Time Order and ‘Speaking Out’: Traditional Farming and Beliefs in Europe and Indonesia and Sky Symmetry Considerations


  • Harm Henricus Hollestelle




star-sky, symmetry, time, farming, ornaments


Ordering is indicated by what we perceive of the world, like for instance the behavior of water, as water appears always to flow downwards. Since we do not assume that water will flow otherwise when not perceived by us, ordering is assumed to be real. Time order specifically relates to sky movements. Correlation between sky movements and traditional practices for farming and religious beliefs can be traced back at least until the Neolithic. Examples from northwestern Europe and Indonesia are discussed. This correlation does not mean that sky movements and human practices are related in any other way apart from what persons choose voluntary. The use of one calendar as a guide for another is usually supposed to be a one way human initiative.In this article I propose to explore the possibility of a two way correlation between persons and objects by introducing spiritual properties for both. Persons and objects can have a spiritual property in common. With a spiritual property is meant a property that ‘speaks out’ of a human person’s or object’s integral life and longing. For persons this is a more obvious concept than for objects. Considering objects of art, such as artistic drawings, makes this concept conceivable also for objects in general. ‘Speaking out’ is like crying: <au>, as a reaction to pain. It is quite involuntary and inevitable that it happens. What is personal is the choice, or maybe one might say: the education, of the expression <au>.With the concept of ‘speaking out’ I connect with the theatre training work of Iris Warren and Kristin Linklater. At the same time, while objects and their properties belong to the domain of physics, I will use some basic symmetry concepts from physics. Correlation then takes the form of an interwoven fabric where cause and effect are entangled. Different subsistence practices will correlate with different symmetries, i.e. translational and rotational symmetries, of the sky universe, that can be recognized from artistic expressions like personal ornaments.


Ammarell, G. (1985). Sky Calendars of the Indo-Malay Archipelago. Paper presented at the Int. Astronomical Union Colloquium #91.

Bourgeois, Q. (2013). Monuments on the Horizon, Sidestone Press.

Brinkgreve, F. (1997). Offerings to Durga and Pretiwi in Bali. Asian Folklore Studies, 56, 227-251. (note by author: Durga and Pretiwi are different names for the deities mentioned in the text)

Brout, R. & Englert, F. (1998). Spontanuous Symmetry Breaking in Gauge Theories. arXiv.org. ArXiv:hep-th/9802142.

Cooney, G. (2000). Landscapes of Neolithic Ireland. Routledge.

Curie, P. (1884). Sur la symétrie dans les phénomènes Physiques, symétrie d’un champ électrique et d’un champ magnétique, Journal de Physique (Paris) 3rd series, 3, 393-415. (English translation in: Rosen, J. 1955. Symmetry in Science, Springer NY).

Devriendt, I. (2008). Becoming Neolithic. Documenta Praehistorica, XXXV.

Furness, W. H. (1899). Folk-lore in Borneo, A Sketch. privately printed, Wallingford, Pennsylvania, USA, (digitized version by Google 2008).

Gaffney, V. et al (2013). Time and a Place: A luni-solar ‘time-reckoner’ from 8th Millennium BC Scotland. Internet Archeology( InterArch), 34.

Goldstein, H. (1980). Classical Mechanics. Addison-Wesley.

Grimm, J. & Grimm, W. (1812). Kinder- und Haus- Marchen. (English translation: Zipes, J. ed. (2014). The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Princeton University Press)

Hollestelle, H. (2015): Comparing the Incomparable, submitted for publication Pacific Science Review.

Hughes-Freeland, F. (2008). Embodied Communities: Dance Traditions and Change in Java. Berghahn.

Jordaan, R. E. (1997). Tara and Nyai Lara Kidul: Images of the divine feminine in Java. Asian Folklore Studies, 56, 285-312.

McCance, D. (2011). Crossings, An Interview with Kristin Linklater. Mosaic, 44,1-45.

Nuzzo, A. (2011). The Voice, the Body and the Mind, Reflections in the Aftermath of Kant and Herder. Mosaic, 44, 121-137.

Phillips, T. (2011). Super Full Moon. science.nasa.gov/science-news.

Solange, R., d’Errico, F., & Vanhaeren, M. (2015). Ornaments Reveal Resistance of North European Cultures to the Spread of Farming. PLOS/one.

Turner, V. (1967). The Forest of Symbols. Cornell University Press.

Van Baarle, C. (2009). Handel en wandel op de Veluwe. BDG Zwolle, NL.

Van Den Bosch, F. (1980). Der Javanische Mangsakalender. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (Contributions to Language, Geography and Ethnology), 136, 248-282.

Van Gennep, A. (1909). Rites de Passage, (English Edition 1960: The Rites of Passage. University of Chicago Press).

Wiramihardja, S. (2013). Ethnoastronomy, The Sundanese of West java and their Relation to Ethnoastronomy. Newsletter of the Center for South East Asia Studies Kyoto University, 68, 25-27.

Yogasmana, Y. (2015). Notes of an interview with some elders at Kasepuhan Ciptagelar. unpublished, private communication by Gustaff Iskandar, Commonroom, Bandung.