Pantheon- People never really stopped believing.

March 24th 2018

Written By Hypatia Of Alexandrea for Coven Life


I started to think back to when I first started observing the different Gods and Goddesses in their glory. Coming from a Christian religion and believing that there was only one God it was difficult for me to truly grasp the Many.

Slowly converting from the monotheistic strict religious guidelines I come to realize that the One was once Many. In other words before monotheism came along there was of course many God’s observed, especially by the very creators of the now dominant monotheistic religions.

The Gods of the Pantheons became rolled into one and most others were given the titles of angels and saints. This is evident in the Orthodox Christian religion where some Gods and Goddesses have the title of saints such as Athena, Apollo, Aphrodite, Artemis and the list goes on!

These Gods never ceased to be observed, they were merely converted into saints and most of the time celebrated accordingly to their healing qualities that are connected to their ancient roots.

Being a practitioner of health I of course am drawn to the healing powers of the God’s. In ancient times entire temples were built where people would flock in dedication to be healed by the God’s of health. Even such greats as Hippocrates the father of Medicine adorned these temples.

On the 27th of March, the 147th day of  the new year one of such Gods is celebrated and Her name was Hygeia.


She was the Goddess of healing powers and medicine. The health bringer, the preserver of humanity from sickness and protecting all those from dangers on land and sea. This is where the very word hygiene was taken from. Along with Her father, Their temples were spruced along the Mediterranean helping those in need. Her father was Asclepius and her siblings were Goddesses also connected to health and well-being. Her symbol just like her father is the serpent. In ancient times the serpent was considered the healer sent from the God’s themselves. It was not until later that monotheistic religions turned the serpent into the villain.



Interestingly in medicine the serpent is still used as a symbol of medicine!


Hygeia’s bowl with the serpent used in pharmacology today.



Her Fathers Rod, The Rod of Asclepius used as a symbol of medicine today.

These Gods have been ingrained into the modern Orthodox Christians DNA, and as you can see above also into our western modern day life. Somehow throughout history clearly the people of the Pantheon were not willing to let go so easily and found ways to weave their God’s into their currant way of life. For instance if you are familiar with the Greek Greeting of Yiasou, or (Γειά σου) stin Igia sou, all that translates to is, “ To your Health or , Hygeia”, as the very Goddesses name now days actually still translates as health or hygiene. So Modern Greek Orthodox are still hailing to the Goddess Hygeia unawares, so much so they have Her in their greetings, in their departures and of course in salutations to their actual health. Western society revers these God’s enough to have them as their symbol.

I myself take great interest in observing the religions and cultures of the world. I not only observe and call upon my ancestral God’s but those that I connect with in my soul. Throughout history one God gets converted into the next, same God’s different names, cultures and times. There is no one more right or wrong, however it is important to recognize rather than deny. Denying and insisting that only you’re God or God’s exist is mere ignorance of the structure of creation. Recognize where our faith, our belief systems and our structures originated from.  Traveling the world you see time and time again the similarities of religious observations throughout all different cultures. Learning to embrace all of humanity together with your own religious path is true spirituality, this is the path of an enlightened healer for the self and others. As a witch, a healer, a sage, a shaman call it what you will you are the Earth keeper, the Keeper and guardian of all that is dear to Her. Respect all that she has granted to humanity, breath her in with utmost gratitude, she is your healer, your Hygeia or call her what you may, she who comes by many names and is still the same and the One.

Happy healing and Γειά σου!

Blessings to you and yours


Ceridwen, The Mother of Poetry and Wisdom



Marc Choyt 10/29/2013

The steam still rises from Ceridwen’s cauldron. She is the mother of poetry, wisdom and prophecy, the triple goddess of Maid, Mother and Crone, shape shifting between life and death. Long, long ago, when the gods and goddesses roamed about the earth, visible to men and women, the White Crafty One, Ceridwen was married to Tegit Foel, the giant deity of a Bala lake.

They had two children—first a beautiful daughter and then, a son. That son was named Morfran. He was so repulsive to gaze upon, so ugly, that he was called Afagddu (“utter darkness”). Ceridwen would give him special powers. She would make him wise, overflowing with poetry and inspiration and for this, she needed a potion. Morda, a blind man, was to tend the fire, while Gwion Bach, a young boy, stirred this gift called, Awen.

