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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 GREEN WOOD GOAT Butts the TRUTH
Hail, and welcome to the Universal Festival Calendar for February 2014, the month when the Chinese New Year of the Green Wood Goat begins, and within its theme of butting up against the truth we see in 2015 so many things butting up against so many other things that in the end we can see from their poundings and pushings, their resistances and slippages and yieldings, what has a good chance of making it gracefully through this climactic year of the Aquarian transition, and in 2016 will be still whirling bright on the dance floor of Up Uranus!, the ultimate nightclub of consciousness, where the ecstasy of all kinds is atmospheric, awakening is inevitable if you're in the room at all, and the full menu of revolutionary cocktails is two for the price of none during Happy Hour, which is now all the time. Welcome!
We're about to meet our distinguished hosts, both born in Aquarius month. First, Mr. Galileo Galilei. Ciao, maestro, e benvenuto.
GALLO and VIOLA: A Cosmic Lovature
Galileo [Offstage]: Grazie, Danielo. Eppur si muove!
Dan: Yes, it sure does move, thanks to you, honored signor. And we look forward to seeing and hearing your live-in companion, the beautiful Viola d'Amore. She must have made those years of house arrest a lot more bearable, si?
Galileo: Veramente. She was outshone only by Venus and the Moon. And she held the eyes of those cardinals, and even the Dominicans, so they never found my students copying my pages in what they thought was Viola's chamber, and they never saw the books getting spirited into the saddlebags of actors costumed as monks who got them to London, Paris, Amsterdam and Heidelberg. Grazie, mio tesoro. [She does not appear or speak. We hear the supple, liquid sound of a viola d'amore playing dances from Michael Praetorius, which continue intermittently throughout.]
Dan: Benvenuta, Signorina. Before we hear you speak about this month, I'd like to tell our guests about my moves for the month ahead [Viola cadenza, then music out].
For the benefit of those who might want an astrology reading by Skype or in person in the month ahead, here's my February playlist, also listed in Events, at the bottom center of my Home page:
Feb. 1 - 3: Readings at Body, Mind & Spirit, Houston, Texas.
Feb. 4 - 10: Readings by appointment in New York, NY
Feb. 15 : Cairo, Egypt. Talk on Uranus, Pluto and the Green Wood Goat Year at the Centre for Sacred Arts in Zamalek.
Feb. 20 - March 19: Sinai, Egypt. Events in Dahab and Sharm El Sheikh TBA. Except for a few live readings I'll do in Sinai during this month, I'll take a break, except for emergencies, from all Skype and other long-distance readings until the Equinox.
And now, on with the show. Before we proceed with the mysterious and majestic main animal of our dramma giocosa, we're in for a rare treat. We're going to have the astrology of the Year of the Green Wood Goat chart explained to us by one of the great Aquarian geniuses in our history, born Feb. 15, and perhaps even more excitingly, his muse. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Galileo Galilei and Viola d'Amore.
Even When We Could not Speak, WE ALL KNEW
Scene: a Venetian court theatre, c. 1625. The ivory-colored back wall has six panels, between them gilt Corinthian columns. The wings are covered by velvet curtains with gold embroidery and tassels. At front center age is a large white tapestry bearing this chart:
Year of the Green Wood Goat
Feb. 19, 2015, 7:51 am 8E
Hong Kong, China
Tropical, Placidus, True Node
Applause. Galileo and Viola enter from opposite sides to a brass and organ fanfare by Andrea Gabrieli. Galileo wears a dark chocolate velvet tunic trimmed with fur at the collar and cuffs, and copper stripes at sleeves and waist. Viola is in a midnight blue robe with ermine fur and light blue and silver stripes. She resembles the traditional image of Urania, Muse of Astronomy, but is luscious and ripplingly hot. Both she and Galileo carry slim black rods that terminate in silver pointer fingers, and use them as they teach the chart.
Viola: The freedom to speak at last.
Galileo: Truly, the air quality is exhilarating. Let us begin with the intuitive. Ladies first, my love.
Viola: Thank you. Before Gallo tells about the combinations and the numbers, which are as essential to astrology as they are to any other true science, first we set time and place. China, of course. And within it, Hong Kong, the place where the longing for freedom will not yet fade or cool. This is a very rare Chinese New Year chart because it is not set at the moment when the Moon and Sun are conjunct in Aquarius. Why is this? Because the Aquarius Black Moon came so early this year, on Jan. 20, that it is less than a month after the Winter Solstice. So it is within the midwinter Great Cold, instead of where it is supposed to be: close enough to the Spring Equinox that the New Year festival fills its proper role of heralding the surge of Spring.
