Winter Solstice and the Holiday Season
by Guru Rattana, Ph.D. - Issue #127 - December 16, 2006
Because this holiday season is particularity intense, I am devoting this issue to understanding the energies involved and how we can access (and enjoy!) them at their higher frequencies.
- The Sun shines in Sagittarius from November 22nd at 3:02am PST (11:02am GMT) through December 21st at 4:23pm PST (12:23am GMT December 22nd), the day of the Winter Solstice. The Sun moves into Capricorn at the moment of Winter Solstice.
- The Sagittarius New Moon is the day before Winter Solstice - December 20th at 6:01am PST (2:01pm GMT.) at 28° Sagittarius. At this time, Mercury, Mars, the Sun, Moon, Jupiter and Pluto are all in Sagittarius. The Sun, Moon and Pluto are conjunct (within 2°).
The Holiday Spirit
When the Sun enters Sagittarius just before Thanksgiving, there is a buzz in the air from the fiery charge of the archetypal energy of Spirit. From November 22nd through Winter Solstice on December 21st, Sagittarius energy implodes in our psyche. However, the holiday spirit dramatically shifts at Winter Solstice, December 21st, when the Sun moves into Capricorn. Those unaware of the power of the Sun sign to give its signature to our general mood, wonder why all of a sudden they are exhausted, depressed and simply wish the holiday season were over.
Equally important is the impact of Winter Solstice. The realignment of the Earth's energies, and the change of season, have a profound impact on the human psyche and energy field. Yogi Bhajan told us, that if we aligned with the shifting forces at both the Winter and Summer Solstices, we would be covered for the year. This alignment is easier to achieve in personal and group meditation, than in a shopping mall or at an extroverted seasonal party.
Youth and Old Age
There has to be a cure for our fall, from jovial anticipation to haunting depression, right at one of the most sacred times of the year. The cure requires understanding the meaning and value of the juxtaposition of two archetypes, expressing radically different perspectives on life.
Sagittarius represents eternal youth, a free spirit, eagerness, enthusiasm, openness, flexibility and an optimistic future. Capricorn represents old age, authority, wisdom, stability, stillness, closure, the past and traditions.
We have already discussed both the immature and mature aspects of Sagittarius in Issue 126. We will explore the deeper meaning of all aspects of Capricorn in Issue 128. In this issue, I would like to share with you, how tuning into the higher expressions of both archetypes can deepen our experience of this sacred time of year.
In Search of Meaning
The Sagittarius archetype searches for meaning, and for a direct experience of Spirit. Authentic meaning and personal experience are found inside ourselves, and not from empty, provoked external stimulation. This fact becomes very obvious at this time of year. The intense role of Pluto in Sagittarius at the New Moon, December 20th, is making sure we get this point. We began our discussion of Pluto in Sagittarius (1994-2008) in Issue 125. In this issue we will deepen our understanding of the hidden agendas, buried deep within our personal and collective psyche, and their ramifications.
Pluto, the most distant planet from the Sun, is categorized as an impersonal planet. Although we each have Pluto in our birth chart, and must deal with this muckraker in our own lives, Pluto impacts us all together as a human species. Pluto takes a search light into the workings of mass consciousness, asking all of us "How do we collectively create our reality? How can we clean up what we are doing to the Planet and the human race?"
The depression, deep sadness, rage and disorientation that we are experiencing collectively at this time, comes from realizing the truth behind what Pluto is currently exposing, about the War in Iraq, the systematic curtailing of freedoms in America, and the low consciousness of too many people on the planet, who blindly and willingly perpetuate, and even indulge in, sickening violence to other members of the human race. Something is very wrong. And even if we are in denial, we feel the impact of a great collective misfortune, which we feel powerless to counteract.
Finding the Light Within
The lesson is not give up, give in and give out. If we truly embrace the lessons of Sagittarius we can find Spirit within, and be guided to higher ground. While the Sun is in Sagittarius, we need to take advantage of the good vibes and cultivate our connection with Spirit in our own hearts.
The good news is that the Earth has ascended to a higher frequency, which some call the 5th dimension. With more Light on the Planet, it is easier to see what is not working and why. It is also easier to experience the Light within ourselves. Despite one level of dismal reality, the joy of merging with higher frequencies is pleasurably available. We have to do our spiritual practices, align and care for our body, and meditate on the Infinite within, to have these experiences.
Many of us are finding that we can't slack off for even one day, or we are pulled back into the mass mud pool. But what the heck! How could we complain about doing our spiritual practice if it liberates us from the dismal alternative. We can only live in gratitude that we actually have access to the some of the most powerful tools to transform consciousness available to humankind - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation. We are so blessed! I live in gratitude for this gift!
