It's that time of year again, time to look at the ancient fertility rites behind April Fool's. The practice seems to have lost a bit of its luster lately, but that could always change. Or rather, will.
Personally, I find April Fool's to be dopey, cringe and tiresome, which of course guarantees it's due for a mass revival, underwritten by the entire Fortune 500. That said, one of the best-ever April Fool's pranks aired on a Boston TV news show back in 1980:
WNAC-TV ended its 6 pm news broadcast with a bulletin reporting that Great Blue Hill in Milton had erupted and was spraying lava and ash onto nearby homes. The report showed footage of lava flowing down a hillside (taken from the March 27 eruption of Mount St. Helens) and edited remarks from President Jimmy Carter (who expressed concern) and Governor Edward J. King (who called the situation "serious").
According to reporter Jan Harrison, the disaster had been caused by a geological chain reaction set off by the eruption of Mount St. Helens a week earlier. At the end of the bulletin, Harrison held up a card that read "April Fools!"
This came to mind when I read that there was an earthquake in Los Angeles this morning.
Either way, let's have another look at the precedents to this very irritating pseudo-holiday.
The jingling of bells during the dance is meant to frighten evil spirits and the clashing of sticks represent the fight between good and evil.
The dancer who weaves in and out of the team of dancers is known as the Fool and whilst his dance seems to be that of a random nature, in fact his is a very intricate dance and represents the naivety of man. A dancer who is dressed as an animal character shows mans reliance on nature. Handkerchiefs emphasise the hand movements during the dance.- Crop Fertility Rituals
The Kalends of April are sacred to Venus, as is the entire month, and this day has been called the Veneralia. Public games, ludi, would be held in honor of the deity.
This day was also known as All Fools Day to the Romans, and they would spend the entire day celebrating with comic hilarity, doing things backwards, wearing women's clothes, dancing in the streets, and generally carrying on in the most in the most foolish and congenial manner.
This is one of the few Roman holidays that has preserved some of its original character, under the modern name April Fools Day. In Egypt, this day was celebrated as the Birthday of the god Hathor.- (link)
The Anglo-Saxons called April Oster-monath or Eostur-monath, the period sacred to Eostre or Ostara, the pagan Saxon goddess of spring, from whose name is derived the modern Easter.- Wikipedia
It's probably no coincidence that April Fools' Day is celebrated at the same time that two other similar holidays are celebrated. In ancient Rome, the festival of Hilaria was thrown to celebrate the resurrection of the god Attis.
Hilaria is probably the base word for hilarity and hilarious, which mean great merriment. Today, Hilaria is also known as Roman Laughing Day. -How Stuff Works
Note that the newly-minted Trans Day of Visibility takes place during the Hilaria, dedicated to the trans god of fertility, Attis.
In tribute to Attis, the priests of Cybele - known as Galli or Galloi - would castrate themselves and dress as women. They’d then travel the countryside, and perform wild musical rituals to the Great Mother just as Attis did...
Ancient historians held a variety of opinions on the Galloi, from admiration to bemusement to ridicule to hostility. But everyone seemed to agree that the Galloi loved to kick up a racket. Their rituals and festivals made Woodstock look like a ladies’ club luncheon.
The public performances of the Galloi were so intense that crowds would be driven into a religious frenzy...
... The Galloi even made an appearance in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, the classic Roman comic novel. The story concerns an amateur sorcerer named Lucius, who mucks up a spell and turns himself into a donkey. Lucius is then sold to a wandering band of Galloi and dragged around while the priests travel the countryside, often performing their act door-to-door.
Obviously not a fan, Lucius describes the Galloi's rites, which include an eerily-exact precursor of heavy metal headbanging: “They arrived at a rich man's villa and screeching their tuneless threnes from the moment they saw the gates, they rushed frantically inside.
Bending their heads, they twisted, writhed and rolled their necks to and fro while their long hair swung round in circles.”-- The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll
"The local [Phrygian] legend about him [Attis] being this. Zeus [i.e. the Phrygian sky-god identified with Zeus], it is said, let fall in his sleep seed upon the ground, which in course of time sent up a Daimon, with two sexual organs, male and female.