Just look at this. When have we last seen a Gong Hay Fat Choy chart as elegantly beautiful as this one? Brunelleschi could have designed it. The main event is the 6-planet stellium in Pisces, aligned above and below the Pisces Ascendant, so this is a Triple Pisces chart. And, quale magia, the Moon - Sun conjunction is exactly at the 0° Pisces 0' point, the door of all possibilities, the frontier where all limits vanish, all boundaries dissolve, all tonalities are heard at once, yet are still harmonious. You have all manifested here, whether you see it or not, the blest accident of chaos at its luckiest. The energy of the design could not be a more meaningful image for this moment in the evolution of our choices.
The magnificent Pisces stellium is enclosed by our old friend and recurring headquake, the 90° square between Pluto in Capricorn, here in the 10th house of the way we are known in the word at large, and Uranus in Aries at the bottom of the first house of our daring and emergence, of telling the planet who we are. The horseshoe-shaped Dragon's Tail is just above Uranus and is slowly moving away from him, now that the exact meeting of these two, which catalyzed the breakup of so many alliances and love unions around Jan. 20, is fading. Yet the crisis is far from over now, only some 10 days later. Before we tell you where this design is headed between here and the Ides of March, when the 7th Uranus - Pluto square comes, Gallo will tell us more about the magic of the sacred geometry here. In a moment.
Does it surprise you that he can talk as comfortably about the astrology as he does about the physics? It need not. We all understood once the living holy frequencies in every stone, every tree, every bird, every star. We did not yet arrogate to ourselves the right to declare that this being is conscious and perfectible, that other being is spiritless and inert. We all practiced the sacred art of astrology once, before some of us began to fear the freedom in our own knowledge. Albertus Magnus. Thomas Aquinas. Marsilio Ficino. Giordano Bruno, burned for his nerve. Young John Milton, who was a blazing Sagittarius when he came to visit Gallo and then went Puritan, so the blindness in his body was only a symptom of a narrowing life choice. Isaac Newton, and so many others who have hidden their deepest work for fear of ridicule. And now the disrespect of sacred order is so extreme that official "scientists" can no longer see stars and planets as conscious beings at all. But we always knew. And more of you awaken every day to what we all knew. Does the chart show this, Gallo?
Galileo: Yes, it does. It almost pulses with quick movement, and not just in the Venus-Mars conjunction that spells rapid, fearless motion toward a goal. Saturn in Sagittarius in the house of established authority is in a 90° square angle of leverage against the three Pisces planets in the 12th, meaning this time that stiffly-held dogma and belief can no longer hold against the synergy of rational observation (the Sun), emotion and empathy (the Moon), and intuition allied with resonant universal archetypes (Neptune). Aggressive ignorance cannot stand now, especially in the exquisite centerpiece of this design, the Grand Trine in Fire among the Midheaven in Sagittarius, Uranus in Aries and Jupiter in Leo.
The triangle is strong at this Black Moon moment, inviting perceptions and chances that may fly toward us from any direction, and that invest us all with such practical magic that the time lag between conceiving an intention and manifesting it may shrink to nothing, so that those who fear their own power most will suffer the acute discomfort of seeing that they are miracle workers, and their only honorable choice is to join with the rest of the magi and magae across the intentional field in lifting and spinning us all. Don't worry, Darlene. Have no fear, any of you, about what you think you can't do. All of us will be as agile as birds when the moment comes, and we whirl and sing the world into a co-creative galaxy of laughter, sound and love.
Watch Jupiter. As he moves retrograde in the weeks ahead, he'll come into an exact trine with Uranus on March 3, so he will be a major levitating, loosening element as Round 7 of the Uranus-Pluto square comes to its point of greatest power on March 15. The Jupiter-Uranus trine will happen again right at the June Solstice, helping in mid-2015 to catalyze the crucial change, when human beings who love the truth can begin to outnumber those who fear it. The symbol of the Green Wood Goat is related to this, Dan, is it not?
Dan. It is, sir. Before we ask the Goat to Butt the Truth, is there anything more that you'd like to tell us, Lady Viola?
Viola d'Amore: Only that this chart reminds us, before the Age of Pisces passes away, of its inexpressible beauty. There is more in your book Surfing Aquarius about how each of the Great Ages reverses its polarity as it comes to an end, so that the Age of Pisces is dying now into its negative antivalues of duality and conflict, hierarchy and control, secrecy and scarcity mind. But it did not begin this way. It began in daring promises of Universal Truth. In equality and dignity, and the certainty that in time, slavery must die. In mystical consciousness, and the new insight that all are One, and each is present in every other. And this does not even mention the music, as we rehearse this show on Mozart's birthday. Let us honor the Age of Pisces as it goes, and see what this chart shows. Within the Aquarian dynamic of Revolution, inside the frame of Uranus and Pluto, is the Piscean possibility of Evolution. into new scenarios that can take you far beyond the usual friction and fighting and fear, into the frequencies of courage and joy. It is inexpressibly exciting to watch the celestial stage machinery now. Gallo?
Galileo: We are complete, I believe? [Viola nods.] Thank you for inviting us, Dan. Safe travels.
