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Earth Celebrations by AnaCarol
AnaCarol Roland, R.N., M.A.
ROCK Foundation Minister;
Astrologer & Writer

 

Life as a Sacred Circle

Many religious celebrations throughout our known history are either directly or symbolically related to the primary dividing points of the earth journey around the sun. Celebrations at specific times of the year also help to acknowledge and celebrate the stages of our lives.
 

SACRED CIRCLE CELEBRATIONS

Around the World



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Earth Celebrations

Annual Holidays around the world share a common thread of meaning regardless of culture and religious affiliation. There seems to be some deep psychological significance to the energy at the time of the year, regardless of climate and length of daylight.

I belief the common thread is the tension created by the elliptical orbit of the earth as it travels around the sun. Earth is pulled in this orbit between the electro-magnetic forces of the star we call our sun and the dense cluster of stars at the center of our galaxy. This group is often referred to as our "Great Central Sun."

At Winter Solstice, approximately December 21st, the earth is actually closest to our Sun. At Summer Solstice, Approximately June 21st, the Earth is pulled by the dense energy of the center of the Galaxy and the orbit is elongated to its furthest point away from the sun. The Equinox points are not only equal in daylight in the two Earth hemi-spheres; they are the same and at the mean point of the orbital distance between the Earth and the Sun.

These points mark major earth celebrations. The common threads are discussed in the article about each time of year. There are four more major periods for holiday celebrations and these coincide with the half-way time periods between the Equinox and Solstice points.

Most cultures and religions publicly deny an association of their holidays with ancient customs, they consider to be pagan. Additional stories and reasons are weaved into traditions, leaving out the original reasons for the symbols which are often continued. How many Christians are aware that the reason the date for Easter varies so much each year is the Catholic Church has traditional set Easter as the First Sunday following the first full moon after Spring Equinox?

If all citizens of Earth could be conscious of the common threads in our symbols and unconscious beliefs, perhaps there would be less focuses on the man made dogma that creates our differences. Perhaps then all our holiday could be Earth Celebrations of Peace.

What Makes the Energies Different?

The discrepancy of length of day and night during the earth's revolution is due to the tilt of the earth on its axis and the face directed toward the sun. However the changes in gravitational pull between the earth and sun also affect the meanings applied to these holidays.

The orbit of the earth around the sun is elliptical rather than a perfect circle. The distortion is believed to be the pull of another point in our Universe, an area sometimes referred to as our great central sun. Currently there is only a six degree difference, but a current scientific theory known as the Milankovitch Cycles states that this difference can vary up to 30 degrees. This variance of magnetic pull could be the cause of the emotional differences seen in the astrological signs and the meanings of their four major marking points, regardless of which hemisphere, amount of daylight, and which actual season of the year is being experience.

Whatever causes this variance in the earth's orbit around the sun, two of the significant points are the Spring and Fall Equinox, when the days and nights are equal lengths of time and the earth is also at its near its mean distance from the sun. Winter solstice around December 20th is the point of longest night in the Northern Hemisphere and close to the perigee, the closest point of the Earth to the Sun on January 3rd. Summer Solstice, longest day in the Northern Hemisphere, is near the apogee or furthest point of the Earth from the Sun which is now around July 4.

All of these points were noted and celebrated in ancient cultures. Structures, like the pyramids and Stonehenge, have been found worldwide. In North America these include Calendar One in Vermont, Americas Stonehenge on Mystery Hill in Salem, New Hampshire, and Chacho Canyon in the four corners area of New Mexico. All have a means to mark the reoccurring position of sunrise usually on either Spring Equinox and/or Winter Solstice. Some also had references to certain stars.

Celebrations of Winter Solstice are found in western religions even when the origins may not be understood. Religious beliefs of humans have evolved based on changing emphasis and new interpretations of previous concepts. Even with attempts to eradicate previous religions, the roots of ancient earth centered traditions may still be seen in various annual religions practices.

