THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
LOOK AT THE GIVER
When someone is counting out gold for you,
Don't look at your hands or the gold.
Look at the giver.
(Rumi, "Omar and the Old Poet," version by Coleman Barks)
Hail and welcome to the Universal Festival Calendar for May 2014, the month that comes like a fresh cool breeze after intense, stifling heat, like some gentle forward bends after some hard warrior asanas, and like a catching of breath and belief after severe challenges to confidence, serenity and faith. We are now coming out of the hugely powerful and impactful Grand Cross of April, which slowly dissolves now that the two fast-moving planets in the design change their positions. Jupiter is moving ahead toward the middle degrees of Cancer, and Mars, going retrograde in Libra, turns down the heat until mid-June, when he'll move forward into a 90° angle with Uranus and Pluto, and afflict them again. For more on all this, please see Under Siege, the Mythic Prelude for last month.
The point of this Prelude will not be to look at the celestial dynamics of this month, or the months ahead. There will be ample time for that later, as we approach Round 6 of the seven exact Uranus-Pluto squares, coming to exactitude on Dec. 16. We'll have occasion to look at some astrology before then, especially as the birth chart of Barack Obama aligns with the Scorpionic America chart in the months before and after the next American midterm election on Nov. 4.
Before we get to the main business of mid-2014, a brief note for those who may be interested in astrocartography readings and other communications. I will be in Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile for my first book signings, of Navegando por Acuario, the new Spanish edition of Surfing Aquarius, from May 10 through the top of June. I will do some live readings on the road, and will resume long-distance readings when I'm back.
And plans proceed apace for Return to Pachamama, which Leslie Zehr and I will guide again from July 11 through Cusco and the Sacred Valley for those who'd like to experience, in addition to Sacsayhuaman and Machu Picchu, the less-traveled sites like the Temple of the Moon near Qenqo, and water altars like these at the magnificent ceremonial center of Tipon. If you're thinking of joining us -- best make your move before Mercury goes retrograde again June 7 - July 1, and Mars squares Uranus and Pluto again in mid-June.
All right. So where are we at this point? What just happened at the terrifically powerful Grand Cross that was at its peak only ten days ago? Did anything happen at all? Oh yes, surely. But yet again, it was not, and is not now, what most people expect, delivered in terms that they can perceive easily. The bald fact is that we will see what we are ready to see. If we are fixated on the illusory world of things, and the ephemeral stream of events, then we will be convinced that important changes are underway only if wars break out, regimes fall, currencies collapse, epidemics and earthquakes hit, so that those who still believe in a re-al world (literally, from Latin res, a world of apparently solid, tangible things) will be able to concede that yes, something I can put my finger on and wrap my head around has happened here.
In actuality, it does not matter if anything that has just transpired is literally Earth-shaking. What counts is whether the changes are mind-shaking, and cause a new tremor of awareness in our collective understanding. When we consider the events unfolding from last month into now, the trend becomes unmistakable, and has been building through the great Grand Crosses of July-August 2010, the opening into Galactic Cosmogenesis in December 2012, Round 3 of the Uranus-Pluto square in May, 2013, and Round 4 last November. It's time to connect a few pixels.
THE CRUCIAL CHANGES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
In mid-summer 2010, Wikileaks dropped the massive data bomb that exposed more than ever before the malfeasance, corruption, mendacity and concerted, cynical manipulation of a power elite far more interconnected than anyone but the insiders themselves had yet imagined, and within the year came the Arab Spring, with the fall of some criminals in Tunisia and Egypt and the shaking of others in Yemen, Syria and Iran, the Occupy movement in the USA and other actions of civil disobedience in Europe. The latter events, in mid-2011, came at Round 1 of the Uranus-Pluto squares.
In May 2013, right at Round 3, Edward Snowden offered the Washington Post his information on the NSA’s massive and routine collection of personal telecommunication data not only on US citizens, but on people in Europe and Asia. When the Post felt the heat and the Guardian published his story instead, worldwide reaction was predictable and furious. Again, the crucial event in the field of our collective consciousness was not fully understood at the moment it hit, but became more perceptible only as its aftermath unfolded.
In November 2013, the twelve nations of the Trans--Pacific Partnership (TPP) completed on or around Nov. 1 their Advanced Intellectual Property Chapter. The details of this ambitious corporate power grab, unprecedented in its secrecy, arrogance and blatant illegality, were released by Wikileaks on Nov. 13, right at Round 4 of the Uranus-Pluto square, and triggered a backlash that postponed TPP, at least from last November until now.
