The Significance of Winter Solstice

by | Dec 20, 2015 | Solstice & Equinox | 0 comments

resized lantern in snow

Today features a guest post from astrologer Lindsay Conover. Enjoy!

Monday, December 21st at 8:49pm PST the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn. In Astrology, the Winter Solstice is considered the time of the re-birth of the Sun (in the Northern hemisphere); a time to rejoice in the renewed length of the days. During this time, for six days, the Sun will rise and set on its longitudinal path at its Southern most place in the sky; creating the shortest days and longest nights. Then it will appear to reverse its longitudinal direction, subsequently creating longer days and shorter nights. This time is traditionally considered Midwinter.

The ancient ones were keenly attuned to their relationship with the natural world and the path of the Sun, because of its necessity for their survival. They honored and celebrated the Winter Solstice through rituals steeped in deep gratitude for the return of the Sun and for all the potential promise of re-growth and sustenance it offered. It is a celebration, during the darkest time of the year, designed to inspire and renew us!

In Astrology, the Sun is the symbol of our Ego; our potential creative expression. Just as the Sun shines on the earth, in Astrology it symbolises our ability to radiate our light out into the world, making us uniquely individual. Another way of putting it is that the Sun is symbolic of our will to respond to and express our inner promptings; our Spirit. The Sun is our conscious awareness as well as our choice making ability.

Traditionally the Sun in the sign Capricorn is correlated with expressing the solar energy through self-discipline, accountability, personal honor, patience, caution, ambition, and hard work. But let’s look more deeply at the curious symbolism associated with Capricorn: the goat with front legs and a fish tale. What does this mean? Fish are found in the ocean, and in Astrology, the ocean is symbolic of that which is hidden from view, below the surface, or existing in the darkness of our unconscious. The unconscious is also what informs our consciousness and guides our actions in the outer world through the expression of our Spirit. Both our strengths and our weaknesses can live in our unconscious as the result of unexpressed or repressed aspects of our natures. It is the process of bringing the unconscious into consciousness that allows us access to our enormous creative potential. When we are unable to express the content of our unconscious, that unexpressed energy is called our Shadow. According to Dr. James Hollis, Jungian Analyst, and author of The Middle Passage, “The key to integration of the shadow…” involves “neither further repression nor unlicensed acting out. The integration of the shadow requires that we live responsibly in society but also more honestly with ourselves”.

Maybe this is what the ancient Roman Festival of Saturnalia, celebrated in the days leading up to the Winter Solstice, was about; an opportunity to access those aspects of ourselves that are often repressed in our unconscious. As Sir James Frazer writes from The Golden Bough, Saturnalia was a time “when the darker passions found a vent which would never be allowed in the more staid and sober course of ordinary life”. Interestingly, this celebration harkens back to a time when Saturn was said to have ruled over a Golden Age when everyone was equal; a time that would have required much more personal responsibility and a connection to our wholeness; the integration of the light and dark.

Another way to explore the transition from dark to light, our baser expression of ourselves to a more enlightened expression of ourselves, is outlined by Dane Rudhyar in his writing Planets and Chakras. He refers to the chakras as “the currents of forces operating through the electric wires and master-switches of the body —and their psychic-mental coordinates”. We can consider that at this time of year, the energy at the base of the spine, the root/Saturn chakra which rules the sign Capricorn, is being energetically stimulated. As Rudhyar explains, “Astrologically, this is the ‘path of return’ of the solar force, from Saturn to the Sun.” Perhaps the Sun entering the sign of Capricorn at The Winter Solstice is a natural reminder to work with this energy within ourselves; moving it upward, toward consciousness expressed as our Godly selves.

It’s interesting to note that Capricorn is the sign on the 10th house cusp of the natural zodiac. Capricorn is opposite the sign Cancer, located on the 4th house cusp. Cancer and the 4th house are the first water sign/house of the zodiac. They are the portal to our instinctual feelings that bubble up from the unconscious. This axis is our 4th house Soul stirrings (Moon/Cancer) being expressed as our 10th house authority (author-ing) in the external world (Saturn/Capricorn). So, at this Winter Solstice time, we are reconnecting with our own drumbeat that moves us to action.

According to The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas by John Matthews, the tradition of gifts received from holiday icons, such as Santa Claus, may have derived from shamans, who were the first priests and magicians of the human race. After reaching otherworldly states, through altered states of consciousness, they came back “with gifts of prophecy and wisdom to give to the rest of us”. Perhaps what the Winter Solstice provides us is the opportunity to be shamans of our own lives! Awareness of our unconscious, rising into our consciousness, offers the gifts of our strengths as well as an opportunity to become aware of our Shadow, that which unconsciously guide our behaviors. These gifts (our daimons) are what we must work (Capricorn) at channeling through our creative expression (Sun). Those that no longer serve us (negative Shadow traits) must be eliminated from our lives (Saturn). So, as the Sun returns from exploring the darkness during this Winter Solstice, we must embrace the gifts it has to offer us and accept the responsibility to grow with new awareness. That is what the true meaning of ‘presents’ symbolizes. It is the celebration of the return of our own ‘presence’ that were are connecting with in the stillness of this shifting time of year.

Self-development is a continual process, often times startlingly revelatory, that requires continual strength to look deeper into ourselves and our actions with loving awareness. In the process, our true Self, or light, comes into being. It may start as a dim source, but as we continue our journey of uncovering, we will begin to expose more and more of our light through the process of consciously examining ourselves. This is necessary, now more than ever, during this intense time of shadow projection fueling the separation we see in the world. We are in need of more conscious action rather than unconscious acting out; collectively and individually.

So at this sacred time of the Winter Solstice, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the return of the light of awareness within ourselves; embracing the effort it takes to live consciously. Light a candle in honor of this ancient recognition that flows through our collective past. Celebrate this time by letting go of fear, as we reside in the knowing that once again, the Sun has returned, bringing opportunity for re-growth and renewal, lighting the path to integration and wholeness.

In honor of the significance of the Winter Solstice I share this Italian blessing from the 16th century found in The Winter Solstice by John Matthews:

A Solstice Salutation

I salute you!

There is nothing I can give you which

you have not.

But there is much, that while I cannot give,

you can take.

No heaven can come to us, unless our hearts find

rest in it today.

Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not

hidden in this present instant.

Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow.

Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.

Take joy!

And so at this Christmastime, I greet you,

With the prayer that for you, now, and forever,

The day breaks, and the shadows flee away!

Take Joy! The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book

About Lindsay: Lindsay Conover has been reading charts and studying with various national and internatioLindsay_author_picnal teachers for over 15 years. She has a certificate in Psychological Astrology from the International Academy of Astrology. She is currently completing a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology at New Mexico Highlands University and holds an Associates of Science degree in Hospice Care and Grief Counseling from the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross Institute. Lindsay uses the astrological chart to provide intuitive insight into a conversation about our natures and the unfolding of our life in time. Lindsay’s astrological approach places an emphasis on honestly and lovingly viewing our natures from a meditative perspective so that we can become more aware of our personal energetic patterns and learn how we can successfully integrate them in to our lives. Lindsay can be contacted at or 505-577-3111.


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