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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New Grange at Winter Solstice – 2014

The neolithic Irish people held Winter Solstice in high regard and while we have on idea what they did or why – we know it was important because of this:

This is an image of New Grange at Winter Solstice.

You can learn more about Solstice 2014 and buy some of the best photos of the illuminated passage her – New Grange 2104.

Have a happy holiday season no matter your faith.

If you like this blog, please share it with friends. 

Ritual for the Winter Solstice

 Not mentioned in the mythologies this day is generally ignore by folks coming from a Celtic Reconstructionist background.  At the same time this day was honored in some way by the Neolithic Irish as can be seen by the sun entering mounds on this day.  Modern Irish celebrate it as Christmas and Saint Stephens Day.

So despite it not being mentioned in the mythology, it is difficult to imagine that they did not do something.  With that in mind, this is my something.  A celebration of family and friends…which includes the gods and ungods.

Anyone have a good Irish name for it, please share in the comments.
MidWinter Ritual
The participant gathers the following offerings (vegetable oil may be substituted if necessary):
Local River Goddess
Corn meal or tobacco
Incense, silver-colored item (e.g., coin), branch
Mannanan mac Lir
Mighty Dead
Spirits of Place
Tobacco or corn meal, milk, honey
Tuatha de Danaan
Spirits of Occasion
A plate of the after ritual meal….

Prior to the ritual the participant should light the flame, fill the well with fresh water, and place whatever tools are needed on the alter.  
Participant gathers at the ritual area and sounds a musical signal (bell branch) three times, then says:
I come to honor the patrons of family, hearth and home.                        
Centering Meditation
Participant performs the “Center Point”.
Stand quietly facing the north and relax with your hands resting at your sides. Clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly and follow along with this meditation, which will place you in the center of the cosmos.

I am at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.                         ah-heeveesh-vohr

Exhale, move to one knee with palms on the ground before you

I stand firmly upon the Sacred Land.

Inhale and rise to your feet, moving the hands behind at hip height, palms up, cupping. Exhale and move the hands in an arc until they meet in front.

The Eternal Sea always surrounds me.

Inhale, move the hands to the sides, spread the fingers wide, palms forward. Exhale and raise the arms, bringing the hands together above the head, thumb & forefinger meeting to create a triangle.

The Endless Sky spreads itself above me.

Inhale, lower the hands to the heart again.

I am at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.

