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11-23-11..."MEANING OF THE MONTHS"...by Vanessa Barklay

© Kira Bodensted © Kira Bodensted 3745 posts

I wanted to do a Zodiac but I also wanted to include other elements about each month rather than just the star signs so my work has many elements in it… Each one is a combination of many elements that combine the month’s name origins with the zodiac sign that dominates that month and usually a celestial meaning is seen.

You can see Capricorn elements such as the mountain goat, the Saturn sign as well as Saturn in the sky with earthy colours.
January is named after Janus, a Roman God that represented the arrival of the New Year…Janus was the God of Doorways…that we walk through into the new year and new experiences…he was shown looking forward and looking back…and is why the girl is facing the doorway, looking forward and the goat looks back this way. They look forward and back…
The Oak is there for a reason too, it is the Month Of The Oak in Scandinavia, originating in Finland. (Which is part of my children’s ancestry so wanted to include it) I have avoided winter because we are not all in the Northern Hemisphere. So my work is a complex combination of more than Capricorn, it is about January….

January by Vanessa Barklay

As I mentioned, these are a complex combination of the symbolic meanings for the months not just the zodiac signs, each month has the origin of it’s name, mostly based in Roman Latin and meaning incorporated as the base of the work with the main zodiac of that month included and also the Finnish meaning of the month as I wanted to include my childrens ancestry into it.. I also chose the Scandinavian meaning since the days of the week are named after their Gods.

February is so named after the Roman purification ritual Februa which they partook of during this month, the girl represents this as she is about to bathe naked…her cross also stands for purification through salvation, the work has been kept free of clutter…
She is also the Water Bearer as she looks across at her water pitcher and wears a tattoo of the Uranus symbol and the old ruling planet Saturn, coloured amethyst, is in conjunction with Uranus, the new ruling planet for Aquarius.
It is the Finnish month of the Pearl and the pearl necklace sits on the rocks as she starts her purification ritual. The water is representative of the Aquarian spirit but the Pisces sign as the end of the month brings us to the time of the fish…

February by Vanessa Barklay

Named March after the word Martias in Latin which relates to Mars, the Roman God of War, the planet Mars sits in the background with it’s 2 moons Phobos and Deimos nearby. It is the month of the fish, Pisces and I have used my own mermaids to represent them as they lay in the shallow water, Pisces being a water sign.
The month of March is known as earthy month in Finland and as usual I have added in the meaning by the earthy colours I have used. The planet Mars and it’s moons dominates the sky but also can be seen the old ruling planet Jupiter and also the new ruling planet Neptune.
March, the 3rd month of the year in modern times…

March by Vanessa Barklay

April has obscure origins but it is presumed it is named after the word aperire, Latin meaning to open, as in the spring buds of the Northern Hemisphere begin to open and trees and flowers start to bloom.
Most Roman months names are named after Gods and Goddesses so it is also sacred to Venus, her festival being held on the 1st day, possibly named after her Greek equal Aphrodite, Aphrilis…
Wikipedia tells us also that “the Anglo-Saxons called April Oster-monath or Eostur-monath, The Venerable Bede says that this month is the root of the word Easter. He further speculates that the month was named after a goddess Eostre whose feast was in that month.”

I have shown a goddess that combines the elements of the beautiful Aphrodite/Venus in honour of her festival and name association with the nature and meaning of Easter as Eostre the Spring Maiden who sits with the fertile rabbit and new eggs hidden away like little treasures waiting for someone to find them…there is 4 of them representing April as the fourth month on the Year.

The rabbit being a sign of the fertility of Spring and the eggs being the new life and natures abundance in this month with the meanings all based in the North of the World. The wood is there because the Finnish celebrate the time of April as Burnwood Month, as they clear and collect wood to stockpile for when Winter comes.

Then we have the meanings of Aries in there too…it all starts way back with Jason and the Argonauts, back when they travelled to the land of Colchis on the Eastern side of the Black Sea where the mighty King Aeetes held the Golden Fleece in the grove of Ares, guarded by Ladon the dragon. The Ram that had given the Golden Fleece was given a place in the Heavens and is known as the constellation of Aries, in Greek myth he is known as the God of bloodlust and war.

