Wait, what day is it?
Who hasn’t had thought like this since Covid-19 turned our lives upside down? Given that the world’s current relationship to time is primarily industrial, such temporal dislocation shouldn’t be surprising. Until recently, a calendar week had consisted of two main segments, workdays and weekends. Without that familiar structure, many of us have felt unmoored.
Time hasn’t always been so mechanical. We owe our current concept of a calendar week to the ancient Babylonians, who divided the 28-day moon cycle into four seven-day quarters. Though the days’ names have changed, the quarter-moon structure has withstood the test of time.
The English distinctions we use today derive from Germanic, Norse, and Roman myth:
Monday — Day of the Moon
Tuesday — Day of Tiw (Tyr)
Wednesday — Day of Woden (Odin)
Thursday —Thor’s Day of Thor
Friday — Day of Frigg or Freyja
Saturday — Day of Saturn
Sunday — Day of the Sun
In ancient cultures, including Greek, Roman, and Egyptian, days were not just a sequence where each day merely connected the day before with the day after. Each day had its own distinct qualities, like a tone of the musical scale or a color of the rainbow. Think of Monday as red. In this analogy, Tuesday would be orange, with its own unique attributes, not just a connection point between red and yellow.
Day of the Moon
Monday gets its name from Máni, the Norse personification of the Moon. In Greek myth, she known Selene and often associated with Artemis, goddess of the hunt, and Hecate, the goddess of crossroads and magic. The Romans called her Luna or Diana.
Selene drove her chariot across the night sky, alternating shifts with her brother Helios who had the day shift. At the end of her ride, she passed the chariot to her sister Eos, goddess of the dawn.
If you associate the seven days of the week with the seven colors of the rainbow, you might think of Monday as red, the base of the visible spectrum. While you’re at it, you might link this metaphor to another archetypal system built around the number seven, the chakras.
In the Vedic chakra system, the Root or Base Chakra, called Mūlādhāra, represents the survival center, our instinctual nature, what Freud called the id. In the face of fear, we fight, flee, or freeze. In search of comfort, we pursue food, sleep, and sex. This is the symbolic home of courage, resourcefulness, and survival instinct.
The root chakra also connects us with the spiritual energies of our ancestors, their challenges and triumphs. Containing a record of our encoded memories of war, famine, and natural disasters, these memories travel through time, passing from generation to generation, creating unconscious behavioral patterns. With COVID-19, we’re experiencing collective trauma, one that has activated our unconscious patterns, causing our most primal survival mechanisms to surface.
The light of the Moon helps us to see these shadowy patterns, allowing us to respond intentionally to our current predicament instead of reacting to a past trauma when our forefathers had limited biological understanding and fewer technological resources.
An Experiment: Monday Wisdom
To honor the Moon, tend the most primal part of your subconscious self, the part concerned with survival.
Start by noticing that YOU ARE HERE.
You are in this world at this time.
You deserve to be here now.
There is a reason for you to be here.
What do you need here and now?
The Moon reflects light and spends much of her time obscured by Earth’s shadow. By her light, we can navigate the dark.
Sit with yourself and ask what you might notice if you were fully present. Be still and listen for answers.
Thriving begins with surviving, with meeting your needs. How attuned are you to what you truly need? When you eat, do you swing from craving to craving, or do you nourish your body?
This concept applies to the mental and emotional diet, as well.
What kind of information do you feed yourself? Do you get high on future-tripping and crystal ball predictions, or do you consume news that is relevant to you and actionable?
When you clothe yourself, do you simply cover your nakedness, or do you lovingly warm and protect yourself from the elements? How do you protect yourself from outside entities that would drain your life-force?
If I could see more of myself clearly, what would I notice?
To be clear, I’m not proposing this model as The Truth, merely a way to engage time more meaningfully. The ancient Greeks were a much more reflective and introspective culture than ours today. We’ve lost touch with our inner lives as we’ve adapted to our roles as cogs in a capitalist machine.
Our associations with days, months, and hours are breaking down, giving us a rare opportunity to question and explore our relationship to time. Perhaps by engaging ancient mythic wisdom, we can bring deeper meaning and purpose to our daily lives.