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ABOUT THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
The Universal Festival Calendar first appeared in July, 1998 as an e-mail newsletter, and has also been published online since May, 2000. It incorporates data from astronomy and astrology, Moon cycles and the sacred days and festivals of many spiritual traditions, in order to identify monthly and annual power points, when human ascension efforts are well aligned with the celestial dynamics of our galactic stagemachinery, and the life cycles of Mother Earth. The UFC aims to assist the spiritual evolution of Earth and her people by providing information useful for planning global meditations, ceremonies and gatherings that support the aim of awakening enough human beings to bring about the lifting of human consciousness into higher frequencies of mercy, compassion, wisdom and love.
We welcome and are grateful for suggestions by readers whose ideas have improved the Calendar, and made it more accurate and comprehensive.
THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
The Face in the Mirror
Hello, and welcome to the Universal Festival Calendar for March 2014, perhaps the last somewhat placid month we are likely to experience for a while, even with the powerful Aries Black Moon coming on March 30. As of this writing on Feb. 28, we are about to move from one of the wildest, strangest Mercury retrograde intervals of recent years to Round 5 of the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square, which has already begun to form again. Recent UFC issues have carried so much on this alignment, as the main engine of bump, dump and kaboom from 2012 to 2015, that we don't need to explore it more here. If you're new to this topic, maybe the best place to start is with Round 4 in November 2013, until we come next month to Round 5, exact on April 21.
By March 1, we'll have come from a month of swirling water and agitated air, with Mercury going retrograde from Pisces to Aquarius, and then we'll move in the weeks ahead into the fire and earth of the Aries and Taurus months now to come. How dramatic is the contrast? We'll find out soon enough. But at least we know now, from our experience of February 2014, why Mercury, the planet of mentality, words and numbers and boxes, commerce and theft, is said to be in detriment, and even in fall, in the moody, mystical, fantastic and indirect sign of the Fishes -- and why it gets so weird when the Messenger is retrograde in Pisces, and why Thomas Pynchon, in Inherent Vice, called Neptune, the ruler of Pisces, "the doper's planet."
Not only does Mercury in Pisces have to wade backwards now through hip-deep water, but he can't see through the thick, chilly fog. He's being chased by Catholic priests in black plastic kayaks, Mormon missionaries on pontoon bicycles, and, on a green surfboard, one of those guys you meet in South American witches' markets, who tell you they're shamans within seconds of meeting you. As Mercury wades along, allies and guides who might help him emerge from the mist, but all prove useless. Some are like taxi drivers who say they know where we want to go, but have really never heard of it, and thus are fated literally to be at sea until they get to drive Cairo, Delhi or Jakarta again. Some are so stoned that even though they earnestly want to help, their speech is all vowels and no bones or pauses. Some, as Neptune is casting the show, are Piscean fraudsters who misdirect you for the sheer perverse fun of watching you careen, carom and flail toward what you'll never find because it isn't there and never was. Mercury retrograde in Pisces. Nothing like it.
The weeks of Mercury direct in Pisces (March 17 - April 7) are better, if only because the illusions that now beckon us are coming from within again. In the intervening weeks of Mercury direct in Aquarius, from now to the middle of March, Mercury's main challenge is with air merchants who can't remember what is being said because they're talking so fast, and looking around the room at so many flashing faces and fevery feet, that all they can retain is the rhythm. Ever wonder why February and March are so full of funny, chaotic festivals like Purim, Holi and Carneval? Because this is hardly the time for fact or focus.
It's more a time for reflection and reset, for regaining bearings and closing the gap between what we say we believe and want, and what we actually do. This brings us to the main mythic figure of the month, now in his sixth year of saying much and delivering little, of causing many to wonder by now whether there is anything at all behind the majestic Leo actor's mask of one who seemed to roar into huge possibilities as a composite of Frederick Douglass and Hercules, but has shrunk in the time since to little more than Woodrow Wilson without the steel-framed glasses. Just as Wilson saw too late that by signing the Federal Reserve Act, he would enable the banking cartel to enslave his nation with perpetual debt, his hapless successor of a century later can do little more now than utter orotund, polysyllabic promises as he waits for the dam to crack and the flood to flow.
We had an initial look at the astrocartography of Barack Obama in the summer of 2008, months before his election. Now, with the perspective of having observed him for five years in office, we can revisit him as he comes to the climactic year of his presidency within the turbulent and not altogether patient and forgiving context of Uranus in Aries vs. Pluto in Capricorn. As the planet transits of this year bear so strongly also on the Scorpionic America chart, we shall take a new look at it in the months ahead. But our purpose now is to look at two of his USA maps, at his birth chart and at the crucial transits -- especially Saturn moving through Scorpio at the top of his chart -- that affect him from now through Round 6 of the Uranus-Pluto square in December. As we go, we'll see that we're not only looking at some intriguing astrology of a charismatic and famous man in a pivotal position. We are looking in the mirror this time, at what Obama, his acts and possibilities, say about how each of us moves toward who and what we are supposed to be.
Getting on the Map
We'll look here at two maps that mark Obama's journey from his birth in Hawaii to his ascent to opportunity in Chicago to his current position on what can be described most kindly as a plateau that offers little room for impact or breakout. The Hawaii map we see below contains three lines that are all relevant to Obama's birth and early life, and the energetic imprints that would drive him toward his future goals. All of these lines -- see my Astrocartography page for the basic rules -- are strong, well within the 300-mile (500 km) range of influence for the entire archipelago of Hawaii.
