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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.
THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
THE BILLS COME DUE
Hail, and welcome to the Universal Festival for December 2014. This month allows little time for prefatory small talk and imagery, as we are on our way to the sixth of the seven exact Uranus-Pluto squares that are the master celestial dynamic of the years from 2012 to 2015, and which will fade gradually through another near-square in 2016. If you are new to this immensely explosive and cataclysmic event, there is more on it at "Under Siege," about Round 5 of the Uranus-Pluto square last May. To understand better why the square that comes to crisis Dec. 15 - 16 will continue to unfold to another key leverage point on and around Jan. 15 -- so that Round 6 is an evolving event that will surely impact our relationships -- see "Under the Dragon's Tail" in the UFC for October.
More on this in a moment. For right now, for those who may want a reading by Skype or in person this month, I'll be in Boulder CO Dec. 2 - 6, then in Kansas City through the end of the month to do Rumi-related events with the local Sufi community (Dec. 12 - 13) and a talk on Astrocartography at the Aquarian Organization of Astrologers (Dec. 16), holiday gatherings with family and as much yoga as I can do at Seeking Solace, and to finish editing Find Your Best Places, my first ebook on Astrocartography.
Plans for Sacred Sounds Egypt 2015 continue, though the design is changing now to an Upper Egypt journey for Egyptians, and foreigners living in Egypt, for whom coming to the Middle East holds no terrors because they're already there, and know how it is. And how it is right now is ominous, as Egyptian seekers of martyrdom have declared alliance with the Islamic State, have committed murderous attacks on the Egyptian army, and have designated the day of this writing (Nov 27 - 28), as the moment when they intend to force the adoption of sharia religious law and the proclamation of Egypt as an Islamic state. Never has there been a greater need to remember Egypt's traditional identity as the Balad al Salaam, the Country of Peace, and to direct toward this peerless motor and mirror of the world as much serenity and compassion as we can raise, though almost all of us will prefer to do this from afar.
Imagine what it's like to write the Universal Festival Calendar, which will hit its 200th monthly issue two months from now, to maintain the same optimistic theme for the years of the Awakening even as the evidence of human corruption, ignorance and folly, and the shocking events they trigger, grows from a trickle to a torrent to a flood, within which we'll look soon at a few things so big and uncommonly significant that we can't avoid them.
By now you could write this stuff, like this paragraph from a year ago, in the aftermath of Uranus-Pluto Round 4, about "the month when the annual theme of the Rebirth of the Light is inescapably, urgently poignant at a time when constricting, controlling forces of aggressive darkness are working, with more determination and cohesion than they've ever had before, to block and bury the Light altogether. We have come to another one of those crunch points in the ongoing tension between the old late Piscean domination, control and manipulation through lies and fear, and the toxic, morbid values of hierarchy, secrecy and scarcity mind; and the emerging Aquarian values of co-creativity and synarchy, transparency and abundance that are now unstoppable, spreading inexorably through the intentional field of our consciousness as we claim and play full-out the collective role that each of us agreed long ago. We will not be denied, as more of us understand every day our duty, our destiny and our art as an awakened spiritual force that burns, as Donne put it, to breathe, shine and seek to mend for the benefit of each and all."
Now we're at Round 6, coming to an exact square on Dec. 15. The overarching conditions and mythic themes as you've noted them above are in effect again, though some of the details are different, and if anything, are promising, indicating as always that we can change the game instantly, in the twinkling of an eye, if we are awake, if we see ourselves as proactive co-creators of our world, if our circle of attention and compassion includes people besides our families and friends, even people and other species we've never met, and if we're moved by love to join others in a communal unity mind, rather than blocked by fear to remain stuck in separation. Our whole collective task is to make the move, and the only question is how this will happen. There will be no miraculous, sparkly salvation by ET's or divine beings who lift us to joy and freedom without any effort on our part to become more conscious, emotionally generous and spiritually free.
The Uranus-Pluto Square, Round 6
We're about to look at a Uranus-Pluto Round 6 chart. The usual caveats apply. If you'd like to avoid the astrology jargon -- and yes, it does look at first like an entire new language -- please scroll down to Accounts Payable, which covers the terrain in more intuitive, archetypal terms. Please note that the planet positions in the houses of the chart apply only to Siem Reap, Cambodia and other places near it. You may want to go to a website that casts charts for free to see how the chart wheel looks for your location -- only make sure Uranus and Pluto are in an exact square, at 12° 35' of their respective signs.
Why Siem Reap? Because last month I visited the Angkor Wat, which deserves its reputation as one of the world's most magnificent sacred sites, built by the kind of dynasty that can create such things because a Khmer lineage of long-lived kings ruled for centuries a realm that enjoyed peace, health and prosperity because its people understood that none of us have these things in any quality and stability unless we all have them. They also saw the world, and every thing in it, as holy. This is one of the civilizations that proved what human beings can do if we see ourselves within a mandala of universal order, and we accept -- hence the sacred mountain design of the Wat -- that we're on a journey of spiritual self-perfection that depends on our willingness to climb those steps, and accept that there are others above and behind them. It's time to see how these themes play this month, especially on and around Dec. 15.