Perhaps "truth" is not to be found in the left brain ego pondering and writings of men, but in the unconscious gravitation to our right brain symbols. Ancient civilizations attempted to understand their life experience by referring to the ordered patterns of cyclic activities observed around them. The ruins of complex structures are found all over the world, including the pyramids in Egypt and Meso-America, Stonehenge, and Chaco Canyon in the US. These structures all have in common precise alignments to mark sun and moon rays at certain times of the year.

These markings became physical calendars showing the cyclical relationship between the sun, moon and earth. Four points for the sun were used noting when the sun would appear to be its furthest points north and south and the two half way points.

The knowledge of this cyclic relationship provided a sense of order and a belief in a higher power, taking care of the earth and its inhabitants. Humans thoughout time have found both an internal sense of security and a need to contact and understand this force. Pictues of this cyclic relationship were drawn on the ground for teaching and increasing personal understanding. These symbols were created for communication to other humans and also in an attempt to communicate with this higher power. Ritual celebrations using these symbols were also begun for the same reason.

As man formed into communities for protection and to share tasks, it allowed for one or more members of the community to focus their time and attention on observing this cycle. These Shamans, Prophets, or Priests, observed the sky, the seasons, the animals, and the people for correlations that would help the community understand these unseen and unknown forces of nature. This shaman observed the signs and announced the time and nature for different seasonal rituals.

Each part of the cycle was observed for specific lessons and traits. People were also observed to see if their predominant personality related to the season in which they were born. This was first expressed with Medicine Wheels drawn on the ground. Original wheels had four segments then each segment was divided with a line of change creating the eight point circle. Astrology evolved as part of this earth centered practice. These seasonal meanings and traits were applied to a symbol, usually an animal. That symbolic name was then given to the clusters of stars seen just before sunrise at that time of year. At this stage of evolvement, three types of people within each season had been observed, increasing the circle to 12 segments.

Winter Solstice is perhaps the most psychologically important of all the seasonal celebrations, along with the two months or Astrological signs it divides. In the northern hemisphere, Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year, the least amount of sunlight. Unknown to these ancient people was the irregular orbit of the earth around the sun, but these magnetic pulls were also influencing their unconscious behavior. At this time of year the earth is also at its closest point to the sun.

While the amount of daylight affects the seasonal changes, this irregular magnetic orbit affects unconscious human traits. Astrological traits are based on this orbit and apply to people born in both hemispheres of earth regardless of the season. There is a corresponding relationship between the signs experiencing the opposite season at each point of the earths magnetic orbit around the sun. Each sign has the potential for the traits of both its possible seasons and its opposite sign.

It is helpful to know about these seasonal and magnetic traits to understand the underlying symbolic meaning of annual religious celebrations and astrology.

In my monthly StarPaths column the general energy pull for each time period is explained along with the challenges presented to individual sun signs. Each year will also have additional magnetic complications and psychological challenges caused by the angular energy of other planets on this earth/sun relationship.

At the two equinox periods of spring and fall, the Earth has equal periods of day and night. It is also at its mean distance from the sun in its elliptical orbit and an electric and magnetic balance is experienced. Earth religions began the practice of noting the half way point between the equinox and solstices. These were changing points when the new energy of the four directions began to become psychologically apparent. The Celtic or Earth religions still celebrate these change points and the remnants are also seen in other celebrations like Halloween.

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Winter Solstice

The importance of Winter Solstice Celebration actually begins approximately November 1st with the midpoint Celtic New Year celebration of Samhain and the "Christian All Souls Day" in the sign of Scorpio. The awareness of days growing shorter began the statements that the sun was visiting the underworld, which it is in fact doing as the days are now becoming longer in the southern hemisphere. The focus on this loss of light began correlation to loss of life and souls entering the "underworld." This story is also found in Egyptian and Greek myths. In Celtic belief, a gateway to the other world was opened until the winter solstice. The deeper psychological implications of Scorpio can be found in understanding the magnetic pull of the earth closer to the sun. There is unconscious fear of the earth possibly being pulled into the sun and the elimination of the separateness of the individual egos of earth and its inhabitants. The signs of Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Capricorn all have the strongest unconscious fear issues, masked the most in potentially manic Sagittarius. These potentials affect all people during this time of year, and can be seen in various degrees in people born during these time periods.