Galileo and Viola bow to each other and exit out their respective sides of the stage. The scene mutates into a simple black box theater, showing the goat images that follow.
The PATIENT DIPLOMAT Comes in the Lucky 8th Spot
The Goat is among the most honored of the twelve symbols in the Chinese circle of animals, and is perhaps the hardest to define, as he is said to combine the qualities of three related beings. He may be shown with the impressive curling horns and powerful body of the Ram, even though he is not really comparable to the aggressive, impetuous warrior personality of Aries in Western astrology, because the Chinese Sheep or Goat will defend his space and his family if threatened, but does not go looking for a fight. Like a domestic sheep, he can be compliant and easy to lead, and his willingness to accommodate others, even when he is loyal and generous to a fault, may help explain why the Chinese consider people born in Goat years as the least adept at gaining and growing money.
Goats and sheep have always been symbols of peace and abundance, because when the realm is in order, the flocks multiply and get fat, as we see in this image. It was prized enough to pass through the dozens of owners who placed their seals on it not only because the image itself is exquisitely beautiful, but because it invites prosperity and the Goat's admirable qualities of charm, tact, patience and adaptability, so that people born in a Goat year are likely to be good negotiators and diplomats. This may be why, in the famous story of how the Buddha called all the animals to come to him, and the first ones who arrived became the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, the Goat took his time and was the 8th to arrive. He stood no chance of outrunning the the Rat or the Rabbit, but he could easily have outrun the Ox and the Snake. He was likely wise enough not to cut in front of the Dragon or tempt the Tiger, and seems to have honored the dignity of the Horse by following him. This ability of the Goat, to fit into his best position without needing to challenge anyone else's, has always made him famous for sociability, patience and good luck. He is, after all, associated with eight, the luckiest of numbers, and the one most symbolic of order and harmony, in everything from the eight trigrams of the I Ching to the octagonal ba gua mirror used in feng shui, to the eight-legged essay and Eight Jewel Duck.
RICH MEN'S TRICKS
In seeking a modest position while deferring to the ambitions and ego preening of everyone else, the Goat may be the ultimate accommodator, and this is why he is the perfect symbol for 2015. This is the year when the surges in consciousness that have come with all six of the Uranus-Pluto squares so far will reach their peak in the months from March to June, when the shocking revelations that have come to light in recent years will pale beside the toxic releases that will affect us all as one festering bag of lies after another bursts into outrages so intolerable that even the Goat will be challenged to hold patience with them.
One example of the things we will come to understand better now is the essential video of the month, Francis Richard Connolly's JFK to 911: Everything is a Rich Man's Trick. This 3 1/2 hour documentary masterpiece is not for the faint-hearted or inattentive. It tells the story of how "America's shadow government of 20th-century industrialists" has essentially run the last century of our planetary history as a profit-making enterprise rooted in the key premise that war is good for business. Why explore this grim but fascinating story of the Third Reich and the Second World War as a US business project, and the JFK assassination, never so cogently explained as it has been now? Because our tolerance for the truth is about to be tested, and our ability to maintain a placid belief in business as usual even as conditions turn turbulent and positively chaotic. More on this apparent oxymoron in a moment.
The version of the Chinese Goat who is most appropriate to what approaches now is the one we see above in the banner image of the xiezhi, the legendary Unicorn Goat who appears in many legends from ancient China, especially from the reign of the emperor Shun, who ruled in the third millennium BC and was said to have established China's first system of justice and codes of law. Here, according to the historian Wang Cheng, is how Gao Yao, the imperial minister of justice, trusted the xiezhi in cases that were beyond his skill:
"Scholars declare that the xiezhi is a female goat with one horn which, by instinct, knows the guilty. When Gao Yao was administering justice and was unsure about the guilt of the accused, he ordered this goat to butt them. It would butt the guilty but spare the innocent. It was an unusual animal, born with just one horn, but but a most efficient lieutenant in judicial proceedings. Therefore Gao held it in high esteem, using it on many occasions. It therefore belonged to the class of supernatural beings of good omen."
Are we going to see many people try to play the Unicorn Goat in the months ahead? No doubt. Will some of them be interested in more than vindictiveness and punishment? Possibly. What we can say for certain is that as existing structures of authority continue to implode, we shall have to get co-creative in navigating our way through the turbulence. And understand the positive value of chaos as a condition that invites, and when we're not on our game, compels us to get more courageous and creative. There is more about this in Comfortable with Chaos, which appeared, fittingly enough, in November 2008, the month when the implications of the Bank Bailout began to arrive. It is worth pausing a moment here to revisit what Terence McKenna had to say about Chaos in "Trust Yourself":
"Chaos is the environment in which we all thrive. . . . I require a society on the brink of social breakdown to be able to do my work. And I think a society on the brink of social breakdown is the healthiest situation for individuals. . . . A global society is coming into being, a global society made out of information that was not intended to be ours, but which is ours through the mistaken invention and distribution of small computers, the printing press, all of this stuff. Information is power, and information has been spilled by the clumsy handling of the cybernetic revolution by th dominator culture, so it is everywhere. Never has the situation been more fluid. Never have the opportunities for infiltration, insurrection and hell-raising been more present at hand. But we have to seize the opportunity."
