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The Discovery of the Sequani Calendar
by Helen Benigni
When a new millennium is dawning and a gyre of time rapidly comes
to an end, we either search for new means of measuring time or turn in our
need to improve our understanding of time to rediscover ancient calendars.
One such ancient calendar is the Sequani Calendar discovered by a group
of researchers almost by fate. The researchers, a Celtic Studies group based
in the mountains of West Virginia, were in fact in search of an eclectic
learning experience when they discovered the ancient text.
The group, now known as the Sequani Celtic Studies Group, got together in
the basement of the local college library to enhance their understanding
of Celtic Studies by combining disciplines. They felt that the compartmentalizing
of disciplines in the modern world had not offered what they termed an eclectic
or broader based knowledge of the natural world because it narrowed experience
and did not mirror the complex systems of Nature. The group was interested
in Celtic Studies because the ancient system of learning proposed by the
Druids (see Druidism) was a model for them.
The Druids combined natural studies, poetry, astronomy, religion and other
disciplines to form groups of experts from each field, thus enhancing the
picture of the universe to be studied as a whole.
The group embarked on an unknown path of discovery when they received a
copy of the Coligny Calendar as it was printed for the Royal Irish Academy
in 1906 by a linguist named Eoin MacNeill. MacNeill reconstructed the original
bronze tablets that were discovered in a well at the headwaters of the Seine
River in France at the turn of the last millennium. The tablets contained
vital information for measuring the moon, the stars and the sun, but they
were written in a Gaulish tongue that MacNeill could not translate. MacNeill
was limited because he approached the calendar from a linguistic point of
view and not from an eclectic or Druid standpoint.
With the combined knowledge of several scholars who by now had become trusted
companions, the journey of discovery began. The group consisted of Clay
and Barbara Carter, an astronomer and astrologer, respectively; Eadhmonn
Ua Cuinn, a Celticist and sculptor; Helen Benigni, a writer and mythologer;
Mark Butervaugh, a Naturalist and artist; and Tim Krantz, a printmaker.
Their first insight, that the calendar was discovered at a sanctuary in
Coligny, France in the territory of the ancient Celtic tribe of the Sequani,
gave the group its name and direction.
A rapid series of discoveries followed. The group discovered that the calendar
followed the lunar cycles of the year with amazing accuracy. The names of
twelve lunar cycles are listed on the calendar as: Samonios, Dumannios,
Rivros, Anagantios, Ogronios, Cutios, Giamonios, Simivisonnios, Equos, Elembivios,
Edrinios, and Cantlos. As Barbara began to count lunar returns over 100
years and Clay began to count lunar cycles over longer periods of time,
they discovered that for every two years and nine moons, the calendar reveals
an Intercalary Moon, making the Sequani Calendar more accurate than the
Julian. This Intercalary Moon is marked on the calendar as an untitled thirteenth
moon and might have been used as a holiday for the people; the function
of the Intercalary Moon is to keep the lunar and the solar cycles in sync.
To expand the accuracy of the Sequani Calendar further, every 55 years the
calendar starts a lunar cycle on one of the four major phases of the moon,
returning to its original phase every 220 years. The extra days that the
calendar would naturally experience when moving from one phase of the moon
to another in 55 year cycles make the Intercalary Moon a longer holiday
every 55 years. The calendar begins the lunar cycle on the new moon in the
present cycle and marks the first quarter moon as the beginning of the cycle
that starts on the Winter Solstice in 2001. Moreover, the Sequani Calendar
coincides with other ancient monuments such as Machu Picchu, the Pyramids,
and Stonehenge which base their astronomical orientation to the Winter Solstice,
a knowledge passed down from the Neolithic peoples.
The Sequani Calendar marks the Winter Solstice or Samonios as the New Year
and the beginning of the light half of the year and Summer Solstice or Giamonios
as the beginning of the dark half of the year. Each of these Holy Months
are significant holidays designated by two facts. First, the word "Samonios"
means the beginning of light and the word "Giamonios" means the
beginning of darkness. Second, the holidays are accurately marked in Celtic
stone monuments such as Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, and Stonehenge to coincide
with the Sequani Calendar's markings of the Solstices, the Equinoxes, and
the lunar cycles.
The Sequani Calendar is therefore an integral part of Celtic culture, and
perhaps like other knowledge of astronomy that was passed to the Druids
from the Neolithic peoples, the calendar may represent a cornerstone of
human achievement which took thousands of years to quantify. Martin Brennan,
in his text The Stones of Time ( Inner Traditions 1994), has discovered
two Neolithic calendrical engravings, one on Knowth in Ireland and one on
Pola de Alande in Spain, that represent the same cycles on which the Sequani
calendar is based. The fact that the Celtic world which spanned Europe and
the British Isles shortly before the turn of the last millennium might have
inherited this ancient calendar is not far fetched.
The group's astronomer and astrologer then made the exciting discovery that
the beginning of each month of the Sequani Calendar was designated with
the appearance of a star of first magnitude, marked PRIN on the calendar,
that appears on the Eastern Horizon shortly after sunset. At sunrise, these
stars are beginning to set on the Western Horizon. Time is therefore measured
at night by the journey of the stars in conjunction with the orbit of the
moon. The calendar also looks ahead by marking the next month's star of
primary magnitude as it appears in the sky and approaches the beginning
of the following month.
