Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

This forum is for discussing all aspects of Druidry as a spiritual path.
Forum rules
If you find a topic of interest and want to continue the discussion then start a new topic under The Hearthfire with a similar name and add a link back to the topic you want to continue.
To copy a link just copy the url on the top left of your browser and then put in your post, highlight it and press the url button.
User avatar
kresta
OBOD Bard
Posts: 68
Joined: 22 Mar 2013, 02:42
Gender: Female
Location: Cardiff
Contact:

Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

Postby kresta » 03 Feb 2016, 12:32

Hello everyone, I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I have searched the forum for similar topics. I get that most people are not that bothered (viewtopic.php?f=4&t=42021&p=441096&hili ... ls#p441096) but I'm wondering, would it not be simply more balanced from a spiritual point of view and generally more in tune with the natural cycles to celebrate the solar festivals according to the solar calendar but the lunar festivals according to the lunar calendar?

The four solar festivals (solstices and equinoxes) are ‘fixed’ in our Gregorian/solar calendar and therefore always fall on the same days.

But the other four festivals (Imbolc, etc…), which coincided with the beginning of the celtic months do not correspond to the beginning of present day months, since as we know the celtic months were based on moon phases and the moon cycle is shorter than the solar cycle and needs constant adjustment to fit into our calendar.

Studies and ehm, “experiments” :D have been carried out, which I’m sure you’re heard of before.

[For example the Coligny calendar was ‘restarted’ on 8th/9th October 1999 calling it New Celtic Calendar (NCC) and the date was chosen because it corresponded with a new moon on the date of the beginning of European winter, when the Sun is at 15 Deg Scorpio, as the Megalith in Tara, for example, marks.

There is admittedly a debate that the Gaulish month began at 1st quarter, or even 3rd quarter, and not with the new moon, however let’s stick to modern convention to take the month as beginning the day following the new moon].


According to the calculations, today 3 Feb corresponds to 25 Riuros (year 17 NCC); with the New Moon falling on the night between 8th/9th Feb, Imbolc, as the start of the 4th month of the Celtic Calendar Anagantios, would fall on the 9th of February. These dates also corresponds to the beginning of the month in the Chinese, Muslim, Hebrew and Hindu calendar.

So according the calculations, the dates for the Lunar festivals in 2016 would be:

Imbolc 8/9th Feb (beginning of 4th Month- Anagantios, Gael. Naghaid)

Beltane 6th/7th May (7th Month) - Giamonios, Gael. Geamhain)

Lughnasadh 2/4 August (10th Month) - Elembius, Gael. Eilmi)

Samhain 30/31st October (yes, it would actually fall on Oct 31st!) (1st Month) - Samonios, Gael. Samhain)

In 2017:

Imbolc 28/29th Jan

Beltane 27/28th April

Lughnasadh 23/24 July

In 2017 we would then have the extra, 13th month (the Callos Bis of the Coligny Calendar to adjust the dates, between 20th October - 19th November)

Samhain 18/19 November - corresponding to the Lunar New Year.

I realise that it’s easier to keep the dates fixed for everyone, but if the dates were communicated with plenty of advance I don’t think it would be a problem.
Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see,
one chants out between two worlds - "Fire, walk with me".

User avatar
DaRC
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4591
Joined: 06 Feb 2003, 17:13
Gender: Male
Location: Sussex
Contact:

Re: Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

Postby DaRC » 03 Feb 2016, 12:42

A great topic - thanks Kresta :grin:
I've often wondered whether Imbolc, Beltain, Lughnasadh & Samhuin are actually Lunar festivals or 'fire' festivals related to the agricultural year?
If they are agricultural festivals should they move to fit in with natural cycles - would we need to find some sheep owners for Imbolc, May blossom would not be so hard for Beltain, the corn harvest for Lughnasadh? This would vary them from place to place.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk Image

xidia
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 285
Joined: 23 Sep 2013, 08:26
Gender: Female
Contact:

Re: Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

Postby xidia » 03 Feb 2016, 13:54

I've always considered the fire festivals to be agricultural, not lunar. In the modern world it's more convenient to fix a date to celebrate than it is to observe the actual natural phenomena which the festival celebrates. Plus we always pick a nearby weekend instead of the date itself, so the whole thing is absolutely symbolic anyway!

I do my own acknowledgment of the seasonal shifts worn I feel them, and often that's nowhere near the "right" date anyway because of local climate and weather.

I suppose, given the Wheel of the Year is an invented tradition anyway, I see the festivals as more about the inner journey, and the true local observations as about the outer one. In a monastic life they'd coincide, but that's not the life I live.

User avatar
Green Raven
Posts: 178
Joined: 19 Dec 2014, 20:44
Gender: Male
Location: Badon Hill, Dorset
Contact:

Re: Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

Postby Green Raven » 04 Feb 2016, 18:19

I have seen regular references to Samhain being set by the date of first frost, but cannot find an authority for this claim. Does anyone know of it? I personally think this as unlikely as some Neolithic structures are set to admit sunlight on the morning of Samhain (and sunset at Beltane) which would seem to , 1/ testify to the antiquity of the festival and 2/ confirm a set date on a solar calendar.

