Since the moon is our closest celestial partner, it makes you wonder why our calendar is based on star constellations? We’ll investigate this question after we inspect the cycles of our most interesting lunar partner.
Depending on how you measure them there are between 8 to 12 lunar cycles. It’s possible several more since these phases constantly shift throughout a 28-day period 13 times a year. Most agree that there are at least 10 main phases.
Almost every ancient civilization used lunar cycles in their calendars. They observed the correlation between the lunar cycles and the tides of the ocean. And, since we are made of water it is possible to feel the effects in similar ways. There is anecdotal evidence that crime rates rise when there is a full moon. This is where we get the term lunacy. The term “lunatic” derives from the Latin word lunaticus, which originally referred mainly to epilepsy and madness. They believed that the moon caused these mental disorders. See also Old French lunatique, from late Latin lunaticus, and Latin luna “moon”. The belief that changes in the lunar cycles cause intermittent insanity.
Do you relate to one cycle more than the other? Do you notice your mood change with these cycles? It draws many people to specific phases. Indigenous cultures the bright full cycle for hunting and fishing. It also signaled important times for planting and harvesting. Is this a part of our DNA?
10 Moon Phases
One way to measure theses cycles or phases is to divide them into 10 phases. Our lunar partner has 5 “waxing phases” as it moves from a New to a Full Moon. Then there are 5 more “waning phases” as moves from Full Moon to an Old Moon.
A new moon is when we cannot see it. This is because we are looking at the darkened half of the Moon. This cycle occurs when it is directly between the Earth and the Sun. A solar eclipse can only happen at the new moon.
A young moon is a crescent New Moon crescent that is less than 30 hours old or less than 30 hours from the moment of the new Moon. People need to plan to see this phase. And, this short-lived phase is usually only viewed in the west.
3. Waxing Crescent
A waxing crescent is when it looks like a crescent and the crescent increases (“waxes”) in size from one day to the next. We can only see this phase in the west.
4. First Quarter
The first quarter lunar cycle (or a half-moon) is when half of the lit portion of it is visible after the waxing crescent phase. It comes a week after a new moon.
5. Waxing Gibbous
6. The Full Moon
Full moon phases occur when we can see the entire lit portion of the Moon. The full moon phase occurs when it is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, called opposition. A lunar eclipse can only happen at the full moon.
7. Waning Gibbous
A waning gibbous moon occurs when more than half of the lit portion can be seen and the shape decreases (“wanes”) in size from one day to the next. The waning gibbous phase occurs between the full moon and third quarter phases.
8. Waning Quarter
The last quarter cycle (or a half-moon) is when half of the lit portion is visible after the waning gibbous phase. A waning crescent is when the Moon looks like the crescent and the crescent decreases (“wanes”) in size from one day to the next.
9. Last Quarter
The last quarter cycle (or a half-moon) is when half of the lit portion is visible after the waning gibbous phase. A waning crescent is when it looks like the crescent and the crescent decreases (“wanes”) in size from one day to the next.
An old moon occurs when can see only a small bit of the moon in the corner. It is about to turn into a new moon.
Contemplating the 13-Month Calendar
Now let’s examine whether it is time to contemplate a different way to measure the calendar year. This isn’t a new idea. Before the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1582, most of the world measured the date by the cycles of the full moon. The Egyptians, Druids, Incas, and Polynesians have calendars based on the cycles of the moon. Even the Mayans with the most complex and correct calendar in history use a calendar with a 13-month Calendar.
These same cultures celebrated the cycles of the sun. The movements of the Sun, Moon, and Stars are in sacred texts. They are a part of the cultures of people around the world globe. The movements of the celestial bodies are the fundamental themes in all of religion. They enshrine the cycles and cosmic rhythms of their movements in the construction of stone circles, wats. Some have internal rooms that align with the sun and moon during specific celestial alignments.
As mentioned before, Pope Gregorius (Gregory Xiii) created the calendar us use today. That’s where the Gregorian Calendar gets its name. The result is a chaotic calendar. It’s very hard to follow, but most important out of phase with our planet and the moon. We have Months with 29, 30 and 31 days, and once every 4 years, February has 28 days! Then we need leap year based on a rather antiquated formula. It’s a similar type of chaos we have with daylight savings time.
So, let’s do the simple math related to the annual cycles of the Earth. Each lunar cycle has 28 days. And 28×13 = 364 days + 1 day “out of time”. This last day is a day of love and peace. It was a day of meditation and happiness before the new year.
Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the days of each complete lunar cycle (month) and the days of the week line up perfectly. This makes the 13-month calendar of the lunar cycle or 28-day calendar a perpetual calendar. A perpetual calendar means we fix every date to the same weekday every year. This makes planning much easier for everyone.
Moses B. Cotsworth proposed a similar 13-month calendar in 1902. This is a solar calendar that also divides the year into 13 months of 28 days each. But, it makes more sense than our current Gregorian calendar.
The harmonious moon phases provide a 13-month calendar. This logical and simple to follow. Each week starts with Monday and ends with Sunday. The 1st day of every month will always be a Monday, and the 7th is always a Sunday. This makes it easy to plan way ahead and reestablishes our connection to the Universe.
Above all, this discussion should make you think about how religion has integrated itself into the fabric of society. Even if you aren’t ready to petition for a calendar,13-month calendar, this discussion should make you question the cultural narrative. It should make you think about all the other ways religion has integrated itself into the fabric of our modern lives.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia