I’m Official, Exam Passed

Yes, I made a hoopla and announcement back about last July, then went quiet.

Why? I am, after all, an ordained Minister. Minsters can set up a church.

But I wanted a bit more. I’d started working on things like an official calendar (and found out that the seasons are not matched to the equinox / solstice points as the arrival to apogee has a slightly different acceleration profile to that of the departure.


Which has “implications” for how to synchronize a church calendar to the movements of the celestial objects.


At that point I figured I needed to “study up” a bit more, and not just on celestial mechanics. I didn’t want to be just “making stuff up”, and while I had a lot of background in various religious texts and readings, I felt I needed a bit of “something more”.

Re: Ph.D. Final Exam answers attached.

Well done! You scored 100% on the final exam. Your diploma will be shipped immediately.

Brother Kevin

Yes, it’s a “Distance Learning” school, and it’s a degree in Religion, so not exactly like an academic research degree. Then again, the Ph.D. started out as a non-research degree awarded in most cases by religious institutions, way back when.


In the universities of Medieval Europe, study was organised in four faculties: the basic faculty of arts, and the three higher faculties of theology, medicine and law (canonical and civil). All of these faculties awarded intermediate degrees (bachelor of arts, of theology, of laws, of medicine) and final degrees. Initially, the titles of master and doctor were used interchangeably for the final degrees, but by the late Middle Ages the terms Master of Arts and Doctor of Theology/Divinity, Doctor of Law and Doctor of Medicine had become standard in most places (though in the German and Italian universities the term Doctor was used for all faculties). The doctorates in the higher faculties were quite different from the current Ph.D. degree in that they were awarded for advanced scholarship, not original research. No dissertation or original work was required, only lengthy residency requirements and examinations. Besides these degrees there was the licentiate. Originally this was a license to teach, awarded shortly before the award of the master or doctor degree by the diocese in which the university was located, but later it evolved into an academic degree in its own right, in particular in the continental universities. So in theory the full course of studies might lead in succession to the degrees of e.g. Bachelor of Arts, Licentiate of Arts, Master of Arts, Bachelor of Medicine, Licentiate of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine. There were many exceptions to this however, e.g. most students left the university before becoming masters of arts, whereas regulars (members of monastic orders) could skip the arts faculty entirely.

So this is more like the old Medieval kind. Exams and reading. A recognition that one is a “Lover of Wisdom” fit to teach.

In the context of academic degrees, the term “philosophy” does not refer solely to the field of philosophy, but is used in a broader sense in accordance with its original Greek meaning, which is “love of wisdom”


Doctor, as a title, originates from the Latin word of the same spelling and meaning. The word is originally an agentive noun of the Latin verb docēre [dɔˈkeːrɛ] ‘to teach’.

So teacher of the love of wisdom. In the old sense.

Going Forward

So now I think I’ve got a much better handle on the orbital mechanics / calendar issues. (Churches have, from the beginning of time, been the keepers of time and of the calendar. From Stonehenge, that was to set the seasons from the solstice dates, to the Maya, and on to the Gregorian and more.)

I also feel just a little more comfortable digging through old musty books, looking for wisdom, and integrating it here, at The Church Of The Sacred Carbon.

Which leads to two little ‘pontifications’ ;-)

1) The Calendar is synchronized with the heavens on The Winter Solstice. It is a Solar Calendar, but will have an adjunct Lunar Calendar option (so that folks with strong prior roots in a lunar calendar religion can continue to keep those dates, with my blessings.) While the Official Year Zero starts on the Winter Solstice of 2012 (in keeping with the Maya Long Count; for practical purposes, dates will be presented in the current system with 2012 instead of Zero, and 2013 instead of 1. While, technically, there will be a few days between the Winter Solstice and January 1, where the two years are ‘out of sync’, for practical purposes this will have no impact. In reality, one can just have a very long Happy New Years party from Solstice December to January 2nd. Recreations of the 12 days of Yule are encouraged.

There will not be a synchronizing on the other solstice / equinox dates. The formal calendar has a holiday on each of those days, and 12 months of 30 days each between them (2 days on Winter Solstice) but due to the slight irregularity between the two orbital sides, the actual solstice days and equinox days can end up “off by one” from that formality. You may choose to celebrate on an observed Solstice or Equinox date, or on one from the formal calendar, or from the “informal” dates of common prior usage if circumstances make that preferable. So Easter, as the celebration of Spring Equinox, or Christmas that was placed on top of the Winter Solstice celebration of the Druids by the Catholic Church in an attempt to win them over, is an acceptable schedule, even though the Christian calendar has now drifted from the actual Sacred Solstice Day.

