One of the areas I wrestle with frequently when it comes to devotionals is, quite simply, the calendar. The ancient world used similar but distinct methods of ordering their days; while the month is a pretty sturdy concept, there being a prominent astronomical object that aids in tracking it, how months are ordered and named varies according to time and place. The organization Hellenion has a calendar that usefully lines up the Attic calendar to the modern conventional one.
But does modern worship of ancient deities require adherence to an ancient calendar? It seems artificial, and yet on some level all calendars are artificial, an imposition of order akin to a map: a useful guide, but necessarily incomplete. As a Wiccan seeker and later as a non-Wiccan witchcraft initiate I followed the Wheel of the Year, which doesn’t even derive from a coherent source–to some degree I still do, as I find that its structure still has meaning.
Then, even if one wants to follow an ancient and unconventional calendar (and there are other religions which do, with many more adherents than Paganism even in the biggest-umbrella sense), we have to allow that the rest of our lives doesn’t necessarily follow suit. Scheduling rituals that in ancient days would have been observed by an entire polis is difficult when you live in a society that can’t even decide whether Veterans’ Day should be a bank holiday or not. My group will observe the Mounichia festival on the appropriate day, but it’s as much a fortuitous accident of calendaring as anything else. I found myself in unexpected empathy with a Muslim student at my workplace seeking a place to pray in the midst of a busy day of classes. The campus chapel is open to all, but that wasn’t the point.
All this comes to my mind as the month of Mounichion, containing a festival in honor of Artemis Mounichia, is about to begin (on April 9th, 2016, if you’re curious). Spring is bursting forth in the Pacific Northwest just as the ancient Attic month denoting spring is about to begin. The festival of Artemis Mounichia, with its offerings to the Lady who is the protector (and sometimes the slayer) of youth as well as the steward of wild beasts, has a peculiarly springlike character. As my own practice and that of my group evolves, I see both the month and the festival of Mounichia taking on greater prominence.