Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Living Astrology: How to Prepare for Winter Solstice

Article © 2016 by Joyce Mason

The Winter Solstice is a sacred times of year—one where we’re meant to let go of outer concerns to contemplate our candlelit inner life—candlelit because it’s a season of waning light as we mourn the loss of sunshine and live in more darkness and the slowdown of nature. Our bodies become a church or temple in the soft light of meditation and from taking time to “just be.”

From a metaphysical perspective, it’s the time for rest, reassessment and simply being in harmony with all of nature as it hibernates or replenishes in the darker months of the year. Yet how many of us actually do this?

The earth-based religions are the most avid observers of the solstices and equinoxes, the Cardinal Crossings that mark the changes of season. Many of us no longer live on beat with nature, yet our zodiac is derived from these shifts. The truest way to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes is to spend more time in nature attuned to the Turning of the Wheel of Time—and to mark them in some ceremonial or reverent way.

In astrology we often quote the great Hermes Trismegistus, “As above, so below.” Yet many astrologers and astrology students stay focused on the sky and abstract symbolism of these changes, rather than digging their toes into the earth and feeling with all our senses the meaning of these turning points. We’re good at “as above” but not so hot on some of the more literal parts of “so below.”

Be Prepared: The Cardinal Rule to Access the Blessings of Winter Solstice

Long-time readers know that I’m wired for planning in my own astrology chart. Planning isn’t as easy for some people as it is for others, but to get the most out of winter solstice, advance planning is mandatory. The spirit of winter calls us inward on or about December 21 each year while the outer world is a nearly a maniacal vacuum, sucking us into frenzies of holiday activities and preparation. How do we rectify these opposing forces?

This year, we have a double pull inward as Mercury goes Retrograde on December 19. Hopefully, this will increase magnetism toward winter’s true purpose of introspection and hibernation--or at least as much deep rest as we human mammals will allow ourselves.

In practical terms, this means getting most of your running around, parties and marathon baking done by December 18. This post in early December may seem like not much warning, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you can front load the very active part of your season for the first three weeks of December, you’ll have the valuable, intangible gifts of winter under your tree. You’ll be in harmony with life on earth.

Ways to Meet Winter

As a Group. Indigenous people have taught us that these changes deserve ritual. As I’ve shared many times, I created a circle of like-minded women in 1988 with another friend to celebrate these key passages. Now in our 28th year, the Solsisters continue to thrive on a patchwork quilt of multicultural spiritual ideas, sewn together with the thread of relevance to today’s spirit-minded people and their concerns. We find ourselves traveling the spiritual spectrum from the earliest days of Sun worship to gleaning the gold from today’s religions or sacred practices—and anything in-between. We have no barriers except that the prayers, ideas and tools resonate to us now.

For more on how we do this and to create ceremonies of your own, see the post Fully Seasoned: Astrology and Ritual and round it out with Silver Solstice. Is this your year to catalyze a life-changing practice to live astrology out loud?

Another idea: Create a group on Facebook or wherever your Astro- and metaphysically minded friends hang out. Talk about the season and its symbolism. Share prayers, poems and ideas for a virtual solstice celebration through the solstice itself.

The best Winter Solstice celebrations wax into and out of the Cardinal Crossing itself and involve both individual and group activities.

By yourself. Introverts will be happy to know that you can do the same thing, as we used to say when I was growing up, with “me, myself and I.” Since winter solstice heralds a season of going inward, it’s easier for those who already do that on a regular basis. Yet even the most gregarious Aquarius needs to take this Journey Within as autumn turns winter. Here are some ideas on honoring winter solstice on your own:

  • Every day, take at least a 10 minute walk, regardless of weather. (OK, you can skip a day during a blizzard or monsoon.) Appreciate the smells, the beauty and the uniqueness of how nature is expressing itself now. Realize you are a part of it, and contemplate how you change during this seasonal shift. If possible, walk to or in the most natural setting you can find—harder for urbanites, but even New York has Central Park. Do it through December so that you can feel the changes in nature and energy from Sagittarius to Capricorn, autumn to winter.
  • Collect some Yule prayers or poems and start each day with one of them from now until the Solstice.
  • Set aside time for meditation daily, even if it’s only 10-15 minutes—or even one minute. I participated in an experiment with the Edgar Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment years ago,where we measured the results of these minute meditations. They were surprisingly centering, relaxing and uplifting. For an example of an amazing one-minute meditation to help heal the USA from all its divisiveness, see Wise USA’s Liberty Bell Minute Meditation.
  • Read poems about winter and waning light. What do you learn?
  • Wish people a Happy Yule or Solstice, and be prepared to answer questions from those who don’t get it—and embrace the joy of discovering kindred spirits among those who do.

Ditch Extremism

Let’s not get ridiculous about it. Since many people celebrate Christmas, Hannukkah, Kwanzaa and other holidays during this time of year, don’t figure on chanting Om in your meditation corner while the rest of the family revels. There’s no need to give up any of your own traditions, just add on. Dip in and out of the usual activity, and from honoring the winter in ways we have explored, you’ll find your interactions to be more meaningful. You’ll pop insights for further exploration during your winter downtime. You’ll be eager to get to the peace of falling snow from your front window or from the window of your soul.

My journey with the Solsisters started with Winter Solstice, so my entire ceremonial alter ego, where I become a “groovy urban goddess” several times a year, revolves and evolves around this turning point. Over time, you’re likely to merge with each shift of season, find its highest good and expression. Best of all, you’ll feel part of something much bigger—the universe and our star, Earth. Or to share my favorite affirmation I learned from Spring Forest Qigong:

"I am in the universe. The universe is in me. The universe and I are one." —Chunyi Lin


Photo Credit:  © Charles Henry –

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