My Calendar System

My Calendar System

Calendars, and their making and maintenance, has been a subject of discussion among my friends and I on more than one occasion, and since it’s been on my mind of late I thought I would sit down and detail my system. I welcome comments and constructive criticism, and if anyone else would like to share their methodology I’d love to link it here. My calendar has two halves: the fixed dates and the movable dates. I use two programs- Evernote and Google Calendar- as well a regular notebook. I start with the fixed half of the calendar- it’s pretty simple and straightforward.

I start with a file in Evernote named “Base Calendar (Fixed)” in my calendar notebook. I have each of the twelve Gregorian calendar months listed in bold, underneath which I list any holidays that fall within that month. I color code holidays for visual simplicity- purple for the gods, green for the spirits, blue for the dead, and orange for any others. (The colors were chosen at random/what wasn’t eye searing and still distinct.) So December looks like this:

DECEMBER
15: Eortì Hekate

23: Seven Suppers
24: Seven Suppers
25: Seven Suppers
26: Seven Suppers
27: Seven Suppers
28: Seven Suppers
29: Seven Suppers

31: the Last Night

I input each of these dates into my Google Calendar- I have a set of private calendars using the same color coding scheme- and schedule them to recur annually. Initially, I also set up email reminders, but given the volume of minor days (Beloved Dead birth and death days, mostly, which I mark briefly) my inbox got a bit overwhelming.

In January of each year- usually on or just before Djehuty’s Feast- I create a new file in my calendar notebook for the year. The fixed base calendar is then copied and pasted in.

Because the fixed portion of the calendar deals with the modern Gregorian calendar, it only lends itself to certain kinds of holidays. It is overwhelmingly blue: Beloved Dead birth and death days, Christian saints’ feasts, and significant dates associated with the Heroines and the Patrons (two groups of Dead I work with.) There’s a solitary purple holiday per month- deity holidays of my own invention- and only three green spirit holidays (the first and last days of the year, and the leap day, all of which belong to the Moirae.) There are a handful of community holidays- the ‘founding days’ of my birthplace and childhood hometown, and the four major Celtic festivals, on their fixed Neo-Pagan/Wiccish dates. (Said Celtic festivals could technically exist on the movable portion of the calendar- perhaps even should, if we’re getting recon about it- but they’re as much about the community as the time of year, and I would rather celebrate them with the community.)

The movable portion of the calendar is not nearly as straightforward. It draws from several sources: the Kemetic calendar, the Hellenic calendar, and the American calendar; while the latter just requires checking the year’s Gregorian calendar and placing accordingly, the Kemetic and Hellenic calendars are old and are based off of astrological phenomena. So I keep track of both ancient calendars, to place ancient holidays accordingly.

The Hellenic calendar, if I’m being specific, is actually the Attic calendar, used in Athens. It’s technically based on lunar phases, with an intercalary month periodically to keep the months aligned with the seasons. The ancients, however, were not exactly known for their precision, and added extra days to months when it suited them (usually political stuff.) I consider this license for wiggle room, personally (though I don’t really need license, as I’m not a recon.) I place the first of Hekatombaion- the first month of the Attic calendar- on the first new moon after the summer solstice (which is possibly how the ancient Athenians reckoned it, but we’re not totally positive.) Instead of stuffing my intercalary month partway through the year (traditionally it was Poseideon 2, directly after Poseideon, which was roughly November/Decemberish) I just add my intercalary days to the end of the year like a sensible person. Much less maths, that way.

Because the Hellenic calendar relies on moon phases, there’s no set number of days per month. I rely on a lunar calendar to figure out when the phases are, because I am not a celestially oriented person- I use the lunar phase calendar in Google Calendar. There’s also the bit where the ancient Hellenic day started at sunset (much like the Jewish calendar) but it feels unnatural to me, so I shift everything a day forward. This means that I’m partially off from HMEPA but it’s still close enough that I can use it to double-check my calculations when need be.

As for the Kemetic calendar. Anyone who’s worked with them will tell you, it’s a mess and a headache. Like the ancient Greeks, the ancient Egyptians had different festival calendars in different places; they also had a ‘wandering’ lunisolar calendar that relied on moon phases and a civil calendar with a set number of days per month- the problem is that they used the same names for the months in both calendars. The whole thing is enough to drive a person mad. As I am not a recon, I gave myself license to simplify. I determine the new year, Wep Renpet, by the local rising of Sirius, which becomes 1 Akhet 1 on the calendar. The twelve months each have 30 days, and then the Days Upon the Year handles the intercalary days, however many they happen to be. I place holidays on the civil dates, unless they specifically mention being tied to a lunar phase (such as the Jubilee of Nut.)

