Friday, December 05, 2008


Did you know that today, 5 December, was the Roman holiday called Faunalia? A holiday in honor of Faunus, god of forests, plains and fields - equating roughly to Pan in Greek mythology. The holiday was celebrated by peasants bringing the god gifts, besporting themselves by dancing.... a bit of debauching and X-rated stuff too, I wouldn't wonder!

Faunus, half man, half goat reminds me a bit of Sagittarius the Archer, half man, half horse. I wonder whether there was correleation at some point, seeing that Faunalia does fall within the realm of Sagittarius. Saturnalia, another Roman festival later this month falls within the realm of Capricorn - the seagoat, who though still a hybrid creature has, by that time, lost his humanity, no doubt as a consequence of all that debauching!

It seems that these half human/half animal beings from Roman or Greek mythology were meant to represent two sides of human nature, the better part and the baser part. Hybrid beings, fauns, satyrs, centaurs usually had the reputation of glorying in excess of one kind or another, they were drunken, orgiastic, cruel. Interesting then that Sagittarius, the zodiac sign, has 'excess' as one of its keywords.

So, if you're out for a frolic tonight, give a thought and raise a glass (or two) to Faunus.


Adele Aldridge said...

I didn't know about Faunalia. Very interesting. Do you think that all that dancing and gifts for the gods had to do with the coming solstice and winter - like warding off the darkness. I know a lot of people born under the sign of Sagittarius which goes well with my Leo sun, Aries ascendant but never thought of them in terms of excess. All my Sag friends are constantly traveling - maybe that is their way of expressing excess.

Wisewebwoman said...

Gee I love learning at the knees of T, the astro-shaman.
I never did know about this, or if I did, having studied early Rome, it is long buried under the useless crap of shopping lists, et al.

Twilight said...

Adele - Hi!

I don't know whether the coming winter was reason for these December festivals - probably so.
Seems to me they took any excuse they could find to have a frolic! :-)

Well - re excess - travelling is a form of excess in a broad sense, I guess, as is generosity, love of food, bluntness of expression, and lots of the traditionally listed traits of dear Saggies. Excess isn't always bad. ;-)

Twilight said...

Hi WWW ~~~ LOL! I didn't know either until I noticed it listed in Wikipedia - then did a little more research and thunking about hybrids ;-)

anthonynorth said...

The half man-half animal chimera form is fascinating. You see it developing in cave art, and I'm sure it traces its origin to the idea of a shaman adopting animal form to go on his vision quest.
I think this may explain its universality.

Twilight said...

AN ~~~ the halfman/halfbeast creature is a fascinating topic.
There are several feasible answers to its origin, but no sure way of knowing which is accurate - perhaps they all are: your shape-shifting shaman, my two-sides of human nature, or even a way of depicting evolution. It's an idea which seems to have fired the imagination of countless generations over aeons, whatever the origin.

Let's see - I could dream up a story of a world devastated by natural or human-caused disaster countless centuries ago, before the flood, before Atlantis - before everything we read about....with very few living creatures left. They were forced to mate together - similar and not-so-similar species in order to conserve some form of life. These depictions of fauns, centaurs etc. are a record of the results. LOL!
Physically it would be unlikely to work, I know, but it's fun to imagine. :-)