Thursday, October 11, 2012

HOW TO CALCULATE SAMHAIN AND BEALTAINE

EDIT: 14 November 2015.  The sun's position doesn't always work anymore, and I have become reliant on my skill as a medium to find the right night, or nights, to meet up with all the dead peeps, not just my current incarnation's bloodline and friends.  I've been trying to re-collect all the sources and data for another, more academic, post on calculating Feast Days.  I never fully understood the astrology and astronomy of it to begin with, and the "Celts"- a Greek word used to describe many tribes, some of whom may not have recognised each other as kin- were oral, so most of the written references to Druidic practices are suspect and incomplete.  Check back, and I will post a link soon.

This is really a re-post of http://laladyrae.blogspot.com/2012/07/august-first-is-not-lughnassadh.html

The modern Pagan Sabbat days Samhain, Bealtaine, Imbolc, and Lughnassadh are reconstructions of Celtic and Druidic Feast days.

The Quarter Days are not based on fixed dates or a lunar calendar.

Just as the earth revolves around the sun, and moves in relation to it, our solar system is in movement with our galaxy (and galaxy with the Universe, etc).

The Druids did not just follow solar-based earth-centric astrology, but also watched the movement of our solar system with the Milky Way.  (EDIT: Having something to do with the Pleiades, and when I track down the academia on it I will post the sources.  I know Beresford Ellis has at least discussed this.)

The two great Feast Days of the Celtic tribes were the Druidic New Year on Samhain, and the half-year, Bealtaine. In fact, the Druids divided the year into only these two halves. 

These two Feasts were based on the sun's position to the zodiac- the other stars in the galaxy.  Among the stars were doorways to other dimensions, including the land of spirits-- the spirits of the dead at Samhain, and the spirits of fertility and new life at Bealtaine.

There is a very solid argument that the other two Sabbats, Lughnassadh  and Imbolc, were Anglo-Saxon and agricultural in origin.  The Celts were pastoral, and Samhain and Bealtaine were mainly celebrated with cattle. Samhain was slaughter. Bealtaine was the beginning of grazing and the Festival of fertility and mating.

I believe that both Imbolc and Lughnassadh were noted, as the quarters- the halfway marks between the two halves of the year.  And certainly there is a dimensional movement at those times. but nowhere near Samhain, or Bealtaine.

I think these two lesser days were mostly just nice holidays.  And certainly Lughnassadh would have been time to have some Celtic Olympics. Some spear throwing a la Lugh the Long Armed would not have been inappropriate.

So, how did the Druids determine the dates of these Feasts?

Samhain is determined by the sun's position at 15 degrees of Scorpio.  Usually the 5th or 6th of November, currently.

Bealtaine is the sun at 15 degrees of Taurus.  On about May 5th, currentlly.

Imbolc is 15 degrees of Aquarius, and Lughnassadh at 15 degrees of Leo.

(Samhain and Bealtaine remain the Irish Gaelic month names of November and May, respectively.)

 One final note: The Druids divided the whole of the year as they divided the day.  The new day was began at sunset, when the old day died.  The night was conception and incubation of the birth of the sun at dawn.

And so it was the year: Samhain was the sunset of the year, but also the New Year. Between Samhain and the winter solstice was the night, and Yule the morning twilight.

That is why Halloween is All Hallows Eve, or Evening.  That is why so many countries where the Celts passed through and settled have May Eve's like Walpurgis Nacht, and May Day's with flowers and poles. ;o)

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