Prophecy January 3rd

Three Farm Labourers

This is the time for prophecy for the upcoming year. Prophecy is, of course, related to new year’s resolutions and central to the nature of the new year. As Janus, the Roman God of Beginnings and Endings has two heads looking in both direction, we, look back on the year passed before putting plans/hopes/aspirations/resolutions together for the hopeful new year ahead. Fortune-tellers normally tell their clients what they want to hear, and couch advice in generalities, enigmas and expectations. But such prophecy is not useless because we take what we are told through the lens of our own life, fears and aspiration. We might ignore those which don’t resonate, while latching on to those which fit in with thoughts and inclinations. It can help clarify our ideas and lead to plans and a state of mind to help us avoid our fears, and maximise our changes of realising our dreams.

Here are two pieces of ‘Weather Lore’ from Richard Inwards book of the same name:

January should the sun appear
March and April will pay full dear.

Janiveer freeze the pot by the fire
As the day lengthens
So the cold strengthens

In this almanac, we have been following Gervase Markham’s 17th Century weather forecasting system, suggesting that the weather on the 10th Day of Christmas will rule the weather in the 10th Month. So October will be wet and warm.

The Mayor of Casterbridge, desperate to beat his one-time friend, Donald Farfrae, now a rival, in Corn dealing consulted a Cunning Man about the likely weather, and was as a result made a pauper.

Old Moore’s Almanac made the following predictions for 2023:

They got most of them wrong! As they were in the 2022 almanac when they prophesied a a ‘prevailing sense of optimism’ and ‘high support for the Government’. There was no word of a European war either.

Bible Prophecy

A simple form of prophecy was to open a book at random, stab a finger randomly onto the chosen page, and the text there will give you an insight into your future. Old lore recommends using a Bible but, as I prepared for my New Year’s Walk, I took a small, light book of poetry, randomly chosen, for my Prophecy demonstration as I don’t have a light portable bible.

I tried it out before the walk and this is what my random choice was:

The Perfect Life
It is not growing like a tree
in bulk, doth make Man better be;
or standing long an oak three hundred year,
to fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere;

A lily of a day
is fairer in May,
although it fall and die that night-
It was the plant and flower of Light.
In small proportions we just beauties see:
and in short measures life may perfect be.

Ben Jonson

Of course, I intended to do the prophecy live, but my hasty scan of the poem suggested parallels with my Almanac interests, and the last two lines, suggested I was going to have the perfect life in 2023 with a life full of ‘beauties’. I decided to stick rather than twist and used this poem for my walk. Re-reading it again now, I can also see you could interpret it as a call to enjoy life now because you never know when it is going to end! But then that is always good advice.

First written in January 2023, revised in 2024

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