Celtic Culture

 

 

Celtic Calendar

The Druid Priests from this class were in charge of a great deal of religious festivals, as well as organizing the Celtic calendar. This in itself was a daunting task as the Celtic calendar is incredibly accurate.

 Full Moon

 

However, it required a manual correction about every 40 years which meant dealing with a very lengthy, and complex, mathematical set of formulas to "correct" the calendar.

Celtic Calendar

2012 The END or The BEGINNING

Complicated Mathmatics? Do we surmise that the ancient Celts were so advanced that they had such a clear understanding of higher math that would stump even the above average College Math professor today?

If they were so advanced in this area it is no wonder that they were so advanced in so many other areas such as metal working, the understanding of the laws of nature and more? Makes one wonder just how advanced these "barabaric" peoples actually were - doesn't it?

Many questions have arisen as to what calendar the Celtic people actually used. There were actually three primary schools of thought regarding this subject. The three theories all attempted to offer a more thorough understanding of the Celtic calendar. To use the term 'Celtic calendar' by itself is somewhat inaccurate. As it was the Druids who were the primary keepers of their calendar.

 

Among the most popular accepted beliefs it holds that the year was divided into thirteen months with an extra day, or so, at the end of the year used to adjust the calendar accordingly. This theory states that the months correspond to the vowels of the Ogham, or Celtic Tree Alphabet. For every one of the months there was a designated tree. From this the 'tree calendar' wheel would emerge.

However, most archaeologists and historians actually accept another calendar. This calendar is represented by the surviving fragments of a great bronze plate, the Coligny Calendar, which originally measured 5 feet by 3-1/2 feet.

The plate, found in eastern France, was engraved in the Gaulish language (similar to the Welsh language) in Roman-style numerals and letters. This calendar depicts a system of time keeping by lunar months. It shows 62 consecutive months with 2 extra months inserted to match the solar timetable. It appears to have worked with a 19 - year time cycle that equaled 235 lunar months and had an error of less than half a day.

The third school of thought is an blending of both of the others. The proponents of this last theory believe that the first calendar actually pre-dates the Coligny discovery.

It is from ancient writers such as Caesar that we learn that the Celts  counted by nights and not by days. In the reckoning of birthdays and the new moon and the new year their unit of measure is the night followed by the day. The opposite of all the modern calendars.

This was based on the fact that ancient Celtic philosophy believed that all existence arose from the interplay between darkness and light, night and day, cold and warmth, death and life. Thus the passage of years was the alternation of dark periods (winter, beginning November 1) and light periods (summer, starting May 1).

The Druidic view was that the earth was in darkness at its beginning. That night had preceded day and that winter had preceded summer. This is view that strikes accord with the story of creation in Genesis and even with the Big Bang theory. Thus, November, 1 was New Year's Day for the Celts and their year was divided into four major cycles. The onset of each cycle was observed with suitable rituals that included feasting and sacrifice. It was called "The Festival of Samhain" - linked with Halloween.

 

The Celts measured the Solar year on a wheel, circle or spiral. This all symbolized creation and the constant movement of the universe in growth and development.

To the ancients, the heavens appeared to wheel overhead turning on an axis which pointed to the north star. At the crown of the axis a circle of stars revolved about a fixed point, the Celestial Pole. This was believed to be the location of Heaven.

The circular altar of the Goddess' temple, Omphalos, was at the base of the axis. The universe of stars thus turning on this axis formed a spiral path, or stairway, upon which souls would ascend to Heaven.

The Summer Sun was thus represented by this Sun wise, clockwise, or deiseal (Gaelic), motion of the spirals. These continuous spirals, which seemed to have no beginning or end, signified that as one cycle ended another began ­eternal life. The spiral's never-ending, always expanding, motion also symbolized the ever - increasing nature of information and knowledge. Many of these symbols often also appeared in triplicate, a sign of the divine.

Additionally, the seasons of the year were thought to be a closely integrated part of this cycle. In Gaelic, the names of the four seasons date back to well before pre-Christian times:

1. Earrach for "Spring"

2. Samhradh for "Summer"

3. Foghara for "Harvest" for Autumn

4. Geamhradh for "Winter"

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