Mound of Hostages at the Hill of Tara: http://www.knowth.com/hill-of-ward.htm

Edited to add:
The 'Wheel of the Year' festivals were all originally several days long and I wondered if this was to allow for the vagaries of the old calendars matching to the actual behaviour of the sun and weather at the set times. Consider Summer Solstice to Midsummer's Day or the three days of Lughnasadh. The latter marks the start of the Coligny calendar's Edrinios or 'Arbitration' month and the end of Elembivos or 'Claim' month. The various 'make weight' additions to the calendar adjust it to the actual year as experienced and my guess is that the druids used their astrological skills to decide where to place the additions to keep it 'true' to both sun and moon.

I have always seen the Sun and Fire festivals as two overlapping wheels but recently a (Hindu) friend pointed out that the 'wheel' never really meets at the bottom as it moves forward in time. Incorporating my 'two wheels' concept, his suggested symbol was the double helix, a very modern symbol of ongoing life.
“Listen, O little pig! are not the buds of thorns
Very green, the mountain beautiful, and beautiful the earth?”
- Myrddin Wyllt, Hoianau / Greetings (to a Pig)

User avatar
kresta
OBOD Bard
Posts: 68
Joined: 22 Mar 2013, 02:42
Gender: Female
Location: Cardiff
Contact:

Re: Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

Postby kresta » 05 Feb 2016, 14:19

I have seen regular references to Samhain being set by the date of first frost
It might make sense to 'celebrate' the festival on a day when frost appears, but

1. on theat basis, if we need to 'read nature' in order to plan our festivals, (I know that we always say "we do what we feel is right", regarding celebrations, rituals, etc..., and I know that a lot of people do their own thing, I'm just saying this for the sake of discussion), it would then make no sense having fixed the dates at all, since we all live in different parts of the world.

2. My initial idea is that if we consider Samhain as the festival at the beginning of the month (celtic new year) and we know that the months were calculated on a lunar basis then it makes sense that it was/is never on the same day (on a solar calendar) ie. not Oct 31/Nov 1. In this light, it would make sense to calculate the others in the same way too (I agree that the festivals are somehow modern fabrications).

Consider Summer Solstice to Midsummer's Day or the three days of Lughnasadh. The latter marks the start of the Coligny calendar's Edrinios or 'Arbitration' month and the end of Elembivos or 'Claim' month

I'm sorry I don't understand what you mean by this :-( If Lughnassad is also at the end/beginning on the coligny calendar months, doesn't that prove my point? (= a festival that falls at the end/beginner of a lunar month? )

... In the modern world it's more convenient to fix a date to celebrate than it is to observe the actual natural phenomena which the festival celebrates. Plus we always pick a nearby weekend instead of the date itself, so the whole thing is absolutely symbolic anyway!
Xidia, this has really made me think, thank you! The question that comes to me at this point is: what is convenient from a spiritual point of view? If as Druids we're supposed to get in touch with Nature and the natural cycles etc, shouldn't we adapt to the actual natural phenomenon and rather than the opposite :shrug: ... and along the same line comes the question, if rituals are symbolical, up to which point does a symbol keep its meaning, at which point does it lose it? Is it the same having a picture of a tree instead of the tree itself? 8-)
I do my own acknowledgment of the seasonal shifts worn I feel them, and often that's nowhere near the "right" date anyway because of local climate and weather.


As I said above - I agree; to me it makes more sense. I think the problem is when it comes to getting everyone organised. :grin: :warm:
Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see,
one chants out between two worlds - "Fire, walk with me".

xidia
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 285
Joined: 23 Sep 2013, 08:26
Gender: Female
Contact:

Re: Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

Postby xidia » 05 Feb 2016, 15:04

@Kresta

I take your point about convenience and losing touch.

I think the key bit of my post that answers that is where I say that the 8 festivals are about the inner (symbolic) journey for me, so exact matching to natural phenomena are less important than the overall shifting energy of the year. My Druidic noticing of the outer (natural) journey is things like noticing the blackthorn and cherry blossom yesterday, even though I haven't a snow drops yet.

User avatar
Green Raven
Posts: 178
Joined: 19 Dec 2014, 20:44
Gender: Male
Location: Badon Hill, Dorset
Contact:

Re: Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

Postby Green Raven » 05 Feb 2016, 17:32

Consider Summer Solstice to Midsummer's Day or the three days of Lughnasadh. The latter marks the start of the Coligny calendar's Edrinios or 'Arbitration' month and the end of Elembivos or 'Claim' month

I'm sorry I don't understand what you mean by this :-( If Lughnassad is also at the end/beginning on the coligny calendar months, doesn't that prove my point? (= a festival that falls at the end/beginner of a lunar month?)
My point being that the apparently lunar calendar was being constantly adjusted to align it with fixed solar occurrences. Even the festivals are several days long to allow for errors of calculation.

-----

It is interesting that the druids of old were in discussion with the ancient Greek philosophers and were reported as having the same beliefs as Pythagoras on reincarnation (Hippolytus’ Philosophumena I, xxv 1) as those beliefs were specifically based on the disparity between solar and lunar cycles.

