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CELTIC-L  June 2000

CELTIC-L June 2000

Subject:

Re: Solstice 4

From:

Indra Vayu <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Indra Vayu <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 29 Jun 2000 23:41:58 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (130 lines)

> This is true enough in my case. I freely admit that I've read bits about
the
> Coligny calendar in general works and that's about it. Is there any
evidence
> that it was used in Ireland? This is a serious question; there are lots of
> examples of God/dess names from Gaulish iconography which seem to have no
> correspondent figure in Ireland, so what is the rationale for assuming
that
> the Gaulish calendar was used there?

First of all, we can assume some knowledge of the Gaulish calendar based on
the fact that some identifiably Gaulish tribes settled in Ireland. Second,
the Gaulish calendar seems to be quite archaic, easily stemming back to a
period of time that can be considered a "Common Celtic" period - in fact,
the calendar see,ms to have roots in Proto Indo European timekeeping due to
its strong similarities to Vedic and Greek calendars. Thirdly, the Irish
division of the year into two halves, Sam-rad and Gem-rad, match nicely the
Coligny Calendars two-part division. There is other secondary evidence as
well which would take up too much space to go into - I recommend that you
get Olmsted's "Gaulish Calendar," Pinault and Duval's "Recueil des
Inscriptions Gauloises 3, Les Calendrieres" as well as other sources like
Rees and Rees's "Celtic Heritage" and MacCulloch's "Religion of the Ancient
Celts" as an introduction.


> Which calendar shift would this be?

The shift that was inherent in the Celtic calendar due to an internal flaw.
Simply put, the calendar - though very sophisticated, wasn't exacted and
slipped out of phase without constant maintenance.

> again, what is the evidence for an Irish calendar ( I'm not questioning
that
> there was one-but what the details were), and how do you know that it
> slipped 50 days? If Samhain was the beginning of winter- which your point
> below indicates you agree with- putting it in December doesn't make sense
in
> terms of the Irish seasons.

The Irish calendar was broken into two halves of two parts:
Winter half : Gem-rad
        Winter (Gem) : Samain
        Spring (Erraich) : Imbolc / Oimelg
Summer half: Sam-rad
        Summer(Sam) : Beltane / Cet-Samain
        Fall (Fogamur): Lugnasad / Bron Trogain

If the solstices occurred in the Gaulish months of Samonios and Giamonios,
as the calendar seems to imply, and the winter solstice was the old date of
Samain before the shift, then Samain (by the time of the oldest Old Irish
writings mentioning the festival) had shifted forward (ie, earlier) by 51
days or so - thus it had been dislodged from its ancient place in the Celtic
calendar - a fact which would have been unknown to any average Briton or
Irishman in the early Middle Ages.

> Don't tou think that it's significant that these times given are fairly
> vague? for the fire festivals, there were specific names for the days,
> whereas here it's simply the middle of a season. To use a modern example,
if
> I say I'm going somewhere mid-week, it indicates a general time frame, but
> if I say I'm going on Wednesday, it's  a specific day.
> In terms of mid-spring or mid-autumn, there's up to a couple of weeks that
> could be called that

I only use it to show that there was still some importance applied to that
time period, as the phrase seems to imply within the context of the tale.
The festivals shifted out of those time periods, but mid-spring and mid-fall
still remained important (note that "mid-summer" and "mid-winter" are also
common terms and that both are associated with specific dates near the
solstices)


> But wouldn't that be slippage backwards? In the 18th century English
> calendar change, the calendar dates moved ahead 11 days. If I'm
> understanding your point correctly (which I freely admit is iffy), the
fact
> that the Roman calendar had been shifted, while the Irish one wasn't would
> explain the difference between the festivals of Macha (at Samhain, Nov 1)
> and Epona (Dec 18). If that's the case, this would indicate that Samhain
> *wasn't celebrated at the solstice; if it had been, the festival of Epona
> would have been shifted to around Jan 28, wouldn't it?

Nope. The Roman calendar was fixed by Caesar long before we have our first
mention of Epona's festival. Caesar's reforms [45 BC] put December roughly
back into the place that we know it today (I believe that the Romans marked
the Winter Solstice on the 25th).
To quote Olmsted, "the days months and festivals of the Coligny calendar
fall earlier with solar time due to progressive displacement of 1 day every
23.7 years." After 1280 years, the Celtic festivals had shifted earlier by
54 days - approximately the distance that the Insular festivals have shifted
from their earlier places at the solstices and equinoxes.


>I can't really comment on the poems or the altars; are
> there any dates attached to them?

I don't have any dates at the moment - I assume they are from the Old Irish
period.

> All of these examples are within the Classical tradition. Yes, Ausonius
> mentions the Druids, but then again, so did Blake. Ausonius also Mentions
> that Phoebicus (not a Celtic name as far as I can tell) was "sprung from
the
> Druids", in ther words *descended* from them, not one himself. Similarly,
> Sulis Minerva is a Roman name for a Goddess. When they grafted on a name,
> they would have also grafted on the associations that went with that name
> (either intentionally or not), associations which may or may not have been
> there originally. BTW, what does "Sulis" translate to in English, exactly?

Phoebicus is  a Greek name - from Phoebus "bright" - a byname of the sun,
applied in later tradition to Apollo (who was equated with Gaulish Belenus,
also meaning "bright") - the point of my mentioning Ausonius being that a
priest of Gaulish Belenus was named after a Greek sun god, thus seeming to
imply that Belenus was equated with the sun god if we take Phoebicus to be
an assumed name.

Sulis is not a Latin name - it is Celtic and comes from the Proto Indo
European root *SeHuel- "sun" related to *Suel- "burn." *SeHuel gives us
Vedic sun god Surya (and his daughter SuryΑ), Greek Ηελιοσ [Helios], Latvian
Saule
"sun" and his daughter Saules meita, etc. It is clear that Sulis has a solar
nature.

-C. Gwinn



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