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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 stage machinery, 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.






January  2015


The BATTLE on the ICE


Hail, and welcome to the Universal Festival Calendar for January, 2015. This month begins the moment of truth and consequences, facing the music and speaking our truth, as the grand celestial dynamic that has ruled the years from 2012 to now comes to its next climactic moment of astounding weirdness and wonder. The formidable Full Moon of early January begins a three-month process that extends until March, and speeds our collective bump, carom and switch into the Aquarian Awakening. We step into our roles as the weavers of the world, and artists of all possibility whose collective genius now turns all events between the gates of Saturn and the towers of the Moon.


So crucial is this interval that for each of the next three months, we'll look at an astrology chart that shows an important moment of energetic strokes and stresses. More on this soon, after some opening news.




As this month is such a momentous time of new efforts and closures for us, personally and above all in our relationships, a few notes on my routes and moves in early 2015, for the benefit of those who may want an astrocartography reading by Skype, or in person. I’ll be in Kansas City until Jan. 7, then in San Francisco Jan. 8 – 13, Monterey CA Jan. 14 – 20, Albuquerque NM Jan. 20, Santa Fe Jan. 21 – 27, Houston Jan. 29 – Feb. 3 and New York Feb. 4 – 10, on my way to Egypt through mid-April, then Turkey. In most of these places I’ll do talks on Finding Your Best Places, my first ebook on astrocartography, now being read by the review team, and other events.


All of these will be listed in the new Events page that is now linked from the bottom center panel of the home page on this site. It has replaced Sacred Sounds Egypt 2015, which Leslie Zehr and I have now decided to postpone to another time. Because of violence and horror in the Middle East? No. People from Egypt and abroad were ready to go, as intrepid ones are when they’ve got free of the lies spread endlessly by corporatist, reptilian authorities and media whose sole secret objective is to keep our people perpetually in rage, ignorance and dread, and to feed on fear the way you and I nourish ourselves on carrots, quinoa, kale and the rest of Mother Earth's abundance.


Sadly, we’ve had to accept the new policy of the Egyptian government, which is now even stricter on singing and music in the sacred sites than it was during the Zahi Hawass era, and the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohamed Morsi. It’s still all about the money, though even more so, as visitors can now do sacred sounds in the pyramids and temples only if their group pays private visit fees of thousands of dollars per site. Our design of leading chant in the ancient Suf language and melodies, in seven chakra-specific places where they were first heard long ago, has proved unworkable for now. The possibility that we can do this another time, and tap again the powerful energetics of these holy places for planetary health and attunement, is one thing that motivates me to live longer by eating right.


And practicing yoga, as I will do intensively when I get to join the Sunra Yoga teacher training, taught by Monica Farrell and Barbara Gordon, in Dahab, Sinai in March. Will I ever be a yoga instructor in this lifetime? No, even if doing yoga regularly sure does improve one's writing and singing. But for those who really will be yoga teachers, one thing I can do is be useful as an eager senior guinea pig for those who can use some practice working with older bodies. It’s the best thing I can do to condition myself for Round 7 of the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square, coming to exactitude on March 17. This brings us to the business at hand.




It is obvious to many of us that the storm is gathering, the ice is starting to crack, and the house of cards to sway, as changes we once thought unimaginable (US rapprochement with Cuba, an imminent, hugely controversial and ambitious papal edict on environmental health) take headlines away from civil disobedience against what still passes for a system of justice in the United States, but bears closer resemblance to a kind of inner city theme park in which police enjoy a perpetual open hunting season on black youth. Some -- let us be clear, not all -- have become so fascistically arrogant that at the recent funeral of a slain officer, hundreds of New York's finest turned their backs on their mayor for daring to suggest that some restraint might be in order for police who have trouble distinguishing Ferguson from Fallujah, Baghdad from the Bronx.


What has recently knocked police viciousness -- can we please stop insulting animals by calling it "brutality?" -- out of the bytelines? Consider these items, all reported in the last month:


The US Congress voted to end the federal ban on marijuana, and, far more importantly, has now asserted the primacy of the US Constitution (remember that?) by barring the federal government from overriding state laws that permit the growth and sale of medical marijuana. Is this the usual stopgap measure aimed at deflecting any further curiosity about the miraculous benefits of cannabis oil, which recently helped me in Colorado? We shall see.


Wikileaks has revealed CIA memos admitting that drone strikes are ineffective, even as the establishment is still reeling from the recent Senate report on torture at Guantanamo Bay, and evidence mounts about what high officials knew, and when they knew it, about "enhanced interrogation techniques" that were clearly cruel and unusual punishment.


Newsweek, normally a kind of decorous gadfly without a sting for the predatory capital system, has revealed that 75% of the fines levied against banks by the US Justice Dept. are deductible from the banksters’ tax bill.


And Natural News has listed this stunner among its top censored health stories of 2014: that millions of Kenyan women who thought they were getting a tetanus shot were secretly injected with the HGC sterilization chemical, which can trigger spontaneous abortions for years after the dose. And there is still no reaction by officials, media or citizenry to Bill Gates’ well-known advocacy of vaccination as a strategy for saving the planet by killing the humans, to the tune of 3.5 billion of us. The numbers are practically flatulent when they get that high, of course, and few can keep the face straight and the eyes unrolled at any suggestion that today’s eugenicists, like their Nazi and imperial Japanese counterparts of a lifetime ago, would agree that losing 90% of us, while clearly desirable -- see The Sorceror's Intern for the background on this -- is sadly just not yet technically feasible, as the catastrophic Ebola gambit has just proved.