Perhaps the cauldron was brimming with the oily light of stars, seasoned with the heart of regenerative joy, the labyerinths of infinite black nights, the sweet and bitter songs from rock and water, the elixir of spirit that can shred and make whole again. Life with all its paradoxes inherit in light and darkness, the seeds of wisdom that spring from the mysteries of contradiction—needed to cook a good long time—a year and a day to be exact. When it was ready, three drops would bring you wisdom but even a drop more than that would kill you. After many days of attentive care, three drops spilled on to Gwion’s thumb.

The pain from the boiling liquid was sharp and he immediately put it in his mouth—thus gaining the wisdom that Ceridwen had intended for Morfran. He knew Ceridwen would be in rage and he fled, using the powers of the elixir to change himself into a hare. Ceridwen shape-shifted to a greyhound, in pursuit. He turned into a fish, jumping into a river; she, an otter. He, a song bird; she, a hawk. Finally, he turned into a kernel of corn and she became a hen, finding him and eating him with little effort.

Yet soon, Ceridwen became pregnant, immediately knowing Gwion was in her belly. Though she was resolved to kill him, when he was born, he was so beautiful that infanticide was impossible. Instead, she sewed him in a leather bag and tossed him into the ocean. In Wales, near Aberdyfi, Wales, by Prince Elffin ap Gwyddno was walking along the shore and found the bag. He opened it up and saw the magic child whose forehead was white, like his mother’s. Immediately, the baby recited this poem:


Fair Elffin, cease your weeping! Despair brings no profit. No catch in Gwyddno’s weir Was ever as good as tonight’s. Let no one revile what is his; Man sees not what nurtures him. Gwyddno’s prayers shall not be in vain. God breaks not his promises. Fair Elphin, dry your cheeks!It does not become you to be sad.Though you think you have no gainUndue grief will bring you nothing, Nor will doubting the miracles of the Lord.Though I am small, I am gifted. From the sea and the mountain, from rivers’ depths God sent bounty to the blessed.Elphin of cheerful disposition— Meek is your mind. You must not lament so heavily. Better God than gloomy foreboding. Though I am frail and littleAnd wet with spume of Dylan’s sea, I shall earn in a day of contention Riches better than three score for you. Elphin of the remarkable qualities, Grieve not for your catch. Though I am frail here in my bunting, There are wonders on my tongue. You must not fear greatly While I am watching over you. By remembering the name of the TrinityNone can overcome you.

He was given the name of Taliesin and was raised by Elphin and his wife with great love and happiness. Their wealth increased through all the days. Taliesin grew up to be greatest of all bards, and sang the ancient and true songs of wisdom in the court of King Author. You can still hear his songs if you put your ear to heartbeat of the earth and feel the steam rising from Ceridwen’s cauldron. For Taliesin and Ceridwen, the mother of poetry, wisdom and prophecy, the triple goddess of Maid, Mother and Crone, lives on even now, shape shifting between life and death.


Readings to inspire the Witch Within



Outstanding! Though many who are in search of a “how to witchcraft” instructional manual may have a hardtime grasping the importance & relevancy of the actual historical research which went into each topic. Also, there are insightful inferences made between witchcraft origins relating to many different “religions”. If you want an intelligent read which will answer so many questions why modern witches do xxx<— (fill in the blank), then this is a book for you. Otherwise I recommend Wicca or Witchcraft for Dummies which actually are wonderful books for the novice or magical dabbler.

Happy reading and blessings


Priestesses of the Bee: The Melissae

By Linda Iles
Isis, Lotus of Alexandria Lyceum
The Melissae, also known as The Thriae (also Thriai), a triad of divinatory Priestesses in ancient Greece, were originally Nymphs. The Thriae were able to see the future, interpret signs and omens provided by Nature and the Earth. They taught the God Apollo this art. Their names are Daphnis (Laurel), Kleodora (Famed for Her Gift) and Melaina (The Black).
“And not of every water do the Melissae carry to Deo, but of the trickling stream that springs from a holy fountain, pure and undefiled, the very crown of waters.”
– Callimachus, from his Hymn to Apollo
The Bee and the Great Mother
Ancient Greece and Crete

In the time of ancient Greece, and particularly in the temples of Artemis, Aphrodite, Demeter but also of Cybele, Diana and Rhea, priestesses were called the Melissae, which translates as ‘the bees.’  The Goddess as the Great Mother was sometimes titled Melissa, literally, ‘the Queen Bee.’ Some classical sources describe these priestesses as young and virgin, others tell us the designation of Melissae was a title of honor, bestowed due to devotion and labor for the Great Mother by a certain individual, which was above and beyond the ordinary.  The Pythian oracular priestess at Delphi was known as the Delphic Bee, and the emblem of a bee was placed on Delphic coins in her honor.  Bees sometimes appear on the statues of Artemis, and the officiates at Eleusis during the celebration of the Mysteries were called Bees.

