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 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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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 way of making sense of 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 of how you can 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.
To decipher your life number 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 your prime number which you then add to the current year

2021 (5)  5+4=9  You would be currently in a number 9 year.

Here is what the individual year numbers mean:

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

Year 2A year of rest & sharing. Continue with self-development but now shift your focus to deepen relationships with others. This could be partners, family members, and co-workers. It is all about interconnectedness.

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

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

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

Year 6A year of creativity. It is the peak of creativity in home and work life. Be sure to concentrate on new ways of doing things -and rekindle creative collaborations.

Year 7Could potentially be a troubled year. It is important to learn from personal experiences and we learn most from failures. Learn to embrace them, move on and expand your mindset for a more positive future.

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

Year 9A year of ambition and reward. 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.

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Born at full moon

Born at full moonThe moon is mentioned in countless love songs, poems and romantic stories. Lovers meet, kiss and make love bathing in its light. Naturally a side effect is conception. So is it therefore true that more babies are born at full moon?

That the moon influences the female fertility cycle and birth charts has been rumoured for centuries, but is this fact or fiction? Many would argue the second, but there are studies that show links. Of course not all babies are born at full moon, in fact a lot of babies are born just before New Moon.

One such study (Guillon P, Guillon D, Lansac J, Soutoul JH, Bertrand P, Hornecker JP.  Births, fertility, rhythms and lunar cycle. A statistical study of 5,927,978 birthsJournal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. (Paris). 1986) looked at 5,927,978 French births occurring between the months of January 1968 and the 31st December 1974.

Using spectral analysis, it showed that there are different times during the week and year where spikes occur. During a week the lowest numbers of births occurred on Sundays and the largest on Tuesdays.

I think this has less to do with the moon cycle, but is due to cultural circumstances such as holidays and working pattern.  These days many couples are forced to or voluntarily select  Cesarian births and,unless it is an emergency, man-made inductions won’t be scheduled for the  week-end. They are more likely to be pushed to the following Monday resulting in a Monday to Tuesday night birth, boosting the birth statistics for Tuesday.

The annual spike showed that most births occurred during the months of April/May and recorded the lowest  deliveries  for September/October.  Again I would argue that this is a cultural rather than a lunar phenomena.  I suppose the summer holidays have a lot to answer for the spring births and the cold winter nights for the birth ebb in early autumn.

But once birth statistics were analysed in accordance with the lunar cycle, then the less than equal birth distribution showed no cultural correlation.

When scientists talked to busy midwives, doulas or experienced childbirth educators, most of them agreed with an increased birth rate at full moon, but saw another phenomena even more important and that was the change in barometric pressure from cold/warm or vice versa.

Another studies from Italy (Periti E, Biagiotti R.  Lunar phases and incidence of spontaneous deliveries. Our experience. Minerva Ginecol. 1994 Jul-Aug;46(7-8):429-33.) examined 1248 spontaneous full-term deliveries in relation to the presence of a full moon and it also showed that the birth link between the moon and birth data was stronger for mothers who had given birth before and probably had a less inhibited experience.

But then again there are lots of studies who show no obvious link, so I think that just looking at the moon phase is probably not the right answer. Although being a mum myself, I have given birth twice and guess when both my children were born? You guessed right, both were born exactly on the day of a full moon.

 

For more references please see the article I found on birthsource.com titled: Full Moon, Gravitational Pull and childbirth 

Solar eclipses

Solar eclipses

Total lunar eclipseYou must have ‘lived behind the moon’ not to have been swooped up this month’s news about a total solar eclipse. This particular one happened on the 20th March 2015 and was mainly visible in the Northern parts of Europe, particularly Scotland, Norway and Iceland.

As you can see on this picture, the moon passes between sun and the earth. As the visible moon is larger than the visible sun, the sun is eclipsed by the moon and no direct sunlight is visible to us. This event does not last long, in fact this year the longest solar eclipse was visible in Scotland and its total time was 2 minutes and 47 seconds, so not an eternity.

Total eclipses are vary rare astronomical events. The last one was in 1999 and the next one will occur again on August 12th 2026.

