This December, the Solstice is followed a few days later by a Full Moon in Cancer on Christmas Day. This double event provides a focus for weeks of high energy from a series of aspects that may have left us wondering which end is up. So let’s take a look at what’s happening and see how we can sail through this magically surprising time with maximum joy and minimum angst.
Our winter holidays are shared: ancient Solstice, Roman Saturnalia, the births of savior gods like Attis, Tammus, Dionysus, and Mithras (to name a few), and Christ all were and are celebrated in late December. As it returns to greater strength, we welcome Sol Invictus, the Unconquerable Sun.
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The astrological Solstice arrives when the Sun enters Capricorn. In my Eastern time zone, this happens just before midnight on December 21, so, December 22 in Europe and points East. Capricorn is the water goat, the cardinal Earth sign ruled by Saturn. Capricorn builds mountains, moves mountains, or knocks them down; the energy that accomplishes whatever goal it sets. Associated with the traditional Father, authority, structure, commitment and hard work, patience, and determination, this sign marks the moment of the Sun’s return.
During Solstice, the Sun dances in place for three days before beginning its climb back up the sky, bringing more light and power to the world. This is the time when a shaft of golden light enters the dark passage at Newgrange, Brú na Bóinne, shining its way through to illuminate the chamber at its heart. All over the globe, one of the great Earth mysteries is celebrated.
This year’s Solstice chart focuses our attention on Earth. Sun, Pluto, Mercury and the asteroid Athena are all in Capricorn. The Moon, at 17 Taurus, trines Mercury and Athena. Jupiter in Virgo moves to meet the North Node of the Moon, also in Virgo. Heart, mind, will, soul, and luck all in Earth signs. Yet none of this energy is “dead” or cold: Capricorn’s ruler Saturn travels through bright, energetic Sagittarius, and Uranus the Awakener is especially powerful as he stands still with the Sun (Uranus will station direct late on Christmas Day and is slowing down to prepare). There is Shadow too: Venus in Scorpio opposes the Solstice Taurus Moon, and Neptune and Chiron continue in mystical, visionary and confusing Pisces.
What do we do? With the Sun, we become still. We dance in place. Not, one hopes, a dance of impatience and discontent, but a dance of genuine celebration, the kind that honors the patterns of life as they weave light and dark together, growth and decay, birth and death. Only in the fullness of this patterning can we learn, grow, appreciate, live. We look within. This time offers special opportunities for healing, especially healing wounds of the past that may block our goals for the future.
Then there’s Saturnalia … Celebrated in ancient Rome at this time of year, everything turned upside down. Masters became servants, servants ruled the roost, and sober Saturn joined arms with Dionysus and got roaring drunk. Like the Lords of Misrule who presided over Christmas revels, this Saturn got down and dirty. Why? Because it’s essential to remind ourselves that authority is earned, not inbred. It’s good to know the Wheel of Fate turns and what goes up, must come down. It’s good to remember that character shows best in how we treat those who can do nothing for us.
There’s a lot of Saturnalia in this year’s Solstice and Christmas charts, with Uranus in an especially powerful position. He is the Lord of Misrule who can upend it all and still come up with the shiny. Be ready for the opportune moment, the unexpected guest, the twist of fate.
Saturnalia calls on the Trickster God, and this trickster lineup includes Hermes, Coyote, and … Jesus. Really? Really. When people looked for a lord on high, Christ came as a poor child. When they looked for a mighty warrior, Christ came in peace, preaching tolerance, acceptance, and love. His sleight of hand was used to feed, to heal, not to avoid fate. Irish writer and philosopher Peter Rollins called Christ The Divine Magician because he took what we expected to see and transformed it into something even more amazing and precious.
The Christmas Full Moon is in the Moon’s home sign of Cancer, the sign of the Mother, of caring, protecting, offering refuge. Don’t we all long for refuge? By the Full Moon, the players have moved so that Venus in Scorpio (the Dark Madonna) shares her energy with Mercury in Capricorn (the pragmatist) and Jupiter and the North Node in Virgo (the cheerful, roll-up-your-sleeves energy that gets us somewhere real).
Full Moons illuminate. Looking within at Solstice, we are illumined at Christmas. The Moon in Cancer asks, are you OK at home? Is your home in the right place, with the right people? Who counts as your family, your tribe? How big is your tent? The Capricorn bunch asks, how’s your work? What is your true work, anyway, and are you getting on with it? Are you patience, persistent, dedicated? Other players offer trickster challenges (Uranus), deep feminine wisdom (Venus), dreams and visions (Neptune), and healing energy (Chiron).
As this Christmas Full Moon, the trickster child may appear at our door, carrying a holy light. Will we let him (or her, or them) in, even if we know our lives might turn upside down? Maybe we let them in because they will turn our lives upside down! Maybe it’s exactly what we need now. This past year has been something else, with ample challenges. Some of those challenges were opportunities, of course, but they’re hard to recognize when they come quickly and unlooked for. Perhaps in the light of the Christmas Moon we will get a clear look at the gifts we’ve been offered.
At this time, I’m wishing each and every one of you a wonderful holiday filled with gifts of home and hearth, the chance to see where we’ve been and let go of anything we need to release, and an invitation to look forward in joy.