Porphyry (AD 233 to c.304) writes: “The ancients gave the name of Melissae (bees) to the priestesses of Demeter who were initiates of the chthonian goddess; the name Melitodes to Kore herself: the moon (Artemis) too, whose province it was to bring to the birth, they called Melissa, because the moon being a bull and its ascension the bull, bees are begotten of bulls.  And souls that pass to the earth are bull-begotten.”

Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas (1921 – 1994) writes of this passage by Porphyry: “…we learn that Artemis is a bee, Melissa, and that both she and the bull belong to the moon.  Hence both are connected with the idea of a periodic regeneration.  We also learn that souls are bees and that Melissa draws souls down to be born.  The idea of a ‘life in death’ in this singularly interesting concept is expressed by the belief that the life of the bull passed into that of the bees.”

How did these titles of Melissa for the Great Mother and her priestesses as Melissae come about?  The Melissae may have inherited their title from an old order of nymphs – to this day the larva of bees are called nymphs! The myths of ancient Greece link the Melissae with the god Zeus and the island of Crete. Zeus was born in a cave of bees and was fed by them.  Another form of the myth says that Melisseus, king of Crete at that time, discoverer of honey and inventor of bee-keeping, had two daughters, Amalthaea and Melissa, who nourished the youthful Zeus with goat’s milk and honey.  Melissa was eventually appointed by her father as the first priestess of the Great Mother and from that time those who served the Great Mother were called Melissae.

The bee-keeping activities of the Minoans of Crete is documented not in myth but by many other ancient sources, including hieroglyphs, representations of actual beehives and engraved images.  The Greeks eventually took up bee-keeping due to the example set by the Minoans, and also presumably inherited the mythical image of the Great Mother Goddess as the Queen Bee. She was corresponded with regeneration, divinity, healing, purity and magic potency.  To the ancients, the honey bee was not only a messenger but a direct representative of the gods and goddesses of heaven and the airy realms.

In Old Europe

Marija Gimbutas included illustrations and photos of artifacts which depicted goddesses and bees in her book, “The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe.”  Her detailed research provided ample evidence of a Bee Goddess and many examples of bee symbolism dating well back into the Neolithic period.  She believed that bees were held in high esteem by the Cretans from possibly as long ago as the beginning of the Neolithic period.

Eastern European languages, especially Hungarian, contain root words for mother, like ‘anya’ or ‘méh’which can be found in their words for bee, womb, uterus, to conceive, hive, bee sting, queen bee, cervix, fruit of the womb, apiary, embryo, bee swarm, fetus, and many more similar definitions.  In Lithuania, an ancient method of divination was performed by women who poured melted beeswax into cold, pure water.  Then they would interpret the fortune of the applicant through the resulting shapes taken on by the wax as it solidified.

The ability of bees to create honey was believed to be magical or divine – a kind of natural alchemy. The bee-keepers of Europe believed virtue was required for the production of honey, as bees would never produce unless the keeper was honest and good. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that scientists could explain how properties of flower pollen and the enzymes produced by bees could combine to make honey.  


To continue reading please click on to the link bellow


The Historical Origins Of The Witch

Published October 31, 2015
Updated July 20, 2017

A fearsome being of fairytale and myth, the witch has carved out a home in nearly every culture across the world and time. Indeed, the witch represents the dark side of the female presence: she has power that cannot be controlled.

While this time of year brings about depictions of aging, ugly, hook-nosed women surrounding their cauldrons and inflicting toil and trouble on the masses, history tells us that the witch’s origins are far less sinister. In fact, those whom we consider to be witches have often been healers.

Carole Fontaine, an internationally recognized American biblical scholar, argues in an interview that the idea of the witch has been around as long as humanity has tried to deal with disease and avert disaster.

In the earliest centuries of human civilization, witches were the women who served the goddesses, and therefore were revered throughout their communities.

In the Middle East, ancient civilizations not only worshiped powerful female deities, but it was often women who practiced the holiest of rituals. Trained in the sacred arts, these priestesses became known as wise women, and may have been some of the earliest manifestations of what we now recognize as the witch.