So. When there’s no reaction to the growing evidence that they’re out to do a decimation in reverse  – that is, killing not just one out of ten, as the Roman army used to do to cohorts that broke and fled in battle -- but nine out of ten of us, what does get everybody really riveted? Consider this. A couple of mediocre but oafishly appealing Hollywood actors best known for stoner comedies and rectal humor concoct for Sony Entertainment a laugh riot based on the premise that the CIA, having learned that two American men are planning a trip to North Korea, invite them to assassinate Kim Jong-un. Seriously. I’m not making this up. The Company outsources jobs like this to bozos all the time, as you know, and this explains much of US foreign policy. If you buy the movie’s opening premise, I’ve got some Jupiter real estate that might interest you. Not Jupiter, Florida. Jupiter the planet, that is. A red hot deal in the great red spot.


North Korea, not yet ready to agree that the murder of their head of state is literally boffo to die for, objects. The US, naturally, derides Pyongyang, perhaps because for the US, political murder is routine enough by now to make Macbeth look like a shoplifter, and nobody thinks much if it. One can imagine the banter behind closed doors in Washington DC: “Really? That's an honest to God movie plot? Well, come to think of it, though, anyone could do it, you know, even a pothead with jet lag. Just look at the target. Kim Jong-un looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy with a shave that went too high, and he’s always the only one in black among dozens of men in khaki. Helen Keller could hit him.”


The next thing we know, Sony Pictures has been hacked, and millions of citizens get titillated by a torrent of confidential emails sent by Sony executives sliming political leaders,  movie industry players, even Sony’s own talent. North Korea is immediately blamed and threatened, and there are rumors that they got help from the Chinese, who have no comment, having apparently remembered what Lao Tzu had in mind when he wrote, “Those who speak do not know, those who know do not speak.” Sony proceeds with its plans to open the movie on Christmas Day, of course, what better choice, until theaters start getting threats of “9/11 style attacks,” and Sony cancels the release.


Enter Barack Obama, amid an escalating howl and bloodspit about “free speech,” suggesting that Sony should have talked to him before caving in to the North Koreans. Sony decides to release the movie in small art film houses, and on streaming video. It opens to a tepid first week in theaters, though online revenues are tremendous, and in new reports that the mainstream media ignores, it is suggested that North Korea didn't pull the Sony hack. The Sony hack was an inside job! The most likely culprit, of course, would be a disgruntled Sony employee out for quantum revenge. But hold on. One does not have to be P. T. Barnum or David Ogilvy, the legendary father of advertising, to understand that disastrous notoriety, which at least makes you much better known, is better than not getting noticed at all.  Picture this pitch, hours after dinner at an out of the way table at Chasen's  in West hollywood, among some Sony junior execs who’d like to move up faster:


“Whoa! What’s in that maitai, Marc? No wait, guys, just listen. Let's be honest. [Eyes roll, laughter.] We’d all like to give that prick Lynton a good kick in the schwanz. And the only thing we disagree on about that bitch Amy Pascal is what kind of blade we'd like to use. So. We leak their emails, and Bersch’s and De Luca’s, about all these no-talents and snotnoses they hate but keep casting. Kim Jong Balloon Boy threatens nuclear war, and idiots everywhere who think they can outact Seth Rogen, and they’ve all got that right, go to see this shitbucket of a movie because they think free speech is at stake. And it's a hit. Thank you, Max Bialystock. [All lift and clink their glasses.] Here's to hackstabbing. Is this a great country, or what?”


It surely is. And now: what's really the most important story of the month? If you'd like to find out right away, then scroll down to Alexander Has No Slaves Today, because it's time to pause briefly here for this month's astral events. January is loaded. First the powerful Cancer Full Moon of Jan. 4 -5, and then the gradual leadup to the month's main event: the exact conjunction of Uranus in Aries with the Moon's Nodes on the Libra-Aries axis, and thus the culmination of Uranus square Pluto, Round 6. There is more in last month's UFC about why the seven Uranus-Pluto squares are so explosively and inexorably connected with the cataclysmic changes that have been coming in every area of our lives since 2012, and that will keep coming until 2016, though nothing will compare with 2015.




We're about to look at a chart for Jan. 20, when Uranus aligns exactly with the South Moon's Node. As you know if you've read these UFC mundane chart pages before, the chart can vary radically from one place to the other, because while the zodiac sign positions of the planets will be the same everywhere at a given time, except that the fast-moving Moon may change signs, the house positions in the wheel will change, and create a completely different emphasis from one continent, even one time zone, to another. This chart is cast for Mingaora, Pakistan, because it's the birthplace of Malala Yosafzai, co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 along with Kailash Satyarthi of India. At 17 the youngest winner of any Nobel Prize, Yosafzai has fearlessly continued her campaign for universal education for all the world's children, even after she was shot almost fatally by the Taliban. Time is on her side. And as we'll see, it's speeding up fast.


Uranus on the Moon’s Node Axis,

Culmination of Round 6 of the Uranus-Pluto Square

Jan. 20, 2015, 2:08pm 5E, Mingaora, Pakistan

34N. 47,  72E22 – Tropical, Placidus, True Node


In the band of west-central Asia from Pakistan all the way up through Siberia, the spectacular spread of planets across the top of this chart shows that at this moment we are living mainly in the upper-chart dimension of spirit. If not for Jupiter and Saturn in the lower half of the chart, we would feel like a balloon fastened to the Earth by a thread, blowing about in the blue, or, as is more likely when a storm is coming, the pearl gray.


