Where did September get its name?

by Craig Chalquist

September was the seventh (septem) month of the old Roman calendar before Caesar ordered the one we still use in the West today. Although it became the ninth month, its name persisted.

In many mystery traditions and spiritual paths, seven symbolizes the steps of initiation into higher, deeper, or more spacious consciousness. Think of the traditional seven naked-eye planets in astrology, or the seven planetary Archons of Gnosticism. To bypass these threshold guardians, the soul possessing gnosis (direct knowledge of the Divine) had to utter the true name or cipher of each in order to ascend to the Treasury of Light. (Perhaps the difficulty of registering for Fall classes could be considered a kind of unconscious journey of initiation….)

What path of initiation do you embark upon this month? What threshold guardians must you respond to correctly in order go farther? What treasury of insights do you head toward?

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Archetypal Astrology

by Zhiwa Woodbury

As I write this (9/9), the cosmic guru Jupiter, who embodies fortunate expansion of all he touches, is moving into Libra, where the scales of Justice are balanced out. For the last year, Jupiter has been moving through Virgo, greatly magnifying purifying forces in our lives (whether by fire or water!). If the last year has seemed quite challenging, this transit promises the next year will be a time of reaping what we’ve sown. In Vedic astrology, this ingress happens to coincide with the beginning of a week-long bathing of our planet with wisdom nectar from what we know as the Big Dipper. This is the time of year when the 7 ‘Rishis’ (sages) that make up that formation come closest to Earth (horizon), and any water that falls or is left out overnight is infused with their healing light. And all this is happening in the mid-point of 2 eclipses (solar/lunar), so a potent portal is open right now. All of this is wonderful news, especially given that the Resurrection Goddess Eris is about to conjoin with the Sky God Uranus for the second time, on the 25th. See June’s Note if you’ve forgotten what tumult that can bring on the world stage.

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Mythic Poetry: Icarus

by Edward Field (b.1924, poem 1950)

Only the feathers floating around the hat
Showed that anything more spectacular had occurred
Than the usual drowning. The police preferred to ignore
The confusing aspects of the case,
And the witnesses ran off to a gang war.
So the report filed and forgotten in the archives read simply
“Drowned,” but it was wrong: Icarus
Had swum away, coming at last to the city
Where he rented a house and tended the garden.

“That nice Mr. Hicks” the neighbors called,
Never dreaming that the gray, respectable suit
Concealed arms that had controlled huge wings
Nor that those sad, defeated eyes had once
Compelled the sun. And had he told them
They would have answered with a shocked,
uncomprehending stare.
No, he could not disturb their neat front yards;
Yet all his books insisted that this was a horrible mistake:
What was he doing aging in a suburb?
Can the genius of the hero fall
To the middling stature of the merely talented?

And nightly Icarus probes his wound
And daily in his workshop, curtains carefully drawn,
Constructs small wings and tries to fly
To the lighting fixture on the ceiling:
Fails every time and hates himself for trying.
He had thought himself a hero, had acted heroically,
And dreamt of his fall, the tragic fall of the hero;
But now rides commuter trains,

Serves on various committees,
And wishes he had drowned.

Field, Edward. “Icarus” (1950). CUNY Composers. Ed. Corbett Treece.

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Myth and Music

by Lola McCrary

This month’s singer/songwriter, Seanan McGuire, was a dual-major in Folklore and Herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles) at the University of California Berkeley. She tells stories about that which dwells beside us and that which dwells within us, and one of the ways she does so is in song. The first track of hers I ever listened to ends with this:

You are the mask that I’ve been wearing;
You are the shadow in the glass.
You are the puppet past the caring;
I am the snake deep in the grass,
I am…

Roses at your tombstone,
I am where we both begin.
You are only smoke and rosedust;
Let it go and let me in
And I’ll be you.
I’ll be you.
I’ve always been you.

“I Am (The Doppelganger’s Song)” copyright 2005 by Seanan McGuire

I was hooked. Along with her own clear and compelling voice Seanan works with a stellar group of musicians both on stage and in the recording studio. But what I am most intrigued by is her ability to look at a familiar story, highlight shifts in awareness today, and provide new ways of seeing where that story *could* go. In “Wicked Girls” Seanan offers an idea of what normal life for Alice, Wendy, and Susan Penvenie was like after their adventures, and suggests an alternative to them living out their authors’ expectations:

They never once asked to return to their lives
To be children and chattel and mothers and wives.
But the land cast them out in a lesson that only one learned;
And one queen said ‘I am not a toy’, and she never returned….

For we will be wicked and we will be fair
And they’ll call us such names, and we really won’t care,
So go, tell your Wendys, your Susans, your Janes,
There’s a place they can go if they’re tired of chains,
And our roads may be golden, or broken, or lost,
But we’ll walk on them willingly, knowing the cost —
We won’t take our place on the shelves.
It’s better to fly and it’s better to die
Say the wicked girls saving ourselves.
We’re wicked girls saving ourselves.

(Copyright 2008 by Seanan McGuire)

Listen to clips and buy her music at her website or search for her on YouTube. For more mythic themes also check out her novels.

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Thank you for being a member of our community. We hope you have enjoyed September’s newsletter! If you have comments or suggestions for themes, please let us know. We are happy to hear from you!