[Calendar Information] [Monasticism Information]
1. Why would anyone need a Pagan Book of Hours?
In medieval Europe, the Book of Hours fulfilled a necessary function. Monks and nuns were immersed in a cycle of liturgy, forming the daily and yearly routine of their order. They compiled their daily liturgy into large "breviaries", which were abbreviations of the source texts, but gave a comprehensive structure for monastics to follow, including such necessary information as the tables to calculate the date of Easter, and the system by which the prayers were arranged. For householders who wanted a daily routine of prayers, the proper prayers for various saints' days, and so on, simplified "books of hours" developed.
Our Book of Hours, similarly, can be used by anyone who would like access to a daily religious regimen, or who would simply like many short rituals on hand for a wide variety of deities and holidays. This Book of Hours gives you access to two seasonally-appropriate rituals per day, drawn from many cultures but all following the same basic format. Suggested offerings, meals and altar items are also given.
The Pagan Book of Hours is maintained by the Order of the Horae, a group of pagans exploring the monastic tradition. In this monastic system, ritual is done twice daily within a disciplined daily routine. For the average person, twice daily ritual may not be practical. However, we encourage anyone to draw ritual from this book for your own personal spiritual practice or that of your group. Feel free to look up only the deities or pantheon you work with and modify the dates to fit your own tradition, schedule, or climate. The Pagan Book of Hours also contains seasonal, lunar and astrological rituals which can be used for many purposes.
2. Ifd this is based on medieval Catholic stuff, isn't that anti-pagan?
This is a Pagan, polytheistic, eclectic, earth-based Book of Hours. The Hours, or Horai, themselves are based on the ancient Greek sacred Hours, which predate Christianity by many centuries. (See The Daily Hours.) The calendar is similar to the medieval Catholic calendar of saints' days, but it is also similar to sacred calendars of the Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist faiths. Many, if not most, religions have yearly calendars with seasonal divisions and special days for gods, saints, bodhisattvas, and holidays. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a very full calendar of deity days, of which we've borrowed quite a bit. (A group of Hellenic Neo-Pagans have put together a project on the Athenian calendar, and the Hellenic Month Established Per Athens is another.)
We've borrowed the term Book of Hours, because we find it graceful, and it gives a clear idea that this is some kind of religious reference text. However, considering how much medieval Catholicism borrowed from pagan traditions, we don't see it as an unfair swap. We in Asphodel are also devout ecumenicalists, and we believe that no other religion is necessarily anti-pagan, any more than we are anti-Christian, or anti-any-other-faith. There are things that any two spiritual paths have in common, and the need for a liturgy that follows the cycle of the turning year is one of those things.
3. What am I allowed to do with the information in the Pagan Book of Hours?
You may hardcopy and reformat it for personal use or among your own spiritual group. You may use it in any public or private ritual. You may link to the site or any of the rituals anywhere you like. You may post reinvocations elsewhere on the Net as long as you provide them with a proper attribution, which should be:
Pagan Book of Hours
Order of the Horae
First Kingdom Church of Asphodel
We would, of course, love to be notified if you are using our words in such a way.
You may not post them and claim that they are yours, or assume that because they are on the internet they are public domain.
You may purchase printed copies of the breviary from Asphodel Press, and photocopy or otherwise reproduce pages for personal use or to be distributed to ritual participants. You may not publish them in any book, magazine or other print medium for which money will be taken without our permission. (We are not unreasonable and we will gladly give permission if we can get a copy of the medium and if an appropriate donation is worked out. For print mediums that are distributed freely, we only require prior permission and a copy of the medium.)
Obviously, a monastic order is not going to be suing you in civil court. However, please keep in mind that the major patrons of our Order are Eunomia, Dike, and Irene - Rules, Justice, and Peace - and this invocations were written as sincere acts of devotion. Treat our writing with respect.
4. Are your dates for the eight high holidays astronomically accurate?
No. We have chosen to list the holidays associated with the eight turning points of the solar year at the dates "traditionally" given for them, rather listing them on the exact dates of the equinoxes, solstices, and cross quarter days, which vary year to year. We have listed the equinox and solstice holidays as the 22nd of the month, although the actual astronomical event varies and may fall on the 21st or 23rd. We have listed each of the cross-quarter holidays as the first of the month (or in the case of Samhain, the 31st of the previous one), rather than on the true midpoint between equinox and solstice, which, whether figured by longitude or declination, is generally some days later. You are of course free to celebrate the holidayes whenever you choose.
