! (Paul used this terminology when he spoke much later to the Athenians in Act 17, "In Him we live and move and have our being.") The moment He withdraws His breath from our nostrils, we lose our life and we become dust again. We lose our being, as far as the physical body is concerned. But, once we have being, we cannot be destroyed altogether.


The Shilluks of the Nile region, for example, tell a story in which humankind is fashioned out of clay. In each region of the world in which the creator traveled, he created humans from the materials available, making some white, others red or brown, and the Shilluk black.

He then took a piece of earth and gave them arms, eyes, etc. This story says much about their values and culture. In distributing the characteristics to man, he chose first to give them the ability to do work through the use of their arms and legs.

They were then given the ability to see and taste their food. Finally, they were given speech and hearing with which to entertain oneself ("An African Story"). This shows the value system at work among the Shilluk, that work comes above all else. It also attempts to explain the differences between men of various races by telling of how they came about.

A West African creation tale explains how two spirit people were accidentally sent down to earth by the sky god. Lonely, the people decided to create children from clay, but feel they must hide them when the sky god comes down. Because they are hidden in fire, the children soon turn to various shades based on how long they had been exposed to the heat. Over time, these clay children grow up and move to various regions of the earth, ultimately populating it (Fader). Much like that of the Shilluk people, this story serves a two-fold purpose: it explains both the creation of man as well as accounts for the differences among him. This tale shows the West Africans value these differences because they feel that all men are created equal and should be treated as such.



KANE was the leading god among the great gods named by the Hawaiians at the time of the arrival of the missionaries in the islands. He represented the god of procreation and was worshiped as ancestor of chiefs and commoners. According to the possibly late edition of the Kumuhonua legend, he formed the three worlds: the upper heaven of the gods, the lower heaven above the earth, and the earth itself as a garden for mankind; the latter he furnished with sea creatures, plants, and animals, and fashioned man and woman to inhabit it.

(a) Fornander version (1). In the first era Kane dwells alone in continual darkness (i ka po loa); there is neither heaven nor earth. In the second era light is created and the gods Ku and Lono, with Kane, fashion the earth and the things on the earth. In the third era they create man and woman, Kumu-honua (Earth beginning) and Lalo-honua (Earth below). In the fourth era Kane, who has lived on earth with man, goes up to heaven to live and the man, having broken Kane's law, is made subject to death.


Chewing Black Bones, a respected Blackfeet elder, told Ella E. Clark the following creation myth in 1953. Clark later published the account in her book, "Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies."

One day Old Man decided that he would make a woman and a child. So he formed them both of clay, the woman and the child, her son.

After he had molded the clay in human shape, he said to it, "You must be people." And then he covered it up and went away. The next morning he went to the place, took off the covering, looked at the images, and said "Arise and walk." They did so. They walked down to the river with their maker, and then he told them that his name was NAPI, Old Man.

This is how we came to be people. It is he who made us.


Kato (Mendocino County, California):

The previous world had a sky of sandstone rock. Two gods, Thunder and Nagaicho, saw that it was old. They stretched it, propped up its four corners, created flowers, clouds and other pleasant things. They created a man out of earth, putting in grass for the stomach and heart, clay for liver and kidneys, pulverized red stone mixed with water for blood.


Lithuanian Religion and Mythology

Lithuanian ethological legends speaking about creation of the man occasionally state Dievas made a man from the dirt or clay and then inspired spirit in to the form. This motive does not differ in any detail from the Biblical story. It is quite truthworthy that even before Christianity Lithuanians had a version of the first "Molding" of a man, because it exits in many other isolated nations; the "dirt" version of the human being is also seen in the parallel between the words "Žmogus" (a human being) and "žemė" (earth), cf. Latin Homo-humus, Hebrew Adam-Adama. Possibly the idea of a human being stemming from earth irrespective of the Biblical influence exists in many agricultural nations. However, though Lithuanian version of molding must have existed some time ago, it became obliterated by the Biblical version in the legends, therefor it is impossible to discriminate it and to prove that it really existed.

