Tuesday 3 February 2015


Today someone wrote this comment on my post about calendars

“The original Moon Calendar is from a Woman's Body, her Bleeding Cycle. Its time for people to get simple to get to our past.”

I wanted to reply to the comment in the original post, but my reply was too long, so I decided to publish my reply as a new post. I think this is an important issue to discuss and I hope you will find this post interesting.

I actually agree that the first cycles people noticed and used for measuring of the passing of time were natural cycles they saw around them, like menstrual cycle or seasons cycle. Women even today use their menstrual cycle to locate events in time. Like: "after my next period, every time just before my period". People still use seasonal vegetative cycles to locate events in time. Like brigands in Serbia who used to meet at their secret meeting point "kad gora zazeleni" meaning "when forest gets green". Pigs are still slaughtered in Serbia "after the first frost". Acorns are gathered when they get brown, ripe...But these cycles are only good for crude time calculation which is not mission critical. This is because all these cycles are variable cycles. They change in time and in place. Duration of women's menstrual cycle changes through woman's life and the beginning and the duration of the menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman. Spring sometimes comes earlier and sometimes later depending on the location and year. Oaks sometimes don't produce any acorns at all and sometimes acorns ripen early and sometimes late depending on the weather. So these cycles very quickly become unreliable as time calculating devices.

The problem is even bigger if you need to coordinate actions between many separated groups. If they all need to meet somewhere at the same time in the future, they can't determine that moment in time using menstrual cycle. They would all have to have access to the same woman and she better not get pregnant...Even vegetative cycles are not good enough for this type of planning as for instance spring comes and forests gets green at the different times in Scotland and in Cornwall. It is even worse if you have an altitude difference. Sometimes it is still winter in the mountains in May.... And if people wanted to meet somewhere to celebrate and do some matchmaking, trading, showing off, saying "let’s meet in the spring to have a party" is no good, because some people would arrive in February and some in May. So people had to find something that changes, but changes in the same way all the time and in every place and use this change cycle for time calculation and planning. And guess what, there was this shining thing in the sky, visible every night, or almost every night, which changes every night and it's change cycle is the same all the time in every place. The moon. So the first precise time calculations were made based on moon cycle. You could say: "let's meet in 10 moons from next fool moon for a bit of a light entertainment” and no matter where you were, Scotland or Cornwall you would all arrive at the party at the same time. But moon cycle does not correspond to the seasonal cycle and it is not possible to use lunar calendar to predict and organize events lined to the seasonal and vegetative cycle. 

Lunar calendar is ok for planning once off events, but not for planning repetitive events. If you want to have a party in the summer, so you can all run around naked and have a good time, you can't use lunar calendar to plan it. The lunar cycle and seasonal vegetative cycles are not in sync. You need something that is in sync with the vegetative cycle, and that is the solar cycle, because it is the sun's cycles that govern seasonal vegetative cycles....And solar cycles are also constant and repetitive and can be observed from any point in the same way. So you could say: "Hay Groo, that was a great party, let’s have it next summer as well. How about at the summer solstice?” And hey presto, every summer everyone arrived to the same place for the summer solstice and had a great fun together, drinking, dancing, singing, shagging and waiting for the sun to rise....

But then people tried to plan dates between the solstices by using lunar calendar. They would say: "Let's meet on the first full moon after the summer solstice". This sounds fine, but it doesn't work as the lunar cycle is not in sync with the solar cycle. The first full moon after the summer solstice can sometimes fall on the day after the summer solstice and sometimes 10 days after the summer solstice....People could have said: "Let's meet 10 days after the summer solstice". And that would work like a charm. But what about 234 days after summer solstice? To make this kind of planning easier, to be able to efficiently plan events between the solstices, people needed some cycle smaller than the solstice cycle and longer than the day cycle. So people decide to continue using the moon cycle but they had to abandon the actual moon for determining the beginning and the end of the moon cycles. They needed some means of counting the moon cycle without looking at the sky. And hey presto, the time measuring sticks were invented where you can sratch on line for each day and a cross or some other symbol for a moon...And you end up with lunisolar calendar....

Now people could say: "That party was great. Your son and my daughter seem to like each other very much. Let’s get them married. How about on the second moon after the summer solstice?" Now if you all agree that your moon has 28, or 29 or 30 days, or what ever number of days that you all agree on, and you all know when the summer solstice is and you all start counting days and moons from that day, then you will all meet at the same place in two moons and have another great party, whether your kids like it or not....

And this is it...No mystery, no Male or Female chauvinism. Just using what is practical and does the job.  



  1. The ancient ones were highly observant of patterns in nature. One of the important binary distinctions held by Abraham's Horim (Horite ancestors) is the male-female distinction. They associated maleness with the Sun and femaleness with the Moon. This association extended to semen and milk. The Sun inseminates the earth with its light and warmth, and the Moon, which influences tides and body fluids, stimulates female reproduction and lactation. The ancients observed a relationship between the lunar cycle and the periodicity of the menstrual cycle. This reality is evident in many languages (Afro-Asiatic and Indo-European). For example, in French menstruation is called le moment de la lune.

  2. It has actually the same name in Slovenia. Slovenian language (one of the south-western Slavic language group) has the same name for the month and for the moon (MESEC), and also the same name for the month cycle or menstruation. Both cycles are called with the same name in adverb form (MESE─îNI CIKLUS).

  3. it gets complicated. many cultures had/have a concept of a female sun. some had a male moon. ancients' ideas about the gender of heavenly bodies was quite variable, and they seem to have been able to develop very functional ways of calculating and tracking time independent of whatever mythological beliefs they had attached to the sun, moon, and stars. their observation of natural cycles and qualities was peerless; and i don't think it's a question of one way of thinking about time versus another---i believe they used both solar and lunar calendar concepts in a complementary fashion. they had complex and nuanced (and highly variable, from place to place and time to time) ways of understanding things. one example might be that there were people who held the moon to be male, and recognised its influence on female menstrual cycles, etc...for some reason, this challenges many modern people. i wonder sometimes if the ancient people were not a bit more flexible in their thinking than we have become!