I’ve often said that one of the reasons we live as we do is to gain insight on the spiritual traditions of the ancients. And while writing my recent website article on raising goats, it occurred to me how it was that autumn came to be regarded by the ancients as the start of the new year (as opposed to our modern perception of midwinter or the spring green-up).
The folk of old, especially the Celts of ancient western Europe who were so reliant on their dairy and meat animals, understood that at the waning of the sun in autumn was when many goats, deer and cattle went into estrus. It was when the females of those species bred and new fetal life began from non-life. Thus, at the waning of the sun new life sprung. The ancients’ lives were closely tied to the success of their dairy and meat livestock, so it is only natural that they would have translated the event of estrus to their perception of the calendrical start of the new year–the end of the year coinciding with the dying of the sun yet the creation of new life!