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 dived 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 the 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).

But 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 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 did not only fall in love with Cleopatra, but he also immersed himself into 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 January.  Ceasar named his birth month after himself, now July. His successor Augustus did the same and modestly name 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 the Egyptian culture, he would have probably chosen the most efficient calendar system of its time. The Lunisolar Calendar as operated by the Sumerians and later Babylonians, which 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 actually counts precisely 365 days, 5hours, 48minutes 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, 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 back 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’, a fantastic tool to structure my life. 

To find out more about the LWTM lifestyle and holistic life goal planning please download our useful freebies package. 

 The history of the moon calendar

The lunar influence

The lunar influence

This is a very controversial subject and one I have swerved many times as you find as many people pro as against. I am not a scientist, nor claim to have any scientific foundation, so I was always keen to just pass on people’s first hand experiences, rather than science experiments and statistics.

I have spoken to a few nurses and doctors about it and again heard very different versions and opinions. I have now come to my own conclusion. I firmly believe  that it does exist, but that it does not affect everybody. As it is so very personal and variable it is hard to pin down and even harder to do a firm study on it.

  In earlier days without many artificial light sources, the moon formed a big part of people’s life. For once they relied upon the moon as a nocturnal source of light. Therefore seeing a full moon or no moon made a big difference. But with artificial lights everywhere that is of course no longer the case. So, in my opinion most people are not even aware of what they moon is doing right now. The only exception may be when there is a ‘supermoon’ or some lunar eclipse hyped by the mainstream media.

I recently read an article about this subject which prompted me to write this post. Here is what an  A&E nurse wrote on this subject:  ” I don’t know much about physics, but I definitely know that the moon has an influence. I have worked in A&E for 20years now and have definitely noticed that on average we are busier at Full Moon, especially with  people coming in with stab wounds or other injuries from heated arguments gone wrong. Another problem are drinking related injuries, from alcohol poisoning to people injuring themselves being drunk.  At New Moon we see more drug overdoses and self-harming cases. No month is the same, but I can tell you there is definitely a connection’. And when you talk to people who work with mentally ill patients you will get a similar reaction.

This would make perfect sense. I don’t believe that everybody is actually affected by the moon. I for one am not, but my grandfather and a few other people I know definitely were or are affected . So that is why it is so controversial. When you don’t feel the effect you think there is nothing to it, but then speak to a ‘lunatic’ (a person that is specifically affected by the moon) or someone who is living with one and their experience would be entirely different.

The reason my grandmother started looking into Biodynamics and eventually passed it on to me was sadly that my grandfather was a real ‘lunatic’, who could be very unpleasant at Full Moon and to a lesser extent at New Moon. It took her a while to make the connection with the moon cycle, but when she did, she made sure that doors got locked or she was away at these crucial times. I remembered her saying that not all Full Moons would be the same, some affected him stronger than others and if you know a bit about the path of the moon around the earth it again makes total sense. This path is not round, but ecliptic, therefore the distance is not always the same. Sometimes the moon is nearer (we call them supermoons) and at other times more distant. And as it is a feeling/behaviour that is mainly noticed by others and not always 100% measurable it is hard to measure and proof with statistical data. The ones who want the moon to influence people will find the data to support their case, the ones who don’t can also find enough cases where the moon does not make a difference.  As there is no  100% guaranteed way to measure how a person feels or is perceived by others, this phenomena does statistically not exist. Yet speak to my grandmother and others like her who have to live with ‘lunatics’ and they will tell you stories that definitely proof a lunar effect.

But not every lunatic is turning violent, burns down building or abuses drugs. These examples exist and are the extremes, but the majority of ‘lunatics’ just tend to have mood swings, sleep problems, more or less appetite and feel somehow unsettled and unfocused and if you did not point out that there is a Full Moon, nobody would even connect the two events.

