Myth-of-the-Month Club: Janus

Janus My fellow bloggers out there in the technosphere have taken up the challenge to write a post-a-day on their blogs for the month of January. (“I can do that!” Mrs. L thought to herself.) So what if there’s laundry to do, meals to prepare, and holiday decorations to take down? I can do this! Or can I?

And like any good resolution, which is also part of the “resolve” word family (resolution, resolve, resolute) I am going to give it my best.

But I needed a theme. I love themes. Those are the universal truths and connections among all cultures, societies, time, and beliefs that allow us not to float away, untethered, distracted, or isolated.

Don-da-da-da! (That’s supposed to be trumpets blaring):  The theme for January is the “Myth of the Month Club.” Each day I will feature a myth, legend, folktale, deity (remember? polytheism? deity? gods…goddesses…demi-gods, etc.? Come on…you remember, right?) And what better or more appropriate way to start off January with that two-faced deity himself, doesn’t know if he’s coming or going, looking back to look forward, JANUS!

Roman god of doorways, gates, and transitions, who faced forwards and backwards. The name January comes from the name of Janus. Janus statues show twin faces. – http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/religionmyth/ig/Greek-Mythology/Janus.-_Qs.htm

 

Two-faced rock.
Two-faced rock.

Janus imitates its two-faced Greek god namesake by catching light on two sides.

The brighter side of Janus is lit by the sun while light reflected off Saturn dimly illuminates the rest of the moon and reveals the non-spherical shape of this small satellite.

This image has been scaled to twice its original size. This view looks toward the leading hemisphere of the Janus (179 kilometers, or 111 miles across). North on Janus is up and rotated 22 degrees to the left.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 12, 2009. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1 million kilometers (621,000 miles) from Janus and at a Sun-Janus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 112 degrees. Image scale is 6 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel.

Janus is one of Saturn’s (the planet) satellites (moons).  Remember, Saturn is, in mythology, the old man who grunts and grumbles at Baby New Year. It is no accident that French astronomer Audouin Dollfus who discovered this tiny, two-faced moon in 1966 named it Janus.  Janus and Saturn are connected to the same myth: that time turns, we look to our past, and to our futures, all at the same time, in the present moment.

Here is another thought about Saturn:

Vouet completed the piece “Father Time Overcome by Hope, Love, and Beauty” (1627).: 

Old Man Time

(I’m not sure if time can be overcome by love, beauty, and hope. That’s what is advertised to us. If we buy wrinkle cream, we HOPE that we will still have BEAUTY and we can keep LOVE.)

In any case, Happy New Year. Like Janus, I think it’s important to honor the past, learn from mistakes, and appreciate the experiences we’ve gained, while simultaneously looking forward to the future.

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