This is not exactly a fruit basket of a chart, though it does have its advantages. Saturn in Sagittarius in the 6th house of health and service relationships is at a severe angle of leverage -- that is, likely to exert force in the direction of change -- with Mars and Neptune, conjunct in Pisces in the 10th house of organizational power. When Saturn the Teacher is this afflictively aligned against Mars the Warrior and Neptune, the mystic, shaman and artist in fantasy media – including fraud, deception, addiction and victimhood -- it is no wonder that police, soldiers and others in warrior professions are inclined to shoot first, often in haste and confusion, to lie about their mistakes, and to benefit from the lies of others, like the Ferguson prosecutor who has admitted to having presented false evidence. Will there be continued friction about this as the month moves to Jan. 20? No doubt.


On the axis of communications, Jupiter in Leo, in the 3rd house of communications, opposes Mercury and Venus, both in Aquarius in the 9th house of institutions of financial and intellectual power. Venus and Mercury are not exactly in conjunction, but both are in a 120° trine to the Gemini Ascendant. Jupiter is in an equally favorable, and more creative, 60° sextile with the Ascendant. This indicates that in this part of the world, at least, there will be skillful and intelligent efforts to achieve grace and restraint in public rhetoric.  In other places, without the mollifying effect of that Ascendant in relation to the three opposed planets, there will not be anything remotely like the Gemini-Aquarius amity, especially as this chart is in effect in the weeks after a new US Congress is inaugurated, and newly-heated ideologues are sure to be on the attack.


The most forceful and impactful alignment in this chart by far is Uranus exactly conjunct the Moon’s South Node in Aries in the 11th house of friends, community and social activism, opposite the North Node in Libra in the 5th house of creativity, with both Nodes forming a T-cross at a 90° angle with Pluto in Capricorn in the 8th house of changes. There is much more in Under the Dragon's Tail, last October's UFC prelude, about the two Moon’s Nodes and what they mean. For now, the juncture of Uranus the Trickster and Shock Tripper with the South Node, the Dragon's Tail, the stressing and splitting force in our relationships, does not mean only that many friendships, love affairs, marriages and teams will break apart. It also means, as oppositions are alignments of harmonious tension, that intrepid bringers of change on many fronts will defy all odds, dare all risks, and – with the opposing North Node in the partnership of sign of Libra, in the 5th house of creativity -- that we have not yet begun to see the imaginative solutions that will now appear in many volatile places.


Not only this, but look where the Moon-Sun pair are in this chart: with Pluto in Capricorn in the 8th house, entering the Moon's window of invisibility just before the next Black Moon, when the great lights are in conjunction, all possibilities are new and in play, our psychic receptivity is greatest, and we have our strongest imagining of new intentions, personal and communal, and we can drive them together with powerful currents of feeling. There is nothing we cannot do on the 20th of January, because lightning "snaps out like a whip," in Rumi's phrase, only when we're "cut off from sunlight." But lightning is electrical, and thus is ruled by Uranus, the planet of electricity. It lights up the sky. It attracts as strongly as it repels. And it galvanizes.


We're now about to meet the most shocking thunderbolt of late 2014, the most important story of all as of this writing, three hours before midnight on New Year's Eve.




The essential text of the month is Andre Vltchek's "The Empire Is Crumbling. That Is Why It Needs War", published Dec. 14 on CounterPunch. It is not for the faint-hearted, as it has the kind of ferocious honesty and daring that true journalism used to have before it devolved into the easily palatable infotainment that now passes for news and commentary in "developed" countries. It outlines in chilling, utterly convincing detail why Russia is such a threat to the New World Order that inevitably, the hegemonic agendas of a desperate, dying and hopelessly overextended Empire will throw everything it can at whoever has the courage to oppose it.  As is always the case when a country feels pushed to the brink of extinction, Russia summons the mana and memory of its most famous military hero, a prince who was canonized too, as this icon shows. Who is this haloed man in armor who saved Russia in 1242?


If you've ever seen Sergei Eisenstein's 1938 masterpiece Alexander Nevsky, then you recognize him here and in the banner image above, as nobly voiced and embodied by Nikolai Cherkasov. In this scene from the top of the film, Alexander notifies the elegantly silked figure of Hubilay (Lyan Kun), whose name tells us he is the representative of none other than the Yuan dynasty ruler Kublai Khan himself, that no, the men escorting you will take no slaves here today. I will not allow it. Hublay tries to co-opt the prince, and hire him to run the slave trade from other villages. Alexander declines, and the Mongol horseman wisely choose not to challenge him, and ride on. So what's the connection with today? How are China and Russia connected now in another very unlikely scenario?


The quiet blockbuster, cited in Andre Vltchek's article and unnoticed if not suppressed in US mainstream media, is the news that “China’s foreign minister has pledged support to Russia as it faces an economic downturn due to sanctions and a drop in oil prices. ‘Russia has the capability and the wisdom to overcome the existing hardship in the economic situation,’ Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists in a press conference reported by China Daily. ‘If the Russian side needs it, we will provide necessary assistance within our capacity.’” It need not be said that our capacity is enormous, and who is applying sanctions and other tactics of economic warfare.


Nothing this overt has happened before, and its implications are off the abacus. The Chinese, normally subtle to the point of invisibility, have drawn an unmistakable line here, as two ancient enemies now begin to form common cause against a common adversary. And the coalescence has only begun, as other countries will be drawn to the China-Russia combination.


The battle on the ice is at hand, and it must go and end just as the historic one did when Alexander, knowing his force could not match the weight of the Teutonic Knights' iron and horse, chose to  give battle on a frozen lake, gambling that if his army were able to start encircling the smaller German force and make it concentrate in a smaller area, then the ice would crack and give way under all that armor. And it did. And it will now too, as the Empire's densest emotions of greed, arrogance and above all fear -- concretized in the material dimension in all the metal in the money and the weapons -- cause it to become less and less mobile, until it sinks and disappears. The knights drown. The dragon of reptilian power, unable to move away from the gold, can only grow bigger and stiffer until it dies, while the rest of the world is lifted in the generosity of the gift economy and abundance mind, the synarchy of force shared among equals, the transparency of truth fearlessly spoken, and above all in the unstoppable, unifying force of love.