In short, while there are formal calendar and holiday dates to be kept, for practical purposes, folks can choose different dates, if needed.

2) The Church Of The Sacred Carbon is a Syncretic sect.


Syncretism /ˈsɪŋkrətɪzəm/ is the combining of different (often seemingly contradictory) beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merger and analogizing of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, thus asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths. Syncretism also occurs commonly in expressions of arts and culture (known as eclecticism) as well as politics (syncretic politics).

You are encouraged to bring with you any prior beliefs, ceremonies, and wisdom. Specifically, nothing in Sacred Carbon Teachings is exclusionary or prohibitive to the practice of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, or any other prior faith. I will be sourcing bits of wisdom from the sacred texts of all of those traditions.

On some things, I will have a preference, and will state a preferred practice. So, for example, there is no requirement for circumcision. The practice is not needed and puts the child at risk, and without their consent. They, too, have a right to their own body. Yet a practitioner of Sacred Carbon Teachings may still choose to follow their ancestral traditions on circumcision. The preferences are just that, the preferred way. But other ways are possible.

The Church Of The Sacred Carbon is inclusive, not exclusive. It isn’t about “pitching out unbelievers”, it is about finding what is true, and wise, and common to us all.

The Church Of The Sacred Carbon is a personal quest for understanding, wisdom, and a centered life. One person can not tell another how to make that journey. Each of us is unique, has our own starting point, our own history, and our own path. So each person is encouraged to customize rituals and dogma to fit their own life path. So, for example, a wave offering of wine: can be fermented wine, or it can be simple juice (unfermented wine), or even plain water. Some folks simply do not like wine, and will find beer or champagne more suited. That’s fine too. In fact, any carbonated beverage is full of The Sacred Carbon as CO2 gas making bubbles. That’s a fine offering!

So yes, I will have “preferred insights and teachings”; but you, too, have insights and teachings. I can point out the path that I have found, but each of us walks a slightly different path; and that is fine.

Celebration Dinner

So tonight I’m having a Celebration Dinner.

The Burnt Offering is on the coals as I type. Chicken and vegetables in an American Camp Oven (a.k.a. “Dutch Oven”). A mix of briquettes and natural wood charcoal as Holy Power for the Sacred Carbon burnt offering on the Altar Stones. An Altar need not be fancy, nor elaborate. It need only be sacred to you and consecrated with Sacred Carbon in one of its many forms. Solids, liquids, or gas.

Wave Offering TBD, but leaning toward a nice pink wine…

You are welcome to have your own celebration too. Burnt offerings and wave offerings encouraged.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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12 Responses to I’m Official, Exam Passed

  1. P.G.Sharrow says:

    I will toast to this beginning with a wave offering of the essence of wild Black Berry & spirit of Wine.
    “A Blessing for The Church of the Sacred Carbon, May None with Evil Intent enter Here”! pg

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Ah, the Wild Black Berry. Wonderful!

    Though I’m not too worried if those “with Evil Intent” enter. I’ll change ’em! ;-)

    FWIW, I’m working on the calendar now. Mostly based on celestial / solar / lunar alignments, but turns out that’s roughly the same as the: {Christian | Druid | Wiccan | Old Roman | Pegan |etc.} holiday schedule… (Since the Christians conveniently planted their Holy Days on top of precursor Pegan / Celtic -Druid holidays and most ancient people used the same solar / lunar events to mark special times.).

    Mostly it’s the interpretation / emphasis that shifts. So old German Oester or Ēostre was a German Pegan holiday that got turned into Easter by the Christians and is also the Spring Equinox holiday of the Druids. For the Druids, it is a “minor day” as the equinox and solstices are not as important as the “high days” (also, conveniently, “Fire Days” when fires were built in celebration – Yes, I’ll be drawing on that Celtic root of tradition…) like Beltane – May 1st in most calendars, so also “May Day” and “The Feast of Saturnalia”. Talk about your popular Holiday! ;-) Technically it is when the sun is entering 15 degrees of the related astrological sign; tied to the celestial calendar – clock; but since all these things run in sync, pick your marker.

    So I figured since I was already too slow to get a marker down for Christmas / Winter Solstice / … and Easter / Oestara / Spring Equinox; maybe I ought to make it a priority before too many high holy days pass to let folks know just when they are!

    Then again, since it’s pretty much on top of all the other matching dates, I figured folks probably already have a bit of clue.

