The law of cosmic forces

The law of cosmic forces

Nature follows the law of cosmic forces. It is slow, predictable, and dependable. When you sow corn in spring, you get corn in autumn and not wheat or barley. 

Day follows night and night follows day. These cyclical patterns can be relied upon and calculated. We may not know its definite purpose, but we can trust it.

Watching the nightly sky 

The rotational path of the planets, and their relation to each other have been the same for millions and billions of years. 

We know that ancient astronomers as far back as 10,000 B.C. and most likely before observed the night sky regularly, tracking the positions and movements of celestial bodies over time. They noted the wandering motion of certain objects against the background of fixed stars. The term “planet” itself comes from the Greek word for “wanderer.”

At first, these observations were made with the naked eye. Later handheld devices called astrolabes recorded time and established the exact positions of celestial objects.

Armillary spheres are models of celestial spheres, featuring rings. First used by Chinese astronomers around 400 B.C. they demonstrated the positions and motions of celestial objects and enabled detailed calculations.

Different cultures tracked different celestial bodies

Stonehenge: The Druids mainly tracked the cycle of the sun, especially the solstices, and the cycle of the moon.  The Full Moon nights were important dates used for gatherings and celebrations.

Mayan Observatories:  like El Caracol in Chichen Itza tracked the movements of the planets, particularly important was Venus. This tradition was shared with the Minoans, if coincidental or not is not clear. 

Babylonian Astronomy: used clay tablets and recorded their findings in cuneiform scripts.   This enabled them to make detailed observations and keep records of tracked positions. These records could be used to predict their future movements. Babylonian astronomers observed the circle of the animals, now known as the twelve constellations and houses.

    Greek Astronomy: Ptolemy’s geocentric model, while later replaced by the heliocentric model, accurately predicted planetary positions using a complex system of epicycles. Meton recorded that 19-solar years equal 235 lunations, the backbone of the lunisolar calendar. 

    The Ancient Greeks were also the first to observe Retrograde Motions. As the name suggests, planets seem to go periodically backwards in the sky. ‘Mercury retrograde’ is now fashionable on instagram, but clearly not a new concept. All planets enter retrograde phases, some short (Mercury takes 21 days and the next retrograde phase is 13th December to 2nd January 2024). Other long (Pluto is 5.5 months.) In 2024 Pluto turns retrograde on the 2nd May, lasting until the 12th October.

    Chinese Astronomy: Chinese astronomers kept meticulous records of celestial events, including planetary movements, comets, and supernovae.  They also found methods for predicting planetary positions such as conjunctions and oppositions of planets, nowadays still in use in astrological charts.

    What we can learn from the law of cosmic forces

    The weather may be unpredictable, but the path of the universe is not! There is not one day on earth when the sun all of a sudden won’t shine (even when covered by clouds) or the gravitational pull is disabled and objects won’t fall to the ground.

    Humans have free will and with it have achieved a lot.  But with free will also comes unpredictability. We often try to reinvent the wheel, but let’s face it a wheel is perfect and does not need improving.

    If you look at the overriding law of nature – it is balance! The Waxing and the Waning Moon has the same length of time, as does the New and the Full Moon. The length of days varies during the year, but the northern hemisphere gets the same amount of long days as does the southern hemisphere.

    The planets and stars form patterns, creating stability and balance. Ultimately what humans really crave is balance and predicatbility. Therefore connecting to these ever-repeating cycles keeps us safe and guides us in what to expect.

    This is why I created the LWTM Lifestyle calendar, a way of predicting the months and year ahead!

    Working with these rhythms creates a sense of balance and stability and this can’t be over-emphasised in these unpredictable, erratic times.

    Once in a blue moon

    Once in a blue moon

    Have you ever heard the phrase – once in a blue moon. I should think so. So I delved a little deeper to find out what it really means and where it comes from. There are actually 2 varying versions of what we mean by a ‘Blue Moon’.

     

    1. Four full moons in a season 

    The first definition refers to a fourth full moon in a season. The year has four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.  Normally each season has 3 full moons. So that brings the yearly total to 12 full moons. The same reason why the year has 12  calendar months.

    The Ancient Roman year had 12 moon cycles and then a period of rest (roughly what we now call January and February).
    The new year started again in March.  This coincided with the start of the new military marching season, ruled by Mars, the God of war).   To keep the year in sync with the seasons occasionally another moon cycle was added, which then brought the total number of full moons to 13. This meant that one season had  4 full moons instead of 3 and the 4th full moon was called  ”a blue moon’. When Julius Caesar adopted the solar calendar model, he created 12 calendar months per year. (calendar comes from the Latin word for register) and abolished the13th month.