So now we've just come through Round 5, and those who were fixated on rumors of war in Russia, money jitters, the usual political posturing and theatre, and the relentless media torrent of fear propaganda, scandal and celebrity gossip, have noticed little or not at all the far more significant lightning strikes that have just hit. Here are a couple that have just arrived:
THE BATTLE FOR CONTROL GOES BEYOND OBSESSIVE
On Friday April 25, a US federal judge in New York ordered that Internet service providers must turn over customer emails and other digital content requested by any government agency through a warrant—even if the data is stored overseas. Judge James Francis ordered Microsoft to turn over customer information associated with an email account that was being held on a server in Ireland—including the customer’s name, contents of all emails sent and received by the account, online session times and durations, and any credit card number or bank account used for payment. Just as it has in tax matters, the US government has unilaterally extended its powers to access US citizens’ digital data at will anywhere in the world, and has arrogated to itself the right to compel Americans, wherever they live, to turn over financial data and other private information.
April has not been an easy month for Microsoft and its chairman, the Great White Shark of the cyberocean, Bill Gates. On April 26, the company released an announcement that the security firm FireEye has found that hackers are already exploiting a flaw in Internet Explorer that enables anyone of ill will and a little skill to insert a virus into your computer. The problem affects every version of Internet Explorer - from 6 to 11 - released over the last ten years, and even the latest Windows systems are vulnerable. The bug is of the kind that is called a "drive-by hack," meaning that an Internet Explorer user will make his computer a virus magnet just by visiting a site that hackers have infected.
As yet, even with Microsoft's tremendous R & D resources, the company has yet to find a way to fix the problem. Not that this is hugely surprising. PC systems have always been so virus-prone that they may as well be petri dishes for hosting this week's Billion Bacteria Ball. Who knows what may now unfold? Will Microsoft finally now be perceived as the ultimate triumph of marketing over merit? We can't tell yet. All we know is that this new Mystery Bug controversy is attracting the eye of agencies like US Homeland Security and others who need to maintain the illusion that they are somehow in control when, as so many of us know by now, nobody is.
And, as it turns out, Microsoft is not the only Monster That Starts with M that is under duress so extreme that its officers are now dropping the lifeboats and getting ready to abandon ship. In that momentous last week of April that has just passed, it was revealed on April 23 that not only hedge fund managers, but top executives are now dumping their shares in the Corporation That Must Not Be Named, and are doing it now while they still can. Why is time of the essence? Because the two March Against [Voldemort Inc.] events held on May 25 and Oct. 13, 2013 galvanized such massive numbers, and what the hedge funds call "negative sentiment" toward Voldemort, that the company's share prices have fallen by almost 15% since last year. The third worldwide March is now a few weeks away, on May 24, so it must happen now, as Alice Goodman put it in Nixon in China, that "the rats begin to chew the sheets."
THE BETTER ANGELS EMERGE
But all of what we've just seen, in the difficulties that now beset the most vicious predators, represents only the negative side of the balance sheet. What is most encouraging and empowering now is the gathering trend of perceptions and events that point to the change we are co-creating as we awaken in greater numbers and free ourselves from misperceived limits in all areas of our being, from our physical capacities and material circumstances to the strengthening of our mental faculties and spiritual powers as individuals, and as a soul collective that gains reach and resonance across the intentional field. As each one comes to understand that our passion and confidence are gifts that we can contribute to enriching and energizing the whole, we come to see what has always been true: We can be controlled only if we believe ourselves smaller and less worthy than we are.
If we understand our capacities, then the terms of the energy equation shift completely now. If we see ourselves as corrupt sinners doing what we can to minimize our suffering in a vale of tears, then we will get what we got during the Piscean Age, especially the toxic bitter end that we navigate our way out of now. But if we see ourselves in the Aquarian Age as beings of very high possibility, then we begin to get different outcomes of the kind that are arriving, if we can only see them and assign them their true importance. Huge gains have been registered in the dissolution of traditional sex roles and the proliferation of same-sex marriages and other alternative families, the legalization of marijuana and the growing recognition of plant teachers, the growth of intentional communities and the new successes of environmental activism, even in the growing recognition that "human nature," almost invariably seen as corrupt and [E-word] by those who believe in it, is not the truth of our condition, but only a myth widely accepted.
One of the most thrilling and controversial new steps toward exploding traditional beliefs about human nature is Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Penguin, 2012). It shows why, despite endless fake "news" and propaganda that aims to keep us angry and fearful, exhausted and controllable, and despite the efforts of death merchants to maintain and increase their profits by fomenting war, violence is now in a declining trend. Some of the change is due to economic and social factors, but some is due to a growing sense of our interconnectedness and shared planetary responsibility, and to a new understanding that a progressive, dynamic and holistic view of human nature is not naively optimistic, but much closer to the truth of who we are, and where we're heading.
And there's more, having to do with new ideas -- actually traditional practices that are now better understood -- that affect our most basic perceptions of where we are and how it works. And they come right on time now. Stories of the gaining and losing, the giving and taking and faking and stealing of money are set now, in this season, in the spring up north, amid the surge of desire and devotion in Taurus month, when everything from plant life to human visioning and the courage to love leafs out and greens again.
