Thursday, December 21, 2006

0 Degrees Of Capricorn - Season's Greetings

In the northern hemisphere, when the Sun begins its journey through the sign of Capricorn it's the Winter Solstice, and the 2006 Solstice takes place on 22nd December, at around 12.15am GMT. The Winter Solstice has always been a time of celebration, as it marks the spot of the longest night, and the beginning of longer days. The Sun is reborn at this moment, to grow in strength until the Summer Solstice in June, when the cycle of shortening nights repeats again. Different cultures and different religions have had their own way of celebrating this time for thousands upon thousands of years. Some of the traditions have merged with others, some remain unchanged, but the celebrations continue to be an important part of people's lives everywhere.

It doesn't take a great amount of google searching to discover the origins of Christmas link to the Winter Solstice. Research certainly indicates that the story of the birth of a son to a virgin is a lot older than 2000 years. According to Achayra S in The Christ Conspiracy, there's a long list of deities who share a similar story, many of whom were born to a virgin on or around the 25th December (old calendar Solstice time), visited by wise men, and who grew up to be healers and saviours. Some of the more famous ones she includes are Mithra, Buddha, Krishna, Dionysus, Hercules and Horus (Her theory is all these characters, Jesus included; refer to an original solar myth with astrological correspondences).

I mention this not to get the backs up of Christians who are Christmas story devotees, but because it fascinates me that this Solstice based tale has stayed with us so strongly through the ages, in its various forms, and across so many cultures. To me this means it's vitally important to us that it stays in our conscious awareness. Why that is, I don't know. I know why it's important to me, being an astrologer with a passion for the cycles and seasons I live within; but I don't know why it's had such a hold on the collective psyche for so many thousands of years, with all its diversity of belief and interest.

Is it because it expresses the deep magic and mystery of the human condition? or is it something more astrologically mundane, and simply our collective response to the story, expressing according to the nature of the sign the celebrations fall under? Or is it both? A mix of mystery and mundane?

The adherence to tradition and ritual that has stood the test of time is very Capricorn. Time itself is related to Capricorn, so it would be appropriate to be celebrate it's seasonal passing. It's also in the nature of this sign to be a bit of a humbug about enjoying the festivities. Way back when the Romans celebrated this time as Saturnalia (Saturn rules the sign of Capricorn), Seneca complained that "the whole mob has let itself go in pleasures", while Pliny the Younger retired to his room to avoid the celebrations. This is also the season of the lecture about materialism, consumerism and the perils of excess, maybe because Capricorn is associated with limits, discipline and restriction. There's always a cry from someone to return to the good old days, when people celebrated with appropriate modesty, respectfully mindful of the 'real' message (back to that ever present solar deity myth); though when that was I don't know, as there's always been an associated history of hardcore merry-making. Finally of course, there's the extensive preparations for the holiday season - there's nothing more Capricorn-esque than a step by step, stressful build-up to fulfilling a goal. Preparation, pressure, and planning; it's all Cappy territory.

There's more on the rich tradition of Solstice time here.


2 comments:

tumblewords said...

That longer days are coming is better than a wrapped present! The London tornado must have been a startlement of the first order and I have to say weather has been more than a little wild here as well. Merry Christmas to you and yours and the Happiest of New Years!

guru-On-A-Soap-Box said...

Hmmm....as a Capricorn I don't find any of this REMOTELY amusing.....(heh heh heh)

Christmas, when I've been able to resonate and join in, when I've been able to stop the Saturnian voices about excess and loss of spirit-- has been about feeling connected with all those others who are celebrating. ONE day in the year when those who follow the Christian tradition, however haphazardly, take a breath, stop working, and CELEBRATE. It's what I try to tap into when freaking out at the mall!