Calendars mark the passage of time … and have done since ancient times.
All my life, I have been a celebrant of Halloween. For me, it is the most important day of the year, the turning point in the old pagan calendar.
Calendars are an important element of our daily lives and they govern the way we conduct our daily, weekly, monthly, yearly routine. In the earliest times, human beings calculated time by observing the periods of light and darkness that alternated continuously. The solar day is considered the earliest form of the calendar. The second basic type of calendar was the arbitrary calendar, which was created by counting the number of days over and over again, either towards infinity or in a cycle. Nonetheless, there were several problems with the arbitrary calendar. Firstly, farmers of early civilizations could not calculate the perfect time to plant their crops. Crop planting is an activity that is closely linked to the seasons, and the arbitrary calendar was not based on the durations of seasons. Therefore, humans began to observe the sun’s passage through a fixed point, and this practice was the precursor of the solar calendar. Calendars that were based on lunar and stellar cycles were also used in the ancient times.
A mesolithic arrangement of twelve pits and an arc found in Warren Field, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, dated to roughly 10,000 years ago, has been described as a lunar calendar and was dubbed the ‘world’s oldest known calendar’ in 2013. While Adam’s Calendar in Mpumalanga, South Africa it is a standing stone circle about 30 meters in diameter, which various astronomical alignments identified at the site suggest it is possibly the only example of a completely functional, mostly intact megalithic stone calendar in the world
The Mayans, known for being one of the most technologically advanced civilizations of their time, inhabited the regions of Central America and southern Mexico. Their most notable achievement was their intricate system of time, which consisted of three calendars. These calendars were known as the Long Year, the Solar Year, and the Tzolk’in. The Long Year calendar was used to measure long periods of time and is responsible for the 2012 predictions. The Solar Year is the calendar that most closely resembles our Gregorian calendar; The Tzolk’in calendar consisted of only 260 days and was used mostly for religious purposes. These calendars came under great scrutiny in 2012 due in part to the media portrayal of an ‘apocalyptic’ prediction. However, after 2012 came and went without incident, historians began looking for the true meaning of why the Mayan calendar system ended on that date.
India has used the Hindu calendar to measure time since their ancient days. Over the years, the calendar has been edited and changed as the regional face of India has changed. There are several variations of the Hindu calendar in use today, specific to the various regions of the country. Each version of the calendar has small characteristics that differ them, however, one thing is the same for all of them: the names of the twelve months. The calendar is made up of both solar and lunisolar calendars, and also centers on astronomy and religion. The early Hindu calendar was born from the astronomical philosophies developed in the late BC time. Lunar months are the basis of the calendar and are determined around the phases of the moon. The calendar marks important religious festival and worship days. While there are many different variations of the Hindu calendar, there is a standard version of the calendar that serves as the national calendar of India.
The Roman Book of Days by Paulina Erina
The Roman religion and civil calendar that spread across the Empire was closely aligned to the farming year in central Italy. It comprised of festivals for sacrifice and festivals for games, although the routine sacrifices to the many civil gods were left in the hands of the State priesthood. The more humble cults flourished on the streets and in the countryside, at home private worship continued well after the Roman conversion to Christianity because the ancient gods were so firmly entrenched in pagan hearts.
REVIEW: “A lot of people be they neo-pagans or amateur scholars or authors trying to research have the same problem: It’s very hard to get good, concise information on the Roman Calendar. Even otherwise good books and websites only list the major festivals, and mention briefly that some days were dies comitialis, others dies fasti, and so forth and so on. Obviously this is of little help, say, want to know if the hero of your novel could press a lawsuit on the 20th of August, or what festivals are held on the 9th of June. This book is the answer to that problem. It lists every day of the year, and what happens on that day; festivals, lucky and unlucky days, and the character of the day (fasti, nefasti, etc). If you want to know what happens on 20th of August just look up that day, and you’ll see that it’s a Dies Comitialis where citizen committees can vote on criminal and political matters. It’s very useful and a great relief for someone who’s been tearing their hair out looking for this information. I wasn’t sure if it should get four or five stars, since it is fairly short and only gives an abbreviated explanation of each feast day. However I’ve decided on five stars since the information you find here is virtually impossible to find anywhere else, and believe me I’ve looked. More to the point once you have the name of a festival, or the type of day, it’s very easy to find any additional information on the internet. Thus five stars, and a book that’s very highly recommended!” Norse Victorian- Amazon
Published: 14 July 2016
Order from https://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Roman-Book-of-Days-9781786971517.aspx
Old Year, Old Calendar, Old Ways compiled by Melusine Draco
Most of today’s pagans religiously follow the phases of the moon, and the various witches’ almanacs gear their celebrations and/or observances in line with the dates of the Gregorian calendar in order to synchronise their monthly observances. If we follow our pagan year merely for celebration and observance it makes little difference when we hold our feast days and festivals but if our magical operations need to connect with the Old Ways of our Ancestors then we need to align with the old calendars that were brought to these islands by the Romans, the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons. These formal calendars are the nearest guide we have to help us in understanding the customs and beliefs of our indigenous ancestors. The Roman legionnaires garrisoned in Britain came from all over the Europe and they would have brought their religions and beliefs with them from the far flung corners of the Empire; as would the incoming Celts, Danes and Anglo-Saxons whose influence would have eventually been grafted onto older, indigenous stock especially when similar celebrations fell around the solstices and equinoxes.
REVIEW: “Great book! Love the fair days and events in England that still hold with old tradition and the ideas for honouring days. Definitely a book to have on the shelf and look at every couple of days.” Sarah Beth Watkins, historical author and publisher at Chronos Books
Published: 25 January 2018
Order from https://www.feedaread.com/books/Old-Year-Old-Calendar-Old-Ways-9781788762052.aspx
The Calendar of Ancient Egypt compiled by Melusine Draco
This revised ‘Book of Days’ has been compiled from Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt by Sherif el-Sabban; the Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri lodged in the British Museum; the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris; the Staatliche Museum in Berlin; the Rijksmuseum in Leiden; the Sallier Papyrus IV and The Cairo Calendars currently lodged in the British and Cairo Museums. The latter shows that although the document itself was made during the time of Rameses II, it was a ‘reprint’ of much earlier material For the ancient Egyptians every day was considered to have some magical significance, which caused it to be good, bad, or partly good and partly bad and this calendar was compiled for purposes of religious observance. By consulting the lists of lucky and unlucky days, each individual could protect himself and his family against the danger of the day.
REVIEW: “I am teaching a course on ancient Egypt, so I was able to use this every class day to read the prognostication for the day and tell my students how they should behave. It makes things more fun.” LARA1407 (Amazon)
Published: 5 November 2018
Order from https://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Calendar-of-Ancient-Egypt-9781788765831.aspx
The Kindle e-book version of these calendars are available on special order offer UK£0.99/US$0.99 : The Calendar of Ancient Egypt 7-14th February: The Roman Book of Days and Old Year, Old Calendar, Old Ways 7-14th March 2020