THE MORE YOU SPEND, THE MORE GOD SENDS
said my late teacher Abdel Hakim Awyan of Giza, whose lessons in generosity as an art form, and on the meaning and conscious practice of The Gift, continue to bear fruit and circulate it as we approach the most radical new understanding of wealth and economy to arrive in ten generations. One take on where our money is moving, and what it is becoming, is Paul Krugman's, in "Why We're in a New Gilded Age" (New York Review of Books, May 8, 2014), his review of Thomas Piketty's "magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality" in Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Much of what makes the book compelling is its utterly convincing proof of trends in economic inequality, and their impact on social and political events from the decades before the French Revolution until now. Piketty proves that entrenched economic inequality is not just a hunch or a hunger pang, but is right there in the numbers -- and that we are well on the way to the kind of "patrimonial capitalism" that led to extreme maldistribution of wealth in the Belle Epoque of a century ago, and again now.
Krugman's view is as perceptive as it can be for an economist, however brilliant, who still believes that capitalism is salvageable and correctable, and can keep serving its traditional if flawed role as the greatest wealth-creating engine in history, at least for some of the people some of the time. He envisions a correction of the present trend, so that wealth will no longer flow mainly toward the 1%, but will be distributed more equitably over a wider and fairer tax base. Krugman has apparently not yet seen that the corporatist economy is in its death throes now because it is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme operated by a banking cartel that has succeeded in enslaving through perpetual debt those who do not yet see themselves as capable of creating better ways of giving and receiving value.
But the new ways are proliferating now, and they have nothing to do with tweaking existing structures and hierarchies. We are finally hoisting aboard what Lewis Hyde first wrote about in 1979 in The Gift. While the book begins as an exploration of "Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World," and "the value of creativity and its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities," it is really a study of the difference between two economies. In the capital economies of the "developed" world, wealth is removed from circulation in the form of profits that enrich those who see themselves as accumulators of wealth, free of any legal or ethical obligation, despite fantasies about "enlightened self-interest," to keep it in motion for the benefit of anyone else. In a gift economy, like the ones created by indigenous peoples who felt wealth is medicinal only if it moves, the ruling premise is that the wealth we receive is not kept, or multiplied. It is passed along to others for the sake of building and strengthening relationships.
Like many other ideas about the intentionality of wealth that were ancient before Seneca wrote, "A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer," this one too comes round again at a time when we are more conscious than we ever were before of the power of intention skillfully played by individuals, and by co-creators united by the force of intentional community. The key guidebook to the possibilities that open to us now is Charles Eisenstein's brilliant Sacred Economics: Money, Gift and Society in the Age of Transition (North Atlantic Books, Evolver Editions, 2011). In keeping with the main themes of his book, the author has made it available online for free as a gift, with the understanding that those who practice equitable exchanges of energy will not only return value in some way, but will use his gift for its intended purpose of enriching community.
Thus, unlike a capital economy, in which commodities are traded for money, and relationship between buyer and seller, if it can be called that, ends as soon as the service is delivered or the box is in the bag, a gift economy operates on the confidence that what I give will not only be returned to me, but will continue to move and to bless others in ways I can only imagine, but which I know will be to their benefit and mine. The difference is obvious, between a fear-based transaction, in which I will not part with anything unless I know what I'm getting back before anything changes hands, and a love-based interaction in which I have no idea what is coming back or when or how, only that it will, and that I'm only one of many who will be more abundant for the dance of faith we've just done, and will keep doing for the sheer unpredictable delight of it.
"Why," Eisenstein asks, "do I call such an economy 'sacred' rather than natural or ecological? It is because of the sacredness of gifts. To obey the law of return is to honor the spirit of the Gift because we receive what has been given us, and from that gift, we give in turn. Gifts are meant to be passed on. Either we hold onto them for a while and then give them forward, or we use them, digest them, integrate them, and pass them on in altered form. That this is a sacred responsibility is apparent from both a theistic and an atheistic perspective." Imagine that. Passing the Gift along is not just a pleasure, and an affirmation of our creative interconnection. It's now our duty to our communities and our planet, and ultimately to ourselves, as the practice of generosity as an art form can only make us healthier, faster, more flexible and ready for whatever comes.
ADAM SMITH'S PLUTO RETURN
You can bet the ranch that few people, if any, have written about this one yet. If you have some basic interest in astrology, you know that our most important life passages are defined by planetary events like the Saturn returns that come at 29 and 59, and the Chiron return at 50, as these planets go all the way around the wheel and return to their natal positions. You may have already experienced the changes that can come during the Uranus opposition that arrives at 42, halfway through Uranus' 84-year orbit. Some of us get to experience the actual Uranus return, and a third Saturn return at 88, but that's about it. A Neptune return at 165 and a Pluto return at 248 probably belong to masters like Babaji, St. Germain, and others who arouse suspicion by never aging while everyone around them does. It would be fascinating to hear from them what those events were like. But those who experienced such things probably lived as long as they did because they knew when not to talk.
