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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
Hail, and welcome to the Universal Festival for December 2013, 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.
To see where we are at this moment and where we're about to go, the first loose end to be addressed is the question of what happened a month ago, as we explored it in Into the Cauldron, at the fourth of the Uranus-Pluto squares that define the rumble and rhythm of the very transformational years from 2012 to 2015. As the fourth of the seven pulses in this series of cosmic birth spasms, and thus as the central turning point of our drama, Nov. 1, 2013 should have been a moment of sweeping, powerful changes affecting us all, in ways that were easy for almost anyone to feel and see. But was it? Yes to the first condition, no to the second.
All Right. Did Anything Really Happen on Nov. 1?
Surely. Events of huge importance came right on and around Nov. 1. But they were little noticed for two reasons. One is that they were deliberately concealed by the powerful organizations who coalesced to create them, and who were and are determined to hide their agendas from those -- almost all the other people on the planet -- who will be threatened by what is now in motion, and would oppose it if they only knew what is coming now to enslave and extinguish them. The other reason why the immense mindquake of Nov. 1 has gone unnoticed is that most human beings, as always, are looking only in the visible direction of material events and effects, not in the more subtle direction of forces that must gather critical mass and momentum in our global energy field before they manifest "outwardly" as tangible indicators of change.
Thus people living in the mindset of late Piscean, materialist "science" and "reality" are unable to see what is going on because for them the only acceptable evidence of change is in war and revolution, toppling governments and collapsing currencies, epidemics and natural disasters, and directly-felt boots to the gut and backs to the wall. The same people think they'll be safe in uncertain times if they hoard the metals and stones that are the densest anchors of the material realm: gold, silver and diamonds, iron weapons and concrete bunkers. Some of these agonized, fear-chilled people are awakening now to what the rest of us have seen for years: that the changes in our consciousness matter far more than changes in the realm of material things and institutions. What is going on now is really energy medicine on a global, collective scale.
As you know, one of the core premises of energy medicine is that we are not only a physical body, even though that is the only one most of us see, and accept as "real." We are a holistic alignment of four bodies that constantly impact one another, so that the habits we hold and the choices we make in our three subtle bodies -- spiritual, emotional and physical -- determine the state of our physical health. If we are serene and loving within, then we maintain wellness in the physical body too. But if the three subtle bodies are torn, holed, hooked and held in toxic contracts and long-festering wounds, then unwellness must appear in the physical body, and can only get worse if we apply only material medicines to conditions that have not been addressed, even seen yet, in the mind, the heart and the soul.
Imagine, then, that this is now happening on a planetary scale, as our collective ignorances and hatreds, our prejudices, greeds and fears, our stubborn insistences that "God" and other people are responsible for it all, have created social, political, financial and environmental crises whose black, poison fruit now ripens toward the next Uranus-Pluto square in April. It is all being brought toward a showdown in which two opposing camps, concealing their terrifying agendas from each other, their governments and their own people, are facing off now in an ultimate Us or Them scenario so perilous that no one can win it. Who are the adversaries, and what did they prepare, on and around Nov. 1, to work against each other and against us all?
In the Western corporatist corner, the twelve nations of the Trans--Pacific Partnership (TPP) completed on or around Nov. 1 their Advanced Intellectual Property Chapter that was released by Wikileaks on Nov. 13, and has been so closely hidden since then by the governments of the member nations that even their national legislators have been denied access to treaty documents. As always, "governments" scarcely matter, as the power behind the throne is a consortium of some 200 corporations, the majority American, who aim to set binding international protocols in the areas of patent and copyright law, media and communications, banking, agriculture and medicine, mandating who is allowed to do what in all these fields, and more. In effect, the long-dreaded Codex Alimentarius has now mutated into a massive, mortal Codex Universalis, and its kevlar-coated fist is about to strike our door. The TPP conspirators -- legitimately called so, as their extralegal, covert, reptilian efforts to violate the law are being hidden by the perpetrators, their controlled media, and the politicians they own -- are working to enact their aims as unobtrusively as possible.
Barack Obama, by now painfully reduced to nothing more than a hood ornament of fool's gold on the stretch limousine of the corporate elite, is attempting to launch TPP by executive fiat, bypassing the US Congress that is constitutionally empowered and required to examine, deliberate and approve or reject international treaties. Occasional soft sighs and scoffs can be heard from politicians engaged in the usual theatre piece of opposition for effect, but they have neither the ethics nor the courage to do anything. If they did, they'd wear corporate logos on their suits, like race car drivers, to declare where their real allegiances are.