So considering how rare these events are and how short a time they take, it is remarkably how they capture our imagination. In the past solar eclipses often were markers of important historical events. There aparantly was a solar eclipse when Jesus died and Mohammed was born and in more recent times the solar eclipse in 1919, when the sun light was blocked by the moon for a full 6 minutes and 51 seconds, scientists measured the bending of the light from the stars. These finding were instrumental in the explanation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Find out more about historical significant solar eclipses  

 

 

 

 

Fire, Earth, Air and Water

Fire, Earth, Air and Water

220px-Empedokles_fragment_Physika_I_262–300
Fractions showing some of Empedocles original work

The concept of the four elements, together with the day qualities plays a big part in the Biodynamic calendar. So here is some information about the man who started it all. He was called Empedocles, a philosopher, physician, and poet, who lived roughly between 495–435 B.C. in Agrigentum, then a Greek colony in Sicily. Most of his original works and scientific theories have now been lost, but his ideas still exist through references by Plato. They also feature prominently in Aristotle’s writings on physics and biology.

Empedocles wrote most of his observations and theories in verse and poetic language.  A few of these fragments are still with us today, including parts of his two most famous works entitled On Nature and Purifications. Only very recently some more of his verses were discovered on a papyrus roll from Egypt which had been stored in the Strasbourg University library.

During his lifetime Empedocles dedicated much of his time observing nature, the stars, the sun, and the moon. He was one of the first scientists to state the theory that light travels at a finite speed, a concept that was only much later fully understood. His forward-thinking observations earned him the posthumous title of ‘father of the cosmogenic theory’, which deals with the origin of the cosmos and the universe.

The four elements:

In On Nature, one of his most ambitious works, Empedocles introduces the hypothesis of the four elements – fire, earth, air, and water. He describes them as the roots of all physical manifestations.   In his opinion, these four unchangeable and indestructible forces occur naturally in equal amounts and shape our whole existence.

This concept was not entirely new. The Babylonians had already gods personified as the cosmic elements: the sea (water), the earth (earth), the sky/sun (fire), and the wind (air). But Empedocles was the first person to treat these elements not as gods, but as components of the universe.

In fact, Empedocles only described the forces, but never actually used the term ‘elements’, which is a phrase invented by Plato. But the name ‘the four elements’ stayed and is still in use today — more than 2000 years later.

Empedocles and Plato may have put the ‘four elements’ on the map, but others since have taken this concept and have added additional qualities. For example, Aristotle related the four elements to physical conditions:

Fire – is primarily hot and secondarily dry
Air – is primarily cold and secondarily wet
Water – is primarily wet and secondarily cold
Earth – is primarily dry and secondarily hot

Later Hippocrates used the four elements to describe the unexplained functions occurring in the human body and called them the four humours.  He called the four humours:

Yellow bile (fire), black bile (earth), blood (air), and phlegm (water)

Since the discovery of hormones, the humours have become obsolete, but they played a vital part in any medical intervention until the 19th century.

Love and Strife- the law of attraction and separation

The four elements were static forces, but life as we know it is very changeable. So Empedocles introduced the principle of love (attraction)  and strife  (separation), a sort of Ancient Greek yin and yang.

Love and Strife are attractive and repulsive forces. They wax and wane their influence, but neither of them can wholly disappear from the influence of the other. Like there is no day without night and no heat without cold, everything works in proportion to each other.

The man Empedocles empedocles

During his life-time, Empedocles was a charismatic and eccentric figure. Like the mathematician Pythagoras, Empedocles believed that the human soul can be reincarnated into animals and even plants. He believed that we all are part of nature and the cosmic movements and not a separate entity. Life is a spiral of wisdom and those who learned the secrets of life, will reach the highest cycle of reincarnation and will be able to rest in a state of eternal happiness.

According to Diogenes Laertius, Empedocles died by throwing himself into the active volcano of Mount Etna in Sicily. His dramatic death has inspired many works of fiction, particularly among the Romantic writers of the 18th and 19th century, a time when people were fascinated with the traditions of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The German author Friedrich Hoelderlin wrote ‘Tod des Empedokles’ (Death of Empedocles) and probably my favourite piece on this subject is Matthew Arnold’s poem called ‘Empedocles on Etna’, first published in 1852.

To the elements it came from
Everything will return.

Our bodies to earth,
Our blood to water,
Heat to fire,
Breath to air.

Here is how the elements correspond to the phases of the moon:

Element Air  – Waxing Moon – time to network and to create projects/tasks
Element Fire – Full Moon – time to present, teach, gather and celebrate
Element Earth – Waning Moon – time to work hard and turn the earlier conceived ideas into real action
Element Water – New Moon – evaluate your work. Where can you improve?   Which direction do you want to travel in?  What are your core values and what do you want to do with your life? This is setting the wheel back in motion for the next 28days.

How can you use this system? Download the LWTM Life goal planner to help you find your own answers.

For more information about LWTM and holistic lifestyle planning please  download our freebies 

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