One of the best known studies in the ‘pro-camp’ is Lieber’s  study of  ‘the existence of a biological rhythm of human aggression which resonates with the lunar synodic cycle’.(Journal of  Clinical Psychiatry,  1978). He researched “

At the University of Miami, psychologist Arnold Lieber and his colleagues decided to test the old belief of full-moon “lunacy” which most scientists had written off as an old wives’ tale. The researchers collected data on homicide in Dade County (Miami) over a period of 15 years — 1,887 murders, to be exact. When they matched the incidence of homicide with the phases of the moon, they found, much to their surprise, that the two rose and fell together, almost infallibly, for the entire 15 years! As the full or the new moon approached, the murder rate rose sharply; it distinctly declined during the first and last quarters of the moon.

To find out whether this was just a statistical fluke, the researchers repeated the experiment using murder data from Cuyahoga County in Ohio (Cleveland). Again, the statistics showed that more murders do indeed occur at the full and new moons.

Dr. Lieber and his colleagues shouldn’t have been so surprised. An earlier report by the American Institute of Medical Climatology to the Philadelphia Police Department entitled “The Effect of the Full Moon on Human Behavior” found similar results. That report showed that the full moon marks a monthly peak in various kinds of psychotically oriented crimes such as murder, arson, dangerous driving, and kleptomania. People do seem to get a little bit crazier about that time of the month.

That’s something most police and hospital workers have known for a long time. Indeed, back in eighteenth-century England, a murderer could plead “lunacy” if the crime was committed during the full moon and get a lighter sentence as a result. Scientists, however, like to have a hard physical model to explain their discoveries, and so far there isn’t a fully accepted one. Dr. Lieber speculates that perhaps the human body, which, like the surface of the earth, is composed of almost 80 percent water, experiences some kind of “biological tides” that affect the emotions. When a person is already on psychologically shaky ground, such a biological tide can push him or her over the edge.

Although there is no scientific proof that the moon affects us in any way,  it does certainly affect the tides and some species of animals, who reliably use the moon for breeding behaviour.
This gravitational difference between mid-day and midnight is the greatest during the days of the full and new moon and the least effect has the end of the 1st and 3rd quarter.

Here is an article from a little while back in the Telegraph on how the moon affects human behaviour and some interesting moon facts.

Once in a blue moon

Once in a blue moon

Once upon 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

  1. Four full moons in a season 

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

The Ancient Romans had 12 moon cycle and then a period of rest (roughly what we call now January and February) until the new year started again in March (which coincided with the start of the military marching season, ruled by Mars, the God of war).  But 12 moon cycles don’t add up to 365 days. To keep the year in sync with the seasons occasionally another moon cycle was added, which then brought the total number of full moons in a year 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).

Although the sun calendar replaced the former lunar model for official duties and taxes,  many pagan rituals were still celebrated in accordance to the moon cycle. When the Emperor Constantin adopted Christianity as the ‘official Roman religion’ anything pagan got a bad press. The Catholic church rallied against the ancient pagan practises 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 how often this happens: The last ‘Blue Moon’ according to this definition occurred just recently on the 21st May 2016 and the next ‘blue moon’ will happen  on 18th May 2019 and after that on the 22nd August 2021. So on average a Blue Moon happens every 3 years, hence the saying ‘ once in a blue moon’, meaning an event which 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. 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 is a bit more random than the rhythym of the 13 moon cycle. The last time this happened was in March 2016 and there were no Blue Moons in 2017.

But now we start the year 2018 with a Blue Moon in January (31st), no full moon in February and then again another Blue Moon in March 2018 (31st March). After that the next Blue Moon will happen in  October 2020.

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 consisted 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 to be much older than the Sumerian Calendar. Some sources suspect it goes all the way back to the Minoan civilization (2700-1450 B.C).

For more information about day qualities, holistic life goal planning and more, please download our LWTM freebees package. 

 

Why ‘right timing’ matters

Why ‘right timing’ matters

why 'right timing' matters
As long as humans existed they watched heaven, nature, the stars, the sun and the moon to make sense of time.

The Biodynamic principals hone in on the concept of ‘right timing’ which is as old as the ‘understanding of time’ itself.  Here are verses of a text from the Old Testament – Ecclesiastes 3. 1-13, written around 300B.C.

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; …

I don’t know what you think but to me, this seems quite current and not something that was written over 2300 years ago.

The calendar meaning ‘register’ is man’s way to structure time. I have always been fascinated by how early man came up with ways of measuring time and translating the movement of the sun, the moon, and the stars into predictable events.

