What’s the Story behind April Fool’s Day?

Torigin_3536187338he Oracle’s Library explores the origins behind April Fool’s Day. Back before the Gregorian Calendar was established, people in the middle ages celebrated the New Year following the return of the vernal equinox around the 21st of March. From as early as the 4th Century BCE up to the medieval era, societies across Europe reserved March 25th for the New Year’s celebration named the Feast of Annunciation.

The Annunciation and Equinox

The Feast of Annunciation—also known as Lady Day—was one of the only two celebrations permitted by the Roman Catholic Church to be held during Lent just before Easter. In some places in England, no work was to be done in observance of this holiday. The feast celebrates the day the angel Gabriel visited Mary to mark the day of Incarnation of the Second Person into the Holy Trinity. The angel said, “Ave, gratia pena, Dominus tecum” or “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee”(Luke 1:28). This salutation has been shaped into the words of the common “Hail Mary” prayer with her response, “fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum” or “Let it be done to me according to thy word”.

The New Year of the Gregorian Calendar

In 1582, when the Gregorian Calendar replaced the old Julian Calendar of Caesar under Pope Gregory XIII, the earliest New Year’s celebrations held on Lady Day were also shifted to the new calendar start date on January 1st. The implementation of the Gregorian Calendar also immediately changed the date by 10 whole days from October 5th to October 15th to make up for the discrepancies between the calendar seasons and the vernal equinox. This discrepancy is a natural phenomenon caused by the precession of the equinox (precession occurs at a rate of about 1 degree every 70 years).

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In one day, the New Year’s celebration was hacked and switched to January 1st in the Roman Catholic world. The Eastern Orthodox tradition did what many of the people living across Europe did in response—nothing. They continued to hold a feast just after the vernal equinox on March 21st to celebrate the Annunciation and the return of the New Year. Hence, March 21st became the day of fools, when those who were uniformed by the Pope were still celebrating Lady Day. After the Julian Calendar was replaced, March 21st became April 1st and Voilà! We have April Fool’s Day.

Quarters of the Seasons and Lady Day

In history and across various civilizations, festivities are often held near each quarter of the seasons. The significance of Lady Day to the early Europeans was not only about a ritual practice, but also about civil contracts in agrarian society. An echo of this old practice remains in the end of the UK fiscal tax year. Other celebrations that fall during this season are the celebration of Holi in India—with colorful powders and mischievous pranks. To read more on the shifting calendars, check out The History of the New Year.

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How was the Equinox Observed by Early People?

sunsymbolThe Oracle’s Library explores the earliest observances of the spring equinox. The equinox is just a fancy word for the day that the hours of light and dark become balanced once again. This milestone initiates the entrance of the season of spring each calendar year.

An explanation behind this change can be found in the apparent movement of the sun throughout the year. At this time, the Earth’s wobble causes the sun’s rays to be directly centered at the equator. At other seasonal quarters throughout the year—such as the winter or summer solstice—the rays would be directed at the latitude of either the Tropic of Capricorn or the Tropic of Cancer in the dead of winter or the height of midsummer.

The Great Sphinx and the Egyptian Sunrise

The Sphinx is the most mysterious colossal statue that guards the western gate of the heavens in myth and can be seen situated at the edge of the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. What makes this statue so intriguing is the speculation behind its origins and the purpose of its existence. On the day of the equinox, the Sphinx gazes at the eastern sunrise to capture a glimpse of the astrological sign of the age.

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The Precession of the Equinox

Each year the sun can be spotted occupying a sign—and year after year it can be seen inching its way through this same sign, when just about 2,160 years pass. For hundreds of years the sun occupies the same sign on the day of the spring equinox—then one miraculous day at sunrise, the sign is replaced by the next zodiac sign! This movement is caused by precession, and it was once widely considered to signal the dawn of a new age in ancient times.

This cycle takes a total of 26,000 years to complete for all twelve astrological signs, and in this way, the zodiac give us an easy visual representation of the cycles of the Earth’s wobble or precession.

Higan—A Buddhist Tradition of Japan

During both the days surrounding the spring and autumn equinox, Japan is touched by a spell of mild weather between the peak of the seasons. This holiday falls at a time when there is much tranquility in the minds of many Buddhists.

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The tradition of higan dates back to the 8th Century CE, and the name itself is reminiscent of a euphemism found many times over in Buddhist literature. While Shigan means “this shore,” Higan is “the far shore” or the other side of the river, which is always a much more rewarding though daunting of a task to reach. But the story behind the tradition is themed with Enlightenment or the Buddhist utopia of Nirvana—a path to Pure Land at the other side of the bank.

In this case, the equinox is a time to observe the higan of life—or the purest thoughts that draw us to the ideal side of the riverbank. At this time of year, Buddhists in Japan shed the shigan or ego-driven thoughts that bind them to the shore from the dreams that lie on “the far shore”. This equinox observance helps the Buddhists of Japan cross from the side of ignorance and suffering into the promise of peace and tranquility.

