One of the first Pagan-centric books I read back in the day was Ariadne’s Thread: A Workbook of Goddess Magic by Shekhinah Mountainwater.
It was, for the most part, a fairly typical Dianic Witchcraft intro. However, the exercises were really well crafted. The best one, in my opinion, was how to make a perpetual calendar. I made one years ago, have updated it since, and still find it useful. So I thought I’d share!
What is a Perpetual Calendar?
A calendar is simply a way of organizing days. Most calendars have defined start and stop dates, like the annual calendars with which we’re all familiar. A perpetual calendar, in contrast, progresses in a cyclic fashion potentially forever.
That’s cool enough when you’re tracking one thing. But this calendar layers cycles, which lets me compare them all together at a glance.
Back when I was running a lot of Pagan-style rituals I used this thing constantly. Esbats all had to have some sort of magickal purpose, but even then I rarely had a specific magickal need. Using this calendar I could see, at a glance, what the influences were around moon phases or a specific date. That gave me a ton of correspondences to trigger inspiration when I was running dry. To this day I use it when timing things like rites of passage and other workings that don’t have a hard-and-fast date requirement.
This Wheel also became a wonderful visual symbol for my Lady, who is The Lady of the Wheel.
Here it is, much battered and and still beloved:
What Cycles Can I Track?
This is totally up to you. Any cycle that can work out over the course of a year works. Just remember that the more detail you want to add the bigger it’ll be. Here’s what I chose to work with:
Holiday Observances: This includes the quarters, the cross-quarters, and the one I added. I also used the names I’ve assigned to them. (For more information check this.)
Astrological Signs: Easy way to tell if I’m in Pisces or Aries, since that’s not something I keep on the top of my head.
Folk Names for Full Moons: I honestly don’t know where the particular names I use came from (I think I combined several sets to find names I liked), but you can find a billion versions online. Here is a list of a bunch of different names, and this link has some sample meanings, as does this one.
Runic Half-Months: This is a fairly modern system proposed by Nigel Pennick in his work on runic astrology and has been widely dispersed since. Essentially one rune from the Elder Futhark is associated with every 2 weeks of the year. It’s nowhere near traditional, but still interesting to consider. Here’s a listing with dates and associated meanings.
Lunar Moon Phases: My Wheel indicates the full moon (white), dark/new moon (black) and waxing/waning phases (silver) throughout the year.
Gregorian Calendar: Months and days divided out in the way we’re all most familiar with. I made each month a different color and then a small hash mark for each day. Only multiples of 5 were actually numbered. Since there are only 360* in a circle, and there are up to 366 days in a year, this section has the most fudging. I have to tweak the alignment when I want to check on something if it’s on the line somewhere.
Other examples include Celtic tree names, birthstones, moon signs, days of the week, Greek/Roman/Egyptian festivals or holy days, fishing/hunting seasons (more useful than you’d think), etc. Use your imagination – there’s TONS out there you can include.
Awesome! How Do I Make One?
It’s a bit tedious but dead easy. Make sure you read the instructions all the way through before beginning. Once you get started it makes total sense.
1) Decide on the cycles you’re going to use. This will determine the amount of poster board you’ll need.
2) Gather supplies. I got everything except the calculator and the pliers at my local dollar store. The list looks long but I spent less than $15, and if you do any papercrafting at all (or you know someone in geometry or trig) you’ll have some of these lying around.
* Enough poster board for your chosen cycles. For convenience I got a pack of pre-cut pieces. I think they were all 8.5”x11”. My largest wheel required two pieces to be glued together for me to get the size I needed, but otherwise it worked out well.
* A compass large enough for your largest cycle (or you can use the tried and true “trace bowls/plates/cups” method).
* A protractor
* A ruler
* A pencil
* A fine-line Sharpie
* A bunch of map pencils/crayons/watercolors/etc (I stuck with map pencils)
* A glue stick
* A LARGE brad
* A straight piece of wire a little over half the diameter of your largest circle
* A pair of pliers that can bend the wire
3) Make one poster board circle for each cycle with the compass or object tracing and then cut them all out. Make sure each circle you make has a different diameter.
4) Decide which circle will be used for each cycle. Write your decision on the back so you won’t get them confused. Remember that the larger the circle the more info you can include. That’s why, on mine, the circle with the 9 holidays is the smallest and the one indicating every single day is the largest.
