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ABOUT THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
The Universal Festival Calendar first appeared in July, 1998 as an e-mail newsletter, and has also been published online since May, 2000. It incorporates data from astronomy and astrology, Moon cycles and the sacred days and festivals of many spiritual traditions, in order to identify monthly and annual power points, when human ascension efforts are well aligned with the celestial dynamics of our galactic stagemachinery, and the life cycles of Mother Earth. The UFC aims to assist the spiritual evolution of Earth and her people by providing information useful for planning global meditations, ceremonies and gatherings that support the aim of awakening enough human beings to bring about the lifting of human consciousness into higher frequencies of mercy, compassion, wisdom and love.
We welcome and are grateful for suggestions by readers whose ideas have improved the Calendar, and made it more accurate and comprehensive.
THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
Hail, and welcome to the Universal Festival for January 2014, the month when the Chinese Year of the Wood Horse arrives, and along with it so many horse myths and metaphors that we could start to find them tiresome by year's end if these were not guaranteed to be what the Chinese call "interesting times." 2014 will be, in these terms, anything but a year so stable, regular and predictable that it may seem boring to people who are easily bored because they expect their entertainment to come from without, instead of generating their own soul entertainment from within.
This year will indeed be interesting times in ways the Chinese understand, even though they will intend, as always, that the sweeping, momentous changes coming in the months ahead will not be as turbulent and intense as they will have to be now. To some extent, as a holder of credit and as a growing economic, military and technological power, China will be in a position to influence the game, but they will not control it. No one will, though many will want to, and will think they can, until they find that the opposite of the Rolling Stones' song title will apply: Wild Horses can and will drag me away, if I mistake staying stuck for standing firm.
More in a moment about the Chinese Wood Horse personality, and how we can apply its themes and values to the events we navigate this year. First a look at the main astral rhythm.
COMING TO CLIMAX
As you know if you read the UFC regularly, the dominant energy pattern that rules the years from 2012 to 2015 is the ongoing series of seven 90° "squares" between revolutionary Uranus in the fire sign of Aries, and the undermining, clearing force of Pluto in Capricorn, where Saturn lives in his role as the enforcer of the non-performance clauses in our sacred contracts, both the ones we signed as individuals addressing our personal karmic issues, and as a community of consciousness who accepted the role we are here to play now, even though we no longer remember the casting call, the audition, the callback, or the terms of the contract itself. There is nothing to be done about any of it now, but to accept that if we are here now, we chose to be, within a cast that can seem irritating and bizarre, but who are all perfect for the story we've come to play. You may feel, as I do, that the next time I sign a contract to enter third density, I will not only read the fine print, I will write it myself, and if I don't get this condition, I will not sign anything, will wait as long as it takes, and with all respect, Lord Saturn, I will outwait even you.
We will soon be poised halfway between Round 4 of the Uranus-Pluto Catablastaplasm, which was exact on Nov. 1, and Round 5, which will start assembling in the ring and come to the opening bell of the bout on April 21. You may remember from last month, in True Rulers, what the basic terms of these years are, and that no matter how wild, weird and swirling the times get, the same two rules apply. One is that all changes in the financial, social and political dimensions are merely cosmetic because they are only the outer, material expressions of the changes of consciousness that unite and drive us all. Which are more important, really: the smiles and frowns, the puzzlements and wonderments, glares and twinkles that cross the face of the one you love, or the currents in the heart that flow through her eyes? Do we note what's on her face without ever checking the emotional wind direction and temperature?
The other rule is that the seven Uranus -Pluto squares have the dramatic structure of a seven-act play that came to its Turning Point two months ago, and now moves in April toward Crisis -- that is, the moment of emergency when the hero must act -- and in December to Climax, the point at which the hero's decision and action become fully impactful upon, and better understood by, the people of his or her domain. This means that, even though we have been for two years in a pulsing, outward-rippling process of awakening, and some of us may think we've gained new insights and we even understand what's going on (Cue the laughter and bozo horns here), we have no idea yet. The humbling that comes in spring will be agony to those who think they know, and comedy to those who know they don't.
