Dear January 2022,
Woke up around 5’ish am tired and psychically scarred from battling 2021’s adversaries and ensuing debris. Earlier, there’d been a stubborn symphony of noise outside my windows—fireworks and crackers—not the kind that come with a prize and paper hat.
Despite the noise and finding one hound had wedged her tail tucked butt under my armpit and another had pinned my left leg by laying across it, I felt optimistic. Perhaps it was the moon fueled crystal and amethyst prism that bounced off the ceiling as the moon melted into nothingness?
After releasing the hounds for an early morning constitutional and performing 3 minutes of aerobics, I stood in the door’s threshold, a pinch of salt in one hand, some barley and oats in the other—celestial seasonings for a new year. The salt trickled from my hand and bounced across the door sill. I tossed the grain eastward, towards a hesitant horizon brightening, opening itself above the mountain.
Hello 2022. Can you hear me Janus? I am one year closer to my demise, the certitude ‘un poquito’ stronger than it was last year. Still, I remain awed by being alive—glad like Pollyanna, grateful like Gilgamesh, humble like Montaigne who said ‘to lament we shant be alive 100 years hence is the same folly as to be sorry we weren’t alive a 100 years ago.’ Or Dawkins, who scolded ‘how dare we whine—we—who won the lottery of birth against all odds?
Did you eat 12 grapes at midnite’s chime? It’s an old Spanish tradition to ward off bad luck. Or did you combine it with the French tradition of swilling bubbly while sucking on ripe fruit? Did you enjoy braised pork with black eyed peas, or kiss someone at the stroke of to ensure a comingling with that person the rest of the year? I sort of did…
I kissed a dog, touched a wild fox, ate 12 raisins from a box; emptied X bottles of bubbly (I’ll never tell); and simmered pork till it was done well. I made zero resolutions, since my new year began in October, when I ate Damfnudeln & sweet honey clover. Instead of resolutions, I made assessments, noted Mercury is in Aquarius and the moon on the 17th is called wolf.
A 100 years ago the Ottoman Empire ended as the Soviet Union began. An Anglo-Irish treaty was forged and King Tut’s tomb uncovered. The UK was at the crest of its worldwide power. Mussolini marched on Rome and Hitler was sentenced to 3 months in prison. The League of Nations first held court and beat a justice drum; and the ‘peace dollar’ was issued by the US Mint (reissued in 2021). Lady Liberty’s head is on one side of this silver coin—an eagle perched on an olive branch on the other. She was a symbol of freedom from slavery, not immigration. The eagle and perhaps Janus, borrowed from Sumerian 2-faced envoi deity Isimud, are carriers of messages. Do messages carry 100 years into the future?
What say you Janus? Why no Greek counterpart? Is starting a new year as simple as crossing a street—look both ways—assess black, white, and gray? Or is it more like the flip of a silver coin and a wee bit of alchemy—heads lady liberty (Diana)—tails—feathers of an eagle (Apollo)? Diana is goddess of crossroads, an intersection trickier to navigate. Apollo rules over music, dance, and prophecy. Janus is also a chaotic god of motion, initiations, and the stillness of thresholds, In 260 BCE, a Roman temple with 12 altars was dedicated to Janus by Gaius Duillus. Inside was a statue of Janus with his right hand showing #300 and the left #65—aka days in the solar year.
The wind kicked up, swirling my thoughts. Janus presided over both war and peace and wasn’t above reproach. The expression two-faced means one is deceitful, insincere. He seduced a woman who became Cardea, goddess of hinges, the devise that allows a door to open. Unhinged describes the condition of a distraught, disturbed person. In times of peace, Janus’ temple doors were closed, but flung open during war. What will 2022 bring—open doors or closed? A fragment from a Wendell Berry essay floats by ‘the past history, the future a mystery. We meet in the present, alive in our skins. What causes the mind, with its curious sense of liberty, to question, remember, survive, and wonder why?” To which I add Why Am I, You, Any of US Here?