Mystical Month, February
‘Oh, long, long
The snow has possessed the mountains.
The deer have come down and the big-horn,
They have followed the sun to the south
To feed on the mesquite pods and the bunch grass.
Loud are the thunder drums in the tents of the mountains.
Oh, long, long
Have we eaten
and dried deer’s flesh of the summer killing.
We are tired of our huts
and the smoky smell of our clothing.
We are sick with the desire for the sun
And the grass on the mountain.
Paiute Late Winter Song
The name February is believed to have derived from the name ‘Februa’ taken from the Roman ‘Festival of Purification’. The root ‘februo’ meaning to ‘I purify by sacrifice’.
As part of the seasonal calendar February is the time of the ‘Ice Moon’ according to Pagan beliefs, and the period described as the ‘Moon of the Dark Red Calf’ by Black Elk (Black Elk Speaks, Neihardt). February has also been known as ‘Sprout-kale’ by the Anglo-Saxons in relation to the time the kale and cabbage was edible.
It is a time when favourable colours to improve personal healing are amethyst, white and blue-violet (the colour of crocus). These are the colours often associated with winter whilst the delicate crocus and snowdrops, along with the scented carnation lend beauty and a glimpse of the fine weather to come in spring to a time of austerity.
The herbs and produce of the woodland too are closely connected, with nuts and cones, musk, marjoram and mimosa lending sweetness. As the second month of the winter calendar the holy thistle too reminds us of the link with winters rule and faith tested in times of extreme hardships. The fox and its brother on a distant shore the coyote find the ability to retrieve food in the harshest of environments. As we approach spring birds too are seen to be remembered with January, with the pheasant appearing from the hedgerow and the jay (and the blue-jay) taking to the wing as a sign of the skies and earth giving hope of insect life and nesting materials.
Metaphorical associations between the gospel writer ‘Mark’ and this period in the Celtic calendar known as ‘Imbolc’ which continues through to April. Mark was considered to be an ordinary man with incredible powers of communication evidenced in his writing which was thought of as colourful and exciting. The move between each story in the bible was seen to be swift and therefore was equated to the raging speed of the winds experienced at this time of the year. February is the first month of Imbolc, with the length of the day increases and with it the warmth and power of the sun, and the festival of ‘Candlemas’ (2 February) is central to both the Celtic and Christian beliefs.
The rhythms of nature are embodied in the woman, together with the ability to bring forth life. So the feast is associated with the potential fertility of the land, the preparation. In the Celtic church it is ‘Brigid’ (1 February) and in the Christian ‘St. Brigit’ (2 February) who personify these qualities. Both are associated with ‘Mary and motherhood’, ‘Gaia and the earth goddess’, the ‘motherhood of God’. This should be considered in connection with the astrological calendar, as here we see the symbol of the circle complete in ‘Pisces’ and the hope of life anew as we approach ‘Aries’, the end and the beginning, the old and the new, the death and the life. All indicate a higher spiritual awareness and growth. As a result the fish and the ram are important in animal mythology, although birds too have great significance as we approach the period of Easter
As part of the astrological calendar, February has many associations. This is the month of the house of
Aquarius (20 January – February 19) and the house of Pisces (20 February – March 20).
‘Crystalline brother of the belt of heaven,
Aquarius! To whom King Jove has given
Two liquid pulse streams ‘stead of feathered wings.’
Aquarius is the eleventh sign of the zodiac and depicted as ‘Ganymede’, a youthful male water carrier, also known as the ‘God with Two Streams’. Ganymede became cup-bearer to the ‘Olympian Gods’, ruled over by ‘Zeus’, and borne to ‘Mount Olympus’ on the back of an eagle. Out of the carrier springs new wisdom, for the good of humanity. The ‘Age of Aquarius’, generally thought to commence around 2000 AD, is foreseen as one which will embody these qualities. It is also the subject of many predictions, some of which indicate Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ, one of major natural cataclysmic occurrences, and a shift in the earth’s axis. Yet the New Age is also the subject of excitement not because as it has been suggested the beginning of Aquarius will prelude either the weakening or strengthening of Christianity, but that with the new era comes a religion will be wholly embraced. So far this has been deemed to be one based on the now famous statement ‘Make love not war’. A desire to move away from materialism and violence is predicted to surface. There has, however, been extreme concern shown on the place of drugs in all this with some predicting that the New Age will signal no more than the beginning of a period not of reawakening but of sleep dictated by a drug induced delirium.
‘Uranus’ is the ruling planet of Aquarius bringing with it the qualities of revolution, change, unpredictability and disruption. Aquarius is a fixed and positive air sign associated with the statement ‘I am the embodiment of all that society needs or desires’, ‘I universalise’, and ‘I will change’. It rules the circulation and ankles. It is associated with the Ash, Birch, Cherry, Elder, Fig, Plum, and the Rowan, and with the flowers Apple, Lemon & Peach Blossom and Orchid. Colours associated with Aquarius are aquamarine, electric blue and turquoise tones. The main stone associated with Aquarius is Aquamarine. Lucky number is four, lucky day Saturday. Metals associated are aluminium and uranium.
‘There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.’
Pisces is the twelfth sign of the zodiac, symbolised by the ‘Fish’ and the Roman ‘God Neptune’, also known as ‘The Mystic’. The ‘Age of Pisces’ witnessed the birth of Christ and the glyph more often associated with the Christian religion was, for the first five to six hundred years, the fish.
This period is generally taken to have started before the birth of Christ, approximately 200 BC. The duration of the Age of Pisces has been calculated to be one-twelfth of 25,725 years, working out to 2,143. The figure most usually referred to though for calculating the length of the Equinox is 2,160 years. The ‘Age of Aquarius’ which follows Pisces in the precession of the Equinoxes is generally thought to start at the beginning for the new millennium, around 2000 AD. There is dispute over he exact date of the dawn of the New Age.
We can be sure that before Pisces was the Age of Aries, and before this the Age of Taurus, thought to be around 4000 – 2000 BC. The progress of the Ages follows the opposite path to the one most associate with the annual path of the zodiac. Within each period it is also clear that the symbol of the house has held much influence and importance, for example in ancient Egyptian mythology, the God Apis was highly revered during the Age of Taurus, with many cult groups taking the glyph of the bull to symbolise belief, obedience and respect.
The influence of Neptune is clear in the house of Pisces possessing the qualities of spiritual development, romance, lyricism, dreaminess, caring, perception and intuition. ‘Jupiter’ is the ruling planet of Pisces bringing with it a belief in the highest most positive powers of the universe.
As the last house before ‘Aries’, Pisces strives to find peace before death with the cosmos, which must be achieved in order to move on, hence the extraordinary evolution that can occur as the month progresses. It is seen to represent the last stage of life and the ability to approach imminent change with ease, as of course Pisces represents the ability to progress from the material to the spiritual world. Pisces is a mutable and negative water sign associated with the statement ‘I am in harmony, in unison with the mysteries of the universe’. It rules the feet. Pisces is associated with Angelica, Iris, Orchids, Violets and Water Lilies, as well as Mosses, Ferns, and Seaweed.
Pisces is further associated with any tree that grows close to the water’s edge, including the Weeping Willow and also the Alder, Ash, Dogwood and Fig. Colours associated with Pisces are silver, sea greens, mauve, purple and violet. The main stone associated with Pisces is the Amethyst, whilst the man stone associated with the month of February is the Aquamarine. Lucky number is seven, lucky day. Metals associated are germanium and strontium.
‘Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.’
William Shakespeare, Henry VI Part 2, Act III, Scene 1