A Joyous Yule to You!
As we reach the moment of this Winter Solstice, when the Sun moves into the sign of Capricorn (11:29 AM Eastern, Dec. 21, 2017), we see the trees with their stark, naked limbs as reminders that we are in a natural time of retreat from the fullness of life, and entering a time of deep reflection. At this shortest day and longest night of the year, the dark offers us solace and the space to replenish.
Since the Autumn Equinox and its moment of balance, the Sun has diminished in power and strength, moving continuously Southward in the sky, until this day, December 21, when we become lovers of the darkness, and welcome her opportunity to introspect on the year’s passing; all that we have fulfilled, and all we have yet to accomplish. The Winter Solstice is the “one step back” in the natural “two steps forward, one step back” cycle of life, bringing us the opportunity to withdraw, to rest, to restore ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I love to imagine the hibernating animals in their dens, sleeping peacefully until the first thaw. Metaphorically, this is the image we can hold in our psyches to help us find comfort and to understand this time of harsh, bleak weather in the Northern Hemisphere.
The movement of the Sun at this time each year gives us food for thought as well. The Sun actually appears to stop once it reaches its southernmost point. He pauses in place for 3 days around the Solstice – in fact, the word “solstice” means “the sun stands still.” This is the space in which we can also stop and explore our inner workings, contemplate how we will rise to the coming year, as the sun begins to rise again after the third day.
While the Winter Solstice is physically a time of darkness, the thing we celebrate at this time of year, as we have for thousands of years, is the return of the light – the return of the Sun. Ancient humans saw the annual decline of the Sun as a time of hardship, the time when they were tested in their ability to survive until Spring. But just after the Winter Solstice, even though the weather was still bitter, the Sun began again to rise northward in the sky, gaining in strength each day. They rejoiced in this, knowing that the days of cold, darkness, and little food would pass with the rising of the light, and their survival would become easier.
This hopeful message is also our experience during this time of year. Our hearts are lighter as we give gifts to our loved ones and celebrate with family gatherings. Our homes are brighter with candles, fires lit in fireplaces and fire bowls, and twinkle lights hanging all around. We are symbolically welcoming and calling the light back, to feed, to nurture, and to heal us. We have faith our fears will subside with the coming of the Sun, and we evoke life by bringing in evergreens to inspire us in our own continuity. It is a glorious time during which we welcome the purity the light promises and brings.
The message of this particular Winter Solstice, as viewed from an astrological perspective, is one of loving responsibility. Pause for a moment and lean into that phrase, “loving responsibility.”
The horoscope for 11:29 AM Eastern on December 21, 2017 shows a strong Saturn influence, not only from the sign of Capricorn into which the Sun just entered, but Saturn himself conjoins the Sun and Venus at this moment. The influence of Saturn is one of commitment, duty, and practical management. He asks us to work hard toward our dreams, and to put strong structures in place that will stand the test of time. Venus shows us the beauty of harmony, fairness, and the blessing of our loved ones. As these two energies combine with the Sun, the message is one of holding our loved ones close, and of doing our best by them so that we strengthen our bonds, grounding them in reality. At this time, may we also use Saturn and Venus to extend loving responsibility to all our fellow humans, and indeed to all our fellow beings.
So, I invite you to light your Solstice fire and to look intently into the flames as you ponder the year just past. Allow the flames to inspire you toward a profound sense of loving responsibility as you welcome the glorious return of the Sun.
There is another face of Saturn that I believe we often forget – the idea of rich rewards for work well done – of digging in and doing the hard work when it is required, and then reaping the rich rewards of that committed effort; of creating a solid structure from which good things can grow and thrive. As you sit before your Solstice fire introspecting about the year just past and setting your intentions for the year to come, remember this dynamic of Saturn as well, and remember to extend your loving responsibility beyond yourself and toward all within your reach. Your blessings and rewards will be great.
If we remember our mythology, it was during the reign of Saturn that humans enjoyed The Golden Age, which was then celebrated in Rome for centuries as Saturnalia at this very time of year. For a week each Winter Solstice, Rome was rich with feasting and evergreens and merrymaking to honor Saturn and that mythological Golden Age.