Pythagoras believed that the period of 216 years was the cycle of rebirth (metempsychosis), a concept taken by Plato who, in recounting the Myth of Er, adapted to a period of a few days, probably 216 days ≈ 7 months, between rebirths.

Pythagorean sacred mathematics (Philolaus of Croton and Nicomachus’ Life of Pythagoras - fragments quoted in Iamblichus etc.- 100 CE) :

235 lunar months are about 2 hours longer than 19 solar years:

235 solar months of 29.530594 days = 6939.68959 days.

19 solar years of 365.24219 days each = 6939.60161 days.

Difference: 0.08798 days

235 lunar months are 2 hours, 6 minutes, and 41 seconds longer than 19 tropical years.

Thus the average moon is about 2 hours late every 19 years

So it is after precisely 216 years the average periods of the Sun and the Moon have diverged by exactly one day:

1d / 0.08798 d = 11.36622 Lunar Cycles

11.36622 Lunar Cycles x 19 Solar Years = 215.958 years.

So to Pythagoras’ philosophy, a new day is “born” by Sun and Moon every 216 years and this period became part of the primary nature of things.


If Hippolytus reported correctly, then the constant readjustment of solar events and lunar calendar required by the Coligny - inserting the ‘extra moons’ and whether these periods bade well or ill - may well have been a deeply mystical duty and intrinsic to the duties and power of the druid caste.
“Listen, O little pig! are not the buds of thorns
Very green, the mountain beautiful, and beautiful the earth?”
- Myrddin Wyllt, Hoianau / Greetings (to a Pig)

User avatar
Michael C. Page
OBOD Druid
Posts: 4696
Joined: 02 Feb 2007, 21:10
Gender: Male
Location: In my dreams I'm Crooning at the Burgh Island Hotel
Contact:

Re: Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

Postby Michael C. Page » 05 Feb 2016, 18:16

A great topic - thanks Kresta :grin:
I've often wondered whether Imbolc, Beltain, Lughnasadh & Samhuin are actually Lunar festivals or 'fire' festivals related to the agricultural year?
If they are agricultural festivals should they move to fit in with natural cycles - would we need to find some sheep owners for Imbolc, May blossom would not be so hard for Beltain, the corn harvest for Lughnasadh? This would vary them from place to place.
I actually do both :) Meaning, I celebrate the festivals in an extended way which incorporates the entire transition. Example Samhuinn (translated Summers end ): Starts and ends on many facets considered; the end of the Harvest, the dark of the moon After the Fall equinox and before the end of the Harvest, as well as the traditional Social Roman Calendar dates of Oct 31st - Nov - 2 up to and including November 15th.

On the subject of the non fire festivals, such as the Winter solstice; we have quite a number of variations; such as the initial three days followed by an additional 12 days, or the initial 3 days followed by Nine more for the total of twelve days (ring any bells?). Each day or grouping of days has there own purpose and focus depending on the traditions observed.

The key concept I am trying to get across is that we should NOT remain so dogmatic about Dates by themselves, but rather embrace the Time and the particular qualities of it.

The whole idea that any given Sacred Festival/Time should be relegated to less than 12 hours comes from the Modern/Postmodern mind set of the last 60 years or so should be treated with scrutiny and possibly reformed. :)

Cheers,
Michael :tiphat:
Image

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music he hears,
however measured or far away."
- Thoreau

My harp was sacrificed to the Honorable Snarg.

User avatar
Green Raven
Posts: 178
Joined: 19 Dec 2014, 20:44
Gender: Male
Location: Badon Hill, Dorset
Contact:

Re: Why don't we celebrate Celtic festivals according to Moon Phases instead of the solar calendar?

Postby Green Raven » 05 Feb 2016, 19:20

The key concept I am trying to get across is that we should NOT remain so dogmatic about Dates by themselves, but rather embrace the Time and the particular qualities of it.

The whole idea that any given Sacred Festival/Time should be relegated to less than 12 hours comes from the Modern/Postmodern mind set of the last 60 years or so should be treated with scrutiny and possibly reformed. :)
I totally agree that the celebration of the festivals should be as fluid as possible, each observance and celebration flowing into the next. This concept is very much my personal focus for exploring the druid way this year.

I believe that precise fixing certainly was a concern of the ancients, but how precise was their precise? The Coligny calendar is full of directions for which days are fortunate or unfortunate and each month had directives for observance. Paul of Tarsus particularly sneered at the Eastern Gaul/ Gallo-Grecian/ Galatian adherence to calendrical observance, conveniently forgetting the many observances of his own forefathers, and yet hinted at a ‘joined up-ness’:

“8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God - or rather are known by God - how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” - Galatians 4, Christian Bible

So it seems that certain aspects had to be precisely marked but yes, the festivals and their meanings should flow through the year as do the seasons and our own lives.
“Listen, O little pig! are not the buds of thorns
Very green, the mountain beautiful, and beautiful the earth?”
- Myrddin Wyllt, Hoianau / Greetings (to a Pig)


Return to “Discuss Druidry”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest