THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
The FISH on our Back
Hail, and welcome to the Universal Festival Calendar for April, 2015, and to the ever-fascinating mythic terrain of the April Fool, and the Poissons d'Avril, the April Fish, as the French call them. This month of transition from the fiery aggression of Mars to the languid, sensuous earthiness of Venus, leading to the lusty month of May, brings each year the resurgence of desire and everything connected with it, in the themes of love gained and love lost, love sworn truthfully and love faked, love unrequited and love thrown away, of mastery and slavery, transcendence and immersion, predation and victimhood, glory and shame, as the universal longing to love and be loved, and celebrate love in the full flood of the blood and heat of the flesh, brings delight in the night, then despair at dawn when folly outruns wisdom yet again, and we gain new ways of understanding what Lao Tzu had in mind when he wrote, "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." The master did not also write the obverse of this, though it's easy to infer: when love is warped, wasted and wounded, then we can lose both strength and courage until the needed interval of grieving is done. [Image of Depression courtesy of Inspiral Yoga Therapy]
This time of year always features such regretful awakenings after the first sunny surges of Spring, and they proliferate now in the wake of the seventh and last of the exact Uranus-Pluto squares that have ruled the time from June, 2012 until now, and will remain very much in effect, though less intense, through early 2016. The opening, cracking releases and revolutionary transformations that come with these Uranus-Pluto clashes are by no means behind us now, but, if anything, will continue in a three-month pulsating rhythm that will beat strongest in June, September and December-January. We shall not witness and endure, but we will actively co-create, the changes that come in the year ahead as the entire intentional field experiences more radical phases of detoxification, like the ones that have come with each Uranus-Pluto square so far, and have brought with them the intervals of expanded and deepened perception.
The Toxic Release from the Soul
They are usually felt as nausea and revulsion, as poisons that have long been carried unseen get flushed into our collective bloodstream. The inevitable soul symptoms -- coughing and sneezing, chills and fatigue, lethargy and bad dreams, body aches and short breath, quick anger and stark despair -- have to be undergone before the cleansing can come. This is why the Uranus-Pluto squares so far have not brought dramatic collapses and falls, rising belief balloons and charismatic messiahs, thrilling mass movements and irresistible calls to action. These things can't come when the main emotions that arise, every time our consciousness gets shocked down an octave, drop low and depressive rather than high and brave. When we see yet again how we have been cheated and screwed, fucked and fooled, squeezed and fleeced, taken for granted and taken for everything else, the tenor of the time is one of disgust and revulsion that must, we intend, lead to new action toward something better, and then, as we reach to form and pluck it, and then -- a new bag of dirt and lies bursts open, and the nightmares come again.
How long are we fated (SFX: laughter, bozo horns) to keep going through this? Only as long as we either accept it, or resist learning the new navigational maps through the reefs and shadows, because there is no such thing as fate. There is only the fabric of challenge and opportunity that each one of us wove for ourselves, and we all quilted together into the climactic scene we play now. This, as you know, is the common experience now reported everywhere in the weeks of March 15 - 29, as the Painful Truth theme of the last Uranus-Pluto square was amplified into an emotional tsunami by the rare and immensely powerful Total Eclipse coming exactly before the moment of the Spring Equinox.
Meeting the Shadow, Ready or Not
This precise placement and timing is of high significance, because if the Moon and Sun had conjoined exactly only minutes later, then the Eclipse would have been far more intense, turbulent and dangerous, because the Black Moon implosion would have been in Aries, with the Moon trying in vain to brake the Warrior when he is hot to strike and mad for a kill, his energy ready to explode at once, no matter what it blasts and burns, including himself. But with the great lights joined in Pisces, the moment has been much more passive and diffuse, occurring in the black depths of the archetypal sea, in the domain of dreams and imagination, escape and empathy. fantasy and fraud, seduction and victimhood. Thus it has happened simultaneously in recent days in both Pisac, Peru, where I live, and in Cairo, Egypt, where I am now, and in many other places, that there have been communal controversies about alleged "magicians," "shamans" and "medicine men," and the well-meaning sheep they shear and cook for their profit and pleasure. It is the same eternal story of the Wolf and the Lamb, except that this time the Wolf wears a feathered hat and carries a guitar, while the Lamb believes everything he murmurs about love and light as he begins to massage her heart.
