When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. - Edmund Burke
By: sp34n119w , 9:27 PM GMT on June 01, 2012
The month of June is probably named for the Roman goddess Juno.
Oh, I've learned a lot about Juno! She, the wife and sister of Jupiter, has many aspects and functions throughout history. Juno is not, as I had thought, just another name for the Greek's Hera, wife and sister of Zeus. No, Juno had been around for a much longer period of time and has analogs in even more ancient Indoeuropean religions, as well.
Juno does incorporate much of Hera's story, and the later stories about one are similar to those of the other. But, Juno's story is much more complex and her cults were widespread, each with their own version, or aspect, of the goddess to worship. It is worth reading the wikipedia article to get a sense of just how deep in time these myths go.
Her main functions are tripartite. Juno is the queen, and not just the wife of the king but a ruler in her own right, a symbol of strength and purity, patron of politics. Juno is a goddess of war, a protector of warriors who fights at their side, the Savior. Juno is a goddess of fertility, vitality, and youth, who shepherds women through childbirth.
It struck me (and is noted in the wikipedia article that scholars see it) that male gods almost always have only one functional aspect while female gods often encompass many, and disparate, functions.
Juno is part of a triad in Rome which is made of herself, her husband/brother, and Minerva, Jupiter's daughter. Together they are the gods of Rome, the capital city.
Interestingly, for the purposes of this series of blog entries, Juno is directly associated with all but one of the previous months of the year.
Maia, you may recall, had an etymology that was difficult to pin down. However, it does seem to indicate age, as in old age, the time of wisdom, being related to the words major, majority, and the like. The month of June may well have been named not for the goddess (this seems unlikely, doesn't it?) but for the word that indicates youth and the vitality that comes with it. Well, the association between the goddess of youthful vitality and the word that means youthful vitality seems obvious, anyway.
Mars, for whom March is named, is the Roman god of War and the son of Juno.
Februum is the month of purification and includes a festival of purification. Juno, as the goddess of purity, receives sacrifice and worship during that festival.
Janus is where the year began and where my interest was piqued. The god of beginnings and endings, the gatekeeper between earth and the heavens. The one who stands between humans and the gods as communicator. He was before all and during all and will be after all. It should not surprise that the goddess of childbirth is associated with the god of beginnings. Read the bit of the wikipedia article titled “Janus and Juno” for more on the two of them, and more on Janus than I found before.
“Janus and Juno cooperate as the first looks after the passage from the previous to the ensuing month while the second helps it through the strength of her vitality.”
There is so much more to Juno's story – more than I can write here but, also, more than we can know. Of course, religions change over time. People interact and find new cultural ideas that they can incorporate into their preexisting stories of themselves. Juno and all the other gods – Roman, Greek, Etruscan, Eritrean, Persian, etc. - show up in all the places that those people traveled and traded, by land and by sea. A few thousand years of intermittent interaction among so many peoples makes for a complex theological history that is impossible to fully understand at this late date. It sure is fun trying.
Summer Solstice 2012 – June 20 at 23:09 UT
which should be, ummmm,
June 20 at 16:06 PDT or 4:09 PM PDT
Yes, that's it! I'm sure this time :)
For the bigger picture, have a look at the NE Pac WVloop.
Crenelated Clouds :
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Updated: 12:44 AM PST on February 25, 2017