A New World and New Hatreds

Leave a comment

On Tuesday May 29, 1453, the Ancient World of Mediterranean civilization ended with the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Ottoman Turks as its Capital, Constantinople was captured by Sultan Mehmet II.

At left, Constantine XI, at right, Mehmed II.

At left, Roman Emperor Constantine XI, at right, Mehmed II over New Rome.

On Wednesday October 12, 1492, some 9,500 miles to the south-west, a New World began as Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Guanahani, now in the Bahamas.

This new moment was fraught with promise. Great progress had been made in the past when cultures met and cooperated. Examples such as the rich fusion of Hellenism and Buddhism in what is now Afghanistan and India, and when the cultures of Egypt and Hellenistic Greece formed the Coptic culture show what could be accomplished. Even within Christianity, the harmony of Druid Christianity among the Celts, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the indigenous peoples of Alaska demonstrate that sharing, not conquest, is possible.

St. Patrick lighting the Bealteinne Fire, associating himself with Druidry.

St. Patrick lighting the Bealteinne Fire, associating himself with Druidry

The Encounter in the New World

This harmony was not to be, however, in the New World. Unfortunately Europe had sent an ambitious, greedy, ruthless and completely unprincipled man as their explorer in the person of Christopher Columbus. All one needs to do to discovery his depth of depravity and that of the colonizers in general is to read his own journals, and the description by the horrified Priest and later Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas, O.P. (c. 1484 – 18 July 1566) of how the Spanish later treated the indigenous peoples.

Las Casas wrote: “killing, terrorizing, afflicting, and torturing the native peoples” with “the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty” and how systematic violence was aimed at preventing “[American] Indians from daring to think of themselves as human beings.” The Spaniards “thought nothing of knifing [American] Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades.” “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write.”

Columbus himself used the native peoples as slaves, sexual objects, and other heinous acts. We often hear that you cannot judge a person of the 16th Century by 21st Century norms. On the contrary, I judge Columbus against Bishop De las Casas, and the Jesuits in Central and South America during the same time period. Columbus and those like him knew better. They chose cruelty and domination deliberately for profit and power.

De las Casas

De las Casas

The Lies They Told (and tell us) in School

This all is not political correctness speaking. Sorry. It is reality. When we discover that what we have been taught in school contains lies, we must invoke our old friend, Cui Bono? Whom does it benefit? We’ve exposed a number of lies in this blog. For example, trying to say that the Roman Empire fell in the 5th Century is of benefit to those historians, like Gibbon, who wanted to prove that Christianity destroyed the Empire. Except, that isn’t true. The Empire fell in the 15th Century, as any person from that time would tell you.

Fantasy map of a flat earth --- Image by © Antar Dayal/Illustration Works/Corbis

Fantasy map of a flat earth — Image by © Antar Dayal/Illustration Works/Corbis

Another convenient fabrication is that the Mediterranean world believed that Earth was flat in the 15th century. That’s poppycock. As far back as Pythagoras in 6th Century BCE, people knew the world was a sphere. In Hellenistic Alexandria, scholars and scientists knew that our planet was round, and they actually calculated its circumference pretty nearly correctly. Sailors were quite aware that the World was round in 15th Century Europe, as well as in many other parts of the world.

Who does this lie benefit? Modern people. It allows us to continue with the illusion that modern people are smarter and more sophisticated than ancient people. Nonsense!

Then too, we are told that Columbus “discovered” America. Ridiculous. Asian peoples discovered North and South America and the Carribean around 40,000 years ago and inhabited them. More recently, Leif Ericsson and the Vikings landed here, and possibly St. Brendan the Navigator. There might have been Chinese, Polynesian, and many other contacts.

Cui bono? The European Colonialists, of course.


Finally, we have been conned into “celebrating” the despicable Christopher Columbus himself. I’m all for having a holiday on October 12 (or the second Monday in October). Canadians have Thanksgiving Day. Many in the Hispanic world celebrate Día de la Raza. But the man himself should be pilloried. He began one of the greatest genocides and cultural extinctions in history.

Now I’m not going to go to North Beach in San Francisco, or Little Italy in New York, and try to stop the Italian-Americans from celebrating. The Roman Catholic Fraternal Order The Knights of Columbus lobbied for the national holiday in 1934 and got it. I think it is time to rename the Federal Holiday, just as many States and Municipalities already have. Those who want to celebrate the day as one of Italian Pride can do so. I just don’t want to do so or make it official under Columbus’s name.

Modern Hatreds

The second item connected to this anniversary is the two great hatreds that plague the United States, and much of the world, today: Religious Hatred and Race Hatred / Race Slavery

One sometimes hears, “It’s just human nature. People have been hating since the beginning of time.” While the sin (missing the mark) of Hatred may be deeply rooted in our ancestral past, Religious Hatred and Race Hatred, at least in the Western World, are not ancient.

Religious Hatred

Religious Hatred arose in the West primary as a result of Monotheism. In Pre-Abrahamic times, most of the Western “Pagan” religions simply identified their Gods with other people’s Gods. Take the example of Hermes in Greek religion. He was identified with the Roman Mercury, the Egyptian Thoth, and the Nordic Odin. As long as you burned some incense at the altar of the State Gods, things were fine.


There is good evidence that classical “Paganism” was evolving into what would have been a kinder, gentler, more inclusive “Pagan Monotheism.”  But it didn’t get a chance. With the dominance of first, Christianity, and later Islam in the Mediterranean world, with rare exceptions, it became “My way or the Highway.” Christianity and Islam have been at loggerheads for 1400 years. And both have persecuted Jewish people. Even within each Faith, different factions warred with one another. We are currently suffering from the internal struggle of Shia vs Sunni in Islam, and we spent hundreds of years in the past as first, Catholics made war against Orthodox Christians, and Catholic and Protestant Christians fought. Those times are past in Christianity, but just listen to a fundamentalist preacher call the Roman Catholic Church the “Whore of Babylon,” and know that those horrible times aren’t that far way.

While it is sadly true that religious persecution has taken place elsewhere, as when Tibetan Buddhist leaders persecuted Shamanism, it has been perfected in the culture of the West that has spread through Colonialism.

Race Hatred and Race Slavery

Surprisingly, these evils are even more recent. In the ancient Mediterranean world there was most certainly slavery. If another country conquered your country, you were fair game for slavery. Then, too, of course, each cultural group thought of itself as the best. But it wasn’t hatred, nor was it about ethnicity. In Pharaonic Egypt, if a Black-skinned person spoke Egyptian and participated in Egyptian culture, he was fully accepted. Analogous behavior would have been typical from Persia to Éire. This continued pretty much the same until the 16th Century.

Floor inlay in the Cathedral of Siena Russian: Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, contemporary of Moses, on the left pages of the book

Floor inlay in the Cathedral of Siena: Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, contemporary of Moses, on the left pages of the book.

One sometimes sees modern movies or TV shows set in the European Middle Ages with Black actors in the cast. I often hear the comment, “Oh, that’s just political correctness.” No, it really isn’t, there were (some) non-Europeans in Western Europe, and nobody really minded, as long as they fit in with the culture.

Race Hatred, and Slavery based on Race, began with the age of Colonialism, which we associate with Oct. 12, 1492. These horrors which have scarred the world are thoroughly modern. In particular, the Indigenous peoples of the colonial world were hated and exploited by the colonialists, with varying ferocity. The Belgians were probably the worst, and the Russians might have been the kindest. In Alaska, they befriended the natives. I don’t know the history of Central Asia. Of course, the Orthodox Russians did not like Islam, but that’s not racial.

Victim of Belgian Atrocities

Victim of Belgian Atrocities

It is not surprising that the hated and exploited returned the favor against the Europeans in enmity toward their conquerors. In Eastern Asia, some governments were strong enough to resist the Europeans for a time, but gradually, most of the world fell under European domination.

As this has lifted in the de-colonialization of the world, Slavery itself is largely gone. However, economic domination and race hatreds remain endemic. I–along with many–thought that as Americans, we had fairly well eradicated racism from our midst. Boy, were we wrong. We’ve got a lot of work to do!


Let’s take this Oct 12 to give thanks for the progress we have made, own up to our mistakes and those of our ancestors, and move forward to create solidarity among all peoples, and all creatures, of our planet! Maybe that’s what this holiday can become, Universal Solidarity Day.

Thanks for reading!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Welcome Samhain!

1 Comment
Happy Samhain!

Happy Samhain! (c) José Antonio Gil Martínez from Vigo, Spain. Wikimedia Commons.

On October 31 to November 2, much of the world continues a celebration that has its origins in Celtic antiquity, the Feast of Samhain (also spelled variously in Celtic languages as Samhainn, Samhuinn, and Sauin. All are pronounced /ˈsɑːwɪn/ sah-win or /ˈsaʊ.ɪn/ sow-in, the Christian Hallowmas and an ancient Aztec festival.