The brilliant Pisac medicine woman Merdith Shippam belled the cat and woke the dog just after the Eclipse when she wrote in the Facebook group Spirit Events Sacred Valley a message that began, "The epidemic of abuse of power by 'medicine men' and other spiritualists is appalling. We see it in our community also, unfortunately. Many seek the medicines to heal from sexual trauma and abuse -- then are re-traumatized when the 'healer' takes advantage of them. This reinforces all beliefs that is is NOT safe to trust, it's never safe to be vulnerable and that we are not worthy of respect etc. etc. etc. among so many others."
The result, inevitably, has turned the Sacred Valley in recent days into a combination of confessional, shooting gallery and dog bath. In the way that striking one string of a piano will cause the octave strings above and below to vibrate too, revelations about sexual wounding have triggered mirroring and chances for healing in others who felt their old traumas opened and aired. Then, inevitably, the other shoe fell, as there was a wave of self-righteous polemics by an alleged authority, and others who bought into his game. Now Act 3 begins, as the great massage artist Sean West has started a new group, the Sacred Valley Ethics Forum. So far it's human beings as usual: compassion followed by control, then starting to move, one hopes, toward concord as individuals see that it is more important to draw and dispel the poison than it is to imagine oneself as an innocent "good man," entitled to condemn the darkness and folly in everyone but himself. Astrologer Greta Bollinger has written beautifully about this moment, in March - April 2015, when the projecting out can trigger the looking within:
"This process is not just about purging or shaking off 'burdens'--if something is lingering and unresolved, it's time to deal with your part of it so that you (and perhaps others) can move on, otherwise it's not really done. With Saturn in Sagittarius, fear associated with how this may change our personal world view can be a stumbling block, but neither solar nor lunar eclipse here feels very fearful. . . . [T]he theme is making way for a new paradigm to invent itself, unhampered by histories that are no longer viable but enabled by everything we have learned to create a more perfect existence and produce more masterful work."
What the New Age Is and Is Not
Thus we come now to the Moment of Truth, as each one has the chance to see his or her shadow, integrate it in what can feel like a scouring of the soul, and emerge whole and clean on the other side. This moment inevitably triggers the use of phrases like "new age bullshit" to describe the naiveté of those who won't accept any possibility of foul motives in themselves or anyone else. The New Age itself is not the problem. The term was true and potent when it was coined by the maga Alice A. Bailey to describe the time at the juncture of the Piscean and Aquarian Ages, when we understand that matter is only one of many energetic states, and we have the capacity, as individuals and communities, to lift ourselves up from the entire band of fear emotions -- grief, envy, shame, pride, lust, rage -- and into the frequencies of courage, love, bliss and joy.
Not only are we capable of hitting these high points now and then. We can sustain them into a process of living in near-continuous elation, as Buddhist monks do, if we are consistent in our practice and judicious in our mirroring and communal action. We shall soon have to. "Love and compassion, wrote H. H. the Dalai Lama in The Art of Happiness, "are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive."
When I was a young man in my thirties, seeking in vain the glittering egoic goal of being the most famous stage actor in New York, I attended many meetings of a community led by a powerfully-gifted pyychic teacher, who emphasized the critical importance of seeing and feeling only the highest, most positive motives and vibrations in ourselves and others, and of maintaining an equanimity that would enable us to remain unmoved by turbulent emotions. Worthy enough goals, for as long as one can sustain them, and has not yet hit the heart wall that Jung saw when he wrote, "Emotion is the chief source of all becoming-conscious. There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion."
Unchain My Heart
Our teacher even advised us to discard from our Tarot decks the Devil card, shown here in the famous image by Pamela Colman-Smith from the Rider-Waite Tarot. I kept it, and have found it worthy of long, concentrated study. The symbolism is rich and profound, and goes far beyond any superficial ideas of temptation and sin, corruption and damnation. The Devil is not E-Word, nor are the two humans chained to his pillar. The point of this card is that human beings cannot evolve into higher states of consciousness as long as we remain literally chained by our ignorance, irresponsibility and a timid untruthfulness to ourselves and others, as dishonesty is invariably the product of fear. The Devil is literally in the details here, especially in the hands. The man is playing with fire, his tail already ignited and his left hand in the flame of Satan's torch, as often happens -- it did with me -- to young men who don't yet know what karmic booby traps can hide inside a casual fling. The Devil's hands and arms are in a lowered, lurid reverse of the position of the Magician's body posture of empowerment and mastery. The poor woman is clearly in uncertainty and discomfort, not at all clear that the offer in the man's right hand is true and good, yet her right hand is on the red deliciousness she yearns to give, from the pomegranate cluster in her tail. Such a position is not conducive to self-respect, or resistance to the urgings of the lower self.
