Out With The Old
According to the book, 365 Goddess, January 19, is the day given to the Water Blessing Festival in Bulgaria. However, I think she must have been referring to the Anastenaria, a firewalking ritual performed primarily in May with a smaller one on an unspecified date in January, which culminates in a water blessing after the fire walking.
If you wish to celebrate today as a day of Water Blessings, here’s what you can do:
- Themes: Joy; Health; Cleansing
- Symbols: Water; Flowers; Fern; Birchwood
- Presiding Goddess: Kupala
The Slavic goddess of springs and water, Kupala, whose name literally means “to bathe,” washes us with happiness and longevity. Oddly enough, she has a fire aspect too, which likely alludes to purification, protection, and transformation. Wildflowers, birch trees, and ferns are sacred to her.
To do today:
To bring a year filled with joy, contentment, and health, leave a natural-fiber cloth outside today to gather dew. Use it tomorrow to bathe in Kupala’s magic.
Take some flower petals to any moving water source (even a hose) and toss them on the stream. As you do, make a wish for something that will make you really happy. Let Kupala, in the form of the water, carry your wish toward manifestation.
To rid yourself of sickness, negativity, or a bad habit before the year gets really rolling, find a safe fire source (such as a candle that’s self-contained in glass). Put this on the floor and jump over it. As you do, say:
Old burns away; only the good, the good shall stay.
Old to new, old to new, Kupala, my heart renew.
This symbolically leaves the old behind and invokes Kupala’s aid in your efforts for positive change.
Source: 365 Goddess
The best days listed here are based on both the phase of the moon and its position in the zodiac. Many people believe that if you do the tasks on the dates listed, you will get the best results possible.
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 5, 6, 9 – 11, 14, 15, 18, 19
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 2, 3, 21, 24 – 26, 29, 30
- Quit Smoking: 2, 3, 21 – 23, 29, 30
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 9 – 11, 18, 19
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 2, 3, 21 – 23, 29, 30
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 5 – 7, 10 – 12, 15, 16
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 3, 21, 22, 25 – 27
- Quit Smoking: 3, 19, 20, 25 – 27
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 5 – 7, 15, 16
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 3, 19, 20, 25 – 27
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 6, 10, 11, 14, 15
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 2 – 4, 20, 21, 25, 26, 29 – 31
- Quit Smoking: 2 – 4, 25, 26, 29 – 31
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 6, 14, 15
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 2 – 4, 25, 26, 29 – 31
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 6, 7, 10 – 12
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 3, 4, 21, 22, 26, 27
- Quit Smoking: 3, 4, 21, 22, 26, 27
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 10 – 12
- Start Diet to Lose Weight:3, 4, 21, 22, 26, 27
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 4, 8, 9, 16, 17
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 1, 2, 18 – 20, 23 – 25, 28 – 30
- Quit Smoking: 1, 2, 18 – 20, 23 – 25, 28 – 30
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 8, 9
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 1, 2, 18 – 20, 23 – 25, 28 – 30
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 4, 5, 13, 14
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 2, 19 – 21, 24 – 26, 29, 30
- Quit Smoking: 2, 19 – 21, 24 – 26, 29, 30
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 4, 5
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 19 – 21, 24 – 26
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 2, 10, 11, 14, 15
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 17, 18, 22, 23, 27, 28
- Quit Smoking: 17, 18, 22, 23, 27, 28
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 2
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 17, 18, 22, 23
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 6, 7, 11, 12
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 18 – 20, 23, 24, 27, 28
- Quit Smoking: 18 – 20, 23, 24, 27 – 29
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: No good days
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 18 – 20, 27 – 29
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 2, 3, 7, 8, 12, 13, 30
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 14 – 16, 19 – 21, 24, 25
- Quit Smoking: 14 – 16, 19 – 21, 24 – 27
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 12, 13
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 14 – 16, 24 – 27
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 1, 4, 5, 9 – 11, 27, 28, 31
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 13, 16 – 18, 21, 22, 25, 26
- Quit Smoking: 13, 16 – 18, 21 – 24
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 9 – 11
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 13, 21 – 24
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 1, 2, 5 – 7, 10, 11, 28, 29
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 13, 14, 17, 18, 21 – 23
- Quit Smoking: 13, 14, 17 – 20
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 5 – 7
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 17 – 20
- Cut Hair to Increase Growth: 3, 4, 8, 9, 26, 27, 30, 31
- Cut Hair to Slow Growth: 14 – 16, 19, 20, 23, 24
- Quit Smoking: 14 – 18, 23, 24
- Start Diet to Gain Weight: 3, 4, 30, 31
- Start Diet to Lose Weight: 14 – 18, 23, 24
Source: The Farmer’s Almanac
Burning the Devil or La Quema del Diablo is a tradition held every December 7, at 6:00 in the evening sharp, families build bonfires outside their homes and burn effigy of Satan. It is a tradition that many Guatemalans take part as a way to cleanse their home from devils that lurk in their home, creeping behind the furniture or hiding under the bed.