The Uranus-Pluto Squares of 2012 - 2015
Dec. 15, 2014, 3:52am 7E
Siem Reap, Cambodia: 13N22, 103E51 -- Tropical, Placidus, True Node
This Uranus-Pluto Round 6 chart is the closest one yet in this series to what astrologers call a Splash Chart, with planets distributed over so many zodiac signs and houses that it has a diffused and disconnected appearance that suggests a lack of focus and concentration toward clear, shared goals. There is only one conjunction here, between the Sun and Mercury in Sagittarius in the second house of our money -- that is, the money we earn and create through effort, rather than the 8th house other people's money that comes through legacies, gifts and passive income. Venus is generally a positive asset wherever she appears, though here in the second house she is in Capricorn, tending to count those stones and hold her assets rather than flaunt or release them. This will be one December holiday season when many will go against the seasonal grain of abundance and celebration by spending less, stretching resources, looking for coins under sofa cushions. And not only because of uncertainty about the collective opinion we call an "Economy," which could qualify as a myth if it actually had any dimension of substance and meaning to it, and were not merely a guessing game operated for the benefit of those who hold most of the chips and the cards.
No, the reason why we hold it close to the vest this month is more connected with the black finality of Pluto in that second house, and his 90° "square" with Uranus in the fifth house of creativity, children, love affairs and play. Pluto is also in a close 60° "sextile" with Chiron the Healer in the 4th house of the home and the mother, so that this will likely be a time when domestic economy becomes the focus of much inventiveness, as we continue to heal old narrow ignorances and navigate the transition from the late Piscean capital economy to the new gift economy that grows more appealing by the month. Why? Because the now hopelessly compromised capital economy aims to extract as much wealth as possible from circulation, for the benefit of those who control the game through corrupt insider scams, while a growing and increasingly aware movement toward Aquarian community sees that wealth, like blood, lymph and water, is healthiest when it flows, passing gifts of value and vitality to the other lives we touch, even those we don't yet know.
This contrast between private, possessive riches and shared, communal wealth shows in another of the squares in this chart, between Sun-Mercury in the second house and the Virgo Moon of organization and service in the 11th house of friends, community and social activism, always imbued -- as Aquarius is the "natural ruler" of the 11th -- with the egalitarian aim of creating more level fields of effort and opportunity in a design that is both synarchic -- as power is shared among equals -- and synergistic, as the pooling of intentional force creates an energy cocktail that is greater than the sum of its ingredients. This is what can happen as people Hold That Frequency and stoke it. We'll have a superb opportunity in the months ahead to see how this can work as we watch those two horseshoe-shaped Moon's Nodes in the 11th and 5th houses of this month's chart move slowly clockwise until they align exactly with the Uranus-Pluto square. This is the element that makes the Round 6 square unique, as the square itself in December is followed a month later by an echo blast that shows clearly -- sometimes suddenly -- the impact of the square on our relationships.
There is more in "Under the Dragon's Tail," the UFC prelude for October, about what these Moon's Nodes are and what they mean to us individually, karmically and spiritually. For now, the main news is that the upside-down horseshoe of the South Node aligns exactly with Uranus in Aries. We will see from this month through January the dissolving and breaking of many relationships -- not only personal, private ones, but "outer" institutional links with church, corporation and country -- that will be shocking and upsetting even by the standards of times a fractious and wired as these. Accounts of all kinds come to be settled now as Saturn, the Rising Planet in the first house of this month's chart, moves to exit Scorpio and move into the sign of Sagittarius.
Sagittarius and its ruling planet, Jupiter, are the domain of institutions of authority -- courts of law, governments, banks and other large financial interests, churches, universities, hospitals -- and thus embody the themes and hierarchic structures of established wealth and power, and the "higher communications" of religion, philosophy and law. The behavior of these official bodies and their force fields will be impacted by the planets who move through Sagittarius. One recent example was the years of expansive, optimistic Jupiter in Sagittarius (November, 2006 - December, 2007), an interval of intrepid fraud, foolhardy risk-taking and legal chicanery (the end of habeas corpus and posse comitatus in the US, and a general eviscerating of the Constitution) that led ultimately to the banking cartel's spectacular looting of the US treasury in 2008, at the climax of Pluto in Sagittarius (November, 1995 - November, 2008).
Now Saturn is poised to enter Sagittarius, from Dec. 23 through Dec. 21, 2017. In this three-year interval the bills come due, and we shall experience some hard, thudding collisions with the solidity and "reality" of the material plane. Even if we grasp the general idea of quantum mechanics and we agree with Bill Hicks that "matter is only energy slowed to a lower rate of vibration," the fact is that we are in third density, the Earth element does exist, and there are practical rules that apply when Saturn requires us to recognize that there is such a thing as limitation. And that some conditions, no matter how we wish we could ignore them, do restrict our complete freedom of will and action. We reap what we show. What goes around comes around. We break it, we buy it. The man who tells one lie, as Alexander Pope wrote, must then tell ten other lies to support it. The universe operates by equitable exchanges of energy, even if the balancing is not always easy to see. That's why this image of Saturn, drawing the veil back from his brow, is a fitting one for this august figure, who is by no means a mere bringer of inhibition, estrangement, heaviness and pain. He has much to impart to those who are so determined to get behind the veil -- the literal meaning of esoteric -- that they will devote whatever sweat and sacrifice are needed to seeing the truths of the world as they are. There is more about Saturn in "Under Siege," the UFC mythic prelude from last May. You can even catch him there, along with Mercury and me, on a show from Hard Heart News.
