Tales of Yule for the Solstice

The Winter Solstice occurs in the northern hemisphere when the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn, and this year it occurs early Saturday morning December 22, at 1:08 am EST. I’ll write more on the Solstice chart in a few days. Meanwhile, this artwork and essay about the Yuletide season comes from , artist and creator of the Gaian Tarot and whose personal blog inspired me to start my own:

We walk between the worlds during the season of Yuletide, especially during the Thirteen Nights of Solstice. If we keep our senses sharp and our imaginations lively, we may encounter many strange and wonderful beings during this liminal time instead of just that tired old department store Santa.

It has been suggested that the Twelve Days of Christmas were originally thirteen nights, dating from the dark moon nearest the Winter Solstice until the next Full Moon, a period of about thirteen days.1 The “tide” of deepest darkness started at Samhain for the Celts and in mid-October for the Nordic people with the festival of Winter-Nights. To our northern ancestors, this was a supernatural time when all sorts of otherworldly beings roamed the earth. The borders between the worlds overlapped. The dead returned to earth and the living visited the lands of the dead. Elves, trolls, ghosts, gods, goddesses . . . all were abroad during these dark days. During the Thirteen Nights of Yule, the activity of the otherworldly visitors increased. Wildness was rampant during these days when the sun had turned but the increasing light was not yet visible. The festivities and terrors lasted until the days were once more noticeably longer (usually the first week of January, after the thirteen nights).

Many of the […]

By | 2007-12-21T01:34:00+00:00 December 21st, 2007|Holidays|Comments Off on Tales of Yule for the Solstice

Thanksgiving and the Essence of Gratitude

I love Thanksgiving as much as the next person. Sharing a feast with friends and family, a few days off at home – cranberry sauce and mashed sweet potatoes with caramelized apples. Not to mention the pumpkin pie that Rich bakes from scratch, using fresh pumpkins from local farms.

Still, history is written by the winners, and like so many of our holidays the actual history of the Thanksgiving holiday is lost to the mists of legend. According to most accounts, our Thanksgiving holiday commemorates the feast held by the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts to celebrate their first successful harvest and the assistance of two Native Americans, Samoset and Squanto, who taught the Pilgrims how to tame the land and nourish their families. But there is some evidence that the primary purpose of the feast was to sign a treaty with the Wampanoag tribe for the land that the Pilgrims occupied, and that the 90 Native Americans who attended the feast actually brought a substantial amount of the food.

Native Americans who greeted the early settlers provided aid and assistance to the newcomers. When the settlers did not return their hospitality, refusing to marry their women and disrespecting their spirituality with efforts to convert them to Christianity, they began to rebel. The early settlers from England viewed the natives as savages rather than equals to be respected.

We all know what happened next.

The idea of holding a celebration to give thanks for the harvest is an ancient one. The ancient Greeks and Romans held celebratory feasts to thank Demeter/Ceres for the year’s bounty, from which comes our “cornucopia,” or horn of plenty. In ancient China, a Moon Festival celebrated the harvest moon with feasting. Ancient Egyptians gathered in thanks to the goddess Min who presided over fertility and plenty.

In […]

By | 2018-07-15T08:03:01+00:00 November 20th, 2007|Holidays, Inspiration|0 Comments

Autumnal Equinox 2007

The equinoxes are magical points in time when the day and night are of equal lengths. These are times of balance and correspond roughly to the ascendant/descendant axis in the birthchart. The spring equinox (in the tropical system) takes place with the Sun at 0 degrees Aries, correlating with the ascendant and first house, and the fall equinox occurs at 0 degrees Libra, correlating with the descendant and seventh house.

With Aries and Libra we are dealing with two points of initiation: initiation of the Self (Aries) and initiation of the Other (Libra). The distinction between Self and Other is a little blurry right now with Venus (connecting with others) having just passed an exact opposition to Neptune. We feel creative and inspired now, but the Self is a little more difficult to access. The opposition between Mars and Pluto has been square to the Sun, forming a T-square which has intensified the energies of that dynamic which is still in force for the equinox.

Other influences are at play now as well (see chart): Jupiter is approaching its final square to Uranus which is accelerating the expansion of a new (Uranus) vision (Jupiter) and new ways of living the human experience, and Saturn is approaching a conjunction to the South Node which will test (Saturn) our attachment to the patterns from the past (South Node) that no longer work for us.
This is a time to moving forward, of becoming unstuck from the glue of our ancestral, family and personal histories. Saturn in Virgo helps us to create a plan and a strategy but tends to be overly cautious when exposed to the wildly visionary influence of Jupiter and Uranus.

This image by beautifully echoes this theme. The two […]

By | 2007-09-22T14:23:00+00:00 September 22nd, 2007|Holidays|Comments Off on Autumnal Equinox 2007

Day of At-one-ment

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish year; the day when God seals the fate of his people for the coming year. It is a day of confession that follows ten days of self-examination and repentance beginning at Rosh Hashana.

I suspect that the common people in most civilizations originating before the common area did not have the time for the luxury of introspection, and perhaps these ten days were provided for them as a time when they could look within themselves and evaluate their progress along their life’s path. On the final day, the day of Yom Kippur, Jews are required to refrain from food and water and any kind of work. It is a day of prayer and fasting and prayer since this is the day when the judgement for the following year is entered into God’s Book.

There is an interesting tradition associated with Yom Kippur that absolves each adherent from any oaths or promises that they have made to themselves over the previous year which they were unable to keep, and to vows made during the following year that cannot be kept. Although this tradition has given fodder to anti-semites who believed that Jews were not to be trusted, some sources say that this tradition dates back to times of persecution of the Jews by early Christians. The release of oaths at Yom Kippur would ease the conscious of Jews who were forced to deny their faith under torture. Modern tradition says that the promises that are released are those between God and his followers only. Releasing the individual from the chains of oaths they had made that could not be kept was a liberation of the spirit as the New Year began.

The concept of confession […]

By | 2007-09-21T12:11:00+00:00 September 21st, 2007|Holidays, Religion|Comments Off on Day of At-one-ment

The Magic of the Summer Solstice

The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, marks the end of the ascendancy of daylight and the beginning of the return to darkness. The astronomical solstice occurs when the Sun enters Cancer, one of the four cardinal points (the others being Aries, at the Spring Equinox; Libra, at the Autumnal Equinox; and Capricorn, at the Winter Solstice).

For ancient pagan cultures, and for those of us that attempt to attune to nature today, the cardinal points of the year are energetic turning points. Like the cardinal signs, they initiate action and are a force for change. In Cancer, the emotional nature is stimulated and is a major facet of the individual identity.

The astrological chart for the solstice includes not only the conjunction of Pluto to the Galactic Center discussed yesterday and the nearly exact opposition from Saturn to Neptune, but also three very tight trines:

  • An exact trine from Mars in Aries to Pluto in Sagittarius
  • An exact trine from Mercury retrograde in Cancer to the North Node in Pisces
  • A nearly exact trine from Venus in Leo to Jupiter in Sagittarius

Trines create ease and harmony but can also suggest laziness and complacency, but combined with the more stressful aspects such as the Saturn/Neptune opposition they can facilitate the developmental process required by those stressful aspects. The trine of Mars to Pluto creates energy for action and change. Venus in trine to Jupiter opens doorways to relationships and aids confidence. And Mercury trine the North Node demonstrates a new ability to see a little farther into the future as we gain a new perspective on our life.

The Summer Solstice is a time for celebration, and for experiencing the beauty in the natural world.

By | 2007-06-21T10:25:00+00:00 June 21st, 2007|Holidays|Comments Off on The Magic of the Summer Solstice
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