Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Solstice (or, light first piercing the dark)

    Happy Winter Solstice! Yesterday marked the time of year when the tides finally turned--when darkness, after months of gaining progressively more hold over the light (ever since the Fall Equinox), finally reached it's breaking point and began loosening it's grip.  And, so, although it remains dark outside most of the time, the light force is now progressively building, bit by bit. . . Can you feel it? How wonderful, and apropos, that we are about to begin our holiday celebrations of Christmas and the New Year at such a poignant time. 

    Despite it being the beginning of "winter" yesterday, it was unseasonably warm.  And so, rather than gripe about global warming (don't get me started), I decided to do a little bit of hiking out at a branch of the Patapsco State Park.  (I did a ton of hiking there over the fall but not so much since Thanksgiving or so, due to the chillier weather. . . and maybe a little laziness.) While I was hiking, I also decided to call Sarah, a new friend of mine that I met my first astrology retreat last month, to catch up a bit and discuss the changes in season and the stars.  (Such a blessing to have a new friend with whom to ponder such things!)

    As I was hiking, Sarah and I reflected together how, from both of our perspectives--hers in Boston, mine in Baltimore--the sun felt so far away, even weak.  And yet, here it was, such a warm day--strange! Ah, the paradoxes of a Winter Solstice.  I mused about how the beginning of winter seemed such a fascinating time for me. . . On one hand, we are celebrating the return of the light.   But, on the other hand, we are "shoring ourselves up" or "hunkering down"--preparing, in other words, for a long period of indoor living, while the weather outside blows and gusts with icy fury.  What a strange paradox, that the return of light and the beginning of the most introspective period of the year would be simultaneous.  How unexpected.  And yet this happens every year. . . I am only noticing, just now, as I have developed an increasing interest in the rhythms and cycles of nature and stars over the last couple of years. 

     Today I read something that explained this paradox for me in a way that I could digest.  In a description for an upcoming local astrology meetup, I read the following:
"We are in the energy of earth sign Capricorn from the Winter Solstice until January 20th. All the visions we created during Sagittarius (November 22-December 21st) now need to be firmly planted. A Capricorn mantra is “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”. Capricorn is about building foundations. During winter dormant seeds lie underground, they begin to germinate in early February and to sprout at the Spring Equinox. We prepare for an introspective time of self examination to root out anything that will impede the manifestation of our vision."
Of course, that makes sense. . . and it parallels what Sarah and I were discussing yesterday, which is the nature of how the Sun (the principle of unconditional warmth and confidence) might manifest in the more conservative, even somewhat pessimistic, sign of Capricorn.  Capricorn is all about mastery, and mastery is a two phase process (which continually alternates): Phase 1--Learn a skill really, really well, and spend a lot of private time reviewing and perfecting and Phase 2--Demonstrate your skills to the world, where you can get objective feedback on how you've done.  So, maybe, this winter period, this gradual increase of light while being shut away inside, is a reminder that the light shines first in introspection and in our minds.  And this makes sense, because light has so much to do with being conscious and aware.  The process of en-lightenment begins inside; it is worked and refined in the winter months, and it is only in the spring that the warm coaxes the light outwards into nature, and the warmth of nature likewise coaxes us out of our plans and inhibitions and into freshly expressed, spontaneous action--Yes! . . . but first, the winter.

     And so, with the Winter Solstice, we mark a new beginning of the solar cycle--but not one in which we will be off and running.  We must prepare ourselves first.  Luckily, starting tomorrow, we will have another cyclical energy come into play, another new beginning, which will, I believe aid us in our preparations--that is, a new moon.  I found it fascinating to think yesterday, while celebrating the Winter Solstice (and pondering the implications therein), that we in a Balsamic (waning, and nearly diminished) moon phase, and so simultaneously a time of endings as well as beginnings.  Balsamic moon periods, e.g. the period of the last few days before the new moon, is all about reflection, winding things up and releasing those karmic/behavioral patterns which no longer serve you.  It is a nice of, one could even say, self-forgetting.

    But tomorrow, just before 9 am, we will herald the new moon, and that is a different matter.  The new moon is a time of new beginnings and ambitions, of a freshly discovered egoic impulse first emerging from spirit out into the world.  Now, mind you, it is still winter (as I have just discussed), and it is a new moon in Capricorn (so the new beginning might be related to work, introspection or self-improvement), but still!--it is a cause for celebration, as is any new cycle.  And celebrate we will, with the presents, and food, and music and merriment. 

    Perhaps I am a little over excited.  I do sense that I am "spilling out of myself" a bit tonight as I write this, and I can only hope that I express myself coherently enough that others will gain something from reading this--as opposed to just shaking their heads at my over-enthusiasm.  I could blame my excitement on the season, on the start of these new cycles, on the combined impact of the current moon + Mercury in Sagittarius along with the stationing (and so never-so-powerful) Jupiter.  It seems rather un-Capricornian of me to bubble over this way with excitement, and so Jupiter and Sagittarius (eternally optimistic!) may, in fact, have something to do with it.

    But there is another reason.  I am excited about this new moon because it is my new moon.  (Okay, maybe it hasn't technically been named for me, but bear with me here.)  There is a new personal astrological cycle that begins for me with this new moon, a cycle that happens only once every 27 years, in which the progressed (e.g., evolving) moon in my chart conjuncts (joins/combines with) my natal (in-born and ever-present) Sun.  In other words, this a my own personal new moon, in a way.  A fresh beginning, an emerging from a period of inner processing, of shedding skin and discarding false hopes.  I do not know what awaits me.  And I know that, in Capricornian fashion, I will need to introspect, clarify and work hard--e.g., I am not "out of the woods".  But still, there is a light.  I can see it faintly growing, illuminating the recesses of my mind that have wallowed in the dark for too long.  I herald the light, and celebrating this new beginning.

    Happy holidays!--and, as always, Namaste: "The light in me bows to the light in you."


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