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The Coligny Calendar Page
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The Coligny Calendar (a portion of which is shown to the right) is an ancient Celtic solar/lunar ritual calendar which was discovered in Coligny France. It dates to a time when the Romans and Celts coexisted, and heavily influenced each other. The Calendar that was found uses roman numerals for instance. However, the actual format of the calendar may be much older, as the rock engraving below suggests.

 

This stone engraving is found at the Knowth site in Ireland. According to Martin Brennan author of 'Stones of Time' it is a graphical depiction of a lunar calendar operating on the same principle as the Coligny Calendar found in france. It shows all 29 phases of the moon. The spiral covers up those three days when the moon is not seen. The included diagram shows how the center squiggle in the drawing could be used to measure the 62 month span of the Coligny calendar. The author is only guessing that this calendar begins with the spring equinox.
 

The Coligny Calendar is an attempt to reconcile both the cycles of the moon and sun (as is our modern gregorian calendar.) The coligny calendar however, considers the phases of the moon to be very important, and each month always begins with the same moon phase. This makes it very valuable to pagans new and old. The calendar uses an ingenius mathematical arrangement to keep a normal 12 month calendar in sync with the moon. We could not do any better today ourselves. Basically it keeps the whole system in sync by adding an extra month every 2 1/2 years.

There are basically only a couple of important issues that must be resolved in order to completely reconstruct this calendar and make it practicable.

 

A: It is not know definitively upon which phase the celts began their month. There are two existing quotes which speak to the issue, and In my opinion they conflict.

1: Julius Ceasar wrote in 'The Gallic Wars'

"All the Gauls [the mainland european Celts who made the coligny calendar. RW.] assert that they are descended from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids. For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night."

This tendency of the Celts to begin things with the dark half has been observed by many writers and historians, and based on this information I personally favor the idea of beginning the Celtic pagan month on the new moon. This seems to be what Ceasar is trying to say above. Ceasar was very familiar with the Celts, and had a number of them as personal friends, although he did kill a much a greater number of them. I can see no reason why this quote might be a lie and a propaganda ploy, and I think it's safe to trust it.

2: As it is commonly understood Pliny the Elder in his almanac work called 'Histories' wrote that the Druids began their month on the sixth day of the moon (which corresponds to the first quarter), and that this is the day when they did a mistletoe cutting ritual using a sickle of pure gold. It's not sure if Pliny ever met a druid, and his almanac contains descriptions of animals and races that never existed. He was obviously recording the rumors of his day. I have heard some people remark that a sickle made of gold would not be tough enough to cut through mistletoe.

Also, it's not entirely sure that this interpretation of Pliny's passage is correct. In "the Religion of the Ancient Celts", J.A. MacCulloch states "Pliny speaks of culling mistletoe on the sixth day of the moon, which is to them the beginning of months and years (sexta luna, quae principia, etc.). This seems to make the sixth, not the first, day of the moon that from which the calculation was made. But the meaning is that mistletoe was culled on the sixth day of the moon, and that the moon was that by which months and years were measured. Luna, not sexta luna, is in apposition with quae." p.175. This would seem to indicate that the Druids did indeed begin their month at the new moon, however they thought that the sixth day of the month (around the first quarter) was the most auspicious day for cutting Mistletoe. (thanks to Lenny Shirose for pointing out this passage)

B: The other problem that exists with making the Coligny Calendar a reality is the matter of keeping the calendar synchronized over long periods. The one leap month per 2 1/2 years method works well over the period of a few decades, but then it starts to diverge a bit. No information has yet been found to determine how the celts may have done this long term synchronization. Although there may be some information in some french works which I haven't yet been able to access.

I think it's probably that the Celts might have used some of the astronoically aligned megaliths to keep the calendar in synch, making some manual corrections every once in awhile. The Celts did not build the megaliths, but they did use some of them. For instance, the megalith at Tara which marks the Samhain crossquarter when the sun is at 15Deg Scorpio. This date is the beginning of winter in most of europe, and it is believed to be the beginning of the Celtic Year.