The names for Samhain come from the Old Irish samain, samuin or samfuin. Since the 1907 work of linguist Whitley Stokes, the etymology has been suggested as from Proto-Celtic *samani (‘assembly’), cognate to Sanskrit sámana, and Gothic samana. Thus the name commemorates the Royal (and other) assemblies for this feast.

October 31 is Oíche Shamhna (Irish Gaelige), Oidhche Shamhna (Scotts Gaelic), or Samhain’s Eve, while November 1 is Samhain itself. Over the millennia, a third day, November 2 completes the three-day festival. Samhain also is the name for the month of November in Gaelige, and some other Celtic languages.

We should note that, consonant with modern practice, we are using the latin alphabet to write the Gaelic names. The older, traditional alphabet would look like this:

Irish Uncials

Irish Uncials

In English language popular media, especially in North America, Samhain is routinely mispronounced as “Sam-hain” because the speakers do not realize that Irish / Gaelic Orthography represents sounds considerably differently than English does. While there is some controversy on how to correctly pronounce this Gaelige word in English (in the Nominative Case), the standard is /ˈsaʊn/, /ˈsaʊɪn/ or /ˈsawɪn/, NEVER Sam-hain.

Gustave Doré: Don Quijote de La Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863

Gustave Doré: Don Quijote de La Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863

English in general, and particularly North American English, usually tries to preserve something of the original pronunciation of foreign words it imports. Thus “Rendezvous” is pronounced “rahn-duh-voo” (N.A.) or “rahn-dih-voo” (U.K.) in an approximation of the original French “rahn-day-voo.” Normal English orthography would call for the word to be pronounced “Ren-dez-voos,” as it is sometimes pronounced for humorous effect.

North American and British English diverge, however, especially in some Spanish words and names. Most famously there are:

Spanish British North American
Don Juan Don Juan Don Juan
Don Quixote Don Quixote Don Quixote
San Joachin San Joachin San Joachin

North American usage is to approximate the original sound, but not over-exaggerate it. For example, Los Angeles, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. During our mid-guided military adventures in Central America, some newscasters got a little carried away with “authentic pronunciations, which are parodied in the sound clip as the third alternative. We usually Anglicize the Spanish “G.”

Finally, with names of cities and countries that have long-standing English names, we use those instead of importing

Beijing Railway Station

Beijing Railway Station

foreign pronunciations. For example, the capital of Russia is Moscow in English, not Moskova. Only when nations insist upon a change, as in Peking to Beijing, do we switch.

The Fire Festivals

Samhain is one of the four Fire Festivals, the mid-point celebrations in-between the Equinoxes and Solstices. The Wheel of the Year for the Northern Hemisphere looks something like this:

Circle of the Year

It is important to note that the seasons begin on the Fire Festivals, and the Solar Festivals mark the High Point (esoterically, the strongest energy) of each season. These are all aligned with the directions, stages of life, the four elements, etc.

Imaginative illustration of  'An Arch Druid in His Judicial Habit'. 1815.

Imaginative illustration of ‘An Arch Druid in His Judicial Habit’. 1815. “The Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the British Islands” by S.R. Meyrick and C.H. Smith.

For Samhain, the festival is the Kalends of Winter in the Brythonic Gaelic languages: in Wales it is Calan Gaeaf, in Cornwall it is Allantide or Kalan Gwav and in Brittany it is Kalan Goañv. You will recall that the Kalends is the first day of the Roman month. It is the origin of our word Calendar.

It is unclear in the ancient world where the year began. Modern Pagans and Celtic Revivalists generally use Samhain as “New Years,” based on a reference in Manx Gaelic to October 31 as “New Year’s Night” or Hog-unnaa. There is slender evidence that this was true among the ancient Celts.


As we did with Lughnasadh, here are some of the common correspondences of Samhuinn:

  • Direction:                   North West
  • Life:                             Eldership
  • Kabbalah Path:        Faithful Intelligence
  • Tarot Trump:            Justice (Lamed) (to Teach, Instruct; Ox Goad)
  • Kabbalah Number:   11 (Daath). Meanings of 1 + 1 individually OR the Theosophical Reduction = the Meanings of 2 (at the second level).
  • Gemmatria Value:  30
  • Consciousness:         Equilibration
  • Essential Meanings:  Karma, Balance
  • Zodiac:                        Libra
  • Alchemy:                    Airy
  • Color/Note:   Green / F-sharp, G-flat

Body:                          Kidneys, the lumbar region of the spine, the vaso­motor system, and the skin,  suprarenals, has some influence upon the gonads, or sex-glands. Balance through Elimination

  • Christian:                  Western: All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, All Souls Day; Eastern (Byzantine): See special section below.
The Tower. Coleman-Waite Tarot

The Tower. Coleman-Waite Tarot

As Samhain is the end of Autumn and the gateway to Winter, it mediates the Autumn Correspondences seen in our article on Lughnasadh, and those of Winter:

  • Number: 16 = 1+6 OR 7
  • Kabbalah:
  • Sephirot:       Either Crown + Beauty or Victory
  • Oppositions:   Grace and Sin / Beauty and Ugliness
  • Path:               Active or Exciting Intelligence
  • Divine Name Letter:      Final Heh
  • World:                        Assiah: World of Action; The Material World
  • Tarot:                          The Falling Tower, Peh (Mouth as the Organ of Speech)
  • Tarot Suit:                  Pentacles (Coins, Denars) = Diamonds
  • Tarot Court:               Page
  • Personality:                Body
  • Consciousness:          Awakening
  • Planet:                           Mars
  • Alchemy:                    Iron
  • Body:                          Gonads, adrenals; Svadistthana Chakra. Prostatic ganglion (3 fingers below the navel)
  • Week:                         Tuesday
  • Book of Humanity:    7th Page  (Martinism)
  • Martinist:                   Humanity’s true Science
  • Element:                     Earth
  • Druid World:             Abred: Circle of Struggle
  • Christian:                   The World, place of the Spirit’s Action; Christmas Lent, Nativity
  • Esoteric:                     This plane of existence

Samhain’s Place in the Circle

The Veil between the Worlds

The Veil between the Worlds

Samhain is not only the end of the harvest, it is also the time when the cattle are brought from their summer pastures to their winter home. In both contexts, it is the preparation of the vegetable and meat products which, naturally frozen by the winter, will keep the people alive during the cold months ahead.  It is therefore at the intersection of life (Summer) and Death/Sleep (Winter).

Building on this, the mystical and spiritual aspects of Samhain include, not surprisingly, the time of the year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, and the living and the dead can cross over and interact.

One of the most ancient customs is the lighting of bonfires, and carrying the flame from this back to one’s hearth in a carved turnip, gourd or squash. The often gruesome faces carved on the gourd not only allowed the flame to breathe, but also warded off bad luck and frightened away evil spirits, which were roaming about at this time.

Over the hundreds of years through the 19th century, many other customs attached to the celebration of Samhain, including feasting, mumming, guising and tricking (and begging for treats).

How Samhain Evolved

The Western Church, as it did with so many Pagan (Country) Festivals, assimilated the themes of Samhain to All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). At first, All Saints was celebrated in the spring, but beginning in the 9th Century, it moved to its present spot.

The customs of the Pagan Samhain then blended with those of these Christian adaptations, with Oct 31 being “All Hallows’ Eve,” eventually “Hallowe’en.” These festivals persisted in England and the Celtic countries. In England itself, the popularity of the Nov. 5 “Guy Fawkes Night” after 1605 began to draw the customary feasts a few days later.

You may recall that on the evening of November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the

Fireworks at Chestnuts Field behind Waltham Forest Town Hall on Bonfire Night 5 Nov. 2010 © William Warby. Wikimedia Commons

House of Lords, was arrested and the plot to kill the Lords and James I was thwarted. The cry of “Remember, remember, the 5th of November,” was heard every year thereafter, and became England’s great State festival. Unfortunately, it also had considerable anti-Catholic overtones, as Fawkes and his fellow plotters were English Catholics reacting to the English Reformation and the persecutions of Catholics.

For centuries, Guy Fawkes Day drew energy away from Hallowe’en in England. Today, however, the trend is reversing, as Hallowe’en is increasingly popular there.

Guy Fawkes has been revived, thanks to the Graphic Novel and film, V for Vendetta. This is the story of an anarchist revolutionary in post-apocalyptic, dystopian Britain, which has reverted to a fascist state. He wears a Guy Fawkes mask and plots to blow up the Parliament buildings, to galvanize the people to restore rule by the people. The motto of the film is “People should not fear their government, Governments should fear their people.”

Samhain / Halllowe’en-All Saints-All Souls (collectively known as Hallowmas) continued to be vigorously celebrated in the Celtic countries. On the continent, commemorations of the departed took place on Hallowe’en and All Souls, particularly in France, Italy and Spain.

