Monday, February 4, at 1:04pm Pacific, is the New Moon. And, as I said in my last post, this week is a cross-quarter observance. It also marks the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, as we move into the Year of the Earth Pig. In Brazil, this weekend marks Fiesta de Iemanjá, Candomblé and Umbanda goddess of the sea. In the Hindu faith, February 5th this year is Kumbh Mela, which draws tens of millions of pilgrims to bathe at the sacred confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mystical Sarasvati, in recognition of the sacred pitcher of elixir of immortality.
The Spring Festival is a time of change and new beginnings. Practically every activity during the Spring Festival has the purpose of removing the old and welcoming the new. In Chinese element theory, each zodiac sign is associated with one of the five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. An Earth Pig comes once in a 60-year cycle.
From a Shamanic point of view, this Aquarius New Moon is about Activation. Keep moving forward and don’t let yourself get stuck in imagined slights, the past, or the rumblings in your head. We are being offered an opportunity to create ourselves anew, leveling up, as it were, and that can create some discomfort. Staying in action will help relieve the internal pressure. Setting your intention for the coming cycle at the New Moon is important; remember that the energy of a New Moon is in effect about 36 hours before and 36 hours after the exact time. Simone Butler has a good ritual for both the New Moon ans the Lunar New Year here.
My final seasonal offering is on the history of Groundhog Day, via Snapodragonsoda on Tumblr:
So Groundhog Day was brought to the Americas by European immigrants – mostly from around the area of Germany. It originated from the, now mostly ignored, holiday Candlemas. (Brief Candlemas interlude: I don’t know much about it, but I guess it’s about pruification (sic) or presenting baby Jesus to the world? But maybe just kinda set in February to try and overshadow Naughty Pagan or Roman fertility holidays?)
There was a general superstition that the weather on this day was a predictor of the upcoming weather. So the basic saying was that a clear Candleas meant more upcoming cold weather, while a cloudy Candlemas meant it would warm up sooner.
This kinda morphed together with the idea that animals are more in tune with nature and that wether can be predicted by observing their actions. So the saying became roughly: if burrowing animal notices clear weather on Candlemas, then it will go back to bed because more winter is coming.
So depending on your source, there are all sorts of different burrowing or hibernating animals that these German-speaking groups watched. Most common is the badger, but you’ll find sources that say hedgehogs or foxes sometimes.
But hedgehogs Aren’t Native to North America and American badgers are more common in the western states, not the eastern areas where these immigrants originally settled. But you know what large rodent WAS native to that area? Thst’s right it’s the groundhog!
So years go by, we’re not really celebrating Candlemas so much but this watching groundhogs to get an idea of the weather thing is still around. (Kinda like another popular American folk concept that the bands of Wooly Worms in autumn will predict the intensity of the upcoming winter. Why didn’t the Wooly Worms get their own Day?)
Now… at some point a group in Pennsylvania just decided to REALLY play this up for fun and publicity, and that’s how we get the real Holiday of Groundhog Day. A lot of people don’t know this because they don’t care, but if you try to look into the “Official Punxsutawney Phill” stuff, they claim that like, that groundhog is Hundreds of Years Old; has Literally Magical weather predicting powers; and that their secrect society can actually Speak Groundhog Language.
Basically, a town invented a cryptid for Fun and Profit.
And other towns copied it, they named their own groundhogs (or other animals). It’s all just a fun bit of folklore that we’ve made a Day of.
PS. If you’re interested in Candlemas, I recommend seeing what the Jesuits have to say about it.