However for Lithuanian tradition undoubtedly belongs human appearance from the Gods' saliva version: the God has walking along the water and spat and on his way back saw some creature, which as it turned out appeared from his saliva. In one legend this is the way how two people appear: a man and a woman, in other places just a human being and still in other instances Liucius (Liuciperis). These legends are rather numerous. One rare legend, true states that Dievas in stirring fire place smeared his face and started washing, a drop of water while he was washing fell on the ground and in this way the man appeared. A similar motive is stored in shanty and mansiu tribes and in arctic and Siberian mythologies. In either way the overall picture is still here, human being springs from the matters related to the God hitting the ground.

In Lithuanian tales this creativity is completely accidental. Dievas did not intend to create human being, he just spits, without any intention and in seeing a being appear is surprised himself and in some tales he addresses the new creature: "Who are you?", and, of course the answer is that it does not know. Dievas had to wreck his head for a long while before he remembers that before some time he spat here. This legend is a reflection of a very ancient ideology, Dievas is not interested in the human being and does not intend to create it.


After the Good Spirit completed the earth, he created man out of red clay. Placing the man upon the earth, the Good Spirit instructed the man about how he should live.


When Enki made man of the clay from over his apsu in Eridu, he ordered all the gods to first take three ablution baths on the 1st, 7th and 15th of the month, to absolve them of "blood-guilt" in the slaying of an Igigi god, whose flesh and blood was mixed into the clay animating mankind. So Solomon's brazen bath may recall this momentous event.

[In the Roman calendar, the 1st of the month was called the Calends, the 7th called the Nones, and the 15th called the Ides. Quite a coincidence that these sames days would be the days for purification...especially since they also represent the lunar phases of New, First Quarter, and Full Moon! ~Phoenix~]

"In five extent major cosmogonies of the Eridu tradition, ENKI THE SPRINGWATER fertilizes earth by means of rivers and canals, causing life (including human life and cities) to rise along their banks. Under this tradition is included the distinct tradition of Enki's creating individual human beings out of clay." (p. 32. "Sumerian Texts.")

The Mesopotamian myths have several contradicting accounts regarding mankind's creation by the gods. One account has them popping up out of the earth like plants! However, my interest here is in exploring those myths that seem, to me, to be preserved in Genesis. The Igigi gods' threatened revolt in Sumer is located at two different locations, FIRST, at Eridu, where man is made of "water and clay"; and SECOND, at Nippur, where the of the "flesh and blood" of a slaughtered Igigi ring-leader god is ground into the clay to make man (Note: Man at Nippur is made on Enki's orders on the Shapattu/Shabattu Day, the 15th day of the month, the day of the FULL MOON. Enki is ultimately responsible for man's creation at both locations)



Nuwa Story as Creator

It is said that Nüwa existed in the beginning of the world. She felt lonely as there were no animals so she began the creation of animals and humans. On the first day she created chickens. On the second day she created dogs. On the third day she created sheep. On the forth day she created pigs. On the fifth day she created cows. On the sixth day she created horses. On the seventh day she began creating men from yellow clay, sculpting each one individually, yet after she had created hundreds of figures in this way she still had more to make but had grown tired of the laborious process. So instead of hand crafting each figure, she dipped a rope in clay and flicked it so blobs of clay landed everywhere; each of these blobs became a person. In this way, the story relates, were nobles and commoners created from the hand crafted figures and the blobs respectively. Another variation on this story relates that some of the figures melted in the rain as Nüwa was waiting for them to dry and in this way sickness and physical abnormalities came into existence.


The Islamic View of Creation (The first created human was Adam (peace be upon him).

In the Qur’an, Allah says what means: *{And of His signs is this: He created you of dust, and behold you human beings, ranging widely!}* (Ar-Rum 30:20)

In another surah, we are told that: *{He created man of clay like the potter’s.}*

(Ar-Rahman 55:14)

Saturday, April 14, 2007


The very word kindles in the imagination visions of robe-clad druids in solemn procession, perhaps singing Celtic chants and bearing flaming torches, gliding slowly toward the center of the megalithic circle to perform seasonal rites honoring the gods and goddesses...