To the east of the "Big Island," the faint gray Moon line points down toward the Home and the Mother. The purple Uranus line to the east and the yellow Sun line to the west, with their arrows pointing west, are Descendant (Dsc) lines that represent relationship and connection. The line of Uranus, the Revolutionary and bringer of change, especially represents our ability and desire to catalyze change in other lives. The Sun line, one of our very best, shows that Obama will not only form a wide circle of friendship and popularity locally, but will gain confidence in his power to win audience and allies anywhere. Honolulu, where Obama grew up and attended the elite Punahou School, is centered among his three Hawaii lines. This is clearly a place where a boy growing up in prosperous, confirming circumstances can believe early on that he has an unlimited future, and the capacity to unite many millions of fellow believers in common goals of empowered awareness and progressive change. If we were to look at the birth charts of important world leaders to find a confident, optimistic Aquarian design -- Uranus rules the sign of Aquarius and is prominent in Obama's birth chart too -- this one would jump into our notice at once. The immense lakes of ink and clouds of breath that have been wasted on the silly "birther" controversy could have been saved if anyone besides some few astrologers had looked at Obama's maps, and regarded astrology as seriously as Wall Street predators have ever since J. P. Morgan tapped its advantages.
Obama's map of the east and central USA also fits him like a glove. West of his power base in Chicago are two vertical lines. The green Mercury line, pointing down to the Earth plane and our material life, shows that Obama is likely to love this place and flourish in it, and he has excellent chances of using communication skills to create a solidly-rooted and comfortable life for himself and his family. The blue Jupiter line, pointing upward toward both spiritual and professional center of Obama's world, could not fit better, as Jupiter rules the realms of law, government and higher education, for a man who came to prominence here as a professor of constitutional law and a young politician so persuasive that he could realistically aspire to be one of the youngest men ever elected president of the United States.
Washington, DC is a lot less favorable. The vertical yellow Sun line here is called the "retirement line" because it marks a place where we are favored for the sound health, material security and social prosperity that we seek in later life. It is thus a place for stability, ease and enjoyment, rather than the ambitious movement and the tackling of challenges that we aim to achieve in middle life. The gray Moon line here points east to the Ascendant (Asc), and our individual self-expression and the projecting of our intentions into "outer" environments. As Moon lines are our emotional lives, it is likely that here Obama will present himself as emotionally authentic -- to the extent that a man so intellectual can do this -- and that he'll evoke strong emotional responses, not all of them friendly, in others.
Just as our individual map lines all have their specific meanings, so do the crossing points, like the one near Washington, DC in Obama's map. This nexus is less than harmonious, indicating that within a 300-mile radius from it, the intellectual, masculine force of the Sun and the emotional, feminine energies of the Moon will not be in productive alliance, but will be in an interference pattern with each other, generating friction and even fury without producing the concrete results that flow from easier teamwork and partnership. Specifically, as the Moon so often involves the need for relationships and a tendency to validate oneself through them, this crossing can mark a place where we are more likely to seek the approval and cooperation of others, including those who are intent on resisting and even damaging us, than we are to exercise proactive creativity and leadership. In some cases this desire to practice patience at all costs, and to accommodate relationships that seem more necessary than they really are, can paralyze courage and render meaningful action and change all but impossible. This is especially true, as we're about to see, in those who are other-directed rather than self-driven. It's time to look at Obama's birth chart, and the crucial, climactic planet transits to it that are coming this year.
Barack Hussein Obama
Aug. 4 1961, 7:24 pm AHST
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: 21N18 / 157W52 -- Tropical, Placidus, True Node
Barack Obama's Birth Chart: The Basics
We will not explore this chart in fine detail. A time for this will come later. Our purpose here is to look at a few general features that mark tendencies in Obama's personality, and most of all to show how they will be stimulated and challenged by planet transits that will make 2014 the most eventful year of his presidency, if not of his entire life.
1.) This chart is emphatically Fixed, meaning that of the three qualities that apply to our zodiac signs and the planets in them, the ones that incline us to be consistent, reliable, loyal and steady at one end of the character spectrum, and stolid, slow, stubborn and highly resistant to change at the other end, are most prominent here. Obama has five planets in fixed signs: Sun, Mercury and Uranus in Leo in the 6th and 7th houses; Neptune in Scorpio in the 9th; and Jupiter in Aquarius in the 12th. Also in fixed signs are the horseshoe-shaped Moon's Nodes on the Leo-Aquarius axis, and all four of the angles of the chart: i. e., the center points -- at the top, bottom, left and right, at the ends of the bold cross we see within the wheel -- that relate respectively to spiritual life and profession, body and home, individuality and relationships. Four planets are in the mutable signs that represent our flexibility, talents for communication and our ability to finish efforts rather than maintain them as fixed signs do. Only two, Venus in Cancer in the 5th house and Saturn in Capricorn in the 12th, are in the cardinal signs that most favor original, assertive leadership and out ability to initiate things and go on the attack.
Not that a chart weighted heavily toward fixed energy is any liability in itself. More American presidents have been born in fixed signs -- John Adams, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, Reagan and Clinton among them -- than in the others. This fixity may be an invaluable asset, for all we know, enabling those who have it to maintain the tenacity to survive at all amid the incalculable pressures and toxic liabilities of the job. Herbert Hoover, a Leo, proved more stuck than steady, while the ebullient Aquarius FDR knew when to hold firm, when to turn, and above all how to use that medicinal radio voice. How a fixed personality will do, with a job or anything else, depends on all the dynamics of the chart itself, and on how planet transits create some freedom of movement, or cause us to bristle and calcify. As we shall soon see, Obama's transits this year will incline him to dig in his heels -- provided, that is, that he can actually locate his shoes.