They call the daimon Agdistis. But the gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ.
There grew up from it an almond-tree with its fruit ripe, and a daughter of the river Saggarios (Sangarius), they say, took the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child. A boy was born, and exposed, but wastended by a he-goat.
As he grew up his beauty was more than human, and Agdistis [Kybele] fell in love with him. When he had grown up, Attis was sent by his relatives to Pessinos [city in Phrygia], that he might wed the king's daughter.
The marriage-song was being sung, when Agdistis appeared, and Attis went mad and cut off his genitals, as also did he who was giving him his daughter in marriage.
But Agdistis repented of what she had done to Attis, and persuaded Zeus to grant the body of Attis should neither rot at all nor decay. These are the most popular forms of the legend of Attis." - Pausanias, Description of Greece
When Gilgamesh returns to Uruk, he washes the filth of battle from his hair and body. He dons a clean robe and cloak, wipes Humbaba’s blood off his weapons and polishes them. When he ties his hair back and sets his crown on his head, he looks so splendid that Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, is overcome with lust.
She pleads with Gilgamesh to be her husband. She promises him a harvest of riches if he plants his seed in her body. She tells him they will live together in a house made of cedar, and that she will give him a lapis lazuli chariot with golden wheels. She says that kings and princes will offer him all their wealth.
But Gilgamesh refuses to be her plaything. He has nothing to offer her in return, since, as a goddess, she has everything she could ever want. He says that her desire for his body is fleeting, and that she’ll soon lose interest. He tells her he knows what happened to her other human lovers, and they’ve all learned how traitorous and cruel her heart and whims are.
Her husband, Tammuz, the shepherd, became a captive in the underworld and is mourned in festivals every year. Another shepherd she loved became a broken-winged bird. She loved the lion, then ensured that he was captured in “ambush pits.” She loved the stallion but contrived harnesses and whips and spurs to control him.
When a goat herder loved her, she turned him into a wolf. When her father’s gardener rejected her advances, she turned him into a frog. Gilgamesh asks why he should expect to fare any better. -- "The Epic of Gilgamesh"Gilgamesh means "Gibil is Commander."
Perhaps the biggest change came from the initiated version of the Tarot that the original Golden Dawn (and its later offshoots) used. In that deck, the Fool is represented as a naked child of indeterminate sex, who is accompanied by a wolf on a leash, who is reaching up for a rose.
In Golden Dawn, the Fool represents the god Harpocrates, the Egyptian god Horus as a young child. - Associated Content
"The four magic symbols, the sceptre, the cup, the sword and the pentacle. The fool always carries them, although he has long since forgotten what they mean. Nevertheless they belong to him, even though he does not know their use. The symbols have not lost their power, they retain it in themselves. - P D. Ouspensky
One theory for its origin, and perhaps the most widely accepted, relates to the European transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. At the Council of Trent in 1563, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull decreeing that Christian countries should adopt a new standardised calendar. Now the internationally accepted calendar in the Western World, the Gregorian calendar was adopted due to its greater accuracy compared to the Julian calendar.
One consequence of the transition however, was that New Years Day moved from 1st April to the 1st January.
Although resisted by the Protestant countries in Europe, the new calendar was officially adopted by the Catholic states reasonably quickly. However, presenting the news of the transition across largely rural populations was a much slower task. Supposedly, this was a particular problem following France’s switch to the new calendar in 1582.
People who continued to celebrate the New Year at the end of March became the targets for jokes, pranks and hoaxes. This included having paper fish attached to their backs, and being called ‘April fish’, in reference to their supposed gullibility. -- New Historian
Don't forget The Secret Sun Institute of Advanced Synchromysticism, now holding classes in the highly strange. There's a ton of exclusive material up already and so much more on the way.
And don't forget the all-night 90s lotus party over at SHRR...