    Also “on deck” is a series on Altars. From a simple “4 bricks, a grate, and some wood” on up to more elaborate ones. Making a minimal burned offering “in the outback”, and does a “Flame Broiled Whopper” qualify? (Yes, it does, in a pinch …) Then some suggested rituals and procedures. (Things like “A Soy Sauce Marinade is acceptable even when not using a Hibachi” and “Steak Tartar is NOT acceptable. No carbon was offered in the making. It can be rendered acceptable with the lighting of a votive candle, or a double wave offering of carbon containing sanctified beverage.”)

    Then the harder parts to come. Some appreciation of Sacred Carbon as the foundation of life, and what that might mean. The cycle of Sacred Carbon, from the air, into life in plants, through animals and us; then freed once again in death and fire to begin The Great Cycle again. Where does life end, and where does the spirit begin. That’s likely to take years…

    But at least now I’ve got a better foundation to build from.

    We’re not called “Carbon Units” or “Carbon based life forms” for nothing!

  3. Sera says:

    I love the 12 month 30 day each calender (Ethiopian?), and could also accept a 5/6 day “Festival” at the end of the year for “anything that floats your boat but doesn’t harm anyone else”. I shall go home and make a spinach pie- representing flower (spinach) and fauna (mothers’ milk/cheese) together as one. May God cast a gentle eye upon you, Brother.

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    I looked at both the Ethiopian and the other 360 day calendars. What that does, though, is causes each season to get ever more out of alignment with the celestial alignment days (equinox / solstice).

    In the end, what works best, is a 365 day + Leap calendar, but with 12 months of 30 days each, plus one holiday ON each of Summer Solstice, Spring Equinox, Fall Equinox, and 2 or 3 days on the Winter Solstice.

    In this way the 5 – 6 Festival days are spread through the year as Holidays. You still have 12 months of 30 days each, and still have 5 or 6 festival days, but everything stays much more aligned with the Celestial Alignments.


    It was that whole “calendaring thing” that slowed me down for a while. I thought I was done a year ago, then figured out that it would not have the 4 quarter holidays land on the exact celestial alignment day as the length of the seasons changes over time. So “what to do?”.

    You can EITHER have the date of “Spring Equinox” be on the Equinox, or you can have all months of 30 days each, but not both…

    I pondered…

    And the conclusion was to split into a “Formal” calendar, and a practical one. So the Formal Calendar remains as 12 months, 30 days each, 4 holiday segments (one of them 2 or 3 days) and with them nominally the solstice and equinox days. The Practical Calendar simply recognizes that in the modern world, folks are not so formal, so the actual holiday day can be off by a day or two from the solar alignment and nobody will really care. (It becomes a ‘feature’ in that folks can choose their schedule a bit.)

    So Holy Days can be placed by the individual ON the Celestial Event, if they so desire (or are ‘out in the wilderness’ and must make their own calendar by watching the sky); or they may choose to put it on the “quarter festival days” of a formal 12 months of 30 days schedule (that will from time to time differ by a day from the celestial); or they can overlay the Holy Days onto the common public calendar of today (so as to better match common holiday allowances).

    The difference ends up being a couple of days at most, and frankly, most folks will not care or notice. It seemed better to just allow for that “flexibility” up front. It avoids things like endless bickering over exactly what IS or IS NOT the proper Holy Day seen in many religions. (Druids, for example, where the argue over 1/2 day sized issues. Or Christianity, where the Christmas Day was set at the Winter Solstice many centuries back, but is now “off” by about 3 or 4 days since they didn’t keep a very good calendar for a while…)

    It’s a bit more complicated for me (as I need to make and run the Formal Calendar) but a whole lot easier for everyone else; as they can just “look up the Winter Solstice” and use that day (about December 21-22), or use Christmas Day as it is ‘close enough’, or use the Formal Calendar Day that might be a day or two off from the Common Calendar. (So, for example, Fall Equinox might be a day off from the Formal 4th Quarter Day due to slight orbital mechanics issues. This might be a day off from Michaelmass Day in the Christian tradition. Etc. ) One could get all wound around the axle on it; or just announce “Fall Equinox Holiday – Formally FOO this year, or the actual equinox on BAR. Flexibility allowed.” and move on. Anyone needing to make sure they all show up to a festival at the same time can use their iPhones these days and don’t really need a Church Elder telling them which day to use.

    The “bickering” can be even worse than that. The Druids have some folks use ‘start of day’ as midnight like the dominant culture, others use ‘sundown’ as in the classical Druid methods. Some mark the proper day off via the Solar calendar, some via the traditional lunar calendar, and even that may be found as ‘6 days after’ either the full moon or new moon – so a 2 week difference. Sigh.