By April we will feel that we are no longer looking through a glass darkly, in St. Paul's phrase, and that we are no longer having to look at one another and the world only through the interference medium of opinion and belief. What brings the breakthrough? Not just one square between two planets, which compels change in the areas the planets rule, but a whole moving matrix of four squares among four planets, all working their leverages on and against each other. It gets most complex and forceful in April, which is why the months ahead will require us to understand better and use more skillfully the possibilities of the two new planets who now enter the Uranus-Pluto showdown.
WANT TO FIGHT AGAINST MARS? OR WITH HIM?
One of them is Mars the Warrior, who will spend a total of eight months and more moving through the sign of Libra. Mars has an orbit of two years, and thus can be said to spend an average of two months in each zodiac sign, but the real shape of the design is not nearly so regular. In practice, Mars moves rapidly through most signs, spending some 5 - 6 weeks in each, except when he moves much more slowly, retrograde and direct, between two adjoining signs, or, as he will this year, spending the entire time from Dec. 7, 2013 until July 26, 2014 in one sign that is one of his least advantageous places.
How does this affect you personally? If you have planets in your chart within the bands of 7° to 11°, and/or 25° to 29° of Libra or the other three cardinal signs of Aries, Cancer or Capricorn, then Mars will be working for weeks at a time on, around or against you, depending on your flow with him, and on what you have in your Well of Courage and Well of Fear. When are the flash points and crunch curves? Please forgive some detail here. It may be better for us to know what's in the pot, and when, than to go through it reactively in a clueless, exasperated fury that helps no one. Here's the scenario:
January - early February: Not so hot yet. Mars moves rapidly from 11° to 24° Libra. While he'll heat up and agitate planets in this area of your cardinal signs, the friction will last only a few days.
Early February - March: Mars moves gradually toward stasis at 27° Libra on Feb. 28, then goes retrograde. From Feb. 6 to March 23 he will bear strongly on any planet you have at or near 27° of any cardinal sign. The pressure will be most intense at the end of February and the top of March.
Late April - mid-June: Mars moves slowly backward toward stasis at 9° Libra on May 19, then goes direct. From April 28 to June 11 he will affect your planets at or near 9° of the cardinal signs, and will work at peak intensity on and around May 19 - 20.
Mid-June - late July: Mars picks up speed, moving from 12° Libra on through to Scorpio in a way that will feel a lot like January, as Mars flares and strikes briefly for only days, not weeks, at a time.
Does this mean that most of April will be a kind of astral demilitarized zone, in which Mars will be hoisting a beer in the officers' club rather than flaring in our faces for weeks at a time? Hardly. During his entire 8 1/2 months in Libra he will be "in detriment," not necessarily compelled to act out only his most negative possibilities, but limited in his ability to tap and play his best features. This means that he will be less able to deliver his best as a fearless agent of protection, service, courage and sacrifice, like the fire fighter who runs into a burning house to save you -- see The Fires of Mars for more on this -- and will be more likely to follow orders like an automaton, or abuse his role, like the armored narc who smashes your door down in the middle of the night, plants some cocaine in your desk, then uses it as a pretext for stealing everything you have. Mars will not be at his most heroic for most of 2014, and as usual, will be blamed for carrying out the agendas of archons who like to stay unsmelled behind the pepper spray and the plastic shields, but will find it harder to stay hidden this year.
But the main reason why April is so crucial to us, and everything we do in the months ahead will be the overture to it, is that in April a hugely powerful Grand Cross is coming:
CROSSES TO BEAR
On April 21 - 28, right at Round 5 of the Uranus-Pluto square, Mars in Libra will line up opposite to Uranus in Aries and square to Pluto in Capricorn, so three actively or passively aggressive characters will all be disharmoniously engaged: the Warrior who goes right at 'em (Mars), the Revolutionary who wants to gather a crowd and incite them (Uranus), and the spirit engineer who wants to undermine the wall and blow it up from below (Pluto). As they go through their direct and retrograde moves thereafter, these three will form the same T-cross alignment, though less exactly and intensely, in June. By December Mars will be in Capricorn and will cross Pluto right at the time when he squares Pluto exactly again for the Climax in Round 6. So 2014, all of it, will be eventful, to say the least.
