The name of the month of January is derived from the two-faced Roman god with the Latin name of Janus. The ancient Romans had adopted him as their god of time, doorways, new beginnings, coinage, war, and peace. The reason he has two faces is that one face looks back into the past, and the other face forward to the future.
This is essentially what happens on New Year’s Eve when you countdown to midnight which is the ending of one year, and the beginning of a brand new year filled with new hopes and dreams. A time to put an end to the past year which is now old, and began fresh with a new year.
According to Sir Godfrey Higgins, “Janus is represented double, as being master of both gates of heaven, because he opens the day when he rises and shuts it when he sets. His statues are marked on the right hand with the number 300, and on the left 65, to signify the measure of the year.
Cicero says in his third book of Etymologies, that Cornificius calls him not Janus, but Eanus.* In the ancient poems of the Salii, he is styled the God of Gods. He is drawn with a key and a rod. He has twelve altars, one for each month of the year.”
Helena Blavatsky had said, “His temples were built with four equal sides, with a door and three windows on each side. Mythologists explain it as an emblem of the four seasons of the year, and three months in each season, and in all of the twelve months of the year. During the mysteries of Initiation, however, he became the Day-Sun and the nights. Hence he is often represented with the number 300 in one hand, and in the other 65, or the number of days of the Solar year.”
Janus holds the keys to the true esoteric religion of the original Gnostics who we can call the first Christians. He is the initiator into Gnosis and the Secret Mysteries. In the Catholic religion, Janus becomes Saint Peter. Jesus says to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Blavatsky further states, “Finding then that Janus, the Solar God, and son of Apollo, the Sun, means the “Initiator” and the “Opener of the Gate of Light,” or secret wisdom of the mysteries; that he is born from Krisa (esoterically Chris) and that he was a Chréstos through whom spoke the God; that he was finally Ion, the father of the Ionians, and some say, an aspect of Asklepios, another son of Apollo, it is easy to get hold of the thread of Ariadne in this labyrinth of allegories.”
Before the Roman Empire and the Christian era, the Greek historian and geographer, Strabo, had said that the original worship of Janus had come from the priesthood of the Phoenician Curetes of Crete who was accustomed to celebrate annually the rites of Juno and Latona, on Solmissus.
To the Gnostics such as the Manicheans, they represented the Father of Majesty as having four faces, and as being surrounded by twelve Powers, of whom they spoke as of the twelve great Gods. The Valentinians said, ” the Apostles were transferred to the twelve Signs of the Zodiac: for as Generation proceedeth from the Signs, so Regeneration proceedeth from the Apostles.” The Valentinians said that Christ suffered twelve months after bis baptism, in order that his preaching might exactly complete a year.
The ancient Sumerian deity Isimud was commonly portrayed with two faces facing in opposite directions. Sumerian depictions of Isimud are often very similar to the typical portrayals of Janus in ancient Roman art. In Hinduism, the image of double or four-faced gods is quite common, as it is a symbolic depiction of the divine power of seeing through space and time. The supreme god Brahma is represented with four faces. Another instance of a four-faced god is the Slavic god Svetovid.(Wikipedia)
The Greeks had a custom of carrying, each new year, to their neighbor’s house, an olive branch surrounded with wool, and called Eires-Ione, the Doves-branch with Wool. To the ancient pagans and Greeks, he was their custodian of the key to the Temple of Wisdom. Plutarch had written; “For this Janus, in the most remote antiquity, whether a demi-god or a king, being remarkable for his political abilities, and his cultivation of society, reclaimed men from their rude and savage manners; he is therefore represented with two faces, as having altered the former state of the world, and given quite a new turn to life.”
The descendants of the Phoenician priesthood in the West, the Druids who ruled in Ireland, Gaul, and Brittain gathered mistletoe at the end of the year, which the Arch-Druid cut it down with a golden knife. Mistletoe was their favorite medicines in curing the diseases. They gathered oak branches and leaves, which they offered to their God Jupiter and had great festivals where they invited all people to the ceremony, by the proclamation, “Come to the oak branches of the new year.”
