Ascension Day, Ramadan and Celestial Alliance: this Week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

May 22, 2017


This week, the Moon comes to New Phase on Thursday, May 25th, which is Ascension Day in the Christian calendar, and which marks the onset of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar.

The way the Christian calendar is set up, Ascension Day will always occur within one week of New Moon. The Moon plays an important role in determining the dates of the Christian observance, and it’s significant that every month through Spring and Summer, the Moon will only come to Full Phase below the Celestial Equator. The Sun, on the other hand, spends that entire time above the Celestial Equator. This position of Sun above and Moon below Celestial Equator represents the triumph of solar forces over lunar forces in the Christian Mysteries.

By contrast, sacred and religious observance in the Islamic calendar is based solely on the cycle of the Moon, which doesn’t repeat in the same phase on the same date from one year to the next. This means that the sacred times, like Ramadan, migrate through the year, no matter the season, and no matter whether Moon is above or below the Celestial Equator.

Christianity and Islam have a common ancestor in Abraham, and from there, it’ s important to note that their differences are not solely rooted in belief or historical narrative, but in what I’ll call their “celestial alliances”; in other words,  in the emphasis on the Sun in the Christian religion, and emphasis on the Moon in Islamic observance.

Ascension Day in the Christian tradition always occurs 40 days after Easter in the Spring, and it’s described as the time when the Christ Being is taken up into a cloud that receives him out of sight.

In Islamic tradition, Ramadan migrates through the year, and is observed as the month during which Muhammad received the initial revelations of what would become the Quran.

This year, both of these observances occur around the same New Moon, Thursday night. You can watch for its first crescent in the west after 10 pm starting Friday.