> Weird and Wonderful > New Year's
Year's Celebration and Renewal
year, peoples from across the Western World gather with friends
and family on the first day of January to celebrate and greet the
hopeful arrival of a brand new year.
year, in the Western World we party down, playfully saying our farewells
to the worn out, weary, frail, and long bearded Old Man Time.
years... we're rather happy to say our goodbyes to the nasty old
fellow. We sense that perhaps, hope against hope, the New Year will
be an opportunity to start over fresh with a brand new and clean
Man Time and Baby New Year
In our modern day Western World rituals, at the striking of midnight,
Old Man Time gives way to the precocious and lovable newborn Baby
New Year - and then later that morning we sit down to read the bizarre
and outlandish predictions for the upcoming year that inevitably
show up in tabloid newspapers across the world.
always... our Western World celebrations owe much to ancient Greek
and Roman myths and rituals. However, certain other crucial elements
of our modern day traditions are, mysteriously enough, leftover
remnants of old and forgotten traditions having their origin in
ancient Babylon (circa 3500 BC).
Year's Festival Akitu
In ancient Babylon (circa 3500 BC), the New Year’s festival,
Akitu, was celebrated each year at the time of the Vernal Equinox
(the beginning of Spring). The festival, Akitu, was an annual ritual
renactment of a mythical battle fought between the new god Marduk
and the old goddess Tiamat.
mythical battle between the new male god and the older female goddess
was part of the Babylonian story of creation, and their yearly ritual
renactment was for the purposes of bringing heaven and earth, macrocosm
and microcosm, back into proper relationship and synchronization.
it more simply, Akitu was a yearly ritual performed for the purposes
of starting over fresh with a brand new clean slate.
to D. Stephenson Bond in The Archetype of Renewal, 2003,
at the end of the Akitu festival, "oracles were cast... in
order for the fate of each of the coming twelve months to be determined,
predicting the prospects for the weal and woe of the city."
Myth (the long version)
Ancient Babylonian Story of Creation - Enuma Elish
Long before the time of the new gods, and long before our human
world... there was nothing in existence but chaos. This chaos was
ruled by the old gods Apsu (fresh water) and Tiamat (the sea).
So a new or younger generation of gods were brought into being for
the purposes of bringing order to chaos.
clearly the enmity that arose was over the difference between
the inert, quiet mood of the old gods and the boisterous activity
of the younger generation of gods." John Weir Perry Lord
of the Four Quarters
of the young gods, Ea, the god of wisdom, slayed the old god Apsu.
This made the goddess Tiamat angry at Ea and all of the other youthful
gods. Tiamat, who was a dragon goddess, gathered her forces and
successfully waged war against all of the younger generation Babylonian
gods until finally, just in the nick of time, the great Marduk was
Marduk, son of Ea, was destined to be the strongest and wisest of
all the new gods. As such, he was persuaded by his father, Ea, to
deal with the old goddess Tiamat once and for all.
divine offspring [Marduk] was wonderful to behold, enormous and
lordly, with four eyes and four ears, his mouth blazing fire,
clothed in a halo, to whom the fourfold winds were given."
John Weir Perry Lord of the Four Quarters
the other young gods, Marduk went to war against Tiamat. Finally,
in a dramatic one on one battle, Tiamat discovered that even she
was no match for the great Marduk, Lord of the Four Quarters.
Tiamat with the four winds at his command, Marduk caught Tiamat
up in a giant net. When Tiamat, the dragon goddess, opened her mouth
to breath fire at Marduk, he let loose the Imhulla, "evil wind"
many winds of Marduk filled Tiamat up. The winds churning her up
from within, rendered her further defenseless. Then Marduk speared
her with a lightning bolt.
Creates The Zodiac Wheel
Splitting the dragon goddess Tiamat (the sea) in two, Marduk then
raised half of her body to create the sky and with the other half
he created the earth. In the process of this "splitting apart,"
Tiamat's eyes then became the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates
the realm above (heaven) Marduk set Anu, the sky god, and in the
realm below (earth) Marduk set Ea, the earth god. Between the two,
Marduk set the air god, Enlil. Other gods were then also given their
places in the heavens and then the stars were formed in their likeness.
Sun, the Moon, and stars were at that time given special courses
to run, and the constellations were meant to mark the passage of
time. Through the measuring of time by the revolutions of the planets,
order was established for ancient humanity.
according to Babylonian mythology, it was the new and powerful god
Marduk that divided both space and time into a 360 degree circle,
the astrological wheel of the Zodiac with four cardinal directions
of the Sun's path representing the four seasons.
these ancient peoples, the Sun's yearly journey through the astrological
wheel of the Zodiac was a progressive pathway that told a story
of bringing order to the universe.
Also of interest, later Babylonian astrology assigned the god
Marduk to the planet we nowadays know as the planet Jupiter.
So, yes, today's modern traditions of celebrating the beginning
of a New Year unknowingly carry with them many remnants of this
ancient Babylonian creation myth and festival.
modern times Old Man Time (Tiamat) gives way to Baby New Year (Marduk),
and each year "the weal and woe" predictions of world
events are given out and then read in our tabloids as we hope for
our clean slate and the chance for a fresh start.
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