This choice between the two directions, the two densities, the two tracks, is paramount now, and we'll come back to it next month, when we visit the Chinese year of  Xiezhi, the Unicorn  Goat whose single horn points to and touches the truth.


2015 is here. Get ready to rise, and to sing the songs of the ascent. They will come to us, in the way they always have to the Irish musicians who don't really write melodies, but hear them and remember them. They are easiest to hear outdoors in tranquil places. Please let us know what comes to you, when the time is right. Keep Holding That Frequency.




Daily Listings

January 2015


12/31 – 1/3 (three days):

These three days at the transition from the old year into the new represent the Triple Goddess in the severest of her Wise Woman aspects. Among the many "crone" goddesses honored at this time are the Greek Hecate, the Roman Fata (i.e., Fate), the Celtic Etain and the Norse Wyrd.


12/31 - 1/4 (five days):

Zoroastrians celebrate the creator Vohu Manah, maker and protector of all animal life, and one of the seven male -- parallel to seven female -- emanations of the deity Ahura Mazda.


Jan. 1, Thursday:

In the Greco-Roman calendar, 1/1 is the birthday of the lord of time: Chronos/Uranus, father of Zeus/Jupiter. This is why the Saturnian figure of Father Time, with his hourglass and scythe, is associated with this day. The New Year Baby who supplants Father Time is a version of the Solar Child who is born everywhere in the northern hemisphere in the Winter Solstice week of Dec. 21 - 25. As the Ruler of Capricorn, Saturn has traditionally embodied the limiting forces of age, illness, death, separation and estrangement -- but he is also the bearer of wisdom, as represented in the Hermit card of the Tarot as a black-robed, hooded figure whose lantern bears hidden wisdom for those who can see. Saturn is also the teacher of karmic lessons that are painful if the student resists, and noticeably astringent even for those who have learned to love Saturn. One way or the other, the effect of his instruction is always bracing, the stroke of his sickle in cutting away old illusions is always swift and exact. The placement of his birthday on Jan. 1 is yet another reminder that this is the day to discard what is unneeded, and seek new wisdom, at the turning of the New Year.


January 1 is also the birthday (1854) of J. G. Frazer, author of the seminal work of mythology and anthropology, The Golden Bough.


In the Shinto calendar, this is Gantan-sai, New Year's Day.


1/1 - 6 (six days):

The Japanese celebrate the Shinto New Year festival -- now keyed to the Western rather than the Asian lunar calendar -- beginning with Shogatsu, the first day of the first month. The respective kami or divine principles of the four directions are especially honored now, and their harmonious cooperation in bringing good health, prosperity and happiness to those who live in divine order. In the Shinto shrines actors of the classical kyogen comedy present Okina, in which the Sanbaso, the Saturnian Third Old Man who wears a black mask with white beard, dances the purification and blessing of the field, marking his rhythm and the Earth's geometry by shaking bells.


1/2, Friday::

In the Sumerian calendar, birthday of Inanna, the formidable double-aspected Goddess of love and war.


The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks tonight, and is expected to be most intense at 6:00pm UT on 1/3. This very active shower (100 or more meteors per minute) is best viewed in a clear, unlighted place where the relatively faint Quadrantid meteors (average magnitude 2.8) can be seen to best advantage. The Moon is waxing to Full on Jan. 4 - 5, so viewing is impaired.


1/2 eve - 1/3 eve:

In the Islamic Sunni sacred year, Jan. 14 is the 12th day of the lunar month of Rabia Awal. It is one of the holiest days in the year: Mevlid-i Nebi, birthday of the prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon Him, in 570. The day of the "White Moon who rose over us" is one of the few holy days that Muslims celebrate in mid-month, before the Full Moon, as Islamic months and most holy days are keyed to the sighting of a New Moon. Shiites celebrate this feast five days later, at the Full Moon, while some traditional believers do not observe it at all, seeing it as an innovation of which the prophet himself would not have approved.


1/3, Saturday:

In the Roman Catholic calendar, 1/3 is the feast of St. Genevieve, the first female saint to appear in the annual cycle of saints' days. She was born in 423 in Nanterre, and is said to have made a vow of perpetual chastity at the age of seven. (Where but in France, one wonders, with the possible exception of Thailand, could a child of 7 understand the implications of chastity?) Her charisma and dignity were so persuasive that she reportedly saved Paris twice, once from starvation during a siege by King Childeric of the Franks, and then from sack by Attila and the Huns. Early in the 12th century, the people of Paris prayed for relief from plague by bearing the saint's shrine in procession through the city, and the pestilence lifted at once. St. Genevieve has been regarded ever since as the special protector of the city of Paris.


Venus enters Aquarius. Here she enjoys all the talk and gossip that flow in this voluble air sign -- but she prefers Pisces, where she'll be exalted from Jan. 27 in the water element of her deepest feeling.


1/4 (Sunday), 6:54pm HT; 1/5 (Monday), 4:54am UT:


Full Moon in Cancer, opposite the Sun in Capricorn. This opposition embodies the classic tensions between disciplined intellect and wealth of feeling; perseverance in pursuit of professional goals and the inner nurturing energy of domesticity; the mature male and the youthful female, symbolized by, among other things, Father Time and the New Year Baby. As the Moon rules Cancer, this time of year naturally emphasizes the nurturing powers of the feminine, family activities shared within the home, and a time of introspection following the feasting season of early winter.


