Winter Solstice 2018
Friday, December 21, is the Winter Solstice: the Sun enters Capricorn, marking the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. Capricorn is steady, patient, devoted, and hard working. This is the energy it takes to carry us through the winter months to come.
The winter solstice is the longest night of the year, and it is also the start of days growing longer. So, while there are several cold, potentially challenging months ahead, at the solstice we also celebrate the darkness and also the return of light. This year, the solstice is the night before the Full Moon, so the skies will be giving us an abundance of light to see us through this longest night.
On the day of the solstice, Venus in Scorpio forms an exact trine to Neptune in Pisces. A trine is a relationship of 120 degrees, and forms between planets in signs that share the same element and polarity. It is the most supportive, auspicious aspect in astrology. Scorpio and Pisces are both water signs and their polarities are yin. In traditional astrology, the polarities were described as “feminine” or “masculine,” and coming from a queer perspective, I’m reluctant to impose a gender binary onto the signs of the zodiac. But as a feminist, I also want to celebrate the abundance of femme power in this Venus/Neptune trine. Venus in Scorpio can present a challenge: the planet of love and connection dives deep into the dark, hidden waters of Scorpio, demanding that we uncover and confront our shadows, our secrets, even our shame. Venus in Scorpio knows that we can only truly love and be loved when we risk exposure, step into the courage of vulnerability, and allow ourselves to be seen and known in all our hidden parts. Neptune in Pisces brings an ocean of compassion and empathy into these intense demands for uncovering. Neptune in Pisces reminds us that love is often a mystery, if for no other reason than we are each mysteries to ourselves and one another. We spend so much time living into fantasies and projections, gazing into the eyes of another as if they are a mirror for ourselves. Venus in Scorpio challenges us to check our projections and dive beneath surface illusions, even as Neptune in Pisces reminds us that there is no outside to our fantasies and there is no final resolution to mystery; rather, what can we learn as we get intimate with mystery and cultivate curiosity and compassion for our fantasies and projections?
Just a few minutes after Venus and Neptune form their trine, Mercury and Jupiter make an exact conjunction in Sagittarius. Conjunction means planets are at the same degree of the same sign. Jupiter is the ruler of Sagittarius, where it is said to be in its domicile. In its domicile, a planet is at home, in familiar territory, with easy access to all of its resources. Jupiter connects us to abundance, expansion, and growth, invites us to experience faith in something bigger than ourselves. In Sagittarius, we’re invited to expand our horizons, widen the frame, move beyond the known into the unexplored.
Mercury—the planet of communication, sharing ideas, and moving between the worlds—sometimes struggles in Sagittarius. In traditional astrology, it is said to be in its detriment here. The expansive big picture, big ideas, big, fiery feelings of Sagittarius can feel difficult to manage, challenging to communicate or put into words. But as Mercury applies this perfect conjunction to Jupiter, it gets immense support from the great benefic, the ruler of the sign. Perhaps we are experiencing so much more than we know how to express, but Jupiter’s presence here reminds me of something Maggie Nelson writes in The Argonauts: “I had spent a lifetime devoted to Wittgenstein’s idea that the inexpressible is contained—inexpressibly!—in the expressed … it doesn’t feed or exalt any angst one may feel about the incapacity to express, in words, that which eludes them. It doesn’t punish what can be said for what, by definition, it cannot be … Words are enough.” Jupiter conjunct Mercury in Sagittarius is a celebration of the vast abundance of meaning, the expansive sufficiency, of our seemingly finite communications.
The very next day, December 22, we have a beautiful Full Moon in Cancer. Cancer is the domicile of the Moon, its homeland, the primal waters of birth and beginnings. Following closely the Venus/Neptune trine the day before, the Moon shines full just as it moves into the third water sign. Cancer signifies our most basic, instinctual needs, our experiences of care and caretaking. Right here at the start of winter, this Full Moon reminds us to drop back into sensing and feeling, listening closely to what we need most while we also listen and respond to the needs of others. Cancer also speaks to our origins, where we come from, the body of the mother but also our tribes. As you listen more closely to what you need in the most basic, instinctual parts of yourself, you might also reflect on where is it that you experience belonging? Who is your tribe? Who are the people who are invested in caring for your needs just as much as you are invested in caring for theirs? Getting through the long winter requires gathering close to our support systems and developing deeply sensitive practices of mutual care. Over the course of the following day, the Moon will apply a trine to both Neptune and Venus, bringing our attention back to those themes of love, vulnerability, exposure, and mystery once again.
For the Solstice, I’ll be co-facilitating a ritual with the Temple of Ara. The ritual is hosted on Zoom, so people anywhere can participate. The ritual is Friday, December 21, 2018 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM (EST)—free and open to the public.
More info here:https://spellrebellwinter2018.eventbrite.com
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Michael J. Morris is a witch, an astrologer, a tarot reader, an artist, a writer, and a teacher.