Beltane

May Day Maypole Dancing

May Day Maypole Dancing

Original Image.

May Day. Mary’s Month, Walpurgis Night, dancing around the May Pole, the start of Summer in some traditions, and a cross quarter day on the solar calendar. Oh, and the communists have tried to co-opt it as a labor celebration. Sorry, not interested in “political” holidays.

What’s a ‘cross quarter day’?

However a less-used parallel system holds that June 21st is actually Midsummer’s Day, which then requires the start of summer to be in early May. This date and three others like it are known as the Cross-Quarter Days, because they are evenly spaced between the fundamental Quarter Days of the Solstices and Equinoxes. The Cross-Quarter Days thus mark the middle of each season under our current system, or seasonal boundaries under the alternative system.

So what is this day? What makes it “special”? Two things. First, it is a ‘cross quarter day’, or 1/2 way between solstice and equinox. Old Celts and Druids held the cross quarter days as more important than the solstice and equinox days in many cases. More importantly, being 1/2 way from the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, it was held to be the official start of Summer. (Modern traditions on when summer starts are more variable, and often based on local weather tendencies. Then there is also that small issue of the bottom 1/2 of the planet ;-)

So there’s a wiki for May Day and it has some interesting points.

The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the maypole dance and crowning of the Queen of the May. Various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on May 1.

The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary’s month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary’s head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning.

A fairly typical pattern of western holidays. Largely indirectly tied to the seasons and relative positions of the sun, moon, and earth (including axial tilt). Originating in our firm ties to the cycle of life in the land and farming. Then empires, such as the Roman Empire, bend them to a larger social pattern. Eventually the conversion to Christianity in the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church plants a “Church Holiday” on top of the prior traditions. Finally, a conversion to a ‘secular holiday’ as the political correctness movement tries to stamp out all hint of public faith and tradition.

So what Holiday (from Holy Day…) are we celebrating on May Day? Well, that is up to you. There is a bit of “jitter” in the exact timing (and many religious traditions get all wound up in fighting over minor variations in schedule). Some traditions (like the old Druids) have the “day” beginning at sundown, so start “May Day” on the last day of April at sun down. As I’m near the end of the planetary rotation, my May Day starts when most other folks on the planet are already nearing the end of their day. (So this posting is a day late for many folks). But even there, the ‘drift’ in the formal calendar vs the solar calendar means that we are no longer exactly aligned with the ‘cross quarter day’. So once again we have one of those opportunities for folks to bicker and fuss and divide over exactly when is the Holiday. In truth, it does not matter.

So pick what suits you and your schedule. The “Official Date” for TCOTSC is the ‘cross quarter day’ as observed in a solar calendar. For all practical purposes, it is May 1st. If another day is more convenient for you, no bad thing happens from celebrating May Day / Beltane / Mary’s Month /Flora’s Day / Walpurgis Night a day or two off of the exact solar alignment. The important point is simply to realize that the cold is ending, the warmth is coming, any final snows are nearer the end point of cold and any warm days are harbingers of things to come. In short, it’s a time to party.

So break out the Altar (be it a minimal P.O.B. version or a Delux Webber) prepare a glorious Burnt Offering, pour some generous Wave Offerings (saluting the Re/Ra rising point and the Amen setting point) and give thanks for Carbon and our Carbon Based Life.

Other Traditions

So what were some of the older / other traditions?

http://www.thaliatook.com/OGOD/flora.html

Flora is the Roman Goddess of flowering plants, especially those that bear fruit. Spring, of course, is Her season, and She has elements of a Love-Goddess, with its attendant attributes of fertility, sex, and blossoming. She is quite ancient; the Sabines are said to have named a month for Her (which corresponds to our and the Roman April), and She was known among the Samnites as well as the Oscans, where She was called Flusia. She was originally the Goddess specifically of the flowering crops, such as the grain or fruit-trees, and Her function was to make the grain, vegetables and trees bloom so that autumn’s harvest would be good. She was invoked to avert rust, a nasty fungal disease of plants that causes orange growths the exact color of rusting iron, and which was (is) an especial problem affecting wheat. Hers is the beginning of the process that finds its completion with Pomona, the Goddess of Fruit and the Harvest; and like Pomona, Flora had Her own flamen, one of a small number of priests each in service to a specific Deity. The flamens were said to have been instituted by Numa, the legendary second King of Rome who succeeded Romulus; and whether Numa really existed or not, the flamens were undoubtedly of ancient origin, as were the Deities they served.