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Photo Credit: Elisofon, Eliot. The Great Sphinx at Smithsonian Collections
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Elements and Archetypes of the Zodiac

I'm On Astrology By Answers.comThe Oracle’s Library dives deep into the explanation behind elemental archetypes. What do the elements of the zodiac actually mean?

Some have never given a second thought to the zodiac elements and what they might symbolize. The four elements that symbolize the zodiac archetypes can be found across various forms of divination. Fire, earth, air and water are the same archetypes as wands, pentacles, swords and cups that give meaning to situations in tarot, just as they build personality and relationships in astrology.

To learn more about the zodiac signs and what each assigned element means, check out my latest article on Astrology.Answers.com, Zodiac Elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water.

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When it comes to personality, the elements fire, earth, air and water give us insight into the masculine and feminine archetypal qualities found within the twelve zodiac.

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Free Personalized Compatibility Readings!

The Oracle’s Library is now taking requests for a free personalized Jungian astrological reading by a guest astrologer! To get your own synastry reading, just fill out the form below and send your request to us in an email. If you’ve never seen what a professional interpretation looks like, now is the time to try it out!

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All you need to give us is your birth location, date and time to map a nativity chart. Then, you just add a second chart for us to create synastry aspects between the pair of nativity charts. The astrologer will read these aspects and give you insight into the type of relationship the conditions indicate. This is where astrology becomes a whole lot of fun, so send us your requests by copying the form below into an email and sending it to theoracleslibrary@gmail.com.

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Free Synastry Reading

Your Email:

Natal Chart #1

Name: Example

Birth Date: Dec 16, 1988

Birth Time: @11:11 pm

Birth City/State/Country:  San Diego, California, USA

Natal Chart #2

Name:

Birth Date:

Birth Time:  @

Birth City/State/Country:

Second Email (for copy of reading):

Relationship Type: (Partners, Lovers, Friends, Relatives)

*birth time optional

————————————————————–

Your information will be kept private, and the final results will be sent to the email address(es) provided. Please send your queries to theoracleslibrary@gmail.com!

Hurry up!—this opportunity ends once we fill our quota.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Love Astrology: The Art of Synastry

heartThe Oracle’s Library wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day with one of the most popular forms of astrology—relationship astrology also known as synastry. Relationship astrology is the art of comparing the aspects between two natal charts to measure the relations of interconnected planets with angles and aspect patterns. These patterns are used to read the energy exchange between two people in order to predict the type of relationship they might manifest. The same planetary aspects used to measure fortune in birth charts are also used for astrological compatibility in synastry.

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What is Synastry?

Synastry allows us to point out the synchronicities between a pair of natal charts. We use aspects—conjunctions, trines, oppositions, sextiles and squares—to draw up a biwheel synastry chart that forms a combined chart of aspects that touch both birth charts. The bulk of these aspects give the astrologer insight into the compatibility of two people by reading the energy exchange the joining of the two charts provokes. In synastry, both the planetary aspects and astrological houses—including the ascendant, descendant and midheaven—are used to record synchronicities.

Benefic and Malefic Aspects

birthchartIn relationship astrology, the planetary aspects are similar in meaning to those used in natal chart astrology. Astrological aspects draw angles between two people that are considered either benefic or malefic in nature. Along with benefic and malefic aspects, there are certain planets and houses that define immediate chemistry or sustainable attraction between two people.

Aspects that include the planet Venus and Mars point us to areas of love and desire. If one of these planets touches a personal planet on another’s natal chart, there is said to be an initial attraction or passionate fire between the two people—this is especially true when Venus and Mars aspect each other. The Sun and Moon also play an important role in synastry, since the Sun reflects our outward expression and the Moon our emotions. Jupiter allows us to understand and forgive others, and Saturn aspects are essential for more ‘serious’ relationships that require an air of responsibility, duty and dedication toward one another for the long-term. If the outer planets like Uranus and Neptune are aspected by planets of love and desire, they can also give the relationship a sense of spontaneous excitement or imaginative fantasy. In synastry, the seventh house reveals ‘relationships’ and often contains planetary aspects that point to our most influential partners in life.

Free Personalized Compatibility Readings!

Next week, The Oracle’s Library will host a guest astrologer offering free compatibility readings to anyone interested! This is the perfect opportunity for you and your sweetheart (or anyone else!) to have your birth charts drawn up and read with a personalized Jungian-style astrological interpretation. Now is a good time to ask your significant other or friend for their natal chart information (birth location, date and time). Follow us on Facebook, WordPress, Twitter@OraclesLibrary or with your email above to get updates about this event.

Join us next week and get your free personalized compatibility reading!

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How Do We Know Black Holes Actually Exist?

radio telescopeThe Oracle’s Library uncovers the roots of the black hole theory. The black hole was once only a hypothetical idea inserted in Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity—an estimation of his calculation. Now it has become common astronomical knowledge that black holes exist in many forms in space and can even be found at the center of our own galaxy. But, how exactly do we know the black hole actually exists? Black holes were discovered quite recently through the invention of new technology and development of radio astronomy.