Okay, I'm a romantic dreamer..."the Henge" (as the British call it) lends itself so well to such flights of fancy. However, there is much, much more to Stonehenge than solstices and equinoxes!

First, a bit of archeological history:

Archaeology: (If this doesn't interest you, feel free to jump ahead to Interpretation.) "At first sight this unique and enigmatic site appears smaller than imagined, but the tallest upright stone is 22 ft. high and another 8 ft. below ground.

The outermost element of the site is the Avenue that runs straight down a gentle slope for a distance of 560 yds. into Stonehenge Bottom. The Avenue consists of twin banks about 40 ft. apart with internal ditches and it begins at the entrance to the earthwork enclosure. Here is the Heel Stone, a large upright unworked sarsen (hard sandstone) which lies immediately adjacent to the A344 road. It is worth noting that the nearest source of stones of the size represented by the large sarsens at Stonehenge is on the Marlborough Downs, about 18 mi. to the NE. It can only be assumed that these stones (the heaviest of which weighs about 45 tons) were transported on some type of sledge.

"Moving inwards from the Heel Stone there is an earthwork enclosure that consists of a ditch and an interior bank, the height of which was calculated by Professor Atkinson as being about 6 ft. It is known that there were at least two entrances, the one now visible (facing NE) and one to the south. Lying within the entrance is an unworked and now recumbent sarsen stone, stained a rusty red caused by rainwater acting on iron, and known as the Slaughter Stone. Arranged around the inner edge of the earthwork bank were originally four small uprights: the Station Stones, of which two can still be seen. Immediately adjacent to the bank there is a ring of 56 pits, known as the Aubrey Holes, marked by circular concrete spots. The area between the inner edge of the bank and the outermost stone settings includes at least two further settings of pits: the Y and Z holes.

"On the central area of the site there are the stone settings, the sophisticate arrangements that set Stonehenge apart from any other prehistoric monument in Europe. In their construction two types of stone were used: sarsen and bluestone. The sarsens used in the central settings are much larger. The bluestone is a mixture of rocks found on the Preseli Mountains in SE Wales. The most widely accepted theory regards the arrival of the bluestones on Salisbury Plain as the result of human effort, with the route being partly overland and partly by water.

"In its complete form the outermost stone setting consisted of a circle of 30 upright sarsens, of which 17 still stand, each weighing about 25 tons. The tops of these uprights were linked by a continuous ring of horizontal sarsen lintels, only a small part of which is now still in position. The stones in the sarsen circle are carefully shaped and the horizontal lintels are jointed together not only by means of simple mortice-and-tenon joints, but they are also locked using what is effectively a dovetail joint. The edges are smoothed into a gentle curve which follows the line of the entire circle.

"The bluestone setting, concentric the outer sarsen circle, consisted originally of about 60 stones but many have fallen, dissolved or been crushed. Inside these two circles lies the sarsen horseshoe, consisted originally of five sarsen trilithons (a Greek word that means three stones), each comprising two uprights and a horizontal lintel. Although now fragmentary, the arrangement shows the careful grading of the five trilithons, the tallest of which is 22 ft. high above ground level. Enfolded within this massive horseshoe, lies a smaller horseshoe arrangement of upright bluestones.