In later times Flora became the Goddess of all flowering plants, including the ornamental varieties. Her name is related to Latin floris, meaning naturally enough “a flower”, with the additional meaning of “[something] in its prime”; other related words have meanings like “prospering”, “flourishing”, “abounding”, and “fresh or blooming”.

Or in English traditions:

The Three Milkings, or Þrimilci-mōnaþ of the old English.

https://ourc.wordpress.com/english-lessons-maypole-and-mayday/

Roodmas was a Christian Mass celebrated in England at midnight on May 1.

Traditional English May Day rites and celebrations include Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen and celebrations involving a Maypole. Much of this tradition derive from the pagan Anglo-Saxon customs held during “Þrimilci-mōnaþ” (the Old English name for the month of May meaning Month of Three Milkings).

May Day has been a traditional day of festivities throughout the centuries. With Christianity came agricultural feasts such as Plough Sunday (the first Sunday in January), Rogationtide, Harvest Festival and May Day. It is most associated with towns and villages celebrating springtime fertility and revelry with village fetes and community gatherings. Since May 1st is the Feast of St Philip & St James, they became the patron saints of workers. Seeding has been completed by this date and it was convenient to give farm labourers a day off. Perhaps the most significant of the traditions is the Maypole, around which traditional dancers circle with ribbons.

So a Feast of St. Philip and St. James, or just a Feast of Fertility and some revelry.

The wiki says “Since the reform of the Catholic Calendar, May 1 is the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of workers.” so perhaps it’s St. Joseph… Consult your local Catholic ;-)

http://german.about.com/od/holidaysfolkcustoms/a/mai_2.htm

Walpurgis – Walpurgisnacht

Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht), the night before May Day, is similar to Halloween in that it has to do with supernatural spirits. And like Halloween, Walpurgisnacht is of pagan origin. The bonfires seen in today’s celebration reflect those pagan origins and the human desire to drive away the winter cold and welcome spring.

Celebrated mainly in Sweden, Finnland, Estonia, Latvia, and Germany, Walpurgisnacht gets its name from Saint Walburga (or Walpurga), a woman born in what is now England in 710. Die heilige Walpurga traveled to Germany and became a nun at the convent of Heidenheim in Württemberg. Following her death in 778 (or 779), she was made a saint, with May 1 as her saint day.

So looks like Bonfires are part of some traditions. Massive salute to Sacred Carbon and the release of dead carbon from wood back into the cycle of life.

Again we see the link between past “pagan” roots in a solar calendar and an overlay with a Christian tradition.

More from the wiki:

Ireland

May Day has been celebrated in Ireland since pagan times as the feast of Bealtaine and in latter times as Mary’s day. Traditionally, bonfires were lit to mark the coming of summer and to banish the long nights of winter. Officially Irish May Day holiday is the first Monday in May. Old traditions such as bonfires are no longer widely observed, though the practice still persists in some places across the country. Limerick, Clare and many other people in other counties still keep on this tradition.

Again the tradition of bonfires to drive out the last of the winter cold. If you are in a jurisdiction and location that allows for a bonfire, it is a fine way to celebrate the day. If legally or logistically encumbered, even just lighting a candle or kerosene lamp can be a ‘miniature bonfire’…

Romania

On May Day, the Romanians celebrate the arminden (or armindeni), the beginning of summer, symbolically tied with the protection of crops and farm animals. The name comes from Slavonic Jeremiinŭ dĭnĭ, meaning prophet Jeremiah’s day, but the celebration rites and habits of this day are apotropaic and pagan (possibly originating in the cult of the god Pan).

The day is also called ziua pelinului (mugwort day) or ziua bețivilor (drunkards’ day) and it is celebrated to insure good wine in autumn and, for people and farm animals alike, good health and protection from the elements of nature (storms, hail, illness, pests). People would have parties in the nature with lăutari (fiddlers), for those who could afford it. There, it is customary to roast and eat lamb, also eat new mutton cheese and drink mugwort-flavoured wine or just red wine to refresh the blood and get protection from diseases. On the way back, the men wear lilac or mugwort flowers on their hats.

