Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Homage to Wednesday


Hello Wednesday. You are an empty space on my calendar, which means I am yours to fill as I please. We’re off to a promising beginning, with a 62 degree temperature at 8:00 am and the promise of a sunny and unusually hot San Francisco day. Up to 84 degrees at your peak! I haven’t yet decided which neighborhood to stroll through for my daily walk, but now am thinking I should head to the beach. Even though the ocean is a mere three miles from my house, we are not a beach-oriented city, with the frigid Pacific waters and often foggy air. But maybe five days a year come when the waters seem inviting. Perhaps today is one of them. 


So here I am at the old computer— literally, still keeping on eleven years after I bought it in 2012. I like to begin with a Blog post before diving into the day’s e-mails and to-do lists and usually sit down with something in mind. But occasionally, like today, I just start writing and see what comes up. 


Since I’m addressing you, Wednesday, I thought I should learn a bit more about your name. The etymology of Sunday and Monday (Moonday) are pretty obvious and I know that Thursday comes from Thor, the Norse God of thunder (akin to Zeus in Greek mythology, Jupiter in Roman) and Friday from Freya, the Norse Goddess of fertility (akin to Athena in Greek mythology, Minerva in Roman). Saturday is from the Roman God Saturn. I had no idea about Tuesday, but a little research links it to the Norse God of War Tyr (equivalent of Ares in Greek mythology, Mars in Roman).  


But back to you, Wednesday. You come from the Norse God Woden (Wodensday), also known as Odin. Your relationship with the Greek and Roman deities is ambivalent, some sources linking you with Zeus (mostly commonly associated with Thor) and others to Mercury (the Roman equivalent of the messenger god Hermes.) Who knows? 


What’s clear is that Odin (Woden) was a supreme god with a lot on his plate. He is associated with  wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, war, battle, victory, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet.In his search for eloquent speech, he is said to have hung himself upside down for nine days and nights on a cosmological tree known as Yggdrasil in order to gain knowledge of the runic alphabet. Which he did and passed on to humans, gifting them with both wisdom and poetry. So perhaps I should—we all should—honor Wednesday by reading, reciting or writing poetry. 


One thing leads to another, Wednesday, so I wondered what the basis of the seven-day week is. A day marks the rotation of the earth, a month the time it takes for the moon to revolve around the earth, a year the time it takes for the earth to orbit the sun. All of them rooted in tangible, physical cycles. Is there an equivalent cycle for the seven day week?


Apparently not. It can be traced as far back as 2300 B.C.E. when the ancient Babylonian King Sargon I of Akkad decreed it so. The number seven was a sacred number, corresponding to the sun, moon and five planets visible to the naked eye. It also corresponded somewhat to four division of the moon’s cycle, full/ half waning/ new/ half waxing. 


Apparently, the ancient Romans has an eight-day week (prefiguring the Beatles by a few thousand years) until Emperor Constantine reduced in to seven in the 4th century. And of course, the Bible tells us that God created the Earth in six days and on the seventh day, he rested. 


Noticing how each day is associated with a spiritual force, a life-giving natural phenomena, it should give us pause to treat each more reverentially. And not only the days of the week, but the months of the year. Janus, Mars, Juno the most obvious, then those named for mere mortals, Julius and Augustus and then those abstract mathematical names of 7th through 10th months, those months that actually were in their proper place before Julius and Augustus interposed. (Now you know why the 9th month of September is named for the 7th month, the 10th October actually named for the 8th, etc.)


And not only time divisions but planets! Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and poor Pluto. (Greek equivalents—Hermes, Aphrodite, Ares, Zeus, Cronus, Ouranus, Poseidon, Hermes.) Earth is the only one not named with a spiritual attribute. Could that be our problem?


Okay, Wednesday, it’s now 9:00am and 67 degrees and time to move on with and move out to your day. Now filled with new knowledge of Greek, Roman and Norse mythology and renewed appreciation of the days of the week, months of the year and the planets. And determined to go honor the Yemaya, the West African Goddess of the Beach.


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