Indeed. And we have to remember that anything is possible, our individual creative capacity is limitless, and the force of our collective intention is unstoppable. Doubt your ability to do anything that makes a difference? Then please visit The Butterfly Circus.
And keep singing. No fear, little sorrow, much music. Keep Holding That Frequency.
THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
1 - 2/3 (3 days):
In calendars throughout the Northern hemisphere, this is the time of one of the eight great festivals in the solar year, midway between the December Solstice and the March Equinox. This feast of mid-winter is best known in the west as Imbolc or Brigantia. The rites of fire and purification that are performed now clear the way for the returning light and resurgent vitality of spring.
In the southern hemisphere, this is the summer festival, counterpart to the Lughnasad and Lammas rites celebrated north of the equator.
These feasts are mid-seasonal within the timing of the solar year timed according to the key hinge points of the solstices and equinoxes. In the more ancient European Earth year, the great feasts of Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasad and Samhain were considered to be the beginning of each season, so that Imbolc was reckoned as the start of winter in the Great Cold of late January and early February, the time of Quickening when babies conceived at harvest time would begin to stir and kick in their mothers' wombs. This time is thus joyous, full of all new possibilities.
2/1 - 14 (two weeks):
Greek festival honoring Dionysos, god of wine and of all passionate, ecstatic experience, in anticipation of the moment when he re-emerges from his winter phase as Hades/Plouton, king of the underworld, and is reborn in the Spring as the young god of male sexuality and ecstatic love. During this festival the vines are pruned and sprinkled with old wine, thus symbolically using the old blood to refresh the ever-renewing young blood of new life.
Feast of St. Bridget, Christian counterpart to the ancient Gaelic goddess Brigit, or Bridhe (See Jan. 23), whose feast is still commemorated each year with the weaving of green reeds into a design combining the features of the cross, the spiral and the swastika, symbolizing the eternal recurrence of new life.
2/1 - 2 (2 days):
In the Khemitian (aka "Egyptian") calendar, feast and birthday of Nut, the primordial sky netert who was said to hold all souls within her womb, and was the mother of Ausar (Osiris), Aset (Isis), Hor or "old Horus"--that is, Hor as light being, before his birth as son of Ausar and Aset--Set and Nebt-het (Nephthys). (Month of Pamenot, days 18 and 19)
Candlemas, feast of the purification of the Virgin on the day when Mary took the boy Jesus to the Temple for the first time. As the first presentation of the child in the temple and the ritual purification of the mother were always done 40 days after the birth of a boy (80 days for a girl), Candlemas always comes 40 days after Christmas. Since the Christian middle ages, candles blessed at the church on this day have been used the next day for the feast of St. Blaise, and are kept throughout the year for protection against dark forces.
This day is sacred to Yemanja, Queen of the Sea, the powerful orisha from the Yoruba tradition who is also revered in many South American indigenous communities. "[Yemanja] brings," writes Georgy Janiewicz, "the profound depths of the sea, cleansing and healing soft waves of love, and delicate rays of light that reflect from her cristallyine waters." This is an excellent day, then, for being in or near the water and making an offering to her.
Feb. 2 is also the Festival of Februalia, honoring the old Roman goddess Februa, mother of Mars, later merged with Juno to become Juno Februa, so called because expiatory offerings called februa are made to her now, in the time of purification. This festival thus embodies the transition from the latent vitality of late winter to the awakening of spring, symbolized in many cultures by weather rituals -- such as Groundhog Day -- in which sun or rain, light or shadow, indicate whether winter will continue to rule, or yield soon to spring.
The Yoruba and Santeria peoples of Africa and the Americas also honor Oya, the Orisha of death and rebirth, one of many manifestations of the one God Olodumare, bringer of life and death.
2/3, Tuesday: 1:09pm HT; 11;09Pm UT:
Full Moon in Leo opposite Sun in Aquarius. The partners in this combination are not equally balanced now. The Sun continues to be "in detriment" in Aquarius, his solar energies of control weakened, with the result that inner conflicts -- between people, within the same person -- are likely to manifest now. This Full Moon is powerfully charged, with Mercury, Mars and Saturn all forming relationship to the two Great Lights.