The moment of the Fall may be only minutes away. One of the lines that comes soon after we've hit the dirt is some form of "What A Fool I've Been." So it is scant wonder that the April Fool is one of the commonest ruling images for the swirl of desire in the spring. It was ancient centuries before 1913, when the Federal Reserve Act became law, and created an annual shearing festival in which tens of millions of helpless US taxpayers know the system's a scam, know the tax money they pay to a private company called the Internal Revenue Service -- no more a federal agency than Federal Express -- does not go to the Treasury to fund the operations of government. No, it goes to a consortium of US and foreign banks called the Federal Reserve, which keeps the government in business by issuing debt, on which the interest is now so high that it can never be paid.
The same poor citizens also know that 911 was an inside job, and so were the assassinations of progressive political leaders and the gunmen who murdered them. They know Big Pharma is an Illness Maintenance Industry that profits from prolonging pain (more about this in Aquarian Medicine in Surfing Aquarius), and this is why the Bush family own Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. They know the whole economic system is a cynical scam that does little but promote war, as war is always good for business. The poor taxpayers even know that the whole shebang is being run by a small reptilian oligarchy -- not to be taken literally, more on this next month -- who aim to exterminate them, and use their bodies for crop fertilizer. Some of them know it all. Yet they also know if they don't send their checks on April 15, they may get sent to jail, and be unable to support their families. Yet some of them think they are free.
Swimming with the Fishes
On a lighter note, though, this month through early May is also the time of year when fool kings are crowned and we flirt with Chaos. And people play April Fool pranks on each other. This custom seems to be a recent acquisition in our archetype gallery, dating from the year 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian Calendar we still use today. This new calendar set New Year's Day on Jan. 1, rather than the traditional dates celebrated in various places from March 21 to 25. The Gregorian Calendar also recalibrated the Spring Equinox by declaring that in 1582, March 21 would now be April 1, thereby "losing" ten days. This made sense to people (notably the Venetian and German bankers) who wanted a common time standard throughout Europe, but it sorely offended others who felt they'd somehow been robbed of ten days.
As late as the 18th century, some people refused to accept the change, and to align with everybody else's calendar, and it became customary to send them on "fool's errands" or to play pranks on them. The custom continues in France, where the traditionalists were called Poissons d'Avril, April fish, as shown here and in the banner image above, courtesy of Wonderings. French high school students stick paper fish on each other's backs. American students use paste-it notes saying I Am a Dork. And some pull spectacular hoaxes, as Dr. Guy Mercola did in announcing that Obama Care was about to announce a mandatory adult vaccination -- tracking program, and suggesting his readers "make plans to move to another country.... SERIOUSLY.. this is all that we have been warned was coming and now they are really turning up the guns." Countless April fools fell for it, and the US passport agency website was inundated with queries by people who started at once to bone up on their Spanish.
So why the April Fish? Why not the mule, or the pig, or the snail, or some other animal noted for its slowness and obstinacy? Is it because fish are usually not counted among the brightest bulbs in the biosphere, even if one does not explicitly say "You are as stupid as a fish," as the Guardian of the Well says to the Young Man in Yeats' At the Hawk's Well? Or -- is it actually possible that those who refuse to get with the New Year reset are effectively stuck in Pisces? Would it be appropriate to use the term now for those who will not shift from the dying Piscean paradigm of hierarchy, secrecy, scarcity, competition, fraud and victimhood to the new Aquarian values of synarchy and equality, transparency and telepathy, community, abundance and empowerment?
The Piscean ocean is worth a very deep look now. We will cross some turbulent waters in the months from now to June. We would do well to meet and have a drink with our own shadow because, to cite Jung again, "Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people. . . . [and] One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
And when we and our shadow are feeling no pain, we might consider a new custom for April 1, or any day, of openly pinning images of praise and honor on the fronts of people who merit them, instead of secretly putting pranks and putdowns on their backs. And so, as I'm eight time zones away from Pisac, and can't touch these beautiful hearts directly, I hereby place the pictures virtually. A High Priestess is now on the high heart chakra, just below the throat of Meredith Shippam. A Heart Warrior is on the solar plexus of Sean West. With other images to go in other places from now to June.