2.) Obama is Other-Directed. The left side of our chart, from the 10th house down to the 3rd, and especially at the Ascendant point between the 12th and 1st houses, is our individual side, showing how we will pursue our personal objectives and intentions, and tell the planet who we are. The right side of the chart, especially at the Descendant point between the 6th and 7th houses, reflects our choices of relationship roles and behaviors. We can thus tell from the left-right alignment of a chart whether a person will likely chart their own course and guide others, or whether they will fit into relationship roles as defined by others, and follow a herd instead of leading it. Granted, Obama's posture is a composite of enticing fantasy (Neptune in the 9th house of government at a 120° trine to his rising planet, Chiron the Healer in the first) and the facile communication of a Gemini Moon -- but he may have found by now that delivering on the expectations he creates while keeping everybody happy is a Neptunian pipe dream. He can't do both, especially in the face of determined enmity.
3.) Common Ground is Scarce. Obama's 7th house shows us why compromise, the essential oil that lubricates all politics, is nearly unattainable, and this is why he has achieved little more than entertainment. All three of the planets in his 7th house of partnership -- Mars the Warrior, Pluto the Lord of Death and Uranus the Revolutionary, are traditionally considered "malefic" planets, whose effects in our lives tend to be forceful, conflictive, turbulent, upsetting and final because they all propel change while smashing and undermining the structures of will and the designs of teamwork that make change feasible and orderly. As his enemies refuse any accommodation, and even brazenly declare in public that they aim to destroy his administration, while Obama will not offend anyone by pushing courageously for anything worthy of being called real change, either nothing will happen or -- welcome 2014! -- much more will happen than the president or his adversaries can yet begin to imagine, or can hope to shape or control.
4.) A House Divided Cannot Move. The most challenging planet combination in Obama's chart is along the horizontal axis and at the top. Uranus is conjunct the North Moon's Node in Leo, and both the Nodes are in a T-cross, at an angle of 90° with the Midheaven (MC) at the top center of the chart. This formation means that Uranus, the engine of innovation and change; the public postures and words of Obama's Ascendant in Aquarius (the sign Uranus rules); the alliances and associations that form, turn and dissolve in the Moon's Nodes; and a Scorpio MC that is Obama's tenacious but furtive way of pursuing his most authentic values and goals -- keeping cards close to the vest does not begin to convey the secrecy that makes him one of the most opaque players since Louis XIV -- are all at cross purposes with each other. Whether anything can move at all depends largely on what planets are transiting through Obama's chart, especially in relation to his fixed T-cross. It's time to look at why this has never been easy for him, and how his agony quotient is likely to rise as the year goes along.
Obama's Planet Transits
Why has his whole time in office been such a gauntlet of sneers and scourges ever since his first few months of grace ended in late 2009? For openers, the prolonged Chiron-Neptune conjunction in the late degrees of Aquarius was right on the South Moon's Node in Obama's 1st house, and therefore afflictive to his entire T-cross for almost all of 2009 - 2012. The practical effect of this was a weakening of will and fighting spirit, a lack of clear focus in setting and pursuing goals, and severe difficulty in creating relationships of trust, all happening amid bitter controversies that have been incredibly mendacious (Neptune) and vindictive (Chiron) in addressing and ducking issues of health care that are related to both these planets, which have now moved ahead into Pisces. As we'll soon see, Neptune in Pisces now presents new and enervating challenges.
The price of poker has gone up for Obama over the last year, as Saturn (in the banner image at the top of this page) plays with uncommon rigor his role as the enforcer of the non-performance clause in our sacred contracts. Moving through Scorpio, Saturn approached in February, 2013 within a degree of a 90° "square" to Obama's Leo Sun, as the Benghazi scandal grew beyond bizarre to clownishly ugly. Eight months later, in October 2013, Saturn squared Obama's Sun exactly. As last year came to an end, Saturn squared Obama's Ascendant and Descendant, and reached 23° of Scorpio before going retrograde only days ago, on Feb. 28. This means that as Saturn now moves backward and then forward again, he will square Obama's horizontal Asc-Dsc axis twice more, in June and September.
What does all this mean? That as Saturn applies his torque and leaden tonnage against our Sun, we're compelled to look into the mirror of our own mind and face the questions of who we are, and whether we're living and speaking our deepest, bravest truth. When Saturn presses against the horizontal axis of our relationships with the world as a whole, and with individual lives and linkages that matter most to us, we tend to feel resourceless, blocked, suppressed, isolated and inflexible, even if we are not, like the president, attacked by vicious enemies and unsupported by ineffectual friends. Thus, even before Saturn in late Scorpio works the weightiest of his will in late 2014, and again in June - September 2015, Obama may find, as Richard Henry Dana wrote of Abraham Lincoln, that "He has no admirers, no enthusiastic supporters, none to bet on his head."
The climactic phase of Obama's Saturn-in-Scorpio ordeal hits maximum tension in late 2014, as Saturn squares Obama's Uranus and the Moon's Nodes, then crosses Obama's MC on Dec. 13, only two days before Round 6 of the Uranus-Pluto square will go exact. And as if he didn't have enough distress with all these soul traps and hooks, and all this calling in of karmic accounts billable, 2014 is also the year when Neptune in Pisces begins to move away from his ongoing square with Obama's Gemini Moon -- and the woozy self-deception this brings -- and right onto the position of Obama's Chiron in the 1st house. This is a momentous astral event. Neptune has an orbit of 165 years, so we know a major moment of truth and its opposite have arrived if the soul known as Barack Obama has crafted his life script so that now, when clarity is more essential for him than it ever was, the fog, fantasy and fakery of Neptune will cloak his ability to heal his own Chironic wounds, or even to see their impact on him and everyone else.
