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The Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning
Or- The wheel of the year
We’ve been talking about the construct of time and how it has evolved from a sensible mechanism for knowing when to plant and harvest crops to the effort to cram each moment with motion and activity in the name of productivity.
Even our earliest ancestors could make rudimentary scientific observations. The sun rose and set and after a number of these cycles, it grew colder and then warmer again. Seeds planted before it got too warm could be harvested before it got too cold and would provide food to eat during the coldest months when other food sources were scarce.
This continuous revolution became known as the wheel of the year which revolved ceaselessly, and for millennia we recognized only days and seasons. In the early Bronze Age, around 3,100 BCE the Sumerians in Mesopotamia invented the first 12-lunar-month calendar.
Eight hundred years later they came up with the seven-day week. The number seven was venerated because it aligned with the number of what they considered to be planets visible without a telescope (which wouldn’t be invented until 1608) Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The number seven was also important in Judaism because of the creation story in Genesis noting that on the seventh day, God rested.
With the Egyptian’s switch to a solar-(sun-based) calendar, the wheel of the year became defined by the length of the day-night cycle.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the June Solstice announces the astronomical beginning of summer. It is the day with the most daylight in the year. In December, the opposite is the case. Solstice comes from the Latin words sol for “Sun” and sistere for “To Stand Still”). The solstice is the point where the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky for the year.
Equinoxes fall between the solstices and mark the beginning of the Spring and Fall seasons. The term equinox comes from the Latin aequus meaning “Equal” and nox meaning “Night.” During the equinox day and night are of equal lengths.
As fate would have it, this issue of Think. Read. Write. Repeat. is reaching you just before the Autumnal equinox which will occur this coming Saturday, September 23rd.
This event is celebrated as Alban Elfed or Mabon in various Druid traditions, Higan in Japanese Buddhism, and Navarati in Hindu culture. In Chinese and Vietnamese tradition, the time is celebrated with the Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival
The completion of harvest duties was cause for celebration and brought with it more time to relax, read, and study. The Autumnal Equinox was viewed as the moment of balance between light and darkness.
As fewer of us work all year to grow crops to sustain our families, it can be easy to forget the significance that harvest time held for our ancestors.
Use this time as a time of reflection, gratitude, and preparation.
It’s a great opportunity to spend some time thinking about what’s important to you, and to develop a plan to go after it.
Get better at getting better!
Read. What’s Become of the Living?
Look forward to the coming months and identify several things you would like to stop doing.
Journal prompt: What do I want to stop doing and what’s my plan to stop?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
“As the wheel of the year turns so do all the amazing times that will come to us. Times will come, times will pass and times will come again. It is our own cycles within and without that bring us enjoyment in those moments.”
— Rhiannon D. Elton