Trick-or-Treat in Sweden. Photo by ToyahAnette B, Wikimedia Commons

Trick-or-Treat in Sweden. Photo by ToyahAnette B, Wikimedia Commons

In Puritan North America (remember the Puritans?), Hallowe’en was completely suppressed. If they didn’t want to celebrate Christmas, why Hallowe’en?! The mass 19th century immigrations of Irish and Scots to America brought Samhain/Hallowe’en back to the United States, where it became immensely popular by the beginning of the 20th century,  finally resulting in exporting the Americanized Hallowe’en customs around the world.

Hallowe’en’s customs are clearly resonant with those of Samhain. Costumes, evil spirits, ghostly apparitions, trick-or-treating, jack-o’lanterns, etc. are all familiar signs of the festival.

At Yale, when I was an undergraduate, the Catholic Chaplaincy (St. Thomas More House,

More House at Yale

More House at Yale

led by Fr. Dick Russell) and the Episcopal Chaplaincy (headed by the founders of St. Gregory of Nyssa parish in San Francisco, Frs. Rick Fabian and Don Schell) celebrated Hallowe’en in a unique way. As many as wished vested in full regalia, and processed through the campus, including the Library (!) incensing and blessing all. We then ended up at the Episccopal Dwight Chapel and celebrated the Eucharist together for All Saints Day.

Fr. Don Schell

Fr. Don Schell

Fr. Rick Fabian

Fr. Rick Fabian

It was great fun, and very spiritual, but was stopped because the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hartford, John F. Whealon intervened and chastised More House for—gasp!—intercommunion with other Christians. Ah, Well!

Modern Pagans and Celtic Reconstructionists celebrate Samhain with various customs related to this historical practices.

Dia de los Muertos

La Catarina – In Mexican folk culture, the Catarina, popularized by José Guadalupe Posada, is the skeleton of a high society woman and one of the most popular figures of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Picture taken at the Museo de la Ciudad, Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. © Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

La Catarina – In Mexican folk culture, the Catarina, popularized by José Guadalupe Posada, is the skeleton of a high society woman and one of the most popular figures of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Picture taken at the Museo de la Ciudad, Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. © Tomas Castelazo, http://www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The southern European commemorations of the departed during Hallowmas are continued in the celebrations of Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico. They blended with pre-columbian Aztec festivals of the dead held during August, presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Queen of the Underworld, who rules with her husband Mictlantecuhtli. The customs of the three-day feast are summarized by Frances Ann Day, and should be familiar when compared with the All Souls Day customs in southern Europe:

“On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.” — Latina and Latino Voices in Literature (Frances Ann Day), Greenwood Publishing Group, 72.

This Mexican festival is now very widespread in the United States, especially in California and the Southwest. San Francisco holds an elaborate celebration on the weekend of the Day of the Dead.

This festival has spread to Brazil, and other parts of Latin America, to Haiti and to The Philippines and Oceania including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Indonesia. The traditional European All Souls Day commemorations are now being re-influenced by the Mexican usages.

In other cultures, very similar customs exist to honor and commemorate the beloved departed, including in Africa and Asia. We should not forget, of course, the elaborate meals and offerings given to the departed by the ancient Egyptians at all times, and especially at the festival of the dead. The ancient classical cultures followed similar, if less elaborate, commemorations.

It would be not only another posting, but a lengthy study to reference all of the appearances of Samhain/Hallowmas/Dia de los Mueros in various types of media. Here are just a few of my favorites:

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree

Hallowe’en III: Season of the Witch

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror

And in Classical Music, the list is almost as long, many quoting the Gregorian Chant, Dies Irae:

Liszt — Totentanz

Berlioz — Symphonie Fantastique

Mussorgsky — Night on Bald Mountain (In this version from Walt Disney’s Fantasia, the opening art is clearly influenced by Rosicrucian Mystic, Nicholas Roerich.

Marschner – Overture: Der Vampyr (The Vampire)

Saint-Saëns — Danse Macabre

Bernard Herrmann — Psycho Suite – (Proms 2011)

Béla Bartók – Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, III (used by Stanley Kubrick in The Shining)

Gy Ligeti — Requiem (used by Stanley Kubrick in 2001)

(Thanks to Limelight Magazine for these selections!) Next year we’ll have to do a “Hallowe’en Media” post, there are so many!

The Mystical Supper

The Mystical Supper. St. Elias the Prophet Ukrainian Catholic Church, Brompton, ON.

Byzantine Christian Associations

Let us cap our discussions with an interesting anomaly, the apparent absence of Samhain or Hallowmas Analogates in Byzantine Christianity. We are surprised at this, because in most other cases of the 8-fold year, there are Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine/Greek Catholic parallels.

The Byzantine Christian Tradition, shared by Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine (Greek) Catholic Christians, does not have any major feast that corresponds to Samhain. Just to give you a feel for the complexity and depth of the commemorations on the Byzantine Calendar, here are the Saints for the three days of Samhain:

Oct 31:

St. John Kochurov. Missionary to America and First Hieromartyr under the Bolshevik Yoke. Martyred October 31, 1917 in Bigildino-Surky, Ryazan, Russia.

St. John Kochurov. Missionary to America and First Hieromartyr under the Bolshevik Yoke. Martyred October 31, 1917 in Bigildino-Surky, Ryazan, Russia.

Apostles Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles, and Aristobulus of the Seventy; Martyr Epimachus of Alexandria; Saints Spyridon and Nicodemus the prosphora-bakers of the Kiev Caves; Saint Maura of Constantinople; Saint Anatolius, recluse of the Kiev Caves; New-Martyr Nicholas of Chios; Martyrs Stephen, Barnabas, Trophimus, Dorymedon, Cosmas, Damian, Sabbas, Bassa, Abraham, and others with them; Martyr Gordian; Martyr Epimachus the Roman; Martyrs Seleucius and Stratonica his wife, myrrh-gushers; First Priest-martyr of the Russian Revolution John Kochurov; Martyr Foillan, Abbot of Fosses; Saint Quentin; Saint Begu, nun of Hackness; Saint James, Bishop of Mygdonia, one of the 318 fathers of Nicaea; Saint Erc, Bishop of Lilcach.

Nov 1:

Holy Unmercenary Physicians, Cosmas and Damian.

Holy Unmercenary Physicians, Cosmas and Damian.

Holy and Wonder-Working Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian of Mesopotamia and their mother Venerable Theodota of Mesopotamia (c.287); Martyrs Cyrenia and Juliana in Cilicia (305); Hieromartyr John the Bishop and James the Presbyter of Persia (345); Martyrs Caesarius, Dacius, Sabbas, Sabinian, Agrippa, Adrian, and Thomas at Damascus (7th c.); Saint Theolepte, martyr; Martyrs Cyprian and Juliana; Martyr Mary the Slave Girl (c.117-138); Saint Benignus of Dijon (2nd/3rd c.); Saint Austromoine (Austremonius, Stremoine), first Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, the “Apostle of Auvergne” (c.250); Martyrs Caesarius of Africa, a Deacon of Africa, together with Julian, a local presbyter, martyred at Terracina in Italy (c.284-305); Saint Mathurin of Larchant (Maturinus), confessor, French exorcist and missionary (c.310); Saint Marcellus, 9th Bishop of Paris (c.430); Saint Amabilis of Riom (475); Saint Cledwyn (Clydwyn), patron saint of Llangedwyn in Clwyd in Wales (5th c.); Saint Pabiali of Wales, patron-saint of Partypallai in Wales (5th/6th c.); Saint Dingad of Llandingat (5th c.); Saint Vigor, disciple of St Vedast, became Bishop of Bayeux, resolutely opposed paganism (c.537); Martyr Hermeningild the Goth of Spain, Prince (586); Saint Gwythian (Gothian, Gocianus) of Cornwall, hermit (6th c.); Saint Cadfan, Abbot of Tywyn and Bardsey Island (6th c.); Saint Caillin, a disciple of St Aidan of Ferns in Ireland (6th c.); Saint Ceitho, one of five brothers, all saints in Wales (6th c.); Saint Licinius of Angers (Lesin, Lezin), chosen Bishop of Angers in 586 and consecrated by St Gregory of Tours (c.616); Saint Caesarius, Bishop of Clermont in France (c.627); Saint Floribert (Florbert), Abbot of monasteries in Ghent, Mont-Blandin and Saint-Bavon in Belgium (c. 660); Saint Genesius of Lyon (c.679); Saint Severinus, a monk who lived as a hermit in Tivoli in Italy (c.699); Saint Germanus of Montfort, born in Montfort in France, became a monk at the monastery of Savigny, reposed as a hermit (c.906-1000); Venerablemartyr James of Mount Athos and his two disciples James the Deacon and Dionysius the Monk of Prodromou Skete on Athos (1520); Saint David of Euboea (1589); New Virgin-Martyr Helen of Sinope (18th c.); Blessed Cosmas of Verkhoturye (1704); Hieromartyrs Alexander (Smirnov), and Theodore (Remezov), Priests (1918); Hieromartyr Demetrius (Ovechkin), Priest of Perm (1937); Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Zaporizhia Eparchy (1937): – Hieromartyr Sergius (Zverev), Archbishop of Elets and Melitopol, Hieroconfessor Alexander (Ilyenkiv), Hieroconfessor Protopresbyter Dimitrius (Ihnatenko), Hieroconfessor Protopresbyter Victor (Kiraniv), Hieroconfessor Protopresbyter Michael (Bohoslovsky), Hieromartyr Priest Matthew (Alexandriv), Hieromartyr Priest Michael (Shafaniv) and his Presbytera St Sofia, Hieroconfessor Priest Alexius (Usenko), Martyr Stefan (Nalyvayko); Virgin-martyr Elizabeth (1937); Martyr Peter (1941); Other Commemorations: Translation of the relics of St. Boniface of Mainz, enlightener of Germany (see June 5) (755); Repose of Elder Hilarion of Valaam and Sarov (1841).