During the time period and celebrations of Scorpio it is necessary to psychologically accept the idea of death and the release of any stage of life. This is assisted by understanding that death is but a change from one stage to another. To move to the next stage one must first be willing to let go, to open the door to change.

Sagittarius is considered to be mutable, fire. It is the process period of change entered through the Scorpio door. Any new potential imagined in Scorpio enters the flames of Sagittarius then emerges in a new physical form at the winter solstice. The caterpillar must first give up its mobility as a larva and wrap itself in the seeming death of the cocoon. Sagittarius is the process of change that takes place. Winter solstice, the end of Sagittarius is when caterpillar emerges as a butterfly. The myth of the Phoenix emerging from the ashes is an older example with reference to the fire element of Sagittarius.

This meaning was understood by many ancient cultures, as seen in similar celebrations for this time of year. To cope with the energy, there were so many celebrations during this time of Sagittarius that it was considered to be the "holy month". The Roman goddess Vesta, patroness of fire, is said to rule this month. The celebration of the winter solstice, which ends this period, still includes the building of a large bonfire. Fire is considered to be the symbol for the eternal present with its paradox of timelessness; youth in old age and old age in youth; a new beginning in an ending.

Sagittarius is the stage when the individual ego moves toward cooperation for a higher purpose. It is the sign of religions, laws to govern group interaction, sales, and higher knowledge. It is ruled by Jupiter, the planet of expansion and benevolence. All the above are processes that move a person from one stage of life to the next. Winter solstice is the graduation at the end of the Sagittarius process. It is where we receive the gifts, the diplomas and equipment needed to proceed into the next life stage or task.

In Native American and Celtic medicine wheels Sagittarius would be placed into the Northwest, their place of knowledge of the continual circles of life, the spiral. In the Chinese Feng Shui medicine wheel, this northwest area is known as the place of helpful people, travel, and sales. It ends with the place of the North, Capricorn, Winter Solstice. In astrology, Feng Shui, and other medicine wheels this is the place of career or life purpose, the place of dedication of the physical life to a spiritual purpose.

In the Chaco Canyon ruins in the Four Corners area of the US, the spiral is seen drawn in the rocks as a symbol for the sun. Recent observations of sun rays hitting marked locations indicate this site was used for observation and perhaps celebration of the winter solstice. In other parts of the world, these Solstice celebrations are known to have lasted for a period of days as the participants watched for signs that the angle of the sun was truly reversing and the days were once again growing longer. In many cultures the celebration of the sun returning from its journey to the underworld is seen as the birth back into this world. In Roman tradition December 25th was called Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, the Day of the Birth of the Undefeated Sun. In these ancient cultures the sun was seen as a humanoid male god referred to by many different names as the son of God. These deities were given similar titles which indicated a Light of the World, Sun/Son of Righteousness, and Savior who brought the light back to the world. "Gods" given this same title include Osiris, Baal, Attis, Adonis, Helios, Apollo, Dionysus, Mithhras, Balder, Frey, Sol Invictus, and Jesus.

Early Christian messages are believed to have been altered by Emperor Constantine and the Counsil of Nicea in an attempt to end religious bickering of this time and merge the major beliefs prevalent in Rome in 325 AD. (Primarily the Syrian monotheistic cult of Sol Invictus, Mithraism, and Christianity)

Each religion varies their story of their earthly God of Light based on the history and beliefs of their time and location. However, the basic symbolic language is similar. Even the Hebrews celebrated this time period through a story of a miracle of light, without the personification of this light to a humanoid god form. The eight day Hebrew celebration of Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights and Feast of Dedication, always falls near the Winter Solstice.

