Tomorrow the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn, the zodiacal backdrop to our journey through the dark heart of winter each year. This year its entry, and the Winter Solstice, is lent especial significance by Capricorn’s ruling planet, Saturn, having come home to its own sign today. I have been feeling the gravity of this, as I am sure have many of my readers.
In essence, my feeling about the period we are moving into from Winter Solstice 2017 is this: Saturn is the planet which dispenses strict justice, telling us that what we sow, we reap – for good or ill. As he moves slowly towards conjunction with mighty Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, at 22 degrees Capricorn in 2020, a meeting which only occurs every thirty-five years or so, we are being reminded that environmentally, politically and financially there is a collective reckoning on its way. Jupiter’s presence in Capricorn that year further amplifies the encounter’s significance.
The consequences of our actions are looming; there is a rebirth coming which hopefully in the long run will challenge us as a human community to behave with greater integrity in our dealings both with one another and with our precious mother planet. So, the turbulent times ahead will force us to confront our failures and shortcomings, both personally and collectively.
But they will also offer us satisfactions and rewards in those areas of our lives to which we bring integrity, personal responsibility, patience, persistence and honesty. The choice is ours – as always.
It’s important to give profound times their due. But we also need comfort and distraction, especially in the ‘bleak Midwinter’…
We humans in the Northern Hemisphere, beset by darkness and cold, have from long antiquity needed light and celebration to lift our spirits in the bleak midwinter, no matter how much the grimness of world affairs or the pains of everyday life hold us down: 2017 has been a particularly harrowing year.
We have, also, long needed ritual to guide our lives through the passage of all kinds of seasons: seasons of the year, seasons of our lives, seasons of joy, seasons of mourning…these rituals give significance, dignity, to the archetypal processes of life and death, then rebirth to new life in one form or another.
An annual event in our Scottish household is to flick malt whisky symbolically onto the Christmas Tree, the modern version of the ancient Sumerians’ Moon Tree, and to read Susan Cooper’s wonderful Winter Solstice poem aloud. All families across the world have their own variations on seasonal ritual.
I hope you find comfort and joy in yours.
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Susan Cooper 2017
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page