March (Mensis Martius) is named for Mars the Roman god of war and the guardian of agriculture. In Roman mythology Mars is the son of Juno and Jupiter and father to Romulus and Remus. Fig trees were sacred to Mars, Juno and his children.
According to legend, Mars impregnated Rhea Silvia, the virgin daughter of King Numitor, in his sacred grove. Rhea Silvia is possibly connected to both Rhea, the Greek Titan mother goddess and Silvanus, the Roman god of forests. After the birth of Romulus and Remus, Rhea Silvia was imprisoned by her uncle and her infant sons were placed in the Tiber river to drown. A wild fig tree caught the twins and cradled them in its roots until a she-wolf (lupa) hid them safely in a nearby cave. Lupa nursed the twins under the shade of the fig, while a woodpecker gathered food from the forest. The wolf and the woodpecker were symbols of Mar’s presence, the fig tree represented their grandmother Juno.
The wild fig, Ficus Ruminalis, is named for Rumina, an ancient goddess of breastfeeding. Rumina was seen as the protector of nursing mothers and infants, both human and animal. The name Rumina comes from the Latin word ruma, meaning breast, and or rumon meaning flowing river. Offerings of milk were ritually placed on her roots by nearby shepherds since pre-Roman time. It was a shepherd named Faustulus, who found Romulus and Remus under the fig tree. He carried the infants home and raised them to become shepherds. As adults, Romulus wanted to build a town on the Palatine Hill in honor of the fig tree and she-wolf, while Remus wanted to build on the Aventine Hill. This caused a bitter dispute, which ended with Romulus killing his brother. Romulus then named the town he founded – Rome.
Romulus is then credited with overseeing the creation of a ten-month lunisolar calendar in 738 BCE. The Calendar of Romulus began on the Spring Equinox, in the month of Mars (Martius mensis), named for his father Mars. The months of January and February were added to the Roman Republic calendar in 713 BCE, March continued to be the first month of the calendar year, until 154 BCE, when the New Year began in January. March was still aligned with the Spring Equinox.
The Spring equinox is a critical astronomical date, which marked the beginning of the solar and agricultural year. The equinoxes occur twice a year in spring and fall. On this day the Sun rises and sets directly above the equator, creating equal amounts of sunlight and moonlight. Ancient astronomers tracked the Sun’s movement throughout the year in contrast to stars, which remained relatively fixed in the night sky.
Around 3000 BCE, Sumerians divided the sky into twelve 30o sections. This was based on their lunar calendar of twelve 30-day months. They envisioned a 360o degree ring around Earth’s midsection that contained the twelve fixed constellations of the Zodiac (Circle of Animals). Their understanding of how the Sun, Moon and Stars moved in harmony around Earth inspired the invention of the wheel and defined the circle as 360o.
Early astronomers also noted that the Sun’s position on the Spring Equinox, in relation to these fixed constellations, moved slightly every year. This phenomenon became known as the Precession of the Equinoxes, which is caused by Earth’s wobble. This star calendar, also known as the “Great Year”, is approximately 25,920 solar years long. The date of the Spring Equinox also determined the beginning point for each new “Astrological Age”. They calculated that the Sun would move into a new constellation every 2160 years. This understanding also inspired the creation of geometry.
The early calendars of Rome were all created during the astrological Age of Aries (Ram), between 2200 – 40 BCE. The constellation of Aries is also ruled by the planet Mars.
“Approximate” timeline for the Great Astrological Ages and their archetypal associations.
- Age of Leo – 10,840 to 8680 BCE
- End of the last Ice Age – humans traveled.
- Age of Cancer – 8680 to 6520 BCE
- Age of Agricultural – humans settled into towns.
- Age of Gemini – 6520 to 4360 BCE
- Age of Communication – language and images.
- Age of Taurus – 4360 to 2200 BCE
- Age of Creating – math, tools and structures.
- Age of Aries – 2200 BCE to 40 BCE
- Age of War – expansion by force and focus.
- Age of Pisces – 40 BCE to 2200 CE
- Age of Monotheism – dominion over nature.
- Age of Aquarius – 2200 – 4360 CE
- Age of Humanity – honoring water and nature.
Aries was originally the “Agrarian Worker” associated with farmers and shepherds (sheep herders). Archaeological and botanical evidence points to the fact that figs were one of the first trees to be cultivated for food and sheep were one of the first to be domesticated for their milk, wool and meat.
Shepherds were highly regarded as watchers and protectors over their flocks. This concept of being a shepherd evolved into watching over “flocks” of people as well, which could be led like “sheep”. Sheep were symbols of fertility, innocence and the renewal of life in Spring.
The first story ever written in stone, around 2150 BCE, is the Sumerian tale of the Epic of Gilgamesh. It begins to tell the story of Dumuzid/Tammuz and Inanna/Ishtar. Dumuzid, a shepherd king, was an ancient Sumerian fertility God who ruled over sheep, milk, trees and plants. He was the husband of Inanna, Goddess of love, sex, war and justice. Inanna was associated with the planet Venus as a rising and falling star. In Greek mythology Dumizid and Inanna were known as Adonis and Aphrodite. In both instances, Inanna/Aphrodite represented the powerful force of the sacred feminine, while Dumizid/Adonis represented the seasonal cycles of the year and the concepts of death/dying (Fall) and resurrection/rising (Spring).