"Current archaeological research shows that this site was constructed and modified on various phases, spanning several centuries:

· "Pre-Stonehenge (9th-8th millennium BC): at least 4 mesolithic pits which originally contained big pine posts, in a line about 200m from the present henge site

· "Stonehenge 1 (from 3100 BC): construction of the circular bank, the ditch and the 56 Aubrey Holes which probably originally contained timber posts

· "Stonehenge 2 (from 2550 BC): pottery, animal bones and cremated human remains placed in ditch; cremations deposited in some of the partially filled Aubrey Holes; complex of posts in interior and in entrance causeway

· "Stonehenge 3 (from 2100 BC): sequence of stone-related structures. It's not possible a close dating, but the sequence should has been as follows:
· "Bluestones from Wales erected in q and r holes and then dismantled
· "Sarsen circle and trilithons erected, possibly also a bluestone setting which may have included trilithons, this latter then dismantled
· "Bluestone circle and oval setting
· "Arc of bluestones removed from oval to leave present horseshoe setting
· "Y and Z holes dug, probably for stones which were never erected; during this phase the avenue has also been constructed."

(From "Stonehenge and the Universe" by Nyven at http://ytt.org/stonehenge.htm (This site no longer exists - April 14, 2007))

Interpretation: "Already in the 18th century the British antiquarian William Stukeley had noticed that the horseshoe of great trilithons and the horseshoe of 19 bluestones at Stonehenge opened up in the direction of the midsummer sunrise. It was quickly surmised that the monument must have been deliberately oriented and planned so that on midsummer's morning the sun rose directly over the Heel Stone and the first rays shone into the centre of the monument between the open arms of the horseshoe arrangement.

"This discovery has had tremendous impact on how Stonehenge has been interpreted. For Stukeley in the 18th century and Sir Norman Lockyer in the first years of the 20th century, this alignment implied a ritualistic connection with sun worship and it was generally concluded that Stonehenge was constructed as a temple to the sun. More recently, though, the astronomer Gerald Hawkins has argued that Stonehenge is not merely aligned with solar and lunar astronomical events, but can be used to predict other events such as eclipses. In other words, Stonehenge was more than a temple, it was an astronomical calculator."

However, and this is the fascinating part: "Contrary to expectations, the great stone circles and horseshoe arrangements for which Stonehenge is famous are later additions to the monument (mostly Stonehenge III) and are not essential to the lunar and solar calculations.

"Inside the bank were dug 56 holes -- discovered by John Aubrey, and known as the Aubrey Holes -- placed at precisely regular intervals around a concentric circle of about 285 feet in diameter. Archaeological investigations have shown that these holes were not dug to hold upright stones or wooden posts. Besides the Aubrey Holes, of crucial importance are the four Station Stones marked at positions 91, 92, 93, and 94, to form a rectangle that stands in a precise relationship with the centre of the monument and with the Heel Stone. Only two of the Station Stones survive, and one of those may not be original.

"For the archaeoastronomists, the Aubrey Holes served as fixed reference points along a circle, and their number was essential to astronomical calculations. The cycle of the moon, for example, which takes 27.3 days, can be tracked by moving a marker by two holes each day to complete a circuit in 28 days.

"A much longer calculation is to move the marker by three holes per year to complete a full circuit in 18.67 years. In this way, it is argued, it would be possible to keep track of the nodes, points where the paths of the sun and the moon apparently intersect to produce an eclipse. Because the moon slews around in its path, the two nodes move along the path of the sun, a complete circuit of which takes 18.61 years. By means of the markers in the Aubrey Holes and keeping track of the directions of the sun and the moon, the astronomer at Stonehenge could calculate nodal points ahead of time and thus predict both lunar and solar eclipses." By Chris Whitcombe on his Earth Mysteries website, "Archeoastronomy at Stonehenge" page.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

7 Guidelines for Developing Symbolic Sight

The following article was written by my friend Charlsie, and I want to share it with you. It includes great information about developing your intuition or Symbolic Sight.


7 Guidelines for Developing Symbolic Sight
By Charlsie Winston

Symbolic Sight is the ability to use your intuition to interpret the power symbols in your life.

Interpreting these power symbols allows us to see and understand more regarding the circumstances surrounding our life and to understand the Truth of it all.

It is when we ’see and understand’ more of what’s happening in our life that the healing needed in both our personal life and that of the world can begin.

Following are 7 guidelines for using your intuition in interpreting power symbols in your life and for developing Symbolic Sight. . .

