firstname.lastname@example.org writes: A couple of astrology questions, mostly for Dr. Starman, but I m open to input from anyone who feels up to answering
Message 1 of 4
, Jul 15, 2005
A couple of astrology questions, mostly for Dr. Starman, but I'm open to input from anyone who feels up to answering them: The first question is probably a bit trite, but no less a puzzle for me... The months of the year obviously have their origin in the zodiac. Yet there is a difference between the beginning of each part of the tropical zodiac (21st of the month) and the beginning of each calendar month. What is the reason for this dislocation between the dates?
> calendar month. What is the reason for this dislocation between the dates?
Apologies to Dr. Starman for asking a question and then pre-empting his response with my own answer. Nonetheless, I have been pursuing both astrology questions and have succeeded in answering at least the first one to some degree of satisfaction. (So, for anyone who is interested...)
The reason for the difference between the beginning of each calendar month and the beginning of each part of the tropical zodiac is that the modern calendar is something of a hybrid. The Egyptian calendar consisted of twelve equal months of 30 days, plus 5 extra (or 'epagomenal') days added to the end of the year. There were no leap years. This meant that the Egyptian calendar rotated through the tropical cycle, losing a day every four years, with New Year's Day returning to its 'proper' place every 1461 years. The Egyptians did not regard this as an aberration in their calendar, but regarded the calendar and the zodiac as quite separate. What it meant was that the twelve segments of the Egyptian calendar rarely coincided with the twelve segments of the tropical zodiac.
This meant that when the Greeks (and later, the Romans) developed their own calendars, they did not regard it at all necessary to align the start of each section of the zodiac with start of the calendar months. The rotating calendar did however mean that it was somewhat complex. The Roman Empire, having grown quite beyond the boundaries of Rome itself, required a simpler format. A fixed calendar was introduced, as an attempt to keep the calendar aligned with the tropical year and make it possible for the more remote outposts to work out what day it was without needing to consult Rome.
Establishing a fixed calendar had to accommodate the needs of both the Roman festivals and the start of the Vernal Equinox. The two key dates that needed to be accommodated were New Year's Day (1st January, or the day the two Consuls took office) and the Vernal Equinox (21st March). The Julian Calendar established this as the standard for the Roman Empire. All further changes to the calendar (including the Gregorian calendar) have been little more than refinements to this system.
******* I'm not sure that all what you say is correct but the answer is something like this, as far as I know. The early calendars around the world (post-Atlantean, at least) were all lunar calendars, based on the very visible cycle of full moon to full moon (hard to miss when the moon is full)---- for instance the Chinese, the Arab and old Hebrew ones in the Middle East. A lunar calendar doesn't match the 4 seasons, since 13 full moons is about 354 days, so it gets off about 11 days a year, or a whole month off after just 3 years, a whole season off after just 9 years. But this is the origin of the 'moonth' unit of time (and one-quarter of this is the 'week').
In old Egypt arose the first SOLAR calendar, arrived at since the Nile flooded about the same day each year (when the Sun rose with Sirius, the star of Isis, in fact ---- back then, in July or August). So the Egyptians knew the year was about 365 days long, and 12 'moonths' of 30 days would work if the priests inserted 5 extra days here and there. (They did so, and even had a mythology connecting them to the 5 planets or 'gods' visible besides Sun (Osiris) and Moon (Isis): Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). So originally the 12 months apparently did line up with the 12 'signs', although only the priestly calendar KEPT them so aligned. We don't have much explicit information about Egyptian astronomy/astrology, but they did indeed have 12 months of about 30 days, and they had a solar calendar.
Later, the Romans borrowed their calendar from the Egyptians, but didn't know exactly how to insert the extra days to keep it in line. So by Julius Caesar's time it was a whole season off and their fall festival days were happening in the summer months. He consulted the Greek sage Sosogenes about how to correct it, and did so by having the year 46 B.C., I believe it was, run on for some 80-odd extra days to bring it in line again with the sun, and then instituted the Leap Day system we still use (with one modification, below).
But originally the signs and the 'months' were indeed the same. The month of Ares or Mars (Mars rules Aries) we still call March, the month of Aphrodite or Venus (Venus rules Taurus) we call Avril or April, for example. Keeping the calendar in line with the signs was hard enough, but in addition the precession of the equinoxes had been forgotten until re-discovered in the 3rd century B.C., and it required still more work to keep the 'signs' lined up with the stars (you can read the late Hellenic astrologers describing the constellations as being 8 degrees off). You have the sequence of 12 astral or 'animal' forms, but the star-groups change relative to the 12 'steps of the Sun' (solstices and equinoxes), and then don't easily match the 'moonths' (full moon to full moon) without keeping up with a running system of adjustments.
I've wondered if perhaps they weren't still in line until the change to the Gregorian calendar dropped ten days about 1600 A.D. (due to the fact that adding a quarter-day every 4 years adds TOO MUCH time, so that from Caesar's time till the 1500s the calendar had gotten 10 days ahead of the sun).
Small wonder ancient priests were left in charge of such heavenly matters: keeping an accurate calendar is tricky.
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