For those who may want an astrocartography reading live or online this month: I'll be in Egypt from now to April 20, taking a a week off for exploration in Luxor April 7 - 13. From April 21 to 30, in Istanbul. Details are on the Events page.
I have been on the road for 8 months and a week. How do I stand it? I sing. A lot. And I have medicinal friends. A lot. They go together, as we Keep Holding That Frequency.
THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
April 1 - 2 Wednesday - Thursday
In the ancient Greek calendar, the Veneralia, the annual rites of Peace, celebrating the power of love by which Aphrodite (her name is the source of "April") overcomes the physical power of Ares, god of war. Festivals of the lady of love abound this month, beginning weeks before the Sun enters the Venus-ruled sign of Taurus on April 20. The famous expression "Amor Vincit Omnia" (Love Conquers All) is a relic of this festival. Venus is powerfully positioned for the first third of this month in Taurus, one of the signs she is said to rule, where she is said to be "exalted," until April 11.
April 1, Wednesday
In the ancient Khemitian calendar, this day begins a major four-day festival cycle honoring the neteru -- not "gods" -- as keepers of cosmic order. The main feasts and ceremonies:
4/1 - Festival Day of Het-Hor, aka Hathor, as sky divinity whose cow horns embrace the Sun. Het-Hor, whose name literally means "house of Hor" (Het-Hor is, along with Aset ("Isis"), one of two netert (the "t" after neter identifies the divine emanation as female) who were honored as mother of the solar deity and divine hero Hor. Het-Hor is also identified in this spring festival with Aphrodite/Venus, goddess of love. (Month of Pachons, day 17).
4/2 - Festival of the Ennead--the nine "old neters" and the boat of Ra, which maintains order in heaven and earth by sailing each day through the sky and the duat, or underworld. (Pachons, day 18).
4/2 - Festival of the union of Djehuti ("Thoth"), neter of letters and learning, with Ma'at, neter of Truth. It is said that Djehuti's understanding of numbers, and of mathematics as a principle of civil and universal order, is born of the inspiration he received from Ma'at. (Pachons, day 19).
4/3 - Feast of Ma'at as merciful intermediary in the judgment of souls. (Pachons, day 20).
April 2, Thursday
For the Jain community the Jain faith, this day is Mahavir Jayanti, commemorating the founder of the faith.
Holy Thursday, also called Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Passover meal of Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples.
April 3, Friday
Ceres enters Aquarius. This day, and the Full Moon that ensures, will be essential for actions of safeguarding the health of Mother Earth and her ability to feed her inhabitants. Ceres will be in Aquarius until January 2016, except for three retrograde months in Capricorn (August - October 2015), so activism for the Earth will be vigorousnow, and can yield some measure of success.
April 4, Saturday
In ancient Rome, 4/4 is the first day of the week-long Megalesia, in honor of Cybele, the Magna Mater (Great Mother) worshiped throughout the Roman Empire. Megalesia marked the arrival in Rome of Cybele's image, sent from her home temple in Phrygia (now in western Turkey) in 204 BC, in response to a prophecy from the Sibylline Books that Hannibal’s Carthaginian army would leave Italy only if Cybele's sacred black stone were brought to Rome. The Senate and people of Rome soon learned to their acute discomfort that worship of the Magna Mater included such alarming austerities as self-flagellation and the emasculation of her priests. Thus, for more than two centuries, Cybele's priesthood was limited to non-Romans.
April 4, Saturday. 2:07am HT; 12:07pm UT:
The Full Moon in Libra, opposite Sun in Aries. This tends to be one of the less harmonious oppositions on the wheel, as it's the time when kings go forth to war at precisely the moment in early spring when queens are most in need of reassurance and affection, and the Aries desire for action outside the home clashes most abruptly with the Libra objective to settle down in marriage. This Full Moon is powerful, linked with the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square that has not by any means faded yet. The Aries Sun conjoins Uranus, both opposite the Moon in Libra. The two Moon's Nodes conjoin these positions on the Libra-Aries axis, and all of these points are at 90° "squares" to Pluto in Capricorn, so they form an extremely dynamic, change-inducing T-cross in the cardinal signs. Collectively for us all, and personally for those with natal planets positioned in the band of 10° - 15°, this is a time for addressing proactively, so we won't be compelled to face reactively, those changes that are long overdue, and can no longer be avoided.
