“The Christians stole the winter solstice from the pagans, and capitalism stole it from the Christians.” – George Monbiot
Cycles. Thousands of years ago we humans lived in sync with the seasons. We were astute observers of the heavens. In the northern hemisphere the winter solstice was one of the major markers of the cycles of our lives. To the pre-Christian peoples, it was the most sacred of days.
The winter solstice occurs every year when the Sun moves into the constellation of Capricorn. This year the solstice is amplified, and many astrologers believe it may be the marker for a new era. Following is a quote from Stephanie Austin’s most recent newsletter which explains this phenomenon:
“The winter solstice occurs this year on December 21 at 8:28 AM PST [11:29 AM EST], and is greatly amplified by its close conjunction with Saturn (10’ of arc), something which has not happened since 1700 and will not occur again until 2200, signaling the initiation of a new era. Solstices and equinoxes mark the seasonal shifts, and this one is even further potentized by its proximity to the galactic center. The word solstice comes from the Latin word ‘to stand still’; for three days, the Sun appears to rise at the same place, before beginning to climb a little higher each day, until the next solstice 6 months later. For three days around each solstice, the Earth’s magnetic field is more open to cosmic radiation, facilitating the download of new energetic codes and matrices. This is a very potent time for setting intentions, as well as for group prayer and ceremony.”
Stephanie goes on to discuss how the winter solstice has been honored over time by many cultures:
“Many cultures celebrated this time of year as the Return of the Light. The Yule log was initially kindled in honor of Sulis, Sol, and Sunna, goddesses of the Sun. Ancient Rome merged Egyptian and Persian traditions into Saturnalia, a weeklong festival ending on the winter solstice, which honored Saturn, the god of agriculture, with candles, decorations of greenery, parties, role reversals, and the exchange of gifts. Christmas was initially held on January 6, Jesus’ Baptismal day, but in 350 was moved to December 25, to coincide with Saturnalia and the winter solstice. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorates the miracle of faith, the light of truth, and the flame of freedom. One of the main rituals of Kwanzaa, a Pan African celebration, is the lighting of seven candles, symbolizing the values and concepts reflective of African culture. For the Hopis, this is Soyal, where ritual fires are lit and creation stories re-enacted, as the kachinas, the spirit helpers, emerge from their underground kivas.”
She goes on to discuss our current lifestyle and the effects this has on our psychological health:
“Regardless of our religious or cultural affiliation, for the 90% of the world’s population who live in the northern hemisphere, these are the shortest days and darkest time of the year, an optimal time to be inward and contemplative, yet we are pressured to be busier than ever, with shopping for gifts, holiday parties, and family gatherings. Plants, animals, and fields appear dormant, but much is happening below the surface, in the dark. Before the invention of the light bulb in 1879, we spent half of our lives in darkness, living in sync with the Sun and Moon for thousands of years. The vast majority of our photoreceptor cells (95%) deal with night vision, peripheral vision, and movement; our rods are not only far more sensitive than our cones, but are also linked to our subconscious brain activity and our capacity for dreaming, imagination, and non-ordinary reality. Research shows that both indoor and outdoor light pollution affect melatonin levels, which in turn affects our metabolism, immune function, and endocrine system. We pay a physical, psychological, and spiritual price when we dismiss our inner world, as we need a balance of light and dark, outer and inner awareness, to be creative, healthy, and whole.
“. . . the coming solstice urge[s] us to honor our inner light, and eliminate what dims it. As we grow, things that were sources of enjoyment in the past may no longer provide the same satisfaction. This doesn’t mean they were bad; only that they are no longer in resonance with who we are now. Let go of ‘shoulds.’ Participate in the traditions that bring you joy. Know that your thoughts, prayers, and level of consciousness make a difference. We are in a time where our light is needed more than ever. Shine your light. Share your light. Be grateful for it all, and remember: ‘Self-Light is a natural part of our engagement with the world; becoming aware of it shifts our identity and sense of self. By consciously recognizing and standing in it, we can begin to see ourselves as one who is a source of the blessing and nurturing that spirit provides. This light lies as a potential within us always, but our intent makes it brighter – energizes, awakens and sets it into motion such that it is a gift to the community, we become a source of spiritual presence in the environment of the world. (Julia Spangler).’”
My thanks to Stephanie Austin for this very thoughtful, timely article helping us remember we are powerful light beings. May you be at peace at this most sacred time of year.
Note: Stephanie Austin M.A. is a full-time astrologer specializing in life purpose, career, and relationship readings since 1986. She also teaches astrology, and wrote the New and Full Moon column for the Mountain Astrologer magazine for 14 years. Her background includes a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a master’s in Consciousness Studies, and a lifelong involvement with meditation, Nature, and healing. For more information on her astrology readings, eBooks, tutorials, and forecasts, please visit www.EcoAstrology.com.