December 21-22      Winter Solstice        Shortest day of the year

February 5              Cross-Quarter Day    Halfway between

March 19-21            Spring Equinox        Equal day and night

May 5                    Cross-Quarter Day    Halfway between

June 20-22             Summer Solstice      Longest day of the year

August 7                Cross-Quarter Day    Halfway between

September 21-24     Autumn Equinox       Equal day and night

November 7            Cross-Quarter Day    Halfway between

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Replies to This Discussion

Exactly what the Wiccan year is. Except that they have euphonious names like Beltane, Samhain, Imbolc, etc.

Exactly, Wiccans, Christianity, the ancient civil Egyptian calendar, Mayas, Aztecs, Akkadians of Babylon, Chinese, Polynesian islanders, ancient Greeks, English and Irish used calendars based on astronomy. I propose using astronomy names as indicators to get away from the myths that grew up around each of those ancient cultures. 

I enjoy reading ancient tales, one being as mythical as the next, and placing superhuman power in the hands of some deity. We can create our own stories based on our understanding of Earth and life and its patterns. If one wants excitement, there is nothing as grand as a modern understanding of how Earth came into being and became populated. 

I hope we concentrate on reality and not create a new mythology. 

Ancient Astronomers

Aztec Calendar Stone

The ancient astronomers of Newgrange

As you know, the ancients knew nothing of this and thought that the progression of seasons was the work of the Gods.  They needed gods to explain the universe because they could not benefit from knowledge most of us take for granted today (climate change and all).  Your observations on the calendars and astronomical observations of the planets are of course correct, but religion was intimately bound up in the explanations they devised.  The Priesthood was necessary, too, since they knew what the gods wanted of the people, e.g. bloody human sacrifice in such groups as the Aztecs and Mayans, done to ensure a bounteous harvest, but done to such gross excess Mexicans to this day only guiltily condemn the Spaniards and French for invading their country and imposing Catholicism on the masses.  And then, there are religious people today.  They should have no need of religion at all.  Science has explained everything that once we considered magic.  People don't want to confront that; they'd rather engage in social chit chat and business negotiations on the front steps of the church.

James, I know ancient peoples did terrible things because of their belief in gods using solar or lunar calendars. With this Easter weekend past, my granddaughter planned a scavenger hunt for the kids in our family, from four to fourteen. It was so much fun and had nothing to do with Easter, it was the spring equinox. We celebrated the shortest day of the year instead of christmas.
I don't want to take away the fun children have at christian celebrations, but would like to think of a way to create a new reason for family get-togethers. I would also like to model an alternative celebration theme so our children don't feel left out.
One of our adult family members was raised 7th Day Adventist and never had a birthday party, or celebrated Christmas or Easter or even thanksgiving. He has more fun then the kids at our parties.
My ten year old great-grandson told me as I was leaving this celebration that he will remember this day all his life. That is what family bonding is all about. It is also what immortality is about! He and I will not meet again in heaven, he might tell his great-grandchild about this year's equinox with affection.

Plus for jettisoning the superstitions. Minus for "not sexy enough"  names. Joan, we need new easy to say and remember stories/role models associated with these events. "Halfway between" and "Cross-Quarter Day" just don't sing.

Ruth, you are right. And I love your napping dog! 

What Joan said! It's good that the calendar abandons the old myths. It should appeal to our primitive brains as well (where most of our decision-making actually happens, rationalized "after the fact").

(Just as your posts often do, Ruth, with their apt pictures!)

Grinning Cat, yes, the very very ancient peoples noticed patterns on Earth and the changing astronomy and created stories trying to understand those events. Several years ago while at a family celebration during one of the solstice solar events, I explained the days would get longer or shorter, I can't remember, and even some of the adults didn't believe me. I suggested they pay attention, and the little ones discovered day/night did change. I can't think of a better way to teach children about life and its phases. 

I so like Ruth's suggestion and I am about as sharp as a dull nail. Tying in non-religious themes with our solar system works for me and I would like something more "sexy", something that will enchant the small ones. 

I like your illustration of the development of the human brain, evolving over the reptilian, emotional and into the rational thinking brain, realizing that all parts of the brain work. In some people, they get kidnapped by the amygdala.

"Conditions such as anxiety, autism, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias are suspected of being linked to abnormal functioning of the amygdala, owing to damage, developmental problems, or neurotransmitter imbalance."

~ Amygdala 


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