Dance with Destiny, Part II

Year after year we buy a new planner. Appointments must be scheduled and daily life organized. Would you have thought, however, that there is much more to a calendar than meets the eye? It influences how we go through life, how we perceive what happens to us. No, I don’t mean the stress a congested planner can cause. Rather I imply that often we are not aware that there lies a cyclical process underneath it. Actually, it is a process of utmost importance, because it shapes our lives.

It is no easy thing to create a calendar. Imagine not having fixed rules such as 30 or 31-day months or the 365-day year with an intercalary day every four years, as is common today. What if you had no such guidelines and needed to organize time, where would you start to count? At the beginning of the year? But when exactly would that be if you had no calendar? And what would you count, sunrises or full moons? And how long would you make a year last?

Already the Neoliths agonized over this. In the old Indo-European languages etymologically the word “moon” related to words for measurement.[1] Moon-cycles can be measured in different ways, though. If one waits for the moon to return to the same spot in the sky, relative to the fixed stars, it takes about 27.3 days. If they are tracked from full moon to full moon, it takes a little longer, about 29.5 days. In one seasonal turnover there are therefore either 13 months of 27 days or 12 months of 29 or 30 days. However, in each case, extra days need to be added from time to time to avoid that the calendar moves out of alignment with the seasonal cycles. Otherwise, one day, the calendar would no longer correlate with the actual season. The month of the beginning of spring would shift into the month of May for example.

In history, as long as such calculations were made by astronomers who had the accuracy of a balanced solar-lunar calendar in mind, like the builders of megalithic monuments, all was just fine. Yet, time measurement could also be toyed with, don't you agree? If a king needed money, he could randomly add extra days or months to justify additional tax collection. This is what happened again and again in history. Calendar rules were shifted around, depending on who had the saying. One day, though, the problem was fixed once and for all by the Romans, who determined the length of months and decided to use twelve of them. That was much easier to calculate and went along well with their liking of the mighty sun. Nowadays, our calendars are still dividing up time by their system.

Just calculating with the number twelve does, however, not do justice to the moon! She loses her individuality and only gets acknowledged as being illuminated by the sun, as she changes from full moon to full moon. Such a shift of perception seems minor, however, as patriarchal history has proven, it brought far-reaching consequences. While the cosmic cycles kept turning their eternal rounds, humanity's awareness changed. A vast imbalance in people’s personal and collective lives started to happen. People forgot that an earthly calendar needs to reflect what truly happens up in the sky (see “Dance with Destiny, Part I”). The sun and the moon belong together, with their cyclical rhythm they are both involved in creating nature and life on planet earth.

Originally, Neoliths were “drawing” down to earth what they observed up in the sky, when building their megalithic monuments. The stone constructions served them as trackers of the heavenly cycles. The Neoliths were by no means the “stone age people who drug their wives around by the hair”, as we so often think, but were rather highly sophisticated astronomers. With constructions such as the former Aubrey Circle at Stonehenge, they created a beautifully balanced calendar, doing justice to both, the sun and the moon. This calendar served to indicate when to sow and reap, meet and trade, but foremost it helped to keep track of the forces that shape destiny.

A calendar, therefore, was always much more than a mere administrative help to divide up time. It informed people about the quality of a certain time. Depending on the angles of the two luminaries, the characteristic of a given time span changed. Once tracked and determined, the ups and downs of life could be monitored and difficulties could be anticipated. It helped to see the larger picture of life's path, especially since life was seen as a developmental journey. A human was perceived as a hero/heroine who was walking through life under the constant exposure of the lunar and solar influences, the forces that shaped their destiny.

Imagine, if today it were marked in your calendar that in about four months you would get praise for your good work, wouldn’t you be as diligent as you could from now on? Or, if it were marked that tough and lonely times were ahead of you, wouldn’t you prepare and make sure you were living in a place that made you feel safe and cozy, so you could withdraw from the harsh world? If you were told by an elder that in such times, it was good to meditate and turn inward for answers, wouldn’t you go out and buy some candles and a book on mediation? A planned trip under such circumstances would turn out more like a quest than a merry get-together with fellow travelers. You see, it helps to be prepared. Once you know the quality of time you’re currently in you can better take things for what they are. What happens to you can be seen in a larger context, and life is no longer an arbitrary chaos. We tend to resist change up to the moment until conflict or drama forces us to react. But what if we were aware of what is going on, couldn't we then move much more easily with the flow of our heroic journey?  

Stay tuned for the next part in this series about the consequences of the missing lunar energy and how fairy tales instruct us to get back into the flow of a balanced calendar. 

 



[1] „Eclipse of the Sun, An investigation into Sun and Moon Myths“ by Janet McCrickard, Gothic Image Publications, 1990

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