ASH WEDNESDAY: the first day of lent — from the former custom of sprinkling ashes on penitents’ heads. (The New Oxford Dictionary of English)
Lent: the period preceding Easter, which in the Christian Church is devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. In the Western Church, Lent runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, and so includes forty weekdays. (The New Oxford Dictionary of English)
THEMATIC ELEMENT #1: ASH
ASH: What is left after a substance is burnt; what remains when a body is cremated; a cleansing agent.
Story of soap: In ancient history, human sacrifices were made on a hill above a river, after which the bodies were burned on a funeral pyre. Rain fell on this place where human sacrifices were cremated and seeped through the ashes to become a solution of lye that combined with the melted fat of the corpses. The resulting thick white discharge trickled down the hill. After a thousand years of rain and human sacrifices, people discovered that clothes got cleaner if they were washed at the spot where this discharge flowed into the river. Cultures without soap had to use urine to wash their clothes and hair. (Fight Club, by Chuck Palaniuk)
Symbol of bitter disappointment, as in the taste of ashes in one’s mouth.
Rising from the ashes – renewal after destruction; burning for new growth, as in aboriginal Australia.
To be continued …