The Shepherd’s Calendar

How were the week days portrayed back in the day?

A beautiful set of seven day of the week rulers can be found in a popular medieval calendar entitled The Shepherd’s Almanac. This periodical t was originally published in France by Guy Marchant in 1492 and translated into English at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Eventually the task of keeping the business afloat fell to Merchant’s son, Jean and he clearly did a good job. It is thought that by 1660 over 400,000 copies of the almanac were sold annually.

The editors of  Literature and the New Interdisciplinarity: Poetics, Linguistics, History state that “The Shepard’s Calendar was one of the most popular almanacs of it’s time. It was an influential and prominent book in Elizabethan culture because it was familiar to all classes of society. It’s contents were assembled from material that occur commonly in late medieval manuscripts: it contains a calendar, the tree of vices and the tree of virtues, medical material, and astrological and physiognomical tracts.

In 1579 the English poet, Edmond Spenser, published his first  work The Shepheardes Calendar. Keep in mind that Spenser had nothing to do with creating the publication that we are investigating.  It is felt by some critics  that the similarity in the titles of both works that Spenser was greatly influenced by the popular content of The Shepherd’s Almanac.

THE DAYS OF THE WEEK

The fact that this detailed image was published in the The Shepard’s Calendar indicating that it represented a commonly held belief system about the solar system and the days of the week.

Saturn rules Saturday – Saturn is portrayed as an aged male. He is supported by a crutch and holds a jagged knife. Saturn governs Aquarius and Capricorn.

Jupiter rules Thursday – Jupiter appears as a male in his prime. He holds a staff in one hand and three arrows in the other. Saturn governs Sagittarius and Pisces.

Mars rules Tuesday – Mars is pictured as a male warrior. He bravely holds a flag in one hand and a shield in the other.  Mars governs Aries and Scorpio.

The Sun rules Sunday – The Sun is portrayed as a mature male king wearing a crown. He holds a scepter and an open book. The Sun governs the sign of Leo.

Venus rules Friday – Venus is revealed as an attractive woman.  She holds a shiny mirror in and a flowering branch. Venus governs the signs of Taurus and Libra.

Mercury rules Wednesday – Mercury is portrayed as a young male. He holds a bag of coins and a pair of snakes. Mercury governs the signs of Gemini and Virgo.

The Moon rules Monday – The Moon is pictured as a mature woman.  She holds rushes in one hand and a horn in the other. The Moon governs the sign of Cancer.

Our examinations of each of the celestial figures focus on the image’s OUTER depiction. Those familiar with cultural Iconography or classical astrology can search out the INNER intent.  It must be pointed out that these seven figures clarified feudal roles and social identities just as today’s psychological archetypes function for us.

Possibly the day of the week rulers were portrayed as naked because in their essence they were thought to be pure. It was also a belief at the time that all humans were protected by the celestial “lord” overseeing their day of birth. That made each individual a “child” of one of these seven planetary rulers.

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