Black Holes and Radio Astronomy

In my experience, it is difficult to accept such theories unless you’ve ‘seen’ the facts. And in fact, the black hole can be ‘seen’ from the deepest regions of space through the detection of radio waves. This is done by using a radio telescope to scan the sky for a region rich with noise in the form of radio frequencies—commonly emitted by regions of space that possess black holes. However, there seems to be much speculation about the nature and true appearance of the black hole.

The Galactic Center of the Milky Way

In the past, many have set the mathematical framework behind black holes, so that they act as impossibly dense objects made up of three layers. There is an outer and inner event horizon and the singularity—a dense core from which no matter, not even light can escape. Thus, they are named black holes. But, the truth is, the black hole when viewed from afar is not black, at all. In fact, the Galactic Center of our own Milky Way Galaxy is one of the brightest areas of the night sky. Why is it that the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way appears so bright? For the same reason it emits such a noisy signal—it is so dense, that it is surrounded by a globular cluster of stars spiraling towards its singularity.

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The Black Hole Enigma

Black Holes present a riddle for physicists in that the singularity is so dense it appears infinite—like a limitless dent in the fabric of space-time. It does not abide by the established, everyday rules of physics for this reason. The ‘point-break’ in which matter becomes so dense and compact that it becomes a black hole is named the Schwarzschild radius after the German physicist who added more calculations to Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

At the center of a black hole, the singularity deems the location or point in which no matter, not even light can escape such a tremendous gravitational pull. In the end, the black hole is still just a hypothetical object that holds an unimaginably hefty volume of mass in space—so much that it attracts all the stars in the galaxy! For this reason, we rightfully have theorized that each galaxy in the universe is held together by a super-massive black hole, since there is no other object capable of attracting such a widespread collection of stars. Mathematically, the black hole reminds us of the limit phi—to read more about phi check out The Golden Ratio and Harmonies of the Universe.

Thank you for reading at the Oracle’s Library! Share your thoughts with a comment on the mysterious black hole.

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Tao of the Chinese New Year

year of the horseThe Oracle’s Library uncovers the cosmology of Tao and its link to the Chinese Calendar. The Chinese have used a luni-solar calendar for almost five millennia now. The Chinese New Year is the season for the color red—red clothes, red envelopes and red decorations can be spotted at the festivals, and families come together in reunion for a celebratory dinner. The Chinese New Year takes place on Friday, January 31st this year, upon the arrival of the new moon phase. It marks the year 4712—also known as the year 2014 of the Gregorian Calendar. This celebration welcomes the year of the Green Horse—green for the Wu Xing element Wood.

The Origin of Cycles

The Chinese New Year brings together a set of ancient cycles that connect us to the earliest philosophies and cosmologies of China. The idea of Wu Xing—the five basic elements in ancient Chinese philosophy—is one such cycle. Wu Xing gives us the elements wood, fire, earth, metal and water that are fixed within a connected system in the respective order. The ordering of these elements can never be modified in the cycle of growth, for the water nourishes the wood, and the wood fuels the fire, and the fire fertilizes the earth, and so on. This is the constructive cycle of Wu Xing with each element replaced every two years.

Another cycle is the set of twelve zodiac animals that number the years. These interlocking cycles repeat and start over from the beginning every 60 years. With the twelve zodiac signs, the Chinese astronomers tracked the apparent orbit of Jupiter around the Earth. And, with this information, they also predicted the time it takes for the outer planets Jupiter and Saturn to become what astrologers call ‘conjunct’ every 20 years. This synchronicity between planets Jupiter and Saturn once held special meaning to the ancients—thus, it was named the ‘great conjunction’.

Tao of the New Year

Tao SymbolThe last is the quality of the New Year or its Tao—either the year is yin or yang. The year of the Green Horse is considered yang. In the ancient cosmology of Tao, the teacher taught that all things are just the seed of the other. Each process is the infinite ‘balancing-act’ between these two forces. There is a dualism with Tao that states all forms of the thing in question can either be classified as yin or yang. The classification, thus is relative to the viewer’s perspective—much as Einstein later agreed with his theory of relativity. It all depends on which way you look at it.

Horse Year Characteristics

The year of the Green Horse brings with it the quality of yang. It is a year of great energy, rapid progression and growth that calls for new beginnings and opportunities to sew the seeds for advancement. This year, action and the quickness of a galloping horse are required to keep up. And if you manage to match the horses pace, you just might reap the long-term benefits when yin rolls back around. For now, try to just ‘go with the flow’ of the horse by taking on a more independent, enthusiastic and cheerful stance, and luck will be yours. For more about the origins of the New Year’s celebrations, check out The History of the New Year.

Thank you for reading at the Oracle’s Library! What are your predictions for the year of the horse?

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