PRELUDE  TO

THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR

April 2013

 

COURAGE

Hail, and welcome to the Universal Festival Calendar for the Mars-heated month of April, 2013. We are now only a few weeks away from Round 3 of the ongoing 90° “square” between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn that you’ve encountered before if you read this page regularly. This explosive combination, which began to shift, shake and sweep conditions on our planet even before the first of these seven alignments formed last June, will keep pushing buttons, pulling rugs, pricking opinions and popping ego balloons until Round 7 is done in early 2015.

 

The themes of the month we’re in now, and the years ahead too are steadfast warriorship and communal service at times  that are turbulent and challenging enough to bring some needed redefinitions of what courage is, who can be said to have it, and on whose behalf they act. All of us who are awake now, or are getting there, will be in one or both of the roles shown at left. The soul surrenders to guidance when conventional cleverness has no traction, and the long-eyed warrior  leads the way, whether or not he or she resembles overtly the fearless figure of Hor, aka Horus. Why is he exceedingly relevant now? It’s time to hit the highway going south from Giza.

 

AS EGYPT GOES . . .

. . . so goes the rest of the world, now and in the time ahead, in the estimation of some Egyptians and lovers of Egypt, and others who see the whole planet mirrored in the plight of this beleaguered people. As Egyptians respond to the turmoil of the time, so may others, provided they are as heroic in their love, courage and resourcefulness, and their sense of what is truly important.

 

The Egyptians are in it up to their eyes now, as the Sacred Sounds Egypt 2013 group saw when we traveled the Nile from Giza to Abu Simbel last month, to sing the ancient  music in the great sonic chambers, and carry our humble part in reattuning to its proper brilliant frequency the civilization that Plato, Pythagoras and other visitors acclaimed as the healthiest, happiest and most pious nation on Earth.

 

Places of such uncommon spiritual energy and quality as Egypt have a way of attracting and mastering uncommon ordeals. As we saw in “Cunning as Serpents,” the February UFC prelude, upheaval in Egypt tends to herald, and for all we know may help catalyze, quantum leaps in our collective consciousness. So images such as the one shown at right, from a market wall in Luxor, proliferate as the birth pangs of what must come now begin to intensify. Ancient hieroglyphics and baboons sacred to Thoth share the space with a cat who hardly resembled Bastet, the patient and subtle watcher. The woman at left, imprisoned in her pillar, represents not only the females of Egypt, but people of both sexes, for whom everything looks darkest and feels least free in the hour before our bravest efforts can bring a breakout into our best possibilities.

It is well that Egyptians call themselves the people of peace, and have usually been so, unless stung to unbearable provocation, or under the sway of characters like Ramses II, and other examples of the Miles Gloriosus, at left, the braggart soldier dramatized by Plautus, the ancient Roman comedy, the commedia dell- arte and countless others from The Good Soldier Schweik and Slaughterhouse 5 to Catch 22 and M.A.S.H. As the alleged conquering hero is more flash than fiber, he often blunders himself and his men into doom as recklessly as Crassus or Custer, or slides off the stage like Petraeus when the hollowness of his heroism gets exposed.

 

Such figures were much on my mind as our group navigated middle Egypt from Cairo to Abydos. We saw how it is everywhere in and near the main cities as people in authoritarian roles, mostly men, attempt to assert control as conditions around them get increasingly chaotic. We saw hundreds of vehicles waiting in queues for dwindling supplies of diesel fuel. In both the Suez and Sinai regions, movements for secession are underway, especially in Sinai, where tensions between Bedouins and the Egyptian government are now so taut that the direct road east from Cairo to Mt. Sinai and St. Catherine’s monastery is closed, and the coastal road up from Sharm el Sheikh is under a travel advisory that compelled us to switch our last destination from Gebel Musa (“Moses Mountain”) to Abu Simbel.

 

In town and temple markets, the flow of tourists is so low that vendors desperate to make a sale will try anything to attach themselves to you, pushing their books, beads and fabrics into your hands, even physically grabbing you. A potential buyer who stops to look and ask a price can draw within seconds a whole swarm of sellers all shouting at once, even pushing rivals aside and threatening them in ways that used to be unthinkable here.

 

It is heartbreaking to see, and feel. The vendors do the best they can to maintain a workable margin as the prices of everything spiral up, as they always do when economies disintegrate. The Egyptian pound has lost some 24% of its value since I left in May 2009. It is not possible, as everyone hoards dollars now, to get them at moneychanger shops or even at banks, and the airport is now reportedly the only place in Cairo where dollars can he had, and even then in limited amounts. I was blessed that my dear friend Mona Ali was kind enough to sell me dollars for the pounds I picked up on my last marathon of astrology readings before I flew off to Athens on April 1.

 

ONE IN AT LEAST TWENTY THOUSAND

There are, as always, now that all our Egypt travelers were safe in Egypt and are now safe home, many people to thank. First the valiant members of our group. If it is true, as Hamlet claimed, that “to be honest as this world goes is to be one man pick’d out of ten thousand,” then people of such heart that the word courage had to coined to describe them are rarer still. For each one who joined us, accepted the tests of patience and the risks of belief, and sang in the holy places in voices as brave as their spirits, there were at least two others who wanted to go, but were dissuaded by fearful family and friends, or by the usual doom propaganda of corporatist media. It was an honor to guide the hardy souls who came to sing in Egypt last month.

 

Thanks also to Vantage Travels, who managed our journey, and especially to our superbly learned, patient and good-humored tour guide Hossam (“Sam”) El Gedawy, one of the best examples I’ve met of the adage that small men are easily upset by little troubles, but great men are disturbed only by great crises, if indeed they can be knocked off center at all. Nothing fazed Sam, not even the Klown Kops who tried our patience and cramped our time on the long drives through central Egypt.

 

Officially, here as everywhere, they are no-nonsense Horus the Warrior types, as shown here in this famous statue from his temple at Edfu. At their best, soldiers and police, athletes and surgeons, and all the other Mars types who rule Aries month enact the role of the protective Red Mars (as distinct from the murderous Black Mars), and thereby have about them some glint of the solar Falcon, son of Isis and Osiris, whose battle for order, light and renewal against Set, the lord of destruction, is told in When It Rained in Egypt.

 

The granite face we see here is clearly not meant to be playing comedy any time soon. If anything, beneath his outward role as guardian of each living pharaoh and symbol of his power, Horus may be re-emerging into our awareness now to help us face and overcome our control issues, and the anger that can come when others, no matter how well-intentioned, get between us and our expectations.

 

THE MANAGEMENT OF IDLENESS

He was much on my mind and Sam’s as we encountered his noblest images in the sacred sites, and the often comedic copies of him in the armed men who escorted (read controlled) us from Cairo to Luxor. One does not have to be Tolstoy to observe, as he did in War and Peace, that the most difficult problem of a peacetime army may be the management of idleness among troops who may serve for years, decades, even an entire career without meeting an enemy in battle. It is hard enough to keep them sharp, disciplined and ready when their country is prosperous enough to offer incentives. But when dedicated, courageous men and women in uniform have no worthier outlets for their talents than provocateur work, crowd dispersal and the other agendas of a dictatorial regime that they despise as they do Mohamed Morsi’s, or have little to do but ride around in their vehicles, say hello to their brothers in black and drink tea with them, then skills can and will erode.

 

As they have in Egypt. We did not know when we left Cairo for the great sonic rooms of Beni Hassan that, even though we had a man with a submachine gun seated next to our driver, the Egyptian government has been coerced by the US embassy to apply a protocol of security (read control) under which citizens of the US, the UK and Canada must be escorted from one checkpoint to the next by military vehicles carrying additional armed men. Each escort commander, being at best a mildly competitive Mars character, was determined to carry out his task at least as well, and in at least as much time, as the one before him. As we passed from one escort to another, showing the same papers, answering the same questions, giving the officer in charge the courtesy and strokes of talking with him in English until it was time to say “Thank you, Major Mustafa. Yalabina” (let’s go), the delays got longer and longer. We got to Beni Hassan so late that we could sing there only a little while instead of the hour we wanted.

 

Our next day, as we headed to one of ancient Egypt’s crown jewels at Abydos – more about it in the March UFC -- was almost a mandala of aggravation.  A journey that should have taken us about three hours, and gotten us there a little after noon, with plenty of time to see Abydos before we thought it would close at 4:00, got longer, longer, and more astoundingly weird. The ones who took and fenced the cake this day were our last escort, who had no idea where we were going, and had to ask directions from taxi drivers and tea waiters as they took us in a one-hour circle around Sohag. We wound up behind a dump truck full of gravel on one narrow road, hit some zakhma (heavy traffic) in one village and had to crawl through another when the call to prayer came. It was a godsend that Leslie Zehr was with us. Apart from her invaluable knowledge as co-guide on this journey, and the creator of the Universal Dancer and the Egyptian Flower Remedies, the lessons in surrender that she has been delivering to me since I first met her almost ten years ago now proved not just invaluable, but unavoidable.

