Archive for December, 2005

Calendars and Full Moons

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

MM,

As the year draws to a close, I found myself immersed in the subject of calendars. A boring subject for most people, however calendars are quite important to any pagan or anyone who wants to live according to nature’s cycles.

This little bit of study spawned off of me planning my next year of moon rituals. For awhile now, I’ve been wanting to do a full year of personal moon rituals (for me or for me and my partner). The idea behind this is to attune to the cycle of the moon and the seasons. For this, I decided to work through a set of moon rituals presented in Enchanted by Titania Hardie. The author of this book is using what is commonly known as “Celtic Tree Months” – birch, rowan, ash, alder, willow, hawthorn, oak, holly, hazel, vine, ivy, reed, and elder. This calendar is adapted from Robert Graves’ in his book The White Goddess which lists these 13 months. Of course, there are some major differences between Hardie’s suggested calendar and Graves – one of which is that she is trying to ensure 13 full moons in a year (which does not occur ever year). In contrast, Graves has fixed his calendar to the winter solstice (which is the last day of the 13th month and is normally on the 21st of December) and created 13 months each consisting of 28 days (which he calls a lunar year). Since 13 months of 28 days is only 364 days in a year, Graves has indicated that the day after winter solstice is the intercalary day (also the last day of the year). This is where the common pagan term “a year and a day” comes from. It refers to Graves’ 13 lunar months and the extra (intercalary) day. Note of course that Graves’ calendar does not suggest there are always 13 full moons in a year or 13 new moons in a year. Actually, you will be missing at least a full moon or a new moon except in the years where there is a 13th new moon or full moon (more on this later below). This means that to celebrate 13 lunar months, a practicing pagan will have to adapt and do some new moon rituals as well if she wants to celebrate all 13 moons.

Of course, me being a inquisitive pagan and loving math, I decided to look into what is called a lunisolar calendar wondering if this would be more practical. Some of the more famous lunisolar calendars are the Chinese calendar and the Hebrew (Jewish) calendar. Lunisolar means that the calendar is reconciling the lunar year with the solar year. This occurs every 19 years and the 19 year cycle is called the Metonic cycle. Why does this occur? First, a true lunar month (synodic month) is about 29.53 days and a solar year is about 365.25 days. A lunar year of 12 months is 354.36 days, just about 11 days short of a solar year. (Note: 13 lunar months is 383.89 days, 18 days more than a solar year.) In 19 solar years, it works out that there will be 235 synodic months. Here’s some of the calculations:

365.25 days x 19 years = 6939.75 days
6939.75 days / 29.53 days = 235 synodic months
29.53 days x 235 synodic months = 6939.55 days

Note the days in bold. Based on the lunar month, after 19 years, we’re just short by 0.2 days, a few hours. On a practical note, this means that your REAL birthday comes around again in 19 years give or take a few hours and by REAL birthday I’m referring to the position of the stars on your birthday. In 19 years, the stars should be basically the same as when you were born.

Because the lunar year is shorter than the solar year by about 11 days, every so often an intercalary month is required. Recall that in 19 years, there should be 235 months. If our calendar consisted of only 12 lunar months every year for 19 years, we’d only have 228 months, 7 months short. This means that the 7 intercalary months need to be inserted throughout the 19 year cycle to ensure that the months occur around relatively the same time each year.

In comparison to Graves’ calendar, the lunisolar calendars seem more practical adding the extra lunar month every few years as you don’t feel like you lost a moon to celebrate! The most important difference is the 13 months in Graves’ versus the 12 months in the lunisolar calendars.

The other important topic regarding Graves’ calendar and the “Celtic Tree Calendar” is whether there is some basis for considering these to be Celtic. Graves’ in his book never calls his calendar Celtic and frankly it is obvious that he was creating a calendar to his liking. What he did was associate a poem, The Song of Amergin, to the 13 months and then associate 13 of the ogham to the months. It is from the ogham where we get the names of Graves’ months. If Graves’ calendar is not truly Celtic in origin, then what is? The Coligny calendar is thought to be a true Celtic calendar. It was found 1897 in the Celtic region, Gaul. The calendar has 12 months and tracks the lunar monthly cycle. It is disputed among scholars and contemporary pagans about where the month starts. Some claim it starts on the full moon while others suggest the new moon. Yet, some evidence points to the month starting on the 6th or 7th day after the new moon, i.e., the first quarter. (In comparison, the months begin on the new moon in the Chinese calendar.) The names of the months are known though and it is known that the calendar inserted the intercalary month every few years, suggesting that the Coligny calendar was also a lunisolar calendar. The names of the Coligny calendar months are below (along with the Gregorian equivalents):

Samonios (October to November)
Dvmannios (November to December)
Rivros (December to January)
Anagantios (January to February)
Ogronios (February to March)
Cvtios (March to April)
Giamonios (April to May)
Simivisonnos (May to June)
Eqvos (June to July)
Elembivios (July to August)
Edrinios (August to September)
Cantlos (September to October)

The Coligny calendar divided the year into two halves – Samonios began the dark half and Giamonios began the light half. We also know that the Celts counted the start of the day at sunset. The days went from sunset to sunrise (which is an amusing perspective for any pagan).

