Winter Waning Moon of the Winter Solstice
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” – T.S. Eliot
Though the calendar, as reformed by Julius Caesar and then Pope Gregory XIII*, rolls over tonight at midnight, and, confusingly to me, has already rolled over on several midnights already, you might notice that the time I keep remains the same. Tomorrow we will still be in Winter and the Moon of the Winter Solstice will still be waning. The Great Wheel does not recognize a calendar; it counts time by terrestrial movement through the heavens, moving, instead of hands, solar radiation and expressing itself not in hours or minutes but by days and nights and seasons. Of course, an accurate calendar makes sense for the world of humans because we figure time in much smaller units and like to be able to do things according to spans of weeks, months, years though these are not, no matter what some might say, natural measures. They are measures created by the human mind, invented to follow our fascination with chronological time, that is linear time, probably occasioned by our awareness of death.
Note, however, that measuring time does not create more of it, nor make of it less. All calendars and clocks do is divide up the turning days and advancing nights, make smaller divisions in the more basic cyclical time generated by spaceship earth in its star-loving path.
We can choose which time we want to emphasize in our lives. I prefer the cyclical time, the turning of the Great Wheel of the heavens, the coming of light and dark, the changes of spring, summer, fall and winter. As much as possible I try to order my life and encourage myself to respond to seasonal change, but I, too, live in a world in which I am 63, soon to turn 64 in the year 2011, the third millennia after another bout of terrorism in the Middle East. In this world people will only release money to me based on the linear trajectory of this body. As for me, I cherish now the inner life brought on by the long nights, the cold and snow.
When spring breaks winter’s grip and flowers begin to push through the earth, when the garlic and the strawberries and the asparagus start anew to grow and flourish above ground, then too, will I cherish the smell of moist soil carried to me by moist early spring air. It will not matter to me whether that time comes in March or April or May. Oh, it may matter to the horticultural me who needs to get leeks and peas and lettuce and other vegetables planted in their due time, but even those kind of changes cycle, too. The bees will re-emerge to begin their dance with the blooming things, driven not by the clock, but by the presence or absence of the sun, the bright colors of flowering plants and the demands of the colony.
We have our preferences, I know, and mine for many years was the dayplanner, meeting time, always moving stream of time. No longer. At least not when I’m at my best.
*wikipedia “The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar or the Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter gravissimas. The reformed calendar was adopted later that year by a handful of countries, with other countries adopting it over the following centuries. The motivation for the Gregorian reform was that the Julian calendar assumes that the time between vernal equinoxes is 365.25 days, when in fact it is about 11 minutes less. The accumulated error between these values was about 10 days when the reform was made, resulting in the equinox occurring on March 11 and moving steadily earlier in the calendar. Since the equinox was tied to the celebration of Easter, the Roman Catholic Church considered that this steady movement was undesirable.”