La quema del diablo can be traced to colonial time, a tradition that started since the 18th century. Held on the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and as a prelude to holiday season, those who could afford it adorns the fronts of their houses with lanterns, but for those who have lesser means builds a bonfires from their trash to celebrate the occasion.
A symbolical tradition with a belief that the fire burns the devil serves as purifying element, as the Virgin Mary was the blessed one to conceive baby Jesus must be free from any form of evil, therefore the event serves as “burning the devil” to clear the way for Mary’s feast.
Though the celebration may sound fun, it is controversial especially for the environmentalist groups. Back in the days, mostly paper were burned for the “cleansing ritual”, but now, piles of rubbish are mostly made of plastic and rubber that causes air pollution.
Over time the tradition evolved, from burning piles of garbage and pieces of furniture to being replaced by the effigy of Satan in a form of piñatas.
The tradition has special significance in Guatemala City because of its anticipation of Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of the city. Along the street of Zona 1, the historic city center, many vendors pile the street selling stuffs associated with La Quema del Diablo, from firecrackers to simple and intricate devil piñatas. In different parts of the city, people celebrate and burn their own devil piñatas.
The tradition continues, as the idea is to burn all the bad from the previous year and to start anew from the ashes. It is widely observed throughout the country, The Devil is burned at the stroke of six. In Antigua, the former capital of the country, a devil three stories tall is constructed and burned in the city square.
A variation of this tradition is held in San Antonio Palopo. In this very unique celebration, they carry a statue of Maximón around town with a noose around his neck, they locals then hang Maximón by his neck in front of Catholic church, douse him with gasoline, and set him on fire. This is the local way of showing respect to the Christian god.
Setting people on fire has been a way of ridding the town of evil doers for many centuries. As soon as the Spaniards settled in Guatemala they brought with them the Christian religion. The Christian religion frowned on bloodshed. So instead they burned evil doers alive to kill them. This way they did not shed blood and therefor committed no sin.
Most of the inhabitants still pray to both the Christian and Mayan gods and deities such as Maximón or ancestors. They often ask for healing, wealth, help with love and sexual fertility.
The locals say they pray to both just in case one god does not grant their wishes the other might. This happens with both evangelical and Catholic believers. ( Not all, but the majority) This is kept secret for fear of discrimination from others.
While the many of the locals pray to both god and deities they publicly denounce Maximón shortly before Christmas by dragging him around the village then hang him with a noose and set him on fire.
The political version of this festival:
Guatemalans burn traditional devil puppets to start their Christmas celebrations. The ceremonial burning of devils started in the 16th century and is meant to chase away bad spirits. And in 2016, US president-elect Donald Trump was a big hit. But not in a good way.
Revelers in Guatemala set ablaze cardboard piñata of Trump wearing devil horns. In fact, piñata makers said Trump is far and away the best-seller. Trump’s hardline stance on immigration during his election campaign, including a promise to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, has drawn anger from Latin Americans in the US and around the world.
So this is a way to vent out the anger? It can be. Guatemalans believe the practice of torching the devil helps banish bad spirits from their homes and neighborhoods.
In the ancient Roman calendar, October was the name of the eighth month of the year. Its name comes from octo, the Latin word for “eight.” When the Romans converted to a 12-month calendar, they tried to rename this month after various Roman emperors, but the name October stuck.
