The No-Time Between Years

It’s good to recognize that not everyone observes the months and the seasons the way you do. It can be as simple as realizing that as I have moved into autumn another part of the world has moved into spring. Native Americans not only observed, named and counted the moons differently from the colonists, they followed a fluid non-calendar based on those changes. Many religions base holidays on the moon and celestial events.

When I was writing earlier this month about the Druids, I discovered information about their system of lunar months.

We just passed through the Druid’s Shar’tanog (shar’ tuh näg’) which is the thirteenth month and end of their year. It is also called the time of the Dying Moon. It is a time of sleep, endings, and death.

So, now we are about to move into Uenicar (oo’ ni kar) which is the No-Time between the old and new years. This starts October 25. It’s an interesting and unique concept having this time between the old and new year. It is considered to be a time of change and settling.

I doubt that many of my readers are practicing Druids, but perhaps this might be a good week to be conscious of change. The natural world around me is certainly changing. Foliage colors is the obvious change, but animals are changing their habits too. I spent a day this weekend digging out the dead and dying vegetable garden, turning soil, and mulching leaves.

I like this idea of a transitional time between years. I have never been a fan of out New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations which are a mad rush after the Christmas holidays and which have always left me feeling tired and unsatisfied.

This No-Time between years is short – about a week in our calendar. Then, Maghieden (mohg hee’ dhen) which is the beginning month in the Celtic lunar calendar and the new year begins. Maghieden begins five days after the celebration of Samhain and lasts until the next full moon, and so it is also the shortest month of their year.

Samhain is a Gaelic festival celebrated at the eve on October 31 and the day on November 1.

The Irish name Samhain is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summer’s end”.  It was a harvest festival with ancient roots in Celtic polytheism and linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures. It continued to be celebrated in late medieval times.

It is the night of the ancestors, the feast of the dead and the time when the veil between the living and dead is thinnest.

Due to its date, it became associated with the Christian festival of All Saints’ Day, and it greatly influenced our modern celebration of Halloween.

All Saints’ Day is also called All Hallows or Hallowmas and  is celebrated on November first in Western Christianity and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity. In terms of Western Christian theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. In the Roman Catholic Church, the next day, All Souls’ Day, specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.

All Hallows’s Eve (in the old Celtic language hallow meant saint), became All Hallowed Eve, and then All Hallow E’en and finally Halloween.

So many religions and traditions are in the mix.

Maghieden is known as a time for journeys. The full moon for the month is known as the Birthing Moon and it is a time of beginnings. Maghieden ends November third.

This week is the time of transition and change. Get settled. Next week begin a new year. You really do control your own calendar and year.

A Pagan Calendar for the Year

Welcome, Druids

Modern day Druids at Stonehenge

When I first started teaching, my middle school students were always very curious about my religion. They weren’t curious about my religious beliefs, but with what holidays I celebrated. My standard response was that I was a Druid.

Druids, who have been worshiping the sun and Earth for thousands of years in Europe, are now practicing an officially recognized religion in Britain.

If you have ever seen pictures of Druids, it’s likely that they were performing an ancient pagan tradition at Stonehenge during a solstice. That’s what most people think of when they hear Druid. (Maybe some people think of the knights who say “Ni” and demand a shrubbery in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They are not Druids, since they ask King Arthur to cut down a tree.)

Though I have never embraced any Druidic practices, I do find their basic beliefs appealing. Druids worship natural forces such as thunder and the sun, and spirits that they believe arise from mountains and rivers. They don’t worship a single god or creator, but cultivate a sacred relationship with the natural world. There are many similarities to Native American beliefs and practices.

Because of the new British classification as a religion under charity law, Druids can receive exemptions from taxes on donations which should help make Druidry a lot more accessible.

On the Druid Network website, there’s an interesting discussion of their use of the word “wilderness.”  They are collecting  Druid opinions on wilderness and deity in order to see how Druids relate to wilderness.

How do we define wilderness today? What would be a  religious definition of wilderness? How should a wilderness be treated?

They claim that “the entire debate about wilderness is based within a dualist, monotheist, non-animist framework.”  Would a pagan point of view be valuable and bring a totally different perspective to the debate?