Solstice, Yule, and a really cool astrological event
The winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of daylight and is also the beginning of astronomical winter. This year, in the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on Monday, December 21st. According to history.com, we began celebrating this event as early as 10,200 B.C. There are monuments in Ireland and Scotland that are aligned towards the winter solstice sunrise. Stonehenge, oriented toward the winter solstice sunset, is perhaps the most well-known monument to this event.
The solstice used to be known as Yule, and was celebrated by pagans long before the arrival of Christianity. Many of the traditions from those ancient days are with us still. Let’s see how many of them sound familiar. The Yule tree, representing the Tree of Life, was decorated with lights, sun symbols and natural ornaments such as pine cones. Greens that retained their color and didn’t appear to die — such as fir, pine and spruce — were thought to have power over death, and so they were brought into the house to symbolize life, rebirth and renewal. Prickly holly branches were placed at doors, windows and fireplaces to ward off evil spirits. Mistletoe was hung over doorways as protection against thunder, lightning and other evils. The Yule log was generally an oak tree placed in its’ entirety into the hearth. The larger the tree the better, as the longer the Yule log burned, the faster the sun would return to warm the earth. Wreaths symbolized the infinity of goodwill, friendship and joyfulness. Candles represented the light and warmth of the sun. Seasonal drinks — which now include mulled wine, mulled cider, and eggnog — began with a concoction of ale, honey and spices known as wassail (meaning be well or good health).
December 21 brings a rare Christmas Star, also known as the Great Conjunction of 2020. (In astrological terms, a conjunction is formed when two planets are in the same sign at the same degree at the same time, allowing for their energies to be combined.) For this conjunction, the planets of Jupiter and Saturn will be a mere 0.1° apart. Jupiter and Saturn meet up in this manner every 20 years or so, but this one is most unusual as the two planets will appear closer to the Earth than they have since 1226 A.D. Due to the fact that this conjunction is happening in the sign of Aquarius, expect to see continued impact to humanitarian efforts, progressive social change, and justice. Astrologers believe this to be the beginning of the Age of Aquarius, and I certainly hope this to be the case.
The Great Conjunction brings an energy that can really shake things up. Why? The energies of the two planets involved are quite different. Saturn is about responsibility, restrictions, and setting limits. Jupiter is associated with health, wealth, and joy. Thus, Jupiter and Saturn in collaboration may bring about some unique power struggles, both internally and externally. Rather than fight the intensity, use this energy to make positive changes to your life. Winter is a wonderful time to turn inward. And because the Great Conjunction is occurring simultaneously with the longest night, you are presented with plentiful hours to reflect upon what you want to release and, even more significantly, what you want to manifest over the next year. Light a purple candle, which is Jupiter’s color, to capitalize on the aspects of health, wealth, and joy. This conjunction ushers in opportunities for growth and the realization of dreams. It can be a magical time, but you most definitely have to be open to the possibilities.
Resources for you:
- Ten facts about the Winter Solstice
- How to celebrate the Winter Solstice
- Bake a Yule Log cake
- Livestream the Great Conjunction
- The Age of Aquarius by The 5th Dimension