This is a tremendously powerful Full Moon, a fitting overture to the momentous year of 2015, and also to the Uranus-Pluto square, Round 6, which remains very strongly in effect after its peak of Dec. 15, and through the alignment of the two Moon's Nodes with Uranus-Pluto in mid-month.   It's intense, all right. The Cancer Moon opposes Pluto now as the Sun aligns with him, and both the great lights are in a 90° square with the two Moon's Nodes at a moment when Uranus conjoins the South Node. Thus four planets and the Moon's Nodes form a four-armed Grand Cross that is the most "stressful" and transformational of all planet alignments, the one most likely to shake loose and impel changes, especially those that are long overdue in individual personalities, couples and communities, political and social structures, the works. For more on this, see this month's Mythic Prelude above.


In the Celtic/Druidic and Wiccan calendars, this Full Moon is called Storm Moon. Also Quickening Moon and Wild Moon, in the “Great Winter” season close to Imbolc, 1/31 - 2/2. It is customary during this moon to wash clothes in clove and angelica, to purify them for Spring.


In some Native American calendars, the Month of the Otter begins on this day.


1/5, Monday:

An alternate Christian version of the 12-day Yuletide cycle, running from Christmas to Jan. 5 -- rather than the traditional Dec. 20 - 31 -- ends today with the feast of the old Roman goddess Befana. The "Great Grandmother" rides her broomstick through the world on this night, or comes on a donkey, as shown here in the town of Barga, delivering gifts to good children. During the Christian middle ages, Befana's toyride was reassigned to a large male elfin figure who made his gift trip just before the start of Yuletide, on the night before Christmas. Befana mutated over the centuries, in other countries, into one of the old, hooknosed, scary cartoon witches who have survived in the popular imagination ever since -- except in Italy, that is, where she remains beloved.


This day is the famous Twelfth Night, the last of the 12 days of Christmas, numbering from Christmas day through Jan. 5. Twelfth Night was -- still is -- believed to be the end of the Christianized yuletide season, the night of one more celebration before Christmas decorations come down, and the Christmas tree and other holiday greenery are removed from the home, on the next day. Local customs differ on whether the greenery must or must not be burned, though it is usually agreed that each household must keep a sprig of holly, ivy or mistletoe for good luck until the next Christmas season. Other Twelfth Night practices abound in the British isles, including the ceremonial sacrifice of the wren and the distribution of its feathers for the protection of Welsh sailors.


This day is the birthday of the beloved saint Paramahansa Yogananda (1893), author of Autobiography of a Yogi. The superb documentary film biography Awake , with impressive still photos and rare footage of Yogananda and his guru, Sri Yukteswar, has recently been released.


Jan. 5 is also the birthday (1666) of Gobindh Singh, the tenth Sikh guru.


In the Roman Catholic calendar, this day is the feast of St. Simeon Stylites, so called because, after having prepared himself in youth with the practice of severe austerities, he made his way from his native Cilicia to Egypt and spent the last 37 years of his life standing atop a stylus-shaped pillar, sheltered only by his faith from the blazing heat and desolate cold of the desert. So determined was Simeon never to give himself the relief of sitting or lying down that in the end his death was apparent when he was seen not to have moved from a kneeling position for three days. The remnant of St. Simeon's pillar is preserved in a basilica erected by the Byzantine emperor Zeno in the 5th century. The Luis Bunuel film Simon of the Desert offers a profound and controversial version of the story.


On this day Mercury enters the air sign of Aquarius, which is considered either exalted for him, or neutral. He is comfortable and lively here in his element of air, and much prefers it to being in detriment, as he will be in Pisces from mid-March. His journey through Aquarius this time will be uncommonly long because he'll go retrograde on Jan. 21 (See below).


1/5 – 8 (four days):

Mahayana Buddhists celebrate the New Year from this Full Moon.


1/6, Tuesday:

In the Khemitian calendar, feast of Ptah, the Neter who created the world by first speaking the word of creation, thus launching one of the many mythic cycles that began with the divine creative act of speech. This day was also sacred to Hor, aka "Horus," the neter of light and falcon-headed solar hero who preserves the world from the attack of Set, neter of destruction. (month of Mechir, day 22). The skullcap in which Ptah is always depicted identifies him as an air being and peerlessly powerful creator who manifested new life "out of the blue" -- one of many expressions that came from ancient Khemt.


In Christian calendars, this day is the feast of the Epiphany, which follows the Christianized 12-day Yuletide cycle (12/25 to 1/5) and commemorates the day when the Three Magi from the East came to offer their gifts to the infant Jesus, and thereby symbolically spread the Good News of Christ's coming beyond the Jews to the wider world of all humanity.


For the Armenian Orthodox community, this is Christmas day.


In the Faroe islands, this day features prominently in legends about silkies, seals that take human form, especially as women, in order to love human males or gain revenge for human crimes against seal families. Jan. 6 is said to be one day on which it is especially common for silkies to appear as humans.


1/7, Wednesday:

In the Greek and Russian Orthodox, and Coptic years, all of which are timed by the Julian calendar, Christmas is celebrated on this day.


Also for the Rastafarian community, who regard the African people of Ethiopia as the Jews of the Bible, this is Christmas day. The feast is celebrated with vegetarian or vegan food, readings from scripture and prophecies for the year to come. Orthodox Christians also observe Christmas on this day, while for many European and American Christians, this day marks the baptism of Jesus.


In the traditional Shinto calendar of Japan, this day is Koshogatsu (literally "Little New Year's Day"), sacred to the Goddess Izanami- no-Mikoto. She and her brother-consort, Izanagi-no-Mikoto, were the primordial creators who fashioned the natural world and its kami, or nature spirits. This day is exactly opposite on the year wheel to Tanabata (7/7), the Japanese Feast of the Lovers.


