Moons and minor planets

Attentive visitors to this blog may already have spotted that I’ve added a new page giving a calendar of days sacred to deities (as opposed to heroes*). Most of these dates will be familiar to those conversant with the ancient Roman calendar (e.g. Lupercalia, Saturnalia, Kalends, Ides, etc.). Some, however, are drawn from a specifically Gallo-Roman milieu, such as the dedication of altars and temples in the Gaulish provinces to deities like Caiua, Jupiter Optimus Maximus Dolichenus, and Rosmerta. I’ve long used this procedure to try and keep at least one day a year sacred to certain key deities (the ones most commonly worshipped by the Treveri, in particular, but also others with whom I have a personal connection of one kind or another).

Now, the problem with this approach is that it’s limited to those inscriptions that happen to have dates on them, which the great majority don’t. Plus, the ones that are dated often double up on the same deities (Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Juno Regina, notably).

Well, given the intimate, millennia-old association between divine epiphanies and celestial phenomena,† it’s occurred to me that we might take advantage of another source of dedication dates: the first sightings of planets, moons, and stars named for deities of interest to us. This seems sneaky, but perhaps not unjustifiable if we assume that by these discoveries, the deities in question were exploiting a means by which to manifest themselves to the world.

Thanks to this method, I now have dates on my calendar for Abnoba (4 June), Arduinna (19 November), Belenos (21 January), Belisama (6 October), Ðirona (8 September), Mars Albiorix (9 November), the Matres Namausicas (22 January), Nehalennia (24 September—the traditional date of the autumnal equinox, and hence harvest-time), Taranus (2 September), Tarvos Trigaranus (23 September), and Toutatis (4 January). All of these are deities who get short shrift (or in fact no shrift) from the Italian-centred calendars that have come down to us. There may be other, more eligible sacred days dedicated to Ariadne, Nemesis, Æternitas, and the like, but I added these to the calendar as well because I couldn’t help myself!

In some cases, deities were clearly more involved in manifesting themselves than in others (ahem, Eris!), and the selection of the name was plainly the astronomer’s thoughtful dedication to a deity who was felt to be at work. In other cases, where no deity was at work, the astronomers were on their own, and sometimes the names they chose were frankly silly. (Minor planet 3568, for instance, was named ASCII—though not by the original discoverer.) But I’m happy to have dates in my calendar for the deities listed above, by hook or by crook.
* Some, however, are counted in both places if they were both heroes and (then) deities. Hercules, Quirinus, and Æsculapius would all fall under this heading; I’ve included the diui and diuae in both places as well.
† The divine Julius’ comet springs to mind as an example.


About DeoMercurio

I’m a Gaulish polytheist, now back living in lands ceded by the Council of Three Fires after several years’ sojourn in Anatolia and in the land of the Senecas, with frequent travels to Gaul along the way. My grandfather’s family came from the area around Trier, and I identify closely with the Treveri in my religious practice.
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16 Responses to Moons and minor planets

  1. I’ve used some asteroid astrology for a few things in the past, but I didn’t realize these deities were this well-represented among them! Excellent idea!

    • DeoMercurio says:

      Why, thank you! 🙂 You know, I was just meandering around the minor planet listings (as you do!) and I noticed another use that one could put these too: you could construct practically a whole calendar of days dedicated to Greek and Roman heroes of the Trojan war (not forgetting the occasion Lycian, Amazonian, Ethiopian, or Thracian ally). Almost all the big names from the Iliad and related Homerica have minor planets named in their honour.

      • That certainly could work! (But would be a TON of work…!)

      • DeoMercurio says:

        Hmm, ‘work’ or Work? (I can imagine Iliadic enthusiasts for whom this sort of thing would fulfil a spiritual need.) I’m quite a fan of Diomedes, myself—and of course Sarpedon. I’m surprised the heroic life and tragic death of Sarpedon don’t get more play…

      • Ah, Sarpedon: a sadly neglected son of Zeus…

        There’s also Teucer, of course, and Dolon, and Rhesus…and, let’s not forget Memnon! (Who is barely mentioned by Homer, but still…important in the Epic Cycle! As are several of these…I wonder if there is an asteroid called Memnon?)

