December 17, 2018
Saturnalia, the festival of the Roman god Saturn, and based upon a more ancient Greek and Egyptian traditions for this dark time of year, is still celebrated throughout Europe in various forms.
Today we call it Advent, from Latin ad-venire, ‘to come,’ signifying the 4-week waiting period for the birth of the ‘Bambino Divino..’ In Saturnalia, we are awaiting the original Lord of Misrule, the father of Greek Theatre – both tragedy and comedy – the ‘God Who Comes,’ suddenly and unexpectedly, bringing a time in the dark of the year when old/young, male/female, master/slave, all change places. That is, Dionysus: the god who shakes things up, so we can welcome the return of the sun from its farthest point away.
(More about Saturnalia: Encyclopaedia Britannica article)
This festival, like Advent, features candles and other lights, welcoming the solar god in one of his many manifestations: Apollo, Mithras, Aten, Shamash, Ahura Mazda… And a fascinating book on the solar iconography of JC, is Jesus Christ: Sun of God, written by my friend David Fideler, (translator of the I-Ching and founder of Phanes Press.)
On the pre-Celtic traditions for this dark time of year: The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas, by John Matthews (author with Caitlin Matthews of the fun and interesting Arthurian Tarot.)
And The Sun by Madanjeet Singh (author of UNESCO books: Himalayan Art, and India, Paintings from Ajanta Caves.)
Let’s light candles and send our flame-like wishes aloft to celebrate the dark of year that heralds the return of the light!
Festival of Light Celebration (Photo & movie footage credit: Parker Walbeck and Nick Sales)
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