Both Judaism and Christianity try to separate themselves from what they consider to be Pagan religions, but the symbolism remains in their own stories. The myths of sun gods, saviors, or a miracle of the survival of light in all these religions all relate to the winter solstice and the seasonal and psychological phenomena of this time of the year. The essence of the celebrations of winter solstice is a celebration of the miracle of life. There is a psychological relief that life, as symbolized by the sun and light, will survive apparent death. Preceding this celebration of the resurrection of the light/life is the period of journey to the underworld in which we must be willing to face death/change and go through a transformation process. Winter solstice is the graduation, the gateway to a new cycle, a new life. The potential for this new life is still in infant or seed form which will require nurturing and internal dedication as it grows during the coming cycle. Therefore, this is also the time period for the celebration of infants and children as gifts of life with all their spiritual and physical potential.

Winter / Spring Midpoint

This is a period of Gestation for Earth. Seeds planted at conception are hidden and protected awaiting the sunrise energy of the Spring Equinox to burst forward with their life.

Holiday Celebrations to be written

Spring or Vernal Equinox

Spring Equinox and Winter Solstice and seem to be the most significant of the earth cycle celebrations all over the world. Both are related to the idea of death and birth. Winter Solstice is conception and quickening of life. Spring Equinox is symbolic of physical birth, a time period for marking change and new beginnings. This is a global meaning applied to this time of year even though light and dark and the growing seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the Northern hemisphere, the celebration of Winter Solstice and Spring or Vernal Equinox are most significant because of the relationship to the increase of light and new growing season. At Winter Solstice night had reached its longest point and day is once again beginning to grow. At the Spring or Vernal Equinox Light has grown to be equal to night and will continue its ascent until its dominant point Summer Solstice. In Welsh mythology, Llew , the god of light now begins his victory over his twin, Goronwy the god of darkness by piercing him with the sunlight spear. Llew was restored/reborn at the Winter Solstice and is now well/old enough to vanquish his rival/twin. The light is also symbolic of yang or male energy.

The darkness of winter leads itself to more inward contemplation, with the Equinox attention is again turned toward action and self awareness. Aries the astrological sign which begins at the Equinox is named for the Greek god Ares, son of Zeus and Hera, the equivalent of the Roman god Mars. The planet Mars, said to rule this sign, is symbolic of outward action, both are is the archetype of youthful male energy.

Wiccans celebrate Lady Day as a Lesser Sabbat at this time, either on the Equinox or starting on the eve March 25th perhaps as a reminder of the importance of the Yin energy as that power recedes in our consciousness during the next six months. This date is also celebrated in the Catholic Church as the Feast of the Annunciation honoring the Virgin Mary and the announcement by the Angel Gabriel, that she was pregnant with the son of God.

The use of the name Spring for the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is related to the seasonal time when plants begin to bud. This Greco-Roman mythology explains the seasons. This is the time when Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, is allowed by Pluto (Hades) to return for six months from the Underworld. In the legend, Hades, King of the Underworld tricked Persephone into eating forbidden seeds which doomed her to the Underworld. Zeus aware of the trick ruled that she would have to spend only six months there and could walk the earth with her mother the other six. When Persephone is with Hades, her mother Demeter, the goddess of the earth and agriculture (Mother Earth) is so grieved that nothing can grow and the earth experiences winter. When Persephone returns she brings Spring to the earth. She is also referred to as Kore or Cora, the essence of spring.

March was celebrated as the New Year in Roman culture. Aries is still considered to be the first sign of the Zodiac in Astrology. We still use the names of the Roman months that originally designate March as the starting point. September, October, November and December mean seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth month even though they are no longer in than order with a calendar that starts in January.