Another Celtic-based calendar is one found in The Apple Branch by Alexei Kondratiev, a well-known Celtic scholar. Like Graves’, this calendar has 13 months but each month varies between 27 to 29 days, so that there is no intercalary day. The calendar starts in October 30, on Samhain what is commonly known as the Celtic New Year. Because of the 13 months, this calendar operates much like Graves’ – you’ll get the 13 full moons or 13 new moons every few years.

Another calendar I looked at is a Lakota calendar from Earth Signs by Grey Wolf. This calendar is fairly straight forward and simple. There are 12 months and the year starts in March around the spring equinox. The moon cycle is then just tracked during the 12 months. According to the author, each month starts on the 11th of each Gregorian month (though I think he’s just making it simple for non-Lakota people).

With all these different calendars available to use, I decided to do a practical comparison. I set up a spreadsheet file (in Excel format) containing some of the calendars and a calendar I “created” using the Celtic tree months. My idea for the 13 months was to have Elder and Birch share their month except for when there is the 13th moon every few years. The calendar is somewhat fixed in that the winter solstice is always in the last month of Elder. Each month started on the new moon. I felt this worked better than another idea presented by faeriefaith.net which was to split up the month so that Elder and Birch each had their own month. However, that idea meant that often either Elder or Birch had a short month and that one will get the new moon while the other will get the full moon. That calendar fixed the winter solstice to Elder and Imbolc to Rowan. In comparison, I rather like Graves’ and Kondratiev’s calendar and I don’t see why this person rejected Graves’.

After filling my head up with all this stuff about calendars, I still am to celebrate 13 moons. I figure I can use my calendar or Graves’ – either way, the current moon is birch (new moon – December 30, 2005; full moon – January 14). One major reason to use Graves’ calendar instead of mine is that the 8 sabbats fall in the same tree month each year whereas it may vary with mine depending on where the moon is. I guess it really depends on whether one wants consistency or changeability when planning full moon rituals.

In relation to celebrating the full moons, I looked up full moon names and found some consistency though a variety of names for some full moons. I thought perhaps these moon names will provide some ideas of how to celebrate each full moon. I have yet to settle on moon names for each month that I find suitable to the cycle where I live. Some full moon names for each month can be found on the Excel file I’ve provided above. In addition, there is a chart for planetary hours for those people who like to plan down to the exact hour.

We are now in the birch “moonth” which represents beginnings and it seems to be fitting since this is the time of year where we begin new things even if it’s just thinking of them – conception of an idea is definitely something belonging to birch.

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunisolar
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_calendar
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0002076.html

About the Celtic tree calendar:

http://www.faeriefaith.net/treecal.html
http://www.the-tree.org.uk/Sacred%20Grove/treecalendar.htm

About the Coligny calendar:

http://www.livingmyths.com/Celticyear.htm
http://www.roman-britain.org/cycle.htm
http://www.roman-britain.org/coligny.htm

Sites with Full Moon Names:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon
http://www.angelfire.com/de2/newconcepts/wicca/moons2.html
http://www.farmersalmanac.com/astronomy/fullmoonnames.html
http://www.space.com/spacewatch/full_moon_names_2005.html
http://home.hiwaay.net/~krcool/Astro/moon/moonnames.htm

Street Running – December 16

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

Friday, December 16

I went for a mile run to Yonge/Bloor. I went up Church Street then south on Yonge. My time was 9 minutes 14 seconds. This was slower than my fastest time, but as the ground might have been a little icy, I decided to be careful on my run. Either way, the run felt good especially since I was feeling a little sick the past week.

I still need to motivate myself more now that winter is almost here. Hopefully the increase in daylight after the solstice will help. 😀 (Saule, Saule, shining one, light my way to glory…)

Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Girl Power! – Survivor Finale Review

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

Yes, I know this review is overdue, but I was just too busy the week of the final episode. Here are some of my thoughts on the season finale.

Way to go, Danni and Stephenie (but next time don’t eat the sacrificial chicken)!

