The Shepherd’s Calendar

How were the week days portrayed back in the day?

A beautiful set of seven day of the week images can be found in a popular medieval calendar entitled The Shepherd’s Almanac. This periodical 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. Please 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 in his daily life by the popular content of The Shepherd’s Almanac.

The Day of the Week Rulers

A woodcut from the Shepard’s Calendar

The fact that this detailed image was published in the The Shepard’s Calendar indicates that it represents a commonly held belief system about the solar system and the days of the week. There is no doubt whatsoever that the seven day week has astrology as its underpinnings.

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.

The descriptions of each of the Weekly Rulers focus on the image’s OUTER depiction. These seven figures clarified feudal roles and social identities just as today’s psychological archetypes function for us. Those familiar with astrology can easily discern their INNER essence or spirit.