In Old England, the month was called Winmonath, which means “wine month,” for this was the time of year when wine was made. The English also called it Winterfylleth, or “Winter Full Moon.” They considered this full Moon to be the start of winter.
A warm October is said to be a sign of a cold February. If leaves wither on the trees and fail to fall to the ground in autumn, it indicates a frosty winter with a great deal of snow, alternatively:
“If October brings heavy frosts and winds,
then will January and February be mild.”
The October Moons
The full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon, and as such, it sometimes falls in October. This moon is also called the Blood Moon, Hunters Moon, Shedding Moon or the Falling Leaf Moon. Coming right before Samhain, it’s a time when the nights are crisp and clear, and you can sense a change in the energy around you.
The Blood Moon takes its name not from blood sacrifices, but from the old custom of killing and salting down livestock before the Winter months made it impossible to feed them. Only the choicest stock was kept through the cold season.
Today we still subconsciously begin to make preparations for the coming Winter during this time. We check the antifreeze and tires for the car, gather up garden hoses, and make plans to winterize any drafty spots around doors and windows in the house. Some of us do and an ambitious fall cleaning.
Throughout this month, festivals for the dead increase with the waning light, and late harvest festivals continue. The latter often include propitiation to ensure that the Goddess’s abundance will keep people whole through harsh or barren times.
Magical efforts accentuated by October’s characteristics include clearing away old, unnecessary things or habits so that our mind, body, and spirit are prepared for winter. Any spells for memory, especially commemorating loved ones, are apt. Beyond this, metaphysical efforts for health, luck, and debt paying seem common, ensuring that winter, the season of rest and death, will come and go with the least negative effect.
The Greek festival of Thesmophoria came every year in honor of Demeter and was confined to women only. This was a three-day rememberance of Kores return to the Underworld. At this festival the initiates shared a sacred barley drink and cakes. One feature of the Thesmophoria was a deterrent to offenders against the sacred laws against women. Priestesses read a list of the offenders before the doors of the goddesses’ temples, especially the temples of Demeter and Artemis. It was believed that anyone so cursed would die before the year ended.
The first day of the Thesmophoria was the kathodos, a ritual where purified priestesses took sacrificed piglets deep into the chasm where the sacred inner shrine of Demeter was. They left the piglets there and retrieved the remains of the one from the previous year. The second day was Nesteia, during which the remains of the retrieved piglets were displayed on the altar. Courts were closed in honor of Demeter as law-giver. On the third day, the retieved piglets were sown into the plowed Earth as a symbol of Demeter’s fertility aspect.
The Greeks also honored the god Hephaestus with an annual festival called Chalkeia.
In Tibet, the Buddhist Lent occured along with the Descent from Heaven festival which celebrated the end of the rainy season.
The Durga Puja in India honors the goddess Durga for four days beginning on the New Moon. It is a time of family reuntions, settling quarrels, and honoring the parents. In northern India this fesival is known as Dasahara. Durga is considered a matriarchal figure and is very popular with the people. She is shown with many arms and in bright colors.
The Lakshmi Puja, or Diwalii, is a fest of lights in honor of the goddess Lakshmi. It occurs right after the Durga Puja. During this Festival of Lights, lamos are everywhere, good things to eat are produced, and Hindu wives dance for their husbands. Lakshmi, wife of Vishnu, is considered the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
In the Pacific Ocean, the ancient Hawaiians celebrated a four-month long festival called Makahiki, beginning of the first Full Moon of this month. The god Lono had a special celebration of five days during this time, filled with games, pageantry, the hula, surfing, feasting, and tax collecting.
Thargelia (Greek Θαργήλια) was one of the chief Athenian festivals in honour of the Delian Apollo and Artemis, held on their birthdays, the 6th and 7th of the month Thargelion (about May 24 and May 25).
Essentially an agricultural festival, the Thargelia included a purifying and expiatory ceremony. While the people offered the first-fruits of the earth to the god in token of thankfulness, it was at the same time necessary to propitiate him, lest he might ruin the harvest by excessive heat, possibly accompanied by pestilence. The purificatory preceded the thanksgiving service.
The most important ritual was the following. Two men, the ugliest that could be found (the Pharmakoi) were chosen to die, one for the men, the other (according to some, a woman) for the women. Acting as scapegoats for community guilt, they were draped in figs and led through the city. before being cast out.