The Jews New Year’s custom was to serve up sheep’s head, as a mystical representation of the ram offered in sacrifice for Isaac. When a family or company sat down to this repast, each person took a piece of bread and dipping it in honey, said, “May this year be sweet and fruitful.”
In Norse Mythology, New Years was a time for Norse nations would pay respects to their Gods and Goddesses Odin, Thor and Freya. Huge bonfires would be lit to signify the 12 days of Yule in the crossing of the Second Sun and New Year. It was a time for a great festival that started on December 21st with lights, fires, feasting and a lot of partying. The Yule celebration was often referred to as “drinking jól”, as in “to drink” yule.
The Hervarar Saga (ch. xiv.) stated that King Heidrek sacrifices the golden-bristled boar to Frey, at the time of the yule feast, for luck during the year to come. In the Grettir Saga the yule log is brought home when it wanted three weeks of winter.
The Roman advocate and Christian apologist, Minucius Felix had said Saturn fled from Crete to Italy and was received hospitably by Janus. Out of gratitude, since he was a Greek of culture, he taught the rude and uncivilized Italians many things, among them, to write, to coin money, and to make tools.(2)
Marcus Messala, Consul and Augur had written, “He who forms and governs all, united together the nature of water and earth, which by their gravity always tend downward, to that of the fire and spirit, which by their lightness mount nimny upwards, and these he has confined to the heavens: and to these heavens he has annexed such an attractive force as unites and binds together different natures and qualities.”
Sir Godfrey Higgins had written in Anacalypsis an Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis – Volume 1, ” Janus was not one of what they called their twelve great Gods, but he was said to be the father of them all. He had twelve altars erected to him. He held in one hand letters denoting 365, and in the other the keys of heaven, which he opened to the good and shut to the wicked.
The first month of the year, Januarius, was dedicated to him. He was represented sometimes with two, and sometimes with four faces; the reason of which is unknown. He was called Junonius from the Goddess Juno, whose name Mr. Bryant resolves into Juneh, which signifies a dove, and is in the Hebrew language rtJV iune, and is the same as the Yoni or Yuni, the female principle, as observed by Col. Wilford. On his coins are often seen a boat and dove, with a chaplet of olive leaves, or an olive branch.
Gale, after observing that Juno was the same as Jana, and that Janus came from a’ Jah of the Hebrews, and that Diana was Di-va Jana, or Dea Jana, says also, that she was the same as Astarte or Asteroth of the Sidonians, and had the head of a Bull. He also says, that she was the Belisama of the Hebrews.1 In Sanscrit Diana is the Goddess Jana.”
The double face of Janus was often placed on Roman coins. The Romans offered sacrifices on new year’s day to Janus, particularly a white steer. In the whole city, much incense was burned, and the newly elected magistrates went in procession to the capitol, where they sacrificed to Jupiter. Later, the Catholic Church and the Church of England celebrated the first of January in honor of the circumcision of Christ.
During the time of war, the Gates of Janus would be left open, and when a war was about to commence, lavish wartime ceremonies were performed throughout the Roman Empire. It was during the time of Pax Romona (Peace of Rome), when Augustus Caesar had officially “closed the gates of Janus,” instituting a time of peace which ended 200 years of constant war.
The Pax Romana started after Octavian (Augustus) beat Marc Anthony in the Battle of Actium. He became princeps, or “first citizen”. Lacking a good precedent of successful one-man rule, Augustus created a junta of the greatest military magnates and stood as the front man. By binding together these leading magnates in a coalition, he eliminated the prospect of civil war.
The Pax Romana was not immediate despite the end of the civil wars, because fighting continued in Spain and in the Alps. Nevertheless, Augustus closed the Gates of Janus (the Roman ceremony to mark world Peace) three times, first in 29 BC and again in 25 BC. The third closure is undocumented, but Inez Scott Ryberg (1949) and Gaius Stern (2006) have persuasively dated the third closure to 13 BC with the Ara Pacis ceremony.
