27th Day of Ice Moon, 34,257 S.W.R
May Clio Bless This Work
When Prof. Ronald Hutton’s book “The Triumph of the Moon” came out in 1999 I knew I had heard that title some where before but I could not remember where. I finally figured it out in my continuing calendar research in mid 2011 or so. The calendar work had led me back once again to Isaac Asimov’s (1920-1992) Science Fact Anthology paperback book called “The Tragedy of the Moon” (1973) which I had read as a youth in the ‘City of Lakes’, Minneapolis or in all Greek: Limnopolis. The name ‘Minneapolis’ is mixed Greek (-polis or ‘city’) and Dakotah (Minne- or sky blue as in the sky blue waters of our many lakes) or perhaps it could also be called Hirikozingirak in Basque. Why Basque you ask? A lot of reasons and we’ll get to those in more detail a later essay in this series though I touched on it in the first one I link to below as well as my 2011-12 Holiday Season blog. For now I’ll just say I love linguistics almost as much as calendrics. Dr. Asimov has two chapters on calendrics the first is called ‘The Moon over Babylon’ describing the evolution of the Western calendar and it is part of the inspiration for the title of this series of ‘short’ blogs. The second is called ‘The Week Excuse’ describing his preferred calendar reforms. Yes, he is fond of puns and sadly for some I have picked up that questionable habit. I will try to restrain myself but I make no promises. I will discuss both of his calendar chapters later in my forthcoming series of ‘blogisodes’ on ‘The Skystone Witches’ Calendar’. The point of this blog here is a different chapter in the book titled as you might expect ‘The Triumph of the Moon’.
The ‘Tragedy of the Moon’ is the first chapter of his popular science anthology as well as the anthology title. The Good Doctor (he has a Doctorate in biochemistry) produced an amazing volume of essays explaining the science of the day for the layman as well as writing a lot of famous science fiction which we will, oddly enough touch on later. The idea here is the speculation that Human Civilization might be much further advanced if our Moon orbited Venus instead of Earth. This would be due to the fact that a Moon orbiting Venus (we’ll call it Cupid as Dr. Asimov does) would be visible from Earth. Even simple Hunter Gatherers and their shamans would be able see it, a dim, tiny star always close to the brilliant Morning or Evening Star. It would be obvious the Morning Star and Evening Star were one in the same planet from the beginning because of Cupid’s regular motion around Venus. The Geocentric Folk Theory, the notion of the Earth as the Center of God’s Cosmos, the Universe and that Humanity was the pinnacle of God’s Creation would never have taken hold. The Enlightenment and Science would have begun much earlier in our social development and we would far more technologically and socially advanced than we are now.
Relative size of Luna to Earth (l) Lunar Formation (r)
The next chapter is of course ‘The Triumph of the Moon’, our original use of this recycled title is where Dr. Asimov originally points out the common scientific ideas current in the 1960s and 70s that the Moon’s presence is essential to our existence. First, through strong and variable tides that helped drive our ancestral Marine Life onto the Land. He also speculates that primitive humans trying to understand the Moon’s cycles may have initiated counting and the earliest forms of Arithmetic and Calendrics. His third speculation is that when pondering the problem of the planets motion along with the Moon in the early urban civilizations the Moon complicated the simplistic model of the four ‘earthly’ elements of earth, water, air and fire and the luminous celestial element of the ‘ether’. Though Aristotle thought the Moon was ether many others thought the Moon was a world like ours and in the end, Pagan Greek astronomers like Eratosthenes of Cyrene (c.276 BC to c.195 BC) who also believed the Earth was a sphere and Hipparchos of Nicaea (c.190 BC to c.120 BC) who first calculated the distance and size of the Moon and Aristarchos of Samos (310 BC to 230 BC) who also believed the planets revolved around the Sun were proved right. Dr. Asimov concludes the best of all situations is a moon around both worlds.
Now, some 30 years later three more science items are added to Dr. Asimov’s list: 4) The presence of the Moon stabilizes the Earth’s axis which could wobble over time causing massive pole shifts and causing abrupt and catastrophic climate change as has happened at Mars. The other two are more speculative but related and are based in part on the Lunar samples brought back by the Apollo missions: The Collision of the planetismal with the proto-Earth may have been essential to 5) blast away a portion of the Earth’s primary crust to initiate Plate Tectonics and 6) shock away most of the Earth’s initial accretion atmosphere to avoid a runaway Greenhouse Effect that the planet Venus succumbed to early in it’s history. Lovely Luna is vital to our very existence, which I find quite pleasing and obvious as a Wiccan High Priest. Thus, Hutton’s title is not original though a lot of his research is. Dr. Isaac Asimov’s Triumph of the Moon is available online.
Now I seriously doubt Prof. Hutton stole the title from Dr. Asimov because Professor of History Ronald Hutton of Bristol University is far too, um…unacquainted with the physical sciences to have seen it. I also agree with Prof. Hutton that Wicca is a fascinating religion that Britain has given the World. We just disagree on precisely when that happened. We disagree on his point that it is the only religion Britain has given the World. As a point of history the majority of Classical sources of Ancient Rome and Greece agree that Britain also gave the world Druidism early in the Classical Era. I know Roman History is not Hutton’s specialty (that’s the British Civil War and Restoration) I would think he would have at least mentioned that.
As I mentioned above besides Astronomy, Calendrics and some other physical sciences I love linguistics and that is one of the many Wiccan relevant sciences Hutton woefully neglects. Though he claims to be doing ‘scientific history’ no where in his “Triumph” does he define ‘Wicca’ or ‘Witchcraft’! The etymology and linguistics of the words ‘witch’ and ‘wicca’ are vital components of our history, our very language and I discuss the new discoveries in detail here: “The Roots of the terms ‘Wicca’ and ‘Witchcraft’ and Their Original and Modern Usages” (2013). This is a longer, more detailed essay that I can later build up into a book chapter for a future text, an actual scientific History of Witchcraft. The idea of writing a ‘scientific history’ and then not defining your central terms let alone not providing a modern etymology is just stunning. Our primary concern here is Wicca (and Hwicce! Follow the link for that story too.), but we will touch on Druidism often enough. Once, from the mid-Nineteenth to mid-Twentieth centuries, relatively few questioned the antiquity of Witchcraft. Margaret Murray had definitively and academically settled that issue in 1921 with her masterpiece “The Witchcult of Western Europe”. That has changed dramatically since the early 60s. What happened? Stay tuned for the next installment of “The Moon over Limnopolis”!