Chiron the Healer is Obama's rising planet, meaning the planet in his first house closest to his Ascendant (the Moon's Node above Chiron does not count as a planet). Thus for the only time in Obama's life, nebulous Lord Neptune, the planet of spirituality and mystical perception, of dreams, imagination, intuition and glamour, of the fantasy realms of music, theatre, dance and candle-lit, incense-clouded religious ceremony, of all altered states of consciousness from bliss, meditation and shamanic travel to drugs and booze, scams and wild goose chases, self-deception, self-loathing and victimhood, and every energy vampire who flies in to leach our sympathy, money and chocolate away just when we're feeling happy and strong, will be soaking, stroking and singing at Obama's Chiron, and his capacity to heal himself and others.
We will look further as 2014 infolds -- stet this typo for "unfolds" -- at how Obama's healing crisis will go, and how the detox symptoms it triggers will affect us all. We'll see how Saturn's teaching mission this year and next weighs on the Scorpio and other fixed points in Obama's chart and the Scorpionic America chart too. We'll see how Obama is in fact the perfect hero for this moment, as we break free from the toxic agony of the late Piscean Age -- for more, see Surfing Aquarius, now just published in Spanish also as Navegando por Acuario. And how, whether we see Obama as Job, Woodrow Wilson or Lincoln, Alexander Kerensky or Shakespeare's Richard II, as a hero passive to the point of masochism or as a cynical fixer for bankers and death merchants, one way or the other, the face he sees in his mirror, and the one we see in our own, are in fact the same.
One does not need to be James Joyce to know what a wonderful word Face is. Change one letter, and it becomes Fade, Fake, Fame, Fare, Fate, Fave and Faze, all of which clearly apply to Obama and the scenarios of power and belief that play to and around him. How many of us will see which words apply also to us, to our recognition of who we are and what we've come together to do at this time, is another question. It will be crucial to our cohesion and ignition as we leave the old hierarchic time of finding, following and fighting leaders, and play the new synarchic time of understanding that awakened and energized communities are everything, and that the better we can celebrate them in symbol and festival, music and dance, the sooner we can break free.
It is time to sing the new vision now at the Full Moon, the Black Moon -- two of them coming this month -- the March Equinox and other days that link our songs with the astral dynamics of the sky and the rhythms of Mother Earth. It is time. Let's hear it. Keep Holding That Frequency.
THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
Feb. 28 (Friday), 10:01 pm HT; March 1 (Saturday), 8:01am UT:
Dark Moon conjunct Sun in Pisces. The trickiest Dark Moon and New Moon sequence of all in the sense that while the New Moon normally favors beginnings, it's located this time in the mystical cloud of Pisces, which favors the holding of deep secrets over clarity of expression, and receptivity over assertive action. This is not the time to launch a new enterprise, but is more for meditation and visualization to attract inspiration about what the new effort will be. This Dark Moon is loaded, as Chiron and Neptune, now finally moving away from their long-running conjunction of 2009 - 2012, are both conjunct the Moon and Sun.
In the Beth-Luis-Nion Celtic tree calendar ued by devotees of the faerie path, this third New Moon following the Winter Solstice begins Nion, or ash month.
In the Celtic-Druidic and Wiccan calendars, this late winter New Moon is called Crow Moon, as food is still so scarce that crows, as well as wolves, are loud and insistent.
March 1, Saturday
In the most ancient Roman calendar -- that is, the calendar in use before Julius Caesar -- March 1 is the first day of the New Year, and the festival of Matronalia, in honor of the goddess Juno Lucina. Prayers for successful birth are offered on this day, and it is customary for men to give presents to women.
The Order of the Golden Dawn was founded on this day in March, 1888.
The Welsh celebrate this day as Dewi Sant, or the feast of St. David, patron saint of Wales.
This day is also Maslenitsa, the Russian "Butter Woman" Festival that marks the end of winter. The premise of it is that by March 1, the newborn calves have grown big and strong enough that they no longer need every drop of their mothers' milk, so that human beings who've had to get through winter without milk or cheese, sour cream or butter can now start to make butter again, and stacks of feathery, buttery blinis served with strawberry jam. The festival's main event is the burning of the Butter Woman effigy, and along with her, all the stiffness and cold of winter. There is also a ritual ring dance that is related to The Rite of Spring as Stravinsky heard it.
March 1-4 (Saturday - Tuesday)
In the later Greco-Roman solar calendar, these days were what the Romans called the Liberalia: the festival of Dionysos or Bacchus, god of wine and the ecstatic experiences that are about to burst forth again weeks from now with the coming of Spring at the Equinox. In the older Greek lunar calendar, the Dionyseia was observed at the same time as the Anthesteria, over the four days culminating at the Pisces Dark Moon (see 3/11 below). The Anthesteria honors Dionysos as Plouton, Lord of the Dead. On these days, the virtuous dead may visit from Elysium to witness and sanctify the rite of the New Wine, when the first libations are poured in the god's honor, thus marking the passing away of the old vine and the fruition of the new.
March 2, Sunday
First day of an 18-day Baha'i feast honoring the Deity as Ala, loftiness. Fasting and other purifications are practiced now, just as Winter is about to yield to Spring.