New Years in ancient Britain and Ireland was also celebrated around the Vernal Equinox. Various ancient civilizations in the Middle East celebrated new years at the time of the spring equinox. No Ruz survived until about 600 AD when Zoroastrianism was replaced by the Islam religion. The Bahai faith still celebrates Naw-Rúz commemorating this ancient Iranian New Years day festival which occurs near the Spring Equinox. It is celebrated with many symbols indicating re-growth and renewal - much like the Christian Easter.

Religious celebrations at this time of year celebrate the triumph of life over the symbolic death of winter and the apparent physical death of human life. This is the time of the Christian celebration of Easter, the rising of the savior Son from the cave following the crucifixion and death. The Roman Catholic Church sets the time for the celebration of Easter as the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 20th which is the average date of the Equinox.

The name Easter and the direction East both actually comes from the Saxon (Teutonic) moon goddess Eostre, who is also considered to be a goddess of the dawn. This goddess is also associated with Auroa, Eos, Ishtar, Astare and Aset of other cultures. The feast day of Eostre was celebrated on the first full moon following the Equinox. Her Germanic equivalent was named Ostara, associated with human and crop fertility. The popular celebration of Easter eggs has an understandable relationship with the idea of the seed and egg for potential new life. The association of an Easter rabbit bringing these eggs comes from a legend regarding Eostre who found a wounded bird on the ground during the winter. To save its life she changed the wounded bird into a hare. Because it only looked like a rabbit it could still lay eggs which it would decorate and give to Eostre on her feast day.

Jewish Passover, which also falls near the time of the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, is also a celebration of death escaped. It is a celebration of the both the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the Lord's passing over the houses of the Israelites (Ex. 12:13) when the first born of all the Egyptians were destroyed. It was primarily a commemorative Holy Time, reminding the children of Israel of their deliverance out of Egypt and the great deliverance from the doom of death because of sin, and from the bondage of sin itself, which surpassed the trial of the Egyptian bondage. Since Winter Solstice the earth is moving farther away from the pull of the sun, past the fear of annihilation that the earth might be pulled into the sun. This unconscious psychological release is written into the religious stories.

The Spring Equinox and beginning of Aries is the point of birth of any seed potential into an infant physical form At this point in any cycle of creation the beginning sprouts of an idea will appear and require nurturing for further growth. Any "New Year "resolutions or physical seeds dormant in the ground will now begin to show the results of your care and efforts during their gestation or womb period. Sometimes none of the seed or bulbs planted will sprout and indicate something that did not nourish their growth during gestation. The same is true of ideas. You may have set goals, but at this time you will see either budding results beginning to appear or no growth, no change in your life because there was not sufficient planning, effort, or nourishment of your goals.

As we enter this month of Aries, sunrise, awakening energy, there is opportunity to begin to see what is about you in a new way. You as an individual, as well as all groups, have the opportunity to begin to awaken. Sunrise on a Spring Equinox will be the marking period to celebrate the dawning of the next New Ageand an expected change in energy related to the next dominant astrological sign, Aquarius.

Some believe this may have begun about 1996, some think 2013, and other think not until the end of this century. Confusion is the typical energy of Pisces. Certainly we began the cusp of this change with the discovery of its new ruling planet Uranus in March of 1781 and the world wide revolutions and resistance to monarchies (Leo energy) that were occurring at that time. Each age is said to end in struggle and battle between the two types of dominant energies. During the last four years this battle has been increasingly apparent. However, it does not appear that the torch has been passed yet from the emotional Piscean age of I Believe to the mental Aquarius Age of "I know."  With this Equinox and new Aries energy, you can begin to make the changes within yourself that will prepare you for the world transition to a more conscious social order. Visualize and prepare for a world where we all know that individual spiritual "beliefs" must be balanced with compassion and desire to build a world community serving the needs of all people and living together in harmony.

