Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice

On December 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm EST, the sun reaches its southern most point on its annual journey, and stands still before turning north again. It is the longest night of the year, and in the previous 3 months, the Northern Hemisphere has experienced an abandonment of the sun as the presence of night and darkness increases. In the increasing darkness,  we naturally reflect on the year just past - challenges, defeats, leanings, insights, and the possibility of new beginnings.  The lack of sunlight has a tangible effect on our bodies. Many people report increasing tiredness, fatigue, and need for sleep. We have an increased need for vitamin D and we might become depressed.

The Winter Solstice represents the first day of Capricorn.  It is the turning point of the annual cycle of the Sun and a time of celebration that the Christian myth calls Christmas.  Solstice means a sun standing still, hovering, pausing,  resting before it begins its northward journey again. At some level, we are extremely aware that life consists of ebbs and flows.  New beginnings move towards fullness and culmination followed by the movement back to nothingness and new beginnings.

The sky very much mirrors our own lives.  We can symbolically look at the solstice as it turns and makes the transition from one state of being to another. The theme of the annual solar journey is very much felt at this time of year as the Sun is in exile in the southern hemisphere but begins its return journey.  It is the return of the light symbolically represented by the birth of the divine child on Christmas Day followed by the beginning a new year.  It is an archetypal theme that is found in every spiritual tradition.

Chapter 24 of the I Ching captures this theme very well.  The title of the hexagram is the Return or Turning Point. Return leads to self knowledge. The light that has been in exile returned and there is movement again.  It is a moment of grace. The Richard Wilhelm translation reads "The idea of the turning point arises from the fact that after the dark lines have pushed all the light lines upward and out of the hexagram. another light line enters the hexagram from below. The time of darkness has past. The winter solstice brings the victory of light".

Out of the darkness,  new life is born. The symbolic mean of "Christmas" is a spiritual rebirth manifesting in the birth of the divine child after a period of darkness.  The Christian church didn't institute the celebration of nativity until 352 AD and there is some suggestion that it was timed to coincide with Winter Solstice. According to Raymond Kilduff in his paper "The Christian Tradition: The Birthday of the Sun" The birthday of the Son of God came to be celebrated on the Birthday of the Sun.  The etymology of word deity derives from "dei" which means gleam, shine.   Jung saw the birth of Christ symbolically as an image rebirth and transformation of new consciousness arising out of the darkness of the unconscious.  The potential for a new inner wholeness that can be understood as a more comprehensive experience or understanding of ourselves.

Edward Edinger in his book Ego and Archetype examines the Christian myth in light of the process of individuation. He writes "Jesus is both God and man.  As Jesus, his is a double being living in particular, limited, historical existence, in space and time. As Christ, he is the anointed one . . . . Psychologically, this means that Christ is simultaneously a symbol for both the Self and the ideal ego.  To live Christ consciousness also means that we have to be committed to our own journey's and to deeper calling that is within all of us to fulfil living our own unique life pattern and destiny.

This year the winter solstice is also accompanied by a lunar eclipse.  Around 1:30 am EST early Tuesday morning, the Moon will begin to be shadowed by the Earth. At the most exact, the Moon will turn red when the earth, the sun and the moon are all in alignment.  The whole eclipse process will be around 72 minutes. As for the best time to witness the cosmic event, NASA suggests being outside at 3:17a.m., "when the moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red."

Lunar Eclipses are super full Moons. During an eclipse, it is as if the whole 29 days cycle is captured in a much shorter period of time. It probably explains why we experience these periods like "worm holes", life becomes accelerated. The theme of full moons are culminations, they are times when we see what we have created.  This particular lunar eclipse is in the signs of Gemini and Sagittarius.  The themes of Gemini and Sagittarius are about beliefs, wisdom, and knowledge.  What are our belief systems and how do we communicate them to the world? Do we act our beliefs unconsciously?  Jung said that "what we don't make conscious comes to the form of fate"  and I have been reading a number of things related to the new biology.  There is increasing evidence to say that our beliefs and thoughts create our world.  We create what we belief and what we create.  How are thoughts are so powerful in creating our worlds? 

I believe that this is a good time to examine how our beliefs shape our world and determine how we interpret life's events.  As the sun rises and consciousness increases, it might be helpful to reflect on whether our beliefs and communicates enhance or diminish our lives.   

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst, Alchemical Astrologer and Consultant with a private practice in Toronto, Ontario Canada. She is graduate of the C.G. Institute Zurich. Her practice purpose is to empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation. Her website is

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. But I don't think the sun ever really stands still.l As one writer said it, The sun is out there minding its own business even on the solstice. It's the symbolic meaning we assign to the solstice - and to the lunar eclipse on that day - that marks it as special, in the terms you so perfectly describe.