In this year's Roman Catholic calendar, this day is Transfiguration Sunday, commemorating the occasion on which, just prior to the time of his own purification that is now observed as Lent, Jesus went up Mount Tabor with his closest disciples and manifested to them as a being of light, as shown here in the last painting completed by Raphael.
Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, is celebrated with joyous rites of light, song and dance, and with butter towers, ritual sculptures and other arts designed to drive out evil and clear the way for abundance and blessing in the coming year.
The Tibetans prefer to time their sacred year a month behind the lunar calendars of most Asian countries, thus to keep their year distinct from that of the Chinese. While Chinese-run "Tibetan" websites like the Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar time Losar a month earlier, in order to assimilate it to the Chinese calendar, most Tibetans will celebrate Losar now. Best to check festival timing with Tibetans in your area.
In Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Earth, the second of the 20-day uinals in the cycle (8 Imix, Tzolkin 21). This uinal, symbolized by the Green Hummingbird, marks the growth of new life after the purifying Uinal of Fire at the beginning of the Tzolkin cycle.
March 2 – 16 (15 days):
In some Asian Buddhist countries, the two-week period from the lunar New Year to the next Full Moon is called Bumjudawa, or "Buddha's 15-day Miracle Time", when the karmic effects of beneficent actions are said to be multiplied 100,000 times. For Tibetan Buddhists, the 4th to the 15th days of the lunar month are the Great Prayer Festival called Monlam, culminating at the Full Moon. Over these solemn 12 days, the bright, raucous fun of Losar is followed by New Year ceremonies held in the monasteries. Monlam rites are prohibited in Lhasa, and visitors to the unofficial Travel Tibet website will see a moving box with red Chinese letters warning China's citizens of the penalties for visiting Tibetan blogs.
March 3, Monday
In the Japanese solar calendar, this day is Hina-matsuri, the Doll Festival, in honor of each family's daughters. The families display dolls dressed in Heian period court costumes -- often priceless heirlooms that are centuries old -- all arranged in an elaborate hierarchy of tiers that affirms the crucial role of women in the order of the realm. The families visit Shinto shrines and prepare elegant meals, as beautifully presented as the dolls, from time-honored recipes.
March 4, Tuesday
In the Khemitian calendar, the feast of Ra, Neter of the Sun, is held at Heliopolis ("City of the Sun"), the original center of Ra worship. This festival honors in particular the life-giving properties of the Sun, and his role in marking the order of time (Month of Parmuti, day 19).
In the Roman Catholic calendar, this is the feast of St. Casimir (born 1458), king of Poland. Given a choice between certain death from the austerities in which he sought mortification of the flesh, or a cure by food and marriage, Casimir chose a bony death at 25. His relics have long been especially efficacious; and when his tomb was opened in 1595, his body was incorrupt, and emitted the sweet odor of sanctity.
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, the licentious and ecstatic all-nighter that culminates Carneval week (see Feb. 26 - March 1), just before Ash Wednesday (next).
March 5, Wednesday
For Roman Catholics, this is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the season of austerity leading to Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter. On this day priests draw crosses of black ash on the third eye chakras of the faithful to remind them of the vanity of all worldly pleasures, and ask them to turn inward to cleanse the soul in the weeks before the solemn rites of sacrifice and redemption are enacted. Ash Wednesday is yet another Christian adaptation of an earlier festival: the Adonia, a time of mourning for the Syrian demigod Tammuz, whose rites were observed at this time in the eastern Mediterranean, especially in Byblos and the other major cities of Syria.
One of the main annual festivals in the Khemitian calendar, honoring Queen Aset (aka "Isis") as the Ocean Star - or Stella Maris, as Mary would later be called in Latin -- the guide and protector of navigators. As the Khemitians identify Aset with the great star Sopdet (Sirius), she is the main beacon point in the sky for Khemitian sailors. And as in ancient times her heliacal rising - that is, the moment each year when Sopdet can first be seen rising in the east just before the rising of the Sun - always fell each year on July 26, the day that heralded the annual Nile flood, Aset in her star role embodies the boundless and eternal loam and fecundity of the river. On the evening of this festival, there are ceremonies and songs on boats that blaze with lamps and colors. This day is also an important time marker. It is now 140 days, or 14 decans (10-day "weeks") until a new flow of red water should begin the next Nile flood on July 26.
This day also commemorates the birthday of Lao Tzu (300 BC?).
This is the day of St. Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall and of tin miners. Legend has it that the Cornish flag, featuring a white cross on a field of black, was inspired by Piran's discovery of a purer method of smelting tin.
Venus enters Aquarius. Here she enjoys all the talk and gossip that flow in this air sign, and the general lightness and playfulness of Aquarius -- but she prefers Pisces, where she'll be exalted in the water element of her deepest feeling, from April 5.
March 5 – 11 (eight days):
Tibetan counterpart to the New Year festival week that is called Bumjudawa by the Buddhists of Asian countries whose ritual year aligns with the Chinese calendar. This feast was established in Tibet in 1409 by Tsong Khapa, the Gelugpa root guru, and once drew many devotees from all over Tibet to the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. The timing of this feast, as with all Tibetan festivals now, can vary widely by location.
March 7, Friday
Honen Memorial Day, honoring the founder of one of Japan's major Buddhist communities.
March 7 has been celebrated since 1887 as Women's World Day of Prayer, encouraging women of all faiths to affirm the core spiritual values that all world religions hold in common.