    Although the sun calendar replaced the former lunar model for official duties and taxes,  many pagan rituals were still celebrated in accordance with the moon cycle. When Emperor Constantin adopted Christianity as the ‘official Roman religion’ anything pagan got a bad press. The Catholic church rallied against the ancient pagan practices and the number 13 became the ‘number of witches’. It was hailed the unlucky number, especially if the combination fell on a Friday (the day of worship for Friga, the pagan fertility goddess). This lore is still alive in fairy stories. Do you remember the 12 good fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty and the 13th came to dinner and spoilt it all!

    To give you an idea of how often this happens –  The last ‘Blue Moon’ according to this definition occurred on 22nd August 2021. So on average, a Blue Moon happens every 2-3 years, hence the saying ‘ once in a blue moon’, meaning an event that is very rare.

    2. Two full moons in a calendar month

    Another way of describing a ‘blue moon’ came later. Normally a calendar month has one New Moon and one Full Moon, but occasionally 2 of each can occur in the same month. From the 19th century onwards it became popular to call the second Full Moon in a given calendar month ‘a blue moon’. Although still rare, this event occurs more randomly than the first definition. This month on August 31st a Blue Moon will be visible to us. According to old tradition make a wish and watch it come true!

     

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    Lunar and solar eclipses

    Lunar and solar eclipses

    Lunar and Solar Eclipses have been mythical events since the beginning of time. 

    Traditionally eclipses bring major changes, unpredictable situations, shocking revelations, and/or sudden endings. The advice used to be, don’t take too many risks or make too many changes during this unpredictable time. But eclipses can also be catalysts, showing up things that were hidden before which now are coming to light. For example, you become aware your partner is having an affair or a much more positive thought – for a while, your boss had you in mind for a promotion, but now it comes to light and you get the offer.

    Some Ancient rulers took the prediction of eclipses and their linked fate very seriously as they believed an eclipse signaled a bad omen. Almost 4000 years ago the Chinese king Zhong Kang beheaded 2 of his astronomers for failing to predict accurately when the next eclipse would appear. The Assyrians and later Babylonians were more accurate in their predictions.  One text mentions the solar eclipse during June 763 B.C. which was well observed and recorded.

    Another connection often made with eclipses is the appearance of natural disasters. The archaeologist Bruce Masse claimed that an eclipse happened at the time of a major meteor impact in the Indian Ocean on May 10th, 2807 B.C., and subsequent floods and tsunamis followed.

    Lunar eclipses: 

    There are total ( when the moon, sun, and earth practically align) and partial lunar eclipses  – when only part of the sun is darkened. Lunar eclipses are always linked to New Moons and only occur during this time. When you see a full lunar eclipse the moon (normally invisible at New Moon) turns dark red as illuminated not by the sun, but by the light coming from the earth’s atmosphere.

    Why don’t we see a lunar eclipse on every New Moon? 

    In fact, if the moon were to orbit in a perfect circle around the Earth, exactly this scenario would happen. But the lunar path is slightly tilted, in fact, leaning around 5 degrees, so it misses the perfect position by a bit. But occasionally the path slightly overlap (partial eclipse) and on rarer occasions perfectly align – that is then a full lunar eclipse.

    Here is a clip that shows exactly what happens during a lunar eclipse 

    Solar eclipses

    These only happen during Full Moon and we often speak of ‘eclipse cycles’. This means the planet’s parth rotate in a way that they align or overlap. On average 2-5 eclipses occur during one eclipse season,  lasting around 12-16 months. Total eclipses are very rare astronomical events that have had historically immense meanings and have always captured our imagination. So it is not surprising eclipses have been linked to important historical events. There apparently was a solar eclipse when Jesus died and another when Mohammed was born.

    In 1919 a total lunar eclipse blocked all sunlight for a full 6 minutes and 51 seconds, giving scientists time to measure the bending of the light from the stars. These findings were instrumental in the explanation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

    Find out more about historically significant solar eclipses  

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    Moon Guides

    Moon Guides

    Moon guides have existed for thousands of years and below you can find out why they are still so important and how you can use them for your daily benefit. But at first, let’s look a bit at how they came into the world. 

    From as early as 30,000 B.C. hunter and gather societies have used the moon cycle to guide them through their life, give them light throughout the night, and scheduled their days. One of the earliest known ‘calendars’ was found in the Dordogne Region of France and consisted of animal bones. You can find out more about the origin of the moon calendar on this blog.

    Many civilizations, more notably the Greeks and Romans scheduled their lives according to the path of the moon, and the first moon guides were established. Each generation added extra information and observations to these calendars. Eventually, this knowledge developed into an almanac.

    What is an almanac?

    Generally speaking, we think about an annual calendar publication that includes the movement of the sun, moon, eclipses,
    black moons and blue moons, tide tables, planting dates, and various tips and lifestyle advice.

