Year 3 Southern Solstice

22 December 2015

theAbysmal Wheel of the Year starts us rolling rolling rolling…

theAbysmal Wheel of the Year is simply a result of dividing the year into 364 calendar days, plus one day outside the calendar days, plus the periodic leap year day which is also outside the calendar days.

The New Year’s Day is meant to fall on or about the Southern Solstice. This year qualifies as an “about” year, as the solstice falls today, just after the new moon. Interesting year ahead for us, methinks.

The calendar divides these 364 days into four quarters of 91 days each. Each of the quarters can be further divided into two eighths of the year (or periods of 45 days) provided that one day be excluded (as we do with the new and leap year days). So, the midpoint of each quarter are equivalent as you can see below to Feb 5, May 7, Aug 6, Nov 5. These dates roughly coincide with the neo-pagan dates for major holidays Nov 1, Feb 2, May 1, Aug 1.

Each of these four dates mark a certain turning point in the course of the sun’s journey throughout the year (at least as seen from earth). Feb 5 notes the shift when the sun’s journey north accelerates, and the change in amount of daylight (for those of us in higher latitudes) changes by more and more each day, with the greatest change in and around the Equinox (again, depends at which latitude you live). May 7, the rate of change has slowed again, and the longer days linger. Certainly above the polar circles. Aug 6, the days shorten, and increase the rate of change until Nov 5, when the long dark days linger through to Feb 5.

I know I’m laying a very thick high- northern latitude bias on this, however, the opposite seasons can be said to take place, although I don’t think the higher southern latitudes have near the population as the higher northern ones. Regardless, in global terms, the apparent position of the sun overhead (for those living between the tropics) throughout the year: from southern tropic to equator to northern tropic and back.


These mid-quarter days play an important role in other aspects of the calendar.


Year 2 Midquarter 3

5 November 2015


Year 2 Southward Equinox

21 September 2015

As mentioned about half a year ago (already?) – all nights are not created equal.


Year 2 Midquarter 2

6 August 2015

No popular holiday for today, but there are plenty of observations.


On the neo-pagan wheel of the year (in the north, in the southern hemisphere, this would be the same observation on Feb 5, as the days grow shorter at the end of summer), this holiday is called Lammas or Lughnasadh. The former is a contraction of “loaf mass” the latter from Celtic I believe. Regardless, it’s an early harvest festival (hence the loaves).

It commemorates the dropping of “little boy” on Hiroshima in 1945, although previously “the device” had been detonated on July 16 1945 on Pueblo territory on Turtle Island (aka New Mexico, USA). The Spanish had named the desert stretch Jornada del Muerto, meaning the one day’s journey of the dead man (or words to that effect).

This is definitely a festival worth reviving (because the lame attempts made here in Canada at naming holidays is just weak. “Family Day” and “Civic Holiday” are my two favourites).

Year 2 Northern Solstice

21 June 2015



Here the sun is at its most northerly point. If one were to stand on the Northern Tropic, the sun would appear directly overhead at noon(ish). You would have no shadow. It would also rip across the sky. If you were above the Arctic circle, the sun wouldn’t set for a good chunk of time (depending on how far north one is). Higher than the Antarctic circle, and darkness rules the land, the penguins, and documentary filmmakers. The auroras are quite spectacular.

Year 2 Midquarter 1

7 May 2015

Mayday according to theAbysmal


May 1 is traditionally a time for fertility rituals (I recall wrapping a maypole, fwiw), flowers, mothers, and other symbols of fecundity (in the southern hemisphere, the sun retreats farther north still). It’s also the day for the labour movement (along with labour day).

Year 2 Northward Equinox

20 March 2015

All days are not created equal, especially the Equinox.


It is a little-known fact that the two Equinoxes (Equinoctes?) are not days where the day and nights are of equal length (feel betrayed? Equinox means “equal night” but it’s totally bogus. Worse than real estate exaggerations.)

Canadian archaeologist Gordon Freeman brought this to my attention (and he calls the days where days and nights are in fact equal “Equalnights” to distinguish them from equinoxes.

Dates of Equalnights*









About Feb 3-9

Feb 25-26

Mar 7-8

Mar 13-14

About Nov 4-10

Oct 17-18

Oct 5-6

Sept 29-30

About Apr 30-May 6

Apr 14-15

Mar 31-Apr 1

Mar 26-27

About Aug 9-12

Aug 28-29

Sept 10-11

Sept 16-17



























Sun rises abut Mar 18, sets about Sept 24

Sun rises about Sept 20, sets about Mar 22

*Calculated for 0° longitude, A.D. 2000. SZM: March 20, Sept 22. Solstice: June 21, Dec 21