There are four Saturn images on this page (see also 12/23 and 12/31). The one shown here, despite the dark Christian detail of a "Devil's" cloven foot, is accurate to the true Saturn archetype. Though Saturn's usual hourglass is missing, his wings (angelic, not satanic), his scythe and the word Tempus all convey the meaning of the force the Greeks called Chronos (Time) before the Romans named him Saturn. His orbital period of 29 1/2 years is the longest among the seven classical planets visible with the naked eye.
So -- mythically and symbolically speaking, his sphere in the cosmos is the material limit of all motion and possibility. His "seventh heaven," in Ptolemy's geocentric model of the universe, is the wall that marks the boundary of all will and imagination in physical space. He is also the inescapable limit of time: not only the limit of a life span in the mortal realm, but also the Saturnian cycles (the famous Saturn Returns at 29 and 59) and 7-year phases that are bring the big decisions about who we are, what we're here to do, how authentic we are in defining and pursuing our goals, and what effort we're going to devote to what we say we revere and we say we want. This is why Saturn aims his unerring eye at us when we resist the changes we must make in ourselves. His pressure as the enforcer of the non-performance clause in our sacred contracts is unrelenting until we either get with the program and break through, or bail into denial, victimhood, addiction, manipulation or some other evasive action that buys only a little time. It's pointless, because the longer we delay, the sharper the pain gets. That's why the scroll in the image above says "Only virtue reduces the sting."
The Shadow Knows
Only those who have the virtue -- from vis, literally the force, the strength to endure the dark night of the soul, the stress of breaking old habits and the comfort zone -- are likely to live in ways that are much more free, now that Saturn knows we can be left alone for the moment to go after the goals we set in our Sacred Contracts -- see the book by Carolyn Myss -- and to make the bravest choices in the unfolding of the scripts we've already written. This is why some astrologers see the birth chart as I do, along with the tarot archetypes, the I Ching, the Qabbalah, the shamanic path and others, as one of the symbolic systems that can help us see whatever elements of the sacred contract we need to understand better now.
How does this apply to you personally? Well, any time a planet crosses through one of the houses of your birth chart or forms a major angle of leverage (0°, 90° or 180°) to one of your natal planets, then we can expect that the transiting planet will not exactly influence us, but will certainly affect the terrain of challenges and opportunities in which we move as the responsible actors. When Saturn crosses our Sun, we become more serious and reflective about our self-definition, creative path and life purpose, and we may get the important solar organizational work done. When Saturn squares Mercury, may people get negative and self-critical because they don't yet see that what Saturn is telling them to do is make the needed changes in their communications and mental structures. Saturn opposite your Venus doesn't mean that no one wants to kiss you, or you have to feel inhibited. The shyness may be ethical, the hesitation honest, in those who see that any expressions of love we make now had best be heartfelt and true.
So what does Saturn in Sagittarius mean? For openers, for you personally, you can be sure that if you were born in this Sun sign or one of the other mutable signs of Gemini, Virgo or Gemini, or you have natal planets in those signs, then for several weeks or some months at a time over the next three years, Saturn's force will work with you, against you, or both, and how heavy or heady this is for each one depends on whether, like many human beings, we want to get the maximum benefit from the least effort, or -- we recognize that there's a certain connection between effort and outcome, and we are willing to go deep, below practical problems and outward symptoms in the physical body, to less obvious conditions in the mental, emotional and spiritual bodies, where holes and hooks, cords and torn spots that go unseen and unaddressed must manifest in time as dis-ease. In short, working with Saturn can and will involve going into the dark, where the secrets and shadows live, to probe the spiritual and karmic causes of what we cannot possibly imagine intending in our sacred contracts.
Saturn is not the only planet who has been identified with our individual and collective shadows. Neptune, connected as he is with our unconscious mind, is another obvious candidate. So is Pluto, lord of death and regeneration, whose work with and on us can often bring harrowing insight into the things about ourselves that we need to change now. Whichever of these planets, and others, are in the mix now, including Uranus, of one thing we can be sure. We shall continue to get nowhere if we are always noting and blaming the problems in others. The most facile interpretation of Saturn in Sagittarius, though it's valid as far as it goes, is that governments, banks, churches and other institutions of authority will undergo an astringent tightening and cleansing for which Luca Giordano's 1675 painting Jesus Clears the Temple, in the banner image at the top of this page and here by Giotto, is as apt a symbol as any. It shows, after all, the Saturnian figure of Jesus, allegedly a Capricorn born Dec. 25, chasing the banksters (Sagittarius) out of the temple (Sagittarius) in a fierce enforcement of the law (Sagittarius). The symbolism does fit.
But only superficially. Anyone can condemn the greedy merchant, the corrupt politician, the sleazy journalist and the venal priest, and a host of others too, without ever considering that if these behaviors were not present in himself, he'd never be able to see them at all in another. Collective psychoses like the Third Reich (in Deepak Chopra's view), the Islamic State and Christian crusades from the 11th century to now can only occur in those who see the other as all shadow and themselves as all light. The time for this to begin shifting, in ways that are certain to be painful, is now. The stakes could not possibly be higher, as Carl Jung foresaw clearly when he wrote decades ago that "humanity must come to terms with its collective shadow or be destroyed by it."
