February, 2011

 

January 31 - February 10:

 1/31 - 2/3 (3 days):   

In calendars throughout the Northern hemisphere, this is the time of one of the eight great festivals in the solar year. This one, midway between the December Solstice and the March Equinox, is the feast of mid-winter best known in the west as Imbolc or Brigantia. The rites of fire and purification that are performed now clear the way for the returning light and resurgent vitality of spring.

2/1 - 14 (two weeks):

 

Greek festival honoring Dionysos, god of wine and of all passionate, ecstatic experience, in anticipation of the moment when Dionysos re-emerges from his winter phase as Hades/Plouton, king of the underworld, and is reborn in the Spring as the young god of male sexuality and ecstatic love. During this festival the vines are pruned and sprinkled with old wine, thus symbolically using the old blood to refresh the ever-renewing young blood of new life.

2/1 (Tue):

Feast of St. Bridget, Christian counterpart to the ancient Gaelic goddess Brigit, or Bridhe (See Jan. 23), whose feast is still commemorated each year with the weaving of green reeds into a design combining the features of the cross, the spiral and the swastika, symbolizing the eternal recurrence of new life.

2/1 - 2 (2 days):

In the Khemitian calendar, feast and birthday of Nut, the primordial sky netert who was said to hold all souls within her womb, and was the mother of Ausar (Osiris), Aset (Isis), Hor or "old Horus"--that is, Hor as light being, before his birth as son of Ausar and Aset--Set and Nebt-het (Nephthys). (Month of Pamenot, days 18 and 19)

 2/2 (Wed):

 

Candlemas, feast of the purification of the Virgin on the day when Mary took the boy Jesus to the Temple for the first time. As the first presentation of the child in the temple and the ritual purification of the mother were always done 40 days after the birth of a boy (80 days for a girl), Candlemas always comes 40 days after Christmas. Since the Christian middle ages, candles blessed at the church on this day have been used the next day for the feast of St. Blaise, and are kept throughout the year for protection against dark forces.

Also the Festival of Februalia, honoring the old Roman goddess Februa, mother of Mars, later merged with Juno to become Juno Februa, so called because expiatory offerings called februa are made to her now, in the time of purification. This festival thus embodies the transition from the latent vitality of late winter to the awakening of spring, symbolized in many cultures by weather rituals -- such as Groundhog Day -- in which sun or rain, light or shadow, indicate whether winter will continue to rule, or yield soon to spring.

Among many East Asian Buddhists, 2/2 is Sojong Day, the last day of the old lunar year. Believers fast and perform rites of self-purification, and ask and grant forgiveness to clean uneasy energies from the soul and prepare for the New Year.

 

The Yoruba and Santeria peoples of Africa and the Americas honor Oya, the Orisha of death and rebirth, one of many manifestations of the one God Olodumare, bringer of life and death.

2/3 (Tue):

In the Roman Catholic calendar, feast of St. Blaise, whose efficacy in the prevention of throat diseases inspired rituals like those of the preceding day, Candlemas. Crossed, unlighted candles, symbolizing purification of speech, are held at the throat of those receiving the blessing.

In Japan, 2/3 is the joyous festival of Setsubun, in which the people cast out evil spirits from their homes and other places by throwing dried beans out of doors while chanting the words "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi" -- "Out with the devil, in with the good". In the comic ritual plays of the season, children in the crowds of shrinegoers throw the dried beans at devil dancers carrying grotesque weapons. In the annual Setsubun dances at Heian Shrine in Kyoto -- where this shot of the author wielding a big tsubo, or iron club, was taken -- the chief oni sings the ancient Tsuina, one of Japan's oldest surviving ritual melodies. It, and the Setsubun rite itself, comes from an older Chinese practice called Ta Nuo, the cleansing of the field to prepare it for the spring thaw and planting time.

