Thursday, February 19, 2015

Is it time to replace the 12 month calendar?

Image: The 20 seals in the Dreamspell calendar
Most calendar systems are based on the year, in which a solar year is divided into 12 months of 30-31 days on average. The Gregorian Calendar that originated in Europe, and is now used by much of the world, is organized like this. Similarly, the tropical zodiac is divided into 12 signs which are one month each.
In contrast to solar calendars, there also exist lunar calendars. A lunar synodic month (or length between one Full Moon and the next) is roughly 29.5 days. A calendar based on lunar phases would have 12.4 lunar months in a year, which is irregular but still more than 12. An alternative is to have 28 days or exactly four weeks in a month. That nicely results in exactly 13 months in a 364 day year, with one or two leap days to reach the average 365.24 days in a year.
The “13 Moon” calendar has been proposed as a replacement for the Gregorian Calendar or solar calendars in general. For example, the Dreamspell Mayan calendar popularized by José Argüelles is designed like this. The Moon and the number 13 have a feminine quality, and promoting this calendar over the Gregorian Calendar can be seen as helping promote feminine energies over outdated patriarchal structures. Lunar calendars are significant and a useful thing to consider, however it’s also important to see the bigger picture that encompasses both calendar systems.
  • Solar calendars are best for temperate regions near the poles. If you live in a temperate region, then the four seasons of three months each are a critical part of your experience and activities (such as planting, harvesting, preparing for winter, and so on). That means the position of the Sun or lack thereof is very important to timing, however the Moon plays little role because it’s often hidden behind stormy overcast skies for days at a time.
  • Lunar calendars are best for tropical regions near the equator. If you live on or near the equator, then you experience little in the way of seasons, and the good weather means you see the Moon virtually every night. In stories that take place in warmer regions, such as the classic novel “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, characters refer to events that happened “many Moons ago”, because months are very apparent while years mean little.
In summary, there’s no one correct calendar system. The right calendar to use depends upon the person or culture, along with their location in the world and what they’re trying to accomplish with it. Balance is needed, both with calendar systems and with gender issues in general. If an individual or group can understand both types of calendar system, and not fixate upon one while trying to suppress or replace the other, then they can make progress toward balancing the polarities within their own beings.
A visual image may be useful: A sphere contains both an equator and its two poles. The equator is a circle, which is more feminine in shape, and is associated with using the “feminine” polarity lunar calendar. The north and south poles form a rod penetrating through the center of the earth, which is more masculine in shape, and is associated with using the “masculine” polarity solar calendar. When both are present and working in harmony, we have a complete sphere, or unity and Oneness. :-)