Apr 17, 2016

Personal Holidays Revisited

I have spent more time than I would care to admit considering the holidays I choose to celebrate throughout the year.  In many cases, the holidays I grew up with have lost their meaning.  In part, this disenchantment is because the secualar elements that I paid attention to as a child did not coincide with the religious meanings I was told to appreciate--and I did not have the frame of reference necessary to want to celebrate the "adult" versions of those holidays when I grew up.

As a Mormon, the only holidays of any real importance were Christmas day and Easter Sunday (and none of the lead- or follow-up elements common to other Christian denominations).  Without the pomp of ritual--deemed prideful by the reserved, Mormon tradition--these were both easily over-shadowed by sugar-toting mascots.  Without Nativity, Epiphany, Lent, and Pentecost, these holidays and their intended meanings were quickly forgotten.

Years ago, I decided that the holidays of the year should:

  1. Coincide with natural aspects of the world (like Soltices, Equinoxes, and proximity of the Earth to the Sun)
  2. Be allegorical of the human condition--particularly the lifespan of the human, from birth to death and beyond.
Using the vessel of The Salt and the Light, I was able to present an early draft of this idea as an allegory of Erik Erikson's stages of development.  While thematically satisfying, this left a gap in the "adulthood" portion of the year.  As Hoteph, I tried to fill that gap with celebrations of the Eternal Child's unions.  The whole holiday cycle was lacking a concrete story.  Given the archetypal nature of my devotions, defining a specific story would have been inappropriate.

However, just as characters follow archetypes, so do stories.  For my own spiritual story, I want to be reminded that I am the divine hero of my own tale.  Luckily, there is an archetypal hero story enjoyed by storytellers--Joseph Campbell's monomyth.  Below, I have repeated Hoteph's "original" form of this holiday procession, followed by my most recent incarnation.  As always, further adaptation should be expected.


Hoteph's "Unorganite" Holidays

The holiday cycle suggested by Hoteph in Section 23 of The Salt and the Light reflects the symbolic progression of the Eternal Child (the believer) through the rites of passage and union.  The holiday seasons, as he had suggested, are as follows:

Yuletide, December 21 - January 5
          December 21, Feast of Hope / Naming of the Eternal Child
          December 26, Feast of Will / Shoeing of the Eternal Child
          December 31, Feast of Purpose / Breeching of the Eternal Child
          January 5, Feast of Competence / Confirmation of the Eternal Child

Season of the Eternal Mother, winter

Feast of Fidelity / Initiation of the Eternal Child, March 22

First Season of the Eternal Father, early spring

Feast of Love / Commencement of the Eternal Child, May 1

Early Season of the Eternal Lover, late spring

Summertide, June 21 - July 6
          June 21, Feast of Care / Establishment of the Eternal Child 
          June 26, Feast of Conjugal Union / Marriage of the Eternal Child [and Eternal Lover]
          July 1, Feast of Parental Union / Parenthood of the Eternal Child
          July 6, Feast of Fraternal Union / Fellowship of the Eternal Child

Late Season of the Eternal Lover, summer

Feast of Wisdom / Retirement of the Eternal Child, September 21

Second Season of the Eternal Father, early autumn

Feast of Memory / Funeral of the Eternal Child, October 31

Season of the Eternal Other, late autumn

Evolution of the Eternal Archetypes

As my personal theology has evolved, the archetypes have expanded their roles, and one's identity is even slightly modified:

  • The Eternal Child has adopted the role of the Hero--and the development of the Hero's Journey has been incorporated into that archetype (partly as an allegory for adulthood).  
  • Thew Eternal Lover has expanded its scope to become the Eternal Companion--acknowledging that its presence in childhood ("imaginary friend") is not romantic in nature.
  • The Eternal Other has absorbed the role of Trickster, in addition to its existing roles of Adversary and Psychopomp.

While the stages of psychological development remain, Hoteph's festivals and seasons shuffle a bit to accomodate the archetype of the Hero's Journey.  The holidays become divided into three Cycles:
  1. Childhood Cycle, Winter
  2. Monomyth Cycle, Spring and Summer
  3. Afterlife Cycle, Autumn
The previous rendition of the holiday cycle appropriated most of the neo-Pagan "Wheel of the Year," except for Candlemas/Imbolc and Lammas/Lughnasadh.  This updated "Hero's Journey" version brings in celebrations on those last two dates.

When celebrating the holidays of the Monomyth cycle, any heroic story may be used to represent the archetype.  Perhaps a new story can be chosen each year; if the selected myth has an associated birth or death story, those could also be used.  When a selected heroic cycle does not include a birth story, the the traditional Christian story would be as appropriate as any other.

Childhood Cycle, Winter


Yule[tide], December 21 - January 4
                    Lifecycle:  birth
                    Themes:  hope, new beginnings, moving on
          December 21, Festival of Hope / Naming of the Eternal Child
                    Childmyth:  Nativity
          December 28, Festival of Will / Shoeing of the Eternal Child
                    Childmyth:  Epiphany A
          January 4, Festival of Purpose / Breeching of the Eternal Child
                    Childmyth:  Epiphany B

Imbolc / Feast of Competence / Confirmation of the Eternal Hero, February 2nd
                    Lifecycle:  childhood
                    Themes:  awakenings, stirrings, being cleansed and purified 
                    Childmyth:  Prodigy


Monomyth Cycle, Spring & Summer


Ostara / Festival of Fidelity / Calling of the Eternal Hero, March 20
                    Lifecycle:  puberty
                    Themes:  planning, starting things, "sowing seeds"
                    Monomyth: The Call to Adventure - Refusal of the Call

Beltane / Feast of Compassion / Departure of the Eternal Hero, May 1
                    Lifecycle:  sexual awakening
                    Themes:  personal growth, unions, relationships
                    Monomyth:  Supernatural AidCrossing the Threshold - Belly of the Whale

Litha[tide], June 21 - July 5
                    Lifecycle:  prime of life
                    Themes:  taking a break, having fun, getting over the "humps"
          June 21, Festival of Fortitude * / Descent of the Eternal Hero
                    Monomyth: Road of Trials - Meeting with the Goddess - The Temptation
          June 28, Festival of Temperence * / Initiation of the Eternal Hero
                    Monomyth: Atonement with the Father - Apotheosis - Ultimate Boon
          July 5, Festival of Humility * / Rescue of the Eternal Hero
                    Monomyth: Refusal of the Return - The Magic Flight - Rescue from Without
* These feasts do not correspond to Endowments of Virtue
Lammas / Festival of Care / Return of the Eternal Hero, August 1
                    Lifecycle:  middle age
                    Themes:  hard work, efforts, learning, skill
                    Monomyth: The Return Threshold - Master of Two Worlds - Freedom to Live

Afterlife Cycle, Autumn


Mabon / Festival of Wisdom / Retirement of the Eternal Hero, September 22
                    Lifecycle:  seniority
                    Themes:  being grateful, reaping what you sow, rewards for efforts
                    Eldermyth:  Decline

Samhain / Festival of Memory / Remembrance of the Eternal Hero, October 31
                    Lifecycle:  death
                    Themes:  reflecting, getting through transitions, letting go
                    Eldermyth:  Afterlife


Edited May 22, 2016; December 7th, 2016..

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