Mercury enters Aquarius, through 2/21. Even though Mercury is said to be "exalted" here, his tour of Aquarius is always a time of quirky and karmically buzzed communications. Essential messages must be crafted and delivered, and communication projects large and small had best get moved along before Mercury enters Pisces, where he is "in detriment. " Mercury can have a brilliant time of it in Aquarius, though he can be distracted, even seduced, by the Aquarian dazzle and glamor. As if everything else that happens in fixed solar calendars on Feb. 3 were not enough, this year Mercury arrives in Aquarius in perfectly serendipitous lunar time to join a spectacular six-planet stellium that makes Feb. 3 one of the great astral power packages in all of 2011:
2/2 (Thu), 4:32pm HT; 2/3 (Fri), 2:32am UT:
Dark Moon in Leo conjunct Sun in Aquarius. The special quality of this Black Moon, and the New Moon that follows, is that the Sun is "in detriment" -- that is, limited and weakened in his usual exercise of power -- in Aquarius, so that the emphasis of the time tends to be upon the lunar and traditionally feminine areas of hearth and home, and the protection of children from winter illnesses, especially as this is Imbolc, the time of the mid-Winter "Great Cold," when homes are cleaned and purified before the coming of Spring. Powers of perception and intuitive observation are high at the Aquarius New Moon, manifesting under the right conditions as a wealth of ideas and ambitious plans, especially as they may involve collaboration with like-minded friends. This is doubly true now, as the Sun-Moon at this Full Moon pair anchor an Aquarius stellium consisting of six planets and the Moon's North Node. For more on this see Astral Notes for December 2010 - February 2011.
In the Beth-Luis-Nion Celtic tree calendar used by devotees of the faerie path, this second New Moon following the December Solstice begins Luis, or rowan month. The rowan is considered especially efficacious for protection, healing and divination.
Curiously, a lunar New Year festival period of roughly three days, beginning at the New Moon during Aquarius month, was celebrated in ancient Europe for many centuries before Julius Caesar fixed the start of the New Year at Jan. 1 on a 12-month solar calendar that was the basis of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar, now the standard for time reckoning in Europe, the Americas and other lands colonized by European explorers. The implications of this -- that all the peoples of Eurasia once lived by a single lunar calendar, but were split from each other when the new solar calendar divided West from East, solar from lunar, intellect from intuition, masculine from feminine, etc. -- is at the root of the cultural rift that has separated orient and occident ever since.
In ancient Eurasia, peoples everywhere celebrated this festival as one of the three great turning points in the cycle of the Triple Goddess, the moment when the aged Wise Woman transmutes back into the Virgin who carries new life. Patriarchal religions have since taken over the show, but whether they can long continue to produce it remains to be seen, as the new Aquarian Age favors neither male nor female, but a complementary balance of the two.

Gong Hay Fat Choy! The Year of the Iron Rabbit begins.

This is Hsih Nien, New Year's Day, in the Chinese lunar calendar. It begins a two-week festival culminating at the Full Moon. The Chinese lunar year, basis of several other Asian lunar calendars, begins on the evening of the first New Moon while the Sun is in what the west calls Aquarius. While the preceding Tiger year was as speedy, sharp and impulsive as we might expect, and as competitive and intolerant in the pursuit of goals, this Year of the Rabbit is likely to have a decidedly different flavor, as the shouts of aggressors and fools may be balanced in some ways by the flexibility, quickness and quiet of communal action at its most subtle but effective. For more on this see Mythic Prelude.

In the Vietnamese lunar calendar, which is synchronous with this year's Chinese calendar, this  is Tet Nguyen Dan, first day of the New Year.
2/4 (Fri):
Venus enters Capricorn, where she'll stay until March 2. She conjoins the North Moon's Node today, and will transit across Pluto on Feb. 10, making for a week of as much playful flirtation leading to obsessive romance and erotic wildness as any lady would want while she's in the studious sign of the karmic teacher. The heavy, serious demeanor of this sign can be leavened when Venus is ingenious, though, as Saturn, the ruling planet of Capricorn, is also, curiously, the patron of comedy.
2/4 - 12 (9 days):
The Iroquois mid-winter festival, just after the midwinter New Moon when the Sun is in what the West calls Aquarius. This a time of purification and forgiveness is celebrated by burning the offenses and grudges of the old year in tobacco offerings. Newly born children receive their names now, and the year ahead is forecast in dream telling, celebrated in music and dance.
2/5 (Sat):

In the Mayan calendar systems, this day begins the Uinal of Darkness, the tenth of the 20-day Uinals in the current cycle of the Tzolkin, or 260-day calendar (12 Imix, Tzolkin 181). The symbolic bird for this uinal is the Horned Owl, the energy principle that of Destruction in preparation for the Uinal of Rebirth that comes next.

In the ancient western world, this is one of the most important days of the year for all forms of prophecy and divination, sacred to the goddess Tyche and her counterparts: Fortuna in Rome and Wyrd among the Celtic peoples. All were superseded in medieval Christian Europe by St. Agatha, whose feast is celebrated on this day.

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. Bodh Gaya is one sacred site where Losar coincides with Monlam Chemno (Feb. 3 - 12), the prayer festival commemorating the miracles and teachings of the Buddha.

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. In 2011, according to Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar, Losar comes only two days after the Chinese New Year. It's best to check the timing Tibetan festivals in your area case-by-case.

2/3 - 17 (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.

2/6 (Sun):

In the Greco-Roman calendar, this is the feast of Aphrodite and Venus, goddess of love. This is the day for poetry, drama, comedy, music and pictures in honor of the paragon of Beauty.

2/7 (Mon):
This day is the Baha'i feast honoring the Deity as Mulk, Sacred Dominion.
2/8 (Tue):

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

2/9 (Wed):

In the ancient Greek calendar, this day is the annual Feast day of Apollo in his aspect as Helios, god of the Sun, honored now a week after the mid-winter festival.

The Chiron - Neptune Conjunction of 2009 - 2012:
Prelude (2008) and Acts 1 - 5 (April, 2009 - Nov., 2010), see UFC Index
2012: The End of . . . What?
Copyright 2010 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.