Is the TPP a truly inclusive Trans-Pacific undertaking? Of course not. It pointedly excludes the Pacific nations of Russia and especially China, for in the opposing corner of Eastern hegemony, the nation that Napoleon called a sleeping giant is about to awaken and call the tune at the crisis point in the show with a sense of dramatic timing that Mozart could envy. The Chinese have been making inscrutable noises for the last seven years -- during which the dollar has declined in value by 25% against the yuan -- about basing the international exchange rate on "a more flexible basket of currencies," and about disestablishing the dollar as the world's reserve currency. Until now, as the Central Nation prizes continuity and stability as the Eight Jewel Duck of financial order, they've hesitated to call in debt or make other assertive moves. But now that TPP is pushing against them, they will have no choice but to act in self-defense. And when they do, then just as the bankers are about to seize everything, the value of the money, all of it, will suddenly evaporate at once, as though the the money bag of the world's wealth has suddenly become an unsealed balloon that burbles around in circles as the air escapes. The money, and the collective opinions about it that masquerade as a "science" called economics, will be seen for what they always were, only fantasies as consequential as a single minnow in not just one ocean, but all of them together. And we will have to create from emergency and necessity the standard of value that we could have invented long ago from common sense.
What will replace the things that used to seem so true, and so real? We can't tell yet, but they'll have to involve more giving than hoarding, more meeting than beating, more opening of the heart and less closing of gates and minds. We will be engaged in communal action in ways we'd never thought possible. And we will apply what we know and love in ways that have useful resonances beyond what they had before, as they have in recent weeks in the astrology classes that I've been privileged to teach in Pisac with my esteemed colleague Michael Morris. What can an astrologer contribute now that may have collective value in this time when we reassess the question of who truly rules us, our muscle and our money, our hearts and our homes, our minds and our memories, our souls and sciences and intentions? What implications do the ruling planets in zodiac signs have beyond astrology itself, for all of us?
Astrology to Get Less Sexist, and a Lot More Sexy
Many, in fact, as it turns out. How is astrology now as challenged as everything else with questions of whether it will remain stuck in traditional habits and postures, or get with the new Aquarian paradigms? In recent centuries, as we’ve become more conscious of the rise and return of the Goddess, and now of the critical imperative of honoring the sacred feminine for the sake of our very survival, more astrologers are as troubled as I am by one way in which astrology is as guilty as anything else of helping to maintain patterns of belief that are weighted against the feminine, and in favor of the patriarchic, hierarchic masculine whose excessive dominance and consumption of our societies and our planet now threaten to extinguish all life on Earth.
In what way can astrology be accused of being sexist, not really through a conscious crime or choice on the part of today's astrologers, and least of all by feminist astrologers, but rather in a paradigm that has overexalted and overempowered the masculine since the middle millennia of our science, and has become increasingly male-dominant in recent centuries, as new planets have been discovered, or have revealed themselves to us?
Astronomy has long been sexually biased in its choices of planet names, and astrology has long shared the same bias in its system of planetary rulership – that is, in deciding which planet rules each of the twelve zodiac signs. In conventional astrology, seven signs are ruled by masculine planets. Two are ruled by the sexless, sexually immature or hermaphroditic energy of Mercury. Three are ruled by feminine planets, of whom one, Venus, allegedly doubles as the ruler of Taurus and Libra. Thus the score for planetary rulers is male 7, neuter 1, and female 2.
This is, as we used to say when I was a younger man living in New York, fucking preposterous. Is it any wonder that our planet is in such severe, marginally mortal trouble as it is now, when the queen of the sacred sciences, who ought to be enlightening us as private persons and awakening communities, is in one sense as culpable as anyone else in disrespecting the ones who are the birthers and maintainers of life, and the wise women who have always been our teachers and repositories of wisdom and mercy?
Who Really Rules the Zodiac Signs?
It is time to redress this imbalance by creating a new Aquarian system of planetary rulership that not only brings the divine feminine and the divine masculine into a better balance, but even weights the paradigm now in favor of the female, and thus affirms her critical importance in the preserving and continuity of life. Before we attempt to solve the problem, it will be useful to see how the paradigm of planetary rulers evolved, or more accurately devolved, into what we have now.