What makes April the most momentous of all these grinding planetary clashes? The fourth planet who turns the three-planet T-cross into the Full Monty of a four-pointed Grand Cross, which adds Jupiter in Cancer to all the rout and rumble we've just noted. The practical effect of Jupiter coming to occupy the fourth point of the design is that the money elite, who have bought and bullied their way to whatever they want for the century since the Federal Reserve was railroaded into birth, will now find the Cheese of Corruption much less binding than it was before, much less useful for insulating them them from the consequences of their crimes. Amazingly, with a precise timing that only an astronomer could ignore, the Grand Cross will be exact on, of course, April 20 - 21, by far the most volatile moment of the year. It is no wonder that more and more famous financial forecasters -- who almost invariably claim of course, that astrology is silly and they would never base any of their estimates on it -- are speculating on whether April, 2014 will be the month when the whole house of cards slides down.
How best to play it all? If you're reading this, you already know that your true wealth is in your friends, your true wisdom in the intentional field that links us in more courageous, flexible consciousness. Anything else? Yes. We might consider how to find within ourselves the qualities that give the Horse his speed, and his graceful and noble bearing even in explosive terrain.
Becoming the Wood Horse
This is not the infamous Trojan Horse. That role belongs to the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- see last month's UFC -- which would be infamous if the corporatist gnomes who are working to perpetrate it were not hiding it so carefully behind an even more loud and lurid scheme of deception and distraction than they usually run. It could be some version of Pegasus, the winged horse Perseus rode to slay the Gorgon Medusa, if and when more of us might be able to see the writhing, hissing world financial system for the dying reptilian horror that it really is. But to do that, we'll have to use the critical tool that did the trick for Perseus: a mirror on the outer surface of his shield that enabled him to see Medusa without looking directly into those eyes that could turn men to stone. If we saw what the mirror holds, we could accept what needs to change in us if we're to create an outcome, instead of only reacting to outcomes that we think others are working against our will.
No, the horse that rides through this year is the seventh of the symbols in the Chinese sexagesimal cycle, which multiplies five elements times twelve animals to produce the grand cycle of sixty years that began again most recently in 2008. As the seventh animal in each series, the Horse -- like the Rat, Tiger and Dragon -- is fast, direct and intrepid in ways that the Ox, Rabbit and Snake are not, so that this should be a year of courageous and potentially heroic action.
All Horse types are alert, quick-witted and lively enough to be charismatic and vivacious, if at times reckless enough to create at high speed troubles that a more deliberate tempo could step around safely. The Horse has a lot in common with the Sagittarius type, as he is quick to flame out in anger and equally quick to cool and forget, loves to be in motion, the faster the better, and to change direction often among a wide-ranging circle of mutable interests and associates. He would much rather lead a group than join one, and has no taste for conforming to a consensus. Thus for all the majestic power and beauty that make him a classic symbol of freedom, the Horse may not be our best bet for a time that asks us to join unselfishly in working toward shared goals.
Fortunately, this is a Wood Horse year, when the Horse is at his most patient, industrious and forbearing, willing to pull his share of the load with courage and discipline, especially when he can act in service to goals that are progressive and enlightened. Thus, in his alignment with the solid, practical Wood element, this horse is precisely the guide and inspiration we need, as he calls us to see ourselves in him, to break free of what no longer need contain us, and run like the wind toward our best and bravest truth. It may help us to sound the ride along. If there are such things as Horse Singers as well as horse whisperers, now is the time to hear them. Keep Holding That Frequency.
THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
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 (5 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 (Wed):
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.
1/1 (Wed), 1:15am HT; 11:15pm UT:
Dark Moon conjunct Sun in Capricorn, the first of two Dark Moons to come in this calendar month. This is normally the most reflective and contemplative Dark Moon of the year, as both Sun and Moon are under restraint by the ruler of Capricorn: Saturn, teacher of the spiritual and karmic lessons that are deepest, and can be most painful when resisted. As the New Moon always favors beginnings, the ensuing New Moon in Capricorn is naturally a time for trying new approaches to old problems and weaknesses. Long before the Julian calendar made early January the beginning of the Year, the Dark Moon in Capricorn was the moment for "New Year's Resolutions."