Hipponax of Kolophon claims that on the day of the sacrifice they were led round with strings of figs on their necks, and whipped on the genitals with rods of figwood and squills. When they reached the place of sacrifice on the shore, they were stoned to death, their bodies burnt, and the ashes thrown into the sea (or over the land, to act as a fertilizing influence). However, it is unclear how accurate Hipponax’s sixth-century, poetical account of the ceremony is, and there is much scholarly debate as to its reliability.
On the first day of the festival, a sheep was sacrificed to Demeter Chloe on the Acropolis, and perhaps a swine to the Fates, but it is generally agreed that an actual human sacrifice took place on this occasion, replaced in later times by a milder form of expiation. Thus at Leucas a criminal was annually thrown from a rock into the sea as a scapegoat: but his fall was checked by live birds and feathers attached to his person, and men watched below in small boats, who caught him and escorted him beyond the boundary of the city. Similarly, at Massilia, on the occasion of some heavy calamity (plague or famine), one of the poorest inhabitants volunteered as a scapegoat. For a year he was fed up at the public expense, then clothed in sacred garments, led through the city amidst execrations, and cast out beyond the boundaries.
After having rid the city of any ill influences on the first day of the festival, the second day begins with a joyous attitude. It follows the basic structure of any other Hellenic festival. First, there was a procession, which included children who carried the eiresione, an olive branch decorated with woolen fillets, bread, fruits, small flasks of honey, and some with oil. The children would sing the following while carrying this:
“The Eiresione brings figs and fat bread,
honey in pots, and oil to rub down,
a cup of strong wine so you go drunk to bed.”
As they moved through the city, they would collect offerings along the way. Once arriving at the temple, the offering of the first fruits of the grain harvest would begin. From the surviving texts we learn that the offering was of two types: a boiled stew of grains and seasonal vegetables, or the loaf of grain bread called the thargelos. It is from the name of the loaf that the festival takes its name. This loaf was also called eueteria, meaning “good year.”
There would also be libations, hymns, much feasting and other activities during the celebration. Singing competitions were especially popular, in which 50 men from the 10 tribes of Athens participated. All of these were done in honor of Apollo, god of purification.
For a more modern approach, we have this idea:
- Themes: Cleansing; Offering; Forgiveness; Magic
- Symbols: Ritual Tools
- Presiding Goddess: As the Greek goddess who created all sacred rituals and ceremonies, Hosia oversees this rite and directs your magical energy toward successful manifestation.
To do Today:
Follow Greek tradition and leave Hosia an offering of fruit, bread, or wheat to encourage her assistance. Next consider creating a personal ritual for cleansing or forgiveness. Hosia will guide your hand in choosing words and actions suited to the working. Alternatively, take out your ritual tools and ask for hosia’s blessing on them saying:
Hosia, these are the tools of my hand, heart, and spirit.
They symbolize the elements and the corners of creation.
Today I ask that you empower them for working magic,
and regulate their use for the greatest good.
May they always direct my energy in perfect love and trust.
So be it.
In ancient Greece, a scapegoat (often a criminal) was often identified to bear the sins for an entire community, then either sacrificed or banished into the wilderness. A way to adapt this practice is by designing an image of something you need to banish, then “driving it away” by putting it in the car and leaving it in a remote spot. As you turn away, ask the goddess Hosia to witness the rite and to empower your efforts for positive change.
From May 19-28 is the time of the Greek festival of Kallyntaria and Plynteria, a time that is also known as a time for “spring cleaning”. Most of us have already started our spring cleaning in various forms, but this particular time of the Sacred Year is dedicated to spiritual cleaning – the cleaning and nurturance of the sacred places.
The Greeks were good at that, and they called this festival Kallyntaria and Plynteria, by which they meant making a special effort to clean the sacred statues of the goddess and god. With all that incense burning and dust gathering, the sacred images get pretty dirty, and you had to take them to be washed in the nearest rivers or lakes, submerging them and letting them reunite with the life-giving waters. Afterward, the women dressed the goddess in her jewels, with much ceremony, and paraded her proudly back to her home in the temple. No singing or fun was allowed during this procedures. These festivals were solomnized because it was work, not play.