In the Hindu calendar, this Full Moon is Hanuman Jayanti, birthday of the beloved nature guide and trickster Hanuman, the monkey god whose craft helps many heroes who cannot escape danger and win their ends on muscle and heart alone.
At this Full Moon there is a total eclipse of the Moon.
In the Celtic/Druidic and Wiccan calendars, this Full Moon is called Seed Moon. Also Budding Moon, Planter’s Moon, Pink Moon and the Green Grass Moon, when Nature revives.
April 4 - 7, (four days)
For the Theravadin Buddhists of Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Laos and Cambodia, the days following the first Full Moon in April are the New Year festival. What may make various Buddhist New Years less bewildering to sort out is that Mahayana Buddhists celebrate the New Year at the first Full Moon in January; for most others it aligns with the Chinese New Year at the New Moon in Aquarius month (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18), while Tibetans often, but not always, prefer to time their New Year a month later than the Chinese calendar.
April 4 - 11, (eight days)
Pesach, the Jewish feast of Passover, begins at sunset this day and continues for the next eight days. These holy days commemorate the night on which the Jews of Egypt painted the door posts of their homes with lamb's blood, as a sign that the Angel of Death was to spare the family from the death of their firstborn. This was the last and most terrible of the seven plagues visited upon Pharaoh, and the one that convinced him to release the Hebrews from bondage.
April 5, Sunday
This day is the Roman festival of Fortuna, honoring the goddess of luck and chance, symbolized by wings, the Moon, a cornucopia and a ship's rudder.
In most Christian calendars, this is Easter Sunday, the most joyous of all Christian feasts, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus, and the victory over death that is now available for all of humankind. Ever since Christianity became the state religion of the late Roman empire, the timing of Easter has been reckoned as the Sunday after the first Full Moon following the Spring Equinox. This means that Easter must always fall between March 22 and April 20, while the Sun is in the sign of Aries, here the sacrificial Ram, the Lamb of God whose suffering will bring, in the view of Christian believers, the redemption of all human beings.
April 6, Monday
In the Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Light, the ninth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (5 Imix, Tzolkin 161). The symbolic bird for this uinal is the Turkey, the energy principles those of Breakthrough and Budding.
April 8, Wednesday
Celebrated in some Buddhist communities, by the solar calendar, as the birthday (563 BC) of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha. This date is most observed in cultures which attribute to the Buddha the physical and psychic qualities of Aries, the Ram (easily visible in the eyebrow and nose lines of images of the Buddha). The Chinese, Tibetan and other Asian lunar calendars, on the other hand, place the Buddha's birthday on the Full Moon of the 4th lunar month, known in the West as the "Full Moon in Taurus" -- that is, the Full Moon in Taurus month. See May 3 - 4 in next month's UFC.
Among those who observe the Buddha's birthday with rare beauty on this day are the Japanese, for whom this is the Hana Matsuri, or flower festival, when children dressed in their best kimono chant in gorgeous processions with floral floats that must be seen -- and smelled -- to be believed.
April 9, Thursday
In some annual Christian saints' day calendars, this is the feast of St. Mary of Egypt, the unofficial patron saint of runaways and children who are born to be wild. At 12 she ran away to Alexandria, where she lived as a party animal and prostitute until, at 29, she pulled the stunning outrage of traveling with a caravan of pilgrims to Jerusalem, entertaining along the way as many men as she could lure into her tent. In the holy city she experienced a life-cleansing vision of the Virgin Mary, who told her to "cross over Jordan" to find peace. Mary wandered in the desert for the next 47 years until she met the abbot Zosimus, who brought her holy communion on Holy Thursday and agreed to come and administer the sacrament again a year later. When Zosimus returned, he found Mary lifeless on the sand, with an inscription that read, "Here lies the body of Mary the sinner." Her story has been dramatized in a beautiful "icon in music and dance" by John Tavener.
April 9 is also the Baha'i feast honoring the Deity as Jalal (Glory).
