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- a collection of essays on Neodruidic Studies
- a journal of Post-Reconstructionist Neopaganism





My annual DRUIDS ALMANAC




The WHEEL of the YEAR,  2017. . .


Solstice:   Either of the two extremes of the Earth’s constant 23.4° axial-tilt, relative to the sunlight falling on its surface. Only at the Summer Solstice is the Earth’s north pole tilted the full 23.4° towards the Sun... and only at the Yule Solstice is it tilted the full 23.4° away from the Sun.
Equinox:   The Spring or Autumn quarter begins for the Northern Hemisphere as the Earth’s terminator, the boundary line between night and day, crosses the North and South Poles simultaneously. Therefore, with the Earth’s day/night boundary line briefly poised over both poles, only at these times of year are the hours of night and day equal anywhere on the globe.
Crossquarter:   Here defined as the moment in time precisely half-way between an adjacent solstice and equinox.
Bliadhna:   (Scots Gaelic,) Pronounced “BLEE-an uh”,
 “the ring of the year” -or- “the wheel of the year”.




For a downloadable / printable PDF of the above three charts,

( UK/IRE, European or Australian versions available by request )

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Note: My apologies to our friends living far-south of the equator in the South Temperate Zone. The crescents there will seem opposite to those shown on guides based on the view from the Northern Hemisphere since we each consider the other as  being"upside-down, standing on one's head"! 
- e.

ALERT:
THE GREAT AMERICAN 
TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE of 2017
IS COMING UP THIS SUMMER
on MON. AUG. 21st !!
For info, START HERE...

IMO, It's not really exaggerating to refer to this
as a "once in a lifetime" event that
few of us would want to miss...
============================================================= 
2016 - LAST YEAR...



=================================== 



Some preferred DEFINITIONS:
 

SOLSTICE (SOLC): Either of the two extremes of the Earth’s constant 23.4° axial-tilt, relative to the sunlight falling on its surface. Only at the June Solstice is the Earth’s north pole tilted the full 23.4° towards the Sun... and only at the December Solstice is it tilted the full 23.4° away from the Sun.
EQUINOX (EQX): The Spring or Autumn quarter begins as the Earth’s terminator, the boundary-line between night and day, momentarily crosses the North and South Poles. Therefore, with the Earth’s day/night boundary line briefly poised simultaneously over both poles, only on dates near these times of year are the number of hours of night and day equal all over the globe.
CROSSQUARTER (XQ): Having no formal astronomical definition, "crossquarter" here is defined as the moment in time precisely half-way between an adjacent equinox and solstice, or adjacent solstice and equinox.
SEASONS *: The annual spans of time framed by the solstices and their adjacent equinoxes. Of course although the dates of the solstices and equinoxes remain the same, the season's name will be its opposite when comparing southern hemisphere locations to the northern hemisphere or vice versa.
Seasonal Quarters: Although each "season" actually contains a slightly different number of days from the other three, "quarters" remains a common descriptive term for these four sectors of the Earth's orbit.
Seasonal Weather: The local weather norms traditionally associated with a time of year. All annual extended weather sequences ultimately are driven by the effects marked by the astronomical quarterdays (the solstices and equinoxes) which frame the seasonal quarters of the year.
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* "SEASONS" ? 
...a perennially contentious area of debate wherein the "opposing" parties sustain seemingly endless arguments over what a season "is" (i.e. when does it start or end? / Should it be defined astronomically by the Earth/Sun geometry or pastorally by weather and vegetation?) and IMO, they're oddly enough both correct in their assertions and are only "wrong" when working from the assumption that the choice before them is a matter of true or false.
Huh?  
- Ok, yes, for clarification, see my article: 
===================================================

Are there SOLSTICE  SUN-ALIGNMENTS 
for certain streets in your town?
for a site that finds them for you... 



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Are there "CORRECT" dates for the 
CROSS-QUARTERDAY FEASTS?

Folks often say to me...
" I'm ok with the dates you've shown for the Quarter Days 
(solstices and equinoxes),
but what's the deal with your dates for the CROSSQUARTERS? "

My crossquarter values (XQ) are derived from a precise halving of the whole-time extending between each adjacent equinox and solstice. IMO, The stated method is best for our purposes for a number of reasons; a more detailed discussion of my reasoning may be found HERE... 

