Ring 23: The Moon Stav
Ring 23, 24, and 25 are the three lines of a traditional runic calendar. These calendars were originally carved in wood, metal, or stone and were presented in a line, rather then a circle. Often one half of the year was on one side and the other half of the year on the other. The bottom row, or ring 23, has all the letters of the Younger Futhark (plus 3 “bonus runes” made for this purpose). Just like we have the alphabet, which helps us understand and order our letters, the runes use what is called the Futhark to do the same thing. Futhark is the runes in their traditional order:
The runes in ring 23 are not in their usual order. The numerical order of the golden runes is: 19, 8, 16, 5, 13, 2, 10, 18, 7, 15, 4, 12, 1, 9, 17, 6, 14, 3, 11. Or:
You might notice, in ring number 23, that not every day has a golden rune assigned to it. There are gaps between the runes so that the 19 runes are put into either 29 or 30 day periods. The actual amount of time between lunar phases is about 29.5 days. Alternating between 29 and 30 gets us close to that. These 29 or 30 day periods alternate, and the order of the spaces alternate, depending on whether it is a 29 or a 30 day period. So there is one pattern for a 29 day month and another, slightly different pattern, for the 30 day month. See if you can see the differences in the two different patterns
Every 19 years the moon and the sun re-align with each other. If we have a new moon on December 15th in 2020, we will have a new moon again on December 15th in 2039. I call this the Lunisolar cycle, but it is also called the Metonic cycle. Each of the 19 runes in ring 23 represents one year in that 19-year Lunisolar cycle. So, depending on where you are in the 19-year cycle, you look and see wherever that rune appears in the 23rd ring; and that is when there will be a new moon. To jump into finding what year we are in on the calendar, or to look up what rune is associated with a particular year go on ahead to the Runic Year Calculation.
So let’s say we want to work with the year 2020, which is the 6th year in the lunisolar cycle, rune ᚴ (Cen). Every time you see the rune ᚴ (Cen) in ring 23, that is when a new moon will occur in 2020. If you follow any given ᚴ rune in ring 23 towards the interior of the circle, and stop at ring number 10 (use the Ring Reference), you will see that the rune reappears there. So, these 18 rings within ring 23 (ring 23 is also the 19th ring to complete the cycle) are redundant in that all the information they contain can be found in the 23rd ring of the calendar. They simply show each lunar phase more distinctly. And I really like seeing all the moon phases laid out in this way.
also, you might notice in ring number 23, that not every day has a golden rune assigned to it. There are gaps between the runes so that the 19 runes are put into either 29- or 30-day periods. The actual amount of time between lunar phases is about 29.5 days. Alternating between 29 and 30 gets us close to that. These 29- or 30-day periods alternate, and the order of the spaces alternate, depending on whether it is a 29 or a 30-day period. There is one pattern for a 29-day month and another, slightly different pattern, for the 30-day month. See if you can see the differences in the two different patterns. These numbers determine how lucky or unlucky a month will be. The concept of luck and building good luck for themselves was very important to our northern ancestors. I will explore this more elsewhere.
Ring 24: The Sun Stav
The second row of the Runic calendar, or Ring 24, in the GaldorCraeft Calendar breaks the 365 day solar year into 52 seven-day weeks, plus one extra day. These days of the week are marked with the first seven runes of the Younger Futhark.
The first day of the week for the year is set on the first new moon of that year–the new moon of Æfterra Geola.
Monandaeg – Day of the moon (Mona being Anglo-saxon for moon, like in Month)
Tiwesdaeg – Day of Tiw, a god of war and the sky
Wodnesdaeg – Day of Woden (Anglo-saxon version of Odin), a god of war, wisdom and poetry
Thunresdaeg – Day of Thunor (Anglo-saxon version of Thor), the god of thunder, sky and weather
Frigesdaeg – Day of Frig (Anglo-saxon version of Freya), the goddess of love and fertility
Saeturnesdaeg – Day of the Roman god Saturn, god of sowing or seed.
Sunnandaeg – Day of the sun (Anglo-Saxon Sunne)
Using the GaldorCraeft Calendar, what moon phase are you currently in? If each of the 19 Golden Runes represented a moon phase, for example Balgthor is a new moon, Nyd is a sliver and so on… What rune are we in? How does that rune relate to the month? The season? The year?
What is the current Solar phase (Quarter or cross quarter)? What is the day of the week according to the GaldorCraeft Calendar? What is this “solar date” offering? How is the “solar rune” in relationship with the “lunar rune for the day?
Ring 25: The Primstav Calendar
From there come maidens, very wise,
Three from the lake that stands beneath the pole.
One is called Urd, another Verdandi,
Skuld the third; they carve into the tree
The lives and fates of children.
(Völuspá, the Poetic Edda)
The third row of the runic calendar and the 26th Ring of the Galdorcraft Calendar is the Primstav. This ring shows the religious and agricultural holidays that were mandated after Christianity became dominant. With Christianity the Julian calendar, the forbearer to our modern Gregorian calendar took over and runic calendars fell out of use. Primstav calendars continued to be used in a similar way as the runic calendar, they were also carved on wood and one could track when the days fell. The marks on the primstav calendar are called feast days and they correspond to specific Gregorian and Julian Calendar dates and do not fall on a particular lunar schedule. The introduction of Christianity and the Primstav Calendar was a significant step away from Lunisolar time keeping and our Heathen roots and heritage, but it is part of our greater history, and contains important information and clues about understanding and working with our ancestors.
The Primstav calendar was used primarly for tracking saints days, agricultually specific events and for devining the future weather. Remnants of the ancient practice of geomancy–communicating/ divination through observation of the natural world–are found throughout the Primstav. Many of the Primstav markings are important times to pay attention to the weather or the earth, in order to know what is coming. These would be days to especially honor the landwight, or land spirits, of a place. There are many major and minor holidays and feast days that were incorporated into these calendars over the years.
The Primstav calendar, though in many ways a tool for instituting Christianity, also retained much of the theme of connection to the earth and the land. It contains many reminders to pay attention to what is happening in the natural world. For our agrarian ancestors this was necessary for survival. But how removed are we really from this reality? How much does our survival still depend on us being in good relationship with the Earth? As you follow these feast days through the year, notice what is happening with the earth and the changing season. Ideally you have a place in nature that you can visit daily so you can see the differences as the year moves along? As you walk, sit, or stand in nature, use your connection to the world tree to connect deeper to what is happening around you. Pay particular attention to the sounds and to any songs that come through. Listen, and when it is time, sing along. Notice how your presence, and your contribution to the song influences the feeling of where you are. Play with that influence. See how much you can contain it, bring it inwards, and see how much it can be projected out. Notice who is there with you?
Steen’s page, how to make your own rune staff calendar
piece MS 2913.