Mundane astrologers -- that is, those tracking cycles of history as well as individual lives -- have no doubt tracked these things, as this astrologer sometimes has, and have noted how similar events can recur as planets complete cycles and return after long intervals, even centuries, to specific points in the zodiac. An interesting one came not long ago, as Neptune entered, for only the second time we know of, the sign of Pisces, which he is said to rule. Neptune was at 0° Pisces when his discovery was confirmed and announced, and the new planet was misnamed, in 1846, right at the beginning of the Baha'i faith, and all it meant about the union of people from different religions in a single spiritual consciousness. Neptune returned to this point, significantly, in 2011.
Here our purpose is to look for a moment at how an event happening now or soon might be considered the Pluto return of a similar event that happened about 248 years ago, and might be the return or replay of a similar Plutonian event that had the effect of sweeping away, or at least starting to destabilize, something that was due for death and regeneration. Let's start with the year 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed that year on July 4. Another event that defined that year in a different way was the publication (on March 9) of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, which, at least in the West, spelled the end of of feudal, pre-industrial economies, and the rise of new industrial economies to be powered not by kings and prelates, but by the ambition and creativity of entrepreneurs who would allegedly succeed best for their nations and themselves if they were left alone under a governmental policy of laissez faire, and an assurance that the "invisible hand of the market" would somehow make everything keep coming out right, at least for some.
Add the 248 years of Pluto's orbit to 1776, and we get 2024 -- so far away that for most of us it may as well be on the Moon, but to an astrologer or historian attuned to the mythic Great Year, a mere sliver of time. Pluto was at 27° Capricorn on the day The Wealth of Nations appeared, and will hit this point again on March 4, 2022. Pluto crossed from Capricorn into Aquarius on January 27, 1778, in the second "hard winter" of the American war for independence, and will do so again soon after the northern Spring Equinox on March 23, 2023. If events of such enormous astral import are on the event horizon for nine years from now, then it is likely that what we'll have experienced in recent years, now and in the time just ahead will seem not the ending, the crisis or the climax, but just the beginning of what must now ensue in the patient richness of God's time.
As we navigate these years, and act as holders of space and frequency, it may help us to remember that each one has a well of courage and a well of fear, a well of strength and a well of weakness, a well of fear and a well of love. Which of these will be full, which empty, depends not only on our own awakening and resolution, but on how we unite with others in a spirit of generous bravery and creative love. This seems to so many of us to be beyond our capacities, when all we want is rest and stillness, a respite from this unremitting focus and effort. But there is no getting away from it now, as we negotiate the transition to Aquarius.
The challenging news is that more will be required of us, not less. But the good news is that our capacities will increase in ways that we only begin to imagine now. This growth will happen through our interactions with others, and will often take the form of gifts that we send to others, and receive from them. There will be no accounting for this in any sense of the word. We will often have no idea what the motive and the map of the gift are, but we will feel lightened, quickened and blessed to feel and see the blessings that flow toward us with such abundance that they seem to come from the Divine Source itself. We may come to see that the Divine Source is not separate from us at all, but is in all the other lives with whom we connect as artists of generosity.
We shall need new songs too, to mark the meter of our giving and receiving. Fortunately, Gift rhymes with Lift and Shift. We shall be amazed how good it all sounds, how easy it is to join, and how the more sound we release, the more refreshed we'll be. No one will have to say Keep Holding That Frequency any more, and the silences, when they come, will be incandescent and delicious.
THE UNIVERSAL FESTIVAL CALENDAR
May 1 - 3, Thursday - Saturday
Beltaine, the great Mid-Spring Festival. It comes midway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, and is therefore observed throughout the northern hemisphere as one of the eight great festivals of the year. The word "Beltaine" itself consists of the name of the god known as Bel (Mesopotamian), Baldur (Norse) and other cognate names. The phallic implications of the maypole surmounted with streamers (see next) are obvious in this month that celebrates the burgeoning of fresh green leaves. At this time plants reach maximum growth; thus the end of April to the top of May on the year wheel is directly opposite the festivals of the dead on Hallowe'en and November 1. In Sweden this festival is celebrated as the annual victory of summer over winter.
In the southern hemisphere, the great Autumn Festival of Samhain is celebrated now. See last November’s UFC.
May 1 (Thursday)
Happy May Day. This may be the year's best example of a joyous and extremely sexy holiday that has been watered down over the centuries by religion, commerce, ideology and other flavor killers into a wraith of what it used to be. In Egypt, it's Neighbors' Day, though no one seems to know why. Ask Americans and West Europeans what May Day is, and they usually associate it with Stalin and other Russians in bad hats watching the Red Army parade through Red Square. The Soviets co-opted -- many people came to believe they'd even created -- what had started millennia ago as a very sensual rite of spring, but in Europe shrank by the 19th century into an annual secular holiday honoring the hard work and dignity of farm and industrial workers.
The powers that be in the United States would have nothing to do with a labor holiday at which people waved red flags, sang the Internationale and compared Morgan, Rockefeller and the rest of the robber barons to wolves and other fanged beings. That's why the US government placed Labor Day on the first Monday in September, where it has no mythic charge at all, but it does obediently lead off the back-to-work, back-to-school week that follows the end of summer. What to do with May 1 in America? Dwight D. Eisenhower declared it Law Day in 1955. But law, as Mae West might have laughed from the bottom of her very deep throat, once had nothing to do with it.