Pluto in Sagittarius Exposes the Truth
The energies of both Sagittarius and Capricorn are simultaneously extroverted and introverted. Their highest realization depends upon our ability and willingness to pull our focus deep within ourselves. Pluto helps us out.
Pluto makes sure we see exactly what is going on, and acknowledge how our shadows create our personal and collective realities. There is no skimming over the surface with Pluto. It is down and dirty, rubbing our noses in the muck, which so far in human history seems to be necessary for us to get the point.In this issue, I wish to focus on the final phase of the Pluto in Sagittarius process being part of the solution, by connecting to Spirit within.
Pluto's macrocosmic scope reveals hidden karmic agendas of a global nature. Pluto's slow and long cycle (13 years) triggers deep changes in society at large.Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, the Sun, the Moon and Pluto all join ranks. (Venus is in Sagittarius from November 17th through December 10th.)While the Sun is in Sagittarius (November 22nd through December 21st) four planets will also group in Sagittarius, climaxing their cluster effect at the Sagittarius New Moon, December 20th.
When the personal planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter) are in Sagittarius, we each in our own way search for meaning in our lives. The conjunction of Pluto with the Sun and Moon is deepening and intensifying this search.The goal of Pluto in Sagittarius is to demand a complete overhaul of our spiritual core. This year, with Pluto within 2° of both the Sun and the Moon at the New Moon, the drama of our emotional scene intensifies and expands out globally.
We are not only being drawn to review our own spiritual base, we feel the necessity to evaluate what is happening to our global spiritual foundation. While many groups, in the name of religion, are not acting very ethically, greed for political and economic power is pursued with religious fervor. We know the condition of the human race was never perfect, but lunacy is just not acceptable. Pluto highlights the decay in our moral fabric.
Being Part of the Solution
We can pontificate (Sagittarius loves to be the preacher) about what must be done, but what is being asked of us is not to harden our moral positions. We have already done that and it is making things worse. There is so much black and white thinking, we almost forget there are many colors in the rainbow. Righteous positioning and polarization is a core cause of our current predicament. As Pluto nears the end of its sojourn through Sagittarius, we are being asked to try a new approach: to individually be part of the solution.
Individuals make up the collective. Individuals each doing their part can shift the collective consciousness. When Pluto enters Capricorn (2008), we will be asked to help build more just and equitable institutions. Pluto in Sagittarius is making sure we have the elevated consciousness required to make structural changes.
Connecting with Spirit at Winter Solstice
Winter Solstice is always an introspective time, but with Pluto joining the party, along with the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter, at the potent New Moon the day before, we are primed for some deep soul searching. As fanatics politicize ancient religions, as fundamentalists reinterpret sacred truths, as the morally denuded papacy covers-up sexual depravity, the authority of religious institutions that once offered security to believers is being dissolved. Extremism, scandals, petty thinking, hysteria and dissolution leave us no place to turn except inside ourselves. The truth has never been so clear - upliftment, purification, inspiration and Divine connection are our personal responsibility. No institution, no belief system, no external authority can substitute for the authentic and quiet connection with our own soul.
Winter solstice is the most inner point in the yearly planetary cycle. If we align with the energies of each phase of the natural progression of the seasons, we can consciously participate in, and benefit from, the gifts of each phase. We can experience that our lives reflect the many dimensions of a living system. Winter solstice is the most subtle shift. There is no way we can perceive the moment when decreasing light makes the switchover to increasing light and the days begin to lengthen instead of shorten. There is no dramatic marker, no reassuring sign that the final point of death and decline is over and regeneration and rebirth have begun.
We rely on trust and faith to have a positive attitude toward the future. However, trust and faith are just not enough, if they are not a result of our deep connection with Spirit. If our connection with the Divine is absent, our faith is phony and our trust is naïve. It is the absence of authentic spiritual experience that makes people get depressed at this time of year, feel isolated and alone, experience a sense of doom and doubt, and conjure up other inner crises.
Sacredness in Silence
Our holiday depression is not just the sugar blues from too many holiday sweets, light deprivation, bad weather and too little connection with nature, although these things certainly make us feel worse. It is the fact that our hyper-drive, need to be in control, can't relax without thinking, and what-to-do-next personalities can't let go long enough, to witness the glory in the silent stillness of the sacred moment of death and rebirth. Winter solstice can be a beautiful time for those who are willing to slow down enough to enjoy it.
Throughout history people amused and uplifted themselves with stories, myths and celebrations of rebirth. They stood in awe of the miracle of darkness turning again into light. The mystery and gift of life has been a sacred theme of hope throughout time.
