Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

The Day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, which refers to the fact that it is the busiest shopping day in the year – and hopefully, with luck, the most lucrative, putting merchants well into the black. Good fortune on Black Friday portends a thriving economy.

Normally, the term “Black Friday” refers to any ill-fated especially unlucky Friday. It was originally coined to describe two incidents in British history: Friday, December 6, 1745, the day when news reached London that the Young Pretender and his army of invasion had reached Derby; and Friday, May 10, 1886, the date of an extremely severe financial panic.

Friday is heavily charged with guilt and pain and death in the Judeo-Christian tradition and is always associated with bad luck. “It was on a Friday that Eve served forbidden fruit pie at her legendary garden soiree. Friday was the day that Adam was expelled from Paradise, the day he repented, the day he died, and the day he was cremated. And it was on a Friday — Good Friday — that Christ was killed on the cross.

In ancient times, Friday was associated with the early Mother Creation Goddesses for whom that day was named. In Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, Icelandic and Teutonic cultures she was called variously, Freya, Freia, Freyja, Fir, Frea and Frig. Friday is Frig’s Day, Frigedaeg, in Old English, Fredag in Danish, Freitag in Dutch. In Mediterranean lands, She reigned as Venus. In Latin, Friday is the Day of Venus, Dies Veneris; Vendredi in French, Venerdi in Italian and Viernes in Spanish.

Like the Roman Venus, Frig was the Goddess of love and sex, of fertility and creativity. Her name became the Anglo-Saxon noun for love, and in the sixteenth century, frig came to mean, “to copulate.” On Friday, Her hallowed day, fish was eaten as a fertility charm. Fish have a connection with fecundity in several cultures. Friday is also sacred to Oshun, the Yoruban orisha of opulent sensuality and overwhelming femininity.

Held holy in Her honor, Friday was observed as the day of Her special celebrations. Friday is Sabbath in the Islamic religion. Jews around the world still begin the observance of the Sabbath at sunset on Friday evenings. All work is put away, a feast prepared, the table set, everything and everyone spanking clean. The family gathers to usher in the day of prayer and rest. The mother and her daughters kindle two white candles to light the welcome way for the entrance of the Sabbath, personified as the Sabbath Bride.

Sacred sexual rites were once held in honor of the Goddess on Fridays. In anticipation, fish was consumed as an aphrodisiac — that is, sacred to Aphrodite, the Greek incarnation of the Love Goddess. The “Vessel of the Fish,” vesica piscis, was a widespread euphemism for the yoni, the female sexual organ, originating, perhaps, in the belief that women’s secretions smelled of fish. One of the appellations of the Hindu Great Goddess was referred to as, “A Virgin Named Fishy Smell, Whose Real Name Was Truth.”

Native Greenlanders believe that eating fish makes women, and even some men, pregnant. In Brazil, Samoa and parts of India, young virgins are fertilized by receiving gifts of fish. In Java, if the husband of a barren woman eats fish caught from the “Children’s Sea,” he will surely have offspring. Many American Indian tribes buried a fish at the foot of each corn plant, and organic farmers today feed their fields fish emulsion and fish mulch fertilizer.

Though the early Church was anxious to overturn pagan practices, the custom of eating fish on Friday was too ingrained to be ignored. The practice was continued by Christians, but not, certainly, as a sexual sacrament. Rather, it was viewed as a modified form of fasting, which, along with sexual abstinence, was thought to be the sort of solemn behavior befitting the day of Christ’s death. Marriage, too, was deemed inappropriate for Friday. This was a complete perversion of the prior popular opinion that Friday, the blessed day of the Love Goddess, was the best day to marry.

But old passions die hard. Despite the prevailing negative patriarchal associations, the ancient positive association of Friday with the good fortune granted by the Goddess has endured, in some skewed way, in our culture’s celebration of Black Friday as a national shopping frenzy. Once again the people are rejoicing on Her day! And the festivities continue for an entire month, as Black Friday marks the official start of the Christmas biz tiz.

Wishing you a Merry, Mary, Month of Madness.

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

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