1) Everyday bring your attention to the challenges you have and to how your spirit and mind respond to these challenges. Observe what causes you to lose power, to lose energy.

2) Think of yourself as an energy being, as well as a physical being. And, remember if you want to see things in a certain way, you will interfere with your reception of energy information. You have to be open to seeing people, things and circumstances for what they are. . . the truth of it!

3) Conduct energy self-evaluations on a daily basis. Learn to sense stress accumulating in your energy field, and take steps to heal yourself at the energy level. I utilize the energy of Reiki for this.

4) When you discover an energy leak ask yourself, “why am I losing power?” Involve both your mind and your heart in answering this question. . . your intuition.

5) Learn ‘what’ rather than who is drawing energy from you. Understand that the person you think is drawing power, energy from you is actually only a reflection of some part of yourself. You are falling into fear and blame when you think that a specific person is depleting your energy!

6) Simplify your requirements for healing. Think of illness as a power disorder. Make whatever changes are necessary for healing to begin. . . leave the stressful job or marriage, learn an alternative type energy healing practice, do something fun you’ve always wanted to do, and combine these things with proper traditional medical care, if needed. Be sure to use common sense and good judgment as to your medical needs.

7) Simplify your spirituality. . . believe and practice simple and eternal Truths. The simpler your spiritual beliefs, the less stressful and more in tune with the real you they are.

Achieving health, happiness and a balance of energy depends on focusing more on the positive than the negative and living in a manner that is spiritually aligned with what we know is the Truth.

Symbolic Sight. . . the ability to see through physical illusions, learn of our power symbols and how they effect our lives and recognition of the lessons being offered by our life challenges. . . is developed when we are able to learn the Truth and to allow our Divinity to work within and through us.


For over 15 years Charlsie has consciously been on (and off, on and off. . . well, you know!) the path to transformation. She is certified in all levels of Reiki and spends much of her time learning about and applying our numerous Universal Laws. For other related articles on reiki, healing, energy, manifestation, universal laws and such. . . and, high quality recommended resources, visit Charlsie's site at: http://www.manifestinguniverse.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Charlsie_Winston

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Daoism on Gain (Harvest)

The writing I share with you is "Gain" from p. 176 of Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony by Deng Ming-Dao, Harper San Francisco, NY, 1996, ISBN 0-06-251395-8.



"Some people might say it is hard to pursue Tao without the gain to support one's endeavors. But it's important to distinguish the exact types of gain that will actually bring us profit.

"In the beginning, the ancients taught very simple and direct ways to live with Tao. But as time went on, people embellished the teachings until they became a very complicated body of knowledge that took a thousand volumes to document. Tao became the pursuit of the rich and cultured. Only they could afford the herbs, the lessons, the expensive art materials, the beautiful living locations, the servants, the travel, and the myriad other luxuries that afforded the freedom to pursue Tao. For many centuries, the simple and rustic ideals of the ancients were obscured by wealth, alchemy, artistic pursuits, and eccentricity.

"We who want Tao may imagine that we will never succeed if the wealth and cultured living of the past are required. But that is not so. Do not be misled by the trappings of those who lived in the past. Look instead to what actually exists in your own life. As long as you live and breathe, as long as your heart beats and your mind dwells on the way, Tao can be found.

"If we look at the image of 'gain,' there is a lesson for us. (Ed: the Chinese image/character for 'gain' is two characters, 'grain' and 'a knife.') Gain is simply the result of harvest. We don't need a fancy lifestyle. We need know only where to look for grain and when to harvest it. Those who harvest the ordinary are those who ultimately gain."


What do you need to attain your spiritual goals? This is something I have struggled with over the years - feeling I needed this teacher, that book, some other paraphernalia to get where I wanted to go. Many people will tell you, you need a Guru, a Master (and by the way, make sure he or she has the "right" lineage!), a special ceremony in a remote temple, or at least in the Master's home or office. There are certain books you must study, and only the Master can tell you when you've studied enough; certain skills you must learn before your practice can be effective, and the skills are often hard to come by or costly.