    The first ever documented use of the word almanac was in 1267 by Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar and medieval English philosopher. He set out to publish a set of tables to detail the path of the moon and other well-known planets and referred to it as an almanac. The actual word almanac comes from the Coptic-Egyptian literature where these tables were called almenickiaka. 

    There are also other sources that claim it comes from the Arabic work al-manakh, but the exact origin remains a mystery.

    But never mind where the word comes from, almanacs have been in use for thousands of years, giving structure to people’s lives, and highlighting good and bad days for agriculture, fishing, and hunting. Until not so long ago they were the backbone of the agricultural systems all around the world.

    The Babylonian Almanac

    These keen stargazers connected all sorts of events to the rhythm of the universe and collected this information in their own  Babylonian Luni-solar Calendar.  Still one of the most impressive examples of lunar guides. Their interpretations of certain star patterns,  good and bad dates for certain activities were passed down through the generations.

    Some examples of these handwritten moon guides have survived and can be viewed in the British Museum in London. When Guttenberg invented the printing press these guides were among the first commercially printed books and traveled on ships to the New World.

    Poor Richard’s Almanack

    There the imported European guides were soon superseded by homegrown US versions. The most successful was called Poor Richard’s Almanack which saw a yearly print run of nearly 10,000 copies a year and this publication ran from 1732 to 1758. It was written and published by Richard Saunders and sold exceptionally well.  Apart from the usual calendar tips, it also contained puzzles, household tips, and amusements for the whole family.

    Later versions added proverbs with life advice,  stories on how to run the household, and tales of moral behavior. All delivered with a touch of humor, and a dash of cynicism.Not surprising as Richard Saunders was in fact the pen name of no other than Benjamin Franklin, who later became one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

    How can I benefit from an almanac today?

    These valuable guides have not lost their benefits. In fact, with so many other news channels, TV, streamers, social media, etc vying for your attention, it is really important to have a constant guide in your life. It turns your focus on what really matters in your life.

    Your health, your environment, your relationships, your career/vocation, and your spirituality. And as we saw in a previous article – where focus goes, energy flows. 

    Once you have these elements under control and in balance, you are able to take on the world with a positive mindset. And down-to-earth tips and recipes prove especially useful in a time when money is scarce and the future is uncertain.

    I am in the process of publishing my very first almanac with useful tips and recipes, partly passed down from my grandmother and partly gained through my extensive research. And I can not wait to share it with you all!

    mood guides

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    The history of the calendar

    The history of the calendar

    Our ancestors used the sun, the moon, and the stars to measure time and form the very first calendars (meaning register). The earth orbiting the sun marks the annual year. The moon cycle was the blueprint for the month and the weeks (28 days divided by the 4 quarter of the moon cycle – 7 day week).

    The Ancient Greek word for moon ‘mene’ is the root for minute, month, and even menstruation. Very early on the correlation between the timescale of the moon cycle and the female fertility cycle was well understood.  Moon gods/goddesses were called upon for all kinds of fertility problems. These could be a lack of conceiving, problems with menopause, or failed harvests and food production.

    The lunar month was the first properly understood time-measuring tool. It enabled hunter-gatherer societies during the Stone Age to forecast seasonal changes, schedule events/celebrations, and stock up on food reserves for the winter months.

    Animal bones found in the Dordogne region of France are believed to be the first moon calendars known to man. These archaeological finds date back to around 28,000 B.C. and show different patterns of notches that define the passing of time between the New Moon to the Full Moon. Find out more about the history of the lunar calendar. 

    The Ancient Lunar year consisted of 12 moon cycles, determined by the four cornerstones of the year, the winter solstice (21st December = the shortest day of the year), the summer solstice (21st June = the longest day of the year), and the spring and autumn equinoxes (21st March and 23 September = when the length of the day equals night).

    However since 12 moon cycles fall a few days short per year (354 days), a solution had to be found. So every other year a leap year with the 13th moon cycle was introduced to bring the seasons back in sync with the Ancient Lunar year. The Ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese calendars all operated this system.

    When Julius Ceasar arrived in 48 B.C. in Egypt, he not only fell in love with Cleopatra, but he also immersed himself in Egyptian science. He was particularly intrigued by the way the Egyptian calendar system worked. At the time the Egyptian calendar was the only purely solar calendar of its time.  It counted 365 and 1/4 days per year. An astonishing achievement, considering it was first put in place around 4200 B.C.

    Upon his return to Rome Caesar ordered a massive Roman calendar reform and the Julian calendar was born. The newly formed Roman year had only 12 months and the starting date (previously March, named after the War God Mars and the start date of the Roman marching season) was moved to the 1st of January.  Ceasar named his birth month after himself, now July. His successor Augustus did the same and modestly named August after himself.

    But for all the yearly time-keeping improvement that the Egyptian calendar brought, Cesar wisely kept all the lunar festivals and names of the previous months intact.  Otherwise, his reform would have been too radical and confusing. Can you imagine –  September (previously the seventh month) would theoretically now be the 9th and should really be called November and so on?

