Part of Measuring and Music, Chapter 23,
The Oldest Magic
Copyright (C) 1992
Let us examine a part of our lives that we take so much for granted that we are seldom aware that it is not very sensible or reasonable in light of what we know today. Frankly, it wouldn't have passed as very sensible in most of the really old cultures either. In fact, in many ways, it seems to be the work of an idiot rather than a committee of relatively ignorant individuals separated by time. Try viewing our calendar from the perspective of a visitor from another planet.
The following information is the result of researching such source material as is still available after the burnings of the ancient library of Alexandria, the killing of all wise men and women of other religions, and similar acts by religious fanatics. The research, to some extent, is combined with my own best guesses because so much information was successfully destroyed.
In ancient Sumer the year began with the winter solstice, which is logical, as this is still the time of rebirth of the sun according to the societies that have kept the secrets alive. When the Aryans migrated southward a second time with their flutes tuned to the natural major scale, they brought an influence that gave the year a second starting time at the vernal equinox. At this time the tradition of twelve months known as "signs" was still in effect and astrological calculations determined when the signs changed as twelve does not fit evenly into 365.2422 days (the actual length of the year). Later, as warlike people moved into the area, the old astrological system went underground and only the priest astrologer/scientists kept it alive.
Sometime during this early period, scientist missionaries from Sumer arrived in Egypt and influenced her to become one of the most scientifically advanced of the older nations. The one who headed these missionaries was the source of the myth of the god Thoth. Egypt then developed a calendar with a beginning based upon the summer solstice coinciding with the Nile flood and the rising of the bright star Sirius. Each month was 30 days long followed by an intercalary period of five days to make a year of twelve months plus five days. However, the extra .2422 day caused the popular calendar date to shift each year so that over the 3,000 year period of Egypt's history, there were beginnings throughout the solar year. From the time that the year first began on the date of the summer solstice until it once again would begin on that date, a period of 1,456 years passed. This period is called the Sothic cycle after the god Soth which is the Egytian name for Sirius.
In Babylon, the old calendar of Sumer took a different turn to be based upon a 19 year cycle. The first year began with the first moon after the vernal equinox and was either a year of 12 or of 13 months. Twelve of the years in the 19 year cycle had twelve 30 day months. The other 7 years had thirteen 29 day months. At the end of each 19 year period, the calendar was only 2 hours off. This system worked so well that it was adopted by other of the old nations.
When the Romans became attracted to the secrets of Egypt, the calendar was one of the legacies they adopted, compliments of Julius Caesar, 46 BC. This was known as the Julian calendar and worked quite well for a time because the Romans changed it to account for the extra fraction of .2422 or about a quarter of a day each year. It was treated as if it were a quarter of day precisely and a leap year was invented so that every fourth year had an extra day in it.
This cured the larger problem of "calendar creep" but left the smaller part of the problem. The fraction of .2422 is not the same as .25, so every hundred years, the total gain of the calendar over the actual solar year came to one day. This was better than losing a day every four years, but still not good enough. So Pope Gregory XIII, in 1582, eliminated 10 days from the old calendar to bring it back where he wanted it and he ordered that every 100 years the extra day in one leap year would be eliminated. If you were born on February 29, then you didn't have many birthdays to be concerned about.
We have this system to this very day, guarantying that our calendar will be forever a ridiculous monstrosity. Granted, the system we use today is better than some, but it is still, very likely, the result of a church depriving us of a sensible system. Had the Pope eliminated enough days to bring the year's beginning back to a solstice (preferably the winter solstice), and to have increased the days in February at the expense of two 31 day months, we might have had a good popular calendar. Ideally, one similar to what follows would be best, beginning at the winter solstice.
Winter Spring Summer Fall
Month/Days Month/Days Month/Days Month/Days
January 30 April 30 July 30 October 31
February 31 May 31 August 31 November 30
March 30 June 30 September 30 December 31
Total 91 Total 91 Total 91 Total 92
This provides a total of 365 days divided into roughly equal seasons. Leap year could provide an extra day to June and once every 100 years a June 31st could be eliminated. However, most of the denominations of the Christian Church have been very fearful of competition and the power of the human mind, and the popes have done everything possible to prevent the masses from becoming too well educated lest they adopt Pagan (other than Christian) ways. When the popes have not been involved, politicians, kings, dictators, paid clergy of other religions, or similar greedy and short-sighted people have been instrumental in keeping the population ignorant.
An accurate calendar might lead to the people calling the months by the names of the signs again, as the signs would again coincide with the months. The populace might become aware that the winter solstice corresponds to the birthday of the sun rather than the son except as it applies to the old tree-of-life glyph. This might make them suspect that their savior was not here to be their scapegoat so much as their teacher. It might even lead them to an understanding of the nature of myths. The solstices, equinoxes, and the seasonal midpoints (major Pagan sabbats) could again become common knowledge, and the old ways of celebrating the eight sabbats as part of the eight spoked wheel of the year might again become a custom. The old system of attributing the proper colors and notes of the musical scale to the signs or months might be realized again. And, worst of all, the significance of the musical scale and the zodiac might be known. Then someone other than the churches might use the consciousness-altering secrets of music in their ceremonies.
The way we measure time began so long ago that no one really knows who started it. However, it has been traced back as far as Old Sumer and was based upon a day being equal to 24 hours, an hour being equal to 60 minutes, and a second equal to 60 minutes. And, of course, it was established by measuring exactly how long it took the earth to rotate relative to the sun. Very likely, it was corrected by means of watching rotation relative to a fixed star because the day relative to the sun will vary over the course of a year.