Never has it been easier than it is now to be distracted by details, even big ones, as Russia has just banned GMO nationwide, China has finally divested itself of US dollars and now hold its entire foreign currency reserves in a "more flexible basket" of other currencies, the grand jury in the Michael Brown murder case has exposed the shadow of American racism at its darkest, and the Project Prophecy of James Rickards, author of The Death of Money, anticipates "the Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System" to the tune of a $100 trillion cataclysm. But not to worry. As we know by now, the collapse has already occurred, and what comes next is the smoke and mirrors. And as we also know by now, the crucial change that comes now is in our consciousness, light and shadow and all, and our perception that we are one with every other thing.
How to look in the mirror without fear. How to sing without shame, even when it feels like your legs are made of yogurt. How, in the words of a chant I first heard from Moshe Kraftchow, to "Live like you are in the present, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching." See you and hear you at the Dec. 6 Full Moon, and at Circle of Sound's Global Harmonization at the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21. When we are in community, it will all be easier than we imagine.
Keep Holding That Frequency.
THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
In the ancient Greek solar calendar, 12/1 is the festival of Poseidon, god of the sea.
This day is sacred also to the Tibetan protectress Red Tara.
In the Hindu solar calendar, 12/2 is the Feast of Shiva, the Destroyer, one of the three most important male deities in the Hindu pantheon. The sound and rhythm of his drum are said to be the primordial tone of the cosmos, his dance the creative act that brings all life into being.
Om Nama Shivaya.
One of the festivals of Pallas Athena in the ancient Greek calendar, and the feast of St. Barbara in the traditional Christian calendar. This is yet another example of the methodical way in which the early Christian church replaced "pagan" holidays with days honoring new Christian saints. St. Barbara -- whose veneration the Vatican recently discontinued, when she and several other obviously mythical saints were quietly retired -- was said to protect her devotees from lightning, just as Athena mollified the wrath of her father, Zeus Cloudgatherer, Lord of the Lightning Bolt.
In the Yoruba calendar, this is the feast of Shango, protector against all evil.
According to a Dutch Christmastime legend, this is the day on which St. Nicholas (see 12/6) captured and chained Black Peter, that is, the Devil, and compelled him to drop candy and toys down the chimneys and into the shoes of good children waiting below.
Mars enters Aquarius, the Uranus-ruled sign of revolution, innovation, magical effects and cutting-edge technologies, in which snazzy infomercials from merchants of death make war look good, at least from way up in the sky -- or true warriors (of both sexes) use their masculine qualities of courage, discipline, self-sacrifice and drive to protect and serve others in a spirit of compassionate strength and mercy. This scenario can and often does go either way when Mars is in Aquarius, where Uranus the trickster owns the stage and hosts the play. Until Mars crosses into Pisces on Jan. 13, we can expect a spike in violent revolutionary activity and new military technologies such as laser and sound weapons. Also, as Round 6 of the Uranus-Pluto squares comes to maximum intensity this month, there will be brave efforts to expose corruption, resist control, and free the public mind from pervasive dumbdown media and conformist belief.
12/6, Saturday, 2:28am HT; 12:28pm UT:
Full Moon in Gemini, opposite Sun in Sagittarius. This Full Moon is typically one of the year's most festive and joyous, combining as it does the hearty enthusiasm and cheer of Jupiter, ruler of the sign of the Archer, and the quick communicativeness of Mercury, who rules Gemini, both aligned at the feast-while-you-can moment just before the onset of winter.
This Full Moon is loaded, one of the most active and powerful of the year. Mercury and Ceres both align with the Sun at the solar pole of the Full Moon opposition, while Chiron in Pisces squares both poles, forming a T-cross. Uranus in Aries is at a 60° sextile to the Sun and a 120° trine to the Moon. The Moon's Nodes on the Libra-Aries axis form another favorable trine-sextile linkage with the two great lights. Minor aspects -- like Mars in early Pisces at a 72° quintile to the Sun -- also apply. What does it all mean? We know that within the main themes of the time, we will be doing what we can to conserve our most precious relationships by resolving long-implanted adversarial postures, toxic habits of enabling and dependency, and postponements of creative moves tyoweard discovering and putting into action what we were supposed to be doing all along. Many will address now the Chironic wound of the undiscovered purpose and the underutilized gift.
In Celtic/Druidic and Wiccan calendars, this December Full Moon is called Oak Moon. It is also called the Moon of the Long Nights, as it is often closest to Mother Night, coinciding exactly with it this year.
In the Roman Catholic calendar, feast of St. Nicholas, healer and miracle worker, patron saint of Russia. To this day his relics at the church in Bari, Italy are said to yield a "manna" that heals the sick and infirm. In northwest Europe and North America, he is more closely identified with Santa Claus, whose highly dualistic system of giving gifts -- toys for kids who obey, coal for those who don't -- encourages children to be good in December, during the mellowness of the harvest season, when yelling is least welcome and pleasant.
Feast day of St. Catherine Of Alexandria, whose virgin martyr scenario has always been admired for, among other things, the element of slow-burn comedy that could make W. C. Fields an ideal casting choice for the emperor Maximinus. Catherine sought an audience with Caesar to ask his help in redressing a wrong, then proceeded to berate his augustness for cruelty toward Christians. Not wanting to slice up one so innocent and tender, Maximinus handed the girl over to his court priests and scholars, asking them to talk her out of her fantasies. Catherine proceeded to convert the teachers, then the emperor's mother. Maximinus ordered Catherine to be broken on a wheel, but the wheel shattered at her touch. He finally had her decapitated, so she is usually depicted with a spiked wheel and a sword. She is especially beloved in Russia, and she has been celebrated more poignantly since 1941 for the day when the Soviet Army stopped the Germans outside Moscow and forced them to retreat and cover for the winter. On this day, as the attack on Pearl Harbor was hours away, the future of Russia, and the world, hung by a thread. People in the Russian Orthodox churches are still grateful for St. Catherine's protection on Dec. 7, 1941.
In Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Watering, the third of the 20-day uinals in the cycle (2 Imix, Tzolkin 41). This uinal, symbolized by the Falcon, marks the growth of new life after the Uinals of Fire and the Earth at the beginning of the Tzolkin cycle.
In the Khemitian calendar, Feast of Neith, double-aspected netert of creation, symbolized in her role as patroness of weaving; and of war and hunting (Month of Tybi, day 23).
In the Roman Catholic calendar, Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
In Japan this day is Rohatsu, which Mahayana Buddhists in China, Korea, Vietnam and other East Asian countries call Bodhi day. It marks the day on which the Buddha experienced enlightenment after renouncing extreme austerities and deciding to sit under a pipal tree until he understood the cause of suffering, and the way to liberate oneself from it. This is why Bodhi Day often involves an overnight meditation, or in Japan is the culmination of a sesshin lasting up to seven days.
On this day Venus enters Capricorn, where she'll stay until Jan. 3. She'll conjoin Pluto right at the Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere, making for as much erotic wildness and compulsion -- and perhaps as many lessons in helpless attachment -- as we can possibly need in the studious sign of the karmic teacher. The heavy, serious demeanor of this sign can be leavened when Venus is ingenious, as Capricorn's ruling planet, Saturn, is curiously enough the patron of comedy -- and strong commitments to love relationship can be made by those who accept that our most important love unions will change us.
This is the date of the Roman festival of Lux Mundi ("light of the world"), still celebrated in Europe, especially in France, where this day commemorates Liberty, the goddess of light whose Statue was presented by France to the United States (though after the gift was declined by Egypt). Light of the World is among the first of the festivals of light traditionally held in the weeks before the northern winter solstice; and one of many goddess festivals of peace and freedom held in early December, before the more raucous events (see the Saturnalia at 12/18 below) that precede the December Solstice.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is said to have first appeared on this day in 1531 at the temple of Tonantzin Coatlique, goddess of the Moon in the recently destroyed Aztec empire.
In the Baha'i calendar, this day honors the Deity as Masa'il, or Mystery.
In Christian calendars, the Feast of St. Lucy, Santa Lucia, the great north European winter Festival of Lights. This day is also Little Yule in the Norse calendar, followed a week later by the Yuletide cycle. Interestingly, the old Swedish feast of Lucia and the similarly-named Roman feast of Juno Lucina-- honoring the matron goddess Juno as keeper of the home fires -- developed independently in very ancient times, and merged later into the Christian feast of St. Lucy.
Geminid Meteor Shower peaks tonight and tomorrow. This can be one of the year's better celestial shows, with bright (average magnitude 2.5) meteors appearing at a rate of some 50 - 80 per hour. Viewing will be compromised this year, as the Moon is waxing to Full (Dec. 16).
The celebrated prophet Nostradamus is honored on this day.
This is also the feast of St. John of the Cross, the mystic poet who was curiously canonized after his death by the same church that persecuted, imprisoned and tortured him, thus causing the suffering that apparently produced some of the greatest mystical poetry in the Christian tradition. St. John of the Cross shares this day with another great poet:
12/14 - 17 (4 days)
In the festival calendars of Turkey and some other Islamic countries, the Mevlana Festival, honoring the Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi, is held within these days. This anniversary day of Rumi's death is called his Urs, which literally means marriage, because it is the day on which the saint left his physical body to enter into union with the Divine Beloved.
"Enter the thicket of lions unafraid of any wounds.
The shadows you fear are just a child's fantasy.
There is no wound, and nothing to be wounded.
All is mercy and love." (Version by Coleman Barks.)
In the ancient Greek calendar, beginning of the Halcyon Days, the two weeks just before and after the winter solstice. Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus, god of the winds, and in placating her father, served as protector from storms (See 12/4).
12/15 - 18 (4 days):
At Kasuga Shrine in Japan's ancient capital of Nara, the gods are treated to an amazing four-day performance of music, theatre and dance at the On-Matsuri (winter festival). This is one of the world's many December feasts in which sacred images are removed from their shrines, purified and reinstalled. The rare feature of the On-Matsuri is that the gods are placed in a temporary shrine fronted by a stage on which they, and humans who also like to come and watch, get to see for four days any and every kind of traditional performance Japan has. It all happens outdoors. Dress warm.
In Khemitian calendar, month of Mechir begins with a two-day festival honoring Ra, the neter of the Sun:
12/16: Ptah, neter of creation, lifts Ra up to heaven
12/17: The neteru of heaven receive Ra as lord of the sky
Dec. 16 is also the birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770).
12/16 eve – 24 eve (eight days):
In the Jewish calendar, these are the days of Hanukkah, the great feast of lights in the annual festival cycle. This feast celebrates the rites that followed the Maccabees' liberation of Jerusalem from the Syrians, and the miracle whereby a tiny amount of oil found in the temple, reckoned to be enough to give light for only one day, burned for the full eight days the priests needed to consecrate new oil.