Also the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (born 1226), the celebrated Angelic Doctor whose Summa Theologiae is the ultimate product of scholastic philosophy, and its effort to construct an intellectual foundation for the Roman Catholic faith.
March 8 - 19, (nine days)
One of the year's great Navajo Sing Festivals is held now to purify the fields and the people before the next planting season. In prayers, song and dance, and healing ceremonies, the Navajo honor Naste Estsan, the Spider Woman who spun the world and supported the warrior twins Tobadzistsini and Naymezyani in their struggle against the forces of evil. In her dual roles as Spider Woman and shapeshifter Estsanatlehi, the "Changing Woman" Creator Goddess, Naste Estsan carries and endlessly becomes the unlimited transforming power of nature.
March 10, Monday
This day is Mahashivaratri, the great annual Hindu festival in honor of Lord Shiva in his most beneficent aspect as the universal creator whose drum and dance bring the visible world into being. Shiva and his consort Shakti are honored with music, dance and other works of beauty, and with prayers for abundant vitality.
Om Nama Shivaya.
March 12 - 16, (five days)
One of the great festival cycles in the Khemitian calendar, marking the cycle of cosmic death and rebirth, and the transition from the Spring season of sowing (Peret) to the summer harvest season (Shemu). The events of the cycle:
3/12 - Admonitory rites supplicating Sekhmet, "the most powerful one", in her terrifying role as the punitive netert who purifies the world by fire (Month of Parmuti, day 27).
3/14 - Feast of Unnefer--that is, Ausar ("Osiris") in his aspect as the Lord of the Underworld and neter of fertility, who drives the vegetable energy up through the Earth and maintains the vitality of all green things (Parmuti, day 29).
3/15 - Day of transition from spring to summer. Ceremonies of renewal and abundance are held in honor of Atum and Ptah, the primeval neters of creation, and also for other important male neters such as Ra, Ausar and Hor, aka Horus (Parmuti, day 30).
3/16 - The summer harvest season, and the month of Pachons, begin with the Festival of Hor and his Companions--that is, the celebration of Light as winter is about to yield to spring.
March 13, Thursday
Some Mahayana Buddhists celebrate the birthday of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion variously known as Tara, Kwan Yin, Kwan Zen, Kannon and many others.
March 14, Friday
In Japan, this is White Day, one of the many commercial spinoffs of Valentine's day here and in western countries. A month after Feb. 14, company "office ladies" give giri choko, obligatory presents of white chocolate, to their bosses and male colleagues, reciprocating the gifts of milk chocolate the men give them on Valentine's Day.
March 15 eve to March 16 eve, Friday - Saturday
The fast of Esther and the festival of Purim commemorates Queen Esther's heroism in freeing the Jews of Persia from persecution. It's a time for helping the needy, and is also the closest thing in the Jewish calendar to a universal Feast of Fools, when the mighty are humbled, the lowly are exalted, and the comic spirit rules. As the scenario is inherently comic, with the powerless but clever Queen outwitting the chief prosecutor of the King of Persia, it is not surprising that at Purim comedies abound, and comic talent is noticed. Purim is the spiritual ancestor to everything from Figaro to Yossarian to Charley Chaplin's claim, "Give me a park bench, a cop and a pretty girl, and I'll make a comedy anywhere." L'Chaim!
March 16, Sunday, 7:09 am HT - 5:09 pm UT
Full Moon in Virgo, opposite Sun in Pisces. The aspect of Sun in Pisces, Moon in Virgo entails a kind of role reversal in which the solar intellect is balanced by psychic receptivity and intuition, while lunar emotion is braced by practical mentality. This alignment is therefore highly favorable for males who seek to develop their female qualities, and vice versa. Astrologically, this Full Moon is quiet, with no other planets in alignment to the Moon and Sun. But as we'll see, a great many joyous festivals come now.
In the Celtic/Druidic and Wiccan calendars, this Full Moon is called Seed Moon. Also Budding Moon, Planter’s Moon, Pink Moon and the Green Grass Moon, when Nature revives.
Also on this day, the Butter Lamp Festival, Chunga Choepa in Tibetan, celebrates a demonstration of miracles attributed to the historical Buddha, also called Shakyamuni Buddha. Colorful butter sculptures are displayed, and singing and dancing go on into the night. This intricate, ancient art is performed by monks who prepare with ritual baths and other ceremonies.
March 17, Monday
In the Roman Catholic calendar, feast of St. Patrick, who is said to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland--yet another symbolic instance of spirit rising into ascendancy over matter -- at least for those who have bought into the fear paradigm, and have forgotten that there must have been a reason why Jesus said, "Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
This Christian feast largely, but not completely, superseded the old Celtic and Britannic festivals in honor of the Green Man, Green George and many other Osiris counterparts at the other end of Europe from Egypt. This day is important to ancient Europeans because it means that Spring is only a few days away, and now is the time for asking the Green God for his favor and blessing.
Mercury enters Pisces, until April 7. 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. Best get the documents done before Valentine's Day, while Mercury's still in Aquarius.
Over the five days beginning at the Virgo Full Moon, Hindus outdo themselves at Holi, one of the world's lightest, funniest, giddiest festivals, when the music is fast, lights are bright and people get to pelt each other with bright, wild-colored powders in celebration of Shiva's courtship of Parvati. Even by the standards of India, one of Earth's great festival artists, Holi is a delightfully exquisite way to banish the old year's last few blacks, grays and umbers with Saffron! Azure! Scarlet! - all over your clothes, just like that. For lovers of exhilaration, this festival is worth crossing an ocean for.