May - Spring / Summer Mid-point

To be written

Summer Solstice

Astronomy, Astrology, Developmental Stages, and Symbols

Each year the sun moves into Cancer about June 21st. This is the point in the orbit of the earth around the sun referred to as the Summer Solstice. Since Spring Equinox the earth has been pulled further away from the sun by the gravity of the center of our universe. The apogee, or furthest point, of the Earth from the Sun actually occurs around July 4th. At apogee the earth is pulled by the magnetic influences coming from the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. This variance of magnetic pull during the earths orbit could be the cause of the emotional differences seen in the astrological signs and the meanings of their four major cycle points, regardless of which hemisphere, amount of daylight, and which actual season of the year is being experience. Summer Solstice is the point when days are longest in the northern hemisphere of earth.

The seasons of the year and changes in the length of daylight are not directly related to the changes in magnetic pull on the earth or the distance between earth and the sun. Daylight and seasonal changes in far northern and southern latitudes are caused by the 23.5º tilt of the earth's axis. The earth is rotating like a top or gyroscope, the North Pole points in a fixed direction continuously -- towards a point in space near the North Star. As the earth is revolves around the sun, during half of the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true.

Ancient people observed the changing positions of the sun to mark the time of day and were also able to observe that throughout the year the position of the sun would also move North and South, higher and lower in the sky. The length of the daylight would also noticeably change, especially in far north or south latitudes. All over the world structure were built for the shamans to track the cyclic movement. This timing would assist the people to know when to plant crops and when to begin migrations to avoid extremes in heat and cold.

The word "Solstice" is derived from two Latin words: "sol" means sun, and "sistere," means to cause to stand still. Sunrise shining through a crack in a cave or between pillars could be seen in a different location on a wall when observed and marked each morning. At the solstice times, the light would appear on the mark from the previous day, stay in the same position for two to three days, and then begin to move backwards.

The Solstice around June 21st of our present world calendar was called Summer Solstice. It is officially the first day of summer, but was also referred to as Midsummer because it is approximately the middle of the growing season in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer Solstice Celebrations in Ancient and Modern Times:

Most people today celebrate traditional religious and social rites of passage without knowing or possibly denying their relation ship to the ancient Earth/Sun Cycle astronomy, astrology and psychology. The ancient celebrations are dismissed as ignorant pagan sun worship or even satanic. Summer is still considered a joyous time of the year for most people who lived in the northern latitudes. The snow has disappeared; the ground has thawed out; warm temperatures have returned; flowers are blooming; leaves have returned to the deciduous trees.

Food is easier to find for those in the past and present who live in a close relationship with nature. Most herbs can be harvested, for medicinal and other uses. The crops are already planted to be harvested in the months to come. Although many months of warm/hot weather remain before the fall, they know that the days will shorten and the return of the winter is inevitable. This is a time with less fear and struggle, a time to think about relationships and family.

In ancient China the summer solstice ceremonies celebrated the earth, the feminine, and the yin forces. It complemented the winter solstice which celebrated the heavens, masculinity and yang forces. This time is also associated with the balance of yin and yang polarity seen in the full moon.

Summer Solstice in ancient traditions was a celebration of the cycles of life, joy, individual growth, and freedom. Each of the times of the year is associated with specific behaviors related to an equivalent stage of human development. The sign of Gemini, just before the Summer Solstice, is the developmental stage of learning independence. The pre-school child is learning to get personal needs met through the power of independent movement and speech. This is a parallel to the freedom and independence felt by the earth moving away from the pull of the sun. The child at this developmental stage exercises its own ego. It becomes independent first in walking and talking and later by graduating from school with the skills to live independently, then leaving the home of the parent to marry. With the Cancer energy following the solstice, the newly weds are creating their own children, the next generation of family.