The same principle applies to us today. Let’s get those brooms out, and wash the house from top to bottom, really giving it an old fashioned purification. What could be more natural than to transform the old custom of spring cleaning into a religious devotion!
For modern Pagans/Wiccans, now is the time to strip down all the old decorations and adornments of your alter or personal magic space and to do some spring cleaning. If your alter has statues or images of the particular God or Goddess (or both) take them to a local river or stream (if you live near one) and bath the statues in the rushing water. If you are no where near a river, you can use either spring water from bottles, or rushing water from your sink.
If your statues and tools are not made of material safe enough for getting wet, then pass them over pine, frankincense, myrrh, or sandalwood incense. You can also use both water and incense to cleanse your magical wares if you feel it necessary. Clean the dust and and clutter your alter may have accumulated in past celebrations. If you still have Beltane items on your alter, now is the time to remove them and gently store them away for next year.
Celebrate this time of cleaning by partaking of refreshing drinks such as fruit juices like lemonade or limeade. Foods can be on the spicy side, incorporating garlic, onion, and spicy peppers for both purifying and cleansing. Don’t forget to offer some to the Gods :).
The Easter Fire is a custom of pagan origin spread all over Europe. It is a symbol of victory, the victory of beautiful and sunny spring over the cold days of winter.
On Holy Saturday or Easter Sunday, in rare occasions also on Easter Monday, large fires are lit at dusk in numerous sections of Northwestern Europe. These regions include Denmark, parts of Sweden as well as in Finland, Northern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
The fire is lit usually on the top of the mountains – Easter mountain, Osterberg – and it is obtained from wood by friction. In Germany, the Easter fire is created by gathering all the Christmas trees and burning them into a huge fire, a sign for everyone to leave behind winter and prepare for spring.
Though not documented before the 16th century, the custom presumably is based on Saxon, pre-Christian traditions, that are still performed each year. There are several explanations of the meaning of these fires. The Saxons believed that around the time of Easter, Spring becomes victorious over Winter. The fires were to help chase the darkness and winter away. It was also a symbol of fertility, which works in a literal sense in that the ashes were scattered over the meadows and thereby fertilized the soil.
The pre-Christian meaning of Easter fires is hardly experienced anymore. Nowadays they are meant to bring the community together, which guarantees a pleasant night combined with the consumption of beer, mulled wine or liquor, and snacks.
The Iroquois Mid-Winter Ceremony, for continuation of all life-sustaining things is a series of rituals, observed by the six tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, which celebrates new beginnings and serves as a spiritual new year. The ceremony does not have an official date on the calendar, but rather is determined when the first new moon arrives while both the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations are visible, which occurs in either February or January.
- According to one calendar, this will be Feb 19 thru Feb 28, in 2018.
The major events of the Midwinter Ceremony consist of the Tobacco Invocation, the Dream Sharing Ritual, the False Face Society, the Peach Stone Game, the Bear Dance, the White Dog Sacrifice, the Great Feather Dance, The Big Heads and the Stirring of the Ashes, and a closing ceremony. These events take place over the course of ten days with no specific order, but generally begin with The Big Heads and the Stirring of the Ashes and ends with a closing ceremony.
- Big Heads and the Stirring of the Ashes
Generally, the first of the activities is the Big Heads and the Stirring of the Ashes. A group of anonymous messengers called the Big Heads visit the tribe’s longhouse. They wear ceremonial outfits made of buffalo skins and braided corn husk masks which symbolize the hunt and the harvest.
They also carry a corn mashing mallet used in the Stirring of the Ashes. In the Stirring of the Ashes, the Big Heads go from house to house stirring the ashes in fire pits of each household while they ask that the New Year brings renewal and fertility to the land. This is gesture of gratitude to “The Creator” as ashes serve as a symbol of the earth and the cycle of life.
- Tobacco Invocation
The next ritual to usually take place after the Stirring of the Ashes is the Tobacco Invocation. It consists of sprinkling tobacco in the embers remaining from the Stirring of the Ashes or outright smoking as an offering. The smoke that rises from the burning tobacco symbolically rises to the heavens to sign of giving thanks and to give messages to the Creator and other spirits.