    Had it not been for Ceasar’s enthusiasm for Egyptian culture, he would have probably chosen the most efficient calendar system of its time The Lunisolar Calendar.  It was already used by the Sumerians and later refined by the Babylonians and combined the solar and lunar cycle.

    Caesar almost got it right, but there was a slight miscalculation in the Egyptian calendar when it came to leap years.  The solar year counts precisely 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds. That difference would finally add up to 10 days!
    In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII finally corrected this mishap and introduced another calendar reform which we still use to this day – the Gregorian Calendar.

    But there was another error creeping in. The years (meaning the rotation of the earth around the sun) are slowing down – appropriately 1/2 a second per century. So in 1972, the answer was found by employing the ‘atomic clock’ and that is what all our computers, phones, and alarm clocks use today for accurately measuring time. It is no longer connected to the stars, the moon, and the heavens. We have disconnected ourselves from all these movements and now we follow the oscillations of atoms. This tool is called UTC – the Co-ordinated Universal Time.

    I am happy to follow the UTC clock to time my Zoom calls and alarm clock. But when it comes to structuring my own life, I happily revert to the Lunisolar calendar (the calendar model the LWTM lifestyle calendar is modeled on). This calendar does not only measure time,  but it also gives an insight into the ‘quality of time’. Above all it is a fantastic tool to structure my life and activities. 

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     The history of the moon calendar

    The Sumerian calendar

    The Sumerian calendar

    The Sumerians and later the Babylonians were the first known civilizations to use what we now recognize as a lunisolar calendar.

    By the 21st century B.C. the Sumerians had come up with a solar year consisting of 360 days. It was made up of 12 lunar cycles (354 days) which were rounded up to 360, forming 12 months at 30 days. What differentiated the Sumerian calendar system from any other lunar calendars of this time, was the way they measured time. The Sumerian calculations are all heavily based on the numbers 6, 12 and 60, still used today.  Our current year has 12 months and the day in many countries is structured as 12 hours am and 12 hours pm. The hour itself has 60 minutes and every minute has 60 seconds.

    To bring the shortfall of these embellished lunar months into sync with the solar year, the equinoxes (where day equals night) and the solstices (longest and shortest day of the year), the Sumerian astronomers introduced an extra month every four years. This is what we now call a leap year.

    The Sumerians also recorded ‘day qualities’. Enuma Anu Enlil is a collection of stone tables and oracles compiled by Sumerian and Assyrian scribes.  The tables include information about lunar eclipses, weather events, the movement of the stars, planets and constellations. The most important part was the interpretations of all these cosmic movements and what they meant for life on earth. The dominant observations concerned the moon cycle and its relation to the other stars and the sun.

     It is still unclear where all this knowledge came from. But what is certain that it helped to shape the later famous Babylonian calendar. Although these were humble beginnings, these scribes crucially laid down the foundation of the houses, the star signs and the creation of the zodiac (called the ‘circle of the animals). They named many star constellations in the sky and created the basic principals of Western astrology. The movements of the planets and stars were meticulously observed, recorded, and interconnected with symbolic meaning. These observations traveled to other countries, particularly to India in the 3rd century B.C.

    From 499.B.C. the Sumerian calendar transformed into a proper lunisolar calendar. The shift came when it was recognized that 19 solar years equal exactly 235 lunations (moon cycles) and this formed the first proper re-occurring connection between the solar and the lunar cycle.  This principle was formally described by the Greek astronomer Methon of Athens in 432 B.C. when he ‘discovered’ the Metonic cycle. But most probably he came across the Babylonian calendar and recalculated their calendar formula.

    The Sumerian calendar month started at sunset with the first sighting of the new crescent moon (Waxing Moon) and ended with the last sighting of the descending crescent (Waning Moon). Once the Waning moon had vanished there followed a period of the ‘disappeared moon’ (New Moon) when no moon was visible in the sky.

    This played a big part when planning to travel, especially crossing a desert. Due to the hot climate caravans preferred to travel at night. But with no moonlight to guide them, there was a great chance of getting lost.  Therefore the New Moon became known as the time to stay at home and rest.  A concept we still use in the LWTM life goal planner.

    On the other hand, the moon’s opposite position in the lunar cycle – the Full Moon-  was the time for gatherings and ceremonies. Then people could easily find their way home once it got dark.

    The roots of the Sumerian lunisolar calendar still exist today, particularly in many religious calendar systems and associated practices.

    The ‘Living With the Moon lifestyle calendar’ is also based on the Ancient Lunisolar Calendar. It is now believed that this calendar model was in far more widespread use than initially thought. For example, many believe that the Minoan civilization (3000-1450 B.C). followed this calendar system. 

     

     

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