We no longer hold in memory the possibility that planetary rulers were assigned by the Mesopotamians when their astrologer-priests, and likely priestesses too, first stood all night atop their ziggurats over five millennia ago and watched the circuits of the planets through the “animal circle,” or zodiac, and correlated their findings with the reports of messengers bringing news from throughout the realm and abroad to create the astrological lore that we still use today, as our oldest body of continuously-compiled, truly scientific data. We have no idea whether, in the matriarchal age of Taurus, some of the zodiac signs might have been ruled by Astarte, Inanna and other female divinities.
Stretching Seven to Fit into Twelve
What we do know is that Western astrology as we practice it now evolved in the age of Aries (c. 2300 – 100 BCE) from late Babylonian, Chaldean, Judaic, Greek and Roman star scientists, and this is why the planets still bear today the Latin names of the Olympian gods and other Greek mythic figures. When the idea of ruling planets arrived, we have no exact idea when, the problem was obvious: how do we allocate only seven planets visible to the naked eye – the two great lights and the five little wanderers – to cover all twelve zodiac signs? Some doubling of roles was inevitable, so until Uranus flashed onstage in the 18th century, the table of rulers made sense in some ways, though it was obviously arbitrary in others.
The Sun ruled Leo and the Moon Cancer, and the other five planets ruled two signs each. Mars was accepted as the ruler of both Aries and Scorpio, plausibly enough, given the latter’s obvious link with dark, cthonic, violent events and its theme of death and regeneration. Venus clearly was the ruler of Taurus, but also, ridiculously, of Libra, the sign of marriage. This made sense to some because Venus, like all love goddesses, bore children – notably the adolescent-minded Eros-Cupid – though she is anything but the matronly pillar of traditional family values that Hera-Juno, the wife of Zeus-Jupiter, would be. The clear favorite to rule Gemini was Mercury, who is much less appropriate as the ruler of a sign so feminine that it literally means the Virgin, no matter how the precise, hypercritical habits of so many Virgo natives – I’m one myself, Sept. 14 – can make us such a pain in the fundament for so many.
Jupiter was long considered the ruler of both Sagittarius and Pisces, maybe because the nebulous nature of Pisces somehow looked fitting for Zeus the Cloudgatherer, even though his fiery, lightning-quick and ebullient nature does not fit the Piscean personality at all. Equally unsatisfying was the choice of Saturn as the ruler not only of Capricorn, who fits him like a leaden glove, but also of Aquarius, whose airy and light personality does not fit Saturn in any way, except, perhaps, that he is, curiously, the ruler of comedy, embodied by black-clad figures like Pantalone and even Scaramouche.
Within this system, the sex score of planetary rulers was men 4, neuter 1 and women 2, less glaringly lopsided than it is now. But it made sense in some ways, given the well-observed masculine behaviors of violent Mars, lordly Jupiter and slow, heavy Saturn. So it was easy to accept Jung’s definition of the seven primal archetypes by the seven classical planets: Father Sun, Mother Moon, Mars the Warrior, Venus the Lover, Mercury the Messenger, Jupiter the King and Saturn the Teacher. So far, if not so good, at least not so terribly bad.
Don't Blame the Astrologers. We Didn't Name the New Planets!
The system of planet rulers that we have now began to get absurdly skewed when astronomers began to find new planets. The first mistake came when a new planet arrived in 1785, two years after the treaty that affirmed the independence of the United States, and four years before the people of Paris destroyed the Bastille.
One of the name choices that was seriously considered for the new planet in this heady era of revolution was Prometheus, the titan trickster who stole the secret of fire from Olympus and gave it for the awakening of humanity, knowing though he did how severely the lord of Olympus would punish him for showing us that from now on, it would be our fault, not God's or Fate's or the world's, if we choose to keep living in the dark. The astronomy establishment chose instead to name the new planet for one of the most gruesomely-deposed figures in all of mythology: Uranus, the father of Saturn and grandfather of Jupiter. It must have somehow seemed right in the classically-minded 18th century that the honor of the new planet’s name should stay in the traditional Greco-Roman family, and it was only to be expected that astronomers employed by universities should side with kings who feared to lose their thrones and heads rather than the people who were about to give them the boot and the blade.
The planet ruler paradigm began to get totally and now toxically weird when another new planet was confirmed in 1846. The deity astronomers chose was, bizarrely, the male deity Neptune, an only superficially suitable choice for the zodiac sign that is linked more closely than any other with the ultimate feminine entity of the sea.