5. Why haven't you included...?
We've included many many deities and traditional holidays from many cultures. If we've left a tradition out, it is likely that we simply don't have enough of a connection to that tradition to write appropriate ritual. There are many spaces, especially in the lunar calendar, where additional days could be added, but we have finished with the process of collecting and writing Book of Hours rituals for the time being.
6. How historically accurate are the deity days and holidays?
Some are quite historically accurate, and some aren't. Nearly all of the traditional holidays per se are as historically accurate to the day as we can get them, although one must remember that in the ancient world, except for a few obvious astronomical events, there was very little in the way of accurate time-keeping available to the average person. Holidays were not necessarily celebrated on the same exact day every year, or the same day from village to village, or city-state to city-state. In Greece, every city had its own calendar. We've tried to get them as close as we can, but there is some argument even among academic researchers as to where they should be.
We have not cited academic sources because we are not an academic resource, and do not want to encourage folks to mistake us for one. If you are interested in finding historically accurate placement for traditional holidays, please do not use this site as a reference.
There are sometimes a number of holidays from different traditions competing for the same day, particularly the new and full moons. We have fit them in as best we can. There are also quite a few deity days for deities that we felt ought to be honored, yet there was no specific day for them that has come down in lore or survived purges by later faiths. For these deities, we simply meditated and asked them when they'd like their day to be, and inserted them. We feel it's more important to see a god/dess honored than hold back due to worry about a traditional date.
7. How historically accurate are the invocations and rituals?
For most of the ancient holidays, we have no surviving prayers or invocations. Nearly all of these rituals were created for and by the Order of the Horae. We have studied the information available to us about these holidays and deities, and we have tried both to recreate the spirit of the words that might have been said thousands of years ago, and to write something that modern Pagans would find meaningful and not overly arduous. A few of the deity invocations are amalgams of actual surviving hymns of praise. If you are familiar with the traditional sources, you will likely recognize pieces here and there. (If you aren't familiar with the traditional sources, historical accuracy likely isn't a deep concern of yours, so it works either way.) For most days there was not enough appropriate surviving material. We did, however, try to include accurate epithets for deities wherever possible, e.g. Zeus Horios or Aphrodite Pandemos.
Therefore, if your primary need is for an academic reference for classical religious invocations, this is the wrong source. Most of these invocations are inspired; we wrote them after praying and communing with the deities to whom they are dedicated. All of the invocations that are not connected to an ancient holiday or a specific deity are written by us in order to create a thorough and well-rounded Pagan yearly liturgy, or because we felt spontaneously moved to celebrate a particular principle.
8. You've gotten this wrong! Will you correct it?
That really depends on if we agree with you.
If you work with a one of these deities or regularly celebrate one of these holidays, particularly the less common or the commonly misunderstood ones, please do feel free to contact us with suggestions on appropriate liturgy, offerings or altar items. We would love to hear from you. Simply telling us how much you dislike the ritual is not useful and will not result in any changes, no matter how emphatically you dislike it.
If we've gotten a traditional holiday wrong in some clear way, such as placing it at entirely the wrong time of year or confusing it with a similarly named holiday, and you have academically sound evidence in support of this, we will gladly consider your position. We do not care to argue cases of differing theology or cases where historical documentation is too thin to support any definitive conclusion.
If you are offended that we are using traditional holiday names for non-traditional ways of celebrating those holidays, we may send you a polite letter elaborating on the answer to question #7.
If you believe a given deity or principle ought not be honored and you are offended that we have included it here, we will not engage you on the topic.
9. What if my climate is radically different from yours?
The structure of our calendar is drawn heavily from Northern European sources, and match our climate here in New England. If the seasonal and agricultural references do not match your area, we strongly encourage you to change them! Also, if you traditionally celebrate on slightly different days than we've listed here (such as figuring the astronomical cross-quarter days rather than the traditional ones) or if your group always gathers on a specific day of the week, do not hesitate to move things around.
10. Why did you choose those weird names for the months?
The solar calendar is based on the Saxon month-names, as a tribute to the ancestors. We chose this twelve-month solar calendar for the following reasons: First, it matches up with the standard urban Roman calendar that we use today. Second, the Saxon months are based on an agricultural rather than an urban cycle of living. As pagans, we make the attempt to be more closely attuned to the earth and the natural cycles than most people in this cut-off high-tech world.
