January is named in honor of Janus – the Roman god of beginnings, endings and time. (Janus was a busy deity; he was also the god of gates, bridges, doors and doorways). The image of Janus often depicts him as having two heads, facing in opposite directions and is thought to be based on the legend that Janus received a gift from the god Saturn which allowed him to see both the future and the past. The Romans worshipped Janus at times of transition – harvest time, planting time, marriage, death and other beginnings.
So as, over time, civilizations and cultures have progressed through the use of various calendars (Roman, Julian, Gregorian), we’ve also continued to recognize Janus in the usage of his name for the “1st month” of our New Year – the original Romans name being “Ianuarius.” Fitting that the god of the door should open up each New Year for us. And fitting that we contemplate looking to the past AND ahead to the future.
Along with most everyone else, I’ve reflected on 2010 and made my plans for 2011. Changes, adjustments, new beginings and new adventures. Closing the door on the old and crossing the threshold into the new.
So I, like Janus, can see the past, although perhaps the too-recent past is still a bit murky. Unlike Janus, however, I surely cannot see the future. But being unable to see it doesn’t mean I cannot make plans or try, as much as possible, to shape my future.
The future may have struggles and challenges; it may have highs and lows. Not seeing the future is okay, for it’s what keeps life interesting.
A question then becomes, would you rather have the future be unknown, or, would you prefer, like Janus, to be able to SEE the future?
Hello January. Hello Janus.