Gentlidecht – Finding The Dates of the Holy Days

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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Ritual – Féile na Shamhna

This years ritual will be held in a park and is open to the public.  As with all ritual drafts it may change by the date of the ritual but I wanted folks to see it prior to the event.  The lunar date for the start of the month Samhain is October 24th, we will be holding our Feast of Samhain (November) on October 26th.


Féile na Shamhna
(Ayla na  Hownuh)
Collect the items from the items list (end of the document.)  Outdoor rituals shall be organized based on availability of fire with the fire alter being at the center and everything else in relation to its location.  For indoor rituals the main alter should be a table on which symbols of the gods and ungods, the Apple Branch, the representations of the Hearth Fire, Well of Wisdom and Bile, the seers bowl, saining smudge, and the apples are places.  For both indoor and outdoor rituals a smaller table should be placed in a convenient location, on which the offerings shall be placed in order of need to facilitate a smooth ritual. 

The ritual leaders should be selected for the follow roles:  Guide, Druid (1,2,3, etc.), and Seer.  Roles will overlap and others created as needed. Prior to the ritual the Druids should light the flame, fill the well with fresh water, and place whatever tools are needed on the altar.  
A bell is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemeton.
GO/SD/GPThe tribe is called together for {EVENT NAME}.  Let us gather at the center.
Statement of Purpose
Druid 1: I have news for you; the stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone.  Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course, the sea running high.  Deep red the bracken, its shape is lost; the wild goose has raised its accustomed cry.  Cold has seized the birds’ wings; season of ice, this is my news.
Winter has come and it is the end of the annual cycle of the seasons and start of the new.   The veil is thin and the ancestors call to us for recognition.  Today we honor the ancestors of our blood, the loved ones we have lost and look forward to the coming year.
Opening Prayer


By the land beneath us
By the sea surrounding us
By the sky above us
We come unto the gods and ungods.
May they light our way and
Bless our days,
Centering Meditation
A guide is selected to lead this guided meditation.  Going through it with a calm voice and steady voice.
Guide: Close your eyes clear your mind and focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly visualizing the spiral of the cosmos around you.
Guide: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.                 ah-heeveesh-vohr
Guide: Inhale and as you exhale visualize your feet firmly planted on the earth.
Guide: We stand firmly upon the Sacred Land.
Guide: Inhale again and as you exhale imagine you are surrounded by the great calm ocean.
Guide: The Eternal Sea always surrounds us.
Guide: Inhale and exhale seeing the great blue expanse above you.
Guide: The Endless Sky spreads itself above us.
Guide: Inhale while visualizing the great spiral around you, with you at its center.
Guide: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór. 
Guide: And breath, open your eyes when ready.
Honoring the Local Land Goddesses
Druid 2: We honor the Five Rivers, the goddesses of the land; Potomac, Patapsco, Susquehanna, Gunpowder, and Patuxent.  Givers of life that flow from the mountains and form estuaries of the Chesapeake.  
We honor you and make this offering to you in gratitude for your waters that nourish this land.    
Druid 2: makes an offering and says: Mighty goddesses of the land accept this offering.
All: Mighty goddesses of the land accept this offering.
Establishing the Sacred Grove
Sacred Hearth Fire
Druid 1:
I make sacred the fire,
The first fire born of lightning
from which all fires are lit.
The hearth fire which warms our homes
and binds our people.
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Let the water be the Well of Knowledge                   
Let the tree be the bile,                           
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

Druid 1 : puts butter on the fire, then says:
I light the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within us.
All: Sacred fire, burn within us.
Well of Segais
Druid 1 says:
I make sacred the well,
From which the five rivers flow,
Salmon swimming, hazels hanging high.
Bubbling brightly Segais, source of wisdom,                   

I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Let the water be the Well of Knowledge                   
Let the tree be the bile,                           
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
Druid 1: dips the apple branch into the well then says:
In the depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow within us.
All: Sacred waters, flow within us.
World Tree
Druid 1 says:
I make sacred the branch/tree,
Towering high, hanging heavy with hazel,
Spanning and connecting the Three Realms,
The mighty bile of the grove,
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Let the water be the Well of Knowledge                   
Let the tree be the bile,                           
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
Druid 1 : dresses (takes water from well and pours it or rubs it on the tree) the bile, then says:
From the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree, grow within us.
All: Sacred tree, grow within us.
Druid 1: raises arms
Druid 1: With the Flame of the Hearth, the Well of Knowledge, and the Sacred Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
Parting the Mists
Druid 1: prepares an offering for the gatekeeper and says:
Druid 1: says: We honor Oirbsen (orib-sheen), Manannan, Patron of our tribe, Lord of the Mist, Ruler of Tir na mBan (teer na man), Guardian of the gate of the Otherworld.  Oh Lord of the Otherworld, bearer of the silvered apple branch, hear us this day and aid in the passage of the ancestors through the misty veil.
Druid 1: makes an offering and says: Manannan mac Lir, accept our offerings and gratitude as you part the mists. (mah-nuh-nahn’ mak leer)
Druid 1: Let the mists be parted!!
All: Let the mists be parted.
Inviting the Gods and Ungods
An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor)
Druid 2: Mighty dead, you who have come before,
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this rite.
Druid 2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors, accept this offering.
All: Ancestors, accept this offering.
Aos Sí  (ees-shee)
Druid 1: Great nature spirits, you who frolic in the wild world,
Spirits of this place,
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
Spirits of family and the people that came to this land from faraway lands.
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
Druid 1: makes an offering and says: Aos Sí , accept this offering.
All: Aos Sí , accept this offering.
Gods of the Tribe
Druid 3: Great gods, you who are mightiest in all things,
Deities of our faith,
We offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this rite.
Druid 3: makes an offering and says: Gods and goddesses accept this offering.
All: Gods and goddesses accept this offering.
Key Offering
Druid 1:  Mighty ancestors today we honor you and the deeds you have done.
Ancestors of our blood, we honor you for you are the foundation of our family trees, our personal trees of life.