The choice of Neptune made sense, perhaps, at a time when the British empire and its navy had the final say in practically everything the Western world decided. But it makes less and less sense now. The true ruler of the water sign of Pisces, the compassionate universal heart, dissolver of all boundaries and merciful forgiver of all sins, is the Universal Goddess, the Mahadevi who manifests as Uma, Parvati, Durga, Saraswati and Kali, and whom the Egyptians saw as the One Lady who appears in netert forms as Isis, Hathor, Seshat, Sekhmet, Ma’at, Neith, Nut and Mut, Tefnut and others. She is Ayahuasca and other liquid medicines. She is Kwan Yin and Green Tara. She is anything but male. If we have to keep it simple and easily digestible by choosing one well-known and long-revered female deity, then my nominee for the rulership of Pisces is my beloved Isis, shown here, the High Priestess and Keeper of Secrets, Way Shower and Birth Giver, Lady of the River and Star of the Sea. There is much more about her story in When It Rained in Egypt.
The same consideration applies to the water sign between Cancer and Pisces. When a distant new planet was found in 1930 and designated the ruler of Scorpio -- all right, yes, we can see how it could plausibly be named for Hades-Pluto, lord of Death, the other brother of Jupiter. It was evident enough at that time that with Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Franco and imperial Japan about to uncork the ultimate bloodbath, a lot of males were about to work a lot of death. But now, maybe we can see that as this planet showed up as the symbol and energy of the agonized Kali Yuga, it should have been named Kali. Yes, those who’d like to keep it Greek can choose Hecate. But one way or the other, the true ruler of the water sign of Scorpio should be the dark destroyer, the final and terrible phase of the Triple Goddess.
And that is not all. The Triple Goddess should rule the entire right side of the zodiac wheel, whose themes are virginal womanhood and nourishment, marriage and mature motherhood. The rulership of Virgo should be reassigned from Mercury to the small but mighty and never-more-necessary Ceres, aka Demeter, mother of the Virgin Kore. The true ruler of Libra is Juno, not Venus. Thus the entire band of the 6th through the 8th houses would now be feminine, and the new scheme of ruling planets, as we see above in the new True Rulers wheel crafted by Mark Wilcox, would look like this:
Five masculine planets: Mars rules Aries, the Sun rules Leo, Jupiter rules Sagittarius, Saturn rules Capricorn and Prometheus replaces Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius.
Six feminine planets: Venus rules Taurus, the Moon rules Cancer, Ceres replaces Mercury as ruler of Virgo, Juno replaces Venus as ruler of Libra, Kali replaces Pluto as ruler of Scorpio, and Pisces is no longer ruled by Neptune, but by Isis.
One neutral planet: Mercury, ruler of Gemini.
In addition to its now-inescapable rightness, this design also has a dynamic and dramatically-satisfying build in which the annual cycle begins with the aggressive masculine Mars, followed by the attractive feminine Venus, the two balanced for the moment by sexually immature or androgynous Mercury. The second quadrant begins with Mother Moon, who is followed by Father Sun. The next three signs are the Triple Goddess of the Maiden Kore and her mother Demeter (Ceres), the Matron Juno and the Crone Kali. The inevitable snapback toward the masculine, as we’ve seen it played out for centuries now, comes with the three male rulers of Jupiter in Sagittarius, Saturn in Capricorn and Prometheus in Aquarius. But in the end, all is resolved and renewed in Isis, the true name of the ruler of Pisces.
More of this later, as we develop the implications of the True Rulers design in UFC issues coming next year. For now, the question of how to play the very uncertain months ahead must affirm the values articulated in Surfing Aquarius if we're going to get through this whole business cohesively and gracefully. We affirm shared abundance rather than lies about scarcity. We practice and require transparency, and refuse to accept lies about secrecy, which we now perceive correctly as dishonesty. We prize the synarchy of shared power among equals, and withdraw our faith and support from hierarchies, which now whisper and whirl into dissolving houses of cards.
And if we have the courage, we sing, as the re-enchantment -- literally the reclaiming of our song -- empowers each and all in shared resonance and resolution. We can join the Global Harmonization by Circle of Sound at the December Solstice, always with the intent of using our sound for the communal, magical purpose of awakening the sounds of others and finding new ways of directing our harmonies toward compassionate communal goals. The time is here, as we sing the old world into the wind, and the new world into being. 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.