The Chinese celebrate this Full Moon beautifully at the Lantern Festival, decorating rivers and parks with exquisite colored lights. This 15th day of the first month is also the Feast of the Lovers. Since ancient times, girls have written their name and address on a mandarin orange -- modern people of both sexes add their mobile phone number and e-mail address -- and throw the fruit into a river with a prayer for a good love match. In the old festivals, the boys would dive into the river as soon as the girls threw their oranges in, hoping to find their beloved's orange before the water could wash her name away -- though the lovers really understood that this fine practical point was irrelevant, and the intention was everything.
In the Celtic, Wiccan and other traditional Earth calendars, this Full Moon is traditionally called Storm Moon, Snow Moon and Ice Moon.
In the Roman Catholic calendar, feast of St. Blaise, whose efficacy in the prevention of throat diseases inspired rituals like those of the preceding day, Candlemas. Crossed, unlighted candles, symbolizing purification of speech, are held at the throat of those receiving the blessing.
In Japan, 2/3 is the joyous festival of Setsubun, in which the people cast out evil spirits from their homes and other places by throwing dried beans out of doors while chanting the words "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi" -- "Out with the devil, in with the good". In the comic ritual plays of the season, children in the crowds of shrinegoers throw the dried beans at devil dancers carrying grotesque weapons. In the annual Setsubun dances at Heian Shrine in Kyoto -- where this shot of the author wielding a big tsubo, or iron club, was taken -- the chief oni sings the ancient Tsuina, one of Japan's oldest surviving ritual melodies. It, and the Setsubun rite itself, comes from an older Chinese practice called Ta Nuo, the cleansing of the field to prepare it for the spring thaw and planting time.
2/3 eve – 4 eve:
In the Jewish Calendar, this Full Moon is Tu B'Shevat, important in ancient times as a marker day for reckoning the ripening cycles of grains and fruits. This "new year for trees" is the counterpart of arbor day festivals everywhere, when trees are planted in midwinter to symbolize the growth of new life toward the promise of spring. "Our Sages," Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov writes, "have designated the 15th of Shevat as the boundary, for trees, between one year and another.
In the ancient western world, this is one of the most important days of the year for all forms of prophecy and divination, sacred to the goddess Tyche and her counterparts: Fortuna in Rome and Wyrd among the Celtic peoples. All were superseded in medieval Christian Europe by St. Agatha, whose feast is celebrated on this day.
In the Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Death, the sixth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (10 Imix, Tzolkin 101). This Uinal is ruled by Mictantecuhtli, the Lord of darkness from which new life must proliferate in the next uinal. The Owl is the symbolic bird.
In the Greco-Roman calendar, this is the feast of Aphrodite and Venus, goddess of love. This is the day for poetry, drama, comedy, music and pictures in honor of the paragon of Beauty.
This day is the Baha'i feast honoring the Deity as Mulk, Sacred Dominion.
2/7 - 15 (nine days):
One of the year's great Navajo Sing Festivals is held now to purify the fields and the people before the next planting season. In prayers, song and dance, and healing ceremonies, the Navajo honor Naste Estsan, the Spider Woman who spun the world and supported the warrior twins Tobadzistsini and Naymezyani in their struggle against the forces of evil. In her dual roles as Spider Woman and shapeshifter Estsanatlehi, the "Changing Woman" Creator Goddess, Naste Estsan carries and endlessly becomes the unlimited transforming power of nature.
In the ancient Greek calendar, this day is the annual Feast day of Apollo in his aspect as Helios, god of the Sun, honored now a week after the mid-winter festival.
2/11 - 13 (3 days):
One of the great festival cycles of Ausar (Osiris) in the ancient Khemitian calendar, celebrated especially at the main center of Ausar worship in Abydos (2/11) and at Busiris, the ancient holy city of the Nile delta. The principal ceremony performed on the last of these three days was a dawn ritual of opening the doors of the horizon, and thereby reaffirming the precision of the divine order operating between Sun and Earth. (Month of Pamenot, days 28 - 30).
The Pharaonic melody for this feast, as preserved in music of the Coptic church, has been found by Dr. Maged Samuel Ibrahim in Cairo.
First appearance of Our Lady of Lourdes (1858), the most celebrated healing emanation of the Virgin Mary.
Mercury "goes direct," reversing his apparent retrograde movement of the last three weeks, so that recent conditions of blockage and confusion, malfunction, miscalculation miscommunication and boots and botches of every conceivable kind begin to ease among those who aren't with the program, and tend to blame "Merc" for their mistakes in trying to move plans forward when Mercury retrograde is a time to catch up on old business and resolve past mistakes. Yet we are not yet out of the woods, or, in this case, the ephemeral light show of Mercury in the electronic toy store of Aquarius. It will not be until March 4 that Mercury will "clear his retrograde shadow" -- that is, return to the zodiac degree where he first went retrograde on Jan. 21. Then he'll spend weeks more in Pisces, one of his least comfortable places, where his ebullience and quickness are not the best fit for the dark depths and fog of Neptune's domain.