By doing so our ancestors found out early on that there is actually a ‘concept of right timing’.

 What is ‘right timing’?

When I grew up in Austria my family went on frequent hiking trips to the Alps. As children, we particularly enjoyed the trips going up gorges and walking over wooden bridges over wild Alpine rivers. From there we watched the waterfalls shooting down the mountain. The views were spectacular.

One day I overheard a local guide explaining to a group of climbers how these bridges were installed.

He would explain how the wood was hoisted up hills on ropes and then he said “…and the most important part is that the wood was cut at the right time in the moon cycle. Because only then can you be sure that it does not rot. As you can see this bridge has been standing now in the water now for over 200 years and no sign of rot”

Many scientists look down on these ‘hocus pocus’ methods.  But the bridges are living proof-  right in front of your own eyes. Below is an analogy that shows how ‘right timing’ can work for you

  ‘Right timing matters’

 Picture yourself – You are on a beach next to a small boat and you want to row to the little island you can see in the distance. Of course, you can set off at any time and somehow you will get there.

How about using a smarter way to get there –  by looking at the weather forecast and choosing a time when you can go with the tide and not against it.

Your journey will be far more pleasant, less strenuous and you will not only arrive in good spirit and less exhausted at your chosen destination, but you also get there faster and can put the gained time to good use! So why would you want to go at any other time?

The same metaphor also applies to many activities. Why make it hard on yourself when you can go with the natural flow.

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Numerology – the numbers of your life

Numerology Numerology is an ancient form of depherering your life through numbers. It was first practised by the mathematician Pythagoras. Today he and his Math methods are still mentioned in every Math class. Born in 608 B.C. Pythagoras was a free thinker who founded his own university at Crotona, then a Greek colony situated in Southern Italy.  He gathered many students around him whom he not only taught mathematics, but also inspired them in all aspects of personal independence and the meaning of life and love.

One of the subjects he taught was ‘ the Science of numbers’. It sought to answer life’s unsolved mystery and is the backbone of today’s Numerology movement. Numbers were seen as individual vibrations, who could be interpreted and used for life guidance.

Number 1 – the key to self expression and communication

Number 2 – the ‘feeling number’, representing the pair, sensitivity and intuition

Number 3 – belongs to the triangle and symbolises the mind and thinking

Number 4 – is the square, stability, practicality, order and convention

Number 5 – is the centre of the soul, representing love and freedom of expression

Number 6 – can either represent creativity, but also stress and worry

Number 7 – the number of philosophy, learning and sacrifice

Number 8 – the number of wisdom, leadership and independence

Number 9 – ambition, responsibility and idealism

How to find your current ‘year number’?

Here is a small example how to use Numerology for your own insights. Pythagoras taught that we live in ‘ 9 year cycles’. Once one cycle is completed, the next one starts up. So to make sense of your life you need your date of birth, for example 13th September 1970. Then add up the number of your birth date and month.

1+3+9= 13 = 4  this is you prime number which you then add to the current year

2016 (9)  9+4=13=4  You would be currently in a year 4.

Here is what the individual year numbers mean:

Year 1 – The year of adjustments. A powerful year of personal growth and change, breaking old habits and self-improvement

Year 2 – A year of rest, sharing and self-development, a good year for partnerships and working together.

Year 3 – A year to expand the mind. Stimulate the intellect, thirst for knowledge, a year of study and new skills.

Year 4 – A year of security, regeneration and consolidation. Enjoy the status quo and don’t change too much.

Year 5 – A year of freedom and personal expression. Hobbies could become new careers, look further afield than your current situation.

Year 6 – A year of creativity. It is the a peak of creativity in home and work life. It is also the year of relationships.

Year 7 – Could potentially be a troubled year. It is important to learn from personal experiences and even failures. It is best to stabilise what you have achieved so far rather than to expand.

Year 8 – Year of independence and wisdom. It is a year of opportunity and financial gain. Enjoy life to the full

Year 9 – the cycle comes to an end. What you have sown during this cycle will come to fruition, good or bad. Enjoy this year, travel, broaden your horizon and get ready for another cycle.