Calenders and Cycles

Posted to Subscribers on 3 December 2011

Dear Subscribers,

Two years ago, I posted an email about calendars, more or less to set the stage for today's post, which will actually be a pretty easy read even though serious. The purpose is to help those who are ready to release some thoughtforms that are useless.

As many of you know, I have the Moon in Sagittarius in the 9th house. I have traveled a lot and learned to see life from many perspectives, but one doesn't actually have to wear out boots (or sandals) to realize that the Chinese new year is not celebrated at the same time as our new year. Despite many calendrical reforms, our calendar is still a mess.

I asked my Tibetan teacher, Nechung Rinpoche, when he was born. He said that he was born on the 10th day of the 10th month, but I was 100% certain he did not mean October 10th. I asked if the date was based on the lunar calendar and his response was, "Are there other kinds of calendars?" He had never given it any thought, but, of course, there are other types of calendars.

Calendars are not only calculated based on different astronomical movements, but they begin or end on dates of particular significance to the calendar maker and those who commissioned the calendar. On a practical level, the basic calendar is used more or less like a farmer's almanac, but it is also used politically and ritually. Thus, to know the significance of any particular calendar, it helps to understand the purposes for which the calendar was created.

On Earth, the two most common astronomical choices would be either solar or lunar, but even if one or the other, they have to have a starting point which, if the truth be known, is usually a political decision, not a rational astronomical one. For instance, it would be very logical — hear ye, hear ye — to start a calendar at a very specific seasonal point, one that is an annual occurrence. The Egyptian calendar began with the heliacal rising of the star Sirius. This presaged the flooding of the Nile so there were both agricultural and esoteric reasons for creating such a calendar. Interestingly, the Egyptians knew the year is 365.25 days long but they used a lunar calendar with 12 months of 30 days each and then had a holiday of five days. The troubling quarter of a day was adjusted after 1460 years.

The Mayan calendar was based on what are called zenial passages. These are solar events that can only be observed in the tropics. At the solstices, the Sun passes directly overhead at exactly noon so observations can be very exact. The second factor of supreme significance was the Milky Way and our Galactic Center. The Sun appears to pass this point at the winter solstice. If someone hired me to make a calendar, which secretly I have always wished would happen, I would definitely start the calendar at the winter solstice. Then, the year would stretch from one winter solstice to the next, and the calendar would start over again when the Sun moved from its tomb and began to regain strength. It also appears to change directions at this time.

That would seem the most logical time for a year to begin (and end). This circle-cyle is usually depicted as a snake holding its tail. The astrology of the I Ching is also based on a year that starts at the winter solstice but this calendar is obviously different from the civil calendar which is/was related to the beginning of spring (now February). As one would expect with anything Chinese, the lunar calendar is considered to be yin and the solar calendar is yang. In addition to solar and lunar calendars, there is a sexagenary cycle based on five elements and 12 Zodaical signs. The cycles within cycles were further complicated by the numbering system which usually began with the beginning of the reign of an emperor; however, the overall system dates back about 4700 years. The Jesuits found the Chinese system mighty curious so let's just file that thought for now.

For the record, the ancient Chaldeans also used a sexagenary cycle, but it does not really correspond to any astronomical orbits except perhaps loosely. The Jupiter orbit is about 12 years and there is a recurring conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn every 20 years. The eclipse cycle is 19 years and in astronomy a near miss is not acceptable. The advantage of a solar calendar over a lunar one is that the seasons begin on the same dates every year. Thus for agricultural purposes and countless other reasons, there is some basis for preferring yang over yin but it's actually not simple so let's continue.

The Maori use the heliacal rising of the Pleiades as the start of their year and this is celebrated as the Matahiki. In Hawaii, the Makahiki (there is no "t" in the Hawaiian language) is celebrated when the Pleiades rise at Sunset and set at Sunrise. The Greek Parthenon is also oriented towards the rising of the Pleiades and Teotihuacan (Mexico) to the setting. My theory, probably not very original, is that the Polynesians were excellent navigators and they relied on certain stars to guide them back and forth between Tahiti and Hawaii and probably lots of other islands. However, I think there is much more to these subjects than oceanic navigation.