In the Roman Catholic calendar, this is the feast of Pope Leo I, also called St. Leo the Great, who is celebrated for his courage in having gone unescorted to persuade Attila the Hun to spare Rome from the destruction that the Huns had already visited on northern Italy. It is reported that when Attila's generals asked him why he had chosen to march his host back to the Danube, instead of taking the empire's richest prize when it was within his grasp, Attila replied that he had seen two radiant beings, whom he took to be Sts. Peter and Paul, standing behind Leo, symbolizing the spiritual forces allied with him.
Roman festival of Cerealia, honoring Ceres (Greek Demeter) and her blessings of abundant harvest, peace and good government. Feminine relationships of sisterhood, parenthood and mentorship between wise women and girls, and for that matter all ceremonies of female spirituality, are emphasized now.
April 10 - 12, Friday - Sunday
In the Orthodox Christian calendar, these days are the climax of Holy Week, from Good Friday on April 10 to Easter on April 12.
April 11, Saturday
Venus enters Gemini. Though it is not exactly true that in Gemini Venus is more talker than lover -- spending herself in everything from elegant conversation to the silliest gossip, depending on who's playing Venus at the time -- it is true that words from and to her will be persuasive now. She is likelier to enter short, frenetic love unions that are more mouth than heart, though her incomparable power of attraction may diminish now, from a mercurial switching of focus. Until May 7.
April 13, Monday
In the Hindu calendar, this day is Vaisakhi, the beginning of the new solar year, celebrated with rites of purification, most notably a ritual bath in the mother river, the Ganges. For the Sikh community, this is the most important festival day of the year, commemorating the founding of the Khalsa Brotherhood.
April 13-14 (Monday -Tuesday)
Thai Buddhists celebrate Songkran, their New Year festival, on these days. The ritual of bathing statues of the Buddha, now a solar festival aligned with Vaisakhi (4/13), doubles as a playful water fight that leaves the Awakened One, and everybody else, dripping clean. The statues are then coated with new gold leaf, and displayed in processions that are followed by boat races, concerts, plays and fireworks.
In the modern Egyptian calendar, this day after Coptic Easter is called Sham el Nessim, the Renewal of Life, literally "Sniffing the Breeze," a spring agricultural holiday that has marked the coming of spring since 2700 C, near the end of the Third Dynasty, when the festival was called Shemu. It is said that for years, when a beloved royal prince who was the pharaoh's only son lay ill and bedridden, the people celebrated no festivals out of respect for the royal family's feelings. The chief priest and physician administered a natural cure by placing fresh green onions under the patient's head and nose. The boy recovered at once, and it's been customary ever since to go where the air is fresh, ideally on a boat, and share a meal that includes, along with boiled eggs, some pungent-smelling things like scallions and a spectacularly bad-smelling fish called fiseekh. All of them are fertility symbols that have their counterparts in the spring rites of other traditions.
April 14, Tuesday
The Sikhs have made a similar adjustment in modern times. In their sacred year, this day is increasingly celebrated as the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith. While his birthday in the traditional lunar calendar, like the Buddha’s, has been celebrated at the Full Moon in Scorpio during Taurus month, as it was in 2008, more Sikh believers are observing it now on the solar new year of Baisakhi, the day after Hindu Vaisakhi (see 4/13).
Mercury enters Taurus. This placement is usually considered neither advantageous nor "difficult," though Mercury can get uncomfortable with the slow tempo and predictable, even stolid qualities of the Taurus character. As Mercury is not going to get things to pop as flexibly as he wants while he's here, his best strategy for the interim is patient, careful adherence to the well-laid plans until he gets back up to speed in Gemini, on May 1.
In the Norse solar calendar, 4/14 is also the festival of Sommarsblot, marking the approach of summer.
Birthday of Leonardo da Vinci (1452).
In the ancient Khemitian calendar, the month of Payni, sacred to Hor, aka Horus, begins with feasts of Hor and Bastet, the cat-headed netert who is the benign form of the formidable lioness Sekhmet.
April 15 (Wed) eve - 16 (Thu) eve:
In the Jewish calendar, this day is Yom Ha Shoah, commemorating those who perished in the Holocaust.
April 18, Friday, 8:58am HT; 6:58pm UT:
Dark Moon conjunct Sun in Aries. This Black Moon, which is always regarded as fiery, impulsive and powerful, is usually considered exceedingly favorable for launching new enterprises, for dynamic combinations of female and male energies, and for energizing like-minded groups toward common objectives, especially as they may involve assertive and determined initiatives. This Dark Moon is relatively placid, forming no major aspects to other planets, except for a wide square to Ceres in Aquarius.