In Romania we’ve got the prophet Jeremiah… OK, so the Christian Church was not all that coordinated in planting their folks on top of existing natural festivals…

In the USA things are more mixed. Due to the Communists attempting to co-opt the day as Workers Day it’s not celebrated all that much any more. (It was when I was a kid). Yet some places still do. There is a ‘Green Root’ tradition with some Pagans celebrating and some left wing folks with a ‘red root’ tradition doing the Workers Day thing. There was even an official “Law Day” poke at the USSR (that near as I can tell went nowhere). But the one I like most is Hawaii:

Hawaii

In Hawaii, May Day is also known as Lei Day, and it is normally set aside as a day to celebrate island culture in general and native Hawaiian culture in particular. Invented by poet and local newspaper columnist Eric Kosciuszko in the 1920s, it has since been adopted by state and local government, as well as local residents, and has taken on the sense of a general spring celebration. The first official Lei Day was proposed in 1927 in Honolulu by poet and artist Don Blanding. Leonard “Red” and Ruth Hawk composed “May Day Is Lei Day in Hawai’i”, the traditional holiday song. Originally it was a contemporary fox trot, later rearranged as the Hawaiian hula song performed today.

So, to recycle an old joke, looks like it’s a good day to get lei’ed. ;-) At least in Hawaii…

Core Meaning

But the core meaning of the day has not changed. Through empires and churches and communists and more.

It is a celebration of the ending of cold and the arrival of warmth.
(in some cases “real soon now” ;-)

A celebration of life.

So get out there and start celebrating if you haven’t already!

For many Hispanics, they celebrate on the 3rd of May as Fiesta de las Cruces that has a root back in the pagans and the Roman / Byzantine Empire transition to Christianity.

Religiously, the festival is rooted in the search by the Byzantine Empress Saint Helena for the cross on which Jesus died, but the popular traditions connected to the festival certainly originate from pagan traditions brought to Spain by the Roman Empire (see May Day).

The legend is that Emperor Constantine I, in the sixth year of his reign, confronted the barbarians on the banks of the Danube, in a battle where victory was believed to be impossible because of the great size of the enemy army. One night, Constantine had a vision of a cross in the sky, and by it the words “In hoc signo vincis” (With this sign, you shall be victorious). The emperor had a cross made and put it at the front of his army, which won an easy victory over the enemy multitude. On returning to the city and learning the significance of the cross, Constantine was baptized as a Christian and gave orders to construct Christian churches. He sent his mother, Saint Helena, to Jerusalem in search of the True Cross, the cross on which Jesus died.

In short, it doesn’t matter much if you start your celebration on April 30th, or May 1st, or even May 3rd. It doesn’t even matter if you are celebrating the end of the cold and the coming warmth, the position of the sun at a cross quarter day, or a ‘patron saint’. What matters is that this is a day to be in touch with life. To recognize the cycle of times. That we are a product of the Creator Force, powered through the life force from the sun, via a carbon cycle. The beginning of the new explosion of life as spring turns to summer.

Southern Hemisphere Note

There is an interesting problem with most holidays. They come from a northern hemisphere root and perspective. So what to do? Again, it is for the individual to choose. Those who follow a cultural based tradition will stay ‘in sync’ with the above pattern. Those who choose to stay aligned with the original and seasonal cycles will instead be celebrating a different day. Samhain (pronounced Sow-een). Yes, Halloween. All Hallows Eve is the night before November 1st or Samhain. It is still a time for bonfires and celebration, but now it is the last warmth of Summer / Fall turning to the arrival of Winter.

Catholics planted “All Saint’s Day” on November 1st, so it’s also a Christian celebration.

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/civilization/cc0070.html

You still hear people doubt it, even when you show them that Halloween is All-Hallows’-Eve which is the night-before-All-Saints’- Day. Some tell me they understand that Halloween pranks were a post-Reformation contribution to plague Catholics who kept the vigil of All Saints. Now it is possible that Halloween was abused for such a purpose; nevertheless, during all the Christian centuries up until the simplification of the Church calendar in 1956, it was a liturgical vigil in its own right and thus has a reason for being. Learning this, one pious lady of our acquaintance was heard to say: “Oh, I’m so glad to know that. I was about to write my congressman and suggest the whole thing be outlawed.”