12/16 - 24 (Nine days):
In the Roman Catholic calendar, the year's most efficacious novena --that is, nine-day prayer cycle--begins now on the ninth day before Christmas. This novena, also called Las Posadas in Hispanic countries, commemorates the journey of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph toward Jerusalem for the birth of Jesus.
Among the Yoruba and Santeria peoples of Africa, and their descendants in Europe and the Americas, this is the feast of the Orisha Babalu Aye, whose medicine guards the people against the most terrible diseases, and who is also the special protector of the physically disabled.
The Roman festival of the Saturnalia begins. This week-long party, culminating in the Sun's entry into Capricorn and continuing until Dec. 25, is very old, from the time when Saturn was not yet ruler of Capricorn, and the bringer of limitation, old age, illness and death, but was actually god of the evergreens, an ancient Italian version of the ever-present Green Man. The Saturnalia is the year's great festival of thanksgiving, beginning with the giving of gifts and the forgiveness of debts, and leading a week later to the year's wildest revel when all classes mingle, servants get to make fun of their masters, donkeys and other beasts of burden are honored in mock processions, fool kings are crowned, and people of all orders throw the last grand blowout of the year, just before the onset of winter and the Rebirth of the Light.
On this day Mercury is more than happy to exit Sagittarius, where he has been unhappily "in fall" since Nov. 28, and has been playing what could be called the Dilbert aspect of doing one's best to survive the ineptitude and indifference of a boss who likely did not invent people skills in an earlier life. In Mercury's annual journey, going into Capricorn is like a much-needed sabbatical in a library -- not the best place for the ruler of Gemini to talk as freely as he likes, but a welcome prelude to visiting Aquarius, from Jan. 5.
On this day the Sun crosses the Galactic Center point near 27° Sagittarius--or, more precisely, the Sun is now positioned at the exact midpoint of an imaginary line between the Galactic Center and Earth. The effect of this is to create a brief window of very high receptivity and clarity in transdimensional communication. For those willing to listen, the air shimmers with guidance and inspiration.
In the Norse calendar, Mother Night, the first day of the Yuletide season, named for geola (the "yoke" that joins the old and new years), the day in the year when the Sun is above the horizon for the shortest time, following and preceding the two longest nights of the year. Mother Night, as the longest and darkest night of the year, is considered the womb of the New Year. It is customary on this night to pray for auspicious dreams, which are said to foretell the year to come.
12/20 - 31 (12 days):
In the Asatru tradition of the Celtic and Norse peoples, Mother Night begins the 12-day Yule cycle, in which the fading of the old year is marked in rites of the Holly King. Freya, the Norse Goddess of Love, female fertility and creativity is honored with evergreens and fires, feasting and singing at the start of her festival, which later became the 12 days of Christmas.
The Winter Solst Dec. 21 – 25
12/21, Sunday, 1:04pm HT; 11:04pm UT:
The Winter Solstice is the last of the year's four Cardinal Festivals. Sun enters Capricorn and Winter begins as the Sun reaches the 270° point on the zodiac wheel, and begins his homeward swing toward the 0° point, at the Spring Equinox. As entries for the next few days will show, this Solstice is traditionally the most important festival of the year as it marks the birth of the Solar Child at the time of returning Winter light, and is thus the moment of affirming faith in the re-emergence of earthly life in the Spring, and also, symbolically, in the soul's survival beyond death. In the Tarot, this relationship is signified by the contrast between the Hermit, a Saturnian figure who wears a black robe and carries the lantern of esoteric wisdom (see end of this page); and the exuberant child of the Sun card.
Feast of St. Thomas, the famous doubting apostle who has been, ever since he asked to check the wounds of Jesus just to be sure, the patron saint and clown role of those who refuse to consider the premise that once we believe it, we can see it.
One of the many male solar figures who are celebrated now, at the onset of the winter solstice, is the famous British warrior hero King Arthur, whose birthday is Dec. 21.
12/21 - 25 (5 days):
Since ancient times in northern Europe and cultures descended from it, this is the annual Evergreen Festival, celebrated in the planting of new evergreens and the making of evergreen wreaths.
In the Khemitian calendar, the same five days are the feast of Aset (Isis), Queen of Heaven and Earth, wife and sister of Ausar (Osiris) on the month of Mechir, day 6. In Mediterranean countries , Aset was the most widely revered deity in the ancient Western world, worshiped in various forms for some 4,000 years until she was rivaled by her Christian counterpart, the Virgin Mary, and was ultimately suppressed by Islam. Now she rises again.
12/21 - 24 (four days):
Among the Tewa people of the Pueblo tribes, the festival of the Turtle Dance, commemorating the seeding and conception of all life by Father Sky and Mother Earth, begins now on the day before the Full Moon closest to the Winter Solstice.
12/21 - 1/9 (20 days):
The Hopi and Zuni peoples of the Southwestern USA celebrate Soyala, the New Year feast of purification and regeneration. This is yet another of the many December festivals in which homes and ritual spaces are cleaned and reconsecrated, fires extinguished and relit with the new fire of the Winter Solstice.
