Blog Birthday! July 21st marks the one-year birthday of my weekly Pearls of Peace blog! I am reminded of the double-faced Roman god, Janus, often thought to represent beginnings/endings.
The month of January is a namesake of Janus and represents a beginning. Romans held a festival on January 9th with offerings to Janus, but the beginning of a day and the beginning of a new month also were considered sacred. I like the idea of reflecting on beginnings. Each new day holds a potential for personal peace. Each beginning month offers new possibilities for beginning peaceful initiatives.
I was not named Janis for this Roman god (or king by some research), however I am intrigued by the symbolism that Janus represents. With double faces, one looking to the future and the other looking to the past, Janus represents transitions, time passages, doorways and dichotomies. Several possible dualities of Janus include beginning/end, youth/adulthood, birth/death, barbarism/civilization, and war/peace.
Many jani, or ceremonial gates, were used for a departing Roman army. One particular gate was a shrine named Janus Geminus or “Twin Janus.” Shrine doors were left open when Rome was involved in war; closed doors were a sign of peacetime. According to one Roman historian, the Twin Janus gates were closed only twice between the 7th century BC and 1st century BC. For example, the doors to the Janus shrine were closed in 235 BC and Janus (briefly) was considered the “guardian” of peace. Apparently, Roman soldiers did not receive much leave time.
It is uncanny that in 2000+ years we have not learned how to problem-solve our differences across cultures and still have an “open door” to one war after another today. Peace always seems in peril. Is war easy compared to peace?
A lot has happened since last July — another month named for a Roman superstar, Julius Caesar, in 44 BC. Originally the month was named Quintilis, standing for the 5th month in the Roman calendar. Quintilis was renamed July as it was Julius’ birth month! Beginnings of people’s lives and their choices in evolving events hold great significance for many generations.
A lot has not happened since last July. We have a world in peril, embroiled in dichotomies. Who could have guessed the number of raw events in our country since last July? Who predicted a war-ravaged Ukraine? Yet, here we are. Peaceful problem-solving is still a possibility.
Emily Dickinson’s phrase, “the mob within the heart,” captures the notion of the many dichotomies we each carry in our minds. Yet, we have this new day for beginnings. How will you open or close gates in your mind today?
If you have been reading these weekly Monday AM blogs, you already know that I have more questions than answers.
Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:
100. Just one final question today: What has this blog meant — or not meant — to you?