A celebration much like our Halloween, with bonfires and feasting on apples and nuts and harvest fruits, was part of pagan worship for centuries. The Britons celebrated in honor of their sun-god with bonfires, a tribute to the light that brought them abundant harvest. At the same time they saluted Samhain, their “lord of death,” who was thought to gather together at last the souls of the year’s dead which had been consigned to the bodies of animals in punishment for their sins. The Romans celebrated the same kind of festival at this time in honor of their goddess Pomona, a patroness of fruits and gardens. Whether the Church “baptized” these customs or chose this season for her feasts of the dead independent of them, their coincidence shows again how alike men are when they seek God and His ways, give praise, use the language of symbols to express the inexpressible.

It was in the eighth century that the Church appointed a special date for the feast of All Saints, followed by a day in honor of her soon-to-be saints, the feast of All Souls. She chose this time of year, it is supposed, because in her part of the world it was the time of barrenness on the earth. The harvest was in, the summer done, the world brown and drab and mindful of death. Snow had not yet descended to comfort and hide the bony trees or blackened fields; so with little effort man could look about and see a meditation on death and life hereafter.

Apparently how you spent the vigil of All Saints depended on where you lived in Christendom. In Brittany the night was solemn and without a trace of merriment. On their “night of the dead” and for forty-eight hours thereafter, the Bretons believed the poor souls were liberated from Purgatory and were free to visit their old homes. The vigil for the souls, as well as the saints, had to be kept on this night because of course the two days were consecutive feasts — and a vigil is never kept on a feast.

So since the cross quarter days are symmetrical and since the holiday schedule is both Pagan and Christian (and in cycle with nature) it does not really matter which schedule you choose to follow. If in doubt (for example, for folks on the Equator) one could choose to celebrate both Samhain and Beltane on the same day. In truth, what we are celebrating is the great Cycle Of Carbon Life, that it aligns with other traditions is largely a convenience. We are all in the same solar driven cycles, we are all faced with the beginning, growth, decline, and death cycle of spring, summer, fall and winter. So “call it what you will”, it is all the same reality. We don’t really need to ‘break it up’ into 8 pieces (equinox, solstice, cross quarter days) with special meanings. Those are just to give us a special awareness of a given state of the cycle of life. It is the whole cycle that is being recognized and celebrated at each point.

In Conclusion

We are at the end of one part of the cycle, the start of the next. Take a moment to realize that transition, and our transitory nature in life. “This life is not a dress rehearsal. Take Big Bites!” (Perhaps a quote from me, or I might have picked it up somewhere.) So celebrate, liberate some Sacred Carbon, and enjoy the warmth!

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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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11 Responses to Beltane

  1. Gail Combs says:

    First day of Summer??? Oh Noes! It was a frigid 61F here in central North Carolina at noon and has ‘warmed-up’ to 63F at 3:00PM…. BRRrrrrr.

    Not a good start to summer.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Gail:

    You might want to brush up on how to grow turnips and kale ;-)

  3. Zeke says:

    Wonderful history of May Day, thank you! I thought to link it to a constellation as well, since the constellations seem to have very ancient origins. They have certain universal themes, according to some scholars, across many cultures from long ago.

    Does the sun rise in the constellation Aries on May 1st? Here are stars of Aries:

    “The stars [630], [631] and [638]-[640] (alpha, beta and gamma Arietis respectively) mark the ram’s head and horns. The brightest star of Aries, [630] alpha Arietis, is also known as El Nath and Hamal, or “the head of the sheep.” It is a K-type giant that shines with a reddish colour and has a mass twice that of the Sun.

    [631] beta Arietis, is also called Sheratan, or “the two signs,” referring to the star once having marked the vernal equinox together with [638]-[640] gamma Arietis. It is a white main sequence star lying about 60 light-years away from Earth.

    Gamma Arietis or Mesarthim (origin obscure) is a triple star that includes [638], a binary system with two white A-type main sequence stars, and [640], a K-type star orbiting the binary. It was one of the first double stars to be discovered, spotted in 1664 by Robert Hooke while he was looking for a comet.

