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‘The Celts... seem to have dated the beginning of the year from... (Samhain) rather than from Beltane. In the Isle of Man, one of the fortresses in which the Celtic language and lore longest held out against the siege of the Saxon invaders, the first of November, Old Style, has been regarded as New Year’s Day down to recent times. Thus Manx mummers used to go round on Halloween (Old Style), singing, in the Manx language, a sort of Hogmanay song which began "Tonight is New Year’s Night, Hogunnaa!" In ancient Ireland, a new fire used to be kindled every year on Halloween, or the Eve of Samhain, and from this sacred flame all the fires in Ireland were rekindled. Such a custom points strongly to Samhain or All Saints’ Day (the first of November) as New Year’s Day; since the annual kindling of a new fire takes place most naturally at the beginning of the year, in order that the blessed influence of the fresh fire may last throughout the whole period of twelve months...’ J. G. Frazer The Golden Bough.

While spin doctors are busy battering time junkies with their mind bending ‘Millennium’ psycho-assaults, the Neoist Alliance is fine-tuning the Modern Khemetic Calendar (MKE). This calendar is based on the 365 day year developed by the ancient Egyptians. The Khemetic Calendar is based on cycles of 1,460 years, the end of the last cycle being marked by the Calabrian Revolt which according to addicts of apocalyptic time occurred in 1599 AD. Thus depending on where one places the New Year within the MKE, we are currently right at the end of 398 or just entering the second quarter of 399. While England switched from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, Scotland began treating 1st January as New Year’s Day as early as 1 MKE. Surprisingly, some of those who’ve adopted the MKE still count 1st January as New Year’s Day.

According to the English version of the Julian Calendar, New Year’s Day fell on 25th March, with the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar 11 days were lost but in many cases the movement of dates was rounded up to an imperial dozen. Thus in the English Gregorian Calendar, Old New Year’s Day became 6th April and New Year’s Day was moved to 1st January. The English financial year is still based on the old system but is now dated according to the Gregorian Calendar. The Neoist Alliance favours 25th March as New Year’s Day within the Modern Khemetic Calendar precisely because it doesn’t coincide with the dates for either the old or current New Year’s Day within the Gregorian Calendar. 25th March is a particularly attractive choice for New Year’s Day since according to folk law, it is the date on which faeries are most commonly seen. This may also explain why the 398 MKE (1997 AD) Spectacle-Wearer of the Year Awards were held at the Savoy Hotel in London on 25th March.

Having fixed New Year’s Eve as 24th March, it is perhaps useful to look at some of the ways in which the event might be celebrated. Since Hogmanay in Scotland is traditionally a more important festival than the birth of the Toad of Nazareth, it seems appropriate to look for inspiration in the ‘far north’. There are a number of Scottish fire festivals that kick off just before midnight on 31st December. For example, at Biggar in Strathclyde there is a ritual known as The Burning Out Of The Old Year. A gigantic bonfire is built in the middle of the main street and after a torch lit parade through town it is set ablaze. The fire is kept burning until first light in the New Year, when herrings are grilled in the embers. In the north-eastern coastal town of Stonehaven, locals ward off evil spirits with their Fireballs Ceremony. Wire balls filled with paraffin soaked wood and cloth are whirled around the heads of those engaged in the ceremony before being thrown into the sea. In the Flambeaux Procession at Comrie in Tayside, ten foot long birch poles crowned with flaming hessian sacking are paraded behind a pipe band.

In Scotland, 11th January is Old New Year’s Eve and this is still celebrated with a fire festival known as Burning The Clavie at Burghead on the Moray Firth. A half-barrel is attached to a fisherman’s pole. Beneath this a cage is constructed through which the Clavie-carriers stick their heads. The half-barrel is filled with wood and tar before being set alight at six in the evening. Carrying the Clavie is a sweaty and potentially hazardous task but members of various local families enthusiastically take a turn. The superstitious believe that ill luck will fall upon the residents of Burghead if a carrier stumbles. Therefore the Clavie is breezily carted up Doorie Hill, where it is installed in a stone receptacle and the flaming contents thrown down at the assembled townsfolk. Spectators scrabble for pieces of the burning Clavie, since its remnants are said to bring good fortune while simultaneously warding off evil.

There are, of course, many other fire festivals that take place at different times of the year and some of these might also provide inspiration for New Year ceremonies kicking off late in the evening on 24th March. Those propagating the Modern Khemetic Calendar in different parts of the world will have to look for suitable locations for these festivities. In mainland Britain, the psychogeographical researches of the Neoist Alliance have already uncovered an extremely ambient site. This is in the area immediately around the Nascent Lion stones in Hazelhead Park, Aberdeen. The local council uses this park as a dump for much of its unwanted street furniture and these dressed stones were acquired in the 1930s so that the artist D. O. Pilkington-Jackson could sculpt them into lions for a planned road bridge. Due to war economies, the bridge was built without decorative sculptures and three of the four stones purchased for this purpose have been arranged in an ensemble at Hazelhead Park.

A sign beneath the Nascent Lions states that they are not druidical stones. The Aberdeenshire area is famous for its abundance of recumbent stone circles which pre-date the Druid religion by hundreds of years, so it is difficult to explain why Aberdeen council is concerned that the curious might mistake the Nascent Lions for Druid Stones. Close to the Nascent Lions is the Hazelhead Maze which was laid out in privet by Sir Henry Alexander in 1935. Recently the maze has been locked up but it is easy to get over the fence and Neoist Alliance researchers have experienced extremely good orgasms at the goal. The name Aberdeen means between the River Dee and the River Don. A fire festival at the Nascent Lions on the night of 24/25th March would thus successfully combine the elements of fire and water, a particularly fine achievement. For this reason, the Neoist Alliance has decided to make the Nascent Lions in Hazelhead Park the focus of its 399 MKE New Year celebrations.


Stewart Home with placard

Stewart Home tells it like it is...