This post is another example of my inability to simply fit in and accept things. It also shows where my much of my focus is at present. I’ve mentioned this broad topic before with regards the seasons of the Land and working western ceremonial magic as per the Land – when the ritual says move ‘sunwise’, I do – anticlockwise around the circle. Fire, the hot and dry element is obviously found more to the north of Perth than the south (where it is cold and dry), so we switched these attributions around too.
However, not content with being possibly one of a handful (read most, but not all, of my students) who work magic and the GD this way, I am now wondering deeply about Christianity and the liturgical year. Well, to be honest I first created a Southern Hemisphere Liturgical Calendar way back in 1994 just after my son was born when I was still newly bedazzled by Creation Spirituality. However, I’ve done bugger all with it since then, apart from annoy a few priests along the way that is :) (See the image at the end of the post for this year’s cycle).
Christianity’s Liturgical Cycle is lunisolar, drawing most important moveable dates from the primary Mystery date of Easter, which makes sense. Now the date for Easter was not of course chosen by Christ, the early Church or even modern day chocolate manufacturers. Easter is defined as being the first Sunday after the full moon after the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. Now of course most Christians don’t actually know this, and I’d wager most Priests and Pastors have not fully understood the implications buried deep in all this. But who am I to tell them? :) To quote Eddie Izzard from the clip below (3:00) “No one’s going to work it out for 2000 years – until a transvestite points it out in New York!”
Originally Easter was linked to and celebrated in the same season as the Jewish Passover. However, as the religion grew and became less dependent on Jewish antecedents, the date of Easter was determined without regards to Passover. However, there was no uniform dating of Easter across Christendom until the Council of Nicaea (325 ce) affirmed the method mentioned above. Even then it took another couple of hundred years for all the Churches to fall into line, and of course the Eastern Churches still use the Julian Calendar.
Anyway, the point of all this is that the festival of Easter is linked to and draws from cosmic (sun and moon) tides as they impact upon the earth (Equinox). The more ancient Jewish customs, localised to the Jewish homelands, of basing Passover (the beginning of spring) on the ripening of the crops were not adopted into the Christian tradition. This is because the Christian religion is universal in scope – applicable to the entire world – whereas the Jewish religion developed and formed a holy covenant with Aretz Israel, the Land of Israel.
However, it makes no sense that the application of the liturgical year of a universal faith should be based on the conditions of the Latin brand of Christianity, that is Gregorian dating from the Northern hemisphere. Like moving around the circle, when Easter is defined as the first Sunday after the full moon after Spring Equinox, to me in the south it means sometime after September. Now I have only skimmed the surface of Christian literature (it’s so boring), but I have found only a single suggestion that this idea be entertained at all. That was by Bishop Spong, and I do not think he thought it would ever happen – he suggests all sorts of wonderful and sensible things that make many Christian folk wish there was still something one could do about heretics like him :)
All this has mammoth implications in my personal practice – should I choose to accept the task of implementing it. I have already for many years an established practice of personally celebrating Southern Hemisphere Corpus Christi, December 15 this year BTW. Of course without a college who agrees with me on this dating, it is far from what it should be, since the essence of Day C is community. I haven’t even begun to consider the mission impossible of explaining this to any organised bunch of Christians, and doubt I ever will. Can you imagine it?
At this stage the little voices in my head are still pushing me to embrace and practice the Christian mystery tradition, which does not, all ye assumers out there, mean I believe a single thing, let alone the strange stuff most Christians believe. If I am to practice this Mystery as intensely and as fully as I can I need to be guided by its deepest principles, and there were and are very good reasons for the Lunar-Solar centrality within Christianity. (One can of course practice the modern Protestant based Christian religion without reference to any of this. I am talking about the Mysteries). I mean, Christmas at the SUMMER Solstice is just plain weird. Sorry.
So, I am determined to integrate all aspects of my traditions and practice them according to the depth spiritual principles they are based upon, while holding and respecting this sacred and local Land where I live, move and have my being. This is an amazing challenge and one which fires all my imagination! No doubt more will appear on MOTO as I wander down these weird byways. Thanks for listening :)