‘...You’d be so lean, that blast of January
Would blow you through and through. Now, my fair’st friend,
I would I had some flowers o’ the spring that might
Become your time of day...’
William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act IV Scene 4.
This is the second month of winter, the ‘Gate of the New Year’, the first of the Gregorian calendar, and the third month of the Celtic seasonal calendar known as Samhain (see Mystical WWW Months : November introduction), which translated means ‘The coming of the dark’.
The name, given to the month of ‘January’, is derived from the ancient Roman name ‘Janus’ who presided over the gate to the new year. He was revered as the ‘God of Gateways’, ‘of Doorways’ and ‘of the Journey’, later known as ‘St. Januarius’. Janus protected the ‘Gate of Heaven’, known as the ‘Lord of Beginnings’, is associated with the‘Goddess Juno-Janus’, and often symbolised by an image of a face that looks forwards and backwards at the same time. This symbolism can easily be associated with the month known as for many the start of a new year bodes opportunity, casting out the old and in with the new. It is the time when many reflect on events of the previous year and often resolve to redress or improve some aspect of daily life or personal philosophy. January has traditionally been also associated with the qualities of ‘Goddess Venus’, ‘Freya’, ‘Hera’ and ‘Irene’, and the Egyptian ‘Nile God Hapi’ amongst many others.
‘Lauwmaand’ (The frosty month)
‘Wulf-monath’ (Wolf month, a threat in a time of little food)
‘Se oeftera geola’ (After yule)
‘Forma monath’ (First month)
Saxon (after influence of Christianity)
As part of the seasonal calendar January is the time of the ‘Wolf Moon’ according to Pagan beliefs, and the period described as the ‘Moon of Frost in the Tepee’ by Black Elk, Mystic and Medicine Man of the Oglala Sioux (Black Elk Speaks, Neihardt). It is a time when favourable colours to improve personal healing are black (jet stone), white and blue-violet (the colour of crocus flowers). 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. (See Mystical WWW Plants, & Trees for more folklore information).
The fox (See Mystical WWW Mystic’s Menagerie : Animals, for more folklore information) 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. (See Mystical WWW Mystic’s Menagerie : Birds, for more folklore information). A traditional belief amongst farmers in the British Isles said that a mild January was an omen of wet weather to come (from February through to May) and would give a bad crop in the field.
‘Bid the past farewell,
and receive the year that has just been born.’
As part of the astrological calendar, January has many associations. This is the month of the house of Capricorn (December 20 - January 20) and the house of Aquarius (21 January - February 18).
Capricorn is the tenth sign of zodiac and depicted by the symbol of the ‘Goat’. The resolve to achieve is evidenced by Capricorn’s who work hard and long, like the goat, slowly but surely to reach the top of their mountain until they wish to move on to new and better pastures. The sign is said to embody authority and maturity being associated with the stage of latter life of the adult. Here is the chance for a Capricorn to work and rework ideas to get it right, as second best is not bad but things can always be better. In ancient Babylonian mythology Capricorn was depicted as the ‘God Ea’, fish-tailed, also known as the ‘Antelope of the Sea’.Capricorn is also known by the name the ‘Gate of Death’ (opposite sign Cancer, ‘Gate of Birth’). This is the time when the Sun enters its tenth phase of the journey and a time of new wisdom; Ea is seen to rise from the deep waters and instruct Man on the divine wisdom.
‘Saturn’ is the ruling planet of Capricorn bringing with it the qualities of wisdom, security, self-control, discipline, determination, responsibility and limitation. Saturn is also known as ‘Lord of Saturday’, ‘Kronos’or ‘Time’ (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Days of the Week). Capricorn is a cardinal and negative earth sign associated with the statement ‘I master’and‘I will refine’. It rules the skin, knees and bones. It is associated with the Aspen, Elder, Elm, Pine, Poplar, Weeping Willow and Yew (See Mystical WWW Trees), and with Burdock, Hemlock, Holly and the Black & Red Poppy (See Mystical WWW Plants, & Language of Flowers). Colours associated with Capricorn are black, earth tones, indigo and orange. The main stone associated with Capricorn is the Garnet, and the main stone associated with December is the Turquoise (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Rhymes & Time - Language of Gems). Lucky number is eight, lucky day Saturday (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months). Metal associated is lead.
‘In spring, when woods are getting green,
I’ll try and tell you what I mean:
In summer, when the days are long,
Perhaps you’ll understand the song?’
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 (See Mystical WWW Trees), and with the flowers Apple, Lemon & Peach Blossom and Orchid (See Mystical WWW Plants, & Language of Flowers). Colours associated with Aquarius are aquamarine, electric blue and turquoise tones. The main stone associated with Aquarius is the Aquamarine (this also has associations with Pisces, but the main stone associated with the month of January is the Garnet (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Rhymes & Time - Language of Gems). Lucky number is four, lucky day Saturday (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Days of the Week). Metals associated are aluminium and uranium.
‘The dream-child moving through a land -
Of wonders wild and new,
In friendly chat with bird or beast -
And half believe it true.’
Every other Sunday
Castle Rising, Norfolk, England : Traditional ‘Bede House Procession’.
All islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark), UK : ‘La Grand' Querrue - Traditional Plough Festival.
Last Tuesday in January
Lerwick, Mainland, Shetland, Scotland : Traditional burning of a ship built to the same design and dimensions in the festival known as ‘Up-Helly-Aa’, Viking rituals to end the ancient Yuletide round.
Usually January 14
‘Maghi’ : Sikh festival and holiday (1997).
Usually January 15
Day to commemorate the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh : Sikh festival and holiday (1997).
Unlucky January Dates
1. 2. 4. 5. 10. 15. 17. 29.
According to the English historian Richard Grafton these certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day. Exactly why these dates are unlucky is unclear today but by looking at the calendar of days an idea of the major occurrences can be seen.