6. Measuring Social Reality
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Measuring Social Reality
Through exacting long-term observation, our ancestors determined that seasonal cycles, vegetation growth cycles, and even animal migration and mating cycles correlated with the cyclic changing position of the moon and sun. That information provided them with a reliable and perpetual time frame—a calendar—to schedule their social festivals and rituals and to know the optimum planting and harvest times. Their culture, along with their economy, was wedded to the sky. In striving for greater calendrical accuracy, the astronomer priests of many African families, such as the Dogon of Mali in Africa, incorporated the rising and setting of certain stars or groups of stars into their various calendars. Such accuracy was necessary to make certain that the sacred holy days coincided precisely with the end or beginning of one of nature’s basic cycles, thus maintaining their community’s harmonious relationship with nature. Politics was also involved: priests derived their power and influence by keeping an accurate calendar.
—HUNTER HAVEUN ADAMS III (2001)