1/7 - 8 (2 days):

In the ancient Khemitian calendar, one of the year's great festivals in honor of Aset ("Isis") as the Mother Netert, protector of female fertility and the health of child (Mechir, days 23 and 24).

As shown here in this famous image from the mammisi, or birth chapel of her temple at Pilak, aka Philae, she is flanked by Djehuti (Thoth) at left and Amun ("The Hidden One"), hiding her son Hor (Horus) from the murderous intent of his uncle Set, neter of chaos and destruction. Other celebrated spiritual stories, notably that of Moses, would borrow the motif of concealing the sacred child in the river reeds.


1/8, Thursday:

For the Japanese, this day is both a religious and national holiday, Seijin-no-hi, Coming of Age Day. Young men and women who are now 20 years old dress in traditional kimono and visit Shinto shrines with their parents, who announce to the kami that their children have now attained adulthood and pray for the spirits' blessings of health and long life.


Ceres enters Capricorn. From now until April 3, and thus through the critical three months from now through Round 7 of the Uranus-Pluto square, the Lady of the Grain, the carrier of Earth's fecundity will be in the Earth sign that aids her prudent management of the land's health and resources. She is by no means under restraint in this Saturn-ruled sign, but gets along well with Saturn -- originally, like her, a harvest deity -- and all who accord due seriousness to the care of the Earth. These months favor efforts to teach food security and management, permaculture and other arts of serving the Earth.


1/9, Friday:

In the ancient Roman calendar, 1/9 is the festival day of Janus, the god whose two faces gaze backward into the past and forward into the future. It was customary to keep the doors of Janus' temple closed in peacetime, to open them as soon as war began and to close them again when war was concluded -- thus invoking the blessing and protection of Janus, and his gifts of historic memory and foresight, when the continuity of the nation was in danger.


1/12, Monday:

Mars enters Pisces. While this placement is not considered disadvantageous, it is not Mars' favorite either, for much the same reason that armies prefer dry land to water. Mars will wade through the fog of Pisces until Feb. 20, when he crosses into Aries, sign of his rulership.


1/13, Tuesday:

In the Sikh calendar, this day is Maghi, commemorating the day in 1705 when the Chali Mukte, the Forty Liberated Ones,  sacrificed their lives to protect Guru Gobind Singh from a pursuing imperial army. As the fight happened in and near a pool of water, the day’s rites include a purificatory morning bath, recitation of the entire Guru Granth Sahib and diwans of prayer and teaching.


1/14, Wednesday:

Makara Sankranti, one of South India's great harvest festivals. As this day marks the annual date on which wind direction shifts from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn -- "makara" means Capricorn -- various gods of the wind are honored now, and there are many sailing competitions and festivals. Ritual offerings of water and food are offered to the resurging Sun, with prayers for an abundant harvest.


1/15, Thursday :

In the ancient Khemitian calendar, this is the first day of the month of Pamenot, sacred to Amun, the primordial water Neter who embodies the potential of all living things. As this month is opposite on the zodiac wheel to what we call July -- when the annual inundation of the Nile always used to begin on July 26 -- Pamenot has always represented the seminal ingathering of energy and its concentration toward release in the surge of summer. For more on Amun, see Jan. 24.


The Japanese celebrate this day as Seijin Shiki, or coming-of-age day. Those who have attained the age of 20 in the preceding year dress in exquisite new kimono and visit Shinto shrines to give thanks to the kami, and pray for their favor in the years to come.


1/16, Friday:

Birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King (1929).


In the Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Love, the fifth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (3 Imix, Tzolkin 81). The principles that rule this Uinal are Anchoring and Sprouting. The symbolic bird is the Hawk.


1/17, Saturday:

Roman Catholics celebrate this day as the feast of St. Anthony of Egypt, also called St. Anthony the Abbot and St. Anthony the Great. Hispanic Catholics give the day the usual extra flair by bringing livestock and pets to the church for a Blessing of the Animals, commemorating Anthony’s famous power to attract and soothe even the fiercest desert beasts.


Among the Yoruba people of Africa and the Santeria communities of the Americas, this day is sacred to Ogun, the masculine orisha of strength, stamina and determination.


1/18, Sunday:

Since 1950, when the Baha'i community designated Jan. 18 as World Religion Day, honoring the common sacred values of all faiths, this day has gradually been adopted by some other religions as well as a day to pray for interreligious dialogue and understanding. This day may have been a natural choice because from 1908, some Christian communities have observed the week from Jan. 18 (St. Peter's day) to 24 (St. Paul's day) as a week of prayer for Christian unity.


Baha'i festival honoring the Deity as Sultan, supreme lord and sovereign of the universe.


1/20, Tuesday:

The Sun enters Aquarius. This is a major annual transition point at which the year enters the Great Cold, and, before the Sun leaves Aquarius in February, begins the lengthening of the light and the transition to Spring. The importance of this annual passage point has been evident since ancient times in many cultures, for example the Chinese, who celebrate the lunar New Year at the first New Moon while the Sun is in what the West calls Aquarius. The Sun's entry into Aquarius gains increasing power now as Earth's people enter the Aquarian Age, which favors wide networks and lateral teams of friendship over Piscean hierarchies, emphasizing the identity of Aquarius as the ruler of the 11th House of friendship, activism for social progress, and community. For more on this, see Surfing Aquarius.