    Other notable stars in the Aries constellation are [639] lambda Arietis, a binary star with a yellow-white dwarf for a primary, [647] pi Arietis, a star system 603 light-years distant, with a blue-white dwarf for a primary, 41 Arietis or Bharani, a variable star 160 light-years away from Earth, [633] delta Arietis or Botein (“belly”), an orange K-type giant 168 light-years away, and 30 Arietis, a double star easily spotted in smaller telescopes, that consists of a distinctly yellow brighter star and a bluish companion star 40 arcseconds away. Teegarden’s star, an M-type red dwarf, also lies in the Aries constellation, but can only be seen with a large telescope.”

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    @Zeke:

    Linking things to constellations gets a bit complicated… For one thing, not everyone agrees on the same constellations. But assuming ‘the usual 12″ from astrology, there’s the problem of precession. Astrology dates from a few thousand years ago, and in that time precession has changed what constellation rises at which time of year. So you need to guess how long ago any given mythology was promulgated, and then look for the amount of precession to remove, and then pick the constellation, and then figure out if means anything…

    So, for example, for the Sphinx, it lines up with Leo something like 10,000 years ago. Folks make a fuss about that. Does it mean anything, or is it just “given these conclusions what assumptions can we draw?”…

    Then there is the question of “rising where?”. Things rise at different time (or may not be visible at all) depending on where you are on the globe. Most of the constellations on the celestial equator are visible from most of the planet, but when near a pole, things don’t rise / set nearly so neatly… So you get to make guesses about “from where?” (usually N.Hemisphere 20-50 degrees N.)

    So it can be a fun thing to do, bit it takes a fair degree of concentration to get it all right… more than I’ve been willing to put into it, I’m afraid ;-)

    So I bought a planisphere for something like $10 ;-) IF I’m reading it right, it says that on the ecliptic as May starts, Aries has been ‘up’ for a while, and Taurus is just coming up at dawn in the east. The Pleiades being just up at about 6:45 A.M. (rough reading).

    Now you get to “adjust” that for your local actual sunrise to find out ‘what the sun is rising in’, and you get to figure out what millennium you are using for your mythology and adjust for precession since then… (So we are just entering Aquarius and we were in Pisces – but even that’s a bit muddy with some folks claiming we entered Aquarius in about 1844, others saying 1991, some saying 2012, yet others out to 3573 (!) A.D…. see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Aquarius while the official International Astronomical Union value is 2600 A.D. so it’s all a mess of various errors…) It’s about 2150 years / “age” or constellation; so for every 2150 years back, move 1/12 of the sky in the Aquarius -> Pisces direction of rotation…

    I think you can see why I’ve not explored that much ;-)

    But let us know if you find anything interesting. There is interesting stuff to be found. Like Mithraism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraic_mysteries where they basically made a big deal about the shift of the constellations as they entered Pisces and left Taurus. (Kind of like our Y2k… a lot of folks got their panties in a bunch when they figured out Taurus was leaving… the ‘fixed’ heavens being not so fixed… and the killing of the bull gained symbolic meaning to them… but that path leads to a whole lot of speculation about bull symbology and ritual killing of bulls… ) But basically. their symbology can be fairly tightly tied to the changing constellations and the bull being killed off as another took it’s place with ‘the hunter’ doing the deed. At that time, a God who can move the heavens themselves was a ‘big deal’, and while the wiki drones on about it being stamped out by Christianity, I think the simpler answer is that when your “big mystery” is that Taurus Rising is ending is 400 years old, well, everyone can see Taurus Rising is over… It’s like the “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius” is not going to be a big cultural deal once it’s happened.

    So, hope that helps more than confounds ;-)

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    This Cross-Quarter Day or Beltane seems to be much more natural and logical to me as the season changes then the equinox / solstice dates. But then I am a farmer and live in my fields. For those of us in mid northern hemisphere early May is the end of the threat of winter and the safe beginning of the growing season. Time to celebrate with the planting of tender summer crops and the consumption of the winter stored crops. pg

  6. Zeke says:

    “Now you get to “adjust” that for your local actual sunrise to find out ‘what the sun is rising in’, and you get to figure out what millennium you are using for your mythology and adjust for precession since then…”

    Probably best just to stay out of it! (:

    You are right. Come to think of it, we are using Ptolemy’s version of the constellations! And isn’t that yet another instance of this tiresome, arrogant, academic Greek/Roman domination of our meanings? I have had it up to here with the Romans. Every book I buy about ancient cultures just turns out to be a book about Greeks and Romans, written by yet another academic with an inordinate affection for tyrants and aristocracies (for which they need psychological help).

