The Winter Solstice and Loving Responsibility

Winter-Solstice-Yule-Stag-Fox-Blessings

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.

MAAS-Winter-Solstice-Return-of-the-SunWhile 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.

A Note:

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.

 

Winter-Solstice-Chart-2017

The Winter Solstice 2017 – 11:29 AM Eastern, December 21, 2017, Atlanta, GA

 

Happy Winter Solstice! The Sun at Midwinter: A Meditation, by John Matthews as read by Michelle Gregg

Father Yule...

Father Yule…

Listen to The Sun at Midwinter: A Meditation by John Matthews, as read by Michelle Gregg

The longest night of the year is upon us and it is time to reflect on the year behind us and ponder the year ahead… a time to cozy up in front of a fire and let go of any negativity that we’ve experienced during the past 12 months – and make wishes for and welcome the fresh new year that’s coming. 

Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate or sip a glass of wine and then listen to the Meditation below as I’ve recorded it. It is a very special way to bring in Mid-Winter at the Winter Solstice. The meditation is called “The Sun at Midwinter” and was written by John Matthews. You can find it in a book titled The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas. (Here it is on Amazon.)

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. My family listens to this meditation as I recorded it years ago every Winter Solstice… 

Listen to The Sun at Midwinter: A Meditation by John Matthews, as read by Michelle Gregg

It’s the End of the World as We Know It… and I Feel Fine – The Winter Solstice 2012 and the Uranus/Pluto Influence

Mayan-Calendar

 

The Sun moved into Capricorn this morning, Dec. 21, 2012, at 6:12 AM Eastern Time welcoming the beginning of Winter according to the Gregorian calendar most widely used, and marking Mid-Winter on the Pagan calendar. Yule is here!

As is this much awaited day! Dec. 21, 2012 has been both anticipated as a fresh new start for humanity and dreaded as the end of the world, as a result of the ending of the Mayan Calendar on this date – what is referred to as The Mayan Prophecy. However, there are experts regarding the Mayan Calendar who tell us that the Mayan Prophecy is not one of only endings, but also a new beginning – of a new era, or a new bak’tun – moving from the 13th bak’tun to the 14th – a 400 year cycle. That is according to Simon Martin as reported by the BBC News.

Here are two extremely interesting articles regarding the “end of world” prophecies and the Galactic Alignment at the Winter Solstice that many believe is the reason that the Mayans chose today’s date to end their 13th bak’tun.

This article hypothesizes about the Dec. 21, 2012 Galactic Alignment  of the Earth, the Sun and the Galactic Equator in the Milky Way on the Winter Solstice and was written by Keith Hunter for Ancient World Mysteries.

This one denounces that there actually is a Galactic Alignment of the Earth, the Sun and the Galactic Equator in the Milky Way at all on Dec. 21, 2012 and is from NASA.

Regardless of whether we choose to believe there is or is not an alignment, or that the Mayan Prophecy is relative to us in this time, it’s clear to most of us I think that the times we live in are changing quickly and dramatically. It’s as though every thing is accelerated and intensified. Much of what many understood as time-proven, those things about our lives that both built and maintained the status-quo, are undergoing shifts that will no doubt leave our world and the people in it much different – and hopefully much better.

But for every new birth there are inevitably the birth pangs – the long, usually very painful passage from one way of being to another. I believe this is where we are right now… and I believe that astrology, as both the science and art that offers us insights into “as above, so below,” is a fantastic tool that we can use to help us understand the tremendous shifts that we, as a society, as a world, and personally, are undergoing right now. 

In that light, I want to say a bit about the current Uranus/Pluto square that has been in effect since 2008 and will be in effect until 2016.

These two planets last came together (in a conjunction – meaning they were 0 degrees apart – sharing space in the sky and operating in tandem) during the whole of the 1960’s and we experienced dramatic social, political, technological, economic and personal changes across the world. Events that occurred during that time included JFK and his assassination, MLK and his dream – and then his assassination, the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolom X and his assassination, the Black Panthers, a complete change in popular music and fashion, the Beatles rose to fame, women’s liberation, flower power, Viet Nam, Charles Manson, and the first man on the moon…

The time before when Uranus and Pluto came together was during the decade of the 1930’s. At that time these two were in a square aspect like they are now – 90 degrees apart. During that decade we experienced dramatic social, political, technological, economic and personal changes across the world. Events that occurred during that time included the crash of the stock market – Black Friday, the Great Depression, Pluto was discovered, scientists split the atom, Adolph Hitler and other dictators rose to power, there was the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” which created havoc (much like our generation’s movie “2012”), and ultimately all led to the beginning of World War II

So – it seems worthwhile to talk about the square that these two planets are making to each other in our own time – especially today at the supposed “end of the world.”

Just below is info on Uranus and Pluto separately and together – very interesting!

 

Symbolism of Uranus

Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods.

Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods.

Positive: the light, highest heights, awakening, freedom, revolution, reform, fire from the Gods, the betterment of humanity as a whole, overturning the out-worn status quo, conscious perception, uniqueness, individualism, genius, mental and technological leaps, science, space, engineering, technology, inventions, electricity, radiation, lightening, aha! moments, ignition

Challenging: sudden impacting or shattering change, chaotic rebellion, erratic shifts, unexpected events, outcasts, the shunned, pronounced eccentricities, anarchy, radical anarchists, explosive and altering contact

What feelings come up for you when you hear these keywords of Uranus? What do you think about that’s been in the news?