I believe the Earth has been colonized at various times, in waves of migration, from other parts of the cosmos and those who remain in touch with their origins express this through their calendars, worship, and rituals. Personally, I believe something really unfortunate happened in Gaza a long time ago and waves of immigrants came from Sirius and later elsewhere to set up a counter culture to restore balance. It has yet to work but thousands of years of preparation have gone into this effort.

If we came here from elsewhere, there would be many who would want to remember their origins, the reasons for coming to Earth, and who might also long to return to their former homes. In all the regressions I have facilitated, not one person ever said that they came to Earth because their own planet was facing a cataclysmic event or because endless warfare and suffering had made distant grass look greener. Rather, everyone came in contact with a piece of information that exhibited purpose and for which he or she had been previously prepared. These individuals have come from countless different places, even places I had never heard of before and that I only found in old astronomy books. Many have come from the Pleiades, but there were quite a few from Sirius, some from Lyra, Pegasus, Arcturus, and sometimes closer places such as Venus.

If you go into the creation myths of various cultures, you see where the individuals themselves believe they came from and we can also look at these cultures from an anthropological vantage point and see who is matriarchal and who is patriarchal, who devotes more attention to the Moon and who prefers the Sun, who are more artistic or musical, and who are more scientific. What I have never found is someone who came here to make war or steal resources but I have suspected these behaviors arose as a result of the incident in Gaza. My impression is those people had no intention of staying but they crashed and have been stuck here for a long time.

Now, let's return to calendars. The Jewish calendar combines the Earth's rotation with lunar and solar cycles and has 29- and 30-day months and years of 12 or 13 months. The beginning of the calendar was calculated by adding the ages of the people in the Bible back to the time of creation. So, according to the Hebrew calendar, it is now the year 5772.

Then, as we know, the Gregorian calendar, the current world civil calendar, is tied to the birth of Jesus but I will bet you anything the calculations are off by several years.

The Hindu calendar has many variations and lots of complexities compared to other calendars. The numbering of the years begins when Krishna returned to his eternal abode in 3102 B.C.E. The Buddhist calendar also dates from the death rather than birth of the Enlightened One in 543 B.C.E. In addition, we have a Muslim calendar dating from the emigration of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina, called the Hijra. We are currently days into the Islamic year of 1433 AH (anno Hegirae). We can go on and on like this, looking at old Persian, Greek, or Roman calendars, or any system used by any people at any time on the Earth. The point is simply that each culture chooses a starting date based on agricultural, civil, or religious considerations and the calculations are always confusing because they combine lunar and solar and other cycles, none of which are astronomically tidy.

Enough? The purpose of this long and tedious introduction is simple. Now that you see how diverse the various calendrical systems are and how they generally "start" on some date that is accepted as special for those using the calendar, we are free to move forward. If we wanted total chaos, we could have an English calendar that starts over again at one each time there is another coronation or we could have a calendar based on some religious or political figure or some event in history such as the Crusades, Inquisition, French Revolution, or whatever. Fortunately, there is not quite this much chaos, but the important point is that calendars begin anew when one year ends and another starts. To the best of my knowledge, calendars have not ever been used to predict the end of the world. The closest we come to this theory is the Hindu calendar that factors in cycles of great wisdom and prosperity and cycles of ignorance. We refer to similar periods in European history as the Dark Ages and Renaissance. The Indian system is different in that it is based on astronomical calculations relating to our Sun and its distance, not merely its apparent position, but even the Hindu concept of yugas is not tied to doomsday prophecies but rather to cycles of ignorance and golden ages.

The Mayan calendar is much more enigmatic. It is so complicated that those who created it were either mathematical wizards or they were getting help from somewhere, maybe off-planet help. The creation date is 3114 B.C.E. The calendar — because of the complexity of its numerous cycles within cycles within cycles — ends and then, like all calendars, a new cycle will begin. Although less relevant to the equatorial regions of the planet than the extreme latitudes, the solstice is important for numerous reasons. If you have a calendar that tries to reconcile lunar and solar cycles, you can, if you choose, end the 360-day year on the winter solstice and cram in the five plus extra days right then.