1/20 (Tuesday), 3:15am HT; 1:15pm UT:

Dark Moon in Leo conjunct Sun in Aquarius. The defining quality of this Black Moon, and the New Moon that follows, is that the Sun is "in detriment" -- that is, limited and weakened in his usual exercise of power -- in Aquarius, so that the emphasis of the time tends to be upon the lunar and traditionally feminine areas of hearth and home, and the protection of children from winter illnesses, especially as this is Imbolc, the time of the mid-Winter "Great Cold," when homes are cleaned and purified before the coming of Spring. Powers of perception and intuitive observation are high at the Aquarius New Moon, manifesting under the right conditions as a wealth of ideas and ambitious plans, especially as they may involve collaboration with like-minded friends.


This Dark Moon may look uneventful at first , as the Moon-Sun pair forms no "major" aspect of relationship to any other planet, only a 60° sextile to Saturn in early Sagittarius, and a 72° quintile to Uranus and the Dragon's Tail  in Aries. But appearances are deceiving again, as this lunation comes right in the slot of the alignment that completes Round 6 of the inestimable, unstoppable Uranus-Pluto square that rules the years from 2012 to 2016. For more on this, see the Mythic Prelude above.


In the Beth-Luis-Nion Celtic tree calendar used by devotees of the faerie path, this second New Moon following the December Solstice begins Luis, or rowan month. The rowan is considered especially efficacious for protection, healing and divination.


Under normal conditions, an essential and delightful entry under this Black Moon would be the  Chinese New Year, normally celebrated at the ensuing New Moon in Aquarius. But this year the Aquarius Black and New Moons occur so early, two months before the Spring Equinox, that in 2014 it's Gung Hay Fat Choy next month, at the Pisces Dark Moon.


Curiously, a lunar New Year festival period of roughly three days, beginning at the New Moon during Aquarius month, was celebrated in ancient Europe for many centuries before Julius Caesar fixed the start of the New Year at Jan. 1 on a 12-month solar calendar that was the basis of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar, now the standard for time reckoning in Europe, the Americas and other lands colonized by European explorers. The implications of this -- that all the peoples of Eurasia once lived by a single lunar calendar, but were split from each other when the new solar calendar divided West from East, solar from lunar, intellect from intuition, masculine from feminine, etc. -- is at the root of the cultural rift that has separated orient and occident ever since.


In ancient Eurasia, peoples everywhere celebrated this festival as one of the three great turning points in the cycle of the Triple Goddess, the moment when the aged Wise Woman transmutes back into the Virgin who carries new life. Patriarchal religions have since taken over the show, but whether they can long continue to produce it remains to be seen, as the new Aquarian Age favors neither male nor female, but a complementary balance of the two.


In old Christian calendars, Jan. 20 is St. Agnes' Eve, which replaces an earlier British Celtic feast as the day on which prophecy and divination are favored. It is said that a young woman who correctly bakes a "dumb cake" - so called because it is prepared in strict silence - will be able to see the dream image of her future husband. This custom is the subject of a famous poem by Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes". As this midwinter season is a time for introspection, it naturally abounds in rites of prophecy, including feasts of Thoth (Jan. 24 - 27) and the Iroquois Mid-Winter ceremonies (Feb. 3 - 11).


In the Roman Catholic calendar, this is also the feast of St. Sebastian, one of the many notable martyrs from the last major wave of anti- Christian persecutions under Diocletian, at the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th, a few years before the reign of Constantine the Great, who was to designate Christianity the state religion of the Roman empire.


St. Sebastian is famous as a "double martyr", so called because when the emperor's attempt to have his fellow soldiers execute him with arrows failed to finish him off -- a scene depicted in countless works of art, including this one by Mantegna -- Sebastian had the temerity to affirm his faith before Caesar a second time, and was then clubbed to death. The symbolism of the arrows is ancient and archetypal, linking with countless stories in which the wound of divine love brings both excruciating pain and ineffable joy. Sebastian remains to this day the patron saint of soldiers, archers and athletes.


In Cusco, Peru, the procession of saints' images in the fiesta de San Sebastian may have replaced a much older rite celebrated by the native people of the Inca before Pizarro came. All we "know" from a few Spanish sources like Felipe Guaman Pomo de Ayala (1615) is that at some time in Samay Quilla, the month of rest and renewal, the festival of Capac Raimi was held. At this coming of age feast, the young women shown here would sew the ritual garments to be used a month later by the young men whose manhood and warriorship -- the link with the warrior-martyr Sebastian -- is honored now, and will be formally proclaimed a few weeks later.


1/21, Wednesday:

And now, as if all the chaotic intensity around Jan. 20 were not enough, Mercury goes retrograde on Jan. 21. From now until Feb. 11, we can expect confusion, delay, blockage, misunderstanding, inept assumptions and marginally insane bozosis, in the Mercury-ruled areas  of communications, transportation and commerce. Machines break down, radio signals break up, and folly breaks every which way as everyone blames Mercury for everything, not understanding that when a planet moves backward, its energy redirects into the past rather than ahead into the future, and this u is why people who catch up on old business now are much less nervous and unfastened than those who try to launch something new at the worst possible time for it. Mercury is the patron of thieves too, so some of the stupid crook scenarios that come now are positively thrilling.


In the Roman Catholic calendar, this is the feast of St. Agnes, one of the most admired of all virgin martyrs, who gave her life during the last great campaign of Christian persecutions by Diocletian in the early 4th century. She is always depicted with a lamb and a branch of hyssop, symbolizing respectively her innocence and her purity.


1/22, Thursday :

In the ancient Greek and Roman calendars, this day is the feast of Apollo, god of the Sun, and also of light, intellect, classical beauty, prophecy and the lyre. Thousands of years ago, before the day of the Sun's entry into Aquarius moved to where it is now, on Jan. 19, this day marked the Sun's transition from the darkness and heaviness of Capricorn to the light and activity of Aquarius, the month in which the annual mid-winter festival of early February celebrated the passing of the Great Cold and the approach of the new Spring.


