I need to start this blog by saying that I’m not a Wiccan. Nor am I a Christian. My faith is actually none of your business and I refuse to let it be dictated by people selling snake oil, or whose motivations are based on worldly power, but I need to clear up those two points.
However, I like the idea of celebrating the progress of the year and the cycles of life. So I looked at the neo-pagan concept of the Great Octal – the eight points of the tropical year – the solstices, the equinoxes and the cross-quarter days.
And truth be told, this is not strictly a Wiccan or Neo-pagan idea. The year is the universal time-keeper on Earth. No matter where the culture flourished, everybody celebrates the year. Stone-age observatories for indicating various points of the year can be found all over the planet, and I suspect that the vast majority of them didn’t survive. I made one myself while in high school using the shadow of a telephone pole that fell into our backyard. I marked the octals with concrete markers, but Dad didn’t much appreciate that, and it disappeared when I went away to college.
I found this archaeoastronomy site a couple of years ago, and like it because it bases it’s marks of the octals on astronomical data, not tradition. It bases the marks of the cross-quarters at the point that is half-way between the solstice and the equinox in number of degrees, not number of days. This works for me!
August 7th is approaching, which, according to the archaeoastronomy site, is called Lughnasadh. But I have no idea how to pronounce this, even after doing a lot of internet research. (If you want to teach me how to pronounce it, please send an mp3 file. I want to hear it, not see it.) But it’s also called Lammas in Scotland. I just call it the Summer Cross-Quarter.
We also celebrate full moons because it’s a fun thing to do. Usually we celebrate it with seasonal food. According to some sites, the full moon in August is the Sturgeon Moon. Well, that’s the name according to native American tribes who live in the Eastern part of the continent. We live in the Western part and have no desire for sturgeon, so we changed the name to the Watermelon Moon, and celebrate accordingly. We changed a few of the other full moon names, too. They aren’t official, so we can call them whatever we want.
Happy Summer Cross-Quarter day!