- Dream Sharing Ritual
The Dream Sharing Ritual serves as a ritual of healing. It serves as a way to get rid of troubling thoughts and a way to make wishes come true as the Iroquois believe that dreams represent ways to resolve real life problems. Tribe members would describe their dreams in front of others so they may give their interpretation of the events that take place in the dreams.
The person who has the best interpretation has to then aid the tribe member in seeing that the issue gets resolved. For dreams that represent physical or mental ailments, they dreamer is sent to the False Face Society which is a group of medicine men.
- False Face Society
The False Face Society is a group of Iroquois medicine men who wear masks made out of wood. These people can consist of either men or women, but only the men wear the traditional masks. They are said to have the ability to scare off the evil spirits that cause illness. Those who are deemed of needing healing during the Dream Sharing Ritual are sent to these medicine men during their gathering. Healing rituals consist generally of blowing or rubbing hot ashes from a fire on those in need of curing.
- Bear Dance
The Bear Dance is another healing ritual that coincides with the False Face Society gathering. It is conducted by both men and women by lumbering and waddling like bear counter clockwise around a person that was ill.
This can be done either privately or publicly. The Iroquois believed that this dance can heal the problems of person that were placed upon them from the previous year.
- Peach Stone Game
The next event is the Peach Stone Game. This game symbolizes the Iroquois creation story where the Creator and his evil brother played a game in competition during the creation of the Earth, the renewal of the Earth like the Stirring of the Ashes, and the battle for survival of crops.
The game consists of six peach pits which are colored black (through burning for example) on one side. They are placed in a bowl and shaken while two teams take turns placing bets in the form of beans on how many black sides will face up. The teams are given an equal number of beans, and the first team to lose all of their beans loses the match. The results of this game are also used to predict the success of the coming year’s harvest.
- White Dog Sacrifice
One of the following events is the White Dog Sacrifice. Originally, this ritual consisted of killing a white dog, a symbol of purity, by strangulation as to leave no marks. The dog was then adorned in red paint, feathers, beads, wampum, and ribbons. It was placed on fire along with tobacco so that smoke may carry their, sacrifice, and prayers to the Creator.
Today, however, the act of killing a white dog is replaced by a white basket due to the animal cruelty in the original proceedings of the ritual.
- Great Feather Dance
The final event before the closing ceremonies is the Great Feather Dance. The dance is held on eight night of the nine-day festival, and serves as way to welcome the new spiritual year as well as thanking the Creator. Dancers wear traditional tribal clothing and turtle shell rattles, and dance to two singers that sit facing each other. They give thanks to all the Creator has bestowed upon them during the previous year by dancing in rhythm and shaking the rattles.
The event finally concludes with a closing ceremony where a speaker presenting an overview of the events and address of thanksgiving. New tribal council members who will lead the people until the next event are chosen and presented to the crowd. By the end of this ceremony, all members of the tribe are purified and a new year is welcomed.
Source: First Nation Rituals
The word January comes from the Roman name for this month; it was named after the god Janus who had two faces. This deity ruled over beginnings and endings, the past and future. Since January is reckoned as the first month of a new year, this connection with the god Janus is appropriate. It is an excellent time to work on putting aside the old and outdated in one’s personal life and making plans for new and better conditions.
Correspondences for January:
- Nature Spirits: gnomes, brownies
- Herbs: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts and cones
- Colors: brilliant white, blue-violet, black
- Flowers: snowdrop, crocus
- Scents: musk, mimosa
- Stones: garnet, onyx, jet, chrysoprase
- Trees: birch
- Animals: fox, coyote
- Birds: pheasant, blue jay
- Deities: Freyja, Inanna, Sarasvati, Hera, Ch’ang-O, Sinn
Power flow: sluggish; below the surface; A good time for spell work having to do with beginning and conceiving; protection; reversing spells; conserving energy by working on personal problems that involve no one else; getting your various bodies to work smoothly together for the same goals.
January Celebrations and Rituals:
The Chinese use the concept of putting aside the old and outdated in one’s personal life and making plans for new and better conditions in celebrating their New Year, which occurs on the first day of the New Moon when the Sun is in Aquarius. They considered this celebration a time for settling debts, honoring ancestors, and having family reunions. They carry paper images of dragons through the streets and set off fireworks to chase away evil entities and misfortune.
