- by Linn Barnes
The wheel of the year is always spinning, and, while
there are no fixed points between ‘then’ and ‘when’
but we do hypothesize a ‘now’, in spite of the grammatical
and philosophical challenges. Try and think of a ‘now’ before when it was
a ‘then’; or, a ‘now’ on ‘it’s’ way to ‘when-dom’. ‘Nows’ are tough to pin down.
However, today, ‘now’, kind of, the dawn of the winter solstice,
the moment when the earth begins to tilt toward the longer and finally warmer days
until the summer solstice, when it tilts back toward the dark, all of this
has enormous mytho-historical significance.
The old, very old, legends suggest that there were
two gods responsible for ‘managing’ the year.
First, the god of the waning year, from June 21
until the second god, his twin or ‘tanist’, of the waxing year, took over
on December 21, the winter solstice, until he once again was replaced by the
god of the waning year, and so forth.
These two figures were seen as a necessary pair
of twins, rising and dying over and over again, insuring
the continuity of the tribe and the endurance of tradition.
This is the stuff some modern religions are built on,
however that may express itself.
These two king-gods were known to the ancients as
‘sacred-kings’, really only one, but thought of as two, which,
of course, rings plenty of bells in our religious calendar.
The interesting thing here is that these two iterations of
the same spirit were ‘obliged’ to die, no exceptions; one died,
the other took over, when it died and the other was re-born.
Over and over and over, the year spun, each reigning ‘king-god’
managing things in accordance with custom, in compliance with tradition.
it would have been inconceivable that one of these figures
act out of the ‘ordinary’, or, ‘selfishly’, or, in any interest other
that the benefit of the tribe to which he was bound.
Any behavior remotely resembling anything which would
threaten the continued existence of the tribe by one of these twins
was unthinkable. However, since there were ‘elected’ representations
of these spiritual entities, and, since humans are never anything like the gods,
it is conceivable that mischief was possible.
The point is inescapable: the transgressor would be replaced or the
tribe would suffer and vanish.
There were no exceptions and there was no merci.
The tribe would collectively demand that the
king must die, even out of season to atone for his misdeeds.
There was no middle ground.
You rode the ‘king’s highway’,
you fulfilled your part of the ‘deal’.
If not, you were replaced, with extreme prejudice.