Today is a momentous date! August 2, 2016 marks one year and one day that SilverLeaf Hollow has been in existence.
In the craft, we often assign certain lengths of time as significant, a year and a day being the most common. Neophytes must study for (at least) a year and a day before being initiated, and traditionally, initiates must wait at least a year and a day between initiating to higher degrees.
Craft tradition is not the only place where a “year-and-a-day rule” has been implemented. In early European feudal societies, if a serf ran away from his lord’s domain, and could keep from being returned for a year and a day, he would be considered a free man. A traditional handfasting would be binding for a year and a day, after which the couple could dissolve the union if they were not happy, and have no negative stigma attached to their time together.
There’s that word again: Time. What exactly is time, anyway?
Wikipedia says that “Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present to the future.” We perceive time through the experiences we have, and we have divided those perceptions into units of “time”, minutes, hours, days. But how we actually experience those units of time is dependent on what is being experienced. “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Why does the weekend go by in a blink, but the work week seems to drag? And time seems to slow to a crawl when we are looking forward to an exciting event or activity.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Professor Slughorn has an hourglass that is affected by the environment around it. If the evening is full of interesting and stimulating conversation, it slows down the sand as it falls. But if the evening is boring, it speeds up. By all accounts, one can say an “hour” has passed; it just varies how long that hour actually is. Of course we don’t have time pieces that can do that (sadly), but there is a concept in magic that has the same varying attributes: Planetary Hours.
By dividing the time, in minutes, from sunrise to sunset by twelve (for the number of “hours” in a “day” or “night”), we end up with twelve “hours” that (more often than not) are NOT 60 minutes long. In fact, there are only two days in the year where the planetary hours will be 60 minutes long: on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes.
So what does this all have to do with why we use “a year and a day” as a magical allotment of time? We know a year as the amount of time it takes for the earth to complete an orbit around the sun. The next day would be the start of the next orbit to be completed. Much like how we don’t stop at the last quarter to be welcomed in the circle, but proceed back to the quarter where we began, to recognize a complete cycle of the heavens and how they relate to us, we have to come back around to the relative place we started, and then go past it to begin the next cycle. It completes the Circle.
Time will always be something that humankind measures and records. Significant events in our lives and our worlds will always be marked and remembered by the point in time that they happened. The challenge is to make the most of those time that may not be “significant”, find the magic in the moment, and find the spiritual in a split-second.
Share your experiences with different perceptions of time in the comments. When has time slowed down or sped up for you?