Exhale and lower the hands to the sides

Honoring the Local River Goddess
P: Mighty Patapsco and Susquehanna.  Givers of life that flow from the mountains to the Chesapeake.
I honor you and make this offering to you in gratitude for your waters that nourish this land.       
P makes an offering and says: Mighty Patapsco, Great Susquehanna , accept my offering.
Statement of Purpose
Various religious traditions have festivals this time of year and disappointingly the practices of  gentilecht don’t appear to have done so.  Despite this we modern genti come together in the spirit of the season as reflected in the secular communities in which we live.  To celebrate family and friends with feasts and gifts.   During this rite we will honor our patrons of family, hearth and home and celebrate with them as we celebrate with our families.
Establishing the Sacred Grove
Sacred Hearth Fire
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,
Lets the water be the Well of Segais                        (shay-gish)
Let the tree be the bile,                            (bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
P puts oil on the fire, then says:
I light the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within me.
Well of Segais
Participant says:
I make sacred the well,
From whichs seven rivers of Ireland flow,
Salmon swimming, hazel hanging high.
Bubbling brightly Segais, source of the Boyne,                    (boin)I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Segais
Let the tree be the bile,
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
P silvers the well and pours water from the well to the blessing cup, then says:
In the depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow within me.
World Tree
Participant 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 flames be the hearth fire,
Lets the waters be the Well of Segais
Let the tree be the bile,
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
P dresses the bile, then says:
From the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree, grow within me.
P raises arms
With the Flame of the Hearth, the Well of  Segais and the Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
Parting the Mists
P prepares an offering for the gatekeeper and says:
P says: Oirbsen (orib-sheen), Manannan, Lord of the Mist, Ruler of Tir na mBan (teer na man), Guardian of the gate of the Otherworld. I ask that you hear my call. Oh Lord of the Otherworld, bearer of the silvered apple branch, join with me this day, so that you may guide me in my workings. Mist-shrouded rider of the maned waves, accept my offering and  open the Spiraled Gate between the worlds. .
P makes an offering and says: Manannan mac Lir, accept my sacrifice.    (mah-nuh-nahn’ mak leer)
P: Let the mists be parted!!
Inviting the Gods and Ungods
An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor)
P: Mighty dead, you who have come before,
Ancestors of my blood,  Heros of my people
I offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this rite.
P makes an offering and says: Ancestors, accept my sacrifice.
Aos Sí  (eeth-shee)
P: Great nature spirits, you who frolic in the wild world,
Spirits of this place,
I offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
P makes an offering and says: Nature spirits, accept my sacrifice.
Tuatha de Danaan
P: Great gods, you who are mightiest in all things,
Deities of my faith,
I offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this rite.
P makes an offering and says: Gods and goddesses, accept my sacrifice.
Praise and offerings to the Patrons
P: Lugh, god of all things, living lighting, the god in the machine hear this prayer.   Brigid Ambue, goddess of the outsiders, initiator of the civilized hear this prayer.  Manannan god in the mists and under the seas hear this prayer.  Finn, god of the hunt, god of the hunted hear this prayer.  Brigid of the pen, goddess of inspiration hear this prayer.
O Gods,
In my deeds,
In my words,
In my wishes,
In my reason,
And in the fulfilling of my desires,
In my sleep,
In my dreams,
In my repose.
In my thoughts,
In my heart and soul always,
May your blessings,
And the promised inspiration and wisdom dwell,
    Oh! in my heart and soul always,
    May the blessings you bestow,
    And the mighty strength you deliver dwell.
P makes an offering and says: Gods of hearth, home and family. Accept this offering with my love and respect.  
General Praise Offerings to the Gods and Ungods
P: The Gods, Aos Sí  (eeth shee), and Ancestors have come here today and it is proper to offer them praise, love and loyalty.  Hail the déithe and an-déithe.
(Three rounds of praise offerings, which may include drink: Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Gods.)
P: Gods, Aos Sí  (eeth shee), and Ancestors, accept these praises and sacrifices.
The Omen
Participant   Ritually washes their hands then forms the left hand into a tube and blows through the tube then says:
Gods over me, gods under me,
Gods before me, gods behind me,
I am on your path oh gods.
    You, my gods, are in my steps.
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,
Did you see the augury gods of art?–
    Said the gods of art,  they saw.
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.
P then takes the omen, interprets it, and records it.
Receiving the Blessings of the Gods and Ungods
P raises the blessing plate/cup high and says:
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan), Aos Sí , (eeth she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), I have praised you  and made a sacrifice. A gift calls for a gift, and I pray to you and ask that you give me  your blessings.  Make sacred this and infuse it with your vitality, strength and inspiration.
Lo, the blessings of the Gods and Ungods are upon us.
P then eats/drinks the blessed food/drink
Thanking the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
P: I have called upon the Gods and Ungods and they have answered! With joy in my heart I carry their magic into my life and work. Each time I offer to the powers they become stronger and more aware of my needs and worship. So as I prepare to depart let me give thanks to those who have aided me.
Tuatha de Danaan, we thank you for your presence and blessings.  Come or go as you will with  my love and loyalty.  Mol na déithe.    
Aos Sí, these are your lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting my offerings of peace and respect.  Mol na Aos Sí                   
Mighty Dead, thank you for attending and accepting my gifts.  Pass back through the mists and return to the Otherworld.  Mol na sinsear.
Manannan mac Lir, thank you for your attendance and parting the mists.  I ask that you allow the mists to fall as my ancestors pass back into your realm.  Moladh agus buíochas a ghabháil le Oirbsen!  
Let the mists return and the veil be whole.
Patapsco and Susquehanna, these are your lands and here you shall remain.  I thank you for attending and accepting my offerings of peace and respect. Mol an bandia abhainn
Taking down the Sacred Grove
P: I came and honored the Gods, the Spirits and the Ancestors and now the Sacred Grove must be taken down.  I honor the Hearth Fire and restore it to flame.   I honor the Well of Segais and restore it to water.  I honor the bile and restore it to branch.  All is as it was and the Sacred Grove is dismantled  The ritual is ended. Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)