1. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

    Jun 23, 2015
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    Ancient Calenders

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Kallisto, Nov 18, 2020.

    Not the most exciting thing to talk about, but as I'm writing, I realize that I'm writing about a very superstitious society. And what can be more superstitious than the rising and setting of the sun.

    The thing is that I don't know where to begin when it comes to calenders and superstitions regarding calenders. How festivals are determined. Those sorts of things.
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Dec 24, 2019
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    edge of the spacetime continuum
    Most of what we consider superstitious—well, some of it anyway—was actually based entirely on nature or human nature. I'm not super knowledgeable about it, but I know a few things. And it's far too late for me to be posting, especially about things requiring thought, but I'll just say a few things before I go to bed, I might be able to follow up with more later.

    Many festivals were set on the summer or winter solstice, the time when the sun is at it's nearest or it's farthest point, and also on the 1st day of spring. They were to celebrate the death or rebirth of green living things like crops, the return of warmth etc. But it was symbolized—for instance the (seeming) death of plants in winter and their miraculous rebirth in spring would be portrayed as the death and rebirth of a god representing the crops. There was often also a dismemberment theme, which shows that you can tear a god apart and sow his parts and blood on the ground and he will emerge again as good as new. This all also served as reinforcement of the idea that people might do the same, that death isn't necessarily an end, just as we sink into the 'little death' of sleep every night and are 'reborn' each morning, and the sun does the same.

    Festivals of this kind were for the agricultural peoples of course, hunters and warriors had somewhat different ones involving eating the flesh or an organ or drinking the blood of the prey to absorb its spirit and strength, and also they would pray in a ceremony before the hunt to ask the animal's permission to kill it. They believed the body of the animal was like a cloak it could put on and take off—the animal itself was pure spirit, and would regrow a new body after the hunt, similar to how plants are reborn each year. The warrior and especially cannibal tribes had more ominous and terrible beliefs/ceremonies, and I know a lot less about those.

    Joseph Campbell has an amazing book that covers this quite well called The Power of Myth.

    Ok, brain shutting down now... must sleep.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2020
  3. hankas

    hankas New Member

    Aug 9, 2020
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    The calendars we know today are based on the observation of the sun and the moon. We have solar calendars such as the Julian and the Gregorian calendars, lunar calendars such as Islamic calendar, and a combination of both (lunisolar) such as the Chinese lunar calendar. Much of them are quite scientific observation of the celestial bodies although some may be more accurate than others. They are used to predict seasonal and weather patterns as well as general directions, so that people can plan their activities accordingly. I wouldn't think of calendars as a superstition although there are superstitions linked to certain time (eg. the end of the world according to Mayan calendar).

    As for festivals, I don't think ancient people pointed at a particular time and decided on a festival. There must be something significant happening in their lives to warrant a festival. So it is not "At the end of this month the sun aligns at a certain angle and that means the gods demand an offering, so let us make a festival". It is more like "Every year we have floods during this time of the year, let us make an offering so that the flood is not severe."
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2020
    Rosacrvx likes this.
  4. Bobby Burrows

    Bobby Burrows Banned Contributor

    Oct 2, 2018
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    Give a shout out to the Holocene Era / Human Era crowd and just use HE?
    I know it comes from 11993, but, if the ancients were seen to use HE in a successful work of fiction, this could be a tiny 'screw you' to any who'd be ready to say you're writing Pagan Christianity defying literature calling for your work's termination.
  5. Aldarion

    Aldarion Active Member

    Jul 7, 2019
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    This was written by a guy on another forum I frequent; it might be of help:

    At any rate, you might start by studying historical calendars: Roman, Greek, Iranian, Indian and so on. There is quite a lot of variation, in fact. And, well - "superstitious" is just another way of saying "human". All historical societies were superstitious, especially ancient ones.

    When it comes to festivals, basic festivals will be connected to agriculture, and to things important to an agricultural society: the coming of the spring, the first harvest, the last harvest, and so on. And they will be connected to the things connected to agriculture: such as moon phases, perhaps. And yes, sun.

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