In the Greco-Roman calendar, this the feast of the virgin huntress Artemis, or Diana, whose purity symbolizes the ascendancy of spirit over matter. Artemis is the protector of women and children against sexual intimidation and all violence.
The Ides of February, beginning of the eight-day Roman festival of the Parentalia, the year's chief festival in honor of the dead.
Feb. 13 - 17 (five days):
For Christians, Carnival! begins today. This one-week festival offers a last chance to feast and party -- Carne Vale means "so long, meat!" -- before the penitential season of Lent begins. Carnival culminates on Shrove Tuesday, the famous Mardi Gras (Feb. 17), when since the old days it is still customary to eat pancakes filled with sacred and medicinal herbs. The cakes are said to protect the believer against shortages of food and money during the coming year, provided they are eaten before 8:00pm. It is said that, festivals being what they are, the cakes are often washed down with beer, or wine, even -- goodness gracious! -- both.
2/13 - 15 (three days):
In the Roman calendar, this is one of the year's great feasts, the Lupercalia, an agricultural festival sacred to Faunus, the beneficent aspect of the god Pan in his role as giver of abundance, protector of flocks and fields. This is a day on which animal communication is especially favored, and animals are said to assist humans in other ways as well. The she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus is honored on this day. Above all, this festival is a celebration of love, both spiritual and erotic, in all its streams.
Fire circle communities sing this chant to Pan: "I am the dance of the forest glade in spring. / I am the joy of life, the soul of every thing. / I am the flame that leaps upon the hill. / I am the word. I am the will."
Best modern Pan story: Tom Robbins' novel Jitterbug Perfume.
In Christian calendars, and by now in the calendars of many other cultures, Valentine's Day, the famous feast of the lovers. According to one legend from Greece -- which has been celebrating Eros, erotic love, on this day since very ancient times -- this is the day on which young doves mate during the transition from winter to spring. As doves mate for life and live in a happy fidelity that other beings rarely approach, 2/14 has embodied ever since the loyalty of true love. The symbol that has stuck for this day is the heart pierced by an arrow, fired by -- who else? -- Eros (Cupid), who has always ruled this day.
Before Feb. 14 became fixed in the solar calendar as the feast of lovers, the Athenians celebrated at this time the festival of Zeus and Hera, whose marriage bond -- despite the supreme god's constant infidelities -- somehow symbolized the ideal marriage to which earthly couples could aspire. In the Greek lunar calendar, mid-January to mid-February was the month of Gamelion, so called because it was a major mating season, engendering new babies to be born in November, when winter's approach would keep armies and other disruptions at home, thus increasing the mothers' chances of bringing new children safely to birth. Feb. 14 was Gamelion's climactic fertility rite, performed as the beginning of the mid-winter thaw heralds the coming of spring.
Similar practices survive in many European cultures. Slovenian people begin the year's work in their fields and vineyards, on the day when plants and flowers are said to start growing again, and birds are said to marry. Finns celebrate Ystavanpaiva, the feast of friendship. And in old Norfolk, long before England became the UK, a character named Jack Valentine was believed to come knocking on the back door of houses, delivering sweets and gifts to children.
Fascinatingly, the Christian association of this day involves no fewer than four Valentines: three priests named Valentinus (of Rome, Terni and Africa), all of whom were said to have been martyred on Feb. 14 in or around the year 270; and Valentinius of Alexandria, the much-admired bishop and Gnostic teacher who was reportedly among the leading candidates to be elected pope in 143. What may have ruined his chance to be the bishop of Rome was that unlike mainstream prelates whose views of women and sex ranged from ascetic to hostile, Valentinius taught that the marriage bed was the earthly sanctuary of couples who celebrated the hierogamos (see Zeus and Hera above), the sacred marriage rite between the human soul and the Divine Beloved.
In the ancient Khemitian calendar, the month of Parmuti begins on this day. The netert associated with this month is Renenutet, the serpent-headed protector of children and lady of fertility and good fortune.
In the Norse calendar, this day is sacred to a noted animal communicator: Siegfried, greatest of all warrior heroes, who understood the songs of forest birds after slaying the dragon Fafner and inadvertently tasting its blood.
This day is also the birthday of another famous fighter, the hero scientist and warrior astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564), whose severe personal ordeal of sacrifice for the truth -- he was held under house arrest, and forbidden to publish or to speak in public, for some 16 years -- was the price of the knowledge we have had since about the physical properties of the solar system. The story of how Galileo smuggled his secret writings out to his students, who sped them by courier to bolt holes from Leyden to Paris to Prague, is one of the world's great true stories of the theft of fire.