      • And it turns out, yes, there is!

        What dates would you suggest using to honor the heroes in relation to asteroids? Their dates of discovery?

      • DeoMercurio says:

        There is indeed! 🙂 Yes, I do dates of discovery — epiphania planetulae, as it were. There might also be an argument for using the asteroid’s epoch, as they call.

  2. Filipa says:

    Hello. How do you choose wich planets, stars, etc for the corresponding deities?

    • DeoMercurio says:

      Oi Filipa! Tudo bem? I don’t have to choose — they’ve already been given that name by scientific authorities (either of a couple of bureaux/committees of the International Astronomic Union) — so there actually is an official minor planet called Toutatis, for instance. (A year or two ago, people were saying Toutatis might collide with the earth, but it didn’t come very close.) Otherwise I would defer to the established traditions and mythologies of the heavenly bodies in question (like Mercury!).

  3. Heather Awen says:

    As an astrologer and polytheist I think this is WONDERFUL! The deities still reveal themselves. I’m working with the Mercury connection with Hermes in astrology about magic. Wondered if you’d happened to come across that (or thought of it)?

    • DeoMercurio says:

      Aww, thanks! 🙂 Yes, I’d be amazed if astrological influences of Mercury weren’t deeply intertwined with Hermes’ numen (though I know this is not the appropriately Greek term!). What in particular have you noticed?

      • Heather Awen says:

        I’d joted some notes, I can paste: Viktor Frankl, psychologist and holocaust survivor, wondered why some individuals endured the harsh realities of concentration camps better than others; the difference, he determined, was in the quality of their thoughts. Hell was more bearable for those who could find some meaning in their suffering and/or soothe themselves with daydreams and happy memories. “The last of the human freedoms,” said Frankl, “is to choose one’s attitude.” There’s the magic of Mercury and how we think. How thinking (Mercury) is magic.

        You also need focus of thought for magic. The mercury sign, house and aspects in a chart will point to the easiest type of magic for someone. A fire sign, candles and sex. Water sign, bathes and floor washes and infusions. Air, incense and chanting. Earth, stones, bones, talismans. These are big generalizations. I’m supposed to teach on Skype pagan astrology to a group in Alaska and one workshop will be all about Mercury and magic.

        Doing spells when a positive for your goal Mercury transit happens.

        I teach based on people using their own charts, so the group caan see some diversity but it’uch easier to use your own since you know yourself.

        If Mercury is conjunct Saturn in the chart for example whch is the correct timing of farming limitation planet your magic will be heavier, more serious, perhaps long term, necessity driven. But trine Jupiter, planet of expansion, magic will probably happen so easily it mmay go too far, a real be careful when you ask for.

        The retrograde we are in now, 3 times a year the messenger stops. We get 3 weeks for cleaning up loose ends. Reconnect, redo, rebuild, restore, review, etc. People complain that communicatioon, travel and business is a mess, but it’s a gift from Mercury, we can’t fly on winged heels! We’re human and need to retrace our steps periodically. Magic in retrograde mercury is like everything else. Stuff about finding something lost (especially the first half when Mercury goes backwards from earth POV), like of religion or car keys. Or help reorganizing your office. Or reconnecting with people of the past. Editing old work.

        It’s pretty interesting. When magic was banned, Mercury in astrology became rather minor. It’s also about HOW you think. That goes into multiple intelligences, which schools to prepare kids for factory work don’t care about, wanting mediocre averages, not diverse brilliance like an egalitarian community NEEDS. Mercury beinng so minimized in astrology shows how little the culture values thinking.

  4. Heather Awen says:
    Thanks for the inspiration! It’s really cool how other blogs, especially the more intelligent and in depth, can inspire. I mention your blog at the beginning. I like plugging cool things.

  5. Pingback: Ἐπιφανεία of Arduinna | Deo Mercurio

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