Nov 2:

Ozerianka Icon of God of Shuiu-Smolensk

Ozerianka Icon of God of Shuiu-Smolensk

The Holy Senators of Sebasteia, martyrs of senatorial rank, under Licinius, by fire (ca.315); Martyrs Eudoxios, Agapios, and eight others with them, soldiers from Sebasteia, under Licinius (ca.315); Women-Martyrs Kyriaki (Cyriaca), Domnina and Domna, by the sword; Martyrs Acindynus (Akindynos), Pegasius, Aphthonius, Elpidophorus, Anempodistus, and those with them, of Persia (341); Holy 7,000 Martyrs who suffered in Persia, during the reign of King Sapor II (310-381); St. Marcian of Cyrrhus, in Syria, monk (ca. 388); Saint Justus of Trieste, sentenced to death by drowning (293); Martyrs Publius, Victor, Hermes and Papias, in North Africa; Saint Victorinus of Pettau, Bishop of Pettau in Styria in Austria and the earliest exegete in the West (304); Saint Erc of Slane, Bishop of Slane, Ireland (512); Saint Ambrose, abbot of the monastery of St. Moritz in Agaunum in Switzerland (532 or 582); Saint George of Vienne, Bishop of Vienne in Gaul (ca.699); Saints Baya (Bava) and Maura, Anchoresses in Scotland (ca. 10th c.); Saint Amicus, a priest, then hermit, finally a monk at St Peter’s in Fonte Avellana (ca.1045); Blessed Cyprian of Storozhev, former outlaw (Olonets) (16th c.); New Hieromartyrs Bishop Victorinus, and Priest Basil (Luzgin) of Glazomicha (1918); New Hieromartyrs Ananias (Aristov) of Perm, and Constantine (Organov), Priests (1918); Other Commemorations: Ozerianka Icon of God of Shui-Smolensk (Shuiskaya-Smolensk) (1654-1655); translation of the relics of Saint Ebba I of Coldingham (Æbbe of Colding-


Holy Apostle Philip

Holy Apostle Philip

Nov 15: beginning of the Philipine Fast (Christmas Lent).

All Saints of Great Britain and Eire

All Saints of Great Britain and Eire

Icon of the Sunday of All Saints

Icon of the Sunday of All Saints

One should note that besides “Byzantine” Saints, Pre-Schism Western Saints are

actively commemorated. The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches have never forgotten that there are other parts of the Church beside their own.

The Byzantine commemoration of All Saints falls on the First Sunday after Pentecost, around the time of the Summer Solstice. The Second Sunday after Pentecost is the Commemoration of all the Local Saints. For example, in Greece, it is All Saints of Greece. Here, it is All Saints of North America.

By the way, the Orthodox Church has been very proactive in glorifying saints in North America. Here is the list of those already glorified, and those under current consideration:

American Orthodox Saints

The New Hieromartyr John (Karastamatis) of Santa Cruz (1937-1985).

The New Hieromartyr John (Karastamatis) of Santa Cruz (1937-1985).

Persons under consideration (whether formal or informal) for glorification:

All the departed are commemorated on several days of the year, particularly Saturdays, which are dedicated to the departed in general:

  • The Saturday of Meatfare Week (the second Saturday before Great Lent)—the day before the Sunday of the Last Judgement
  • The second Saturday of Great Lent
  • The third Saturday of Great Lent
  • The fourth Saturday of Great Lent
  • Radonitsa (Monday or Tuesday after Thomas Sunday)
  • The Saturday before Pentecost
  • Demetrius Saturday (the Saturday before the feast of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki—26 October). In the Bulgarian Orthodox Church there is a commemoration of the dead on the Saturday before the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel—8 November, instead of the Demetrius Soul Saturday.

Aside from the many saints, including the Holy Moneyless Wonderworkers Cosmas and Damian, commemorated on Nov 1, why is there no major feast following the themes of Samhain?

First, the adaptation of Samhain into All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints, and All Souls is a solely western development, as Samhain was so popular in Western Europe.  The original All Saints in Western Christianity was in April and May, but was switched to November 1 in 835 in the Gaulic Empire, and later in the rest of the West. There was no parallel development in the East.

Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, San Francisco

Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, San Francisco

Second, however, and I believe more importantly, there is no need for a feast on the primary theme of Samhain: the crossing through the veil between this world and the next. That is because this is celebrated daily in the Churches of the Byzantine (and other Eastern) Christians.

Byzantine Liturgical theology clearly teaches that the Divine Liturgy in particular, and all of the many daily Liturgical services (e.g. Vespers, Compline, Midnight Office, Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, and many other occasional services (Baptism/Chrismation, Matrimony, Ordination, Funerals, Molebens, etc.) are not reenactments.

Rather, the Eternal Liturgy before the Divine Throne is forever ongoing, and by raising ourselves spiritually and being transformed by the Holy Spirit, we simply step into the Eternal Liturgy at the beginning of a Divine Service, and withdraw at the end of the service. That is why, to Western eyes, Byzantine Services don’t appear to have a clear beginning and ending (although they actually do): we are the ones entering into the eternal reality that is continuous.

Furthermore, since the Eternal Liturgy is in the Divine “Now,” and all time and space are one, we are made present to the Mystery being celebrated at the Liturgy. We are at the foot of the Cross, at Pentecost in Jerusalem, etc. This is the same as the theology that when one is praying before an Icon, one is actually present before the Mystery or Saint depicted. This is not unique to Byzantine Christianity, Buddhism teaching something of the same about prayers before holy images.

On a personal note, that is why I have no doubt that Christ is Risen, as I have been present at the Resurrection year after year.

This is why no special feast of the “Piercing of the Veil” is needed among Byzantine Christians, as it happens every day.

More Research: History and Aspects of Hallowe’en – An Initial Bibliography for Exploration

Here is an annotated Bibliography about just a few good ways to continue your research on Samhain, Hallowmas and Dia de los Muertos:

Hallowe’en is an unexpectedly complex holiday, with facets ranging from the ancient Celtic Samhain (Samhuinn) through the Western Christian “All Saints & All Souls Days,” to Latin American and other “Days of the Dead.” The following works give an introduction to this rich history and cultural mélange. (Please note, these are academic texts, not children’s holiday or recreational literature.) For further searches, the Library of Congress subject headings include Halloween; Halloween – History; All Souls’ Day; Religious calendars–Neopaganism. For google searches, the terms Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos are helpful.

A traditional Irish turnip Jack-o’-lantern from the early 20th century. Photographed at the Museum of Country Life, Ireland. © Rannpháirtí anaithnid at en.wikipedia

Bannatyne, Lesley, Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History. NY: Facts on File, 1990.  From the Publisher: Lesley Bannatyne’s fascinating book . . . will be widely appealing to anyone who ever wondered where witches, trick-or-treating, and jack-o-lanterns really came from. It is by far the best book on the history of Halloween available today. Alison Guss, senior producer, The Haunted History of Halloween, The History Channel An excellent resource for research into the history of holidays . . . in the United States . . . Highly Recommended. The Book Report Halloween has evolved from the Druids’ celebrations of 2,000 years ago to become today the fastest-growing holiday in the country. This, the only book to completely cover All Hallow’s Eve, examines those ancient origins as well as its traditions and celebrations, from costuming to bobbing for apples. Jack-o-lanterns, black cats, and witches are explained. Ghosts, ghouls, and goblins lurk behind every page. The book traces the contributions of America’s immigrants to the holiday, documenting the beliefs each ethnic group has added to the mix. Related recipes, poems, songs, crafts, and photos perfectly complement the meticulously documented text. The result is the most educational and entertaining examination of Halloween, its myths, and its truths.