For some Buddhists, this is an important holy day, symbolizing the Buddha's teaching and healing mission brought to fruition, and expanding to embrace a worldwide community of believers. For Mahayana Buddhists it is Paranirvana Day, commemorating the passing away of the Awakened One's physical body, and his entry into Nirvana. Pure Land Buddhists assign this day the same meaning, observing it as Nirvana Day. Zen Buddhists in Japan celebrate this day as Nehan -- literally the sleeping holy day -- honoring the Buddha's attainment of parinirvana. The timing of this festival should be checked with local Buddhist communities, as the timing of the Asian sacred year is unusual in 2015, beginning with the Black Moon in Pisces (Feb. 18) rather than the usual Back Moon in Aquarius. and in this instance Parinirvana day, normally a Full Moon festival, is observed over the Black / New Moon days.
For the people of Tanna Island in Vanuatu, this is John Frum Day, named for the semi-mythic figure whom the islanders invoked as far back as the 1930's in prayers for liberation from their colonial oppressors. During World War II, when the US air force used Tanna as a supply base for the Pacific campaign, John Frum became a composite hero resembling the American fliers whose largesse to the local people in the 1940's made them the deities of the famous cargo cults that erected wooden control towers and airplanes in an effort to bring back the airmen and their bounty. John Frum Day features a ceremony of flowers and flag raising, face painting, singing and dancing, a military parade of men dressed in camouflage and carrying bamboo rifles, and a feast at which, presumably, people pray for Spam.
In this year's Roman Catholic calendar, this day is Transfiguration Sunday, commemorating the occasion on which, just prior to the time of his own purification that is now observed as Lent, Jesus went up Mount Tabor with his closest disciples and manifested to them as a being of light, as shown here in the last painting completed by Raphael.
This day is Mahashivaratri, the great annual Hindu festival in honor of Lord Shiva in his most beneficent aspect as the universal creator whose drum and dance bring the visible world into being. Shiva and his consort Shakti are honored with music, dance and other works of beauty, and with prayers for abundant vitality.
Om Nama Shivaya.
In the Roman calendar, festival of Fornicalia, goddess of ovens and patroness of bread. On this day prayers are offered on behalf of the grain that is about to be planted in the spring, and in thanksgiving for the abundance of Mother Earth.
In the Japanese Shinto calendar this day is Toshigoi, when rites are held in honor of Kuni -Tokotachi - no- Kami, the primordial creator Deity of whom all other Kami are manifestations. Prayers are offered on this day for an abundant rice harvest.
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, the licentious and ecstatic all-nighter that culminates Carneval week (see 2/13 - 17), just before Ash Wednesday (next).
Sun enters Pisces. Traditionally the time each year when plans are developed in secret, alliances reviewed, assumptions questioned and energies organized toward release a month later, at the beginning of spring. While the Sun is not "in detriment" in Pisces, as he has just been in Aquarius, the watery, deep, mysterious qualities of Pisces are not the most compatible venue for the heat, incandescence and clarity associated with the Sun. The symbolic image for Pisces time is that the Sun is most brilliant when far above the water, much less radiant and impressive when near the water, even in it. It would be simplest just to enjoy the water, but the Sun does not enjoy perceiving this. Do not walk across carpets and touch perfectionists until Aries time in March.
For Roman Catholics, this is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the season of austerity leading to Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter. On this day priests draw crosses of black ash on the third eye chakras of the faithful to remind them of the vanity of all worldly pleasures, and ask them to turn inward to cleanse the soul in the weeks before the solemn rites of sacrifice and redemption are enacted. Ash Wednesday is yet another Christian adaptation of an earlier festival: the Adonia, a time of mourning for the Syrian demigod Tammuz, whose rites were observed at this time in the eastern Mediterranean, especially in Byblos and the other major cities of Syria.
2/18 (Wed), 11:48 pm; 2/19 (Thu), 9:48 am
Dark Moon conjunct Sun in Pisces. The trickiest Dark Moon and New Moon sequence of all in the sense that while the New Moon normally favors beginnings, it's located this time in the mystical cloud of Pisces, which favors the holding of deep secrets over clarity of expression, and receptivity over assertive action. This is not the time to launch a new enterprise, but more a time for meditation and visualization to attract inspiration about what the new enterprise will be. At first glance this Black Moon appears simple and not too forceful, with Saturn in Sagittarius forming the sole major aspect of a 90° square to the Moon-Sun pair. Yet there is much more to this moment, as we've seen above in the Mythic Prelude.
Gong Hay Fat Choy! The Year of the Green Wood Goat begins.
This is Hsih Nien, New Year's Day, in the Chinese lunar calendar. It begins a two-week festival culminating at the Full Moon. The Chinese lunar year, basis of several other Asian lunar calendars, usually begins on the evening of the first New Moon while the Sun is in what the west calls Aquarius. This year is one of the rare exceptions when the Chinese year begins instead at the Black Moon in Pisces, thereby placing the hinge of the year closer to the Spring Equinox than to the Winter Solstice. While the preceding Wood Horse Year was what we might have expected in unpredictable, impetuous movement in many areas of life, the Year of the Goat that begins now is decidedly different, as we’ve already seen in the Mythic Prelude above.