In the Sikh calendar, this Full Moon begins Hola Mohalla, a three-day festival of warrior training games, mock battles, sacred music and scripture readings. This spring festival, founded by the tenth Sikh guru Gobind Singh, tenth Sikh Guru, is held at Anandpur Sahib.
March 18, Tuesday
Birthday of the American physician and seer Edgar Cayce (1877).
March 19, Wednesday
In the Roman Catholic calendar, the Feast of St. Joseph, also known for a century now as the feast of "St. Joseph the Worker." While it is more likely that Joseph was something more akin to the president of a construction firm -- as the gospel says he traveled to work in other towns, likely to do jobs local carpenters couldn't handle -- his image as a humble carpenter persists.
One of the year's many Green Man festivals comes now, just before the Spring Equinox, as the Yoruba and Santeria peoples of Africa celebrate Osanyin, the Orisha of the Green Leaves.
March 19 - 24, (five days)
In ancient Athens, the Lesser Panathenaea, the shorter and less solemn and elaborate of two annual festivals honoring Athene as the source of creative inspiration. The crucial importance of the Goddess in city life is evident in the placement of her festival right on the Spring Equinox. Athene's Festival of the Arts includes exhibitions of painting and sculpture, performances of music, dance and theatre, and games and feasts in which the goal is beauty.
The ancient Romans celebrate on these same days the parallel festival of the Quinquatrus of Minerva, honoring the goddess as the source of inspiration and protector of beauty.
March 20, Thursday (6:58am HT; 4:58 pm UT )
Spring Equinox, one of the four great cardinal festivals of the solar year. The spring season begins as the Sun enters Aries, and as James Joyce put it, the Ram has power. The festival period that begins now, and lasts for nearly a week, marks the return of Light, and of Mother Earth's vitality, from winter's long darkness and cold. From this point on the solar wheel, the days grow longer until the Summer Solstice and the "white nights" of late June. Spiritual traditions all over the planet celebrate this festival with hunts for eggs, rabbits and other symbols of birth.
In the Southern hemisphere, this is the Autumn Equinox, celebrated by Wiccan communities as Mabon. The ancient Celtic and other central European peoples called the Spring Equinox Alban Eilir, or Ostara (source of "Easter"). It marks the day when the Earth goddess Bridhe, who marries the sky god at Imbolc time in early February, conceives the Sun Child who will be born nine months later at the Winter Solstice.
Like the Winter Solstice festival cycle that runs from Dec. 21 - 25, the Spring Equinox festival cycle extends over a few days, March 21 to 25. The reason for this is simply that in very ancient times, millennia before the rise of Ur and Egypt, the Spring Equinox could not yet be verified to happen as early as March 20, and so was celebrated on March 25. Thus the closer the equinox festival is to March 20, the newer it is; the closer it is to March 25, the more ancient; or, as in the case of Christian festivals, superseded an older "pagan" festival. Among the many festivals of this season:
In Japan this day is Shubun, the Buddhist day of contemplation on hakanai, the impermanence of things. This day is ideally placed, not long before the start of one of nature's most glorious spectacles of impermanence, the Japanese cherry blossom season.
This day begins the annual Taoist festival honoring the Shen, or deity of Spring, the Water element, and the East, with all that these imply as principles of origin and growth.
The ancient peoples of Mesopotamia, from the time of the ancient proto-city of Ur through Babylon and Nineveh, celebrate the return of Dumuzi -- later Baal -- from the underworld to reunite in marriage with the Goddess Astarte. The Greek counterpart of this rite, the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries, also falls during the month when the Sun is in Pisces, balancing the major Mysteries of August - September, when the Sun is across the zodiac wheel, in Virgo.
In many Native American calendars, Month of the Hawk begins.
March 21, Friday
In both the ancient Persian and modern Baha'i calendars, this day is Naw Ruz, the New Year festival. As the Spring Equinox is the day of renewal in the sacred cycles of so many traditions, it is also, naturally, the day on which several groups of believers expect the Messiah to come and begin a new era of justice and peace on Earth. According to one Shi'a sect, March 21 in some year to come will be the day on which Jesus and the long-awaited 12th Imam arrive together to fulfill the prophecies of the Qur'an by punishing the wicked and exalting the righteous.
March 22, Saturday
In Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Watering, the third of the 20-day uinals in the cycle (2 Imix, Tzolkin 41). This uinal, symbolized by the Falcon, marks the growth of new life after the Uinals of Fire and the Earth at the beginning of the Tzolkin cycle.
Ceres moves retrograde from Scorpio back into Libra. She will go direct again on June 1, then re-enter Scorpio on Aug. 2. This means that the next 4 1/2 months, especially June and July, can be very advantageous for teamwork and communal effort in all matters related to the Cerean areas of agriculture, nutrition and food purity and security.
March 22 - 25, (four days)
The great spring festival of Cybele and Attis is celebrated in Rome and major cities throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The rites of Attis are from Phrygia (in the south of modern Turkey), and are among the most beloved stories of the passion and resurrection of the god-king, celebrated annually at the Spring Equinox, or on the day that would later be called Easter--the Sunday following the Full Moon after the Spring Equinox.
The rites of the festival are these:
3/22 - A pine tree is cut and on it is fastened an effigy of Attis that is covered with violets, representing Attis' blood.
3/23 - Attis is borne in procession, to the sound of trumpets.
3/24 - Day of mourning.
3/25 - Resurrection of Attis. Day of joy and universal license.
