Thoughts on Solstice 2021
5:59 am AHST 12/21/2021
7:59 am PST 12/21/2021
3:59 pm UTC 12/21/2021
There are four points in the orbit of this dear sweet Earth around the Sun that are immutable, no matter what calendar system we use, or what clock timing we employ. They are the Solstices and the Equinoxes. These are points in the orbit where the Earth’s tilt in relationship to the Sun’s light is either at maximum, minimum, or in the case of the equinoxes, at mid-point or equal day and night. The Solstices are those points where in each hemisphere the days are either the shortest, or the longest. In the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day is on the Winter Solstice in December, where the Sun’s angle shines directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn, that line which is about 23˚ south of the equator. Likewise, the Tropic of Cancer on June 21st is when the Sun’s light is directly overhead, is at 23˚ north of the equator (for North Americans, around about the tip of Baja California).
Since humans have been tracking the movements of the heavens, these times of the year have been central to life, the timings of which have to do with the changes in rainfall and farming practices. But also rituals for navigating the transition from darkness to light have historically been prevalent throughout all ancient cultures in the world. The Sun does literally “Stand still” (sol-stice) for a few days before it begins the 6 month climb back to the other Tropic. These few days are a liminal time, a time between the worlds of light and dark, a bridging time of rituals such as lighting bonfires, making offerings, giving gifts, connecting with ancestors, and making vows for the coming year.
Astrologically, the Winter Solstice is a powerful point in the turning of the year. The chart of the moment when the Sun hits 0˚ of Capricorn — the exact moment of the Winter Solstice — foretells the energies we will be dealing with in the coming year ahead, the quality and characteristics of the light that is approaching us. Light brings awareness, allows us to see what has been hidden. Last year’s Solstice chart was a momentous event, a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction (a once in 20 year event) happening exactly on Winter Solstice, the combination of which had not happened for thousands of years. As I wrote then, “This particular Great Conjunction at the turning from dark to light heralds the cessation of a greater darkness, and the beginning of a time of reformation.”
Little did we know then how that re-formation of our world psyche would play out. The Sun/Saturn/Pluto conjunction on January 12th of 2020 was a huge clue to astrologers. The Sun, shining the light of consciousness, combined with Saturn, learning about our collective karma, and Pluto, stripping away delusion and exposing corruption, was a heady combination that led, among other things, to the release of Covid-19 upon the world. And politically, we are steeped in the drama of the stripping away of democracy, exposing the underlying corruption in the US and the world’s governments. The brazen lies and subterfuge of the Trumpublicans, while being exposed on some level, are still finding resonance with great numbers of people who are threatened by the great changes occurring worldwide. Fear is being promulgated by the corporate-owned media and the pandemic, having widespread effects upon every one of us on the planet. We are at a Great Turning point in human history, one in which greed in the form of capitalism and autocracy will either destroy us, or we will change our ways.
Looking at the chart of this Winter Solstice, we can see some very obvious configurations that show us the archetypal forces at work. Most prominently, there is a tight opposition between the Moon in Cancer and Venus and Pluto conjoined in Capricorn. As I wrote in the last blog, Venus and Pluto are “in bed” with each other the entire month of December. When the Feminine archetype joins with the Lord of the Underworld, we immediately think of the myth of Persephone who spent half the year underground with Pluto, while aboveground all life withered in the cold snows of winter. As the Queen of the Underworld, Persephone also is the goddess of vegetation and grains, what sustains us mortals. But while in the darkness of shadowlands (winter solstice) what is it she is experiencing? What can be gathered when we are in the underworld?
This is the region of darkness, depression, of grief, of loss, of suffering, but also in ancient myths, Pluto’s realm is the region of wealth, as in the gold that is buried in the ground. Alchemically this points to the depths of the soul that are accessed when we embrace or honor our griefs and wounds, when we find how they become important parts of our human tapestry that brings depth and
meaning to life.
The opposition of Venus/Pluto to the Moon in Cancer points us toward the symbology of a split happening in being able to access this wisdom of the underworld. The Moon in Cancer symbolizes many things, but above all it is the principle of nurturance, of the kind of love that without which infants will wither and die, even when they are given food and shelter. It is this withering of the honoring of nurturance which withers away the spirit of our natural urge to care for each other, caring being the glue that holds societies together. If we cannot feel love, we are not able to access the wisdom of our soul, and so we are relegated to the more primitive emotions based on impulsive, aggressive and violent behaviors. Our thinking and reasoning become black and white. Without caring and love, we lose the awareness of what makes us uniquely human, losing the larger picture of our interconnectedness. This loss, this emptiness, leads to rage, anger, fear, and a generalized apathy that results from being cut off from relational soothing.
This is where we are as a nation, and as a race. Looking at politics as a symbol of where human consciousness is in its development, we can see that competition has replaced cooperation, fear has replaced trust. The glue that holds societies together has been eroded by fear. And fear is a most important tool of dictators and fascist leaders. Totalitarianism cannot survive without a fearful populace.