For people all over the northern hemisphere, especially in Europe, the original May Day was the year's most thrilling festival. On this day, people would go into the meadows and forests and make love in the wild thyme and red clover. It was understood that unless you were hand-in-hand with your beloved, or otherwise clearly taken for the night, you had to say yes to anyone who asked you. This is why so many little Aquarii were born on and around the following Feb. 1. Some of the mid-winter mothers who bore these children had been so caught up in the joys of May Night that they had no idea who the fathers of their babies were, so the little ones were said to be the children of the fun-loving wood sprite Robin Goodfellow, better known to us as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Robin was always happily busy on May Night, and that is why we still have today so many people named Robinson.
In Hawaii, May 1 is Lei Day -- as though every day in the islands were not already a festival of flowers.
In the Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Love, the fifth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (3 Imix, Tzolkin 81). The principles that rule this Uinal are Anchoring and Sprouting. The symbolic bird is the Hawk.
In the annual Roman Catholic calendar of saints' days, May 1 is the feast of Sts. Philip and James "the Less," Apostles. One index of the immense importance that the peoples of the Northern hemisphere have always assigned to May Day is the decision by the Roman Catholic Church to change the traditional meaning of the day by designating it as the feast day of not one, but two of the 12 disciples chosen by Jesus himself. While Philip was noted for his faith and his ability to stir the faith of others, the choice of St. James is especially intriguing because the purity of this lifelong virgin, who prized chastity above all other virtues, is directly opposite to the ancient meaning of this day in celebrating the sexual vitality of nature. James, also called James the Just, was the first Christian bishop of Jerusalem, so treasured for his sanctity that the devout would stop to touch the hem of his robe, and show other signs of reverence that were rarely, if ever, accorded to other apostles.
May 1 is the birthday of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881), author of The Phenomenon of Man, whose seminal ideas on the unity of natural and human consciousness have influenced nearly every Gaian and holographic thinker of the last half-century. Teilhard said, "Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of divinity."
May 2- 3, Friday - Saturday
The ancient Roman festival of Floralia, celebrated in ancient times and still observed in Europe with displays of flowers.
May 2 - 4, Friday - Sunday
In the Orthodox Christian calendar, these days are the climax of Holy Week, from Good Friday on May 2 to Easter on May 4.
May 3, Saturday
In Japan, May 3 is the day of Ta Ue, the Shinto rice-planting festival, marking the resurgent vitality of nature and the beginning of the "Month of Fresh Green Leaves."
Venus enters Aries. In this Mars-ruled sign she is said to be "in detriment" until she enters Taurus, one of the signs -- in this writer's view, the only sign -- she rules. Her visit to Aries is not an easy time for power and boundary issues with men.
May 3 - 4, Saturday - Sunday
In the Roman tradition, the festival of the Good Goddess, Bona Dea, begins on the evening of May 3 and is celebrated through the next day. It was customary -- still is in places where women's mysteries are practiced -- to decorate hawthorn trees, which flower at this time, particularly those located at sacred places.
The timing of this Roman festival is closely related to the sacred calendar of Rome's ancient Celtic rivals. In the Celtic tree calendar, Hawthorn Month begins now. This month is especially favorable for contract with fairies and other nature spirits.
May 3 - 6, Saturday - Tuesday
The annual Dolphin Convocation in Indonesia. Every year on these days, huge numbers of dolphins, totaling perhaps in the millions, are said to gather in the treacherous, eddying waters between Bali and Lombok islands, and to swim for a few days in a gigantic wheel or spiral pattern. The reason for this gathering, and its timing, remain a matter of speculation. As yet there have been no human diplomatic expeditions to the area between Bali and Lombok at Dolphin Convocation time. It is only a matter of time before one or more boats of humans and other animals sail to the periphery of the conference and ask the dolphins' permission to participate as observers.
May 4, Sunday
Among adherents of the Sufi tradition, this day is sacred to the memory of Rabi'a al-'Adawiya (d. 801), one of the earliest of the great Sufi mystics, who preached realization through the triple path of love, wisdom and action.
May 4 - 5, Sunday - Monday
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the night of May 4 and morning of the following day. This meteor storm, with a faint average magnitude of 2.9 and a frequency of only some 20 per hour, is best observed in the southern hemisphere. Viewing is fairly good this time, as the Moon was New only three days ago.
May 5, Monday
In the ancient calendar of Khemit, the "Black Land" that the ancient people of the Nile called their country, this is the Day of the Children of Nut, honoring the direct and indirect offspring of the primordial mother netert (not "goddess"). As Nut was the most ancient of all feminine deities - her name, cognate with neter itself, means "the divine feminine" and the mother of the Sun (Ra), the Moon, called Djehuti (Thoth) and the five "epagomenal" neters Ausar (Osiris), Aset (Isis), Set, Hor (Horus) and Nebt-het (Nephthys), Nut embodies universal feminine fertility, the eternal limitless abundance of the womb (Month of Payni, day 21).