Rewind. We have a global tradition around darkness and light and countless festivals in all traditions that celebrate the victory of light over darkness once the days become longer. The time when the Sun seems to go missing can be deeply mysterious, but only in extreme latitudes. If you ever experienced this kind of darkness, you can imagine what a superstitious mind is capable of imagining. However, this aspect of the solstice simply doesn't resonate in the tropics, and the Mayan calendar is absolutely tropical, not arctic.

In the case of the Mayans, they appeared to correlate the solstice to the Galactic Center and they felt the alignment allowed movement between various dimensions of evil and good until the risk period had passed. They did not name those days but rather performed rituals for their protection. If you take a moment to think about this, the theory itself is totally unique and reflects a depth of understanding quite lacking in most civilizations, not to mention academic institutions. Refusing to name the intercalary days tells us that there was great apprehension around the winter solstice, but it is a different concern than that of other cultures even though many resonated with the struggle between darkness and light.

My personal opinion is that calendars are important to those who use them. I.e., I accept the idea of a calendar based on an important event, a unique event such as the birth or death of Lord Krishna or the Christ, or a recurring event such as the rising of the Pleiades or Sirius. The acceptance of some event as significant gives us culture, but, of course, we can always go through some sort of rejection of or rebellion against our heritage and replace our traditions with something that seems relevant. Personally, I enjoy the celebrations of countless cultures without feeling any need whatsoever to accept or reject anything. This said, I do have my fantasy, no longer a secret, and I would like to see something more coherent in our calendrical system.

Unless you have studied planetary motions, you simply have no idea how difficult it would be to have a truly accurate calendar that embodied everything on your wish list. Moreover, if you number the years, you are tasked with something truly impossible unless a system were created that is truly astronomical and not bound to a particular cultural tradition. For instance, we could use any cycle or combination of cycles to define a starting point for calculations. I will try to make this somewhat more accessible to those who have never given much thought to calendars.

If we have a solar calendar, we are actually looking from Earth at the Sun and estimating the position of the Sun against the Zodiacal Belt, but since everything is in motion, there really is no permanently fixed point. I feel I am losing a lot of people. I.e., even if we have general cycles, like seasons and recurring events such as the apparent movement of the Sun through a space aligned with the Galactic Center or something less frequent such as the entry of Uranus into Aries (using the tropical, not sidereal zodiac), not one single cycle repeats exactly ever. In other words, even if we make a calendar that is pretty astronomically and mathematically correct, the need for tweaking will always arise.

In the current state of world affairs, it is inconceivable that a world panel of experts would ever agree on calendar reform. In times of religious fervor, it is impossible to imagine anyone relinquishing his bonds to the calendars in use. For instance, can you imagine asking the Chinese to use a Hebrew calendar or Westerners to use a calendar based on the death of Lord Krishna. Forget it. This is not going to happen. Likewise, none of the prophecies based on the interpretation of the Mayan calendar are binding on anyone who chooses to view the world from a different window.

Cycles are real, well some cycles are real and some are masterminded. What I am trying to say is that just as we have seasons with annual recurrences, there are other astronomical cycles with the potential for creating resonances. The simplest to explain would be lunar cycles that affect tides and other fluids and solar cycles with the flares and whatnot that are familiar to us. Because of our sense of extreme isolation on Earth, we have not developed a profound enough appreciation for certain cycles such as those that might affect insight, understanding, creativity, and transformation. These are, however, absolutely real and very easy to teach to people who are ready to learn. For example, when a person embraces an entirely new body of knowledge, you can always see this time period in the horoscope. Not only can you see the timing but you can determine the planet that was most influential at the time. So, we are actually intimately connected to influences that seem remote, but suggesting that there are cycles that spell the end of the world would seem to infer that the interpreters are thinking in a linear manner and failing to see the loop that is intrinsic to all cycles.

I am not saying that we are not in the midst of an intense cycle. I am only saying that planning your life around the Mayan calendar and the interpretations that abound is not going to help you to make wise decisions.

Many blessings,


Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2011


The Astrology of Healing





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Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2010

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