In ancient Egypt, Khnum was a fertility god of creation dating back to 2900 BCE. He was depicted as a man with a ram’s head who ruled over water and created humans out of clay. He merged with the Sun god Ra, as Kknum-Ra. Khnum was the “Father of Fathers and the Mother of Mothers” associated with the seasons of the year.
Egyptian astronomy associated the Spring Equinox with Amon-Ra, another ram-headed god of fertility. They called this constellation the “Lord of the Head” or “The indicator of the Reborn Sun”.
Greek astronomers later named this constellation Aries, the Latin word for Ram (mature male sheep), which they associated with the epic quest of the Golden Fleece and Ares the Greek god of war.
In Greek mythology Ares killed Adonis out of jealousy over his love for Aphrodite. This is symbolic of the Arian Age, when patriarchy began to rule by force as it suppressed the sacred feminine in both men and women. Ares was seen as the son of Zeus (sky father) and Hera (earth mother).
When the Romans incorporated Greek mythology into their own religion they associated Ares with Mars as the god of war. Zeus became Jupiter and Hera became Juno.
Aries in Hebrew and Arabic, is seen as the “spring lamb.” March is the month when baby lambs are born.
In Egyptian mythology, the Sun was interconnected with the sycomore fig, Ficus sycomorus. It was seen as the tree that birthed the Sun god Ra. Sycomore figs, known as “Mother Trees” were used as astronomical markers that stood on the eastern horizon. When the sun passed between them, a new day was born. The Egyptian fertility goddesses Hathor, Nut and Isis were all considered mothers of Ra and Horus the Sun god. They were also known as the “Lady of the Sycomore.”
Sycomore wood was used in the construction of sarcophagi, so the dead could return to the mothering tree where she would nurture them back to life. The figs from Ficus sycomorus were also known as the “Figs of the Pharaoh” who named them Nehet meaning “refuge”.
In Hebrew, the sycomore’s name was shikma, meaning to nurture, regenerate or reestablish.
Note: The sycomore fig, Ficus sycomorus, should not be confused with the sycamore tree, which is actually a plane tree in the Platanus genus.
Fig trees have long been associated with mother goddesses, because they produced delicious edible fruit that resembles a womb and a medicinal milky sap.
In 375 BCE a temple was built in Rome and dedicated to Juno, mother of Mars, and Goddess of love, fertility and childbirth. The annual festival of Matronalia was held on the first day of March in honor of Juno. This day was seen as the official start of the new year that celebrated women.
Figs are a keystone species whose fruit appears without blossoms. The “flowers” are actually hidden within the fruit, making it a tree of great mystery. The shape of a fig is similar to a female womb, which is also a place of great mystery.
Fig trees have co-evolved with fig wasps for over 60-80 million years. Female fig wasps lay their eggs by climbing through a small opening called an “ostiole.” As the fig wasp deposits her eggs within the fig, she fertilizes the fig with the pollen of other figs on her legs. Because the ostiole is so small, the female wasp loses its antennae and wings as she crawls in. After laying her eggs she becomes trapped inside the fig. The fig in turn exudes an enzyme that quickly digests the wasp as nourishment. When the baby wasps hatch they are able to fly through the ostiole to continue the cycle of life. There are approximately 850 species of fig trees native throughout the tropical world and the roughly 850 species of fig wasps. When a fig tree is destroyed, the fig wasps dedicated to that tree will not survive. If the fig wasps are eradicated the fig tree will no longer bear fruit. Note: Some figs, grown for human consumption, are ripened without a fig wasp. This is done by spraying special hormones onto the figs.
Fig trees represent some of the most sacred trees in the world, based on world belief.
- Ficus sycomorus – Sycomore fig of the pharaohs and Egyptian mythology.
- Ficus ruminalis – The wild fig of Roman mythology
- Ficus religiosa – Bodhi fig where Buddha attained enlightenment.
- Ficus benghalensis – Banyan is the national tree of India.
- Brahma is in the roots that come from above.
- Shiva is in the branches that descend down.
- Vishnu is in the bark surrounding the trunk..
- Krishna rests in the leaves.
- Banyan is considered to be a tree of immortality.
- Ficus racemosa – Cluster Fig was created by Indra.
- Ficus carica – Common fig, important to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
- Mentioned in the Book of Genesis after the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.
- Figs are mentioned in the Bible almost 200 times.
- Figs are seen as a symbol of the Promised Land in Judaism.
- In the Quran, figs are said to be a gift from God/Allah that comes from paradise.
On the Spring Equinox the Sun will rise directly in the East and set directly in the West. The East is inextricably connected with Spring, the rising sun and the concepts of birth, hope and renewal. The West is connected with Fall, the setting sun and the concepts of death, darkness and harvest.
Let us give birth to new ways of living in harmony within ourselves, each other and our planet. This is the perfect time to reflect on the nurturing and co-creative essence of nature as we tend to our personal and collective gardens.
When the Sun rises on the morning of the Spring Equinox, March 20, 2022 let us remember that we are currently transitioning from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. As we witness this moment from planet Earth, know that we are anchored by the Moons subtle energy as we continue our yearly revolution around the Sun.
“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth” – Buddha.