 

By the time we hit 3:30, and had to face the awful likelihood of not getting to see Abydos at all, the man I used to be from youth to middle life would have been spitting with rage. But this time, somehow, a cool sensation that felt like a bathing in acceptance seemed to flow from my chest all through me, and wash all anxiety away. And when we got to Abydos at 3:40, we were amazed to learn that the temples in fact close at 5:00, so we’d have enough time to see the exquisite Seti reliefs, sing the Aset (Isis) chant in the sanctuary that honors the dead and soon-to-be-resurrected Ausar (Osiris), and walk in the watery floor of the Osireion, now suddenly easier to enter and stay in than it’s ever been when I’ve come here before. Did my coming to surrender yield this happy outcome? It is pleasant to believe so.

 

As each of us faced and worked through our challenges on this journey, and helped others negotiate theirs, it was easier to appreciate Sam’s incredible steadiness and the serenity of spirits less volatile than mine, and to plumb questions of what truly constitutes fortitude and tenacity. It seems plan enough now that courage has little to do with traditional sex roles, and, as we’ll see this month and next, that defining bravery and manhood mainly as an ability to inflict and endure violence will soon prove a necessary and welcome casualty of our collective evolution.

 

The game is turning, and one thing that makes Egypt a good bet, no matter how grim some things may look, is the generosity and creative love of Egyptians who surely fit the hero role, of daring the actions that less intrepid souls fear to do, and thereby inspiring others to take heart, look deep and hold fast.

 

Take Raed Elkabbany. His big amber spotlight in this month’s warrior exhibit has nothing to do with the smooth, honest job that Vantage Travels did on our journey, or with our years of friendship. Raed’s daughter Gabriela, now in her early teens, has cerebral palsy, and is one of those who often suffer doubly here because of the stigma that many Muslims attach to physical challenges that appear, to those much less compassionate than the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), to be a sign of divine disfavor. To those who must bear such an infirmity, the hardest feature may be the isolation and the challenge to self-esteem that it can bring.

 

This is why Raed is now creating a foundation named for Gabriela, as a networking resource for children with cerebral palsy and their families, who can now meet and support one another, and can give the young ones the medicine of friendship that they might never find anywhere else. One recent Gabriela activity was an unheard-of trip to the beach to get the children in the surf and the strong sun for what was, for most of them, the first time.

 

The Gabriela effort may be seeking broader financial support later this year. For now, all the funding flows from the profits of Raed’s successful business ventures over the years. Imagine that. At a time when tighter-hearted souls think only of taking care of the few they perceive as their own, here is one of the many in Egypt who open their hands and hearts to those who are the true soul mirrors of their dreams. If it is true, as my late teacher Abdel Hakim Awyan liked to say, that “The more you spend, the more God sends,” then Gabriela will draw the serious support it deserves.

 

So, very likely, will the Psychological Health and Awareness Society in Egypt. Its mission, as Dr. Heba Habib explains, is to give psychological services to people who can’t afford to pay for them, to spread awareness about mental health issues and raise the quality of life. “Since I came back to Egypt [from Morocco],” she recalls, “I’ve realized that it’s a very violent society, [full of] not only obvious and overt violence, but more covert violence. So I studied mental health anthropology in Quebec to understand this better. I realized that there is a depth of mental health that is not only medical, but cultural, sociological, economic and political, and that all of these can have an influence on mental health.

 

I hadn’t understood the concept of structural violence, when there is discrimination in getting health services. Cultural violence when there is gender discrimination because you are a girl, so you don’t go to school. And there is psychological violence when I am all the time making you think that you are less than me, you’re incapable of handling things, and you have of course the physical violence, the verbal violence, shouting and insulting, finger pointing. In Egypt this power struggle is incredible, and it happens all the time. The issue of sexuality in Egypt is very important too, because of all the suppression and repression. Instead of sexuality being something natural, to help people develop and connect, it becomes also a power game.”