One of my very favorite astrologers, who is so much more than that – he’s one of the most profound thinkers of our time and a prolific writer, professor and speaker – Richard Tarnas, wrote a book about Uranus called Prometheus The Awakener. In this book he compares the meaning of Uranus to the mythological figure Prometheus , who was rebellious enough and nervy enough to steal fire from the Gods and give it to humans to accelerate their evolution and break the hold that the Gods had over them. In this book he describes Uranus like this:

“Uranus is empirically associated with the principle of change, rebellion, freedom, liberation, reform and revolution, and the unexpected breakup of structures; with excitement, sudden surprises, lightning-like flashes of insight, revelations and awakenings; and with intellectual brilliance, invention, creativity, originality, and individualism. In addition to the occurrence of sudden breakthroughs and liberating events, Uranus transits are linked to unpredictable and disruptive changes, and thus the planet is often referred to as the “cosmic trickster.” In terms of personal character, Uranus is regarded as signifying the individualist, the genius, and the rebel.”

When I think of pure Uranus energy, the first person that comes to mind is Albert Einstein.

 

Symbolism of Pluto

Death, Transformation and Rebirth

Pluto-2Positive: the dark, deepest depths, intensity, deep and profound transformation, making the unconscious conscious, pure understanding of the cycles of life, alchemy, magic, shamanism, ultimate truth, pointed focus, depth psychology, the core of a matter, cycle of death & rebirth, true power of Self, purification, purging, nuclear energy

Challenging: power struggles, fear, terror, destruction, nuclear destruction, poison, trauma, putrefaction, decay, crime, criminal minds, obsession, suppression, the underworld, taboo subjects kept from society, shadow, the deepest depths, isolation, subversion, hidden agendas, waste, black magic

What feelings come up for you when you hear these keywords of Pluto? What do you think about that’s been in the news?

Archetypally speaking, Pluto represents the necessity of descending to the depths before you can ascend to the heights. It is the story of the phoenix – who out of hubris flew too close to the Sun and fell burned to the Earth – but! He then transformed his own ashes into a better, stronger version of himself and was able to ascend – to fly again – perfected.

Pluto also represents alchemy – the process of changing the base matter (lead) into the purified gold.

Pluto points to karma and to the needs of the Soul – our desire to learn the lessons in our lifetime that will purify us and evolve us – getting us closer to God.

Pluto will most often, when transiting our birthchart at a sensitive point or personal planet, take us down into darkness of some kind, where we undergo challenges necessary to purify us in some way, and then we come back into the light to continue our transformation.

 

Now let’s look at these two planets and their meaning when they come together in the sky.

Pluto describes bringing into consciousness from the absolute depths. Uranus describes breaking the status quo. Pluto describes transformation. Uranus describes revolution.

Uranus and Pluto Together = Metamorphosis

 

According to Banzhaf and Haebler in the book Key Words for Astrology:

“Archetype of Uranus and Pluto together: The Rebel and the Powerful Person

Shadow: The Eccentric and the Power of Darkness

General meaning: Sudden deep reaching changes. Rebellion against dependence and suppression. Bursting the bonds.

In Harmony: Desire for freedom. Powerful urge for individual freedom. Sudden perceptions and insights into power structures or collective shadow areas. Rigorous upheavals. Liberation movements.

In Discord: The Despot. Willful, irresponsible misuse of power for questionable, eccentric goals. Extreme inner tension and vacillations between highest heights and deepest depths, between total freedom and complete constraint.”

 

We can see then, from the words of these folks that the effects of Uranus and Pluto coming together has to be far reaching and life changing. And we are meant to change personally as a result. We are meant to awaken to our ability as a society to change the deeply rooted, dark and subjugating powers that be, bring them to light, demand freedom from them and then transform to the new way of being.

The Uranus/Pluto Square has seven dates when the two planets are exactly 90 degrees apart… meaning that the effects of the square are the strongest.

The Seven Epic Squares between Uranus and Pluto – 2012 through 2015

June 24, 2012
September 19, 2012
May 20, 2013
November 1, 2013
April 21, 2014
December 14, 2014
March 16, 2015

After that last date, the two planets are still what we call “in orb” through much of 2016, meaning that they are close enough to the exact square that the effects are in play.

The magic of a fireplace...

The magic of contemplation before a fireplace…

So – is it the end of the world today – The Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, 2012? Of course not. But – is this time that we’re living in transforming both us and society? Absolutely – it is in fact the end of the world as we know it. And like Michael Stipe and REM – I feel fine!

Change is good, and moving toward a more enlightened reality is fantastic, and that’s where I believe we’re headed, even if we have a period of darkness before the light returns. And isn’t that the way of Nature? Isn’t that the deeper meaning of the Winter Solstice?

We are living through, today, right now, the darkest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (bearing in mind that it is the lightest time of the year in the Southern Hemisphere as they experience their Summer Solstice). It is cold here and there are things on our minds – things that may be best to let go of. So… let go. During this night when we welcome the return of the Light, as you ponder the year behind you and the year to come, hopefully while sitting in front of a lovely, warming fire, let go… and welcome the bright new beginnings that are on the way!