In the Celtic/Druidic and Wiccan calendars, the New Moon that ensues after this Dark Moon is the first one following the Spring Equinox, and is called the Planting Moon.
In the Beth-Luis-Nion Celtic tree calendar used by devotees of the faerie path, this fourth New Moon following the Winter Solstice begins Fearn, or alder month. This is the time for meeting and integrating the shadow self who represents one's undiscovered potential. During this month the Spirit World and the Physical World come closest, and communication is easiest, especially through such intuitive channels as dreams, fragrances and stones.
April 19, Sunday, 11:43pm HT; April 20, Monday, 3:57 am UT:
Sun enters Taurus, representing both Bull and Cow, the latter venerated as nurturer, in such forms as the Khemitian neters Aset ("Isis") and Het-Hor ("Hathor"), since the time of the ancient Goddess religions. The energy principle of the month is Stamina, involving spiritual and practical questions: whether new initiatives begun in the preceding month of Aries can be sustained, and whether, like the Earth that now bursts into fresh green leaves, the human collective soul can move steadily toward fruition. The time favors slow, methodical movement, and, as Taurus is ruled by Venus, is equally favorable to focused intentions of attraction, which bring the desired outcome toward us. The phrase from the I Ching, "Perseverance furthers", is relevant here.
April 20, Monday
The founding of Rome in 753 BC is celebrated annually on this day. It is also the day of the Parilia, a festival honoring Pales, the god who safeguards sheep from illness and wolves. Fires are made of green branches, and sheep are herded through the smoke to purify and protect them.
In some Native American calendars, Month of the Beaver begins.
April 21, Tuesday
In the ancient Khemitian calendar, this day is the feast of Wadjet, the cobra netert who appears in the uraeus serpent on Pharaoh's crown and other regalia as the protector of the king and his people. (Payni, day 7). The cobra and the vulture are said to be the most fiercely protective of all mothers, and this is why these symbols recur constantly in Egyptian ritual art.
The Lyrid meteor shower peaks on this day. The Moon was new yesterday, so viewing will be excellent.
In the Baha'i calendar, this is the first day of Ridvan, the twelve- day festival commemorating the announcement by Baha'u'llah, founder of the Baha'i faith, that he was the new Prophet.
Rastafarians celebrate this day as one of their most important holidays, marking Haile Selassie's visit to Jamaica in 1961.
April 22, Wednesday:
Birthday (1182) of the celebrated religious reformer, environmentalist and animal communicator St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order of monks.
4/22 is also the date of the first Earth Day, which has been celebrated close to this day ever since.
April 23, Thursday:
In England, the feast of St. George. This day has been sacred to warrior heroes since ancient times, when the Greeks honored Bellerophon, slayer of the Chimera; and Norse peoples honored Sigurd, or Siegfried, also a dragon-slayer. The symbolism of the spiritual warrior, whose lance striking the serpent represents the victory of wisdom over the appetites of the flesh, is universal.
Ancient Rome celebrates the festival of Jupiter and Venus today.
This day is also the Yoruba and Santeria feast in honor of Ogun, the Orisha of strength, courage and stamina. Ogun is honored in ceremonies of drumming and trance dancing.
April 23 is also the birthday of William Shakespeare (1564).
April 24, Friday
St. Mark's Eve. This and the following day are traditionally considered uncommonly clear windows for divining the future. As is the case with other linked two-day Christian feasts (e.g., the somber Hallowe'en remembrance of the dead, followed by the more joyous and auspicious All Saints' Day), the eve of the main day may bring visions of death, while the feast itself is more happily anticipatory, especially in matters of love. It was commonly believed that one's death was imminent if he or she found a footprint matching their own in the ashes of the St. Mark's Eve bonfire. It was also said that anyone who waits near the entrance of the church at midnight will see the shades of all those who will die in the parish over the next year enter the church in procession.
American Arbor Day is observed now, on the last Friday in April, with the planting of trees and celebrations of thanksgiving for the green abundance of Earth. The modern Arbor Day holiday is an echo of the vegetation festivals celebrated in ancient and medieval Europe on this day.