In the Vietnamese lunar calendar, which is synchronous with this year's Chinese calendar, this is Tet Nguyen Dan, first day of the New Year.
In the Celtic/Druidic and Wiccan calendars, this late winter New Moon is called Crow Moon, as food is still so scarce that crows, as well as wolves, are loud and insistent.
In some native American calendars, the Month of the Cougar begins on this day.
2/19 - 21 (three days):
Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, is celebrated with joyous rites of light, song and dance, and with butter towers, ritual sculptures and other arts designed to drive out evil and clear the way for abundance and blessing in the coming year.
The Tibetans prefer to time their sacred year a month behind the lunar calendars of most Asian countries, thus to keep their year distinct from that of the Chinese. While Chinese-run "Tibetan" websites like the Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar time Losar a month earlier, to assimilate it to the Chinese calendar. Tibetans will time it differently when they can. 2015 is one of the years when the timing is synchronous. Best to check festival timing with Tibetans in your area.
On this day Mars enters Aries just after midnight Greenwich time; Venus follows him into Aries at 8:00pm. One is greatly favored by this placement, one is not. Mars is in the sign of his rulership, where there is full scope for his fiery assertiveness and he can move at ramming speed. It's a lot less delightful now for Venus, as she is said to be "in detriment" until she enters Taurus, one of the signs she rules. Her visit to Aries is not an easy time for power and boundary issues with men in any case, and her discomfort is likely to skyrocket as both she and Mars move ahead into mid-Aries, thus into conjunction with Uranus and a 90° "square" angle of leverage with Pluto. Old enabling patterns and doormat roles in relationships will prove unbearable now, so this will be the time when tensions that became acute a month ago, at the Uranus-Dragon's Tail conjunction, come to dissolution, resolution and whatever other kind of solution Mars and Venus will invent, or accept.
2/20 – 26 (one week):
Among the ancient Athenians, and pilgrims from throughout the Greek world, these days are the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries, celebrating the transformation of the Winter goddess Persephone back into her Spring aspect as Kore, and her annual marriage to Dionysus. This rite heralds the coming of Spring at the Equinox. Note that while the Greater Mysteries of summer culminate at the Full Moon in Virgo, the Lesser Mysteries begin at the New Moon in Pisces -- that is, two days after the Dark Moon, when the crescent of the New Moon appears.
In the ancient Khemitian calendar, Festival of Min, neter of Love. (Parmuti day 7). Min is the active, propagating emanation of Amun, the primordial creator whose festivals are celebrated in the preceding month. See Jan. 15 and 24.
In the Celtic Tree Calendar, Ash Month begins. In some accounts this month is considered the most sacred of all because it honors Yggdrasil, the World Ash Tree, the universal principle of Balance. Ash month is favorable for breaking of curses and building of new protection. Ash wands are cut and prepared as conduits of energy. The ash is remarkable for being easily workable, yet strong enough to serve in everything from walking sticks to baseball bats.
2/21 - 3/20 (one month):
The annual Baha'i month of fasting begins. The fast continues until the day before the Spring Equinox festival of Naw Ruz.
In the ancient Roman calendar, this day is Caristia, celebrating the feast of the goddess Concordia. On this day good will and forgiveness are celebrated, especially in ritual meals at which all disputes are resolved and all ill will purged, on the premise that the bounty of the coming spring depends in great measure on the energies living within the hearts of the country's people: good will is said to promote good growth and a bountiful harvest.
Dragobete, the Romanian version of Valentine's day, named in honor of an Eros/Adonis figure from ancient folklore whose name is related to drag (dear) and dragoste (love).
This day is sacred to the memory of the Sufi saint Muhyi ad-Din Ibn El Arabi (d. 1240), who taught that Allah manifests the Divine energy in all the myriad forms of nature, female as well as male.
In the Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Maize, the seventh of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (4 Imix, Tzolkin 121). The principle that rules this Uinal is Proliferation. This uinal is advantageous for medicine, birthing and prophecy. Its symbol is the Butterfly.
In the Chinese Taoist calendar, this is the birthday of Wen Chang Di Jun, god of literature and the arts.
2/25 - 3/1 (five days):
These are the days of Ayyam-I-Ha, the intercalary days in the Baha'i calendar, when believers strengthen their communal bonds through gifts and acts of hospitality and service.
Birthday, in 1861, of Rudolf Steiner, the immensely influential spiritual researcher and teacher who created the Anthroposophical Society and the Church of Spiritual Science, and whose teachings on education, empowerment and creativity are the foundation of the Waldorf Schools system.
In the Zoroastrian calendar of ancient Persia, this day is Spentra Armaitri, one of the year's great festivals honoring the quiet strength and nurturing power of women. The Roman counterpart in honor of Tacita, the silent goddess, protectress against the ill effects of unkind speech, is observed on the same day.
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.