Cycle 1: Seizing The Time

April 23, 2008

Moonspell Studies
Demeday, Laurel Moon,
Day 1, Pisces, in the year or our Lady, 10,005
Cycle 1: Seizing the Time

Reclaiming time and calendar keeping has been quite an adventure for me. I have found myself doing this on two tracks; the Solar and the Lunar. On the Solar track I have discovered the mythic content of the eight solar holidays, the annual seasons, and their connection to women’s rites of passage. The Lunar track is similar, yet moves more quickly as it progresses from mooncycle to mooncycle around the year. The solar cycle works on longer arcs and we mark less seldom power points or holy days around its rim. The Lunar cycle is with us more day-to-day and so is entwined in our daily lives. Both can be understood as Maiden/Mother/Crone cycles, as can Morning/Noon/Night. All the cycles, daily, monthly, and annual have been layered with meaning in every culture, associated with deities, their names and their stories, and associated flora and fauna.

In 45 B.C. the lunar calendar was outlawed by Julius Ceasar. In the 5th century A.D. the concept of cyclic process was declared heretical by the Council of Constantinople. The current solar/civil calendar was instituted by Pople Gregory X111 in 1582 A.D. Obviously earlier peoples had no problem with cyclical time, and the universal circling of all things. With the advent of patriarchy, came the necessity to create finite time in order to keep people slaving and believing their allotment was running out, with heaven at the end of it if they were good slaves, hell if they were not. New conquests are often accompanied by new calendars and interpretations of time.

“Seize the time” is a phrase we can nowtake more literally than ever. Nancy Passmore spoke of it so elequently when she first came out with her Lunar Calendar, Dedicated to the Goddess in Her Many Guises. Merlin Stone gave us the astonishing research she had done, discovering that time has been measured for thousands more years than our own calendars tell us. Some of us now date our writings accordingly, so for us this is the year 10,005!

When Passmore’s first lunar calendars came out I was working on creating my own. She and I and Stone had apparently stumbled across these issues around the same time. I found out about it when I read Robert Graves’ material on the Celtic Tree Calendars in his book The White Goddess. I was making giant timewheels for my altars and sharing them with sisters. These were layered in concentric circles, with a pin at their center so they could all spin. I placed a marker at their edge to show where “now”was. There was a solar wheel in the middle with eight pie-wedges showing the solar holy days. Then there was a wheel showing the patriarchal months…then one showing the zodiac, then one showing the lunar months or moons, and finally a largest rim wheel with lines
for the 365-6 days. (A small version of this calendar wheel is shown in the Thread, Cycle #8, The Goddess Year.)

I was looking for photos or drawings of the thirteen trees as outlined by Robert Graves, so I could add these in to my lunar wheel. Since some of them are not indigenous to my area, I found this challenging. Later I decided to put some local trees in my own lunar calendar.

When I first read about the tree calendars I was surprised. I had never thought to connect time with trees…or the measurement of time. Now it seems so obvious to me…duh! The trees shift with the seasons…they shed leaves or grow leaves or make fruit or pods or seeds… all is exquisitely timed with the dance of earth and sky. Different trees have different cycles at different times of year. Thus a lunar month could be named for the Apple Tree when she flowers in the spring…. or the Oak Tree when she is in her fullest leafing in summer. I just love saying Apple Moon, or Oak Moon, or Hazel Moon when I am dealing with dates and records. Changing some to local trees has helped me to feel more connected in my own environment too. Tie that in with following the moon’s path in the sky day to day, knowing what phase she is in, what astrological sign she is in, and time becomes a thing of beauty and fulfillment. Tie all that in with my womanly cycles and energies and time becomes a thing of mystery and magic. Tie all that in with language and letters – that’s right- the tree calendars were not only nature signs…. they were alphabets! – and time becomes even more magical! On top of all that the letters are oghams or runes, and can be used for divination. And it’s all tied in with the moon.

What an amazing transformation all this brings to one’s sense of time’s passing. And to know that we go back in herstory 10,000 years and not 2,000! That our roots in womantime are old, old, old. Here are the tree names in English and Gaelic, with their alphabet letters as explicated by Robert Graves in The White Goddess. These are the tree moons in my current calendar, with the dates for 2,005/10,005 :

1. Beth Birch
2. Luis Rowan
3. Nion Ash
4. Fearn Alder
5. Saille Willow
6. Uath Hawthorne
7. Duir Oak
8. Tinne Holly
9. Coll Hazel
10. Muin Vine
11. Gort Ivy
12. Ngetal Reed
13. Ruis Elder

Be sure to save this list for filling out your wheels:
1. Birch Jan. 5 – Feb 8
2. Laurel Feb 9 – Mar 10
3. Ash Mar 11 – April 8
4. Alder Apr 9 – May 8<br
5. Apple May 9- June 6
6. Willow June 7 – July 6
7. Oak July 7 – Aug 4
8. Holly Aug 5 – Sep 3
9. Hazel Sep 4 – Oct 3
10. Sweetgum (Liquid Amber) Oct 4 – Nov 1
11. Madrone Nov 2 – Dec 1
12. Cypress Dec 2 – Dec 30
13. Redwood (No Redwood Moon this year; it is a 12 – Moon year)

Yes both these calendars have thirteen trees to cover the passing of thirteen moon cycles in a year. However, not every year has thirteen moons. Surprise! I remember when we were reclaiming the number 13 along with so many other witchy things that come with Goddess awakening. We felt we were soo cool and hip to be acknowledging the passing of 13 moons instead of the patriarchal twelve months. Well I found out some interesting details when I started actually making my own moon

Even Robert Graves has it wrong in White Goddess. He claims that the old calendars always had thirteen moons of four weeks apiece and then there was the "extra day" which was considered the Birth of the Divine Child, and it’s own month at Winter Solstice. Turns out these calculations don’t always match up with the actual dance of sun and moon in the sky. (Jose Arguelles is another mooncalendar enthusiast who was going by these incorrect calculations, last I heard.)

