According to all the archaeologists, it was women who invented time. Or at least, they invented the first means of measuring it.
I’ve actually seen some of these early calendars, and held them in my hands. It’s eerie to touch such a simple artifact, knowing that it’s over 20,000 years old. Basically it’s a smooth stick, stripped of bark—sometimes a polished deer bone. Back in the Stone Age, Great Granny would take her stone knife every night and cut a tiny tick mark in that calendar-bone. Every 28 marks, she would gouge out a little round hole; she was keeping a record of the lunar cycle.
Why did Granny feel the need to keep such careful track of the moon’s passage? The answer is simple: the moon isn’t the only thing that cycles every 28 days. For some reason, a woman’s body naturally follows the same rhythm; we wax and wane right along with the moon and tides. It’s pretty damn convenient, if you think about it. Because I don’t care HOW many thousands of years you go back in time—no one wants to be caught wearing her best undies when that day rolls around! What’s more, all the cave women in the clan were probably on the same time-table, so far as the moon was concerned. I’m thinking that particular week was probably considered a REAL auspicious time for all the men to go off on an extended hunting trip.
I bet that Ogg would just casually count the marks on Granny’s stick, and then he’d turn to the rest of the guys and say, “You know what? I’m think it’s about time we bag us another mammoth. We should be gone for about…oh…ten days.” And they’d all nod wisely and sharpen up their spears and cheerfully go off into the freezing wilds to face saber tooth tigers, woolly rhinos, and bison the size of a double-decker bus—because it was far less frightening than staying home.
Times have changed, of course, and so has time-keeping. The current calendar is solar in nature, originates with the Roman Empire, and pays no real attention to the lunar cycle. Most important events are celebrated by solar dates which roll around every 365 days; only the most ancient cultures (like the Chinese) still celebrate holidays that are based on the phases of the moon. Even the menstrual cycle of a modern woman is more likely to be measured by pills popped out of a pack of Ortho-Novum than by marks carved on a stick.
Nowadays, there are only two kinds of people who really need a lunar calendar. On the one hand you have the werewolves—gotta break out the manacles on the night of the full moon, or there are just ENDLESS hassles with the guys from Animal Control. And on the other hand, you have the neo-pagans; obviously, they’re the intended audience for this particular calendar.
I must say, this little item is well-designed for practitioners of That Olde Time Religion. Whether your thing is Wicca, Kabbalah, Siberian shamanism or Asatru, there are always a lot of spells, ceremonies and rituals which have to be timed by the moon. This calendar is going to be a godsend (or goddessend–no offense intended) for getting your mystical life organized.
The calendar is divided into 13 full lunations, starting with the new moon of December 4, 2002, and ending with the last waning cuticle on December 22, 2003. It’s printed in a standard wall-calendar format, but the days of the month are arranged in a loose spiral on the page—very much as the phases of the moon were painted on the walls of the caves at Lascaux. For every day of the lunar month, we get an entry which gives us a wealth of information on the moon’s activity: the visible phase (Is it waxing? waning? full?), the time it will rise and set (all given in Eastern Standard), and even its place in the Zodiac, for those interested in astrology.
The sun takes an entire year to pass through all the signs of the Zodiac, but the moon courses over the same path very rapidly, changing signs every couple of days. According to the helpful fact sheet at the back, there are better and worse times to be making lasagna, calling your mother, or going in for a gall bladder operation. If you own this calendar, you can keep an eye on these things, and choose the most auspicious possible moment to have your legs waxed.
In addition to the practical information that the calendar offers, there are also some artistic touches. Each lunar month is given the name of a plant sacred to Celts, and the page is decorated with a botanical leaf rubbing: birch, rowan, holly, ivy, etc.. (Of course, this calendar is so Goddess-oriented that feminine qualities are assigned willy-nilly to all of these plants and trees—even the ones which would have been indisputably masculine, to a historical Celt. The oak tree, for example, was traditionally thought to have manly qualities; according to the sources I’ve read, “Duir” would have been a name given to boys.) A few poems have also been provided, for inspiration, including “Expect Nothing”, one of the more famous invocations written by Robert Graves. And there are also black-and-white illustrations for each month—these are a little primitive, at times, but it’s never an image you’d be embarrassed to have on your wall.
There can be no doubt that this calendar is a labor of love, for the people at Luna Press. They’ve been publishing their lunar calendars for 27 years now; they even use all recycled paper and soy-based inks, for maximum Nature Girl correctness. All in all, this is the perfect gift for that special someone in your life who has a tendency to dance nekkid in the woods beating on a goatskin drum. Or for anyone, really, who wants to get back in touch with the more ancient rhythms of the sky and earth, and the old ways of keeping time.
Now that I own one, I can easily close my eyes and picture that female ancestor of mine. There she is, standing in the sunlight at the mouth of her cave, looking at the shadow silhouette that she casts on the wall. And she’s turning to her mate, and she’s saying, “Ogg, do you think my butt looks big enough in this dress?” And he’s just rolling his eyes and saying, “Baby, you know you’re enormous. You look great in that dress and the other one too. Can we PLEASE go now? Because I swear, that glacier is gaining on us…”