    While this column points out that most holidays are “pagan” (meaning Roman in most instances!) in origin – and it is generally agreed that these were later simply “Christianized” – I see it the other way around. I see it as Romanizing the calender with the intent to continue Roman holidays. So says a minority of one.

  7. Zeke says:

    Still, it’s interesting that most stars are binary pairs.

  8. Zeke says:

    Also of note is the humorous and brilliant declaration of Law Day, linked in the article above:
    http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/law-day

    Notice the sculpture of justice holding the scales and her sword, without the blindfold. It has been pointed out by some scholars that the maiden is upright, clear sighted, and blameless, and being impartial therefore does not require her to wear a blindfold.

    So where did the blindfold on the Lady Justice originate? I do not think it is a coincidence that during certain Roman festivals, a goddess in a temple would sometimes have a muzzle tied around her mouth, so that even she could not tell what was done. The blindfold over the eyes of justice may be yet another example of Roman perversion and degradation of what they adopted from their conquered subjects.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    IMHO, the solstice / equinox / cross quarter day paradigm dates back to Stonehenge (and before) and was largely driven by a farming society in a place with frequent prolonged cloud cover. Keeping track of the days, months, and even years was of significant importance. Frankly, even with all our modern precision, I find it’s May already and I didn’t do my April prep (start seeds in pots in warm places / sometimes indoors) so I’m going to be doing a ‘catch up’ garden this year. (As I’ve done so many times before…) It’s not a big leap to see value in a formal “call the ball” selection of the better farmers to “remind” the ones a bit distracted by their stored Grog that it’s time to get those seeds started ;-)

    The Druids were not just some mumbo-jumbo muttering bearded guys. They were the intelligentsia of their society, and acted as everything form doctors to lawyers to priests. Those kinds of folks are interested in making things work well, not just ‘status’. They already had the status. (BTW, I’m a “Master of Druidry” per the certificate issued from my classes… for whatever that’s worth. I think it adds a useful balance to my hard core Christian upbringing…) One of their jobs was keeping the calendar and watching the sky. I am quite certain that they ‘caught on’ that the cross quarter days were more useful than the equinox / solstice for practical purposes.

    As near as I can tell, the solstices are most useful as very precise calibration points. The equinox points as ‘check points’ that also inform about the non-symmetry of the seasons (by a couple of days…) and the cross quarter points tell you what you really need to know. Keeping those points clear under a mostly overcast / raining / storming sky would take a bit of work, and a prior knowledge of the relationships. Thus The Henge. You observe when the sky is clear, and over a long period of time, flesh out the exact relationships. Now you can make any observation at just about any time, and have a calibration point. Then just “count the days” and keep your sun / moon / calender tokens in step on the ground until the next checkpoint. Not so needed in places like California where almost all days are clear ;-) Sill, a skill worth having….

    I’d also suggest that the “elders” having seen a 60 year cycle of PDO / AMO et. al. (actually about 56 years) would be in a unique position to inform the “young ones”. Farmers of 20 years age or so, who have no idea that the 20 years of ‘warming’ they have experienced will soon end, or what comes next. So I expect a lot of old Gray Beards were the folks running the Henge. (There is evidence of a 19 year lunar counter and a 56 year PDO / AMO counter… though they likely didn’t all it that… but the same 56 holes can also do eclipse prediction… so it may be that the two cycles are related. ( I’m still working on my Druid skills… I’ve really got to build my Henge and see what all I can do with it…) So maybe the most elder farmers went on to run the Henge when they “retired”. I expect farmers are more in touch with such cycles than just about anyone else.