_______________, Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub. Co., 2011. From the Publisher: America’s leading authority on Halloween presents interviews with spooky rock groups, amateur vampires, haunted house creators, champion pumpkin carvers, and more, all in the quest of explaining the nation’s unique love affair with this holiday. The collection of essays and interviews explores the pop culture phenomenon that is Halloween, and why we celebrate it the way we do today.

Traditional Dia de los Muertos Offering Altar in Mexico. © Chuchomotas, Wikimedia Commons

Traditional Dia de los Muertos Offering Altar in Mexico. © Chuchomotas, Wikimedia Commons

Carmichael, Elizabeth, and Chloë Sayer. The Skeleton at the Feast: the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991. Contents: Pt. 1. The Day of the Dead — The pre-Hispanic background — The Spanish conquest — Travellers’ tales — The here and now — pt. 2. Interviews: Introduction — Fredy Méndez, la congregación del Tajín, state of Veracruz — Juan Simbrón, la congregación del Tajín, state of Veracruz — Froylan Martínez Cuenca, Huaquechula, State of Puebla — Candido Reyes Castillo, Huaquechula, State of Puebla — Luis Vivanco, San Salvador Huixcolotla, State of Puebla — Consuelo García Urrutia, Toluca, State of Mexico — Wenceslao Rívas Contreras, Toluca, State of Mexico — María Antonieta Sánchez de Escamilla, Puebla City — Víctor Fosado, Váquez, formerly Mexico City — Appendix. The Day of the Dead in Mixquic / by Elizabeth Baquedano Meza. From the Publisher: All over Mexico, early in November, families gather to welcome the souls of the dead on their annual visit home. The smells of burning copal incense and pungent cempasúchil (marigolds) mingle with the aromas of fresh bread, new clothing, sweets, and candles. One of Mexico’s most important festivals since prehispanic times, the Day of the Dead is an occasion for celebrating and feasting, cleaning and decorating graves, dancing and making music. In this unique work, the authors explore both the historic origins of this holiday and its colorful present-day celebrations in Mexico and the United States. Interviews with Mexican artists and crafters who provide goods for the festival–from personalized sugar skulls to gigantic papier-mâché skeletons–offer a fascinating glimpse into traditional and contemporary attitudes toward death and the dead. Lavishly illustrated with color and black-and-white photographs, The Skeleton at the Feast will be required reading for all who are interested in Mexican culture, art, and folklore.

A statue of the Pumpkin King outside of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion during the

A statue of the Pumpkin King outside of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion during the “Haunted Mansion Holiday” overlay in 2004. (Anaheim, California, USA.) © Imperpay at en.wikipedia.

Kelley, Ruth Edna, The Book of Halloween (Forgotten Books). Boston, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1919. From the Publisher: Halloween, or Hallowe’en, is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses” and carving jack-o-lanterns. The term Halloween (and its alternative rendering Hallowe’en) is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the eve of “All Hallows’ Day”, which is now also known as All Saints’ Day. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. Halloween is celebrated in several parts of the Western world, most commonly in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom and occasionally in parts of Australia and New Zealand. (Quote from wikipedia.org). Ruth Edna Kelley (8 April 1893 – 4 March 1982) was an American librarian and author. She is chiefly remembered for The Book of Hallowe’en (1919), the first book-length history of the holiday.

Markale, Jean. The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2001. From the Publisher: “A comprehensive examination of the rituals and philosophies of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, the inspiration for Halloween. Presents the true meaning of this ancient holiday and shows how contemporary observances still faithfully reflect the rituals of pagan ancestors. Explains why this holiday, largely confined to the English-speaking world Happy Samhainsince the advent of Christianity, has spread throughout the rest of Europe over the last two decades. One of humanity’s most enduring myths is that the dead, on certain nights of the year, can leave the Other World and move freely about the land of the living. Every year on October 31, when the children of the world parade through the streets dressed as monsters, skeletons, and witches, they reenact a sacred ceremony whose roots extend to the dawn of time. By receiving gifts of sweets from strangers, the children establish, on a symbolic plane that exceeds their understanding, a fraternal exchange between the visible world and the invisible world. Author Jean Markale meticulously examines the rituals and ceremonies of ancient festivities on this holiday and shows how they still shape the customs of today’s celebration. During the night of Samhain, the Celtic precursor of today’s holiday, the borders between life and death were no longer regarded as insurmountable barriers. Two-way traffic was temporarily permitted between this world and the Other World, and the wealth and wisdom of the sidhe, or fairy folk, were available to the intrepid individuals who dared to enter their realm. Markale enriches our understanding of how the transition from the light to the dark half of the year was a moment in which time stopped and allowed the participants in the week-long festival to attain a level of consciousness not possible in everyday life, an experience we honor in our modern celebrations of Halloween.”

Trick-or-Treat Movie

Trick-or-Treat Movie

Morton, Lisa. Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween.  London: Reaktion Books, 2012. From the Publisher: Every year, children and adults alike take to the streets dressed as witches, demons, animals, celebrities, and more. They carve pumpkins and play pranks, and the braver ones watch scary movies and go on ghost tours. There are parades, fireworks displays, cornfield mazes, and haunted houses—and, most important, copious amounts of bite-sized candy. The popularity of Halloween has spread around the globe to places as diverse as Russia, China, and Japan, but its association with death and the supernatural and its inevitable commercialization has made it one of our most misunderstood holidays. How did it become what it is today? In Trick or Treat, Halloween aficionado Lisa Morton provides a thorough history of this spooky day. She begins by looking at how holidays like the Celtic Samhain, a Gaelic harvest festival, have blended with the British Guy Fawkes Day and the Catholic All Souls’ Day to produce the modern Halloween, and she explains how the holiday was reborn in America, where costumes and trick-or-treat rituals have become new customs. Morton takes into account the influence of related but independent holidays, especially the Mexican Day of the Dead, as well as the explosion in popularity of haunted attractions and the impact of such events as 9/11 and the economic recession on the celebration today. Trick or Treat also examines the effect Halloween has had on popular culture through the literary works of Washington Irving and Ray Bradbury, films like Halloween and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Simpsons. Considering the holiday in the context of its worldwide popularity for the first time, this book will be a treat for any Halloween lover.

Olsen, Karen I.  Halloween/Samhain/Dia de Los Muertos/Feast of the Dead. Webpage. Created: June 20, 2001. Accessed October 30, 2004. http://www.angelfire.com/folk/karivox/samhain.html. Contains many good links on the antecedents and current practices of the Season.

Rogers, Nicholas. Halloween: from Pagan Ritual to Party Night. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. From Publishers Weekly: “If America is a melting pot, then Halloween is the stew that simmers in our national cauldron. In this fascinating study, Rogers shows how the holiday is a hodgepodge of ancient European pagan traditions, 19th-century Irish and Scottish celebrations, Western Christian interpretations of All Souls’ Day and thoroughly modern American consumer ideals. At its heart, he says, Halloween is a celebration of the inversion of social codes-children have power over adults, marauders can make demands of established homeowners and anyone may assume a temporary disguise. Canadian professor Rogers is a fine cultural historian, who carefully sifts through complex social and religious data to tease out meanings and trajectories. One excellent chapter

Samhain Altar

Samhain Altar

illuminates Halloween and Hollywood, while a chapter entitled Border Crossings discusses Halloween observance among non-Anglo populations in North America, including Mexico’s “Dia de los Muertos.” From the Publisher: “Boasting a rich, complex history rooted in Celtic and Christian ritual, Halloween has evolved from ethnic celebration to a blend of street festival, fright night, and vast commercial enterprise. In this colorful history, Nicholas Rogers takes a lively, entertaining look at the cultural origins and development of one of the most popular holidays of the year. Drawing on a fascinating array of sources, from classical history to Hollywood films, Rogers traces Halloween as it emerged from the Celtic festival of Samhain (summer’s end), picked up elements of the Christian Hallowtide (All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day), arrived in North America as an Irish and Scottish festival, and evolved into an unofficial but large-scale holiday by the early 20th century. He examines the 1970s and ’80s phenomena of Halloween sadism (razor blades in apples) and inner-city violence (arson in Detroit), as well as the immense influence of the horror film genre on the reinvention of Halloween as a terror-fest. Throughout his vivid account, Rogers shows how Halloween remains, at its core, a night of inversion, when social norms are turned upside down, and a temporary freedom of expression reigns supreme. He examines how this very license has prompted censure by the religious Right, occasional outrage from law enforcement officials, and appropriation by Left-leaning political groups. Engagingly written and based on extensive research, Halloween is the definitive history of the most bewitching day of the year, illuminating the intricate history and shifting cultural forces behind this enduring trick-or-treat holiday.”