April 25, Saturday
In the regular Christian cycles of saints' days, Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist. This day is thought excellent for summoning visions of the future. It is customary for a maiden to pluck twelve leaves of sage at noon on this day, in order to see a vision of her future husband, or to attract his appearance in the flesh.
April 26, Sunday
In the Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Darkness, the tenth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (12 Imix, Tzolkin 181). The symbolic bird for this uinal is the Horned Owl, the energy principle that of Destruction in preparation for the Uinal of Rebirth that comes next.
April 26 - May 3 (eight days)
In the Mayan solar festival calendar, April 26 is the first day of the eight day Rain Festival of prayers and welcoming ceremonies for the rain deity Chac and the new fruits of the Earth.
April 27, Monday
In the Khemitian calendar, a major festival day and time marker: the Voyage of the Ennead, i.e., the nine "old ones" who were the earliest-born of the neters. On this day images of the Ennead were carried on river journeys aboard elaborately-decorated boats, affirming the eternal divine blessing of the river as source of the people's life. This day also marks the 90-day (or nine decans of ten day "weeks") countdown point to the beginning of the annual Nile flood (Month of Payni, day 13).
April 28, Tuesday
In cultures throughout the planet, this day begins a universal pre-festival leading up to the great Mid-spring Festival beginning on May 1. The Roman festival of Floralia begins each year on 4/28, and continues in three days of revelry and sexual license unusual even by the standards of ancient Rome.
Flowers were naturally associated with youthful beauty and vitality, and also with the impermanence of life; phrases such as "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" and Carpe diem (pluck the day) are echoes of joyous Floralia litanies.
In the six-season calendar of the aboriginal people of Australia, the "Cooler but Still Humid Season" of Yegge begins about now. This is the first of the three dry seasons, lasting until about June 10.
Baha'i feast honoring the Deity as Jamal, Beauty.
April 29, Wednesday
First day of Golden Week, Japan's great spring holiday.
April 30 - May 4, (five days)
The last day of April begins the annual five-day Zoroastrian spring festival honoring Khshathra Vairya, creator and protector of the sky, one of the seven male emanations of Ahura Mazda, the transcendent, universal fire.
In the southern hemisphere, the great Autumn Festival of Samhain now begins. See the November, 2014 Universal Festival Calendar.
Most importantly for the purposes of earth-friendly celebrations everywhere, April 30 is May Eve, or Walpurgisnacht, honoring the Horned God of the Celtic and Teutonic peoples. He embodies the vitality of animal life, as the Green Man embodies the vitality of all plant life. The day begins, in the northern hemisphere, the universal Mid-spring Festival known as Maytime, Beltaine and countless other names. See May 1.
As this day is exactly opposite on the Year Wheel to the position of Hallowe'en on Oct. 31, Walpurgisnacht is regarded as one of the two days each year when demons and other malevolent spirits are free to roam the Earth. Throughout ancient and medieval Europe, this night was feared as the time when witches gathered to invoke the Evil One, most notably at the annual gathering of witches on Mt. Brocken in the Harz mountain region of Germany. This event was thought so unlucky and spiritually perilous that not even the military and police forces of Germany ever dared attack it as an obvious chance to round up the witches. In this instance, at least, the authorities were no fools.
April 30 - May 6, (one week)
Among South Korean Buddhists, this day begins their most important annual festival of Seokga Tansinil, commemorating the Buddha’s birthday, and culminating a week later at the May 6 Full Moon.
Want to know how any of these days affects you? An Astrocartography reading covers not only your unique, personal planet energy lines and crossings, but the conditions of timing that are in effect for you now, and in the months and years ahead.
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ABOUT THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
The Universal Festival Calendar first appeared in July, 1998 as an e-mail newsletter, and has also been published online since May, 2000. It incorporates data from astronomy and astrology, Moon cycles and the sacred days and festivals of many spiritual traditions, in order to identify monthly and annual power points, when human ascension efforts are well aligned with the celestial dynamics of our galactic stagemachinery, and the life cycles of Mother Earth. The UFC aims to assist the spiritual evolution of Earth and her people by providing information useful for planning global meditations, ceremonies and gatherings that support the aim of awakening enough human beings to bring about the lifting of human consciousness into higher frequencies of mercy, compassion, wisdom and love.
We welcome and are grateful for suggestions by readers whose ideas have improved the Calendar, and made it more accurate and comprehensive.
2014 CALENDAR LINKS
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