Alternatives to the Calendar New Year

Camille Flammarion, L'atmosphere

Camille Flammarion, L'atmosphere

It's 2018 and we've started a new year according to the legal calendar of empires. Our current calendar, starting on January 1st, was adopted by England and its colonies in 1752. It’s an updated version of the Gregorian Calendar (named for Pope Gregory XIII in 1582), which was an updated version of the Julian Calendar (named for Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.).

Ours is a solar calendar, following the 365 days of the Earth’s orbit around the sun. It’s been adapted to fit Christian holidays, to standardize time for the Roman and British empires, and in attempts to deal with the pesky fact that the solar year is technically 365.2422 days (enter Leap Year). The result is a set of twelve arbitrary months that have nothing to do with their namesake the moon, and a year that begins rather randomly about ten days after the Winter Solstice. It’s usually not the most auspicious day for setting New Year’s Resolutions, because it doesn’t coincide with any solar or (usually) lunar timing. Except for beginning a month named after Janus, the Roman god of doorways, January 1st is not magically significant. It’s just the end of the fourth quarter and the beginning of the next fiscal year. Rebels have better, older ways of telling time than this.

Astrology works in sets of cycles. Everything is a circle, and in that sense there is no beginning or ending. But it’s human to want to mark time. We need endings and beginnings so that we can harvest the old and set intentions for the new through the cycles of our lives. Here are some more magical, seasonally-aligned ways to begin and end your personal year.

Lunar New Year

Instead of a solar year, consider marking time with a lunar year. This brings the months into alignment with the moon’s cycles, so you have a new month every 28 (or 29.5) days. People throughout history have used lunar or lunisolar calendars to tell time. Currently, the Chinese use a lunisolar calendar, with the next Year of the Dog beginning February 16, 2018 at the Aquarius solar eclipse. The Hebrew calendar is lunisolar, with the Jewish New Year beginning on Rosh Hashanah (September 9, 2018). So is the Islamic calendar, which begins on the first day of Muharram, the first month (sunset on September 11, 2018). You could also get super New Age and use Law of Time’s 13 Moon Calendar, which begins with the rising of Sirius. The Egyptians began their year with the heliacal rise of Sirius, an event that was significant in many ancient cultures.

Theoretically you could just start a personal lunar calendar with any new moon. The 13 Moons Report can help you plan your lunar year.

Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox (or Vernal Equinox) is the astrological new year. It’s the day the sun moves into Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. Day and night are equal lengths. It is also, of course, the beginning of spring in northern hemispheres, a time of beginnings. In the Julian calendar, the year began with March, named for Mars, the ruling planet of Aries. The spring equinox in 2018 is March 20th.

Samhain: The Witches’ New Year

Originally a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, many pagans celebrate Samhain as the Witches’ New Year. It’s a liminal time, when the veils between worlds are thin. It’s also a time to honor the dead and prepare for winter. This liminality, with a focus on endings, recognizes that every ending is a new beginning. The actual date of Samhain is controversial. You can celebrate it from October 31 - November 1, or when the sun is at 15 degrees of Scorpio (November 7, 2018). This year we also have a new moon in Scorpio at 15 degrees on November 7th!

Your Solar Return

Every year, the sun returns to the exact degree of its placement in your natal chart. This is your birthday, though in different years it will occur on different days and times. If you’re going to measure time with a solar calendar, this is a perfect moment to look back on how far you’ve come and plan for the next 365 days. Your solar return gives you a new astrological chart that tells you about the year ahead. I offer a solar return reading for returning clients (who have already had a natal chart reading.)

How do you choose to measure your personal year?

Cancer Full Moon: Shifting Tides

This Full Moon is at 11.38 Cancer on Monday, January 1, 2018 at at 9:24 PM (EST).

High Tide at Thorpe Bay, Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of

High Tide at Thorpe Bay, Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of

We know the moon controls the tides. A supermoon like this one (a new or full moon at perigee, close to Earth) has an increased gravitational pull, creating tides that are higher than usual. Imagine a beach at high tide. The ocean swells to overflowing. The water washes away sand castles and footprints that were created at low tide. Sand, rocks, and shells are all buried under water. In the ebb and flow of things, we’re starting 2018 at high tide. The full moon is the highest point in the lunar cycle. It’s the climax of the month’s storyline, and sometimes the climax of an even longer storyline if it happens to aspect something in your chart exactly.

This full moon is important for several reasons, not just because it’s on January 1st. One is that it’s a supermoon. Two, it’s a supermoon in Cancer, the sign of the moon’s rulership, which always makes it especially potent, and it’s on Monday, the moon’s day. Three, it makes a grand trine with Neptune in Pisces and Jupiter and Mars in Scorpio, and it’s opposing Venus and Pluto in Capricorn. Four, Uranus stations direct within 12 hours of the moon’s peak fullness, at 9:11 AM EST on January 2nd. That means every outer planet is somehow involved in this full moon.

huber aspects.png

This moon’s aspects almost make a kite formation, but the orbs are too wide to make it a true kite. However, with a grand water trine involving two outer planets, and an opposition to both Venus and Pluto in Capricorn, this is significant. The grand water trine is an expansion of Jupiter’s trine to Neptune. Add the moon in Cancer, and this already nice aspect becomes especially supportive. This is beneficial for intuition, creativity, emotional connections, nurturing, and purification.

A grand trine by itself can be too soft though, signifying luck, but without any catalyst to take advantage of that luck. The oppositions to Venus and Pluto in Capricorn add more tension to the full moon chart. The tides of your life could begin to shift with this moon in an active aspect to Pluto. Venus in Capricorn is a nice indication of prosperity, while Pluto always indicates a transformation.

I don’t consider an opposition to be a bad thing. Like a square, it’s an aspect of tension that indicates challenge and activity. An opposition requires you to integrate two complementary energies so you can put them to use. In this case, you’re integrating the energies of the moon in Cancer (emotional, nurturing, creative) and Venus in Capricorn (wealth, quality, stable relationships), and the energies of the moon with Pluto (transformation, rebirth). This is a nice full moon for performing some money magic. The “high tide” energy makes for potent timing. It can be as simple as setting an intention for your prosperity this year, keeping the money flowing by making a donation to a cause of your choice, or taking a moment to say thanks for what you have. It can also be a good full moon for strengthening emotional connections and transforming relationships.

We have started the new year according to the Gregorian calendar, and many use this time to make resolutions for the next 365 days. Astrologically, though, this is not the best time to start something new. The full moon is better for letting go of something: a bad money habit, a relationship that doesn’t have a strong connection. It is a powerful time for magic, just not necessarily for resolving to dive into all of those typically mundane things like starting your gym membership and eating salad. Go with the grand water trine’s flow. A Cancer full moon makes people who are sensitive to it want to eat chocolate and curl up on the couch. If you want to make resolutions this January, you will have better luck at the new moon in Capricorn on January 16th.

And now that it’s 2018, you can read more about how the moon affects your specific sign in the horoscopes! Happy New Year!

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