Discourse 1

Moonspell Studies1
2/9/05
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 now take 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 surprized. I had never
thought to connect time with trees...or the measurement of time. Now it seems
so
obious 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.
And 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:

1. Beth Birch "B"
2. Luis Rowan "L"
3. Nion Ash "N"
4. Fearn Alder "F" or "V"
5. Saille Willow "S"
6. Uath Hawthorne "H"
7. Duir Oak "D"
8. Tinne Holly "T"
9. Coll Hazel "C"
10. Muin Vine "M"
11. Gort Ivy "G"
12. Ngetal Reed "ng"
13. Ruis Elder "R"

Here are the tree moons in my current calendar, with the dates for
2,005/10,005. 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
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.
Surprize! 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 calendars.

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, there are 29.
In the ten years I have been using this calendar, lunations have always been
either 29 or 30 days apiece.

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
Twentynine 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 to, 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?"
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 out
of the earth and
the earth came out of the sun!) How does this triadic female symbolism
resonate for you?


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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.