Our own Roman calendar has months named after deities, but also after various emperors and political figures, and ordinary numbers. The Saxon months reflect a natural cycle - Haymonath (hay month), Wolfmonath (wolf month, the cold wintertime when wolves were plentiful), Thrimilchimonath (Three Milk Month, or May when the animals are in their fullest milk).
They are pronounced as follows:
Wolfmonath (January): Wolf-mon-ath. The month of wolf-cold.
Solmonath (February): Sahl-mon-ath. The month of sol, or hearth-baked cakes.
Hrethemonath (March): Ha-reth-a-mon-ath. The month of Hrethe, the goddess who fights winter.
Eostremonath (April): Ee-ohs-ter-mon-ath. The month of Eostre or Ostara, the spring goddess.
Thrimilchimonath (May): Three-milkh-ee-mon-ath. Three Milk Month, dairying time.
Lithemonath (June): Leeth-a-mon-ath. The month of Litha, the summer solstice.
Haymonath (July): Hay-mon-ath. The month for making hay.
Weodmonath (August): Wee-ohd-mon-ath. The month for weeding and harvesting.
Halegmonath (September): Hahl-eg-mon-ath. Holy month, the time of sacred harvest.
Winterfyllith (October): Win-ter-feel-ith. Time when it starts to feel like winter.
Blutmonath (November): Bloot-mon-ath. Blood month, slaughtering time.
Yulmonath (December): Yool-mon-ath. The month of Yule, the Winter Solstice.
The lunar calendar is based primarily on the Celtic Beth-Luis-Nion Ogham calendar, but we have also listed the ancient Greek names, for those who prefer to use them. The Greeks did things a little differently than the Celts with regard to their calendar; they rotated 12 months and stuck a 13th month in every two or three years. That's why there are two Poseideions.
Here are the month names and rough pronunciations:
Beth or Poseideion II: Beth or Poe-say-day-on
Luis or Gamelion: Loo-ees or Ga-may-lee-on
Nion or Anthesterion: Nee-on or Ahn-tha-stare-ee-on
Fearn or Elaphebolion: Fairn or Ee-lahff-eh-boe-lee-on
Saille or Mounukhion: Sah-ee-la or Moo-noo-khee-on
Huath or Thargelion: Hwath or Thar-gay-lee-on
Duir or Skirophorion: Dweer or Skeer-o-for-ee-on
Tinne or Hekatombaion: Tee-neh or Hek-ah-tome-bye-on
Coll: or Metageitnon: Cole or Met-ah-gate-non
Muin or Boedromion: Moo-in or Boe-a-drome-ee-on
Gort or Puanepsion: Gort or Poo-a-nep-see-on
Ngetal or Maimakterion: Ngeh-tahl (first sound "ng" as in "sing") or My-mahk-tear-ee-on
Ruis or Poseideion: Roo-ees or Poe-say-day-on
11. How do I order a paper copy of the Book of Hours?
You may purchase printed copies of the breviary from Asphodel Press. It is available as a large softcover book and as a hardcover book with textbook-style binding. We also have a "Congregational", a much thinner book containing only the text for the rituals that have sections which are to be read aloud by participants. This is for folks who don't want to continually photocopy breviary pages for participants or buy ten breviaries.
If you really want to buy a fancy breviary that will look impressive on your lectern, Raven would love the excuse to make a hand-bound copy with leather covers, handmade-paper endpapers, and parchment-paper pages, illustrated on each page. It will have 2 attached ribbon bookmarks with brass figures on the ends. That would be $150.00 to: Raven Kaldera, c/o Cauldron Farm, 12 Simond Hill Rd. Hubbardston MA 01452. Shipping is included in the price.
11. Is there any relationship between this collection of prayers and "Book of Hours: Prayers to the God/Goddess"?
No. This is a pair of Wiccan prayer books by Galen Gillotte. Not only has she written a very nice set of daily and purpose-specific prayers, she also plays the bowed psaltery, which wins her a special place in our hearts. Our project was not inspired by or based on her books, but we were delighted to learn of their existence. We suspect she is part of the ever growing underground conspiracy to encourage Pagans to pray, and we applaud her efforts. Other offerings in this field are "A Book of Pagan Prayer" by Ceisiwr Serith, and "The Pagan Book of Days" by Nigel Pennick.
[Calendar Information] [Monasticism Information]
[Order of the Horae]