A colleague of mine (lugaid@seanet.com) and I have determined that the calendar would be exactly synchronized if you drop one Extra Leap month every 40 years.

 

The Calendar program that is availabe on the link at the top of the page, does not yet handle the problem of long term leap months correction. It is synchronized to begin the calendar with the era of the New Coligny Calendar (NCC) on October 8th, 1999. This date was chosen because this date corresponds with a new moon on the date of the beginning of European winter. (when the sun is at 15Deg Scorpio). Leap months will not become an issue until 20 years after that date. However, I fully expect to have the leap month issue straightened out before Oct 8th 1999.

Below is some information on the structure of the calendar that will eventually be reformatted and expanded in HTML tabular format.

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Each month is marked either MAT(good) or ANM(bad). Fortunately for everyone concerned the good months are longer than the bad ones. Mat months are 30 days, and ANM months are 29. The middle of each month in the Coligny calendar is marked ATENVX which could mean either 'renewal', or 'the returning night'. These two rather ambiguous translations make it difficult to determine if ATENVX signifies either a full moon or a new moon.

There is some actual evidence that the Celts who used the Coligny style lunar calendar actually held their holy festivals in the middle of the month (presumably on the full moon). The actual coligny calendar seems to make the date of the Samhain festival as being day 16 in the month of Samhain.

 

[Year 1]

(Winter Half of Year)

Ciallos - Intercalary month - MAT

Samon - MAT

Dumann - ANM

Riuros- MAT

Anagantios - ANM

Ogron - MAT

Cutios - MAT

(Summer Half of Year)

Giamon - ANM

Simiuisonn - MAT

Equos - ANM

Elembiu - ANM

Edrin - MAT

Cantlos - ANM

[Year 2]

(Winter Half of Year)

Samon - MAT

Dumann - ANM

Riuros- MAT

Anagantios - ANM

Ogron - MAT

Cutios - MAT

(Summer Half of Year)

Giamon - ANM

Simiuisonn - MAT

Equos - ANM

Elembiu - ANM

Edrin - MAT

Cantlos - ANM

[Year 3]

(Winter Half of Year)

Samon - MAT

Dumann - ANM

Riuros- MAT

Anagantios - ANM

Ogron - MAT

Cutios - MAT

Ciallos - Intercalary month - MAT

(Summer Half of Year)

Giamon - ANM

Simiuisonn - MAT

Equos - ANM

Elembiu - ANM

Edrin - MAT

Cantlos - ANM

[Year 4]

(Winter Half of Year)

Samon - MAT

Dumann - ANM

Riuros- MAT

Anagantios - ANM

Ogron - MAT

Cutios - MAT

(Summer Half of Year)

Giamon - ANM

Simiuisonn - MAT

Equos - ANM

Elembiu - ANM

Edrin - MAT

Cantlos - ANM

[Year 5]

(Winter Half of Year)

Samon - MAT

Dumann - ANM

Riuros- MAT

Anagantios - ANM

Ogron - MAT

Cutios - MAT

(Summer Half of Year)

Giamon - ANM

Simiuisonn - MAT

Equos - ANM

Elembiu - ANM

Edrin - MAT

Cantlos - ANM

The Months and Their Possible Meanings

Samonios ("summery-end" or "seed-time"), 30 days

Dummanios ("the dark month"), 29 days

Riuros ("frost time"), 30 days

Anagantios ("indoors"), 29 days

Ogronios ("cold"), 30 days

Cutios ("windy time"), 30 days

Giamonios ("wintery-end" or "shoots time"), 29 days

Simiuisonnos ("semi-springtime"), 30 days

Equos ("equity" or "horse"), 29 days

Elembiuios ("many fences"), 29 days

Edrinios ("hot period"), 30 days

Cantlos ("song"), 29 days

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 Other Links

Coligny Calendar Online!

Coligny's Calendar

Accessed times since 11/22/2001