So, what do you really need? You need You - that is all. Sure, some guidance is in order; maybe a mentor, or maybe a few great books (and I have found that, with the exception of the I Ching, if you have four books on any spiritual topic, that is probably enough - more than four, and they start repeating themselves). But the bottom line of any spiritual practice is: how much of yourself are you willing to devote to it, and how fast do you want it?

Believe it or not, speed of acquisition is a major concern to many people. They want to be spiritual, and they want it Now! Not too long ago, I had an interesting conversation with a Reiki Master on a message board. She posted the great benefits of a Reiki attunement. I have practiced qi gong for around seven years now, and combine that energy work with what I learned about healing by studying a book about Therapeutic Touch and practicing the exercises. I was fairly amazed to learn that, as far as healing went, I could do everything the Reiki Master could do. The only difference was that she was given the healing ability quickly through attunements, and I took time to gain it through qi gong practice. I really was amazed, though. Never having had an attunement, I had long thought that I was missing out on some important facet of healing ability, only to find that was a misconception and not true at all.

In fact, it's interesting to note that originally Reiki had one level and one attunement, much like Tao was originally a simple and direct practice. Obviously, it's grown into something like the later Tao practices with their embellishments. (I am not disparaging Reiki in any way - it is a very valuable practice - I only wonder if its evolution is on the right path.)

A spiritual practice means connecting with the right energy whether you call it God, The Collective Unconscious, Universal Enlightenment, or any other name. "All paths lead up the same mountain," it is only the scenery along the way that is different. You are free to choose that scenery, and make it as fancy or as simple as you like. What practices would you like to undertake? If you love ceremony, go ahead and perform spiritual rituals; if not, spend your time meditating in a quiet way and place. The results will be the same. You may read a great book, or find a Master to mentor you - the results will be the same. You can travel around the world and pray in gilded shrines and temples, or go out into your back yard and pray under the open sky - the results will be the same. The amount of personal attention and time you devote to your practice is what matters, not the trappings.

I would like to add a few words on ceremonial items, though. We've all heard the fairy tales of the wicked witch casting an evil spell on someone when provided with a personal item from that person. I won't comment on evil spells or anything, but I do believe that items you use or wear during a spiritual practice do absorb and reflect back to you some of the energy generated during that practice - special clothing, prayer beads, a statue upon which you focus. I believe it is beneficial and enhancing to your spiritual energy if you have some sort of item - clothing, jewelry, whatever - to augment the energy generated during practice. It need not be anything fancy, but it should be the same item, and should be used at all times during prayer, meditation, or other energy work. I think you will like the results!

Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony


Monday, April 2, 2007

February, month of the dead

Janus, god of doorways.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a picture of Februus, the god of the underworld, but read on....these two are very interrelated.

This might have been a bit more timely a couple of months ago, but some interesting information has come to light regarding the god Februus and the month of February as it relates to death, and rebirth/reincarnation.

First, a bit of background. In the ancient Roman calendar, the first day of the New Year was on the Spring Equinox, and there were only 10 months which I will list by their current names:

March – the first day was the Vernal Equinox



June – the first day was the Summer Solstice

July (renamed for Julius Caesar; was Quintilius which meant 5 or 5th)

August (renamed for August Caesar; was Sextilius which meant 6 or 6th)

September (which meant 7 or 7th) – the first day was the Autumnal Equinox

October (which meant 8 or 8th)

November (which meant 9 or 9th)

December (which meant 10 or 10th) – the first day was the Winter Solstice

They just didn't account for the days between what is now approximately January 21 and the New Year Vernal Equinox on March 21. I believe they considered these to be "days of the dead." The reason is the number of days included in this span of time.

The number of days contained in each of the ten named months varies with the reporter; some say each month had 30 days, some say it alternated with 30 and 31 days.