The group's mythologer, Helen, correlated the names of the stars and the
constellations in which they appear with the goddesses and gods of Celtic
mythology. Two months which were undeniably linked to myth served as her
basis for exploration into the yearly cycle of Celtic myth and ritual. In
the month of Equos, the month celebrating the horse-goddess Epona, Pegasus
is clearly visible in the sky, and in the month of Edrinios, the month of
sacred passage, the constellation of Eridanus or the River in the Sky is
clearly visible. Many of the other months fell into a contextual whole as
research is available to correlate the eight major holidays in Celtic religion
with the stars.
The next piece to the puzzle fell into place when the folklore or people's
holidays still celebrated in parts of the British Isles today became a vital
source of information. The Oenachs, or holidays of importance still celebrated
today by many cultures, are clearly marked in the full moon on the calendar
and celebrated over a week's time, followed in the same month with observation
of the new moon phase designated as Holy Nights or Druid nights, where the
Druids worshipped and the people observed a staying-home time. The Oenachs
of the Sequani Calendar are devoted to the worship of solar deities as they
follow the pattern of the sun's orbit through the year.
The four Oenachs are the Winter Solstice, the Vernal Equinox, the Summer
Solstice, and the Autumnal Equinox. On the circle of Neolithic stones, they
are North, East, South and West, respectively. In the Neolithic monuments
of the Bru na Boinne in Ireland, Knowth is aligned East-West for the Equinox
celebrations of the Oenachs, Dowth is aligned South-West for the sunset
of Winter Solstice, and Newgrange is aligned South-East for the Winter Solstice
sunrise Oenach. In Britain, Stonehenge is also aligned to the Winter Solstice
Oenach when the rays of the sun rise over the heel stone.
The Druid's Holy Nights or stay-home times marked on the Sequani Calendar
are discovered in the third quarter phase of the moon and marked in each
month as ATENOVX. This is when the Holy Nights begin. In the waning of the
new moon phase, the Holy Nights are celebrated. These are fifty and forty-five
days from the Oenachs and show their dates to be February 12th, May 12th
, and October 12th. (Note that Gregory XIII took ten days out of the Julian
Calendar in 1582 calling October 5th , October 15th.)
The Holy Nights form a rectangle outside the circle of Oenachs. Celebrated
near or on the new moon, these Holy Nights are Imbolc, Beltain, Lugnasad,
and Samhuin, respectively. Again, certain Neolithic monuments have sacred
paths marking the entrance to the circle on a particular Holy Night. These
nights are often extended over a seven night period marked on the calendar
as such. The calendar also marks these important nights to carry in two
observances each devoted to an aspect of the Holy Night. For example, Samhuin
is observed as the Warrior's Samhuin from November 4th to November 12th
in Edrinios and the Holy Nights in the new moon of the following the month
of Cantlos from December 4th to December 11th.
The group was well on its way to decoding the other markings on the Sequani
Calendar as they realized that the lunar cycles, the solar cycles, and the
Holy Nights are all decorated by the constellations in a varied and highly
accurate picture of celestial meanderings charted meticulously on the calendar.
For example, in the Winter Constellations at the peak time of the Winter
Solstice in the month of Samonios, there are nine constellations visible,
a spectacular setting for the TRINOSAM SINDIV on January 7th . Likewise,
in the Summer Constellations, the Summer Triangle formed by the stars of
primary magnitude of the two months leading up to the Summer Solstice in
the month of Giamonios, are highly visible for the Holy Night of Midsummer.
On the calendar, TIO stars in patterns of three six and nine most probably
forming triangles, sacred patterns of three, are also clearly marked.
When the Sequani Celtic Studies Group realized that this knowledge should
have some practical application and use for the public, their three artists,
Mark, Eadhmonn, and Tim began plans to silk screen a working calendar incorporating
the astronomy, astrology and mythology into the twelve lunar cycles of Samonios,
Dumannios, Rivros, Anagantios, Ogronios, Cutios, Giamonios, Simivisonnios,
Equos, Elembivios, Edrinios, Cantlos and the Intercalary Moon. The relevance
of the Sequani Calendar became more and more evident as the artists began
to visualize the natural symbols that would represent each lunar cycle.
The mythology easily matched occurrences in the agricultural cycles, the
natural cycles of plants and animals, and in the familiar spiritual cycles
and holidays of European cultures. For instance, the agricultural cycles
of Lugnasad and the Harvest Festivals on the Sequani Calendar coincide with
the harvest festivals already celebrated in many parts of the British Isles
and the Continent. The Sacred Snake days of Rivros coincide with St. Patrick's
day and the harvesting of the mistletoe coincides with mid-summer Holy Nights.
Most importantly, the holidays of Anagantios and Ogronios coincide with
the sacrifice and resurrection of the Christian Easter.
This ancient text is a familiar pattern re-visited. Its accuracy is astounding
and its wealth of detail far outweighs our present calendars. It elevates
our understanding of time into what the Druids expressed in their script
on the ancient monuments in spirals and triskeles, shapes that reflect the
eternal patterns of Nature. It lifts us out of the flat two-dimensional
perception of time as arbitrary markings on a rectangular surface to a three-dimensional
vision of time which spirals to infinity. The Sequani Calendar does this
by incorporating the solar, lunar, stellar and natural patterns with the
human cycle. With this comes a deeper spiritual vision of our relation to
the natural world. It is our opportunity to reach for the stars and use
what is within and without.
For further information contact :
The Sequani Calendar
(See also Stonehenge
and The Sequani Calendar)
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