Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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Why Charming of the Plough is Celebrated On More Than One Date

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

If you actually have a farm and use a real plough, it's traditional to bless the plough right before using it. The date that one would begin using one's plough would be different in different locations. 

Most pagan and heathen groups that celebrate Charming of the Plough on a specific date don't actually use a real plough for anything. Some American Asatru groups celebrate Charming of the Plough on the second day after Twelfth Night, which is January 3rd. Some celebrate it on February 2nd, which is otherwise called Candlemas / Groundhog Day / Imbolc / Imbolg / Brigid's Day. 

Many holidays have alternate dates. When I was creating the Heathen Calendar, I tried to put in everything, so if there were two possible dates both called by the same holiday name, I put in both, designating who celebrates which date. The less common one is identified as "alternate date." Charming of the Plough is listed on Feb. 2nd as the main date and on Jan. 3rd as "alternate date." 

There are alternate dates for Ostara, too. The Heathen Calendar is meant to present when different groups actually celebrate these holidays rather than picking one "correct" one that people "should" use. I did the same thing with the Slavic Calendar, where there is often a slightly different name for the same holiday from each language or cultural group. I put in all of them. 

Some holidays that I included when I sent the manuscripts of the Calendars to the publisher were inadvertently left off. There are two dates when different groups celebrate Loki's Day. American Asatruars celebrate that holiday on April 1st. Northern Pagans celebrate Loki’s Day on the heliacal rising of Sirius. In 2017-18 that will be August 8. It precesses 1 day every 4 years. It will become August 9th in 2019. The August date is celebrated by fewer people so it is considered the alternate date. That date got left off of this year's calendar, possibly due to a delay in turning the date in because I had to research how to calculate it. If we do another calendar next year, it will be included from the beginning.

When I did the math for these two Calendars, I only calculated dates for 2017. The publisher did the Calendars as 16 month calendars rather than 12 month calendars. Some holidays have fixed dates, such as Feb. 2nd for Charming of the Plough. Moveable holidays such as full moons were not calculated for 2018. I will calculate the 2018 holidays for the 2018 Calendars if we publish 2018 calendars. The decision about whether to publish calendars for a second year has not been made by the publisher yet. 

When agricultural holidays become fixed date holidays, like Charming of the Plough, different groups choose different dates. In some parts of the world, one could not plough in January or February because there is snow on the ground. I encourage people who have farms and gardens to align their agricultural holidays with the actual dates of ploughing, harvesting, etc. in their regions. 


A printing of the Slavic Calendar and the Heathen Calendar. 

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 05 January 2017

    Back when I was still gardening I would use the "Old Farmer's Almanac" to determine planting times for vegetables. I think the earliest I put shovel to ground was in March, but it probably wasn't really until April. There was a sweet spot there right at the end of March or the beginning of April that was just right for the tomatoes; late enough to miss the frost but early enough that they wouldn't drown in the spring rain.

  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale Friday, 06 January 2017

    Anthony, I love the Old Farmers' Almanac. I live in the Mojave Desert bioregion just south of Las Vegas, Nevada. We have different planting seasons for different crops. Last year I planted wheat in December and harvested it in June. I just replanted it last month with seed I saved from last year's crop. Tomatoes I start indoors in January and plant out in mid March, which is the last frost date here. They bear in spring, go dormant in the summer when it's too hot to set fruit, then bear again in fall. I cover them in December to protect them from frost until they start to turn from green to white, then I pick them and bring them inside to ripen in a paper bag, usually around Yule.

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