It is understood that there are -other- methods sometimes suggested for deriving the XQ values, such as halving the Sun's apparent range of declination (the range of the Sun's position above or below the celestial equator through the year), or by ancient observational methods like watching the sunrise or sunset's progression along a local horizon, or by carefully measuring the Sun's elevation at local noon, etc. 

For XQ values calculated by degrees of the Earth’s progress along its orbital path around the Sun, go to: http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/2017.html


There should be no reason for debate 
over the dates and times of the 
actual

SOLSTICES and EQUINOXES
(a.k.a. the "quarter days"),

those are


On the other hand, the four familiar* dates only roughly midway between them, commonly referred-to as "crossquarter days", are not and have never been part of astronomical calendar-keeping (at least not in the annals of recorded history).
-----
The Surviving Folk Traditions (SFT) - the "familiar" dates (eve's+day's) from :
  • Imbolc (Feb.1-2), 
  • Beltaine (Apr.30-May 1), 
  • Lughnasa (July 31-Aug.1), and 
  • Samhain (Oct.31-Nov.1).                                                                                                        
(The above event-names are the Irish SFT versions.)


=================================================
The DATE and Time Conversions:

The dates and times here are 
calculated and shown for the 
USA's  EASTERN  time zone... 

So, IF it's... 

5 PM in 
London, 
it's
     
     12 NOON in the 
US' EASTERN time,
and thereby 
still currently
     11 AM in Central, and 
     10 AM in Mountain, and 
       9 AM in Pacific Time



The above will remain true as long as the US and Britain are both using their Standard Time modes; or will still read true if they are both using their respective "summer" times that set the local clock one hour ahead of the "real" local time as do "British Summer Time" and the US "Daylight Saving Time" modes.

So, roughly stated, the Greenwich Prime Meridian's UT/GMT standard-time clocks are striking 5:00 AM in the UK at the moment of OUR MIDNIGHT, here in the US' Eastern Time if we're currently observing Eastern Standard Time from Nov. through early March. And, when we're observing Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) from early March through early November, the conversion from Greenwich GMT/UT is only 4 hours. 
Hopefully it's much clearer on 
my diagram, linked HERE...

For related helpful time-zone and calendar stuff, see:  http://www.timeanddate.com/library/abbreviations/timezones/eu/bst.html 

It bears remembering that the prevailing world calendar ("Gregorian") is now based on the time system known as UT (Universal Time or UTC, closely related to GMT, Greenwich Mean Time) which is fixed from the longitude of the Prime Meridian in the UK and the meridian's global relationship to the International Date Line in the Pacific. 

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http://thebookofsassafras.blogspot.com/2010/06/symbol-great-druid-secret.html

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Druid MOON-LORE :




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"It ain't necessarily so..."
Surprising facts for Pagans 
about their Wheel of the Year

Samhain was NOT "Celtic New Year"...
There's virtually -no- indication in the historical record of Samhain being considered the beginning of the Celtic year any earlier than the late 1800's CE.  Seriously; check into it !
(More on this HERE...)

"Giuli" (Yuletide) marked the Year's Turning in Sub-Roman and Dark Age Britain
Around the year 730 CE in Britain, the Venerable Bede wrote that the December Solstice, falling on December 25th in those days, was celebrated with an all-night vigil the night before. The solstice-eve vigil known as "Mothers Night" was described as being one of the most important religious events of the whole Pagan year. The pagan month "Giuli" (Yuletide) seems to have been centered on the solstice itself and he explains this as coming from the meaning of the word giuli meaning wheel or turning - and links this to the solstice as the day upon which the Sun "turns back".  (More on this HERE...)

"Easter" is an even more Pagan word than "Yule" !
Other than English and German, every other language in Christianity uses a form of the word "Pascha" for the feast of Christ's resurrection instead of anything linguistically related to the word "Easter". And whom is the ancient source explaining the pagan nature of the word "Eastre", even to extent of describing it as the name of a pagan goddess of spring, the dawn, or beginnings?  Yep, it's the Venerable Bede again. There's a wealth of linguistic evidence showing eastre as sharing the same Indo-European roots as the words early, eastern, earrach (yes, earrach = gaelic for "springtime"), and many others.  (More on this HERE...)

Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Nights Dream" was about the eve of May Day!
The title of Shakespeare's play was simply the name of the gala late-June event at which his play was first shown in 1595-1596. All that faery-lore that many folks have associated with the Summer Solstice should be moved back on the Neopagan calendar from late June to Beltaine where it belongs. The play is about MAYDAY. The story in the play opens on the eve of May and continues on into Mayday... nothing in the text relates to the June Solstice (a.k.a "Midsummers") at all !

IMO, generally speaking, Neopagans miss the point on Summer Solstice.
1.) Midsummer's/Summer Solstice - historically has no more to do with the Faery Folk than any other of the pagan holidays throughout the year. See the above for the source of the confusion for that...
2.) Neopagan literature seems to have so little to say about Midsummer's, yet if you simply look at the available ethnographic folk record of Europe, from Ireland all the way to Russia, we find that, as far back as we can see, the Summer Solstice (a.k.a, Midsummer's, the Feast of St. John) was the biggest bonfire night celebration of their whole year.
3.) As it goes, this is rightly a joyful feast of thanks to the Sun. I am seeing some improvement in this department in the Neopagan community but still so much of it has both of its Doc Martens stuck in the Gloomy-Goth bog. Sorry about the attitude but yes I have plenty to say about Neopagans and their twitchyness about the Sun - - there's a group of links to that stuff HERE...

Calling the September Equinox by the name "MABON" is totally BOGUS...
The word / name "Mabon" has never, ever, been related to the Autumnal Equinox or any other Pagan calendar date before in the 1970's when it was first erroneously associated with it by one Wiccan group in the US. Not even one good mythic or lore-related reason for them pinning the character's name to the date ever seems to surface. Stupid, but we're stuck with it; please ditch the usage and tell your friends.


More on the theme of  
"MUCH OF WHAT 
YOU'VE BEEN TOLD IS WRONG"...
- an excerpt from my article,
"Why the Different Dates?"

OK... there should be no debate over the correct dates for the solstices and equinoxes themselves. They, unlike the crossquarters, mark actual physical events in the Earth's orbit. Contrary to popular suspicions, the annual calendar dates for the solstices and equinoxes are by no means "arbitrarily" selected as if they're somehow subject to the capriciousness of the high priests of the scientific establishment. Nope...

The year to year variance in the date and time of the equinoxes and solstices is actually due to our wonderfully efficient Gregorian Calendar correcting itself. Bobbing around the natural year's fixing points like a puppy pacing from one extreme to the other on a very short leash, the corrections are achieved through the application of an extra day every four years or so ("leap years") and the occasional extra day thrown-in on certain century-turning years. Suffice it to say that the Year, quartered by the solstices and equinoxes, is quite real; but the Calendar, as useful as it it is, remains an artificial construct.

Nonetheless, virtually all the general dates listed for the occurrences of the solstices and equinoxes in popular Neopagan books, as well as many of the more scholarly "Celtic Studies" books who mention them, are incorrect. Among the culprits are most of the otherwise "respected" names: Starhawk, Cunningham, Buckland, Farrar, even (gasp!) our beloved Cailtin Matthews. I've yet to find one author who gets all four general solstice and equinox dates right and most don't even get one date right.

Well, hey, it's only the Sacred Calendar... (grrr....).


Regarding the dates of the CROSSQUARTERS:
.
My crossquarter values (XQ) are derived from a precise division of the whole-time extending between each adjacent equinox and solstice. IMHO, the stated method is best for our purposes for a number of reasons; a detailed discussion of my reasoning can be found at:  "Why the Different Dates"
  
It is understood that there are -other- methods suggested for deriving the XQ values, such as halving the Sun's apparent range of declination (the range of the Sun's position above or below the celestial equator through the year), or by ancient observational methods like watching the sunrise or sunset's progression along a local horizon, or by carefully measuring the Sun's elevation at local noon, etc. For XQ values calculated by degrees of the Earth’s progress along its orbital path around the Sun, go to: http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/2014.html 

There should be no reason for debate over the 
dates of the actual solstices and equinoxes... 
-those are formally recognized and observable astronomical phenomena.