Santino, Jack, ed. Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1994.  Contents: Festivals of Death and Life / Jack Santino — 1. Harvest, Halloween, and Hogmanay: Acculturation in Some Calendar Customs of the Ulster Scots / Philip Robinson — 2. “Safe” Spooks: New Halloween Traditions in Response to Sadism Legends / Bill Ellis — 3. Halloween Pranks: “Just a Little Inconvenience” / Steve Siporin — 4. Bonfire Night in Brigus, Newfoundland / Catherine Schwoeffermann — 5. Trick or Treat: Pre-Texts and Contexts / Tad Tuleja — 6. Carnival, Control, and Corporate Culture in Contemporary Halloween Celebrations / Russell W. Belk — 7. Day of the Dead: The Tex-Mex Tradition / Kay Turner and Pat Jasper — 8. Adult Halloween Celebrations on the Canadian Prairie / Michael Taft — 9. The Seasonal Context of Halloween: Vermont’s Unwritten Law / A. W. Sadler — 10. Wishes Come True: Designing the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade / Jack Kugelmass — 11. Things That Go Snap-Rattle-Clang-Toot-Crank in the Night: Halloween Noisemakers / Carl R. Holmberg. 12. Halloween Imagery in Two Southern Settings / Grey Gundaker. From Amazon.com: Halloween is many things to many people; we do not celebrate the day in any one way.” So Jack Santino writes in this first ever collection of essays dedicated to the study of Halloween and related festivals. Thirteen folklore and culture scholars examine the evolution of Halloween from its Celtic origins through its adaptation into modern culture. Essays on holiday customs describe harvest and autumnal rituals in Scotland, new Halloween traditions in response to legends about contaminated candy, the custom of “pranking” (more popular in some areas of the U.S. than trick-or-treating), England’s Guy Fawkes Day and a parallel Bonfire Night in Newfoundland, and the development of American trick-or-treating in the years 1940-1990. Also covered are the sociopolitical meanings of carnival celebrations and attempts to control them, the Tex-Mex tradition of el Dío de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and community approaches to Halloween in such diverse locales as the Canadian prairie, rural Vermont, and Greenwich Village in New York City. A final section looks at the history of Halloween noisemakers and unusual imagery (including the decoration of graves) in two Southern settings. In several of the essays, the authors examine the ironic, even disturbing, implications of such a popular holiday being based on images of death, evil, and the grotesque. Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life is written with a lively balance of scholarship, anecdotes, and enthusiasm, with ample black-and-white illustrations. Whether you’re interested in Halloween as a scholar or simply a celebrant, this is the book you need. –Fiona Webster

Old Castro Hallowe'en, San Francisco

Old Castro Hallowe’en, San Francisco

Skal, David J. Death Makes a Holiday: a Cultural History of Halloween. New York: Bloomsbury, 2002. Contents: Candy man’s tale — Halloween machine — Witch’s teat — Home is where the hearse is or, how to haunt a house — Devil on Castro street and other skirmishes in the culture wars — Halloween on screen — September 11 and October 31.

Enjoy the Feast!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutoring, Editing and Consulting

The Tide of Independence in the New World


The Tide of Independence in the New World

Last time we looked at the two holidays, el cinco de mayo and el dieciséis de septiembre. Today, we will explore the wave of New World Independence from Europe that both were part of. Both History and Language are involved!

The Declaration of Independence by John Turnbull

The Declaration of Independence by John Turnbull

The American Revolution in 1776, rapidly followed by the French Revolution in 1789, were both largely the products of the liberal and liberationist thought of many groups from the Enlightenment and before, notably the Masons and the Rosicrucians (yes, Dan Brown actually got it more or less right in his latest novelmirabile dictu!). This set off a series of anti-colonial national liberations, especially in the New World.

The Wave of Independence in the Americas: 

1776 American Revolution
1789   (French Revolution)–For reference
1791   Haitian Revolution
1809   Peruvian War of Independence
1810  Mexican Revolution; May Revolution in what is now Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay
and Uruguay; Chilean War of Independence
1811   Independence Movements in Central America; Venezuelan War of Independence
1819   Colombian Independence
1820   Ecuadorian War of Independence
1821   Guatemala proclaims Central American Independence from Spain. Later becomes
the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua. Panama
is part of Colombia until 1903. (For Belize, see below).
1822   Brazilian Revolution

Under Rule from Abroad until Later:

1865   Dominican Republic
1867   US purchases Alaska from Russia
1902   Cuba (US grants independence)
1962   Jamaica; Trinidad and Tobago
1966   Guyana (British Guyana); Barbados  (Independent State in the British
Commonwealth Realm)
1973  The Bahamas
1974   Grenada (Independent State in the British Commonwealth Realm)
1975   Suriname (Dutch Guyana)
1978   Dominica
1979   Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
1981   Antigua and Barbuda; Belize (Independent States in the British Commonwealth
1982   Canada achieves Patriation–Full Independence from the British Parliament
(Independent State in the British Commonwealth Realm)
1983   Saint Kitts and Nevis

Still Administered by an External State:

Anguila (UK)
British Virgin Islands (UK)
Cayman Islands (UK)
French Guyana (A Department of France–DOM)*
Falkland Islands (UK)–Islas Malvinas
Guadaloupe (A Department of France–DOM)*
Leeward Antilles (The Netherlands) (Aruba, Caraçao, Bonnaire)
Martinique (A Department of France–DOM)*
Montserrat (UK)
Puerto Rico (US Territory)*
Saint Barthélemy (A Territory of France–TOM)–St. Bart’s!*
Saint Martin (France & The Netherlands)
Saba (The Netherlands)
Sint Eustatius (The Netherlands)
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (UK)
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
U.S. Virgin Islands (US Territory)*

*Since the starred areas are officially integrated with the external country, they are considered to now be self-governing by the United Nations. France has a system abbreviated as DOM-TOM (départements et territoires d’outre-mer–Overseas Departments and Territories). Départements are roughly the equivalent of a French “State,” an integral part of France just as Alaska and Hawai’i are part of the United States. Territoires have their own local laws and governments, and also have representation in the French Parliament.

Now, truth be told, independence from Europe has not always meant justice and peace in the nations of the New World, but at least most are free to make their own mistakes. And the few areas still controlled by external powers seem fairly just and peaceful.

The Monroe Doctrine

President James Monroe by Samuel Morse

President James Monroe by Samuel Morse

This freedom from European domination was so important in the minds of US leaders in the 19th century that President James Monroe proclaimed the “Monroe Doctrine” in  1823:

“The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers…

“We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.”

Although initially welcomed by the Liberators in México and South America, some today view this as a U.S. attempt to become the Hemispheric leader. It was used heavy-handedly in the case of Puerto Rico, Cuba (against Spain) and Hawaii (against Britain). It was, in fact, the British decision to support the Monroe Doctrine by using its vast Navy in favor of the newly emerging nations of Latin America that was most effective. The British had very good economic reasons to do this, as these new countries were major consumers of British goods.

The Reaction of the Monarchies

St. Roque González, S.J. (de Santa Cruz)

St. Roque González, S.J. (de Santa Cruz). “The Mission” is loosely based on his life.

21st century people, especially young people, need to realize what monarchies of the past were like. Today, Kings and Queens are primarily romantic figures, constitutionally bound, and very good for tourism and national identity. I have no problem with the 21st century style monarchies of free nations, especially in as it is practiced in Europe.

Monarchies of the past are something else all-together. Just 400 years ago, Europe endured such mass murderers as Henry VIII of England, among many others. Even in the 18th-20th centuries, Monarchs were still quite decadent. The treatment of the Belgian Congo by Belgium’s King Leopold II is one of the most heinous examples. Just watch The Tudors or The Borgias to get a good look at what life was like under these tyrants, or view how North Korea and Iran are governed today, even without Kings. This is what our New World revolted against. Of course, human frailty being what it is, our New World governments sometimes perpetrated the same ills on the people. But we know it is wrong, and therefore can fix it. We are primarily looking at the New World in this essay, but the Arab Spring reminds us that this is a worldwide phenomenon, as all people struggle for freedom.

The Tyrannical Monarchies fought back, with a vengeance. 

Earlier, by 1767, the Jesuits–a major force for the rights of those in Europe’s colonies–were expelled from Portugal, France, the Two SiciliesParma and the Spanish Empire. Under pressure from several monarchies, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Order in 1773. The European Monarchies realized that liberation was in the wind, and made a pre-emptive strike. Catherine the Great of Russia refused to cooperate in the suppression, and so the Jesuits survived in Russia and Prussia until their restoration in 1814. She  probably acted to spite the western powers. The Jesuits’ work in supporting the indigenous peoples is well told in the film The Mission, and through the story of the Pious Fund of the Californias. It is ironic that even though the Jesuits represented many of the ideals of the Wave of Independence, the US Founding Fathers were not all fans. As John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1816:

“I do not like the reappearance of the Jesuits…. Shall we not have regular swarms of them here, in as many disguises as only a king of the gipsies can assume, dressed as printers, publishers, writers and schoolmasters? If ever there was a body of men who merited damnation on earth and in Hell, it is this society of Loyola’s. Nevertheless, we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an asylum.”