Mars rules the fiery sign, that is red by nature too, a favourite colour of many Aries rams, the sign of Mars is also the sign for male, a masculine sign in the realm of astrology. Look in the sky and you will see the constellation of Aries, only 3 stars make it up but what an important part of history and myth those 3 stars are. The story of Jason and Medea flows over into real history according to many ancient writers and the families of both are major players, in timeless stories, tales, religions and myths that still excite the imaginations of many today, like me…

Lastly, but not least, the pretty daisies are the flower of April – lots of meanings all collaborated together to create the magical month of nature, Spring, Easter and the story of Jason and his Argonauts sailing off to steal the incredible Golden Fleece eventually named the Greek God Aries….April.

April by Vanessa Barklay

Here we have May, a time of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere but the end of Spring in the North.

Let me take you on a journey back in time to ancient Greece and the land of Arcadia, the place we find Maia, the goddess who lent her name to the month of May.

Arcadia, an untouched rustic paradise, where shepherds gathered and Maia held sway over them…Maia, the eldest of the Pleiades, the 7 daughters of Atlas and Pleione, she was born on Mt Cyllene in Arcadia. Maia caught the eye of Zeus and in her mountain cave she conceived with the powerful ruling God the famous bringer of knowledge, Hermes. Maia, the mother of Hermes, protectors and gods of shepherds in Arcadia.

Arcadia lives on as an enigmatic place, of secrets and Gods, of an eternal paradise, untouched by the immorality and evil of other cultures as it hid in the Western mountain lands of Greece. The famous painting by Poussin is also included, named the Shepherds of Arcadia, they point to a tomb with a famous inscription…“et in Arcadia ego”. Link

Maia also raised Arcas to protect him from Hera, who turned his mother into a bear that has her name in the constellations, Callisto. She is also connected to the end of Spring as the warmer months come on in Arcadia and the North. The lamb is a symbol of Spring and also the reference of the shepherds.

The lovely valley that she overlooks has signs of Taurus everywhere, a bull grazes near the waters edge while Maia’s earthy coloured cave for Taurus Earth sign blends with the lucky colour of Emerald throughout. The Taurean glyph can be seen in the cave and in the sky is the large bright red star named Aldebaran, of the constellation of Taurus the Bull, seen as the bull’s eye while in the distance can be seen the accompanying Pleiades, coming full circle back to Maia, the ‘oldest, most beautiful and shyest of the Pleiades.’

May, in memory of the beautiful earthy goddess Maia, a mountain nymph of legendary Arcadia and protector of the countryside’s sheep herders, lover of Zeus, in her cave where she gave birth to Hermes the learn’d, surrounded by the Taurean symbols of the bull, the constellations and Venus looming overhead representing her rebirth into Roman mythology associating her with the powerful feminine planet Venus that rules the Bull, itself venerated as a powerful God for as long as time itself…

The lovely, earthy, intelligent, powerful, magical month of May.

May by Vanessa Barklay

Here we have June, the month that brings Summer in the North and Winter in the South, the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice is celebrated in June in many pagan religions, in Finland and Norway the celebrations of Midsummer begin…hence we have a large Sun in June to signify the change in the Sun’s astronomical movement at this time of year.

The month of June is generally known to be named after the great Roman Goddess Juno, her equal in Greek myth being Hera, a mother Goddess signifying relationships and especially marriage.

Juno holds a special pink Pearl token, the pearl being associated with Gemini as she watches the Twins, known as Castor and Pollux, or collectively as The Dioscuri, part of the Gemini constellation and the stars they bear in their position as they appear on the night sky.

The Dioscuri are often portrayed as flying angel type Gods, their famous sister is Helen of Troy. The planet Mercury rules Gemini and like the messenger, Mercury is a quick moving celestial body. Gemini is a masculine air sign, both elements seen here in the male figures of the Dioscuri and the airy sky they inhabit most of the time.

Juno watches over the Twins heralding in the Summer Solstice of Midsummer as Mercury rises low in the sky in the starry month of June..

June by Vanessa Barklay

The 7th month of the year. July, was renamed for Julius Caesar, who was born in that month. Previously, it was called Quintilis in Latin, since it was the fifth month in the ancient Roman calendar. The famous Roman lived from 13 July 100 BC until 15 March 44 BC. His exploits with Cleopatra begame legendary, here I have Julius Caesar and the heiroglyphs are a reminder of the Egyptian Cleopatra’s influence in his life.