It is interesting that the Declaration of Independence for the US was drafted during this time and all the signatures obtained shortly after the Summer Solstice on the 4th of July. The child colonies declared their desire to separate from the parents and create their own new family of states. At the apogee point of this cycle in Cancer, the will of the sun, the will of the family of our solar system, demands attention and the earth once again begins to move toward the sun. This is also the closest point to the center of the Universe, the greater family, the root of our existence. In astrology, this point in the wheel is considered the place of family and ancestors, our genetic and spiritual roots. Independence of the individual sometimes requires struggle from the control and value imprint of the parents.

This time of year, the sign of Cancer is associated with water, the symbol of emotions. Cancer is also considered ruled by the moon, and associated with the development of emotional connections with parents and family. It is also the development of the feelings about self in relationship to others. This is the foundation of ego, of self esteem and individuality, as achieved within the family. It is the values within the family and your ability to receive recognition and power that will affect this ability in every relationship throughout life. This time of year, between the planting and harvesting of the crops, was the traditional month for weddings. This is because many ancient peoples believed that the "grand [sexual] union" of the Goddess and God occurred in early May at Beltaine. Since it was considered unlucky to compete with the deities, many couples delayed their weddings until the next moon cycle. June remains a favorite month for graduations and marriages today. The first (or only) full moon in June was called the Honey Moon. Tradition holds that this is the best time to harvest honey from the hives. In some traditions, "newly wed couples were fed dishes and beverages that featured honey for the first month of their married life to encourage love and fertility. The surviving vestige of this tradition lives on in the name given to the holiday immediately after the ceremony: The Honeymoon."

Cancer, the sign beginning with the summer solstice, is also a cardinal sign meaning that it seeks action. It is like the waves and tides within the ocean responding to outside influences of greater cycles. The opposite and balancing sign of Cancer is Capricorn, said to be ruled by Saturn, the managerial father figure. Both these celestial bodies are significant in their relationship to time and cycles on earth. The cycle of the moon around the earth is approximately 29 days and the journey of Saturn around the sun approximately 29 years. The progression of the moon and transits of Saturn to points in the natal chart are significant timers for potential events.

The Summer Solstice reminds us to remember the cycles of life while still in periods of youth and joy. It urges us to think ahead; live today but plan for the future. That is a significant lesson to think about after many decades of excessive human behaviors now threatening earth and future generations.

August Summer/ Fall Midpoint

To be written

Fall Equinox

To be written

October 31st - Fall / Winter Midpoint

October 31st and Winter Solstice Connections The importance of Winter Solstice Celebration actually begins with the midpoint Celtic New Year celebration of Samhain and the "Christian All Souls Day" in the sign of Scorpio. The awareness of days growing shorter began the statements that the sun was visiting the underworld, which it is in fact doing as the days are now becoming longer in the southern hemisphere. The focus on this loss of light began correlation to loss of life and souls entering the "underworld." This story is also found in Egyptian and Greek myths. In Celtic belief, a gateway to the other world was opened until the winter solstice. The deeper psychological implications of Scorpio can be found in understanding the magnetic pull of the earth closer to the sun. There is unconscious fear of the earth possibly being pulled into the sun and the elimination of the separateness of the individual egos of earth and its inhabitants. The signs of Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Capricorn all have the strongest unconscious fear issues, masked the most in potentially manic Sagittarius. These potentials affect all people during this time of year, and can be seen in various degrees in people born during these time periods.

During the time period and celebrations of Scorpio it is necessary to psychologically accept the idea of death and the release of any stage of life. This is assisted by understanding that death is but a change from one stage to another. To move to the next stage one must first be willing to let go, to open the door to change.

Sagittarius is considered to be mutable, fire. It is the process period of change entered through the Scorpio door. Any new potential imagined in Scorpio enters the flames of Sagittarius then emerges in a new physical form at the winter solstice. The caterpillar must first give up its mobility as a larva and wrap itself in the seeming death of the cocoon. Sagittarius is the process of change that takes place. Winter solstice, the end of Sagittarius is when caterpillar emerges as a butterfly. The myth of the Phoenix emerging from the ashes is an older example with reference to the fire element of Sagittarius.