5) Now the fun begins! A circle has 360*. Use the calculator to figure out how big each “pie slice” should be. For instance, my Wheel shows 12 astrological signs. 360* divided by 12 equals 30* for each sign. Write that number on the back of each circle. (Some of the numbers won’t be even. That’s fine. Do some rounding and fudge a bit. It’ll still be close enough for government work. You might just have to set aside a few minutes once a month or something to tweak the alignment.)
6) Use the ruler and protractor to evenly “slice” your circles with a pencil. You should wind up with perfectly even sections. Once you’re sure the lines are what you want, go over them with the fine line Sharpie to make them permanent. Don’t do anything else with it yet, though. Repeat for all circles.
7) Take the smallest circle and center it on the next largest circle. Lightly trace around the smaller one with a pencil, then remove it. Now take the circle you just drew on, center it on top of the next largest circle, and trace around that edge. Repeat until every circle has a line drawn on it. The area between the line you traced and the edge of the circle is the part of the each that’ll be visible when they’re all stacked on top of each other, so make sure they’re centered well!
8) Time to color and label! Decorate all the circles however you please. I used a Sharpie and map pencils. You want to do paint or glitter or anything else? Go for it. Just remember that any labeling or coloring you do will only be visible between the pencil line you traced and the edge of the circle!
9) Using the pliers, curl one end of the wire so that it’s a little bigger in diameter than the prongs of the brad but smaller than the head. Lay the curled end of the wire in the center of the largest circle and cut the other end of the wire to fit.
10) Use the scissors to make a hole in the center of each circle that’s wider than the prongs of the brad but smaller than the head. Trim away any excess so the pieces can fit together as smoothly as possible.
11) Stack all the circles on top of each other, smallest to largest. Put the curled wire on top of the stack. Push the brad through all the layers. Arrange the circles so that they relate to each other correctly, then splay the brad out on the back to hold everything as tightly together as possible. (If you can’t get it tight enough, a few paperclips to hold the circles together works well too.)
12) If desired, make one more circle the size of the largest one. Use it to note keywords associated with each section. For instance, the rune “Sowilo/Sowulo” might have “clarity, light, energy” as keywords. If you write small enough you can get a lot of notes on the back! When done, glue it carefully to the back of the Wheel so you can flip the Wheel over and see the notes. Not only do you get a built in cheat sheet, but it covers up the back of the brad to make it look neater too.
Yay! How do I use it?
Pick one spot on the Wheel that you want to check, move the wire to that part, and see what else the wire touches. *shrug* Simple!
For instance, I have each day marked on the outermost circle so I can check dates. I simply move the wire until it points at the day I want to check and see what else is going on. Like, today!
As you can see the wire passes over the middle of “Exploration” (what I call Candlemas), the beginning of Pisces, the tail end of the Storm Moon, the middle of Sowilo/Sowulo, and the tail end of the last quarter/waning moon. All of those influences factor in to what this day could represent. Offhand?
- Exploration: Work on the inner self, mental challenges and goals, education, spiritual connections, new spiritual relationships.
- Pisces: Compassion, devotion, intuition, sacrifice, idealism, spirituality, escapism.
- Storm Moon: Future planning, overcoming obstacles, hidden potential.
- Sowilo/Sowulo: Energy, light, clarity.
- Waning: Banishing and binding work, release of old baggage, cleansing, looking inward, closure.
- Numerology of the date (Feb 28, 2014 – 2+2+8+2+0+1+4 = 19=10=1): Leadership, independence, creativity, originality, newness.
So if I wanted to structure a working for this evening – or simply know what passive correspondences might affect me today – I’d get some insight just from glancing at the Wheel.
Alternately I might decide I want to do something on the next full moon. So I’d move the wire to the next full moon from today (so mid-March). I’d still be in Exploration, and still in Pisces, but everything else would have changed by then. A whole new menu of correspondences! Want to do something specific during the runic half-month of Kenaz? Move the wire to that runic half-month and see what dates and other influences apply. Can’t get much simpler, and this way you don’t have to scurry back and forth between various books or websites.
If you read this and decide to make your own, please share – I’d love to see what you come up with!