These wise women made house calls, delivered babies, dealt with infertility, and cured impotence. According to Fontaine,

What’s interesting about them is that they are so clearly understood to be positive figures in their society. No king could be without their counsel, no army could recover from a defeat without their ritual activity, no baby could be born without their presence.

So how did the benevolent image of a wise woman transform into the malevolent figure of the witch we know today?

To continue reading……


Magic in Ancient Greece: Necromancy, Curses, Love Spells, and Oracles

The magical traditions of ancient Greece encompassed spells, curse tablets, drugs, potions, poisons, amulets, and talismans. For many cultures of the past, there was a very fine line between magic, superstition, religion, and science. The ancient magicians were seen as symbols of wisdom, keepers of secrets, and masters of the arts, mathematics and science, particularly chemistry. Because magicians were believed to be individuals with access to supernatural powers, they were both feared and respected.

Spells and incantations had been used by the Egyptians for thousands of years and the Greeks carried this tradition forward, as evidenced by surviving Greek papyri containing magic records that date back to the 4th and 3rd century BC.

Amulets and Talismans

Amulets in ancient Greece were believed to have provided protection or the attraction of positive outcomes to situations or desires. These were worn around the neck or wrist of a person, or placed in physical locations, such as a house, to provide the same intended results. Commonly, Greek amulets were divided into two broad categories: talismans (which were believed to bring good luck) and phylacteries (which were intended for protection).

The materials used for talismans included bones, wood, stones and sometimes semi-precious gemstones. They could also be written on small pieces of papyrus or a metal sheet. They could be carried in a pouch or small container, or in small bags containing mixed herbs. And to complete the process, one had to invoke a god or goddess (usually Hecate), or multiple gods, and recite magical words of power.

To read the rest of this article please click on the link or copy and paste it into your browser:

Interesting Video Explaining “What is Witchcraft?”

I found this little over 3 minute YouTube video explanation of what Witchcraft is very interesting. The woman explaining it puts it in a way that I would have. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.–HN9bzZAhURuVkKHZyUDY0QtwIILTAC&usg=AOvVaw0G7wrFjI6yZ4MQFg3K4puk

Lammas: Where Did It Come From?


The excitement of the harvest season has permeated the fabric of history since the agriculturally based societies were first established. Having weathered the delicate beginning of the planting stage and found mercy from the myriad catastrophes that could befall the crops, Lammas heralded the onset of the time of tremendous work met with equal reward. Wheat is thought to have been the first grain to translate out into deliberate agricultural production and the festival of the wheat harvest was of great significance.

The Anglo-Saxon word “hlaf-mass” or “loaf-mas” is thought to be the origin of the word “Lammas.” Lammas is also called “The Festival of the Wheat.” The date of August 1stis significant in that it marks the midpoint of the warm time of the year, which would begin at Beltane and end at Samhain.

To continue reading please follow the link bellow.



What is Paganism? A Factual Overview

A simple, factual explanation of what Paganism actually is. It is pure information written for anyone who is non Pagan or who is Pagan but wants to know more. It is not meant to impress or proselytize.

NOTE: I have had some letters from Christians who claim this essay is anti-Christian. That is not the case. The comparisons with Christianity are objective and without any harmful intent.

In simplest terms Paganism is a religion of place, or a native religion, for example the Native American’s religion is Pagan, Hinduism is a form of Paganism. All Pagan religions are characterized by a connection and reverence for nature, and are usually polytheistic i.e. have many Gods and/or Goddesses.

Modern Paganism as practiced in the west is particular to the native peoples of the west and although there are many forms most are descended from Celtic origins. Modern Paganism or ‘neo-Paganism’ has the following characteristics:

1. Paganism is a religion of nature, in other words Pagans revere Nature. Pagans see the divine as immanent in the whole of life and the universe; in every tree, plant, animal and object, man and woman and in the dark side of life as much as in the light. Pagans live their lives attuned to the cycles of Nature, the seasons, life and death.

2. Unlike the patriarchal religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) the divine is female as well as male and therefore there is a Goddess as well as a God. These deities are within us as well as without us (immanent); they are us. They are not simply substitutes for the Muslim or Judeo-Christian God. This is because the Gods of the major religions tend to be super-natural i.e. above nature whereas Pagan deities are natural, symbolizing aspects of nature or human nature. Having said that God and Goddess are split from the Great Spirit or Akashka which probably equates to the God of

the patriarchal religions.