This meaning was understood by many ancient cultures, as seen in similar celebrations for this time of year. To cope with the energy, there were so many celebrations during this time of Sagittarius that it was considered to be the "holy month". The Roman goddess Vesta, patroness of fire, is said to rule this month. The celebration of the winter solstice, which ends this period, still includes the building of a large bonfire. Fire is considered to be the symbol for the eternal present with its paradox of timelessness; youth in old age and old age in youth; a new beginning in an ending.

Sagittarius is the stage when the individual ego moves toward cooperation for a higher purpose. It is the sign of religions, laws to govern group interaction, sales, and higher knowledge. It is ruled by Jupiter, the planet of expansion and benevolence. All the above are processes that move a person from one stage of life to the next. Winter solstice is the graduation at the end of the Sagittarius process. It is where we receive the gifts, the diplomas and equipment needed to proceed into the next life stage or task.

In Native American and Celtic medicine wheels Sagittarius would be placed into the Northwest, their place of knowledge of the continual circles of life, the spiral. In the Chinese Feng Shui medicine wheel, this northwest area is known as the place of helpful people, travel, and sales. It ends with the place of the North, Capricorn, Winter Solstice. In astrology, Feng Shui, and other medicine wheels this is the place of career or life purpose, the place of dedication of the physical life to a spiritual purpose.

In the Chaco Canyon ruins in the Four Corners area of the US, the spiral is seen drawn in the rocks as a symbol for the sun. Recent observations of sun rays hitting marked locations indicate this site was used for observation and perhaps celebration of the winter solstice. In other parts of the world, these Solstice celebrations are known to have lasted for a period of days as the participants watched for signs that the angle of the sun was truly reversing and the days were once again growing longer. In many cultures the celebration of the sun returning from its journey to the underworld is seen as the birth back into this world. In Roman tradition December 25th was called Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, the Day of the Birth of the Undefeated Sun. In these ancient cultures the sun was seen as a humanoid male god referred to by many different names as the son of God. These deities were given similar titles which indicated a Light of the World, Sun/Son of Righteousness, and Savior who brought the light back to the world. "Gods" given this same title include Osiris, Baal, Attis, Adonis, Helios, Apollo, Dionysus, Mithhras, Balder, Frey, Sol Invictus, and Jesus.

Early Christian messages are believed to have been altered by Emperor Constantine and the Counsil of Nicea in an attempt to end religious bickering of this time and merge the major beliefs prevalent in Rome in 325 AD. (Primarily the Syrian monotheistic cult of Sol Invictus, Mithraism, and Christianity)

Each religion varies their story of their earthly God of Light based on the history and beliefs of their time and location. However, the basic symbolic language is similar. Even the Hebrews celebrated this time period through a story of a miracle of light, without the personification of this light to a humanoid god form. The eight day Hebrew celebration of Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights and Feast of Dedication, always falls near the Winter Solstice.

Both Judaism and Christianity try to separate themselves from what they consider to be Pagan religions, but the symbolism remains in their own stories. The myths of sun gods, saviors, or a miracle of the survival of light in all these religions all relate to the winter solstice and the seasonal and psychological phenomena of this time of the year. The essence of the celebrations of winter solstice is a celebration of the miracle of life. There is a psychological relief that life, as symbolized by the sun and light, will survive apparent death. Preceding this celebration of the resurrection of the light/life is the period of journey to the underworld in which we must be willing to face death/change and go through a transformation process. Winter solstice is the graduation, the gateway to a new cycle, a new life. The potential for this new life is still in infant or seed form which will require nurturing and internal dedication as it grows during the coming cycle. Therefore, this is also the time period for the celebration of infants and children as gifts of life with all their spiritual and physical potential.

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