Caesar was born into a family which claimed descent from Iulus, son of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas, supposedly the son of the goddess Venus. Aeneas left Troy with his family making his way to Italy to found what became Rome.

Many countries celebrate Independence Day in July. July is summertime in the Northern Hemisphere while in the South it it often the coldest time of the year. Extreme weather dominates nature in July. The waterlillies are the flower for those born under the sign of the crab.

July by Vanessa Barklay

During the month of August the Sun, on it’s course around the Zodiac, is in Leo most of the time leaving it and entering Virgo around the 22nd. This work is August and the temple is the Temple of Augustus, the powerful Roman leader who gave his name to August and you can see the smaller Virgo sign coming into play as part of August too as the Harvest Month is celebrated in the Nordic lands.

The constellation of the Lion shines in the sky and in Greek mythology it is the Nemean Lion, killed by Heracles and often seen draped around him as a symbol of his conquest. Zeus placed the Nemean Lion in the night sky for us to remember the heroic deed of Heracles.

The Sun is the ruler of Leo, a fiery sign, and here the Sun is also moving through the Zodiac constellation and in August it has it’s stay in the fiery Lion’s realm of Leo.

August by Vanessa Barklay

The month of September heralds in a new seasonal change, it starts the time of warming up in the Southern Hemisphere with the onset of Spring and in the Northern countries Autumn or Fall arrives and the time of the harvest begins. In Scandinavia this time of the year is known as Harvest Month.

A corn dolly rises from the Earth, her spirit guides the time of the Harvest and a bounty of the Earth is collected and stored for the following colder months.

The name of September comes from the word seven and is from the days before our modern calendar when it was the 7th month in the year but we keep it’s name and it now sits in line as the 9th month.

Virgo holds sway over most of September and the Virgin watches the sky for change, as the sign of Libra will appear later in the month. The ruling planet of Virgo is Mercury and she watches as it rises over the moon in the evening sky.

A bat, her lucky animal flies past to let her know of this special time when the Sun passes into her sign, which of old, showed a maiden holding the wheat sheaf in her hand.

A time of change, as Virgo holds sway in the Sky and the flowers of Spring poke through the warm ground while the Northerners feel the cold winds approaching, we enter the month of September.

September by Vanessa Barklay

This is October, the 10th page of my Calendar created to commemorate each month and the symbolism attached to each one, it’s name, astrological symbol, ruling planet, colours and the myths behind each one.

October is now the tenth month but has the word octo meaning eight because it was once the 8th month in the old Roman calendar and we kept the name. In Southern Hemispheres it is mid-Spring and in the North the middle of Fall, where they called it Winterfylleth by the Anglo-Saxons of old. It was at the full moon of this time that Winter was soon to be heralded in.

The month of October is ruled by the precious opal. The opal is thought to have the power to predict illness because the opal responds to heat. Sickness increases body temperature before signs of illness appear and the increased body heat causes the opal to lose its shine, leaving it dull and lacking color and is said to break if anyone other than a Libra holds one. The Libran scales are as ancient a sign as their is and is in unison with Virgo and the scales actually belong to Astraea, known as the Maiden of Virgo.

Astraea , which means ‘star maiden’, the daughter of Themis, who also represents Justice with Astraea also being shown as purity and innocence sometimes clashes with Venus, who rules the heart. Associated with the Greek Goddess Dike, who like Astraea left the Earth fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo, the scales of justice she carried became the nearby constellation of Libra, here she looks at them, where she placed them, in the night sky many thousands of years ago.

The planet Venus rules the children of Justice and harmony, balance, diplomacy meet with love and partnerships as well as an edge of the Scorpion entering October to bring everything into line. The colours of love and opals are lucky, green, purple, pink and emerald green, Emeralds are also lucky for Libras.

The Scales and the Scorpion, waiting to take his turn after the balance of Justice has passed through the Heavens, giving us a sense of hope that Astræa’s return of the Golden Age of which she was the ambassador, will return when man lived in harmony and balance, with the Gods, the Earth and with each other.

October by Vanessa Barklay

The 11th month of the year, November, named after the Latin novem, meaning 9 as it was the 9th month in the Roman Calendar.