So, to use the movable calendar, first I have to find out the date of the June solstice, find the next new moon, and start placing the months. I do this for the full Hellenic year, which means that when I’m calculating in January, the upcoming months are already done, and my new set of calculations will carry me over through next January. As I place the year’s months in my Google Calendar, I mark them down in the year’s calendar note as well.

I then calculate the rising of Sirius based on my latitude/longitude with this handy link and place the first of each month every thirty days, also noting it in the year’s calendar note as I go. At this point, my year calendar will have all the fixed Gregorian date holidays, and the first day of every Hellenic and Kemetic month.

At this point, I turn to my note “Base Calendar (Movable)”. Here I have five subheadings: Dec/Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr/May, Jun/Jul/Aug, Sep/Oct/Nov, and Other. (Other covers recurring holidays based on celestial observation, like the Jubilee of Nut or Hekate’s Deipnon.) Holidays are listed in rough order (due to the movable nature of the calendars, they can fluctuate sometimes) by the observation/phenomenon or the ancient calendar date. So Jun/Jul/Aug looks like:

JUN/JUL/AUG
(June Solstice) Eortì Auxo
(1 Hekatombaion 27, 3 days) Panathenaea
(days preceding heliacal rising of Sirius, 5 days) Heb Netjeru/Wep Renpet
(1 Akhet 18) Heb Wagy

Once my months are in place, I can go down the list of movable holidays and plug them onto their date for the coming year; I place them in my Google Calendar as a non-recurring date, and list them in the year’s calendar. While it’s a time consuming effort, after the first time it’s not a difficult one.

Both the ancient calendars are skewed heavily towards the gods; because they cover a massive period of time, they are also stuffed full of festivals and observances, that were probably more prominent in different locations and time periods. My list of movable holidays to consider adding to my calendar is much longer than the base calendar at the moment; having a date and title doesn’t necessarily help one put together an actual observation, after all. And, since I’m still getting my feet wet in proper research skills, it’s largely a work in progress.

All of this helps me map out my year, but my Google Calendar can be a bit overwhelming with other things I need to remember (doctor’s appointments, birthdays, trash day, whatever) so I like to break it down into smaller chunks in my notebook. On the left page, I write down the week: Monday through Sunday, with the Gregorian, Hellenic, and Kemetic month and day in a column and the holidays in a second column alongside. On the right page I make a list of anything I need to keep in mind during the week- upcoming holiday prep work I need to do, work-in-progress projects I don’t want to lose track of, looming deadlines, etcetera. I write out the left hand pages for about two months at a time; the right hand pages get updated week-to-week, though I do make notes in advance if I want to start thinking about something at a certain time (like advance warning for birthday gift shopping, etca.)

So, that’s my system! I’d love to hear how others manage their religious calendars!

September already?

September already?

The time flies.

My August observances went decently well. I didn’t get much done in the way of offerings through Heb Netjeru, but I did settle on designs for the mask project for each of the four. The honey-wheat bread I made on Wep Renpet was almost perfect. I managed to make mead and bread on Féile Lugh; I was not particularly impressed with the bread, and likely won’t make it again. The mead I just strained and bottled today, and… well, the alcohol fumes made me a little dizzy. We’ll see in two months whether I have mulberry colored rubbing alcohol or actual blackberry-raspberry mead. I also signed up for Babbel to practice my French. For Wagy… I offered water and a candle. I didn’t do anything for Djehutet or the Procession of Nit.

A good amount of my plans involved cleaning and reorganizing shrines, but unfortunately I haven’t had the spoons to get my room cleaned, which is a bit of a prerequisite for getting my makeshift shrines updated. Hopefully I will do better in September.

My schedule for the upcoming month: there’s the Jubilee of Nut on the 2nd, and I don’t have a damned clue what I’m going to do. Hopefully I will have located my copy of “My Heart My Mother” by then.

Eortì Athene on the 15th is Athene’s general holiday. I will make bread, probably the red wine and rosemary bread recipe that I’ve been meaning to try for a while. I’m considering focusing on Athene Polais, and might give to a school or something through Kiva.org. I’ll have to take a closer look. Catch up on my crocheting, since I don’t weave.

Eortì Karpo, aka the autumnal equinox… fucked if I know? Well, no, that’s not true. There will be music and dancing- she is one of the Horae, after all- and maybe… apple crumb pie? Something with apple and cinnamon, for the proper autumnal feel.

