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To'ul'h Calendar, The

Together with the To'ul'hoss language, the 'Ha'ts'ul (known as the "To'ul'h Calendar" to most Terragens) is an important part of the transcultural memeplex that connected To'ul'h civilisations across barriers of time and geography during the millennia before Terragen contact. Like To'ul'hoss, it has been remarkably resilient. It survived in various incarnations through thousands of years of cultural evolution on To'ul'h Prime, it survived the influx of Terragen ideas in the post-contact years, and it lived through a determined attempt on the part of certain of the Spacer factions to eradicate it during the Spacer/Homeworlder conflicts. It continues to be a vital part of most To'ul'h and To'ul'h-derived cultures and has even been adopted by some Terragens. Its persistence and spread across some 46,000 Terragen years is nothing less than marvellous. Some Progenitists assert that a memeplex so well adapted to survival and propagation cannot possibly have been the work of the 'primitive' astronomer-priests and philosopher-kings that conventional To'ul'h history assigns as its inventors.

The basic form of the 'Ha'ts'ul was invented by philosopher-priests in the cities bordering the Narrow Sea on To'ul'h Prime, and became widespread by about 36,000 BT in Terragen reckoning. Originally it was strongly linked to the region's persistent polytheistic religion and to a series of powerful secular rulers who promoted both the calendar and the religion as a way of unifying their empires, but within less than 500 years it had spread to other cultures, religions, and polities well beyond the Narrow Seas area.

The fundamental unit of time in the Ha'ts'ul is To'ul'h Prime's diurnal period (19.2 Terragen hours). All other units however large or small are multiples or divisions of this time in powers of eight, in accord with the base eight mathematics common to nearly every To'ul'h culture. Initially the reckoning was from noon to noon of local time, but for more detailed records the common standard for the past 15,000 years has been from noon to noon at the ancient and now abandoned city of 'Oss'thol on the 'Oth Plateau on the homeworld. This basic unit is multiplied upwards into 'weeks' of 8 days, and 'months' of 64 days. The 512-day 'years' are likewise multiplied upwards; the largest unit in on which all scholars agree is equal to 32,768 'years' (about 36,886 Terragen years). The day was likewise divided into shorter times. Fractions of 8, 64, and 512, all the way down to times as small as one 32768th of a day (about 2 Terragen seconds) are in common use among ordinary To'ul'hs. In its original formulation, this range downward and upwards, through eight orders of magnitude in To'ul'h arithmetic in each direction, was believed to encompass the entire range of To'ul'h life, from personal experience to the lifetimes of societies. These divisions remain in common usage in all To'ul'h societies, though in later times To'ul'h philosophers and scientists created names for additional orders of magnitude at either end of the scale to encompass larger or smaller times required by their disciplines, such as the lifespan of the multiverse or the smallest possible division of timespace.

A 'year' in the Ha'ts'ul is 512 days, which is actually two days more than a true To'ul'hese solar year. The calendar's creators were well aware of this fact, and kept a separate record of the solar years in relation to their calendar. Given the relative insignificance of seasons in the native To'ul'h environment, and a good record of actual days in the solar year, the difference was important only to academics. Expressing the calendar in powers of eight was considered more important, not only because it simplified reckoning but also because eight was of great significance in the philosophies of the day, as it is many To'ul'h-derived cultures even now. Ha'ts'ul may be roughly translated as 'eight ways of time', in reference to the 'eight directions' (right, left, forward, back, up, down, outward, and inward) of classical Narrow Seas philosophy and faith.

From its inception, and more so with each passing century, the calendar carried a freight of wisdom, myth, superstition, and philosophy, and it influenced and was influenced by the major religions and political systems of each age in which it expressed itself. Each day within the 'week', each month of the 'year', and so on, as well as each traditional division of the day acquired its own name and significance. By the latter part of its history, the calendar was also used in a complex system of weather and climate prediction, using some developments of what Terragens mathematicians would call chaos theory. It was used in a variety of other ways, and depending on the culture and individual might have been anything from a form of divination to a focus for meditation, in addition to its prosaic use in politics and administration. By the time of Terragen contact the calendar and its set of commentaries and the literature around it had acquired tremendous cultural weight. It has been compared to Terragen equivalents as the I Ching, Ifa, Kaballistic thought, the Popol Vuh, or various holy texts, but it is unique in its scope and influence. Of course, some To'ul'h individuals and cultures used it only in its most prosaic sense. For instance, the supremely rationalistic and sceptical monks of the 'Oth Plateau used it solely as a precise measure for their historical documents and to co-ordinate their day to day and year to year operations. However, all but the most isolated and ignorant To'ul'hs were aware of the significance of a given day, 'month', 'week', or 'hour' in the traditional system, if only in the form of 'fortunate' and 'unfortunate' times for certain actions.

Some Terragen and To'ul'h Progenitists have noted some striking parallels between the To'ul'h calendars and the calendars in use by the Central American cultures of Old Earth's Agricultural Age. For instance, both the ancient Mayans and the originators of the To'ul'h calendar used rotating calendrical stones with elaborate carved inscriptions. Interest in these supposed similarities peaked in the 34th Century AT, and has had lesser peaks at various times since. The most recent flush of interest followed the discovery of the most advanced of the 'Amerindian Worlds' (Lost Colonies or perhaps baseline preserves, depending on one's interpretation of the motives of the hypothetical transapient who established them) along the periphery of MPA space. Some of the civilisations on these planets also used calendars apparently derived from the Central American models (though adapted to local conditions), and these resemble the To'ul'h calendar even more than the Central American calendars of Old Earth. Serious scholars, both To'ul'h and Terragen, assert that the parallels are weak and coincidental, but fringe Progenitists believe that there is an enthralling mystery involved in these similarities.

According to some traditional interpretations of the 'Ha'ts'ul literature, history will either end or be substantially altered in approximately 11053 AT. At that time the calendar will have finished the first "great year" since its creation. Various kalyptic cults have predicted anything from the destruction of all sophont life in the galaxy or universe to a mass technorapture of the Terragen and To'ul'h spheres to the arrival of some entity comparable to that described in that described in the Triangulum Transmission. These predictions are scorned by sceptics and ignored by most others. True believers in the 'To'ul'h Prophecies' are a tiny fraction of all Terragens, but their number are expected to grow as the end of the first 'great year' approaches.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 23 July 2006.

 
 
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