I wrote to a friend of mine, Grey Cat, a witch in Tennessee who had been making her own moon calendar for a while and sending it out to friends. It was built with lines and squares like regular calendars, but each page began and ended with the beginning and end of a lunar cycle.

I told Grey Cat that something confusing had happened to me when I tried to make my own calendar. I was working with Passmore’s calendar which always shows thirteen moons for each year. I discovered that the dates of the last  moon of one year were the same dates as the first moon of the following year. This meant that one moon was being repeated, so that there were actually only twelve moons in that former year. When I’d written to Passmore about it she sent me a pile of literature but none of it answered my question.

Grey Cat went to her local planetarium and spoke to an astronomy professor! She found out that in
actual fact there are a little over twelve moons for two years and a little under thirteen moons every third year. She said the way to tell if a year has twelve or thirteen moons is to see how close Winter
Solstice is to the nearest full moon. If they are five or less days apart, that is a thirteen-moon year.

I still find myself wondering when I fill out my new wheels each year, whether we are in a twelve or thirteen moon year. Wemoon is also rather confusing on this subject. They too always have thirteen moons in their calendars, though sometimes they are not whole moon cycles. I guess that is how they are compensating for the fact that there are embarassingly, not actually always 13 whole moons every year. LOL! If you look at the current Wemoon for 2,005, you will see that it has two Winter Solstices… hm. That was my clue this year that we are actually in a twelve moon – with a little over- year. So, in a twelve moon year we do not include the Redwood or Elder moon.

The same applies to the thirty day-spokes in your moonwheel. There are not always thirty days in a lunar cycle…sometimes, I have found, thereare 29. In the ten years I have been using this calendar, lunations have always been either 29 or 30 days a piece.

However, if you are working from more conventional calendars, you may discover that some of your moon cycles have only 28 days. The reason mine never have less than 29 is because I am counting my moons starting with the very first crescent as day One, and ending with the last part of the dark
moon as day Twenty-nine or Thirty. Most calendars count the last day of Dark Moon as the first day of the lunar cycle, calling it the New Moon. I feel this moon belongs to the Crone and should be
considered the end, not the beginning of the lunar cycle. To me Newness means Maiden, and Maiden is the Crescent, while Darkmoon means Crone.

By leaving the Crone out of our lunar symbolism, we are effectively eradicating the Crone archetype from our psyches. So when I fill out my moonwheels I consider the cycle to begin with the first Crescent as New or Maiden Moon, and to end with the final dark moon. This is why my moonwheels
have never shown 28 days.

Of course you can name your moons and count them any way you like Starhawk’s group has nice names for their moons. Native American calendars have lovely names too. The Jewish calendar is Lunar and has Hebrew names. Many cultures still calculate their time by the moon and use lunar calendars. The Moonwheels come blank, so this does give you some flexibility. However, for the sake of getting started with your wheels, I suggest you follow along with my methods for now. Once you
have the hang of it you can make changes as you wish…

When a given moon has less than thirty days, I simply blank out the extra spoke in my wheel, or turn it into a decoration. Just as you would pass by the thirteenth moon in a twelve moon year, you can pass by that thirtieth dayspoke in your moonwheel when the cycle has only 29 days.

When we go into chat together I will walk you through, step by step, the filling out of your first moonwheel. We can repeat this with other moonwheels as well, if needed. Below are some questions I would like you all to answer by message-email. I would also like you to freely discuss the subjects I have brought up here, and of course I encourage dialogue among us all. I love questions too, so please ask freely. We all can participate in questions, answers, discussion, etc.

There is no set schedule for answering these questions. You may find some answers come right away, and some come to you as we proceed along in our moon together. Please respond as it flows:

What is time?

How is time created?

Is time an illusion?

Does the past still exist?

Does the future exist yet?

Did you know that the earliest calendars were menstrual? That ancient peoples measured time by bleeding women and trees?That a month was a moon cycle and not a slice of earth’s path around the sun?
How do you feel about time? Is there enough time?

Does time end?

Does time go on forever?

Is time linear?

Compare the experience of filling in a traditional calendar with boxes, lines and squares to that of filling in your moonwheels. How do you feel about the moon? Do you connect with her?

See the moon as "her?&quot. Do you pray to her or do magic with her energy?

In what phase of the moon does or did your moonblood come?

Are you aware of any effects of moon energy on your own energy?
Have you ever "drawn down" the moon? Taken a moonbath?

In patriarchy solar/lunar is usually considered as a gender-based duality of male/female, active/receptive, light/dark, good/evil, dominant/submissive.Does this resonate for you? In my Goddess-centered cosmology I have reckoned the Sun, Earth and Moon as a Crone/Mother/Maiden
triad. (Scientific theory backs this Grandmother/Mother/Daughter image up, since it has said that the moon came outof the earth and the earth came out of the sun!) How does this triadic female symbolism resonate for you

Magic is afoot, a heart and a hand
And Goddess is alive in the land!
Shekhinah Mountainwater, Radical Muse, Faery Bard, Priestess of Aphrodite, a foremother of the Womanspirit Movement, Author of Ariadne’s Thread.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: