Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Month of Juno

Did She who made ameba squirt you, oh Milky Way, from an overfull breast? [Tiara in In Search of Anna Magna]
On this the first day of June it may be appropriate to celebrate the Goddess, Mother Nature, from whom this central month, the month of the summer solstice, takes its name. She is Juno. I was born a contrarian, I’m sure; I’m decidedly not a “born again” contrarian. Hence it delighted me to discover quite early in my growing up, thanks to the helpful labors of that indefatigable defender of Woman, the poet Robert Graves, that humanity had once been matriarchal to the core. The shift to a patriarchal order began in Antiquity, with the consequence that the once ruling Eternal Feminine became a mere hand-maiden and helper of the Male Divine.

My quote above refers to the Great Goddess Rhea; her milk squirted up into the heavens and became the Milky Way (hence the name, of course) when she gave birth to little Zeus. The Roman mythographer, Gaius Julius Hyginus (64 BC-17 AD) once wondered if Rhea, a Cretan goddess, should be called Juno by the Romans—suggesting that Juno is another name for the Great Goddess. But in the transition to patriarchy, subordination is the general rule. Hence in Hyginus’ own time, already, Juno had long been relegated to mean Nature as Matter, whereas Jupiter was elevated to Nature as Creative Impulse. I find the same pattern everywhere. Athena, once also the name of the Great Goddess, now suddenly issues from bloody Zeus’ rather low forehead. Sophia, yet another exalted name, turns into a fallen woman in Gnosticism. No way, José, says this contrarian. And in the Kabala’s schema Shekina is at the very bottom whereas in my scheme She’s at the very top.

The origin of June’s naming in honor of the Goddess is justified (by such as the Encyclopedia Britannica) by quoting Ovid, but Ovid (43 BC - 18 AD) also helpfully points out, to the sour pleasure of all of those of us who carry or carried the word Junior or Jr. behind their name (like me) that the name of the month also derives from iuniores—as May derives from maiores. The majors and the minors, you might say, or age in May and youth in June…

The lovely graphic I reproduce, courtesy of Wikipedia commons here, is Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Juin. There she is, in the center, and the boys appropriately subordinated in the background. Such pleases one who’s cyclic in the Age of Progress and drawn to spirit in the Age of Matter.

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