By Steven Forrest
Bono and the boys sang, “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day” and that’s usually about right. There is nothing astrologically significant about the first day of January. Calling January 1st “the beginning of the year” is a Roman invention without any real basis in any natural cycle. The only astrological argument for it is that the date lies close to the northern Winter Solstice, which falls at the end of the third week of December. That Solstice—the longest night of the year—could naturally be a candidate for a true nature-based New Year’s since it marks the beginning of the return of the light. But the day we celebrate is off by ten days, and there are other equally compelling calendrical possibilities.
Of course if you are an Australian, even that is all backwards. For the Aussies, that bright summer day in December marks the outset of a descent into darkness, and who would want to celebrate that day as a new beginning?
Astrologers generally view Aries as the first sign of the zodiac, and so timing the year’s start to coincide with the Vernal Equinox would make good organic sense—but again, all that is reversed in the southern hemisphere. And who needs another lost cause anyway? Just try to get people to celebrate the New Year on March 21st. Astrologers have tried to get the world to call that day “International Astrology Day.” And . . . well, it’s not exactly on postage stamps yet. (By the way, one of my Mexican friends lamented that US astrologers chose March 21 for International Astrology Day when the entire post-Catholic world already celebrates astrologers in the form of the Three Wise Men on January 6th, which would have been a choice that already had a big head start.)
The Celts celebrated their New Year on Halloween. To them, that “cross-quarter day,” which they called Samhain, actually marked the beginning of the yearly cycle. And they celebrated it on the eve of the cross-quarter day, not the day itself. It has been suggested that they were reflecting on the idea that life begins in the darkness and mystery of the womb, and that nothing could be more natural than timing the beginning of the year to coincide with the “Eve of the Gathering Dark.” I wrote a lot about that in The Book of The Moon, and I won’t repeat it here. Suffice to say that the Celtic traditions live on in many of our “Eve” celebrations, Halloween and Christmas Eve being the most obvious examples, along with our present subject: New Year’s Eve.
Steven's newest book takes a fresh look at the moon, including new insight into the moon's phases, the moon's declination and the "out of bounds" moon.
Meanwhile, Chinese people and Muslims use a lunar calendar, which produces a floating New Years Day. For the Chinese it falls early in our calendar year. This year it will be February 10th. For the Islamic world, New Year’s Day can occur anytime, drifting through all four seasons of the year in a little over three decades.
Bottom line, you can begin a cycle anywhere. It is an arbitrary choice. Where does a circle start? A circle is a merry-go-round, not a bee-line railroad track in Kansas or the Australian Outback.
Still, taking a look at the calendar, no one can miss that January 1, 2013 starts a New Year, with a new number. How can the heart help but see a blank slate full of fresh possibilities? January 1st may be a strange Roman invention with less of a claim on marking the year’s first day than many other possible dates, but here it is, in our faces. Something changes on New Years’ Day. Make your resolutions, raise a glass to your old friends, and dive into the realm of the unknown, the possible, and the unpredictable.
As I write these words on December 20, 2012, the year 2013 stands before us all unblemished. No act of selfishness has yet occurred. No violence, no lies, no exploitation. No one has yet been hurt, no species driven into extinction, no eco-system fouled. Vast horizons of kindness and charity lie before us in the realm of Quantum Uncertainty. They are possible, in other words. Brilliant art lies like a seed in the minds of our visionaries. Babies wanted by competent, loving parents haven’t yet even become zygotes—get on it, mom and dad! Drunkards are on the cusp of their first day of sobriety. Boys will become men and girls will become women. The hearts of a few meanies will be melted by kittens and puppies and rainbows and acts of generosity.
It should take our breath away to realize the power we hold in our hands on the cusp of this moment, which we define as the beginning of a New Year. The fact that we all believe in it makes it more real. It is not a moment like any other. Our collective belief in it gives it power beyond that.
Wielding that power as best we can, here is our blessing to you. From all of us at Forrestastrology.com and Seven Paws Press, we wish you a merry, meaningful, lively 2013. May your good angels guide you and your bad angels give you a break. May your bodies treat you as good and faithful servants. May you do work that matters. May your computers not crash, your cars get good mileage, and may you be free of all bad relationship karma for the next twelve months. May the check in the mail arrive. May the past be the past. May no one frack your back yard and may Monsanto not sneak any GMO’s onto your plate. May User Support speak your native language. And may 10% of all your calories be mysteriously donated to various Third World charities.
Can I get an Amen? Happy New Year!
NEW Audio RELEASES
Based on Steven’s latest work, The Book of the Moon, this lecture introduces an eight-phase interpretation of the lunar cycle based on the Pagan calendar of solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarter days. Recorded live at the post-conference workshop held UAC 2012. 3 hours 40 min.
In this class, Steven introduces thes prfound techniques of evolutionary astrology in the living context of the rectified natal chart of jazz great Louis Armstrong. Listeners will come away with a knowledge of the rudiments of an entirely new method of analysis. Recorded at UAC 2012. 1 hour 15min.
Weak expressions of Mercury, Venus, and Mars correspond closely to the "three poisons" in Buddhism — Ignorance, Attachment, and Anger. Learn how to work consciously with the energies of these three "personal planets". Recorded at UAC 2012. mp3 format. 1 hour 15 min.