Happy Solar New Year!
First post of the year 2015 on the Gregorian Calendar and I thought it should be about the calendar used in Gentlidecht na gCuanaigh. In the article “Telling Time Through Worship” I talk a bit about what the Gentlidecht calendar should look like so in this article I am going to apply that information using the Notional Celtic Calendar. This is a lunar calendar so it is not as easy as just looking up the first of the month for November, February. May or August. We have to look at when the moon phases fall and as this year will have 13 months instead of 12 (there is one interracial month this year) we will have to make an adjustment to our usual calculations of having a festival every third month (1st of the 1st month, 1st of the 4th month, 1st of the 7th month, 1st of the 10th month and three months later the 1st of the 1st month in the new year).
So let’s start with some terms. Quarter Day and Cross Quarter Day, or as we call them Fíor Ráithí and Cam Ráithí, we follow the pre-Christian Irish usage of these terms so the quarter days are the main festivals commonly placed at February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1. The Cross Quarter Day (crooked if you translated our Irish) would be the equinoxes and solstices and crooked as is better term in this instance as you will notice these dates will not fall at exactly between the quarter days. I want to point out this is the opposite usage of the same terms by other Neopagan religions (and most English based calendars), which is why it is better to use the Irish as not to confuse folks.
As the Cam Ráithí are solar events they are easily identified on any calendar, so we don’t need to go into detailed explanation on how to find the dates. To figure out the Fíor Ráithí using the Notional Celtic Calendar you have to go back to October 2014, as that is when the this year began, on 1 Samhain or October 24, 2014. This is the point we start going forward to identify Lá Fhéile Bhríd.
What we are looking for are the New Moons as it is the day after each New Moon that the new month begins. Knowing that the commonly accepted Neopagan date is February 1 and that the solar date would be the exact (English) cross quarter date, we jump ahead to February 2015. We find the New Moon in February to be the 18th and the Winter Cross Quarter Day to be on the 4th, further we see that the 5th month of the lunar year begins on the 19th. Which date is it? Well, none of them. What we want is the first day of the 4th month of the year. Even though there is going to be 13 months this year, we want to stick as close to the usual 12 month cycle as possible, so we go back to January and find the New Moon to be on the 20th, making the 21st the first day of the 4th month and our date for Lá Fhéile Bhríd as it is not too far off from the expected solar date.
Now we will do the same thing for Lá Bealtaine, and jump to May 2015. We find the Spring Cross Quarter day on the 5th and the New Moon on the 18th. Note that the 19th starts the eighth month, what we are looking for is the start of the seventh month so we jump back to April and find the start of the seventh month to be April 19th. So this is the date of our lunar based Lá Bealtaine.
For Lá Lúnasa we again jump to the expected date in August and find the Summer Cross Quarter day to be the 7th and the new Moon to be the 14th. With the start of the 11th month on the 15th we have to go back to July and locate the start of the 10th month which is July 17th.
Finally, we identify the start of the following year and Samhain. Jumping to November this date is easily identified as November 12th. Which seems odd as every other date occurred prior to the expected date and this one occurs after. What occurred is what is called an intercalary month, or a leap month. An entire month added in to keep the lunar calendar in sync with the common solar calendar. As this month is added at the end of the year it created a larger space between festivals that what would usually occur. We could have chosen to skip a month at any point to stay as close to the expected dates but as I started earlier, the idea was to keep as close to the every three lunar month cycle as possible.
Using the same method with different assumptions you may place your festivals at other dates. This is perfectly acceptable as it is important for groups to establish their own methods of identifying their holy periods and ritual year. What is important is consistency in method of identifying the dates.
Here is the resulting calendar with the lunar Fíor Ráithí and solar Cam Ráithí for 2015.
Lá Fhéile Bhríd – January 21st
Spring Equinox – March 20th
Lá Bealtaine – April 19th
Summer Solstice – June 21st
Lá Lúnasa – July 17th
Fall Equinox – September 23rd
Féile na Shamhna – November 12th
Winter Solstice – December 21st
Gentlidecht na gCuanaigh – As there are variations on Gentlidecht throughout the world this is the specific form of Gentlidecht as it is done by the Genti of Five Rivers Protogrove and myself.
New Moon – The creator of this calendar uses the term to give the date of the Dark Moon, the night the moon is totally dark.
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