Happy Pascha and Cinco de Mayo!

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Passover Seder 013

Passover Seder 013 (Photo credit: roger_mommaerts)

English: Church of St. John Chrysostom from th...

English: Church of St. John Chrysostom from the southwest. Yaroslavl, 1911 Русский: Церковь Иоанна Златоуста с юго-запада. Ярославль, 1911 г. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Pascha and Cinco de Mayo!

St John Chrysostom (c.349—407) Archbishop of C...

St John Chrysostom (c.349—407) Archbishop of Constantinople (398—404) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, Sunday May 5, 2013 is both Pascha (Eastern Christian Easter) and Cinco de Mayo. Last year we talked at length about Cinco de Mayo. Let’s talk about Pascha.

Many in the Western world are unaware that Christianity has two dates for Easter, one Western and one Eastern. How did this come about?

In 325, the Emperor Constantine summoned the Bishops of the Roman Empire to a Council in the Constantinople suburb of Nicaea. There they discussed many things. One striking incident is when St. Nicholas of Myra (the prototype for Santa Claus) decked the Alexandrian Priest Arius because his Christological theories would have made Christ less than The Father, in the Holy Trinity (they took religion very seriously). Arianism was the first of several fundamentalist attempts to change the tradition of Orthodox Christianity, I don’t condone violence, but seeing Santa clocking somebody is amusing to think about.

Among the controversies they tackled was the date of Easter. There were several competing traditions for this date. Most celebrated the Resurrection on the first Sunday after the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan. However, some churches in Anatolia (modern Turkey), and the Celts, celebrated it on 14 Nisan itself, in accord with John’s Gospel’s chronology.

The Council settled the controversy by declaring that Pascha would be celebrated on the First Sunday after the First Full Moon after the Spring Equinox, unless that placed it on or before Passover (14 Nisan), in which case it would be moved forward another moon cycle.

Sadly, the actual minutes of the Council of Nicaea have not survived the centuries. The Roman Church has forgotten the codicil about Passover, while all of the Eastern Churches remember it (we’re pretty good on memory). Therefore Western Easter can be on or before Passover.

This year, the discrepancy was large. Some years, the Easters are on the same date, some years they are a week or two apart. When Western Easter is particularly early, as it was in 2013, Eastern Easter is very late (it can occur as late as May 8).

It is fairly clear that this is not a historical argument. It is about metaphysically aligning the Feast correctly in the Circle of the Year. This reflects the theological stance of the Canonical Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) place the Last Supper directly on 14 Nisan, to symbolize that the Eucharist (the living presence of the Risen Jesus) substitutes for the Paschal Lamb. Jesus is seen to give this Bread and Wine to the Apostles proleptically.

The Quartodecimans (“Fourteeners”) counted among their number no less than John the Beloved Disciple, Polycarp, and Melito of Sardis. In John’s Gospel, which has no explicit narration of the Bread and Wine at the Last Supper (but does have an extended discourse about the intercommunion of the Father, the Son and the Believers, and also is clearly Eucharistic in John 6:22-59 in the “Bread of Life” discourse), places the Crucifixion (= the slaying of the Paschal Lamb) on 14 Nisan.

I believe there is another, deeper, motivation at work here, and I side with the Eastern remembrance of Nicaea. The Initiates of the Mysteries needed to line up the new calendar with the ancient calendar. The Spring Equinox, a celebration of perfect balance, is complemented in the Christian calendar by the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, the commemoration of the miraculous incarnation of the Christ in the Theotokos’ womb, a perfect 9 months before December 25. 2000 years ago, the 25th  of March and the 25th of December used to be the actual Equinox and Solstice.

The Annunciation aligns thematically with the Equinox, a feast of the perfect balance between Human and Divine. The Divine could not have manifested itself definitively as human without the consent of a humble Palestinian Jewish young woman.

Pascha, on the other hand, is not about balance at all. It is about the absolute victory of Life over Death. It is the Feast of unquenchable Life, as is Bealteinne on May 1. That is why Pascha needs to be as late as possible, to participate in Bealteinne. 50 Days later, Pentecost then corresponds to the Summer Solstice and St. John’s Day, the fullness of the outpouring of Green Life and the Fiery Energy of the Sun/Holy Spirit.

The Initiates knew what they were doing, and set things up properly to preserve the message and inheritance of the Master Jesus, the Messiah. Christians today should do the same.

To close, I would like to share my favorite passage from our Byzantine Pascha Liturgy, the Homily of St. John Chrysostom. It is perhaps the most succinct statement of what Christianity (as opposed to the false picture of hate and exclusion propagated so often today) is really all about.

 The Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom:

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.

If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.

If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.

If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.

If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.

If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.

If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.

If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.

For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first.

He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.

He both honors the work and praises the intention.

Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.

O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!

O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!

You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!

The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!

The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!

Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.

Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.

He that was taken by death has annihilated it!

He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!

He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.”

It was embittered, for it was abolished!

It was embittered, for it was mocked!

It was embittered, for it was purged!

It was embittered, for it was despoiled!

It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

It took a body and came upon God!

It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!

It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!

O death, where is thy sting?

O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and life reigns!

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!

For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.

To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.


  •                       *                     *

With all metaphysical understanding:

Christ is Risen!   Indeed He is Risen!

Χριστός ἀνέστη!  Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!    (Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!) (Greek)

Хрїстóсъ воскрéсе! Воистину воскресе! (Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!)  (Church Slavonic)

Al Masihu’ Qam! Haqqan Qam!  (Arabic)

• Arabic (standard) – ! اﺍل مس یﻳح قامﻡ! ح قا قامﻡ (al-Masīḥ qām! Ḥaqqan qām!)

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere! (Latin)

Crist aras! Crist soþlice aras! (Old English)

Crist is arisen! Arisen he sothe! (Middle English)

Hristos a înviat! Adevărat a înviat!  (Romanian)

¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En verdad ha resucitado! (Spanish)

Christ est ressuscité! Il est vraiment ressuscité!  (French)

Cristo è risorto! È veramente risorto!  (Italian)

Хрістос воскрес! Воістину воскрес! (Hristos voskres! Voistynu voskres!) (Rusyn)

Tá Críost éirithe! Go deimhin, tá sé éirithe!  (Irish)

Քրիստոս յարեաւ ի մեռելոց՜ Օրհնեալ է Յարութիւնն Քրիստոսի՜ (Christos haryav i merelotz! Orhnial e Haroutiunn Christosi! (Armenian)

Lo Crist es ressuscitat! En veritat es ressuscitat! (Provençal )

Kristus aq ungwektaq! Pichinuq ungwektaq! (Aleut)

Xris-tusaq Ung-uixtuq! Iluumun Ung-uixtuq! (Yupic)

And in the Secondary Worlds, since as Tolkien’s “On Fairy Tales” teaches, the Resurrection transcends all worlds:

Quenya – (Hristo Ortane! Anwave Ortanes!)








Klingon – Hu’ta’ QISt! Hu’bejta’!

Dothraki – Khal Asvezhvenanaz yathoay. Me Yathoay Me nem nesa. (Game of Thrones… George RR Martin/David J. Peterson)

Find many others at


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!

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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