The Moon in Cancer symbolizes many of the attributes of the archetypal Feminine. Primarily an archetype that at its core is about receiving, taking in, integrating, it also covers just about anything that requires sensitivity. And sensitivity has no place in a warrior culture. It is to be ridiculed, despised, violently attacked and eradicated in order to maintain the dominance of the patriarchy. Archetypically the parasympathetic nervous system is aligned with the Feminine, as it is a socially connective, mirroring part of us, as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system which is reactive and survival oriented. Fear keeps us in our sympathetic nervous system, increasing cortisol and decreasing a loving sensitivity to our surroundings.
The Earth is primarily identifiable as a Great Mother archetype. It holds us in its womb of hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, its soils which provide us with minerals, vegetation, and food, all the things we need to live and prosper. Despite our ignorance and careless ways of caring for Her, the Earth has been adjusting itself to maintain life over the centuries, as was observed by James Lovelock. But due to our increased pollution, she is now at the point where any more adjustment is no longer possible, and human-caused ecocide due to lack of awareness of this larger picture, is just around the corner.
The phrase “as above, so below” is relevant to astrology in that the patterns of planetary movements are archetypal reflections of the human dramas that are unfolding on Earth year after year. But also the continuation of that phrase is, “as without, so within, as the Universe, so the Soul.” The world view that society adopts, influenced by years of habituation through religion, philosophy, and social conditioning, creates the reality that we experience. Fires, floods, tornados, weather out of control, are reflective of humanity’s inner world, the turmoil and lack of awareness that we are in relationship to the environment, that we have been largely ignorant of how our ways of living are harmful. We construct our homes without consideration (or permission) of the land upon which we build. Out of fear, and greed, we are constantly preparing for war, for conflict, rather than uncovering how our mindset is plagued by fear. And at a Great Turning, when we are coming to question all that we held high as true, we begin to look for what we are missing, what is causing our suffering, what is behind the violence in our children, the suffering of our people, and of our health, our bodies.
What is occurring now is a time of polarization, which happens when systems of organization become unstable and begin to fall apart. “A house divided cannot stand.” What we are in now is a time of bifurcation: a fork in the road of human destiny. We must choose between fear and love, between hatred and acceptance, between competitive profits and cooperative sharing. And the reactivity against this major paradigm change that we see nowadays, can be seen as basically a war on the archetypal Feminine. For centuries we have existed in a patriarchal mode, with anything that exhibits feminine traits being relegated to inferiority. The violence we see in our world is the expression of the inner psychic violence that we have internalized, each one of us. The values of compassion, love, safety, caring, wholeness, generosity are the very antidotes to the fear we are all experiencing during these times of Great Changes. We all need to be on the lookout for where in our media we are being encouraged to believe in a fear-based world view that erodes our sense of safety, while being mindful also of what is going on around us.
Next year, the US will have its first ever Pluto return. Pluto is the planet associated with breakdown and renewal, the revealing of what is corrupt, and was in the sign of Capricorn in 1776, the sign that rules governments, laws, the structures of society. In its 248 year cycle, it will reach this same degree beginning in February of 2022. The effects of this will be spread over many years, as Pluto is very slow moving, retrograding and going direct over this point for a couple of years. We can expect a period of great instability, even civil unrest and a coming apart of the societal glue. The Roman Empire dissolved under a Pluto return, and in England, which has had three Pluto returns, has had wars and instability at each. However in 1807, within months of one of its Pluto returns, England enacted the Abolition of Slave Trade Act, which dealt with the horrific cruelty and inhumanity of that era of its history. So this timing can also be one in which we resolve to move forward and enact legislation to frame our future.
Pluto will be moving into the sign of Aquarius for good in January of 2024, in a dramatic 0˚ conjunction with the Sun as it enters Aquarius, on the 20th. Pluto will go in and out of that sign in 2023, giving us brief glimpses of how the tide will turn toward a planet that can be based upon Aquarian ideals, that of Universal brother/sisterhood, the sharing of our resources instead of competing for them. But until then, and for a while afterward, the entrenched systems of capitalism and plutocracy will be struggling to maintain control, not giving up the ghost easily.
The US is certainly poised to deal with the manifestations and sins of its imperialist and racist past. As for war, in our modern age, it may be that the ways in which the country is destabilized may be through economic, political, and internet infiltration, as we’ve already witnessed. With Mars conjoined the South Node at this Solstice point, the US’s militaristic, fear-based philosophic stance (Mars in Sagittarius) will eventually be moving into the past (South Node) and the Gemini North Node indicates that this is a time of gathering and protecting information, as well as breaking through the dark secrecy (Pluto) and control of information that has characterized governments throughout the world.
And with the Cancer Moon in trine to Neptune, we are poised to use our imaginations to envision what our new world will look like, to continue to light a candle in the darkness, to hold dear to our hearts the love we have for our Earth with every drop of water we save, every light switch we turn off, every effort to help those who suffer, while extending our kindness to ourselves as well. We will all need to meditate more, spend more time in Nature, and gather whatever tools we need to sustain our health and well being so that we can be agents of this revolution in consciousness that is in its birth throes at this time. Most importantly this next year, to do our utmost to promote and gather love within our relationships as best we can. After all, what else is there?
A warm loving Solstice to you all.
 See The Mountain Astrologer, Dec. 2019/Jan 2020 “The United States Pluto Return” by Ray Grasse.
Photo of Statue of Liberty at eclipse by Anthony Quintano
All charts here are using Natural House system: i.e. the Ascendant is always at 0˚ of Aries.