May 6, Monday
Tibetan Buddhists celebrate their great feast of Saga Dawa Duchen, the spring festival commemorating the birth, enlightenment and parinirvana of the Buddha.
May 7, Wednesday
Mercury enters Gemini, clearly the more appropriate of the two signs he has traditionally been said to rule (the other being Virgo). The voluble currents of Mercury's repartee, trickery and charm may work wonders while he is in Gemini, provided that mercurial types on your team are given specific targets and deadlines to hit, so they'll be less likely to dissipate all the inspiration in mere talk.
May 8 -10, Thursday - Saturday
The comune of Assisi, Italy stages one of the world's great May festivals, called the Calendimaggio, because kalends were the first days of each month in the ancient Roman calendar. On one level, the Calendimaggio is a gorgeous parade by Assisi residents in 14th and 15th century costumes. On another, it's a commemoration of the annual spring peacemaking rite in which the Guelf and Ghibelline factions staged a mock battle which, it was hoped, would drain away some of the desire to fight for real in the hot months to come. And, as shown here in this image by Connie Bennett, the Calendimaggio also honors the great god Pan in all his horned, hairy majesty.
May 9 - 13, Friday - Monday
On May 9, 11 and 13 the ancient Romans celebrate the Lemuria, the annual festival honoring their departed ancestors, the lemures, whose spirits were said to visit the family home on these days.
May 11, Sunday
This second Sunday in May is observed in the United States as Mothers' Day, one of countless May celebrations of the fecundity of the Mother Goddess. The first Mothers' Day in the USA was created by Julia Ward Howe, whose career was a notable example of how the actual experience of suffering, including the ravages of war, may stir compassion from those people in whom it is, as Buckminster Fuller put it, arousable.
In the middle of 1861, as naive armies marched in romantic color into the American civil war, Howe wrote the poem that would become the famous Union martial anthem The Battle Hymn of the Republic. A few years after the war, disgusted with the misery that self-righteous men can inflict on their peoples, she organized Mothers' Day as a global peace demonstration designed to unite mothers everywhere in affirming the maternal values that nurture and enrich civilization. Mothers' Day has since faded into a commercial holiday, but it has never lost its true activist identity, and has been a focus of women's peace efforts in recent times. In 1982, women were arrested at the Lawrence Livermore Lab, one of the USA's top nuclear weapons research sites, for blocking the gates to the facility and daring to proclaim that life is more precious than profit or power.
May 12, Monday
In the ancient Khemitian (aka "Egyptian") calendar (see 5/5 above), Day of the Purification of all Things (Month of Payni, day 28).
This day is also the birthday of Florence Nightingale (1820).
May 14, Wednesday: 9:17am HT; 7:17pm UT:
Full Moon in Scorpio, opposite Sun in Taurus. The "lusty month of May" that begins now owes some of its sensuousness to the Moon in the sign that rules sexuality, at the same time that the Sun is in the sign ruled by Venus. Alchemically and esoterically, the Scorpionic power of rebirth and transformation, beginning at the Full Moon, combines with the earthy tenacity and drive of Taurus and the sheer beauty of Venus to lend this season its uncommon juice and stamina. This Full Moon is not powerfully charged in itself, as the only planet forming relationship with the great lights is Saturn in Scorpio, conjunct the Moon, making this Full Moon likely more solemn and contemplative than celebratory.
In the world's Buddhist communities, this Full Moon is the day of Wesak, the birthday of the Buddha. It is usually celebrated at the "Full Moon in Taurus," during the lunar month when the Sun is in what the West calls the Sign of the Bull, but is equally plausible in Asian terms as the Sign of the Cow, playing and embodying the generous abundance, nurturance and gentleness that have made the Cow a spiritual symbol not only for Buddhists and Taoists, but also for Hindus like Gandhi, who called the cow "a poem of pity." It is said that the baby Siddhartha Gautama began to walk soon after birth, and that lotus flowers sprouted at once in his footsteps.
Some Buddhists celebrate this day as Visakha Puja, or Buddha Day, commemorating the birth, life and teachings of the Awakened One.
May 14, Wednesday
In the ancient Khemitian calendar (see 5/5), this was observed as the day on which Shu, neter of the air, persuaded his twin sister, the solar netert Tefnut, to return from the land south of Khemit to the country of the Nile. The legend relates that Tefnut was so incensed at the arrogance of Ra, the male principle of the Sun, that she withdrew from her customary role until Shu gained help from the eloquence of Djehuti (Thoth), who induced Tefnut to return. This story is thus the Khemitian version of the universal solar regeneration myth in which the female principle of fire withdraws her light and warmth from the Earth until she is treated with the respect she deserves (Payni, day 30).
