(Images labeled by Gypsy Scholar)
Celtic Wheel of the Year & Calendar
“The Celtic Wheel of the Year” was quartered by the solar events with which we are familiar—the solstices (“sun-standing”) and the equinoxes (“equal-night”)—and then it was quartered again at the midpoints between the solar events, the “cross-quarter days.” The result was that the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, was midsummer’s day, not the first day of summer as we observe it. The same goes for the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the middle of winter in the old system. The true cross-quarter dates are calculated based on the position of the earth in its elliptical orbit (or the sun’s “ecliptic longitude” as seen from earth) and are actually a few days later than the traditional dates of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh. The major solar events occur at the 0°, 90°, 180°, and 270° points with respect to the Vernal Equinox; the cross-quarter dates are placed at the 45° points between them, which may be up to 12 hours away from the midpoint between the calendar dates. The position of the moon is indicated as well; it will be adjacent to the sun when new, and opposite when full. The names of the zodiac constellations indicate their true sidereal positions in the sky. Accurate sidereal and solar times require knowledge of the observer’s longitude. Time zone is used by default as a rough estimation, but in some parts of the world it can be two hours off.
“The Celtic Wheel Horologium” indicates the current date with respect to the solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarter days, as well as the positions of the sun, moon, and stars. The view is that of an observer looking down at the solar system from above the earth’s North Pole. The vertical blue line is the meridian, the line passing from the north to the south celestial poles through the zenith of a terrestrial observer. Times and dates are local based on the user’s system time.
“The Gallic Coligny Calendar” year (lunisolar, based on lunar months) began with Samonios (November), which is usually assumed to correspond to Old Irish Samhain eve (October 31), giving an autumn start to the new year. It shows that Samhain was celebrated “three days before and three days after” the Novemeber 1 date.
As to the timing of Samhain, a “cross-quarter” day on the Celtic/Neopagan Wheel of the Year, it is traditionally celebrated on October 31, the eve of November 1. This is known as the “Fixed Date.” However, there are two other dates on which it is celebrated; the astrological and the astronomical dates, which go by a lunisolar calendar. The “Astrological Date” is when the Sun is at the 15th degree of Scorpio on November 6-7. The “Astronomical Date” is the cross-quarter day approximately the midway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere). Astronomical time is based on the meridian overhead, not midnight, so the actual position of the sun in the sky is opposite that of solar time. These two dates are sometimes referred to as “True Samhain.”
Celtic Festival of Samhain
(Meme made by Gypsy Scholar)
Celtic New Year Mandala
I shall be Autumn
with leaf draped skirt,
and folds of
boysenberry velvet wine
flowing to the ground.
Brown stained face,
eyes rimmed in gold,
nails dripping sunset,
a crown of twigs
to cover my head.
You may gather from me
the spring of my youth,
my summer of maturity,
and hold onto with me,
the solace of these days
before the frost.
~ Judith A. Lawrence, “Autumn Offering”
October brings us panoramic scenes
Picassoesque impressionistic style
From reds to browns and earth tones in between
When nature paints those landscapes that beguile
The helpful sun provides hot yellow paint
Which bleeds and blends from mountains to the seas
There are no signs that nature shows restraint
As hues are scattered by the autumn breeze
Yet with her madness comes a masterpiece
The reason for spring's jealousy of green
Before her creativity has ceased
Her orange and black spills on Halloween
October means peace, love, and harmony
Get with your friends, enjoy fall's scenery
~ Daniel Turner, “Painting Autumn”
Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
Sleep in their blue yoke,
The fields having been
Picked clean, the sheaves
Bound evenly and piled at the roadside
Among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:
This is the barrenness
Of harvest or pestilence
And the wife leaning out the window
With her hand extended, as in payment,
And the seeds
Distinct, gold, calling
Come here, little one
And the soul creeps out of the tree
~ Louise Gluck, “All Hallows”
“The perfect weather of Indian Summer lengthened and lingered, warm sunny days were followed by brisk nights with Halloween a presentiment in the air.” ~ Wallace Stegner
“October proved a riot a riot to the senses and climaxed those giddy last weeks before Halloween.” ~ Keith Donohue
In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
legend says there is a seam
stitching darkness like a name.
Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil
that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.
I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me, and when I brush
my own mind across another,
I am with my mother's mother.
Sure as footsteps in my waiting
self, I find her, and she brings
arms that carry answers for me,
intimate, a waiting bounty.
“Carry me.” She leaves this trail
through a shudder of the veil,
and leaves, like amber where she stays,
a gift for her perpetual gaze.
For "Halloween" poem by Robert Burns, click here
Autumn Fairy Tree
(Meme made by Gypsy Scholar)
Thematic Memes for Samhain Basics
(Memes made by Gypsy Scholar)
click arrow on right to advance images and click on image to expand.
Thematic Memes for Samhain Blessings
(most memes made by Gypsy Scholar)
Thematic Memes for Samhain
(all memes made by Gypsy Scholar)