On the other hand, the four familiar* dates only roughly midway between them, commonly referred-to as "crossquarters", are not and have never been part of astronomical calendar-keeping (at least not in the annals of recorded history).
---
* The "familiar" set of crossquarter dates (eve-day's), 
from the what we may refer-to as the 
Surviving Folk Tradition (SFT):
  • Imbolc (Feb.1-2),  
  • Beltaine (Apr.30-May 1), 
  • Lughnasa (July 31-Aug.1), and  
  • Samhain (Oct.31-Nov.1)              (These names are the Irish SFT versions.)
------------------------------------------------------------ 

REFERENCES:
* USNO:
Nationally, the definitive source for the solstice and equinox dates 
and Moon phases, etc. for calendar-makers is the

 
Jean Meeus, Willman Bell 1989; http://willbell.com .
Meeus’ book is used as the single most reliable set of calculations available to astronomers and calendar-makers the world over. Among many other listings it charts the date and time of the solstices and equinoxes with a precision down to the actual second within the minute. The listing ranges over apx. 3000 years and is far more accurate than any commercially available astronomical or astrological software.

* A terrific set of LINKS
are to be found at Archaeoastronomy.com - much fun! 
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And, it should go without sayin'...


Stations of the Sun –by Ronald Hutton, Oxford (1996) 
Among his many other very useful works, this book clarifies what is actually known and (most alarmingly,) what is not known about the folk calendar of the British Isles. Grim news for most Neopagans, but absolutely essential.


A WORD ON NOMENCLATURE:

The "WHEEL of the YEAR" ??

ADF, the Druidic organization to which I belong, publicly celebrates the

     "Eight High Days of the Neopagan Year" (EHD),
       a.k.a. the...
     "Rites of the Wheel" (ROTW).

These dates are an alternation of the four astronomical "Quarter Days" (the two annual equinoxes and the two annual solstices) plus the four pastoral "Crossquarter Days" falling midway between them...

The EHD / ROTW, etc. are terms that have come into usage in our subculture over the last 20-30 years and, as a set of eight, they don't represent any specific ancient culture's annual cycle (no matter what you've been told). They DO however, as a set of eight, generally represent what has become the standard annual holy-days of a religious culture very important to us: Neopaganism.

Now, if that's not confusing enough...

The new FORMAL NAMES for 
the Solstices and Equinoxes:

In the astronomical community it is no longer considered correct to sustain the long-standing Northern-Hemispheric chauvinism in the classical names of the quarterdays by referring to the March equinox as the "Vernal" or "Spring" Equinox, or the September equinox as the "Autumnal" Equinox, etc. This is because the seasonal outcomes of the Earth's inclination are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere relative to ours in the north: December is in their summer; June is in their winter and so on.

In our pursuits I would suggest that members of ADF (and other Neopagans), when speaking outside of a particular cultural context, extend the "reformed" naming system to the crossquarter days as well. This would have saved our email discussion-lists much bandwidth over the years, since the crossquarter days are almost exclusively referred-to in Neopagan traditions by their "Celtic" names, which continually confounds our non-Celtic practitioners.

The suggested new-style FORMAL terminology:
.
  The QUARTER DAYS are now being referred-to formally as the:
  • March Equinox; 
  • June Solstice; 
  • September Equinox;
  • December Solstice;
  The CROSSQUARTER DAYS should thereby now be referred-to as the:
  • February Crossquarter;
  • May Crossquarter; 
  • August Crossquarter; 
  • November Crossquarter 





4 comments:

  1. WOW thanks for this. This is a really wonderful publication for a Druid Almanac.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really love this. I check it whenever a holiday is upcoming so I know what date I want to celebrate it on. Thank you for your work!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes! Now 2015 can officially begin. Thank you Earrach for this valuable resource. I use it more than you know.

    ReplyDelete