 

Thus it must happen now, in this country that dreams of peace so ardently, that its confrontation with its many subtle forms of violence must begin now, and must be mirrored everywhere else, if Heba and I are correct in our view that Egypt is indeed the consciousness of the world. It could hardly be more plain now that the task that faces us all is to solve violence toward one another and our planet. The only way to do this, in the end, will be to see ourselves in every other life we meet, no matter how faint the resemblance may appear. In the hierarchic Piscean Age that ends now, it was all too easy to classify others into those who matter a lot, those who matter a little, and those who are only emotional furniture. Now everyone matters to all.

 

From now we are all Egyptian papyrus and tea sellers. And cops. And Gabriela. And warriors starting to emerge in new arenas that are no longer for fighting, but for linking, healing and singing. We will find the songs. They’re already in us, waiting for a silence in which they can be heard. That too has its vibration, wondrous and more medicinal than we imagine. Let’s find it. Keep Holding That Frequency.

 

 

THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR

April 2013

 

April 1-2 (Monday - Tuesday)

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 19. The famous expression "Amor Vincit Omnia" (Love Conquers All) is a relic of this festival. Venus is powerfully positioned for most of this month in Pisces, where she is said to be "exalted," until April 21.

 

April 1, Monday

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 4, Thursday

In ancient Rome, 4/4 is the first day of the week-long Megalesia, in honor of Cybele, the Magna Mater (Great Mother) worshipped 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.

 

On this day Ceres enters the maternal water sign of Cancer. Her abundant, protective energy remains strong here until the end of the solstice weekend on June 23, when she enters Leo. Ceres will enter Cancer just a few days before the great annual Roman feast in her honor, the Cerealia (see April 9).

 

April 5, Friday

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.

 

April 7, Sunday

In the Jewish calendar, this day is Yom Ha Shoah, the solemn day of commemoration for those who perished in the Holocaust.

 

April 8, Monday

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 April 25, below.

 

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, Tuesday

In some annual Christian saints' day calendars, this is the feast of St. Mary of Egypt, 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 9, Tuesday  (1:03am HT) to April 10, Wednesday (11:03am 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 is especially true this time around, as Venus and Mars are both closely conjunct to the Moon-Sun pair, thus forming a powerful four-planet conjunction that not only embodies the polarity of female and male in parallel dimensions, but also activates the Venusian power of attraction and manifestation by driving it with the assertive warrior energy of Mars. Even more than is always the case with Dark Moon intervals, this is the time for launching new initiatives.

 

Uranus is also in Aries now, though not conjunct the other four planets now in this sign. Thus the moment of the Dark Moon is also a five-planet stellium – that is, an alignment of five or more planets in the same zodiac sign. It is fiery and aggressive, a fitting prelude to the explosive Uranus-Pluto square that will be exact for the third time on May 20. See April 30, below.

 

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.

 

For the Chinese, the New Moon of the third lunar month is the day of Ching Ming (also Qingming), the year's main festival in honor of the ancestors, whose tombs are cleaned and decorated with flowers and beautifully prepared food offerings.

 

April 9-12 (Tuesday - Friday)

Among the Iroquois peoples of North America, the four days from the Aries New Moon are the time of the spring Thunder Ceremony, held in thanksgiving for the rain and the blessings of Awenhai, the Sky Woman whose rainfall creates life on Earth.

 

April 11-20 (nine days)

This New Moon, for some communities in India, is the New Year according to their traditional lunisolar calendar. Those who most favor this timing are devotees of Rama, as this day begins the nine-day series of ceremonies and performances culminating at Ramanavami. The festival celebrates Lord Rama, hero of the epic poem, The Ramayana, one of the masterworks of the world's sacred literature. On this day statues of Rama are cleansed, decorated and paraded, and heroic stories from the Rama legends -- notably the famous episode of Rama and Sita's hunt for the Golden Deer -- are enacted in music, song and dance. Other Hindus hold their New Year Vaisakhi celebrations on the fixed solar date of 4/13; the Sikh and Jain New Year also falls on this day. Best check festival schedule with local Hindus, rather than rely on general information.

 

April 13, Saturday

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 (Saturday - Sunday)

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.

 

April 14, Sunday

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).

 

In the Norse solar calendar, 4/14 is also the festival of Sommarsblot, marking the approach of summer.

 

Mercury enters Aries. Over the next two weeks, until May 1, his energy will be intrepid, direct and decisive, taking on the driving and fiery qualities of Mars.