Tsao-Wang was the Chinese kitchen god or deity of the hearth and domestic comfort; his picture hung above the stove. He was the protector of the family and recorder of their actions and words. His report at the end of each year to the Heavenly Jade Emperor was said to determine the family’s coming fortune. Because of this, the Chinese burned the old picture-image and put up a new one a few days before New Year. His wife had the task of reporting on female family members.
Even the people of Tibet, whose year began about the end of January, had a celebration for expelling the Old Year. They made a dough image for the demons to inhabit, then worshiped them for seven days. At the end of that period, they took the image outside the village to a crossroad and abandoned it. The idea behind this seems to have been that the negative beings who had accumulated during the Old Year, received recognition for their existence, but also received a firm statement, by the action of leaving their image outside the village, that they were not welcome to hang around.
Most cultures had some ceremony for ending an old cycle of the calendar and celebrating the beginning of a new cycle. Physical activity acknowledging the end and beginning of cycles sets off similar changes in the subconscious mind. This change in the subconscious is necessary in order for actual physical changes to come about. Such rituals are helpful when one faces the end of cycles in relationships, career, residence, or other life situations.During the Feast of Kore, which was held at night with much feasting and dramatics, a group of initiates bearing torches went down into the goddess’s underground chamber. With much ceremony and reverence, they brought out the wooden statue of Kore, naked except for her golden jewelry. The statue was placed on a decorated litter and carried seven times around the temple. The Greeks considered that the number seven brought luck and success.
The Incan festival of Camay Quilla was held at the New Moon.
The Seven Deities of Luck in Japan were honored during a three-day festival called San-ga-nichi. To avoid good luck being swept away, there was no sweeping during this festival. These Seven Deities are also called Shichi Fukujin or Shichi-Kukujin, which means “Seven Gods of Happiness.” There are six gods and one goddess that make up this little group. They sail about in a treasure ship called a takarabune.
This ritual is linked to chasing away mice from the house and village and is observed on different days in different areas. In many places, this coincides with the Day of Martyr Nestor of Thessalonica, (October 27), or the day after the Day of the Archangel Michael (November 8th).
On this day, no one should utter the word ‘mouse,’ lest.they hear their name and decide that they have been invited to stay at or come to your house. This day is traditionally honored by women. No household work is done, so that mice do not harm the house or the grain. Skirts are sewn up the front and the back as a symbolic “sewing up” of the mice’s eyes. Fireplaces might also be (temporarily) sealed, so that the eyes and mouths of the mice are similarly covered.
Then the Mice Wedding is performed. Calling them “lad” and “lady”, a male and a female mouse are dressed as bride and groom and married in a ritual typical to a human wedding of the region. They are then placed in a basket and marched through the village in a solemn procession, The newly weds are then taken far as away from the village where they are set free, or more commonly, taken to the river and ceremonially drowned.
The idea being that the other mice in the village would be inspired to follow the procession out of the village. Marriage was the most common cause of a change in place to live, and by all means a wedding is the prerequisite for establishing a new home and a new family. Alternatively, the other mice would be so frightened by the sudden drowning of the happy couple that they would never return to the village.
If however, despite the ritual performed on Mice’s Day, the little rodents still managed to breed in hordes, it was considered a sign that someone was secretly stealing something away from the household, either food or household items. And in most cases suspicion fell on daughters-in-law and young farmhands who were not blood relations.
A cautionary tale:
Once a married man was taking away more items and clothes on the sly to give them to his mistress. Once his wife found out about the betrayal, she took the matter to the judge. The judge summoned the disloyal husband and demanded an explanation. The man denied the whole time, until finally the wounded wife blurted out the last and uncontested proof, namely that the mice in the house had bred in unusually high numbers. Then the cheating husband admitted his shame and confessed he was taking those gifts to another woman.
Another common explanation of the phenomenon of mice that continued to breed was that the family members were in discord, either daughters-in-law quarreled with one another, or refused to respect their father and mother-in-law, or possibly, the sons did not obey their own fathers’ will.
Collected from various sources