Celtic-Pagan Festival Calendar
to you. I am Lor Windraiser, and I have created this page in order to
share my views on the subject of Pagan Festival Time keeping.
Since creating this page as an off shoot of my own scholarly endeavor, I have received quite a bit of feedback from individuals who are making use of it. Therefore, I have decided to make this page a regular annual feature, and will continue to update it in concordance with the beginning of the Celtic New Year. I will also try to incorporate other related information as time goes on.
Since the moment when there were minds to comprehend it, Humanity has sought to keep track of that wonderful abstraction that we call time. For various reasons, it has been of importance throughout history. The ancients kept track of the seasons in order to know when it would be safe to plant crops without the danger of frost destroying them. They also needed to know when to approximate the time of harvest, as well as how long Winter would rule over their tenuous existence.
There are countless reasons for this obsession with seasonal time. The rising of rivers for irrigation, or the warning of impending flood. There were also seasonal migrations of herds to be considered, as well as the breeding of domestic livestock. In short, without this knowledge, ancient humanity would have been at a distinct disadvantage.
In a way, we are still tied to the times, but for our own reasons in this fast paced, mechanized, artificial world that we have created for ourselves. Most of us look at the clock on the wall thinking about the dozens of things we have yet to accomplish in our day, and never think that it is all part of a larger and more comprehensive cycle.
There are people however, who do still maintain a closeness with the Earth, and Her rhythms. Most notably, indigenous cultures, people who subscribe to Earth-based spirituality. and farmers who still listen to the land to know what to do.
I personally follow Earth-based spirituality, and this page came about due to discrepancies within the various seasonal calendars in use at the present time. Most Wiccans and Neo-Pagans I know follow what has come to be known as "The Wheel of The Year." If this is the case, than it has become an unbalance one. I have noted a variance between fifty-four, to thirty nine days between the eight seasonal holidays followed on this calendar! This would seem impractical from a survival standpoint, since it would be next to impossible to figure the next holiday, and the exact time of the next season.
The ancients would have only been able to fix the time of Solar events relative to the Earth, i.e., the solstices and equinoxes. They would have been able to accomplish this by the observation of the horizon line, or shadows cast by stone circles.
The Solar Year:
The occurrence of a Solar Year is the marked single revolution of the Earth about the Sun. This process takes approximately 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. If the year is divided into the time frame of the four seasons, this places a value of approximately 91.29 days in a given season. If a seasonal time is divided in half, which would give the appropriate cross quarterly time between festivals at 45.6 days.
The Calendar Schedule:
It is well known and accepted that the early Celtic peoples began their year upon the night of Samhain, and this date is usually celebrated on October 31st of the calendar used in our Common Era. In order to fix this date according to Cross Quarters, it is necessary to fix the time of the Winter Solstice, (Known commonly as "Yule" among modern Pagans) which occurs in Common Year 2000 on December 21st. It is then a matter of counting backwards from this date 45.6 days, to achieve the new calendar date of Samhain upon the 6th of November. (It is interesting to note, that in Scotland "Sanhuinn" is traditionally celebrated on November 11th.) Because of the relationship between the seasons, and their appropriate festival times, a cross quarterly festival calendar would resemble the following format.
N.B.: In some Pagan circles this is considered the Mid Summer point, due to the fact that the Sun is considered at the zenith of it's power at this time, and Bealltainn is considered the start of the Summer Cycle.
Lughnasadh: August 7th, 2000 C.E.
NB: The Astrological point of Mid Summer being August 6th. This is the actual time line mid point of the Summer season, if the season were actually divided in half.
Mabon: September 22nd,
Sanhuinn: November 5th,
Concerning Moons and Trees:
This would be a far from complete article, without the inclusion of the importance of the Moon, or Lunar Cycle to Pagans both ancient and modern. The Moon was probably the first celestial body that was tracked by the ancients, and there is still a wealth of meteorological information that can be gleaned by observing it's reflected light through our own atmosphere. There are still farmers in Appalachia that use the Moon for determining when to plant certain crops. For some crops, it is even required that they are planted under the light of a certain Moon for the year. The Moon was perhaps our first long range time keeper, and the "months" still bear testament to this. The Moon has also been used for centuries to compute a female's fertility cycle, as well as other cyclical event. The Moon is a wayward traveler though, and it's 355 day "Synodic Year" will unfortunately never align with the broader based, and more reliable Solar Year. However, it's travel is certainly more easily observable that that of the Sun, which could be observed at it's rising on the horizon line and "picks up" a minute (degree) while advancing to Summer, and apparently "loses" a minute (degree) while heading towards the Winter Solstice. This is an illusion of planetary movement of course, as the Earth tilts through it's cycles of Solstice, Equinox and Solstice.
The ancient Celts had ascribed a particular tree to go along with each Lunar month, and whether this was done for spiritual or botanical reasons, it has still been left open to debate. I personally feel it must have been for both reasons. The Celts were very practical, and each assignment must have had a direct bearing upon the cycle of that particular tree. When they would bloom, or give fruit, or be good for medicine, would be of practical use. There could also be a connection between this body of knowledge in relationship to the ancient "Ogham" system of Ireland. I intend on expanding my personal research in this direction.
*The Celtic Tree Calendar operates on the principle of following the Lunar Cycle from New to New Moon, and in modern times it has been said to begin upon the Moon of Yule. These are the traditional months with their assigned trees. I begin my adaptation of the Tree Calendar beginning at Sanhuinn of the previous C.E. year and follow it through to the next occurrence of Sanhuinn.
One complete Lunar month generally equals 29.58 Solar days Synodically. (This term refers to the relative conjunction between two celestial bodies)
N.B.: It has been put forward by some, that the Lunar year is divided into 13 Lunar months. For any that are interested, a division of this scale would cause one Lunar month to be approximately 27.30 Solar days. I personally feel this to be a correct assessment of the cycle, though through calculations it would shorten the Lunar year at the rate of 1.1 day a year. It must be conceded that in the case of the Lunar and Solar year respectively, they are of differing lengths and can never be made to concord.
The Celtic Tree Calendar C.E. 1999 through Sanhuinn 2000
It has long been thought each month within the Celtic Tree Calendar carried it's own unique aspect as well as a particular magical affinity. I will list them here in their modernized form. If I am at some time able to find older and more concrete sources for this information, you will certainly find it printed here when it becomes available.
In many Pagan traditions both ancient as well as modern, The Goddess is honored upon the waxing of the Full Moon. It is generally accepted that such celebrations may be conducted during the three day period of the full Moon. I have therefore included a schedule of the full Moons that will occur during the remaining of this year as well as those for the coming calendar year.
A List of Full Moon
During the end of 1999 through 2000, there will be many interesting astrological events that I feel would be of interest to my readers. This year promises to have an unusual amount of eclipse activity of both a Lunar, as well as Solar nature. There will also be some major alignments taking place in May 2000, in the constellation Taurus where seven planets fall into synch on three separate occasions. Here is a short list of Lunar, Solar and Planetary events from December 1999 up to and including December 2000.
I hope that my readers will enjoy and use this page. It is not intended as a replacement for the Neo-Pagan Calendar, though in my mind, it seems to clarify a much confused and misunderstood system of yearly measurement.
Whenever you decide to commune with Mother Earth, be it during traditionally ascribed times, or during the Cross Quarters put forth here, do so with love in your hearts!
"Be kind to yourselves."
Copyright © 1999 RAMLOR Foundation