Baal's Cedar: Natib Qadish, Canaanite Religion
Natib Qadish, a polytheistic religion which reveres the Canaanite deities, is based on ancient culture and the cuneiform texts found at the city of Ugarit. The Canaanites lived 3200 years ago in the areas of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine.
I share articles and commentary rooted in polytheistic, Near Eastern, Levantine, Middle Eastern, Anatolian, and Natib Qadish perspectives. I teach about the deities, festivals, cultures, divination, magic, divination, and beliefs.
Shanatu Qadishtu: The Natib Qadish Holidays
The holiday calendar for qadishuma (people who practice Natib Qadish, Canaanite religion) is based on primary texts: Bronze Age cuneiform texts found at the city of Ugarit. These texts date to around 1200 BCE (about 3212 years ago). We also take into consideration the Gezer Calendar, a writing in early Hebrew found in Gezer, and written in 925 BCE (about 2937 years ago).
Unlike the temperate European climate where there are four seasons (spring-summer-autumn-winter) there are basically two seasons in Canaan (wet and dry) with a little transition between the two. The wet season corresponds to a northern temperate climate's seasons of autumn and winter; and the dry season includes some of a northern temperate climate's spring and summer. There are two harvests: one around the transition of the dry season to the wet season for fruit (sometime around August-September on the secular calendar); and a grain harvest as the wet season transitions to the dry season (somewhere around March-April-May on the secular calendar).
Although we take into consideration the seasons of ancient Canaan, we appreciate and honor nature but are not "nature-based" or "earth-based." We are centered on the deities first, community second, and nature third. The ancient holiday calendar of the Canaanite city of Ugarit was based on civic and dynastic (kingly) concerns as well as seasonal themes. "Shanatu Qadishtu" means "sacred year" and denotes our holiday calendar.
The calendar consists of lunar months which begin on new moon (chudthu); however the calendar also resets about every third year to put it back in synchronization with the solar calendar and seasonal cycles. Therefore, our calendar is both solar and lunar based. We know most of the month names from primary documents found in the Late Bronze Age city of Ugarit.
Many of our holidays occur near solar or lunar events such as equinoxes, solstices, full moons, and new moons.
Shanatu Qadishtu: The Natib Qadish Sacred Year
New Moon of the month of Autumnal Equinox. Around September. Autumnal Equinox is usually around September 21, and the new moon--when this holiday is celebrated--can occur anywhere from the day of the autumnal equinox to 27 days before, on some day between August 25-September 21. During this Festival of Dwellings we build makeshift dwellings outside to house the deity images and to hold feast, or build smaller table top sized dwellings to house the deity statues inside. This holiday marks the beginning of our year.
Full Moon of the next lunar month, the annual gathering of a social drinking club often to commemorate the ancestors and life changes. Around November. (Sometimes celebrated in the summer instead.) The god Ilu is the usual patron of marzichu, and is known to enjoy himself at these events.
On the winter solstice, around December 21st.‘Athtartu of the Fields or Steppeland (‘Athtartu-Shaddi) is honored. We invite the goddess 'Athtartu into our town or our home at this time. As part of a modern celebration, some choose to honor the sun goddess Shapshu and light oil lamps or candles for her return.
Festival of Oil, Seven days after the coming New Moon after Winter Solstice. Around January or February.A ritual offering of prayer and an Oil of Wellbeing is offered to the storm god Baʻlu Haddu (Ba'al Hadad) for protection of the city. In modern celebration, new Shamnu Mori (myrrh oil) and new Shamnu Raqachi (spiced oil) is made, and we pray for protection of our communities, homes, and families.
Festival of the Garden; on the vernal equinox, around March 21st. It is said this celebration involves being in a garden and eating fish soup. A surviving text about this celebration involves the removal of foodstuffs, but no indication is given as to what the “foodstuffs” are: some speculate this is leavened bread, but we cannot be certain. In honor of this “removal of foodstuffs” some choose to fast from a particular kind of food, or a engage in a full fast, leading up to this holiday. Modern celebrations include making and consuming fish soup.
Festival of the Garlands; skip the next month and go to the next Full Moon. Around May. A text called the Gezer calendar from circa 925 BCE notes “harvest and feasting” in this month. This time would have symbolized the end of the grain harvest. In modern celebration, I make garlands and decorate them with tulle bags of dried fruit and candied nuts to symbolize the coming fruit harvest. Modern celebrations might also include baking bread.
‘Ashuru Zabri or 'Ashuru Qazhi
Festival of Pruning for grapevines. On the summer solstice, around June 21st.There is an ancient text speaks of pruning Motu like a grapevine. An effigy of Motu can be created from vines or vegetation and left to the elements or burned. "Zabru" means pruning, and "qazhu" means summer--it is the same celebration, but with different names. Modern celebrations include making and disposing of an effigy of Death: I often make mine of a grape vine and burn it on the grill prior to grilling the meats for the feast.
Skip the next month, go to Full Moon on the month after. Festival of the New Wine. Around August. Lasts for seven days of merriment, then it’s back to the beginning of the year once more. In modern celebration, I enjoy visiting a vineyard and feasting at this time.
Smaller offerings made during the New Moon (Chudthu) and larger at the Full Moon (Mlatu).Chudthu marks the beginning of the month and is celebrated sometimes with the sounding of a ram's horn.
Shab'atu (Yomu Shab'ati)
Many of us qadishuma mark a seventh day-of-rest per week, starting on Friday evenings and ending on Saturday evenings. This is a modern observance based on Jewish observance. During this day-of-rest, we make offerings to the deities, feast with our friends and families, and spend time in restive activities such as walks, meditation, study, and engaging in creative hobbies. I conclude that the days-of-rest in the ancient Canaanite calendar included holidays as well as new and full moons because of their sacred timings and the indication in primary documents of ritual offering and sacred activities. Instead of taking a day of rest on Friday night through Saturday night, some take days of rest on new moons and full moons.
24 Magmaru (month), Shanatu 85 (year)
This date reflects a date in the Canaanite calendar according to primary documents from the city of Ugarit, dated to 1200 BCE (3200 years ago). Each lunar month begins on a chudthu (new moon). Today is the 24th day of the month of Magmaru. It is five days until the next chudthu and the beginning of the month of Dabchu-Pagruma. This year, there is a total solar eclipse on the coming chudthu. The Canaanites made greater offerings to the deities during each chudthu and malatu (full moon).
Date palm tree with fruit at an orchard in Medina. Photo taken by Kerina Yin, released into public domain and used under Creative Commons License. It can be accessed at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Date_palm_with_fruits.jpg
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