I believe it alternated with 29 and 30 days and here is why: this was a lunar calendar based on moon phases (any other lunar cycle would have produced months of 27 to 28 days). (The reason July and August both ended up with 31 days is because the two Caesars had to be equal and have the same number of days in their respective months.)

From New Moon to New Moon, called the Lunar Synodic Cycle, is 29.53 days. Technically speaking, it can be anywhere between 29.27 and 29.83 days. Given that this was a lunar accounting of months, and the cycle is 29.5 days, each month would have to span the synodic cycle and alternate between 29 and 30 days or the calendar would be out of phase quite quickly.

Taking the ten months from March to December, if five months have 29 days (145 days) and five months have 30 days (150 days) that accounts for only 295 days out of a 365 day year. How many days are left unaccounted for? 365-295=70 days.

I find this especially intriguing because in an earlier article, "How long does a phoenix live ," I explore the Egyptian symbolism surrounding death and rebirth: the star Sirius "died" for 70 days each year – it's morning visibility was obscured by the sun for 70 days. There came to be a parallel with the death and rebirth of Sirius with the death and rebirth of the human spirit due to the 70 days that it took to complete an embalming. (An embalming was the preservation of the body so that the spirit could leave the world of the dead and return to the world of the living. The preserved body was the spirit's anchor to earth; without it, the spirit could not return.). The morning star Sirius "died" for 70 days then returned, and it took 70 days of preparation before the spirit of the dead person could return to the earth.

The months of February and January (in that order) were tacked on to the end of the Roman calendar to account for the 70 days between the last day of December and the first day of March – the Vernal Equinox – and the start of a new year.

It rings true that the 70 days after December, February and January, were dedicated to the dead because it was winter, the time of year for the land to be dead as it rested for spring planting. So, even though the 70 days of death were at different times of year, two separate cultures, Roman and Egyptian, connected a span of 70 days to death and rebirth.

The name and meaning of February is often attributed to the Latin Februa (purification) or Februalia, a time during which sacrifices were made to atone for sins. However, other sources say the name February is fashioned after the name of the Etruscan god of the Underworld whose name was Februus. If indeed the 70 days of February and January was the time of year associated with the dead, it certainly seems that the first month of the 70 days of death would be named after the god of the Underworld, Februus. Where does a spirit go when it dies? To the Underworld!

I believe that it was much later, after February and January changed places in the calendar, that February became associated with purification and sacrifices. It would make sense that when February preceded March, sacrifices would be made to the gods just before the spring planting to ask for a bountiful crop for that year. However, I believe those dedications were originally made to Janus.

Janus (originally Ianus) was the two-faced god of gates and doorways (L. for door is ianua). He was often worshipped at the beginning of the planting times, so naming the month preceding the March spring plantings makes sense.

The other important clue to the origin, name, and order of February and January is Janus himself. As the god of the doorway and the gate, he ruled over the gateway of return to the earth of the spirits who had spent the previous month in the Underworld land of Februus.

From the beginning of February to the end of January, then, was the 70 days of the year dedicated to the dead, first the days of the dead in the month of Februus, and then the days of renewal and ultimately rebirth at the close of the month of Janus, the beginning of the new year on the Vernal Equinox in March.


Many depictions of Janus, from coins to statues, show a two-faced man with beards. However, there is another form that may have contributed to the symbolic Old year/New Year, old man and young man (baby). In some statues Janus has a old, bearded face looking to the left, and a young, un-bearded face looking to the right. Presumably this represents looking back to the past and forward to the future, but may also have been the origin of Father Time and the New Year Baby.

Eventually, the calendar was changed again. In 452 BC, February moved to its current location, between January and March. In 153 BC (or 46 BC?), New Year moved to January 1. According to some historians, Julius Caesar moved the date of New Year to 1 January. However, since he was assassinated shortly after his calendar reforms, I believe his change didn't stick. The civil calendar changed of the date of New Year to 1 January in 153 BC to correspond with the date the Roman consuls began their term in office.