This week we're once again taking a look at Ovid's Fasti, a correlation of the calendar and traditions associated with each of the Roman holidays through the year. This is part of an ongoing series, and our hypothesis is the original calendar of the Roman Republic was choreographed by the positions of the Sun and Moon, with each month beginning on the New Moon and reaching a crescendo with the Ides, correlating to the Full Moon.
Our holiday this week is February 23rd. On that date the Moon would have been entering Capricorn. The Sea-Goat is ruled by Saturn, the Lord of Time, structure and hierarchy. In society, it is the calendar, which weaves its framework around the holidays each year. In the body, Saturn rules the skeletal system and bones, representing our personal framework, the structure of our bodies. Capricorn is an earth sign. In Greek myth, the rocks and stones of Mother Earth (Gaia) were her bones.
Because many of the early rites were agrarian, it's only fitting that marking the structure of the land and its boundaries should be part of the picture. Here is another example of the framework that Capricorn or Saturn can represent:
"When the night has passed, see to it that the god who marks the boundaries of the tilled lands receives his wonted honour. O Terminus, whether thou art a stone or a stump buried in the field, thou too hast been deified from days of yore."
This is another one of the many masks of Saturn. We find Terminus 'paid homage to' in an effort to honor long standing agreements, and ultimately, to prevent future arguments.
"Thou art crowned by two owners on opposite sides; they bring thee two garlands and two cakes. An altar is built."
Before heaven and God two men would come together and swear an oath, that these stones were boundary markers, honored and sacred. Breaking your word to another man was one thing. Breaking your word to God carried far greater consequences.
"The simple neighbours meet and hold a feast, and sing thy praises, holy Terminus: thou dost set bounds to peoples and cities and vast kingdoms; without thee every field would be a root of wrangling. Thou courtest no favour, thus art bribed by no gold: the lands entrusted to thee thou dost guard in loyal good faith."
It was simple, it was common, and it's still used in rural areas everywhere. The designs of by-gone generations continue to maintain their strength through the positioning of the stones.
"Yield not an inch to a neighbour, though he ask thee, lest thou shouldst seem to value man above Jupiter. And whether they beat thee with ploughshares or with rakes, cry out, "This is thy land, and that is his.""
It's not the God the stone represents: it is the spirit of integrity that's important. The stone symbolizes territorial truth, established long ago. And what can happen when Terminius is not honored?
""If thou of old hadst marked the bounds of the Thyrean land, three hundred men had not been done to death...""
Where intentions are clear, there is little need for argument or war. Saturn is the sentinel who helps to preserve tradition, and he is here honored.