Pluto in Sagittarius exposes the hollowness of our conventional shopping mall attitude, and secularized rituals that now dominate the holidays. But Pluto is also the source of hope, if we are willing to get real, and get ourselves down on the meditation mat, and out in nature. Connected to both our inner silence and the Earth's stillness, we can experience a real connection with the Divine and natural forces, that unite us in oneness with our common divinity. This holiday season, we can stop and feel the sacredness in our own being. We can choose to feel the light in our hearts, and share it with the world.
Sagittarius New Moon - December 20th
Spiritual connection is the theme of the Sagittarius New Moon, December 20th, the day before Winter Solstice. With 6 heavenly bodies in Sagittarius (Sun, Mars, Moon, Jupiter, Mercury and Pluto), we will experience yet another extraordinary new moon. This is the fourth new moon in a row occurring at the last degrees of the sign, signifying both completion and opportunity. Again we are at a spiritual crossroads. Our perspective of who we are, why were here, and what we are going to do about it, is up for a profound reorientation, that could be as significant as a paradigm shift. This intensely Sagittarian New Moon simulates a conscious awakening, that can dislodge the conditioning that once made us feel secure, but now makes us feels limited and stuck.
Sagittarius expands our vision of ourselves to include an understanding of our soul, its place in the cosmos, and our role in the Divine Plan. A doorway is opening for us to upgrade how we use and relate to our five senses. We are being blessed to use the divinely bestowed tools of our sensory system, to ground and enjoy Spirit in our physical form. The more we attune our bodies to natural and cosmic energies, the more we are able to trust ourselves, and consciously co-create with the Universe.
Pluto Aligns with the Galactic Center
An interesting factor, that opens the space for a quantum leap at this new moon, is the fact that Pluto (at 26° Sagittarius) aligns with the Galactic Center, where a super black hole, 4 million times more massive than our Sun, occupies the hub and heart of our Milky Way galaxy. Black holes are titanic energy sinks and also colossal transmitters of radio waves, with periodic flares of x-ray and infrared radiation. Pluto, the archetypal energy of death and rebirth, aligns within a degree of the Galactic Center from February 2006 through November 2007, with exact passes on December 28th, 2006, July 16th, 2007 and October 28th, 2007.Adding to the intensity, Jupiter and the Sun cross the Galactic Core on December 5th and 19th, 2007.
Only once every 248 years does Pluto align with the Galactic Center. The last time was in 1758-59, just before the American and Industrial Revolutions. During this 2-year alignment, Pluto focalizes and intensifies the electro-magnetic radiation emanating from the galactic core. This catalyzes evolutionary changes in both or bodies and our psyches; we are being retooled, rewired and re-coded.
Pluto is the heavy hitter of the astrological archetypes. Pluto obliges us to explore the unconscious, exposing our shadows. As unpleasant as the initial phase of this process may seem, it is a necessary prelude to releasing what is sabotaging us. The end result is a transformation of our core energy, so that we can identify with our true identity, freely move forward with purpose on our path, and be in authentic relationship with the Cosmos. The symbology of the Galactic Core helps us respond to Sagittarius' invitation at this new moon, to aim straight at our goal from the depths of our heart.
Archetypal Evolution - Progressions, Practical Grounded Logic and Action
No sign exists in isolation. We each have planets in many signs, and have all the energies of the Zodiac available to us in our birth chart. Our developmental process depends upon using the various energies to grow and evolve in a balanced way.
The abstract mind of Sagittarius needs the factual, technical mind of its polarity Gemini and its second mutable partner Virgo to ground it in daily life. Sagittarius benefits from the precise, accurate Virgo/Gemini lens, to zero in on the target. At the same time, both Gemini and Virgo need the bigger picture furnished by Sagittarius (and Pisces, the 4th mutable sign) to not get bogged down in details. Virgo and Gemini need the Sagittarius overview, to extricate themselves from short-sightedness and worrying too much about factual mistakes.
To operate in the world, Spirit must be grounded. One of the biggest challenges on any spiritual path, is to integrate the energies of non-physical reality into our physical experience of time and space. Tuning into the energies of fixed signs - Taurus, Leo, Aquarius, Scorpio - helps stabilize the fluid, flowing energies of the mutable signs. The Earth energies of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn also add structure, offer the ability to organize, and supply the qualities of commitment and responsibility to the Archer, seeking to live a functional spiritual life.
The Sagittarius goals of spiritual grounding and living by common-sense wisdom, both require life experience and learning about Earthly reality through trial and error. To understand how the Archer learns to navigate the physical plane, requires the understanding of an astrological concept that I will now discuss for the first time - Progressions.