12/2 (Mon), 2:23pm HT; 12/3 (Tue), 12:23am:
Dark Moon conjunct Sun in Sagittarius, traditionally considered one of the happiest and most harmonious Dark Moons of the year. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, lord of wealth and hearty pleasures, so the first half of December has been throughout the Northern hemisphere the time when enterprises of all kinds celebrate the profits and achievements of the year, and gather the clans for feasts of love and friendship. While this Dark Moon and the New Moon that follows it two days later are mildly eventful as these things go, with Moon and Sun at an advantageous 120° trine to Uranus in Aries and a 60° sextile to Ceres in Libra, while at the kind of 90° square that compels change with Chiron in Pisces. This will be an important moment of awakening in our ongoing process of understanding better the energetics of food in the field, and the ordeal it endures on the way to us.
The famous Hopi and Zuni festival of Shalako is usually held at this Black Moon, when the pitch darkness that is needed for the opening of these rites will not be available. Shalako, like the Japanese On-Matsuri and many other early winter festivals, begins as sacred images -- here the kachinas -- are removed from their shrines under cover of deep darkness, to be cleaned and restored to their places in the kiva just before the next Full Moon on Dec. 17.
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.
12/4 (Wed) or 12/5 (Thu): New Moon in Sagittarius
The New Moon that follows the Sagittarius Black Moon of 12/2 - 3 has been interpreted as the annual waning of female energy as the male energy waxes now toward the birth of the solar hero child in late December. One mythic expression of this theme is the Greek tale of the annual descent of Persephone into the underworld until spring. In fact, however, at this point the female does not actually weaken or decay. If anything, she reaches fruition with the gathering in of the harvest, creating the moment at which her cycle is productive and complete.
In the Beth-Luis-Nion Celtic tree calendar used by devotees of the faerie path, this twelfth New Moon following the Winter Solstice begins Ngetal, or reed month. The reed symbolizes pliancy and adapatability, and the willingness to find one's true place in the turning of the wheel.
In Celtic/Druidic and Wiccan calendars, this New Moon is called the Snow Moon.
On this day Mercury enters Sagittarius, perhaps his least happy placement, where he is said to be "in detriment", dominated by the far more powerful energy of Jupiter, who rules this sign. While in Sagittarius, Mercury plays what could be called the Dilbert aspect of doing one's best to survive the ineptitude and indifference of a boss who did not exactly invent people skills in an earlier life. He’ll happily escape into Capricorn on Dec. 24.
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.
Mars enters Libra. The good news in this placement is that teamwork is highly favored, and an affable, engaging manner can bring success. The tough news is that Mars is said to be "in detriment" in Libra, apt to create ill will with too much spontaneity in what he says and does. Best to aim carefully at a target other than your own foot before speaking, especially to those who ask for your honest opinion, but are really fishing for praise. Mars goes retrograde in Libra on March 1, so his uncomfortably tactful journey through this sign is very long, until he bolts into Scorpio on July 26.
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.
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 Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Rebirth, the eleventh of the 20-day uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (6 Imix, Tzolkin 201). The symbolic bird for this uinal is the Scarlet Macaw, the energy principle that of flowering.
In the Baha'i calendar, this day honors the Deity as Masa'il, or Mystery.
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 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 Allah, the Friend, the 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 (Mon), 11:29pm HT; 12/17 (Tue), 9:29 am 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 appears relatively placid at first glance, as Mercury in a wide conjunction with the Sun and opposition to the Gemini Moon forms the only major aspect of relationship. Yet there are 72° quintiles to the Moon by Chiron and Neptune in Pisces, and to the Sun by Uranus in Aries, making this a time when revolutionary events on the spirit plane, fiery ones and watery and medicinal ones too, are all unfolding simultaneously and harmoniously.
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.
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.
12/16 - 30 (15 days):
The Hopi and Zuni peoples of the American Southwest celebrate the Shalako Festival, one of the many December rites in which sacred images are removed from their shrines for the days of purification, then are reinstalled in a solemn procession with prayers reaffirming communal and cosmic order.
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 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 WinterSolst: Dec. 21 – 25
12/21 (Sat), 7:12am HT; 5:12pm 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; 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, worshipped 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.
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.
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.
On this day Mercury is more than happy to exit Sagittarius, where he has been unhappily "in fall" since 12/5. In his 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, but a welcome relief from the Jupiterian glare of Sagittarius, and a prelude to visiting the air sign of Aquarius, from Jan. 11.
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."
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.
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 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 a Becket, Chaucer's "hooly blisful martyr" of the Canterbury Tales, whose cathedral was and is the most visited Christian pilgrimage site in England. St. Thomas a 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.
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. This first day is devoted to the double figure of Father Time. He is usually perceived 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.