The ancient Mediterranean world celebrates the Adonia, festival of Adonis, the beautiful doomed lover of Aphrodite/Venus, on the same days. Adonis is one of many male deities whose annual passion and resurrection is enacted now. Early Christians called March 25 Mors Christi (the death of Christ), in order to avoid having Jesus, Adonis and Attis all rise again on the same day. Later, when Christianity eradicated ancient Greek religious practices, Easter wound up where it belonged all along, aligned with the timing of the Spring Equinox.
Norse festival of Summer Finding, marking the point just after the Spring Equinox when the days become longer than the night, and begin to wax toward the maximum light of the Summer Solstice.
The finding of Summer thus marks the resurgence of nature and the reclaiming of spiritual initiative and power by human beings.
March 25, Tuesday
One of the major festival days of the year, because of its proximity to the Spring Equinox and its position nine months prior to the great festival of 12/25.
A few of the many feasts held annually now:
- The ancient Greeks and Romans celebrate this day as the festival of Artemis/Diana, protector of woodlands and animals.
- Among the Yoruba and Santeria peoples, this day is the feast of the Orisha Oshun, principle of sexual vitality and fertility. As the main Santeria feasts are aligned with major Christian feast days, it is appropriate that Oshun's festival should fall on Annunciation Day.
- Among the Christians of ancient Rome, this day is called Mors Christi ("death of Christ"), mourning the martyrdom of Jesus. In later centuries, after Christianity became the state religion of the empire -- thus solving some messy problems of competition among religions -- the passion and resurrection of Jesus were celebrated at the same time as the ancient festival of Adonis. Thus, the festival week began the Sunday before the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox, and climaxed with the rebirth of the god on the following Sunday. This left 3/25 to become what it has been in the Roman Catholic calendar ever since: the Feast of the Annunciation, the moment when the angel revealed to Mary that she was now carrying the Divine Child who was to be born 9 months later, on 12/25.
March 26, Wednesday
In the ancient Persian calendar, this day is celebrated as Khordad Sal, the birthday of Zarathushtra (Zoroaster), who is said to have been born to a 15-year old virgin in 660 BCE.
Also the birthday of the seminal mythologist and "Follow Your Bliss" teacher, Joseph Campbell (1910).
March 28, Friday
A day of mystery in many ancient calendars. It was widely believed in the Hellenistic and early Christian periods that God created the Sun and the Moon on this day. Third-century Christians therefore chose 3/28 as the day of Christ's nativity, and observed it as such until the December Christmas feast was created in the 4th century.
On this day the ancient Romans hold ceremonies of purification and sacrifice, including, in later Roman times, gladiatorial combats at the tombs of their ancestors.
In ancient Mesopotamian calendars, this is the feast day of Ishtar, goddess of love and war.
In the Zoroastrian calendar, this day is Khordad Sal, commemorating the birthday of the prophet Zarathushtra.
March 30, Sunday, 8:46am HT; 6:46pm UT:
Dark Moon conjunct Sun in Aries, the second Dark Moon of the month after Feb. 28 - March 1. This Black Moon, which is always regarded as fiery, impulsive and powerful, is usually considered exceedingly favorable for launching new enterprises, for dynamic combinations of female and male energies, and for energizing like-minded groups toward common objectives, especially as they may involve assertive and determined initiatives. This Dark Moon is intense, as both Moon and Sun conjoin Uranus in Aries, and are thus on the middle leg of a T-cross with Jupiter in Cancer and Pluto in Capricorn. Much more than the coming Full Moon of April 15, this Black Moon can be said to be the true overture to the tremendous Cardinal Grand Cross that forms on April 21 at Round 5 of the turbulent, very transformational Uranus-Pluto square that is the main engine of change from 2012 to 2015.
In the Celtic/Druidic and Wiccan calendars, the New Moon that ensues after this Dark Moon is the first one following the Spring Equinox, and is called the Planting Moon.
In the Beth-Luis-Nion Celtic tree calendar used by devotees of the faerie path, this fourth New Moon following the Winter Solstice begins Fearn, or alder month. This is the time for meeting and integrating the shadow self who represents one's undiscovered potential. During this month the Spirit World and the Physical World come closest, and communication is easiest, especially through such intuitive channels as dreams, fragrances and stones.
For the Chinese, the New Moon of the third lunar month is Ching Ming (also Qingming), the year's main festival in honor of the ancestors, whose tombs are cleaned and decorated with flowers and beautifully prepared food offerings.
In the six-season calendar of the aboriginal people of Australia, the season of Bang-Gerreng begins about now. This is the shortest of the seasons, lasting only about four weeks, but has the coolest nickname: Knock 'Em Down Storm Season, when the rain and wind, unlike those of the pre-monsoon storm season, are violent enough to blow down trees and almost everything else. No one goes walkabout this month.
March 31 - April 8 (nine days)
This New Moon, for some communities in India, is the New Year according to their traditional lunisolar calendar. Those who most favor this timing are devotees of Rama, as this day begins the nine-day series of ceremonies and performances culminating at Ramanavami. The festival celebrates Lord Rama, hero of the epic poem, The Ramayana, one of the masterworks of the world's sacred literature. On this day statues of Rama are cleansed, decorated and paraded, and heroic stories from the Rama legends -- notably the famous episode of Rama and Sita's hunt for the Golden Deer -- are enacted in music, song and dance. Other Hindus hold their New Year Vaisakhi celebrations on the fixed solar date of 4/13; the Sikh and Jain New Year also falls on this day. Best check festival schedule with local Hindus, rather than rely on general information.
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.