The 28th, 29th, and 30th are the first three days of Opet (which will continue into October until the 9th.) This will involve spiritual vows with my gods and donating to charity- a bunch of us on TC are emboatening the boatless together via Kiva, but I also hope to donate canned goods or some such locally.

I’ve also got three days for my Beloved Dead, on the 16th, 24th, and 30th, that will involve prayers and libations and food. (I’m still unsure about deathday foods. Birthdays get cake, obviously; Veggie suggested comfort foods on deathdays, but I don’t really know/remember a lot of their eating preferences. I suppose I could go with food that comforts me but that seems a bit selfish? I don’t know.)

So, another relatively manageable month, provided I can maintain current spoon levels and get my damned room clean.

August.

August.

Well, it’s been a day over six months since I last updated here. The radio silence wasn’t intentional; I’ve been doing a lot of self-work in therapy, and just haven’t had the spoons for coherency. (And honestly, being so out of practice, who knows if I’ll manage coherency here! I’ll give it a shot, at any rate.)

I thought I’d do a quick entry on what my religious calendar looks like for the month. Several of my friends blog or have blogged about what they’re doing for a particular holiday, but I don’t have that much practice under my belt, honestly. My holiday observance has been sporadic for, oh, forever. So I thought I’d look at what’s actually going on this month, and what I might do to celebrate.

First up is Heb Netjeru/Wep Renpet, from August 7th-11th. Heb Netjeru is sort of my version of the Days Upon the Year; my personal pantheon is specifically defined, and the only god amongst Nut’s children that I work with is Set. Making offerings to his siblings, who I have no relationship with, just feels strange- likewise, not making offerings to the other Kemetic deities I work with during that time feels strange. So, I adjust. This is a perk of not being a recon. Wep Renpet is essentially the Kemetic new year, calculated by the rising of Sirius. I calculate annually based off of my location, so for me it falls on the 11th. (The dates of all my other traditional Kemetic holidays are determined by the date of Wep Renpet; I simplify the nightmare that is Kemetic calendar navigation by placing dates per the fixed civil calendar, unless the holiday specifically mentions a lunar phase.) As for celebrating them- I’ll be making individual offerings on each of the days of Heb Netjer, doing some shrine cleaning/setting up, and brainstorming on the mask project. For Wep Renpet, I’m really not sure what I’m going to do, aside from making bread. To be honest, I intend to mine some Kemetic friends’ blogs and see what they do! In any case, it will likely be low-key, because it’s me and that’s how I do things.

On the 15th is Féile Lugh. This holiday has moved around a bit through the month. (Each month of the calendar is dedicated to one of the Twelve, and one day of the month is a holiday for them in general, as opposed to celebrating/marking a particular event or aspect of them.) I’ve tried it at the beginning of the month and at the end, and both at the same time, and haven’t liked it. At the beginning felt too rushed, and I always felt unprepared; at the end felt half-assed and belated. Both just gave me a headache. So I’m trying for the middle. I expect to celebrate by starting a batch of mead, trying out a beer bread recipe I’ve had kicking around for a bit, and doing some creative endeavors. (Harp or language oriented, I expect, but we’ll see.) Also going for a decent walk, and crossing my fingers for some rain.

The Wag Festival is the 28th for me (beginning on the eve prior) which is a Kemetic festival for the dead. I’ll be cleaning my Beloved/Forgotten Dead shrines on the eve and lighting candles, and then making some offerings during the day. I’m thinking paper flower garlands- I may try my hand at origami, but may also just give in and play with construction paper- and probably bread or cake. I may also try my hand at some paper boats. Oh, and family tree stuff; I’ve been planing to do some writing out of my genealogy for my BD shrine, and I’ll poke at my family tree on Ancestry.com and do some work there, as one does.

Djehutet (as I keep seeing it spelled; it’s a Feast of Djehuty) took place the day following Wagy, but from what I’ve seen did not take place every year? (The fun of fixed civil and wandering lunar calendars with the same month names.) I’ve got it on the calendar for the 29th but I don’t really know what it’s about, so much, which makes it a touch difficult to mark properly. Same for the Procession of Nit on the 22nd (I honor Nit syncretized with Seshat). I’ll do some divination, I expect, and see if I get any thoughts/ideas/out-of-my-head inclinations.

Aside from that, I have Beloved Dead days on the 20th and 29th, which just involves some prayer and libations to the ancestors in question; and also an appropriate activity, but two of the four I didn’t know in life, and I’m still not sure what to do. My default is family tree stuff, so that’s pretty likely.

Looks like a manageable month? I guess we’ll see.