Ancestors of our nation, we thank you for the sacrifices you made and risks you took to bring about this nation in which we are grateful to reside.  
Ancestors of these lands, we are grateful that you are also of my blood and will work to honor you in our treatment of the land.
Said Amergin to Athairne when he attempted to end his visit at the start of winter: “In the black season of deep winter as storm of waves is roused along the expanse of the world.  Sad are the birds of every meadow plain, except the ravens that feed on crimson blood, at the clamour of harsh winter; rough black, dark, smokey. Dogs are vicious in cracking bones; the iron pot is put on the fire after the dark black day.”
In honor of you mighty ancestors, we contemplate the meaning of the season, the end of the Summer and the coming of the coldest months. A time when the earth sleeps and appears to die, remembering to consider the impact this season had on you, ancestors, a time to store away the harvests, bring in the animals, slaughtering those that are old for the winter meat and preserving more food for the breeding stock. A time of cold and darkness and isolation. We are to be thankful for time in which we live, the time of heaters, packaged foods and electricity.
Druid 1: makes holds up the offering and says:  Ancestors!! Accept this offering with love and respect.  
All: Ancestors!! Accept this offering with love and respect.  
The Augury
Seer: Ritually washes their hands then forms the left hand into a tube, blows through the tube then says:
I am going within
To the doorstep of the sí
in the name of Finn
Stronger in sight then all.
The augury made by Finn to his men,
That Bride blew her palm,
Message of truth without a message of falsehood
That I myself shall see
The semblance, joyous and mild
Of all that is hidden to me
Good spirits and gods of my people,
Give me the sight to see all I need,
With vision that shall never fail, before me,
That shall never quench nor dim.
Tell me what I need.
Seer: then takes the omen, interprets it, and records it.
Receiving the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
Druid 1: raises the blessing plate/cup high and says:
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan), Aos Sí , (ees she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), we have praised you and made offerings and now a gift calls for a gift. We pray to you and ask that you give us your blessings.  Make sacred these apples and infuse them with your vitality, strength and inspiration.
Lo, the blessings of the Gods and Ungods are upon us.
All: Lo, the blessings of the Gods and Ungods are upon us.
Druid 1: Slices and eats the blessed apple and passes it around.
Thanking the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
Druid 1: We have given gifts to the gods and ungods and received gifts in return.  Take these blessings into the world and use these them to live fruitfully and with honor.   At this time we have come to the closing of this ritual and will give thanks to those who have come to aid us.
Druid 2: {PROPER – Thanks to the beings of the occasion}
Druid 3: Tuatha de Danaan, gods of our tribe, we thank you for your presence and blessings.  
Druid 1: Aos Sí, these are your lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting our offerings of peace and respect.                     
Druid 2: Mighty Dead, thank you for attending and accepting our gifts.  Pass back through the mists and return to the Otherworld.  .
Druid 1: Manannan, we thank you for your attendance and parting the mists.  We ask that you allow the mists to fall as our ancestors pass back into your realm.    
Druid 1: Let the mists return and the veil be whole.
Druid 2: Mighty Rivers, these are your lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting my offerings of peace and respect.
Taking down the Sacred Grove
Druid 1: And now the Sacred Grove must be taken down. We honor the Hearth Fire and restore it to flame.  We honor the Well of Segais and restore it to water. We honor the bile and restore it to branch.  All is as it was and the Sacred Grove is dismantled. The ritual is ended.
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

All: Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)

Items List:
Bell or gong for calling the folk to the temple space.
Juniper bundle for saining the attendees. 
Representations of the Hearth Fire, Well of Wisdom and Bile.
Bowl with fresh water and ogham staves for the seer.
 Butter for the consecration of the fire
Apple Branch for consecration of the well
Cup for water from the Well of Wisdom to consecrate the tree.
Offerings to the gods and ungods
Apples for the blessings on the folk.
Basket or bowl to collect offerings during indoor rituals.
Local River Goddesses
Corn meal
Manannan Mac Lir
Alcohol, water grasses, yellow flower
Mighty Dead
Spirits of Place
honey/sage smoke
Tuatha de Danaan
A meal
The folk

Mound of Hostages today, the actual day of Samain.

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