    @Zeke:

    Now you know why I shied away from it! It looked too much like work… ;-)

    If you look past the Roman / Pagan thing, you find they picked up the Greek pantheon more or less wholesale from the Greeks (with name translation) and that the Greeks picked theirs up from Egypt (again with a name change). So in fact you end up back in ancient Egypt at about 3000 B.C. (Which is why I keep looking at the Egyptians so much… both technically and spiritually, they are a strong root…. several ancient Hebrew writings look like re-writes of ancient Egyptian texts. Yes, we have ancient copies of both… for another posting some day…)

    But even earlier than that, several things reach back to Sumer. The Sumerians are precursors to just about everybody, and often have the oldest version of the “same thing”. So look at Gilgamesh and Noah… (Oh, BTW, they also liked beer, so must have been great guys! ;-) Oddly, they have a “language isolate”, so are unrelated to every other language on the planet. It’s a great mystery where they came from, who they were, and how they were so advanced so early. They have a series of beliefs that I’m still learning that seem to include an 8 fold division of the year and ‘cross quarter days’… but I’m still hunting that down.

    So I’d not be quite so fast to attribute so much to the Romans. Yes, the way it is taught is all Rome and Greece; but where it came from is much more Sumer, Egypt, and India…

    “Solon, oh Solon, you Greeks are such children. Having no science that is truly old and hoary with age.” An ancient Egyptian “Priest” to Solon on his visit to Egypt back before the Greeks were of much interest to anyone… (From memory… so might be worth a check for precision).

    Yes, there is a Roman Empire attempt to continue domination. BUT, the Celtic calendar set the original holiday dates, it was a Roman overlay to translate them to Christian events (one that offends the Muslims and to some extent the Eastern Orthodox folks as well.. seeing some of those days as “Pagan”…) The Celtic solar calendar is more ancient than the Roman (AND more accurate…) though suffers from some minor issues around precession and orbital shape changes. (The seasons are not constant length, but change over the precession cycle. One of the minor uses of a henge, IMHO, was that they learned about the precession cycle. Unfortunately, after they had ‘set it in stone’… there’s evidence of attempts to adjust it over the 3000 year lifetime…)

    The Egyptian calendar was quite different ( 3 season!) and I don’t know enough about the Sumerian one yet; but the ancient Ethiopian was quite good. The Hebrews and Arabs and several others used Lunar calendar, that has some advantages, but is also distinct. (The Celtic has a lunar component as well, so is more a dual system).

    At any rate, the use of solstice / equinox / cross quarter days precedes the Romans and the Greeks. (Even though that didn’t stop them from trying to monopolize it…)

    Part of what I’m trying to do is recover some of the older Celtic / Sumerian / Egyptian wisdom. (Not so much via personal discovery, as via finding where it has already been ‘discovered’ and integrating it into a fuller understanding.) There’s a lot of stuff sitting on shelves that has just not been understood well yet. I suspect much of it also shows up in the Vedas, but as mentioned, I’ve let that lay due to sloth… It is all an attempt to “get past the Roman Greek Wall” that is in our current taught view of ‘civilization’…

    One of the arguments for “Nemsis” (a companion dark star) is that a ‘singleton’ star is turning out to be far less frequent than expected. Most starts are in twins or triplets…

    I have no idea where the blindfold came from, but I think it is supposed to just be symbolic of doing the weighing of the arguments without knowing who is on each side of the scales.

  10. Zeke says:

    “Yes, there is a Roman Empire attempt to continue domination. BUT, the Celtic calendar set the original holiday dates”

    I do not doubt the Team Celt as a very ancient presence. (: I always enjoy your observations on the matter. I am very glad that your researches may take you in the direction of Sumer, as well.

    However, the stars and the motions of the celestial bodies were no private matter and it is likely that every people contributed wisdom and astronomical knowledge. It is a Western habit of academics to look for a particular originator of this knowledge, and to then to show how it supposedly spread from this culture to that, to Egypt, to Greece. Likewise, many catastrophes have devastated the earth in the time of human witnesses, and each people has their own way of passing on the drama and destruction they saw, along with the sense of a new life and a new age following the destruction. Therefore, I do not think it is necessary to try to make a case that planetary motions, or a flood, or a period of grand auroral activity is a story which originated with one group and then was simply adopted by another in a linear manner. Each culture offers its wisdom on all matters because all watched the stars, all saw the thunderbolts, all record a flood.

