It’s North American New Year Day & my mind is a spectrum that’s not quite a rainbow:
There’s a reddish streak of my own skeptical resistance to social constructions instigated by the Gregorian Calendar’s subtle imbrication in persistent hierarchical heritages of slickly harsh imperialist moves associated with how a 1582 Christian Calendar was papal bullied into our Global Civil Calendar.
It lies beside a broad muddy band of indistinct hue, of north americans suffering over-abundance resolving to lose weight; suffering addictions, from alcohol to cruelty, resolving to achieve liberation; suffering success, resolving to pile on more and screw the rest, including the earth they walk on.
It meanders among multi-colored curves of Mayan, Chinese, Jewish, and Anishinaabe possibilities for measuring cycles.
The Mayan calendar, scientifically brilliant and iconic in New Age fantasies, is rooted reality in parts of Mexico, for example villages in Oaxaca like San Augustin Yatareni, where curanderos know that animals share souls with people and caring for an animal can remedy a person’s problems. The 4,863 year old Asian Calendar is luni-solar, associating moons and years with animals, and has a nineteen year leap cycle; the 5,771 year old, thirteen month Jewish Calendar registers the triple spiral of earth’s circling on its axis, the moon’s circling of the earth, and the earth’s circling of the sun.
Then there’s the swash of white that sparks rainbows, the snow-in-the-sun of north american natives who say the Spirits are asleep in winter, so that’s the time old people tell Spirit stories to young people, teaching them how to live bimaadiziwin, a good life. In the warming moons storytelling ceases as the power of the word engages wide-awake Spirits in conversation and action. When the New Story Cycle sparks depends on where you are: it may be October in Minnesota and December in Massachusetts; each locale has its thirteen moons and their shifting is probably the original time-zoning.
The Anishinaabe time-place cyclic poem is replete with living action names: makoonsag-gaanitaawigiiyat-i-giizis, birth of bear cubs; maango-giizis, returning of the loon; iskigamizgei-giizis, boiling sap moon; ode’imini-giizis, strawberry moon; manoominikewi-giizis, lake rice picking moon; waatebagaawi-giizis, leaves turning color; and gaskadino-giizis, freezing water moon November (Anishinaabe Ojibwe). Boiling sap moon takes place in March in Massachusetts and April in Minnesota. All of us, from the Great Lakes to Boston, from Maine to North Carolina, experience some permutation of this native cycle whether or not we know the natural names for the seasons. Eyah (yes), that’s how it goes here, and the names were given by the Spirits some 30,000 years ago, they say. Maybe it’s time we learned them.
There’s the shimmer of the traditional Yoruba calendar, in its 10,053rd year, which came to the Americas on slavers’ ships remembered in Erele / February, dedicated to Olookun, treasurer of beloved souls at the bottom of the sea. The week rolls on an axis so the fifth day of one week is the first day of the next. Its indomitable genius scintillates into synchronization with the Gregorian Calendar via months like Agẹmo / July, dedicated to the Witness of Creation; Ọwara / October, dedicated to the Wind’s restless movement through the spiritual/physical/spiritual portal; Erénà / March, dedicated to men’s rites; Èbìbí / May, dedicated to the ancestors; and Okudu / June, the New Year, dedicated to women’s rites.
My feet are planted in snow-storying, my head is thinking in Yoruba, the current between them pulses and my heart is where I’m feeling it – feeling that desire for a good turn for each and every one of us as we continue to weave our fragile, imperishable togetherness.