May 15, Thursday
In the ancient Roman calendar, this is the Ides of May. This day is sacred to Maia, the Goddess for whom May is named, and also to Vesta, goddess of the hearth and all sacred fires. On this day, Vesta's devotees, the Vestal Virgins, offer prayers in the Goddess's temple to ask the blessing of an abundant supply of water for the coming summer months. The festival of Maia is always observed a week before the entry of the Sun into Gemini, ruled by Maia's son Mercury (Hermes).
Among the Yoruba and Santeria peoples of Africa, 5/15 is the feast of Ochossi, the Orisha of animals, one of the emanations of the one divinity Olodumare.
May 15 - 21, one week
In the ancient Khemitian calendar, the month of Epipi, sacred to the protective cobra netert Wadjet, begins with festivals of Het-Heru (Hathor) and Bastet. In contrast to the preceding month of Payni, Epipi is a markedly feminine-centered month which celebrates above all the female forces of latent vitality and continuity in nature; and the critical importance of Truth, embodied by Ma'at, in all universal order. Some of the May events in the dramatic month-long festival cycle that now begins:
5/16 - Feminine neters honored in their temples throughout Khemit (Epipi, day 2). It is now 70 days until the annual Nile flood, usually on July 26.
5/19 - Het-Heru (Hathor) returns to her home in Punt, south and east of Khemit (perhaps present-day Somalia). The Neters mourn her absence. (Epipi, day 5).
5/21 - The Neters sail after Het-Heru (Epipi, day 7). The festival cycle culminates on June 16 with the transcendence of Het-Heru as the star Sothis (Sirius).
May 16, Friday
In the Celtic tree calendar, Hawthorn Month begins. This month is favorable for contact with fairies and other nature spirits.
May 17, Saturday
This day is the Baha'i feast honoring the Deity as 'Azamat, or Grandeur.
Also the Roman festival of Dea Dia, honoring the goddess in her role as cosmic mother.
Among South Korean Buddhists, this day begins their most important annual festival of Seokga Tansinil, commemorating the Buddha’s birthday, and culminating a week later at the Full Moon. See Visakha Puja, at the May 24 – 25 Full Moon.
May 17 - 18, Saturday - Sunday
In the Jewish calendar, this is the festive holiday of Lag B'Omer. It celebrates the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar -- the core teaching of the Kabbalah -- and the day when a plague afflicting the disciples of the sage Rabbi Akiva ended.
May 18, Sunday
In the Greco-Roman calendar, this day is sacred to Apollo, god of the Sun, of divination, poetry, music and all intellectual activities. Curiously, the Greeks and Romans honor Apollo's opposite at this time too, as 5/18 is also the first day of a week-long feast of Faunus, or Pan, the primeval, riotous God of male sexuality and vitality. The emphasis during this festival is on healthy masculine relationships of brotherhood, parenthood and mentorship.
May 19, Sunday
Celtic and Irish festival of the Sacred Spring, on which wells and springs are adorned with flowers and greenery in honor of the goddess Brigid, who embodies the feminine principle of the latency of new life.
May 20, Tuesday, 5:00pm HT; May 21, Wednesday, 3:00am UT)
Sun enters Gemini, sign of the Twins. The next 30 days, under the influence of Mercury, ruler of Gemini, are especially favorable for learning and studies of all kinds; this is why for many centuries spring final exams have been held in late May and early June in Western countries. This time favors plans and organizations, communications, and all enterprises that are opportunistic and flexible in nature. It also favors partnerships based on equality, which is why so many marriages are made now, most auspiciously on or near the Gemini New Moon, on June 8. See next month’s UFC.
May 21, Wednesday
In the Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Death, the sixth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (10 Imix, Tzolkin 101). This Uinal is ruled by Mictantecuhtli, the Lord of darkness from which new life must proliferate in the next uinal. The Owl is the symbolic bird.
May 23, Thursday
Among the Baha'i community, this is one of the year's holiest days, marking the Declaration of the Bab: the day in 1844 when Ali Muhammed announced that he is the anticipated "Coming One" of all religions. Work is suspended; focus and concentration go within for clearing, forgiveness and atonement.
May 24, Friday
This day is celebrated throughout the ancient Mediterranean world as the feast of Hermes Trismegistos ("thrice-great"), derived from the Egyptian neter Djehuti (aka Thoth), and honored as the patron of letters, wisdom, magic, alchemy and other occult sciences. The famous saying "As Above, So Below" is but one of the Hermetic principles attributed to Hermes Trismegistos. 5/24 is perfectly appropriate as his feast because it comes just after the Sun enters Gemini. The communication-related properties of this sign were evident even in very ancient times.
May 24, Saturday
In the ancient Greco-Roman solar calendar, this day is the purification festival of Ambarvalia, so-called because it was customary to circumambulate the fields and pray for the continued blessing of Demeter/Ceres on the growing plants.