30 Year Progressions of Our Sun Sign
In astrology there is what may appear as an abstract concept (Sagittarius), but which accurately corresponds to our human experience (Gemini). This is the concept of progressions. Progressions incorporate the idea of personal evolution and transformation during this lifetime. We generally observe the progression, or evolution, of our Moon, Sun, Venus, Mercury and Mars - the fast-moving personal planets. The other planets move more slowly, so the effects of their progressions are not as noticeable as tose of the fast moving planets.
The complete Zodiac is comprised of 360°. The Zodiac is divided into 12 signs, each of which is assigned 30°. Progression refers to the sequential movement through the 12 signs. In the dynamic of progressions, each degree equals one year. Our personal progressions start on the day we are born. Lets look at the progression of our Sun sign. (We need our birth chart and an ephemeris to figure out the progression of our Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars. (Better yet, we need an astrological program that gives us the exact information). For our Sun sign we can get within a year of the progressed movement, simply by counting the days from our birthday to the date that the Sun moves into the next sign.
The Sun changes signs between the 19th and the 22nd of each month, most often on the 21st. To figure out the approximate date when your Sun progresses into the following sign, count the days from your birthday to the 21st of the same or next month. For example, if you were born on November 3rd, counting to November 22nd would give you 19. When you were 19, your progressed Sun moved into Sagittarius (the next sign after Scorpio.) If you were born on November 30th, count the number of days to the 21st of December when the Sun moves into Capricorn - 22. You were 22 when your progressed Sun moved into Capricorn.
If you have your birth chart, the calculation is even easier. If your Sun is 17° Gemini, it progressed into Cancer at the age of 4. The Sun moves into Cancer the 21st of June. 21-17= 4.
After the first calculation, which can be known accurately with a computerized astrological program, the next calculations are easy - every 30 years. Your progressed Sun stays in the sign following your Sun sign for 30 years, before it moves to the next sign for another 30 years. It thus behooves us to carefully study the attributes and the lessons of the two signs following our Sun sign. These signs will help us actualize the goals and learn the lessons of our Sun sign.
The Sagittarius 30-Year Progression through Capricorn
From 1 to 29 years after birth, every Sagittarian will enter a 30 year progression of his/her Sun through Capricorn. At the hand of Saturn, Sagittarius learns to plan, stay focused on a goal and become more realistic in terms of the limitations of available energy, time and resources. The Sagittarian play ethic is tempered by the Capricorn work ethic. Sagittarius is more inclined to keep options open, to resist fixed deadlines, and to operate spontaneously, avoiding long-term planning.
Sagittarius prefers fun projects, where the preparation is interesting, and any maintenance offers newness. The Archer, always eager to move on, considers clean up to be a waste of good time - time that could be better spent on the next project. During the Capricorn progression, Sagittarius is forced to deal with the reality of the business world, and to move lofty ideas into the practical arena of focused, dedicated effort. Capricorn's work ethic makes it possible for Sagittarius to manifest realistic goals, in the physical reality of a limited amount of time, space and energy.
When its goals are too general and distant, Sagittarius doesn't know where or how to start, or how to keep going. Capricorn teaches the Centaur that aspirations can only be achieved through consistent hard work, and dedicated commitment to one's goals. Capricorn demonstrates common sense, focuses on practicality, and shows Sagittarius how to operate in the business world of stress, work related details, deadlines, and daily routines.
Celebrating the Birth of Our Inner Child
So back to the holiday season. Before the birth of Christ, the ancients from Persia to Britain celebrated the feast of Mithras, the Divine Child, on December 25th. The Mithras celebration focused on meditation and spiritual initiation. At the darkest time of the year, the Mithras cult not only celebrated the birth of Mithras, but the internal birth of the divine child within the soul of each initiate.The idea was to tune into the inner hope of our own continual rebirth.
Later, the then Archbishop of Canterbury decided to build Christian churches on the sites of the Mithras cult, and to set the feast of the Christ child's birth on December 25th, thus preserving the Feast of the Child for us.Remembering the origins of our current holidays, we can wisely structure this season to tune into, and celebrate, the silent stillness from which we are reborn each year.
The fiery energy of Sagittarius opens our heart to the playful child within. The earth energy of Capricorn slows us down to the point where we can experience stillness and peace within. The still, peaceful core, deep within our being, is the manger which gives birth to and nurtures our inner child.
Tracking and Nurturing Our Mood
As we move through the Winter Solstice, and witness the shift into Capricorn of the Sun (December 21st), Venus (December 11th), Mercury (December 28th), and Mars (January 16th), we can monitor how our mood changes. Notice when the spirit of the carefree, optimistic Centaur gets lost in the Capricorn preoccupation with shoulds and oughts, as well as family duties and professional responsibilities.