At the time of the Ludi Saeculares in 17 BC the concept of Peace was publicized, and in 13 BC was proclaimed when Augustus and Agrippa jointly returned from pacifying the provinces. The Ara Pacis ceremony was no doubt part of this announcement. Augustus faced a problem making peace an acceptable mode of life for the Romans, who had been at war with one power or another continuously for 200 years.
The Romans regarded peace not as an absence of war, but the rare situation that existed when all opponents had been beaten down and lost the ability to resist. Augustus’ challenge was to persuade Romans that the prosperity they could achieve in the absence of warfare was better for the Empire than the potential wealth and honor acquired when fighting a risky war. Augustus succeeded by means of skillful propaganda. Subsequent emperors followed his lead, sometimes producing lavish ceremonies to close the Gates of Janus, issuing coins with Pax on the reverse, and patronizing literature extolling the benefits of the Pax Romana.(Wikipedia)
For these changes, he would be deemed by the priesthood of the Curetes as the successor to his father Julius Caesar who was known as “Divus Iulius” (Latin for “Julius is God”) , and he would be given the title of Divi Filius (Latin for the “Son of a God”). He would be known as the Savior to the Romans, and over time, savior to much of the world. This was after he had conquered Egypt and thus “began the rule” of the Romans. It was in 8 B.C. when Augustus had instituted a “new Roman calendar” adding “two new months.”
One for the month of July which is the birthday of his father Julius and another month called August which would be honored as the birth month of Augustus. In addition to these changes with new times, dates and the end of the old age, came the beginning of a New Age called the 6th Age in which we are currently in the 21st century of this same age.
Saint Bede, the Father of English History and Doctor of the Church had written in his Biographical Writings and Letters;“In the forty-second year of Augustus Caesar, in the twenty-seventh from the death of Antony and Cleopatra, when Egypt became a Roman Province, in the third year of the 193rd Olympiad, and in the 752nd from the building of the city, in the year when all the commotions of nations were stilled throughout the whole world, and by the appointment of God, Caesar had established real and durable tranquility, Jesus Christ consecrated by his advent of the 6th age of the world.”
33rd Degree Freemason, Manly P. Hall had said Janus would later become Saint Peter who is often depicted holding keys, which symbolize the keys to heaven. To mark the beginning of this age, we know St Peter was crucified upside down.
Helena Blavatsky said, “The double-faced Janus was also at the head of twelve gods, and in his representations of him he is made to hold the keys to the celestial domains. All these having served as models for the biblical patriarchs, have done still further service—especially Janus—by furnishing copy to St. Peter and his twelve apostles, the former also double-faced in his denial, and also represented as holding the keys of Paradise.”
St. Peter is known as the first of the attendants of Christ who is represented with the ship and the keys of Janus, who presided over the first of the months. He is the star in the feet of Virgin.
In November 2014, the holy remains of St. Peter had went on display at the Vatican for the world to witness for the first time in St Peter’s Square. It was celebrated by Pope Francis as a Mass to conclude the Year, and he called on world leaders for an end to war and peace.
More recently, in a gesture of Brotherhood between the East and West, the pope had gifted part of the remains of the first Pope, Saint Peter to the Orthodox Church.
Could these signs indicate that St Peter is coming back with the keys of wisdom which also may symbolize the closing of the Gates of Janus and the beginning of United World based on peace and mutual cooperation, be similar to what Augustus Caesar had done at the “beginning of this 6th Age” under Pax Romona? I will leave these questions for you to ponder as “we step into the New Year.”
- Anacalypsis an Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis – Volume 1
- Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences edited by Mrs. Cora Linn (Morrison) Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevans -Popular Educator, Volume 15
- Herculanensia; or Archeological and philological dissertations, containing … By Sir William Drummond, Robert Walpole
- Janus in Roman Life and Cult: A Study in Roman Religions … By Bessie Rebecca Burchett
Moe is the founder of GnosticWarrior.com. He is a father, husband, author, martial arts black belt, and an expert in Gnosticism, the occult, and esotericism.