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Solar and Fire Festivals
in the South of Australia

Those in sympathy with the environment and it's problems appear to be agreed that we need to return to observing the natural cycles, and not allow our lives to be completely ordered by an arbitrarily constructed calendar. Any further feedback on this, or any other points is eagerly sought.

All the notes below are taken from traditional Northern Hemisphere sources. Many in Southern Australia have had little or no experience of the dramatic differences in the seasons in Northern Europe, North America, and even in temperate Southern England. Here, if the available water is used judiciously, we have a year-long growing season, and there is no time of year when we need be short of locally produced food.
So these traditions are a commemoration of our Northern roots, and only a starting point, hopefully, for developing our own local traditions.

It is worth noting also, if you are planning ceremonies or rituals, that Deosil, or Sunwise, is anti-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Moving Clockwise is Widdershins!

The following illustration is scanned from the centre of
Robyn Francis' Celtic/Nordic Eight-fold Year Seasonal Garden Chart.

Celtic/Nordic Planting Calendar - © Robyn Francis

You can purchase this attractive and useful poster, which shows detailed planting and harvesting times,
from Permaculture College Australia by mail order. It comes in temperate or sub-tropical versions.

The Solstices and Equinoctes have an absolute time and date, which can be determined for any particular year by referring to an astronomical almanac or an astrological ephemeris. They occur when the Sun reaches 0°/360°, 90°, 180°, and 270° of Celestial Longitude, or 0° of the four Cardinal signs of the Tropical Zodiac - Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.
These are hemi-global festivals, since they occur everywhere at the same time.

The Fire Festivals, or Cross-quarter Days are more local in their origin, the food cycles which they mark being very much affected by Latitude and climate. Therefore they cannot be pin-pointed so absolutely, and may be celebrated more flexibly.
In the middle latitudes, from which most surviving Celtic/Nordic traditions derive, they seem to have been held at around 10° of the relevant Sun sign.
The traditional calendar dates will usually be close enough, though in most years the sun reaches 10° of Aquarius on January 30th.whereas this Fire Festival, Lughnasad, is traditionally celebrated on 2nd.February.

Lughnasad is the feast of the God Lugh, who gave his name to the city of London, and marks the Harvest of the cereal crops, which is earlier than that of the autumn fruits and vegetables. It became the Christian Lammas or Loaf-mass, the offering being the first loaf baked and the first beer brewed from this year's crop.
The Anglo-Saxons called it Thing-tide - the Thing being a kind of planning meeting, presumably to assess the extent of the food available for the coming winter, and plan for the community accordingly.
This is usually the hottest time of the year.
The Australia Day Public Holiday usually falls on the Monday closest to 26th.January, so maybe we could celebrate Lughnasad on that day, as the Sun is then quite close to the 10° mark.

The Autumn Equinox, Mabon, Alban Elued or Winter Finding, Mean Fomhair falls around 20th. - 22nd.March.
(Also Full Harvest, though this was sometimes celebrated at Michaelmas, about a week after the Equinox)
Night and day are approximately of equal length world-wide.

Samhaine, All Hallow's Eve, Celtic and Pagan New Year, Night of the Dead - 30th.April/1st.May.
This is always a night-time ceremony, and traditionally the most important and most dramatic of all the Festivals.
Having done all they could to ensure food security for the Winter, people prepared themselves spiritually for the most uncertain and dangerous time of year. It is the time when we face the certainty and reality of Death, and remind ourselves of it's importance in the balance of Nature.

Winter Solstice, Yuletide, Alban Arthuan, Mean Geimhridh, Longest Nights - around 20th. - 22nd.June.
Sunset is an appropriate and powerful time for ritual. This is a solemn time, though good food, gift-giving, and the symbolic kindling of fire are very fitting.

The merry-making actually began with the Re-Birth of the Sun (God), Saturnalia, Mis-Rule
The Sun starts to move along the horizon again, days begin to lengthen around 25th.June, depending on the Latitude. This is the Traditional Christmas, birth of Mithras, Christ, and various other solar deities.

Brigid(Brigit), (Celtic) Oimelc (ewes in milk), Imbolc (offspring in the belly), Disting(Nordic) Candlemas (Christian) 2nd.August
This Festival marks the first signs of Spring, during the coldest time of the year.
It brings hope when all hope seems lost. Even if there is no visible sign of emerging growth, the days are perceptibly lengthening.
Candles were lit as a sign of faith, or in an act of sympathetic magic, an assurance that Winter was at least halfway over.

Spring Equinox, Eostre (Anglo-Saxon) Alban Eiler, Mean Earraigh - around 20th. - 24th. September.
This is the Spring Festival, when the Earth re-awakens.
It has nothing to do with Easter. The Christian Church appropriated the name, and attached it to their celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, which is timed according to the Jewish Lunar Calendar(Passover or Pesach), although celebrated on different dates by the Roman and Orthodox Churches!
It has everything to do with eggs, Mad March hares (not rabbits!!) and all symbols of re-birth.
Morris Men 'wake' the earth by thumping the ground with their staves.

Night and day are approximately of equal length world-wide.

Beltane, Walpurga, 'May' Eve.
This is a time to celebrate fertility - livestock are mating, fruit trees blossoming, and bean flowers are loud with bees. Birds are nesting and singing loudly to mark their territory.
Traditionally anything went during this oldest of holidays, and children conceived during Beltane were not considered illegitimate or fatherless, but 'children of the God'.

Summer Solstice, Litha, Alban Heruin, Mean Samhraidh, Midsummer Day, Longest Days.
around 20th. - 23rd.December.
Seldom celebrated now outside of Scandinavia, this is a wonderful alternative to celebrating Christmas at a totally inappropriate time of year.
Sunrise is a powerful time, flowers, fruit, bright summer clothing, dancing, music, and feasting are easy to arrange out-of-doors.

If you are circle dancing, don't forget that moving clockwise is Widdershins here in the South. Deosil is Anti-clockwise!

Planting by the Moon
Taken from the Permaculture Association of South Australia's 1988 Calendar

is the work of Dr.Glenys Livingstone, whose research and deep insights into Earth-centred Spirituality for Europeans in the Southern Hemisphere are thought-provoking and inspiring.

And if you go to: MYTHING LINKS
you will find another Southern Hemisphere contribution you may like to consider.

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