May 25, Sunday
In the Islamic calendar, this day will probably be the 27th of the lunar month of Rajab. It's the holy day of Miraj Kandili, or Laylat al-Mi'raj, commemorating the prophet Muhammad's miraculous night journey to heaven on the winged horse Buraq. The actual date of this feast, like that of all Muslim holy days, is determined by the confirmed sighting of the New Moon that begins the month.
Birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803), the American pantheistic philosopher who taught the immanence of divinity in humanity and nature.
Tibetan Buddhists, like most others (see previous), hold major festivities now. This day is the 15th day of the month of Saga Dawa. Tibetans observe the seventh day of this month (May 17 this year) as the date of the Buddha’s birth, while his birth, enlightenment and passing into parinirvana are all celebrated at this Full Moon, one of the year’s most auspicious times for pilgrimages.
In the Beth-Luis-Nion Celtic tree calendar used by devotees of the faerie path, the New Moon following this Dark Moon is the seventh following the Winter Solstice. It begins Duir, or oak month, and favors visions, shamanic journeys and all communications between worlds.
May 26, Monday
In the Islamic calendar, this day will probably be the 27th of the lunar month of Rajab. It's the holy day of Miraj Kandili, or Laylat al-Mi'raj, commemorating the prophet Muhammad's miraculous night journey to heaven on the winged horse Buraq. The actual date of this feast, like that of all Muslim holy days, is determined by the confirmed sighting of the New Moon that begins the month.
Feast of St. Philip Neri (1516 - 1595), one of the most beloved of all Roman Catholic saints. Philip was said to live in continuous elation and ecstasy, to have performed countless miracles of healing by touch, and to have been able to read the inmost thoughts and destinies of others. One person who encountered him in the street reported that Philip would "leave me so full of joy that I could not tell which way I was going."
The United States observes its Memorial Day holiday, honoring the country's war dead and commemorating the sacrifices and the horrors of war, on this day.
May 26 -28, Monday - Wednesday
In the Roman Catholic calendar, the Rogation ("Petition") Days fall on the three days culminating on the feast of the Ascension (see May 29 below). Prayers are offered for bountiful crops and the health and peace of the natural world. Like the Ambarvalia, the ancient Roman feast it supplanted (see May 24), this purification rite is based on the premise that love, atonement and forgiveness among human beings will be reflected in the abundance and quality of the harvest.
May 28, Saturday, 8:41 am HT; 6:41 pm UT
Dark Moon conjunct Sun in Gemini. This time favors teamwork, mental activity, fluid plans, brainstorming and improvisation. This is why so many marriages occur now, as the Gemini season (5/22 - 6/21), fosters cooperation and teamwork by couples. This Dark Moon and the New Moon that follows it are not quite a piece of wedding cake, with Chiron in Pisces square the Moon-Sun conjunction. At this time the utmost delicacy and tenderness are needed, as the possibility of wounding and being wounded is high.
On sighting the New Moon that follows this Dark Moon, the Maori of New Zealand celebrate Matariki, the New Year Festival. Matariki is always heralded in the last days of May by the rising of a faint but distinctive star cluster, and Matariki is celebrated at the next New Moon, usually in early June. The Matariki web page of the Maori Language Commission notes that "In ancient times Matariki arrived at the end of the harvest and was therefore a time of plenty for our ancestors. The kumara and other root foods had been gathered. The migration of fish such as moki and korokoro also made Matariki a time of bountiful catches. Visitors were often showered with gifts of specially preserved eel, birds and other delicacies. Matariki was a time to share and present offerings to others."
May 29, Thursday
For the Baha'i community, this day commemorates the Ascension of the Baha'ullah, founder of the Baha'i faith, who passed over on this day in 1844.
For Roman Catholics and some other Christians, this day is the feast of the Ascension, always reckoned as 40 days after Easter Sunday. On this day Jesus is said to have ascended in glory to Heaven, as shown here by Pietro Perugino. The cherubs are arranged around Jesus in the shape of the vesica piscis, symbolizing the union of spirit and matter in the divine and human natures of the Christ. This year the Ascension rites will be transferred to Sunday June 1.
May 30, Friday
In the ancient Khemitian calendar, a 16-day festival cycle in honor of Ma'at, neter of Truth, begins on this day. The image of Ma'at is carried in procession to the temple of Ra in Heliopolis, symbolizing the power of Truth as equal even to the majesty of the Sun (Epipi, day 16). Ceremonies of purification are held now, and prayers are offered to Ma'at and her consort, Lord Djehuti (Thoth), for knowledge and wisdom, in what has been for thousands of years the academic season of completion and graduation.
May 31 - June 2, Saturday - Monday
One of the year's three great festivals in honor of the Triple Goddess, marking her transition from virgin to mother. The rites of love that are celebrated now are invocations of abundance and fertility for mothers, and good health for all. (The two other main Triple Goddess rites mark the transition from Mother to Wise Woman around Sept. 31, while the Sun is in Libra, the sign of marriage; and the transition from Wise Woman to Virgin again around Jan. 31, at Imbolc, the great Mid-Winter Festival.)
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.
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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.