12/21 (Sunday), 3:37pm HT; 12/22 (Monday), 1:37am UT::
Dark Moon conjunct Sun in Capricorn, the first of two Dark Moons to come in this calendar month. This is normally the most reflective and contemplative Dark Moon of the year, as both Sun and Moon are under restraint by the ruler of Capricorn: Saturn, teacher of the spiritual and karmic lessons that are deepest, and can be most painful when resisted. As the New Moon always favors beginnings, the ensuing New Moon in Capricorn is naturally a time for trying new approaches to old problems and weaknesses. Long before the Julian calendar made early January the beginning of the Year, the Dark Moon in Capricorn was the moment for "New Year's Resolutions."
Perhaps mercifully, after this month's tremendously-charged Full Moon (see 12/6), this Dark Moon is relatively quiet and simple, though it is worth noting that Saturn, poised in the last degree of Scorpio before entering Sagittarius tomorrow, is at a 90° "square" with the Moon-Sun conjunction. The likely signal here is that this Dark Moon's moment of new beginnings will require a deeper understanding of that must be committed and done to gain the goal. This year's Solstice holiday season is likely to bring some uncomfortable dissonances between the customary merriment and the uncustomary realization that some serious business is at hand, and is about to get denser.
In the ancient Greek calendar, this longest and most profound Dark Moon of the year is sacred to Hekate, formidable protectress and guide through all turmoil and chaos.
In the Japanese Shinto calendar this day is Touji Taisai, sacred to the Sun Goddess Amaterasu-no-Mikuni, heroine of one of the world's great myths of the retreat and return of the Sun. When her brother, the raucous storm trickster Susanoo-no-Mikuni insulted and ridiculed her, she withdrew into a cave and caused the Earth to suffer in such cold and darkness that the other gods came to sing and dance outside her cave until the goddess relented and forgave, and allowed the others to charm her back out. Among the universal symbolisms of such stories is the principle that light avoids wild and violent action, and can tame it only by limiting it in patterns of order, symbolized by music and dance.
The Cherokee people of North America celebrate on this day a very similar festival in honor of the Sun, who has locked herself inside her house in mourning for her dead daughter, and can be induced to re-emerge and smile only by the music and dance of children.
The Chinese observe the festival of Wang Mu, the Empress Mother, lady of compassion. This peak day of the yin half of the year honors the Shen, or deities, of north, winter and the Earth element in prayers for the renewal of cosmic order.
The most important planet ingress of the year comes now as Saturn enters Sagittarius. He will retreat into Scorpio again from mid-June until mid-September 2015, so that the coming summer is likely to have the depressing nuances of a time when we see, after some months of optimism that overdue change really is here, that we are back to the same old thing. This is one of several reasons why 2015 will be an emotional roller coaster that starts rocketing ahead again, with the lightning tempo of Sagittarius, from September on. For the moment, though, for a few months into 2015, we are able to see what is possible, and what our focused, grounded Saturnian efforts can create when they are impelled by the expansiveness, breadth of vision, magnanimity and love of life that even Saturn can take on in the sign ruled by Jupiter. There will be much to say, some of it above in this month's Mythic Prelude, about what we can expect, and more important, what we can co-create from now until Saturn crosses into his home sign of Capricorn in December, 2017.
In the Khemitian calendar, Feast day of Het-Heru (Hathor), sky goddess, patroness of astrology (Mechir, day 8).
In some Celtic calendars, this intercalary day between the Winter Solstice and 12/25 is called the Secret of the Unhewn Stone, the only day in the year not ruled by a tree or ogham symbol. Like Mother Night (12/20), the Unhewn Stone was thus a symbol of the unshaped, emerging potential of all things.
In some Native American calendars, the Month of the Snow Goose begins on this day.
In the Northern hemisphere, the most important festival day of the year, marking the birth of the Solar Child, the Savior, Renewer of the Light. This day has been celebrated in the Northern world for more than 6,000 years as the birth or feast day of many solar deities, resurrected kings and queens, and saviors. When the mythic cycles of Sumeria, Egypt, India and China were forming and on their way to being vivid and complex, Dec. 25 was the accepted date of the winter solstice, before the ancient star priests were able to reckon it precisely on Dec. 21.
Countless deities and other noted figures are celebrated on this day. Among them:
In the Khemitian calendar, Dec. 25 is the shared father-and-son birthday of Ausar (Osiris), neter of male creativity and vegetation; and his son with Aset (Isis): Hor (Horus), the falcon-headed solar hero who is destined to battle Set, neter of destruction and chaos, for the survival of life on Earth. Hor is solar energy in active physical manifestation. Thus the living Pharaoh is considered his living human embodiment. The birthdays of Ausar and Hor fall on day 10 in the Month of Mechir.
Dec. 25 is the birthday of the Persian solar deity Mithras, whose ritual slaying of the Bull enacts the ascendancy of spirit over matter, and also the end of the Age of Taurus. Mithras' day first entered the Roman Calendar as the holiday sacred to Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun.
In the ancient Greek calendar, this day is celebrated as a birthday or major festival day of Apollo/Helios, who merges into the single figure of Apollo, god of the Sun, patron of intellect, rationality, the ideal beauty of classical form, and the mystery of prophecy.
On the same day, curiously, some of Apollo's opposite numbers are born and honored too: Dionysus and the Phrygian Attis, both associated with ecstatic revelry and passion, blood and wine. The incomparably beautiful and doomed Adonis, lover of Aphrodite, is reborn on this day each year and dies a few months later on what some other calendars usually call Easter.
Also the birthday of the ancient Babylonian god Baal.
