The Druidcraft calendar was never intended as a genuine authentic ancient druidic calendar. Instead it is a tool to help modern pagan practitioners to understand the movements of the sun and moon for ritual and predictive purposes, which by its very nature is a calendar. Despite this, in this article I would like to discuss the Druidcraft calendar’s historical basis.
As I have shown in several other posts, calendars have been attempting to reconcile the sun and the moon since the very earliest of times, with evidence of such in Britain dating back 8000 years. There have been a number of systems created that attempt to achieve this, but the most accurate is the Metonic cycle of 19 years. As I have argued in my other posts, this is the most ancient calendar system known to man, first recorded in our stone monuments then written down in the Mul-Apin around 2700-2800 years ago. The Mul-Apin is said to be the Babylonian’s “compendium of astronomical knowledge from the earliest times”. Later the same 19 year cycle was discovered by and named after Meton of Athens.
In addition to the many stone monuments that dot our landscape encoding knowledge of the metonic cycle, or ways to measure it, there are references in ancient texts that may associate the Metonic cycle with Britain.
Diodorus Siculus, who lived from 80-20BC, was a Greek historian of Agyrium in Sicily who wrote forty books of world history, called Library of History. He relates,
Facing the land of the Celts in the parts of the Ocean, there is an island, which is not smaller than Sicily, situated in the northern region and inhabited by the Hyperboreans, who are called by that name because their home is beyond the point whence the north wind [Boreas] blows. The account is also given that the god [Apollo] visits the island every nineteen years, the period in which the return of the stars to the same place in the heavens is accomplished; and for this reason…is called by the Greeks the ‘year of Meton’. At the time of this appearance of the god he both plays on the cithara and danced continuously the night through from the vernal equinox until the rising of the Pleiades, expressing in this manner his delight in his successes” – Diodorus, Library of History 2,47
In his book the Battle for Gaul, Julius Caesar famously records that druidic training took 20 years. It has been suggested by some that it was 20 years so the druidic trainee would experience an entire 19 year cycle of the sun and moon.
The other important source that must not be overlooked is the Coligny calendar. It is the absolute best source of information for anyone trying to research a celtic calendar. The issue here though is that while the Coligny calendar is a lunisolar calendar, it doesn’t follow the metonic cycle. Instead the Coligny calendar reconciles the sun and moon over a 5 year period, accepting a much higher degree of error than the Metonic system. While it would have been nice to use the Coligny calendar’s scheme on the Druidcraft calendar, a primary aim was accuracy. The Coligny calendar is simply not accurate enough. Over the course of only one 5 year cycle, the calendar gains five additional days compared with the solar year. By contrast the Metonic system loses one day every 28 years, and our current Gregorian calendar loses one day every 4 years. Regardless of the accuracy of the Coligny Calendar it still offers us much information regarding the cosmological understanding of the people who created it, the Romano-Gauls.
Druidry as a modern path is an ongoing quest for knowledge among many other things. With this in mind I did not feel that in good conscience I could promote the use of the coligny 5 year system knowing that it can’t keep track of the moon and sun as well as the Metonic system can. It is also important to understand that modern research suggests that the Druids did not come to Britain with invading “Celts” as was once supposed, but rather they were the evolution of the native British shamanic (for want of a better descriptor) tradition. They were the spiritual inheritors of our stone monuments. Even if they did not build the stone calendars or remember how to use them, the fact remains that the 19 year cycle seems to have been known about very early on in Britain.
Turning our attention to Stonehenge in particular, I was initially inspired by the Aubrey holes and the theory that they may have contained moveable posts to mark the passage of time. I realised there was nothing stopping me scaling that down and using it to keep track of the sun and the moon, gaining a deeper understanding of their cycles. In doing so I would thus be creating a very simple calendar. After deciding that the Metonic system was the right system to augment this with because it is the most accurate and most ancient, the Druidcraft calendar was born.
This means that I make no claims for the antiquity of the Druidcraft calendar. It is assumed that this calendar is a contemporary innovation using both documented and reverse-engineered ancient systems, and inspirations from the ancient world. There is nothing to say that ancient calendar makers or astronomers did not use a system exactly like this, because it is so simple and logical to do so there is every possibility they may have done. But there is also no evidence that they did.
Creating the Druidcraft calendar this way gives it a number of advantages over other pagan calendar systems.
- It accurately tracks the sky. Druids, even if only romantically, were supposed to understand and teach of the movements of the sky. The Druidcraft calendar is a simple astronomical training tool in this regard.
- It predicts all of the major solar and lunar astronomical events. Again, even if only romantically, this is knowledge we attribute to the druids today. The times of the solstices, eclipses, blue moons and other important festivals.
- It is very simple for anyone in the modern age to use or create the Druidcraft calendar being only a peg based system.
- Because the sun and moon have an impact on so many things here on Earth, understanding their position in the sky at any given moment allows you to predict other phenomena too. Not only can the Druidcraft calendar help you predict astronomical events, but with a little knowledge and observation you can tell the time of day or night and predict weather or tidal patterns, as well as other lunar influenced things such as menstruation cycles and even people’s emotional state. Predictions that are not based on astrology, but on personally observable phenomena.
- Because it uses the 19 year Metonic cycle which was also used by other cultures in pre-history, the Druidcraft calendar’s use and understanding may open up avenues of comparative Indo-European study.
It is for all these reasons that I feel that this calendar system is truly Druidic in every way. It is about seeking, gaining and applying knowledge of the environment and cycles around you. I have no doubt it yet contains many mysteries to be discovered too, and I look forward to its continued exploration. From a rational perspective I have to concede that this calendar is my own creation, and I do not want to make false claims about its antiquity as so many other pagan calendar makers have before me. Yet scratch that surface of honesty, and the truth is the Druidcraft calendar is a combination of possibly two of the most ancient systems known to humanity manifested in this world once again through my Awen.
[The Druids] discuss and impart to the youth many things respecting the stars and their motion, respecting the extent of the world and of our earth, respecting the nature of things, respecting the power and the majesty of the immortal gods. – Julius Caesar