The weather gets colder at the end of Fall/Autumn in the North as the Southern Hemisphere warms up even more at the end of Spring as the constellation of Scorpio reigns in the sky, a little reminder for mortals to curb their boastful pride…

When the Sun passes through the scorpion in November the message sent is from an ancient era of Orion, also seen in the night sky here. Orion boasted to Artemis and Leto he could kill every animal on Earth. Artemis, although a hunter herself practised and stood for the protection of the animals. The Goddesses were upset at his excessive boast and decided to punish Orion, they sent a Scorpion to deal with him and it was quite a battle, Orion was killed by the Scorpion, and Zeus raised both Orion and the Scorpion to the Heavens.

Another story gives Taurus as a friend of Scorpio and as Orion killed the bull, Scorpio attacked Orion, killing him but also being killed himself under the foot of the Hunter. Both myths give the same message loud and clear.

As we follow the path of the celestial sphere to Scorpio the Sun moves into Sagittarius and the hunter appears again.

November is a season for control while pushing boundaries, for regeneration, magic and change. Mars is the old ruling planet and now Pluto takes that position. Mars is always looking for trouble.

All Saint’s Day is held on the 1st November and remember’s all the Saint’s who have tried to save us from ourselves, while the Topaz and Chrysanthemum bring luck to anyone born at this time of year. The 11th month, the hazy, crazy month of November.

November by Vanessa Barklay

December, lucky last month of the year, the name still signifying when it was the tenth month in the old Roman calendar. The first month of Summer for folk under the Southern Cross while Winter brings the cold for the North.

It’s hard to escape Christmas during the month of December, so had to include some holly and it has had an impact on this time of the year for thousands of years. Originally a time to greet the Solstice and light the Yule Log it became the time of Jesus’ birthday, a time of celebration and gift giving.
Santa, in fact, has an ancient history and started off quite different. You really can find Santa in Lapland, along with his elves and many other strange characters of the Saami’s ancient folklore. Be warned, reindeer slaughter and skull crushing wildmen might scare you off Christmas forever more…check it out, if you dare HERE – Lapp of the Gods

December, a time of the Archer, a Centaur archer, in the Heavens, guiding us with his arrows to the new year. Sagittarius is said to be Chiron, the wisest of the Centaurs. Like the satyrs, centaurs were notorious for being wild and lusty, overly indulgent drinkers and carousers, given to violence when intoxicated, and generally uncultured delinquents.

Chiron, by contrast, was intelligent, civilized and kind. He was known for his knowledge and skill with medicine. According to an archaic myth he was sired by Kronos (Cronus) when he had taken the form of a horse and impregnated the nymph Philyra, Chiron’s lineage was different from other centaurs, who were born of sun and raincloud, rendered by Greeks of the Classic period as from the union of the king Ixion, consigned to a fiery wheel, and Nephele (“cloud”), which in the Olympian telling Zeus invented to look like Hera. Myths in the Olympian tradition attributed Chiron’s uniquely peaceful character and intelligence to teaching by Apollo and Artemis in his younger days.

Chiron’s haunts were on Mount Pelion; there he married the nymph Chariclo who bore him three daughters, Hippe (with a daughter Melanippe, the “Black Mare” or Euippe, “truly a mare”), Endeis, and Ocyrhoe, and one son Carystus.

A great healer, astrologer, and respected oracle, Chiron was said to be the first among centaurs and highly revered as a teacher and tutor. Among his pupils were many culture heroes: Asclepius, Aristaeus, Ajax, Aeneas, Actaeon, Caeneus, Theseus, Achilles, Jason, Peleus, Telamon, sometimes Heracles, Oileus, Phoenix, and in one Byzantine tradition, even Dionysus: according to Ptolemaeus Chennus of Alexandria, “Dionysius was loved by Chiron, from whom he learned chants and dances, the bacchic rites and initiations.”

December by Vanessa Barklay

The 2012 Calendar is available HERE

Vanessa Barklay Vanessa Barklay 917 posts

Wow Kira, I’m absolutely thrilled to bits you have recognised my work on this calendar. It took me ages to complete and each month is filled with symbolism to seek out. To read all the information again reminded me how much I enjoyed creating these. THANK YOU so much for the honour of this wonderful Photo Storybook Feature, I’m lost for words!! xo :O)

eoconnor eoconnor 2467 posts


Evita Evita 15633 posts

Congratulations Vanessa !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Outstanding works !!!!!!!!!!! ☺♥

Vanessa Barklay Vanessa Barklay 917 posts

Thank you! :O)