First, let me say I was surprised by Danni’s final vote. I really thought Danni would have taken Rafe, but he decided to “release” her from her promise to him. Was that really what he wanted and did he really think she’d still take him to final two? Or was he just being a martyr and making it easier for Stephenie to get to the final two? He genuinely looked upset for Stephenie that she was crying for not winning the final immunity. I’d like to think that he just had a good heart. Danni however decided that she wanted to take Stephenie to final two as Stephenie never gave up in the final immunity challenge. She hang on until gravity took over and she just collapsed to the ground. Anyone watching that can see why Danni picked Stephenie to go to final two. It was the epitome of how competively strong Stephenie is. (As a sidenote, I’d like to comment that it almost looked like that last challenge was a little easier for Danni and her long legs.)

Now, let’s just say that I’m pleased to see two strong players make it to final two and not just two strong players, but two strong female players. Not to say that some of the guys sitting on the jury didn’t play well, I think it’s obvious they just got blind-sided (as the case with Jaime and Judd) or just didn’t have the odds to win (as with Gary or Bobby Jon). Getting back to the final two, both girls struggled to make it to there. Stephenie as she said to Bobby Jon “had a target on her back” since day one just like him. Danni had to fight to survive the merge as she had the numbers against her (6 to 4), but yet she survived the guys of her dwindling tribe to make it to final two. Also, I’d like to point out that both girls were good sports, even when sometimes the game didn’t go their way.

And the winner is… Danni. Good job, Danni. Though I’m not surprised by the final votes. Although Stephenie played a good game, she already knew she would lose votes by blindsiding so many on the jury. Then again, is there really any way to vote people off and onto the jury without them getting upset at you, especially if you were one of the two controlling the game? It’s pretty hard as is evidenced by the past Survivor seasons. Overall, I’d have to say this was one of the better played Survivor seasons I’ve watched so far. (I’ve missed a few seasons.) My other favourite seasons were the Outback (season 2) and Africa (season 3) because of the few good players. I wonder if the next season will be half as well played.

Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

More Novels!

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

Yay! I finished book 2, The Great Hunt on Friday – onto book 3, The Dragon Reborn. I can’t wait to read it. I bought it but haven’t had time to read it yet. I’m making myself wait to read it as I have other things I should do. I’ve always had tons of books lying around to read and trying to catch up on old reading. But still can’t wait to read book 3 of The Wheel of Time. I also have to read Nathan’s second novel. He’s almost done editing it and then we’re going to try to get it published. 😀 I’m so proud of him. He’s quite talented and I think he’ll be a great writer someday. His stories are quite interesting and unique.

Okay, enough writing for me today. I need some more rest and then I can do some reading tomorrow – hopefully.

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Training update – December 6 to 14

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

Blah. Cold weather. Storm coming in. Already I’ve been a bit sick. I didn’t get to go to the do jang the rest of last week. The change in weather kind of hit me bad. I also guess maybe I wasn’t used to running in the cold. Therefore, last week was a bust for exercise. Then, I had to go to the do jang on Saturday (December 10) to do a self-defence demo for the X-mas party. Somehow, goddess bless me, I managed to do a fairly good demo (at least that’s what Nathan is telling me :)). Then, I still needed Sunday and Monday to recover. So… this week…

Tuesday, December 13

I went to the do jang for gumdo and taekwondo class. As I was still recovering from being a bit sick and not exercising for a whole week, I was pretty tired on Tuesday. I almost didn’t take taekwondo. I probably shouldn’t have. Halfway through the class my bad knee started acting up and was shaking. Not good. Figured I just needed some more rest and try again the next day. I did manage to go to the gym and do a little bit of weights, especially for my knee. Weight training usually helps get my muscles back to the idea of working out again.

Leg press
Hamstring flexor
Pull-ups (again military and parallel)
Dips
Shoulder fly
Shoulder lift

Wednesday, December 14

I went to the do jang again. I made it in time for poomse class and the regular taekwondo class. My knee is feeling better. It’s still a little shaky, but it’s just getting used to working out again. The drop in temperature these days doesn’t help much. I stayed a bit after class to practice some more stuff. I needed to practice some jumping kicks. I did a few then gave up since I was tired from the class already. Then I practiced some breakfall rolling, both right and left side. My left side is a little off. I don’t quite roll straight yet – just haven’t practiced that side as much. Then, tried doing a handstand. Hard work. I was using the wall to shuffle my feet up. I’m just not used to holding my weight up yet. Afterward, I headed out to the gym to do some more weights.