In the Norse tradition, this is the birthday of Baldur, yet another beautiful young god who dies in the bloom of youth and returns to life on the first day of winter. His feast is associated with wreaths of greenery and holly. At his death each year his blood is said to fall on the white young holly berries, staining them bright red. These colors also symbolize Baldur as the joining of spiritual love (white) with erotic love (red).
In Christian calendars, this is Christmas, birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, considered by his devotees to be the Promised One, the Messiah, whom Christians revere as the fully realized embodiment of divinity, the Christ.
In the words of Isaiah: " . . . unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the prince of peace."
12/26, Friday :
In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian calendars of Greece and Russia, birthday of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
In the Zoroastrian calendar, this day marks the death of the saint and teacher Zarathusthra, or Zoroaster, in 551 BC, celebrated in rites that observe the universal myth pattern of the Double Holy Seven--in this case seven male and seven female emanations of the deity, whose efficacy in purifying the earth from evil is praised in sacred fire rites. Other examples: the fourteen body parts of Ausar (Osiris), the fourteen Stations of the Cross in Roman Catholic ritual, and, in symbols common to Egyptian mystery schools and the biblical Book of Revelations, the cycle of the Dove descending into the crown of the head and down through the seven chakras, then reascending the chakra column as the Eagle.
12/26 - 1/1 (one week):
The festival of Kwanzaa, celebrated by African Americans and other descendants of the African peoples, and also widely respected by environmentally conscious people for its emphasis on communal values that support sustainable, Earth-friendly economies: teamwork, responsible stewardship, unity of faith and purpose, and the honoring of creativity and beauty.
In the calendar of the ancient Khemitians, aka “Egyptians,” a four-day festival of Djehuti ("Thoth"), the lunar neter of wisdom and learning, was held now. The rites began with a celebration of Djehuti's arrival in the physical realm; honored his gifts of mathematics, literature and music; and culminated in the ceremony of gratitude for the most profound of all Djehuti's secrets: the khu, or light body, which adepts in the mystery schools aspired to generate through spiritual practice.
12/27, Saturday :
In the Roman Catholic calendar, feast day of St. John, the Beloved Disciple, said to be also the author of the Gospel of John, the Book of Revelations, and the apocryphal Secret Book of John, in which Jesus is quoted as having said, "If you get out what is within you, it will save you; if you do not get out what is within you, it will destroy you." John was apparently the only one of the apostles who did not seek martyrdom, but lived and wrote on the Greek isle of Patmos until he was a hundred years old.
In Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Warriors, the fourth of the 20-day uinals in the cycle (9 Imix, Tzolkin 61). This uinal, symbolized by the Quail, represents the limiting principle of reaction after the three uinals of growth that begin the Tzolkin cycle.
In the six-season calendar of the aboriginal people of Australia, the monsoon season of Gudjewg begins about now. This season of just over three months is the year's longest, lasting until the end of March. After the initial weeks of the monsoon, Gudjewg has three main phases: Gularr Gaimiugu, "Fire Hot Spells" (February); Magumbu, "Heavy Rain" (end of February to about March 10) and Na-Maddjaworomi, "Last of the Monsoon" (through the end of March).
In Celtic and some other ancient European traditions, Dec. 28 is considered the unluckiest day of the year, when no work should be done, no new enterprises should be started, no new approaches made.
In the Roman Catholic calendar, this is the feast of St. Thomas á Becket, Chaucer's "hooly blisful martyr" of the Canterbury Tales, whose cathedral was and is the most visited Christian pilgrimage site in England. Becket's story of fatal defiance to the will of Henry the Lion is still one of the most oft-retold dramas of spiritual honor and sacrifice.
12/29 - 1 / 4 (5 days):
In the Zoroastrian calendar, festival of the creator and protector of animal life, Vohu Manah, one of the seven male and seven female emanations of the Deity.
12/30 (Tuesday) eve:
In the Jewish lunar calendar, this is the 10th day of the month of Tevet. It commemorates Nebuchadnezzar's siege and capture of Jerusalem, the destruction of Solomon's temple and the Babylonian conquest of Judah.
In the Baha'i calendar, this day honors the Deity as Sharaf, Honor.
In the ancient Asatru tradition of the Celtic and Norse peoples, this day is the famous Twelfth Night, the last of the 12 days of Yule, which began on Dec. 20, Mother Night. There is one more night of celebration now before Yule decorations come down, and the Yule tree and other holiday greenery are removed from the home, on the next day. It's customary to burn the old greenery, to symbolize the end of the old year, though each household keeps a sprig of holly, ivy or mistletoe for good luck until the next Yule season.
The two-day Festival of Saturn, on the last day of the Old Year and the first day of the New, is among the most important points in the Roman ritual calendar, and the archetypal year connected with it. This first day of Saturn's annual festival is devoted to the double-themed figure of Father Time. He is often perceived (see Mythic Prelude) as the pale death bringer in a black robe, with a scythe: Saturn the Reaper, the Shiva and Set counterpart who clears away through age, sickness and death -- and separation in the heart -- the old, spent energies that are due to fade.
His other aspect is Saturn the Keeper of Prophecy and Teacher of Esoteric Spiritual Wisdom, who holds within his lantern the Light Hologram that organizes all Knowledge. Both aspects of Saturn are prominent in our consciousness now, as Pluto is in Capricorn, the sign Saturn rules, until 2023.
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.