Yuletide 2020

Image courtesy of Vancouver’s Winter Solstice Lantern Festival 2020

Marsilio Ficino wrote in a letter to Rinaldo Orsini: “… I recalled what the ancient sages say, not without very good reason, in their fables about Saturn and Jupiter, Mars and Venus; they say that Mars is bound by Venus, and Saturn by Jupiter. Thus simply means that the benignity of Jupiter and Venus holds in check the malignity of Saturn and Mars “ (Letters Vol. 2. p.16.) Be of good cheer!

This brief article is written is to acknowledge and celebrate the turning of the tropical wheel, as we anticipate the return of the light when the Holly King reaches the zenith of his reign from the Autumnal Equinox to the Spring Equinox when the crown will be passed to the Oak King.

I have written much regarding the Grand Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn which coincides with this Winter Solstice.  This is a momentous event and I will further address this moment when we say that the triplicity mutates into the element of Air after a centuries-long sojourn through the Earthy triplicity While this cannot be extricated from the Winter Solstice itself, the Solstice is of immense significance in and of itself, as the darkest night to be followed by the waxing light and warmth of the Sun. This is forever a cause for celebration and is marked in many different, but related ways throughout the world.

The chart which appears here is set for Victoria, BC Canada. The header image is taken from the Vancouver Lantern Festival celebrated on the other side of the Straight of Georgia. I write this in thoughtful contemplation and good cheer on Vancouver Island, on the Eve of the Solstice and the day before the perfection of the Jupiter/Saturn Grand Conjunction.

The Planetary Day for the precise moment of the Solstice: the ingress of the Sun into Tropical Capricorn. The chart is for the Day of the Sun. The Hour belongs to Jupiter. The Moon is in the Sign of the Exaltation of Jupiter and she disposits the Part of Fortune in Cancer, placed precisely on the MC. The Moon is the Sect ruler and in the 28th Lunar Mansion known as the Belly of the Fish.  The constellation originally associated with this Mansion is Andromeda. The principal star associated with this Mansion is Mirach (beta Andromeda). According to Ptolemy, the nature of Mirach is Venus. According to Ibn ‘Arabi the attribution: is “The Hierarchy of the Degrees of Existence, not their manifestation. The Divine Attribute is the “One Who Elevates by Degrees.” This is, of course, the final Lunar Mansion and represents preparation for a renewed cycle of becoming.

Importantly, in virtually all known cultures this moment in the year holds a similar hallowed position as the point of re-birth for the light. Unsurprisingly, the Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (Yule) is among the oldest winter celebrations in the world. The nature of the season as experienced in Northern Europe provides additional impetus to mark the beginning of the return of the light during the darkness of the season. This is the essence of the spirit celebrated at the time of boreal Winter Solstice – the first day of winter and the darkest night.

In Northern Europe, the Sun was seen as a wheel that turned seasons.  The Norse word for this wheel was l, houl and this is thought to be the origin of the word Yule. Bonfires were li; storytelling, feasting and revelries were an integral part of the celebration.

Sunrise at Stonehenge – Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice was celebrated in Britain well before the arrival of Christianity and continues to this day. The Druids cut mistletoe. which grows on the sacred oak trees and gave it as a blessing.  The mistletoe symbolized life in the dark winter months.

It is said that it was the Druids who began the tradition of the Yule log and that the Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to counter the darkness and banish dark spirits, bringing good fortune and prosperity for the coming year.  The mistletoe that grows on the sacred oak was a symbol of life in the dark winter months. Many traditions of Yule have been embraced in Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas.

In Scandinavian tradition, the Night of St. Lucia (light) was celebrated as the longest night of the year, Winter Solstice, in the Northern hemisphere. on 13 December before the Gregorian calendar gave us the current date of 21 December. Bonfires were lit, tp offer warmth and light, while banishing troublesome spirits. This festival became conflated with Saint Lucy’s Day circa 1000 AD wit the advent of Christianity.

The Christian feast commemorates Lucia of Syracuse, a virgin martyr who suffered under the  Diocletianic Persecution. According to the legend, Lucia brought nourishment and assistance to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs. She wore a candle-lit wreath on her head to guide her in the darkness and to allow her to carry as much food as possible. Like so many Christian feasts, it is clear that of Saint Lucy’s Day is viewed by Christians as a precursor of Christmastide, anticipating the Light of Christ on Christmas Day

A Blessed Solstice to all!

Lucia by Swedish artist John Bauer, 1913

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