We can create our own antidote, by merging the two sacred energies in our psyche. We can reorient our attitude toward the highest expression of these two energies - youth and age. The child feels the magic and is eager, open and spontaneous. Instead of spoiling our own fun, by devolving into the rigid, perfectionistic, burdensome attitudes that often accompany our industrious preparations, we can hold the sacred space for heart-felt sharing and connection. Do only what the kids, your inner child or your friends inner child will enjoy. Eliminate the shoulds just for this year, and see how you and everyone else respond. We can also add some quiet reflection and silent meditation to our rituals. Lighting candles can remind us of how we share our light with the world.
Transitions to a Heart-Centered World by Guru Rattana, Ph.D., is a rich and unique compilation of the core teachings and Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations of Yogi Bhajan.
The new Second Edition, revised and updated,is ready to welcome a whole new generation of students to this life-changing technology. It offers powerful and effective techniques to both teacher and student, to empower your lower chakras and open your heart to unconditional love.
Contains literally dozens of meditations to access heart and soul consciousness.
Kundalini Yoga - Pranayama and Meditation to Elevate Our Spirit
Inner connection, in silence and stillness, is nature's instruction during this time of year. Within the stillness we find aliveness, and experience the spark of Spirit that animates our being. One Kundalini Yoga kriya that works very powerfully to counteract depression, by igniting our inner fire, is the kriya for Sun Energy found on page 54 of Transitions to a Heart-Centered World 2nd Edition.
The first exercise is breath of fire through the right nostril for 3-5 minutes. Block the left nostril with the left thumb, with the fingers pointing straight up. To end, inhale deeply, hold the breath, and then relax. Meditate on the clear, silent space within your mind. (Right nostril breathing is energizing. Left nostril breathing is relaxing.)
The second exercise is breath of fire for 3-5 minutes, with the hands interlaced a few inches above the head. Feel the pulse of the navel, and the pulse of the breath at the 7th chakra at the top of the head. To end, inhale, hold the breath, exhale and sit quietly. Focus your attention on the silent stillness in your head, and the simultaneous aliveness in your body. Simply be present to the experience.
After you have completed the above (or the whole set), do the following meditation, which is found on page 159 of Transitions to a Heart-Centered World. This meditation washes away negativity and darkness, with the Light vibration of WAH GURU.
Sit in easy pose with hands on the knees, thumbs and forefingers touching. Inhale 8 equal parts, i.e. the inhale is divided into 8 equal parts. Silently chant WAH on each inhale, striking each chakra with the breath and the sound:
- third eye,
- crown/top of head.
The 8th WAH is released around the body.
On the exhale, silently release the sound GURU unto infinity. Continue for 5 to 11 minutes or longer. At the end sit silently, in the stillness that holds your being, and the aliveness that animates it. Lovingly celebrate your life.
May you enjoy the sacred stillness of the season!
References and Footnotes
"Gemini Full Moon, Sagittarius New Moon", Austin, Stephanie, The Mountain Astrologer, Issue #130, Dec/Jan, 2006, pp.101-102.
"Astrology and Spiritual Awakening", Bogart, Gregory C., Dawn Mountain Press, Berkeley, 1994.
"Archetypes of the Zodiac", Burt, Kathleen, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, 2002.
"Taking Back the Holidays - Pluto and the Winter Solstice", Murray, Jessica, The Mountain Astrologer, Issue #130, Dec/Jan, 2006, pp. 29-34.
"Spiritual Astrology", Spiller, Jan and McCoy, Karen, Simon and Schuster, 1985 and 1988.
1. All 200 back issues can be found using our Index. You can also search uaing keywords on our site search facility, at the top of every page.
2. I highly recommend a new book called Soul-Sick Nation, by astrologer and political theorist Jessica Murray. This book offers a profound analysis of our global situation from a perspective of cosmic meaning. Outlining the lessons that America must learn in the next years and sharing an understanding of the greater purpose of the challenges and events of this epoch, the reader can feel both profoundly educated and full of hope for our future. You can order this book at www.mothersky.com/book-announcement4.html or call AuthorHouse: 800 937-8200.
3. Murray, p. 29.
4. Murray, p. 30
5. Murray, p. 31
6. Austin, p. 102
7. Austin, p. 102
8. Burt, p. 321
9. Burt, p. 321-2
10. Burt, p. 330
11. Burt, p. 361
12. Burt, p. 361
For news of all the latest astrological events, check out Guru Rattana Blog