Today’s Jesuits, thoroughly part of American society, not surprisingly use this quote themselves to demonstrate their effectiveness.

Adam Weishaupt by C. K. Mansinger (1799)

Adam Weishaupt by C. K. Mansinger (1799)

From 1776-1785, a group of scholars in Bavaria, led by the Jesuit-educated Adam Weishaupt formed a group, the Illuminati, whose goals were to end the Old Order of Monarchic domination and to promote the Enlightenment goals of self-determination and freedom. Again, they were suppressed by the government. (This is where Dan Brown really went wrong in his Angels and Demons–Yikes!)

From 1814-1815, representatives of all the European powers–mostly monarchies–met at the Congress of Vienna to achieve some laudable goals, and some not so praise-worthy. To their credit, they worked out ways of solving disputes without war, and kept the peace in Europe from 1815-1914. Not so happily, they looked for ways to stem the tide of Independence movements which began with the American and French Revolutions, which they knew threatened their rule, and their empires.

Over time, most of the European countries themselves either became Republics, or evolved into Constitutional Monarchies. Nevertheless, conflicts originating in Europe involved most of the world during the 20th century, which opened with a war originating in Sarajevo, and ended in the same place. I haven’t counted the bodies, but I suspect that the 20th century was the bloodiest in the planet’s history, from a standpoint of wars and conflict.

Word Meanings: Denotation vs Connotation

Now, to finally come around to some language and terms related to all this. There are three terms that emerge from this discussion which I believe deserve further analysis. These three expressions illustrate very well how the denotation (dictionary definition) and connotation (the “feel” of a term) can be rather different.

Ancien Régime

Marie-Antoinette by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1783)

Marie-Antoinette by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1783)

Literally this French expression just means, “the old regime.” In Revolutionary France, however, it came to be a pejorative term for the way France had been governed from the 15th-18th centuries. The first use of its English version dates from 1794. It has now expanded to mean:

  1. Any of the regimes of pre-Democratic Europe.
  2. Any former governmental structure that current speakers look down on.

Of course, the very root of the word “regime” links it to royalty. The word comes to us from French, which ultimately stems from the Latin regimen (rule, government, direction, guidance). We have the Latin original in English too, as well as several derivatives (regimen, regiment, regimented, etc.). Is it any wonder that our vocabulary is so large?

In Latin, regimen is related to the verb rego, “I rule.” Rego descends from the Proto-Indo-European *h₃reǵ-, which means to straighten, to right oneself, right, and just. There is a derived term *h₃rḗǵ-s, “king.” From *h₃reǵ- come the Greek ὀρέγω (oregō), which has a large range of meanings, all related somehow to stretching out: (Active/Passive Voice:) reach, stretch, hold out, help, (Middle Voice:) lunge, reach, grasp, attack, seek, desire, strive for, attain, reach.

From the PIE root, we also get “rake” (through Proto-German), something that orders the fallen leaves in my yard. We also get “reckon” through the Germanic line.

It does appear that the root *h₃reǵ-, originally meant to rule yourself, straighten yourself out, and then was applied to ruling others. In Scholastic Latin, the goal of human growth was to become a Dominus/Domina Sui “a Lord of Oneself.” Not a bad goal: the Mastery of Life!


Oh boy! This word is fraught with connotations. Let’s dig deep. This is the masculine plural nominative form of the perfect passive participle illuminatus, from the verb illumino, to illumine, brighten, adorn, made conspicuous. The verb is a compound of the preposition in “in” and lumino “to brighten.” It is related to the noun lumen “light” which in poetry could also denote the eyes, daylight, brighness and the light of life. The closely related noun is lux, “light.” In English we have many cognates from these light words, and have even adopted the Latin lumen itself for four of our sciences:

Physics:  a specific unit of light
Anatomy: a channel within a tubular organ
Botany: a cavity enclosed by the cell wall of a plant
Medicine: the bore of a tube (hollow needle, catheter)

Hermes Trismegistus: Floor Mosaic in the Cathedral of Sienna

Hermes Trismegistus: Floor Mosaic in the Cathedral of Sienna

The Latin words relating to light ultimately derive from PIE *lewk-, “bright, to see, to shine.” From this come many descendants in addition to the Latin words above:

  • Greek λευκός (leukós): bright, shining, gleaming, white, happy, joyful (and also pale, weakly, cowardly, that’s where we get “leukemia”)
  • Greek λύχνος (lúkhnos): lamp (cognate with the Latin lucerna, luceo “lamp, to shine”)
  • Latin luna:   the moon, a month, a night, a crescent shape–It shines!
  • Latin lucubro: to work / make by night, candlelight, lamplight

With all of this background, it is perfectly lucid (!) that Illuminati means, literally, the Illumined Ones, Enlightened Ones. As we saw above, the Bavarian Illuminati were free thinkers, albeit not particularly effective, and the progressives of their day. In general, it seems like it would be a very benign term. But something has happened to this word during the last couple of hundred years.

Complicating the issue is that during the 15th-16th centuries in Spain, some Christian Mystics were labeled as the Alumbrados (Spanish for Illuminati) by the Church and tried as Heretics by the Spanish Inquisition, which is brilliantly satirized by Monty Python, and by Mel Brooks in History of the World Part I!

Thus the word took on unhappy associations as far as the authorities were concerned.

Some groups still use the term positively, but mainstream culture has turned the word on its head!  As anyone knows who reads the Internet or watches The Simpsons, most people use the term “The Illuminati” to mean a secret group which runs the world, or tries to, and not for the good of humanity!

(I won’t use the term usually used, cabal, since this is an anti-semitic slur made from the Hebrew Kabbalah, קבלה, used by detractors who thought that the mysticism of the Kabbalah was a secret plot. In a similar fashion, I never use the word “Paddy-Wagon” for a police prisoner transportation van, since that is a racial slur from the New York Draft Riots of 1863 when wealthy men could buy their way out of the draft, but the impoverished Irish could not, and when they rioted, were hauled off in police vans.)

How did this reversal in the meaning of the word happen? I don’t have proof (there never is when you begin to delve into the murky waters of conspiracy theories), but I have a suspicion. And it goes back to the darker side of the Congress of Vienna.

Recalling the concept we have discussed before, Cui Bono, “Whom does it Benefit?” we can look around. Who would like to make us think that there is a secret group that is pulling the strings, and that this group is the Illuminati, who are in actuality the… [insert here whichever groups, movements, etc., any particular writer dislikes]?

When stage magicians want to fool us (for fun), they go through three steps, The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige. In the Pledge, they tell us what they are going to do, setting up our expectations. During the Turn, when they actually do the trick, one of the most important elements is mis-direction. They get us to look at or pay attention to something which distracts us from seeing what is really happening. If they are good at their craft, the Prestige is the finale when the illusion is so good, that we don’t want it explained, it’s just fun!

Run on the Seamen's Savings' Bank during the Panic of 1857

Run on the Seamen’s Savings’ Bank during the Panic of 1857.
On October 13, 1857, after the Ohio Life & Trust Co. declared bankruptcy, panic struck the New York Stock Exchange and hundreds of other banks and individual investors were ruined. This wood engraving from Harper’s Weekly, shows a crowd gesturing and shoving. A ragpicker picks up now-worthless stock certificates, and a pickpocket operates unnoticed to the right,

Less than fun are the pickpockets who either wait for us to be distracted, or cause a distraction themselves so that they can lift our wallets. What if the actual people who are “picking our pockets” socially, economically, politically, etc., are cleverly pointing at those who oppose them (for example, those today who think like the 18th century liberators) saying “Look out, it’s the Illuminati! They want to rob you!” It’s the mis-direction of the Turn. And of course, in a world where egalitarianism has descended to common mediocrity,* who would like illumined people, anyway? The film Idiocracy portrays the results hilariously! Just a theory…..

*(During the debate over the–unsuccessful–nomination of G. Harold Carswell to the US Supreme Court in 1970, one of his defenders, U.S. Senator Roman Hruska, (R-NE), argued for Carswell, who had been called mediocre: “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.”

I don’t think Judge Carswell appreciated that very much.)

New World Order

Maya Calendar section

Maya Long Count date

…And now, the $64,000 question! It’s 2012 and we are told that either the Mayan Apocalypse or the New World Order is upon us. I was recently in Quintana Roo, México’s newest State, and can vouch for the fact that the Maya are not expecting the world to end when their calendar restarts on December 21, 2012. Miss Richfield’s comedy routine “We’ll all be dead by Christmas!” is very funny, though!

But what about the New World Order? That sounds scary. The truth is, it’s not so new.