 

April 15, Monday

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.

 

On this day Venus enters Taurus, the sign of her rulership as the goddess of love and beauty. All Venus-related activities are favored, and may be smooth and triumphant. If Venus has adverse relationships with other planets while she's in this sign, she may have reason to feel like the C-list celebrity who gets nothing more than mercy bookings. But not this time, especially around the coming Full Moon of April 25, when she is in an irresistible 120° trine with Pluto in Capricorn. She towers in Taurus until May 9.

 

April 16, Tuesday

In Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal Before Dawn, the twelfth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (13 Imix, Tzolkin 221). The symbolic bird for this uinal is the Quetzal, the symbolic planet Venus as Morning Star, embodiment of the beauty of the new day.

 

April 19, Friday  (12:04pm HT; 10:04pm 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, Saturday

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.

 

Mars enters Taurus. He is said to be "in detriment" in this Venus-ruled sign of Taurus, his native aggression and impetuosity largely muted by the sensuous and placid qualities of Taurus. Mars remains here until May 31.

 

April 21, Sunday

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 is waxing to Full now, so viewing is will be impaired.

 

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.

 

Birthday (1182) of the celebrated religious reformer, environmentalist and animal communicator St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order of monks. In 2013, this will be joyously linked with the new Argentinian pope who is the first to take the name, and affirm the values, of St. Francis.

 

4/22 is also the date of the first Earth Day.

 

April 23, Tuesday

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, Wednesday

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.

 

April 25, Thursday

Full Moon in Scorpio, opposite Sun in Taurus. The "lusty month of May" that begins now owes some of its sensuousness to the Moon in the sign that rules sexuality, at the same time that the Sun is in the sign ruled by Venus. Alchemically and esoterically, the Scorpionic power of rebirth and transformation, beginning at the Full Moon, combines with the earthy tenacity and drive of Taurus and the sheer beauty of Venus to lend this season its uncommon juice and stamina. This Full Moon is very highly charged, with Saturn in Scorpio conjunct the Moon, and both planets in a grand trine at 120° angles with Ceres in Cancer and Neptune in Pisces. At the same time, Venus is conjunct the Sun and opposite the Moon. It is essential that people conscious of celestial dynamics, and their impact on our collective actions, use this Full Moon to override small private agendas (Sun-Venus in Taurus) with the larger communal and spiritual priorities of the grand trine in water, when our faculties of imagination and intuition can dissolve much that is not needed now, and dream much that is.

 

In the world's Buddhist communities, this Full Moon is the day of Wesak, the birthday of the Buddha. It is usually celebrated at the "Full Moon in Taurus," during the lunar month when the Sun is in what the West calls the Sign of the Bull, but is equally plausible in Asian terms as the Sign of the Cow, playing and embodying the generous abundance, nurturance and gentleness that have made the Cow a spiritual symbol not only for Buddhists and Taoists, but also for Hindus like Gandhi, who called the cow "a poem of pity." It is said that the baby Siddhartha Gautama began to walk soon after birth, and that lotus flowers sprouted at once in his footsteps.

 

Some Buddhists celebrate this day as Visakha Puja, or Buddha Day, commemorating the birth, life and teachings of the Awakened One.

 

In the Jain calendar, this Full Moon is Mahavir Jayanti, celebrating the birthday of Mahavira, founder of the Jain faith.

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. Like Ganesha, Hanuman is intelligence, but at a faster, more resourceful  tempo.

 

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.

 

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 25 - 28 (Thursday - Sunday)

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 prefer to time their New Year a month later than the Chinese calendar.

 

April 26, Friday

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 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, Saturday

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, Sunday

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 began each year on 4/28, and continued 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, Monday

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,  2012 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 embotdies 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.

 

By the time this day nears midnight, the coming Act 3 of the great Uranus – Pluto Square of 2012 – 2015 is closing toward 1° of “orb” – that is, the exact angle of relationship between two transiting planets, in this case the 90° angle of disharmonious tension. While a square is often considered the most “difficult” and “stressful” of all planet aspects, it is more useful now to think of it as a moment of cosmic friction and leverage between two planets whose transformative influence will grow more and more unstoppable because Pluto in Capricorn promotes the rapid decay and collapse of the moribund, while Uranus in Aries is determined to ignite the new. More on the basics of this in the Sept. 2012 Universal Festival Calendar and in the mythic preludes for this month and next.

 

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.