Leg press
Hamstring flexor
Hip adductors
Hip abductors
Pull-ups (again military and parallel)
Dips
Chest press
Bar pulls (works the muscles next to the scapulae on the back)
Pectoral press
Shoulder fly
Shoulder lift
Leg lifts
Back extensor

When I got home, Nathan helped me do a handstand. Tried it a few times shuffling my feet up the wall. Then tried it the normal way. Nathan had to help me get my legs all the way up and then I couldn’t hold my weight too long. I think part of it is the balance. Have to get that perfect alignment where the body is balanced well. Anyway, will try again some other time. Next I need to learn to do cartwheels as I’ve never really done them before. Everyone tells me cartwheels are easier than handstands, probably because you don’t have to hold yourself up for long.

No running yet this week, not since last Monday. Next time I’ll cover my mouth with a scarf as well as wear my hat. I’m afraid it might be the cold air that helped me get sick. The cold air is also very dry – might have hurt my throat from that.

Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Surprise, Surprise! Cindy Voted Out on Tonight’s Survivor

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

Just minutes after posting my Survivor predictions, Cindy was voted out of the tribe. Was this simply because she won a car and was a good competitor? Jeff did say winning the car was probably a curse as in ten seasons of Survivor, the one winning the car never won the million dollars.

Okay, so Cindy is out now. The final four are Stephenie, Rafe, Lydia, and Danni. Danni is a threat to Stephenie, Lydia isn’t, but is it really Stephenie pulling the strings? I think it just looks that way. Rafe is making the decisions here and has been for awhile. Stephenie is smart to go along with him and not outwardly oppose him. Chances are likely Lydia is next to go since Rafe seems to like Danni so much (but will Lydia the underdog hang in somehow?). Final three is looking more like Stephenie, Rafe, and Danni. Rafe still is a shoe-in for final two in that case. Danni, if she wins immunity, will no doubt take Rafe to final two since he’s helped her stay alive since the merge. I hope Stephenie makes it to final two. Yes, I’m still rooting for my girl, despite how she’s been portrayed this season due to some sneaky cut and editing from the show producers. Okay, that’s my final predictions for the finale. No doubt Sunday night will be a surprise.

Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

My Survivor Finale Predictions

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

This season of Survivor is almost over. It’s down to the final five and after tonight’s episode only the three-hour finale is left. After giving it some thought and thinking about what has gone down this season, here’s my prediction for final three – Stephenie, Rafe, and Cindy. Lydia and Danni will be voted out next in some order. For the final two, I’d have to say Rafe is a shoe-in. Sad to say, I doubt Stephenie will win the million dollars, but surprises have been known to happen (such as Gary finding the hidden immunity idol and Danni winning immunity just when she needed it).

This is what I think will happen when it comes down to final three. There will be the one final immunity challenge to get to final two as always. If Rafe wins and goes final two, I’m not sure who he’ll pick to go with him though. If he picks Cindy, it might be toss up at the final tribal council vote. If he picks Stephenie, I think Rafe has a better chance of winning considering the four guys sitting on the jury right now are a little annoyed with Stephenie. If either Stephenie or Cindy win the final immunity, I think Rafe will likely go to final two with either of them. Either way, the final episode will be interesting.

Now, I just watched Stephenie win immunity tonight, so she’s definitely in final four. I’m happy for her. For someone who thought she might just get voted out first this season, she’s now guaranteed final four. Way to go, Stephenie. Good job on the immunity challenge.

Previous Survivor blog entry

Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Do jang day – taekwondo

Monday, December 5th, 2005

Went in today and took taekwondo. It was a good class, good way to start the week. I missed the poomse class because I didn’t feel like teaching today and figured I’d practice patterns tomorrow or Wednesday.

After class I ran through some of my gumdo techniques. I hadn’t taken class for awhile so I wanted to run through the stuff briefly. Still need more work on some of the techniques. After taking the hapkido class a few weekends ago, I feel more comfortable with the breakfall rolls. (I have to do that with a sword for gumdo). I guess I’ll try to make the gumdo class tomorrow.

Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Street Running – 1.5 miles (2.4 km)

Monday, December 5th, 2005

Today, I decided to finally try running 1.5 miles. It was a little hard the first time out. Always is. Have to get used to the distance and make sure I have enough energy for the extra half mile. It was a tough run, especially with this cold weather, but I managed to survive. Now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, I’m feeling good. My time for the run today was 13 minutes 23 seconds. Apparently, that’s U.S. Navy qualifications (according to Nathan) for an age group younger than mine. 😀 For my age group, it’s rated excellent. (And I used to hate running.)

Okay, I have to make myself go to the do jang tonight so…

Lates,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Sources:

http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/navfitness/blfemale17-19.htm
http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/navfitness/blfemale30-34.htm