The term New World Order is a (not too accurate) paraphrase of the Latin Novus Ordo Seclorum, on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States. It is inspired by a passage in the Roman poet Virgil (Vergil)’s Fourth Eclogue:

Publius Vergilius Maro

Publius Vergilius Maro

Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis aetas;
magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.
Iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna;
iam nova progenies, caelo demittitur alto.
Tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum
desinet, ac toto surget gens aurea mundo,
casta fave Lucina; tuus iam regnat Apollo.

I will cite the translation by no-less than the incredible Philip K. Dick, who uses this passage in his short story, “The Eye of the Sibyl.”

At last the Final Time announced by the Sibyl will arrive:
The procession of ages turns to its origin.
The Virgin returns and Saturn reigns as before;
A new race from heaven on high descends.
Goddess of Birth, smile on the new-born baby,
In whose time the Iron Prison will fall to ruin
And a golden race arises everywhere. Apollo, the rightful king, is restored!

Saeclorum nascitur ordo means, “the order of the ages is born.” Saeclum is a poetic form of the word, which is sometimes also seen as seclum, seculum, and in classical Latin, saeculum. A saeclum is “an age, a time span, a century, a generation, and a race of humans.”  It’s where we get “secular.” In Ecclesiastic Latin, the word is best known as the end of the doxology: in saecula saeculorum:

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

“Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, also now, and always, and to ages of ages. Amen.”

Hieromonk Mark Ciccone, S.J. at Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, San Francisco

Hieromonk Mark Ciccone, S.J. at Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, San Francisco

This is a rendering of the Greek:

Δόξα Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ καὶ Ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι,
καὶ νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.

“Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Both now and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

Both the texts of the Latin and the Greek appear to have originated in the Syriac version:

Shouha tababa, W-brona, W-ruha dqudsha,
min’alam w’adamma L-’alam, Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
from everlasting and for ever and ever.

In all of these, the “age” is not just a time period. In Greek, αἰών, like saeculum, has the same range of meanings. In addition, in the Gnostic movement paralleling Judaism and Christianity, it had the sense of a great spiritual entity emanated from the Divine.

So what does Virgil mean? He is speaking of the Greek understanding of the cycles of the ages, which begin with the Golden Age, when humanity is in communion with the Divine, and eventually descend to the Iron Age, where humanity’s basest behaviors beset the world with troubles, and then a change takes place and the Golden Age returns.

Aquarius by Bode

Aquarius by Bode

Compare this with two similar systems, the Mythic interpretation of the Precession of the Equinoxes (“This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius!”) and the Hindu system of the Yugas, in which we are currently said to be in the Kali Yuga of the Kali Yuga (the very last stage before the collapse of everything and the return to the Golden Age, the Satya Yuga (सत्य युग), or Krita Yuga). There is some evidence that this is in the same ballpark as what the Maya are talking about, a new beginning.

While Christians saw Virgil’s passage as Christological, others have kept the original meaning as the return of the Golden Age. It was made part of the Great Seal of the United States by the Secretary of the Continental Congress, Charles Thompson, who had previously taught Latin. He also used another paraphrase from Virgil: Annuit Coeptis:

By Ipankonin (Vectorized from) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, version by Ipankonin/Wikimedia Commons

Jupiter omnipotens, audacibus annue cœptis,
JupiterAlmighty, favor [my] bold undertakings” (Aeneid 9.625).

Taken together, the two Latin phrases on the reverse of the Great Seal mean:

“He (God) has approved of our beginnings/undertakings.”
“The New Order of the Ages.”

Our beginning/undertaking is the establishment of the New Order of the Ages. This New (World) Order is nothing less than the Freedoms and Democracy enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and in the Constitutions of free nations everywhere. We are the New World Order, and this is really a return to the way things are supposed to be. Tyrannies are part of the Iron Age.

It’s not the “New World Order.” It’s the “New World” Order, the way the New World has led the world in liberation (or tries to).

As the various Independence Days of the world’s free nations roll around this year, we can celebrate over 200 years of this New Order of the Ages which we are privileged to be part of!

— Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, and Consultant

Cinco de Mayo and All That!

1 Comment

Cinco de Mayo and All That

In addition to working with languages, I also do a fair bit of historical work. This weekend, therefore, we’ll have something a little different, with language notes sprinkled throughout. 

This weekend people in the United States and in the Mexican State of Puebla celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which most non-Mexican-Americans presume to be “Mexican Independence Day,” the equivalent of the 4th of July.

May 5, 1862 and the siege of Puebla Creator: Frias, Heriberto, 1870-1925 Contributors: Posada, Jose Guadalupe, 1852-1913 (illustrator); Maucci Hermanos, Mexico (publisher) Date: 1901 Part Of: Biblioteca del nino mexicano

Cinco de Mayo poster

That’s a nice and neighborly thought, and a great occasion for wonderful food and responsible use of refreshments. It’s a good money-maker for Mexican Restaurants too.

Only…it’s not their 4th of July, Canada Day (July 1) or Bastille Day (July 14), exactly; that is el 16 de septiembre (el dieciséis de septiembre). Virtually every city in México has a Calle/Avenida 16 de septiembre (Street/Avenue).

What’s this all about?

Most Americans think of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock when they contemplate the beginning of the United States. Those of us of Hispanic, particularly Mexican, background, and especially from the Southwest, California and Florida, remember that in 1621 when the ship landed at Plymouth Rock, we had been here for a hundred years, and waved “welcome” to them (metaphorically).

I am Irish and Hispanic…in México, my name is written as Steven Armstrong Escontrias. That side of my family comes from El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, where they have been since the 1500s. Recently, in the Yucatán, I heard someone say (I can’t remember the exact Spanish), in regard to having two last names, “You have a Mother too!” Can anyone supply the idiom in Spanish? I know how to say that generally, but I believe there is a specific phrase.

Interestingly, the metropolitan area of El Paso–Juárez is second only to San Diego–Tijuana as the largest binational metropolitan region between our two nations. Of course, in México the names for these are Tijuana–San Diego and Juárez-El Paso, but the telling thing is that all four city names are in Spanish! We really are all family.

Cinco de Mayo

The Battle of Puebla

The Battle of Puebla

The celebration on the 5th of May commemorates the Mexican Army’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862, under General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

México was suffering greatly in the 1860s after the Mexican-American War (following on the Annexation of Texas/Tejas), a Civil War and a War of Reform. President Benito Juárez declared a two year moratorium on repaying foreign debt to stabilize the economy. France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces, but the British and Spanish negotiated and left. Not so the forces of Napoleon III, who invaded. It isn’t entirely clear, but their motivation seemed to have several angles.

France needed cotton, and the Confederacy had supplied them with a lot, hoping for their support. Naturally, territorial expansion is a goal in itself, and finally, quashing anti-colonial revolutions had been in favor since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. To recover México for the crowned heads of Europe and destabilize the United States, whose Revolution started a trend, was a double bonus!

The French Empire in México was headed by the infamous Maximillian and Carlotta, Emperor and Empress. There was support for this French Occupation, particularly from wealthy Roman Catholics, who despised the Masonic President Juárez, as he did not favor them.

At Puebla on May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French, much to the surprise of both, since the Mexican forces were half the size of the French. Although the French later succeeded in capturing the country, Puebla provided a rallying point for the nationalists. When the US Civil War was over in 1865, the U.S. began helping the Mexican resistance, and by 1867, México was free again, and Maximillian and some of his Generals were executed.

Therefore, it is quite appropriate for the US (and Puebla) to celebrate our shared heritage, and Hispanic Culture, as this symbolizes the return of friendship between the two Federal Republics. So celebrate…responsibly!

So What does el 16 de septiembre Commemorate?

Statue of Hidalgo in front of the Cathedral of Dolores. Photo by Paige Morrison/Wikimedia Commons.

Statue of Hidalgo in front of the Cathedral of Dolores. Photo by Paige Morrison/Wikimedia Commons.

The real Mexican Independence Day commemorates the Grito de Dolores (“Cry of Dolores/Sorrows”) or El Grito de la Independencia (“Cry of Independence”), in Dolores, near Guanajuato on September 16, 1810 by the Roman Catholic Priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. The version of the proclamation (as used today–it cannot be his actual words) is:

¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!
¡Víva Hidalgo!
¡Viva Morelos!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
¡Viva Allende!
¡Viva Aldama!
¡Viva la independencia nacional!
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live National Independence!
Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!

¡Gracias, Wikipedia!

(I have always thought that the Spanish custom of putting the reversed exclamation point and question mark in front of the sentence is one of the most practical and reasonable punctuation devices in the world!)

This was the catalyst for the Mexican War of Independence from Spain, which began four days later at The Battle of Guanajuato. Ten years of war finally resulted in the Mexican Declaration of Independence.

This September, tip your hat southwards and pause a moment for the real Mexican Independence Day, and the wave of Independence that it was a part of! (We’ll talk about that wave, next!)

— Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant