Beware the Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March
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Have you ever contemplated the signs and symbols associated with a perfectly neutral thing like a month? Today is the Ides of March, that infamous occasion marking the murder of Julius Caesar. The line of my title is from William Shakespeare's play of the same name, Julius Caesar.

Upon a little research, it turns out that the Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martias) is the name of March 15 in the Roman calendar. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the month for May, July, and October as well. The Ides of March was a festival day dedicated to the god Mars. A military parade was usually held. Mars, the Roman god of war, gives us our third day of the week, Tuesday. (Consider the French, Mardi.)

That sent me right into Mardi Gras, the festival before the season of sacrifice, Lent, from Ash Wednesday until Easter. Mardi Gras means, literally, Fat Tuesday, and is a wild festival of indulgence just prior to relinquishment. It used to be that serious observers of the Easter season gave up something for Lent, something they liked. This year I'm giving up the habit of fear about my health.

One of the ideas that struck me about the Ides is that it's two weeks, give or take, before the end of the first quarter of the year. For a lot of businesses and people, that's one-quarter way through the calendar year. Maybe we could use the Ides to preview our end-of-first-quarter progress? How about a middle day of reckoning?

March is also American Red Cross Month, Women's History Month (United States), and National Reading Day (United States) is March 2 because it's Dr. Seuss' birthday. International Women's Day is March 8 as per the United Nations, Saint Patrick's Day is March 17, a huge celebration in the United States where there are enclaves of Irish-Americans, although, in fact, a celebration of the teachings of Catholicism in Ireland.

Then there are the celestial aspects to March. First, the equinox, named the vernal or spring equinox in the northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere, occurs on dates varying from March 19 to March 21; this is one of two days a year when the lengths of day and night are equal.

Most of March lives under the astrological sign of Pisces, the double fish, one of the primary symbols of Christianity. In times of early persecution, Christians even called themselves little fish.

The floral emblem of March is the sturdy daffodil. Not my favorite flower, they are mostly brilliant yellow, a reminder of the intellect behind nature. I have memories of daffs bravely growing through snow, along with lilac crocuses. In a lovely little antique book I own, it is written that daffodils signify chivalry.

March's birthstones are aquamarine and bloodstone. They mean courage. Courage is exactly what is required when facing off March weather. In like a lion, out like a lamb. Then, there's how we feel when the weather stays too lionlike, just as mad as the March Hare from Alice in Wonderland.

I dreamed even more March associations. March Madness, for the basketball season. The March King, John Philip Sousa. Marching to Praetoria, an anthem. Forward, march! And one of my favorite days of the year: March 4th (march forth!).

March's birth flower is the Narcissus which signifies egotism in my little book. Perhaps a warning to that original Caesar to beware excessive self-contemplation. I could go on and on because the associations are endless.

The one that smacked me upside the head is that March is the only month of the year that's a verb, and perhaps that's all that required of us. March ... right into Spring.

For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso's website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook.

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