Even though I attended twelve years of Catholic school, I also grew up in New York and was therefore always aware of the Jewish New Year which took place at the beginning of the school year. Summer has always been my least favorite season and, because of the freshness of autumn and the beginning of a new school year, I felt an affinity for the Jewish New Year.
For most of my younger years, I thought the traditional January 1st New Year was conveniently placed at the end of the Christmas holiday. It turns out that my childhood reasoning was not too far off since the date of the New Year was in great dispute until the “Calendar Act” of 1752 finally settled on the Gregorian calendar and Pope Gregory’s choice of January 1st. During the time span of approximately 1522 until 1752, there were movements to have the New Year coincide with various Christian holidays resulting in the New Year being celebrated on 12/25, 3/1, 3/25 and even with the yearly shifting date of Easter.
Once I began learning about the universal cycles and cosmic order, January 1 made sense because that date is close to the Winter Solstice of December 21st. The Winter Solstice is the longest night of each year, but is also the beginning of the solar cycle which adds more daylight (which astronomically does indicate that a new year is beginning).
History shows us that there is something in the psyche of western human beings which leads to debate and disagreement on just about any issue. Since it took more than two hundred years to arrive at an agreement regarding a calendar, we can assume that the debate was long and spirited. While the European world was debating, there were other cultures which were keeping track of time and had a well established start of every year. The continuity of these calendars goes back over 5,000 years.
The Jewish, Chinese and Hindu calendars are all lunar based and the day of their New Year always starts on a New Moon date – – the day when the Moon and Sun are conjunct. The Jewish New Year for 2013 was on September 5th and 6th. The Chinese New Year will take place on January 31, 2014, and the Hindu New Year will fall on March 31, 2014.
Keeping track of calendar time according to the movement of the Moon gives a more accurate system of time-keeping, and none of these calendars have to deal with the leap year calculation which is needed to find a way to account for the lack of accuracy in our three hundred sixty five days of twenty-four hours in each year. In terms of numbered days, one system is not necessarily better than the other because – – in the end – – each provides a different approach to order and accounting for time.
One of the primary reasons someone is interested in Astrology is that s/he has a desire to find order in a world that too often seems to be run into chaos based on the conflicting desires of other human beings. Astrology will often show that despite what the world presents us, there is an order beyond the human chaos and that it is possible to live with greater peace and harmony if attention is paid to the planetary order. The Gregorian calendar is a calendar which does not take the lunar cycles into consideration because the Greeks made their astrology a solar rather than lunar based system.
There are yearly calendars which track time through the four seasons, but there is also a cycle of time that is based on the approximate twenty-seven days it takes for the Moon to move through the constellations of our solar system. The lunar month is an important cycle for our day-to-day lives especially from an energetic viewpoint. It is the lunar month which gives each of us an opportunity to find new growth each and every month of the year.
This year our calendar shares with the other calendars a new year which falls on the New Moon. Personally, I always appreciate synchronicity and, at this time in history, I especially appreciate an energetic which the world can share. As many of you know, Vedic Astrology shares its roots with the ancient teachings of yoga and within these teachings is a yogic teaching regarding the Moon and the subtle energetics of each of us.
The New Moon is the time of each lunar month when there is quite simply a lower level of prana available; for each of us the individual prana moving through the nadis of the spine is less than usual. This represents the time of the month when we are supposed to rest, plan and focus inward. I suspect that is one of the reasons why the Jewish tradition includes a time of contemplation that goes along with their New Year. It is a time to let go of the past, to make amends and plan to move forward with clear intent. This is in perfect harmony with the yogic teachings of the lunar cycle.
Each New Moon contains the end of an old month and the beginning of the new month. This year we all have the opportunity to leave behind the disappointments, fears and hurts of 2013 during this New Year, knowing that it all begins anew as the moon moves from waning to waxing. One of the teachings regarding the New Moon is that it is actually the best time each month to make resolutions or begin new projects. More often people tend to start new projects or begin new habits during the Full Moon because we tend to be excited and confident during that part of the lunar cycle. However, astrologically and energetically, the Full Moon is not the time for beginning something – it is a time for the peaking of something that was begun at the New Moon.
Every year many make resolutions for the New Year which often fails because the start is not in harmony with the lunar cycle or because the resolution itself can be overly ambitious because of the nature of the New Year itself. This year can be different and, for many of us, it needs to be different because the world itself is changing each and every day.
The difference during these times lies in our consciousness and our willingness to take full responsibility for our own peace and harmony. This New Year is the perfect time to make a small change which will help us achieve the inner balance so necessary for this time in history. The change can be as small as the determination to commit to the vitamins or minerals which keep the nervous system strong or to spend more times outdoors. The yoga teacher in me would love to see the entire planet take up meditation, but the realist in me knows that will not happen. However, each of us can benefit from healthy breathing. A simple technique that can be started during this New Moon cycle of this New Year is to take a few minutes before you drift off to sleep to lie on your back in bed and simply count your breaths – making sure that you inhale through the mouth, hold and then exhale through the mouth for an equal count. This is a way of lowering anxiety, resetting the nervous system and ensuring a better nights sleep.
There are other planetary configurations which will dance throughout 2014 but the New Year itself is energetically started by the energy of the New Moon of January 1, 2014. I will be writing on the other planets in the near future. For now I wish each of us the solace of a quiet beginning to 2014 and the inner harmony offered by the New Moon.