    Having slogged through all that, I decided it was best to just permanently bury the bickering up front with a “be flexible” and pick the counter that works best for you. (Even if I will have a formal one in the background).

    I think you are starting to see how calendaring induced a delay…

    Of course, anyone who wants to have a 6 or 12 day “Yule” festival stuck onto the Winter Solstice Day is quite welcome to do so! It also soaks up those first few days of “Our” new year that are not yet aligned with the dominant year cycle…

    But at least it is less trouble than the Jews, Muslims, and others have with their Lunar Calendars and holidays that end up wandering over the whole year… The lunar and solar cycles are just not integer multiples… so constantly drift relative to each other.

  5. Sera says:

    AHHHHH- I somehow misread. Thanks for the explanation- that definitely works for me! Maybe set up something with CafePress? I would buy a calendar if you made one available for your congregation.


  6. P.G.Sharrow says:

    For continuity, the use of the end of the Mayan long count as the starting point of your calender construct is a good idea. I have the vision of a day count as the base upon which others are constructed. Celestial events have their own scheduled, The priests/astronomers need something to do. ;-) A month is easiest as a “moon” circuit of the sky. A year for the solar circuit of the heavens.. For day to day things, which day they fall on is not really important as long as everyone is informed in advance. Computers can tell you the exact time of any event into great expanses of time. Just set the meter running. Today is the 110th day of the new era, the spring equinox was day 90 etc. In 4 years we will be at day 1561 in the day count, April 10, 2017 in the old count. Just more things for the computer to do. Due to orbital mechanics nothing is exact except for your definition description. pg

  7. Zeke says:

    Incandescent lights and candles, along with hearth fires and out-door fires, is helpful in pursuing a full and happy prayer session, and I am truly delighted that these sources of light and warmth are to be encouraged in the Church of the Sacred Carbon. Zoroastrians pray facing the sun or fire at least once a day, and traditionally many Christians also light candles. It is interesting that these fires and electric lights are small but copious sources of IR light, invisible to the human eye, but possibly important nonetheless to the visual cortex. Incandescent lights, fires, and candlelight most resembles sunlight, which sustains nearly all life on earth.

    These lights, then, bring a sense of that which cannot be seen, and of invisible aid.

    Also, please visit this artistic offering by fenbeagle which honors fire as a gift, which brought a hockey stick of prosperity to mankind; but it also reminds us of the other hockey stick, which only seeks to suppress and deny happiness and prosperity:


    My own small contribution:


    I raise a wave offering of desert wine to celebrate this wonderful Founding. I wish it success and blessing in keeping a spirit of gratitude and respect for the energetic, chemical, and spiritual gifts of Carbon.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m fond of systems that don’t need much equipment, so “when this star rises”. That way it can be done “in the boonies” and after the power is out ;-)

    The perpetual day count is a good idea, but not as ‘self tending’… This Minister has plenty to do already ;-)

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    It wasn’t exactly clear (and presupposed exposure to the prior articles – facts not in evidence ;-)

    But now you know…

    I’ll check out the DIY calendar site.

  10. Steve C says:


    Er, “You scored 100% on the final exam.”? 100%? Sounds like an election result in “some” countries! Did you set your own questions?

    Query: Will the CSC Calendar recognise Blue Moons. such as we have this August? You may not be able to navigate by them (etc.), but they’re a nice astronomical phenomenon to mark and a fine basis for another celebration day.

  11. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. As you point out, the word “philosophy” is a nice one. Up until about a century ago, the word “physics” was much more rarely used; what we today call physics was then named “natural philosophy.” I still use the term with some regularity.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    No, I didn’t get to pick the questions. They were assigned. It was “open book” though (or, more accurately, open Bible, all the books. With specific sections on Old Testament and New Testament, plus a third section on other religious texts.) I just answered each question twice, then checked each answer 3 times (twice in the assigned books, once in other versions). Yeah, much more time than just doing a ‘once through’, and I only changed one answer on re-check; but I think the result was worth it…

    I’ve actually seen a moon that looked pastel blue. Only once in my life. The common definition of “blue moon” is not the same…. as the “2 in one month” definition only comes around once every two or 3 years, it isn’t presently celebrated. (You can if you like…) There is also the minor complication that with the formal calendar of 30 day months, there are, um, fewer opportunities for that…

    @Jason Calley:

    I must read a lot of old books, as Natural Philosophy is current with me… and Physics only comes in as a secondary term. Always did like the older stuff….

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