Apollo's day was later Christianized as the feast of St. Vincent, a shadowy figure who may not have lived, but who was likely invented. His name means "Conquering," and is related to Victor, but is close enough to the word for Wine in the Romance languages that St. Vincent is the patron of vintners and of those who just like to drink wine. The placement of his day is perfect, as it falls right at the top of the month when the Sun is in Aquarius, the sign which rules the 11th house of Friendship, and thus favors all happy activities that bring friends together. St. Vincent's Day is also a major weather marker in Europe, for it was -- and still is -- said that fair weather on this day heralds an abundant grape harvest and a good vintage:  "Take care on St. Vincent's Day, / For if on this day you see / That the sun is bright and clear, / We'll have more wine than water."


1/23, Friday:

First day of the Goddess month of Bridhe, sacred to the Celtic and Britannic Goddess variously called Brigit, Bridhe, Brigantia and later, St. Bridget. As shown here, she is also called the Triple Brighids, and is one of the most widely-revered manifestations of the Triple Goddess. She is the protector of the eternal creative flame that maintains the vitality of the natural world, and is the patron of warriors and of all practitioners of feminine arts and crafts, most notably the occult disciplines of divination, witchcraft, herb and star lore, and prophecy. She is also represented by the spirals that appear constantly in Celtic art. Her totemic animals are the ram and the ox, her sacred plant the blackberry.


1/24, Saturday:

In the Khemitian calendar, this day is sacred to the primordial creator Amun, called "the Hidden One" because his power is in operation even before it manifests in the Sun and the visible world. Facing him at the right of the image shown here is the figure representing Aquarius in the Egyptian zodiac, pouring a double stream of sacred water to bless the realm. Amun's power to bring latent forces into manifestation survives in Christian traditions as the word Amen ("Let it be") that ends the prayer, and activates it.


Hindus celebrate Vasant Panchami, sacred to Saraswati, goddess of learning. On this 5th day of the lunar month of Magh, she is honored in rites and customs ranging from ceremonies of pitri-tarpan, in honor of ancestors who have imparted love of learning to their grandchildren, to blessing rituals in which young children are formally taught their first words. The white swan, symbol of non-attachment and purity, is especially associated with Saraswati today. Her image, and her devotees, are clothed in yellow, symbolizing the spiritual gold, saffron and honey that come with patient, selfless effort.


1/24 - 2/1 (nine days):

The Romans celebrate on these days the festival of Sementivae, so called because it honors the feminine nurturing power that receives the seed and protects it until its latent life force is ready to sprout. This is one of the mid-winter festivals that begin early now, culminating in the Imbolc, Candlemas, Setsubun, St. Brigid's day and other festivals of early February.


1/24 - 27 (four days):

In the ancient Khemitian solar calendar, this is a major four-day festival honoring Djehuti ("Thoth"), the lunar Neter of wisdom and learning. The rites begin with a celebration of Djehuti's arrival in the physical realm; honor his gifts of mathematics, geometry, literature and magic; and culminate in the ceremony of gratitude for the most profound of all Djehuti's secrets: the khu, or light body, which the devoted adept generates through continued spiritual practice. (Month of Pamenot, days 10 - 13).


In Christian calendars, Jan. 24 is St. Paul's Day, commemorating the dramatic Conversion of St. Paul, who gave up being Saul, scourge of Christians, when he was knocked off his horse by a bolt of light that hit him right in the third eye -- this may help explain the frontal baldness with which he is almost always depicted. Jan. 25 is not the saint's actual feast day, which is celebrated on June 30, in honor of Paul as the prolific writer and marketing genius of early Christianity. In Britain this day is a notable weather marker, as it is said that rain on St. Paul's Day is a sign of a poor harvest to come in the autumn.



1/26, Monday :

In the ancient Britannic calendar, this is one of the year's most solemn festivals of initiation. It is sacred to Cernunnos, the deer- horned God who is considered the master of all communications with animals, and the threshold keeper who tests the worthiness of all who seek knowledge of the secrets of nature.


In the Roman Catholic calendar, this is the feast of St. Francois de Sales, who gave up the promise of a spectacular career in the King's service to dedicate himself to missionary work, and went to Geneva in the late 16th century to convert Calvinists, a task at which he is said to have achieved the huge success of bringing some 72,000 of Europe's most dismal Protestants back to the fold, largely through methods that were mild and joyous rather than stern. He reportedly coined the saying that "You can catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel of vinegar."


1/27, Tuesday:

Birthday, in 1756, of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He had this to say on the topic of universal genius:

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence, nor imagination, nor both together make genius.

Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."


Venus enters Pisces, where she is "exalted." All Venus-ruled activities of love, art and beauty are favored; and women, and for that matter all people who know how to work their will through the subtle heat of attraction, will be at the irresistible peak of their beauty and power until Feb. 20, when Venus will cross into the more challenging fire sign of Aries.


1/30 - 2/1 (three days):

In the Greco-Roman calendar, these days are sacred to Artemis/ Diana in her guardian role as midwife and protector of children.


1/31, Saturday:

On this day, just before the annual Midwinter Festival,  peoples all over the ancient world pray and sacrifice to Hecate, the Goddess of the Moon in her darkest and most formidable aspect. She is also Kali, and embodies as well the fiercest energies of Scorpio. Like her opposite number Shiva, she destroys in order to create anew. She is linked to Sekhmet, Inanna, Pele and other goddesses who purify through the fire of love.


Also the centennial birthday (1915) of Father Thomas Merton, the Catholic mystical poet who sought God above all in concentrated silence.



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.