This Dark Moon is energetically loaded, and forms a Grand Cross of Moon in Cancer and Sun conjunct Mercury and Pluto in Capricorn, all at 90° squares to Mars in Libra opposite Uranus in Aries. Thus our explosive old friend, the long-running Uranus-Pluto square of 2012 – 2015, is intensified by alignment with four additional planets, arranged at the 180° angle of harmonious tension and the 90° angle of disharmonious tension. As if we did not already know that this year will bring momentous events that compel overdue change – the theme is announced right on New Year’s Day by a Grand Cross alignment that also includes Chiron in Pisces, trine the Moon and sextile the Sun. We shall need to get more creative right from the top.
In the ancient Greek calendar, this longest and most profound Dark Moon of the year is sacred to Hekate, formidable protectress and guide through all turmoil and chaos.
In Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal Before Dawn, the twelfth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (13 Imix, Tzolkin 221). The symbolic bird for this uinal is the Quetzal, the symbolic planet Venus as Morning Star, embodiment of the beauty of the new day.
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 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 dark, so viewing is optimal.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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 soon will be in Pisces, at the end of the month. Best get plans and proposals clearly defined this month, as the Messenger will soon be in Neptune’s fog, then retrograde on Feb. 6.
1/13 eve - 1/14 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.
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.
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.
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 1/24.
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 (Thu), 6:53pm HT; 1/16 (Thu), 4:53am 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 Full Moon at first looks less powerfully charged than the first Dark Moon this month, as Saturn in Scorpio trines the Cancer Moon, while Ceres in Libra is the middle leg of a T-square with the two great lights. Yet again, as has often been the case since last year, the small but mighty planet of the grain calls us in her subtle way to be more attentive to the condition of our fields and the quality and purity of our nourishment.
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 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.
Birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King (1929).
1/16 – 19 (four days):
Mahayana Buddhists celebrate the New Year from this Full Moon.
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.
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.
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.
In old Christian calendars, this 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 (1/24 - 27) and the Iroquois Mid-Winter ceremonies (2/3 - 11).
In the Roman Catholic calendar, this is 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.
In Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Duality, sacred to the creator couple Ometeotl and Omecinatl, the most exalted deities in the Aztec/Mayan cosmos. The period that now begins is the thirteenth and last of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (7 Imix, Tzolkin 241), and marks the point at which the cycle dissolves in a duality from which the next uinal will be born in Fire. The symbolic bird for this uinal is the Parrot, the principle that of Completion.
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.
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."
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.
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.
1/24 - 2/1 (9 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 (4 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.
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."
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."
1/30 (Thu), 11:40am HT; 9:40pm 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 forms a 60° sextile to Uranus in Aquarius, and mollifies somewhat the tension of the ongoing 90° square between Uranus and Pluto in Capricorn.
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.
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.
Gong Hay Fat Choy! The Year of the Wood Horse 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, begins on the evening of the first New Moon while the Sun is in what the west calls Aquarius. While the preceding Water Snake Year was what we might have expected from one of the five noxious animals, as the Chinese call the snake – though the mythic lore is rich and varied, and not all uniformly unkind to the snake -- the Year of the Horse 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.
1/30 - 2/1 (3 days):
In the Greco-Roman calendar, these days are sacred to Artemis/ Diana in her guardian role as midwife and protector of children.
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.
Mercury enters Pisces. For mercurial people -- not just Gemini and Virgo natives, but anyone with Mercury adversely positioned to other natal planets -- this can be a trying time. Mercury is said to be "in detriment," or "in fall" in Pisces -- or even both, as his quick, airy nature does not move with its usual speed and clarity through the murk and fog of Pisces. He will be here for only two weeks, as his retrograde motion from Feb. 6 will take him back into Aquarius on Feb. 13.
Also the 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.