3. The Goddess represents all that is female and the God represents all that is male. But because nature is seen as female the Goddess has a wider meaning. Often called Mother Earth or Gaia she is seen as the creatrix and sustainer of life, the mother of us all which makes all the creatures on the planet our siblings.

4. There are sub-groups of named Gods and Goddesses called Pantheons, drawn from the distant past, for example Isis and Osiris from Egypt or Thor, Odin, Freya et al from Norse religion and mythology. Ancient Pagans would have worshipped one or a small number of Gods and Goddesses, whilst often recognizing the validity of other people’s deities. The concept of an overall, un-named Goddess and God, the sum totals of all the others, appears to be a recent one but individual named deities represent particular human qualities or archetypes and are often used as a focus for celebrations and spiritual rites.

5. Paganism has developed alongside mankind for thousands of years; as cultures have changed so has Paganism, yet it is grounded in deep rooted genetic memories that go back to neolithic times and before. Thus Paganism is not just a nature religion but a naturalreligion.

6. Paganism in the west takes a number of forms including Wicca, Druidism, and Shamanism.

7. To Pagans the four ancient elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water have special significance. The importance of these is hard to define because they have so many correspondences, for example they are associated with the four directions, North, East, South and West. Each element is a kind of spiritual substance from which all things are made especially ourselves and at the same time are Guardians both of ourselves and of the Goddess and God, and guarding the gateways between this world and the other world.

8. Many Pagans believe in reincarnation in some form. It gives Pagans a substantially different view of life. Early Christians saw Karma as a kind of treadmill, trapping people in endless reincarnations, never free. But Pagans see reincarnation as, at best, a chance to improve or to continue unfinished work, and at worst just a simple re-cycling of souls.



The re-emergence of Paganism

The revival of Western Paganism is mainly due to the creation of Wicca, the nice modern name for Witchcraft. However Paganism is not Wicca; Wicca is an Occult form of Paganism.

The old religion was virtually wiped out by the church of Rome using a combination of propaganda, torture and genocide. Some people held on to the old religion.

These were often the wisemen and women or Witches, the root ‘wit’ meaning ‘wise’. The church became impatient and began a purge beginning around 1484 involving the burning of Witches and wholesale slaughter of thousands of people across Europe just on suspicion of being Witches. Not surprisingly, in the face of such oppression the old religion went ‘underground’ and Witches dedicated to preserving the religion formed themselves into secret groups called covens.

Christianity’s purge was so successful that the old religion was virtually extinct by the 1900s but in 1899 a book was published by Charles Leland called ‘The Gospel of Aradia’ about Witches in Northern Italy who practiced ‘La Vecchia Religione’ – the Old Religion.

In 1921 an English historian, Margaret Murray published a book, ‘The Witch Cult in Western Europe’ in which she maintained that Witchcraft had been a religion. A British ex colonial administrator called Gerald Gardner supposedly revived Witchcraft and called it Wicca. In 1951 the laws against Witchcraft in Britain were repealed and he published a milestone book on the subject, ‘Witchcraft Today’.

Since that time Wicca has grown in popularity and has encouraged the revival of the original Pagan roots and the re-emergence of other Pagan branches such as the Northern tradition and the modern Druids. Wicca itself has become more eclectic and has absorbed elements of other systems such as the Qabala and elements of Hindu. While Wicca is relatively new, Paganism is as old as mankind and its traditions are still being rediscovered.

What do Pagans do?

Pagans revere the cycles of Nature through rituals or ceremonies of various kinds. Pagans of the western traditions celebrate up to eight festivals or Sabbats each year (not all Pagans celebrate all the Sabbats). They comprise the four solar quarters i.e. the two solstices (longest and shortest days) and the two equinoxes (day and night are the same length) plus four Celtic ‘fire’ festivals. All these mark important events in the cycle of life and also symbolise changes in the Goddess and God. They are:

Samhain(pronounced “sowain”), 31st October: the feast of the dead; remembrance of ancestors and people, now dead, who were important to us. It marks the end of the Celtic year and the start of the spiritual new year. Also known as All Hallows day, the night before being All Hallows Eve (Halloween) or all souls night.