    Any way, if you do get the time to continue your research, it will be full of the characteristic “dig here” and “discuss here” of your other website and I do look forward to it, despite the fact that good weather is upon us and ruins and parchments may have to wait. It is interesting that the Etruscans divided the heavens into 16 sectors, which I think may be related to their constellations and possibly your 8 “cross quarter points.” They also planned their cities in this way. Yet another beautiful culture corrupted and subsumed by the Romans.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @Zeke:

    Ah, I see the “disconnect”… The Italians likely had the same observations of the solstice / equinox, but the Roman Empire didn’t come along until way after the Celts had made the calendar of events. (The Republic ended and the Empire began about 27 B.C.) Up north of the Etruscans in North Italy, you find a large body of Celts. They were eventually subsumed into the Roman Republic, and then the Empire, as it expanded over the Etruscans…

    So I’m not so much saying “Celts were special”, as I’m saying “Celts were around and doing this calendar before there even was a Roman Empire”… And many of them in Italy… And up in Gaul before it was hauled into the Empire… and Iberia before it was hauled into the Empire… and Britain before… ( I really don’t like the Roman Empire. Yes, they gave us a great deal. Unfortuately, most of it was stolen from others that they then destroyed…)

    I’m also of the opinion that we will never be able to say “who had it first” for anything old. Simply because all we can say is “who has left earliest evidence in the ground that we found”. That Gobekli Tepi site and the submerged Indus Valley site put civilization as extant about 12,000 years ago. “History” only goes back 6,000 years. (And even then we have found evidence for a wealthy trading culture in Europe near current Bulgaria from about then and maybe earlier). So unless we find a trove of buried clay tablets somewhere or a vault full of books packed in nitrogen, we are stuck with only comparatively recent history to speculate from.

    FWIW, I’ve looked at Sumer a fair amount, just not their religion. Mostly language and metrology. Their number and measuring systems are quite good. (So good we effectively still use them… but that’s a posting for the other site ;-) What I’ve tended to ignore was their religion and learning the language. (As a language isolate, it is entirely alien to any language I already know, and written in a hard to learn ‘script’… you end up more ‘decoding’ it than speaking it..) What little I’ve looked at is the “Creation Myth” and the “Flood Epics” and the story of Beer as a civilizing tool… ;-) (No, really, they use beer to teach a ‘wild man’ to be civilized.)

    What I think happened was that things were warming up out of the ice age and most folks (just as now) lived in the lower 500 ft or so of elevation. Water started rising, and folks all over the planet “headed for the hills”. About then a comet or asteroid hits the Ice Sheet in Canada and all hell breaks loose. Lots of loss of life, loss of civilization, loss of infrastructure. The “remnants” gather in a few places that were high valleys and are now low valleys (but a few hundred feet up from the now untrusted ocean…) and “start over”. Some preserved bits (like the Vedas and the ancient Egyptian texts that were burned in Alexandria) and some had to try remembering it (like the Greeks, Celts, etc.)

    Then we end up with “modern ancient history” as we try to get back to where we once were, but invent too much war making and empire and not enough civilization and commerce…

    Yet there may be ‘echos’ of the old wisdom in some of those old cultures. That’s why I look at them. To see what might be hidden there. (Like the fact that the hieroglyphs for ‘teacher’ are a gate and a star. Yes, “Stargate”, means “teacher”… Interesting, no?…) IMHO many of the old monuments are attempts to put into stone what was remembered as defense against a new collapse. There are what appear to be 10,000 year old stones in Egypt in lower strata that have no carved writing on them. Then with the ‘reset’, we get Hieroglyphs carved in everything. Egyptologists dismiss those smooth stones with the assertion they were put there by the Egyptians but not carved. (Buried a story or two in the sand…) I think that’s wrong. Just in the pre-Younger Dryas times they didn’t expect to be trashed and need to restart from carvings in stones. Rather like us, now…

    Well, the “Burned Offering” tonight is chicken marinated in soy, then grilled over mesquite (finally reaching the bottom of that old bag from a few years back. Only 3 or 4 more sessions to go with it.) Wave offering was “Pinot Blanc”. The sun is now headed to the setting point and Ra transitions to Amun, the unseen. Carbon life goes on. The Creator Force is happy. Amen ;-)

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