Yule, the winter solstice, 21st December approx.: rebirth of the sun and the gradual lengthening of the days towards springtime and new life.
Imbolc or Bride’s day: start of spring and the return of the Goddess to the land.
Ostara (Easter), the spring equinox, 21st March: Return of the sun from the south, springtime proper. Some celebrate a holy union between God and Goddess.
Beltane (starting on May day): Summertime begins celebrating new life and the holy marriage of God and Goddess.

Midsomer (Midsummer) or Litha, the summer solstice, 21st June approx.: Everything is green thanks to the…

To read the rest of this article please click on the link or cooy and paste it into your browser:

New Year

In many pagan traditions Samhain, October 31st, is the end of one year and the beginning of the next. While modern society celebrates the last day of the old year on December 31 st and the beginning of the new year on January 1st. Below is an article explaining some different new year traditions and dates.

A History of New Years

In 46 B.C.E. the Roman emperor Julius Caesar first established January 1 as New Year’s day. Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back.  Caesar felt that the month named after this god (“January”) would be the appropriate “door” to the year.  Caesar celebrated the first January 1 New Year by ordering the violent routing of revolutionary Jewish forces in the Galilee.  Eyewitnesses say blood flowed in the streets.  In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies—a ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was ordered by the gods.

As Christianity spread, pagan holidays were either incorporated into the Christian calendar or abandoned altogether.  By the early medieval period most of Christian Europe regarded Annunciation Day (March 25) as the beginning of the year.  (According to Catholic tradition, Annunciation Day commemorates the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would be impregnated by G-d and conceive a son to be called Jesus.)

After William the Conqueror (AKA “William the Bastard” and “William of Normandy”) became King of England on December 25, 1066, he decreed that the English return to the date established by the Roman pagans, January 1.  This move ensured that the commemoration of Jesus’ birthday (December 25) would align with William’s coronation, and the commemoration of Jesus’ circumcision (January 1) would start the new year – thus rooting the English and Christian calendars and his own Coronation).  William’s innovation was eventually rejected, and England rejoined the rest of the Christian world and returned to celebrating New Years Day on March 25.

About five hundred years later, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII (AKA “Ugo Boncompagni”, 1502-1585) abandoned the traditional Julian calendar.  By the Julian reckoning, the solar year comprised 365.25 days, and the intercalation of a “leap day” every four years was intended to maintain correspondence between the calendar and the seasons.  Really, however there was a slight inaccuracy in the Julian measurement (the solar year is actually 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds = 365.2422 days).  This slight inaccuracy caused the Julian calendar to slip behind the seasons about one day per century.  Although this regression had amounted to 14 days by Pope Gregory’s time, he based his reform on restoration of the vernal equinox, then falling on March 11, to the date had 1,257 years earlier when Council of Nicaea was convened (March 21, 325 C.E.).  Pope Gregory made the correction by advancing the calendar 10 days.  The change was made the day after October 4, 1582, and that following day was established as October 15, 1582.  The Gregorian calendar differs from the Julian in three ways:  (1) No century year is a leap year unless it is exactly divisible by 400 (e.g., 1600, 2000, etc.); (2) Years divisible by 4000 are common (not leap) years; and (3) once again the New Year would begin with the date set by the early pagans, the first day of the month of Janus – January 1.

On New Years Day 1577 Pope Gregory XIII decreed that all Roman Jews, under pain of death, must listen attentively to the compulsory Catholic conversion sermon given in Roman synagogues after Friday night services.  On New Years Day 1578 Gregory signed into law a tax forcing Jews to pay for the support of a “House of Conversion” to convert Jews to Christianity.  On New Years 1581 Gregory ordered his troops to confiscate all sacred literature from the Roman Jewish community.  Thousands of Jews were murdered in the campaign.

Throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, January 1 – supposedly the day on which Jesus’ circumcision initiated the reign of Christianity and the death of Judaism – was reserved for anti-Jewish activities: synagogue and book burnings, public tortures, and simple murder.

The Israeli term for New Year’s night celebrations, “Sylvester,” was the name of the “Saint” and Roman Pope who reigned during the Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.).  The year before the Council of Nicaea convened, Sylvester convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem.  At the Council of Nicaea, Sylvester arranged for the passage of a host of viciously anti-Semitic legislation.  All Catholic “Saints” are awarded a day on which Christians celebrate and pay tribute to that Saint’s memory.  December 31 is Saint Sylvester Day – hence celebrations on the night of December 31 are dedicated to Sylvester’s memory.

U.S. News and World Report December 23, 1996