Grianstad an Gheimhridh

Yule. The Winter Solstice. In Irish, Grianstad an Gheimhridh. In the Northern Hemisphere it’s the longest night of the year and will occur in the U.S.A. on December 21, 2021 at 7:56am PST.

The 12 days of Yule – which begin on December 21st and last through January 1st – is a time of symbolic rebirth and renewal. Everything about this holiday honors life, light, and hope. The Celts believed the sun stood still during the Winter Solstice. During this time they burned a whole tree in the hearth – the Yule log – which they believed encouraged the sun to move, thus making the days longer. The first 12 days after the Winter Solstice are symbolically associated with the 12 months of the year. Celebrating the return of the light can be done in many ways. It is all about clearing the old and acknowledging a rebirth of awakening energy.

This is a simple ritual that anyone can do at any time, but is especially effective on the longest night of the year.

Burning ceremony
Write down the things you want to let go of on pieces of paper (hurt feelings, lingering grudges, a toxic relationship, or anything else that has been holding you back). Burn each strip one by one, focusing your intention on setting yourself free from these emotional anchors. The “death” of these papers makes way for the “birth” of a more positive future.

Those who have a close connection with nature believe that on the day of the Winter Solstice fate can be changed. Nature herself can assist with this by reviving and starting a new cycle, fulfilling many desires, and enlisting the support of higher powers for the coming year. This is the time when you can radically alter your destiny. The energy of the Winter Solstice supports Magick related to turning points, changes, new beginnings, home and hearth, family relationships, world peace, and personal renewal.

3 of Skulls (Pentacles)
Preparation, self-confidence, teamwork, self-realization, mastering new challenges

Arianrhod was the Celtic Goddess of fertility, rebirth and the weaving of cosmic time and fate. Every living thing in the Universe was a point on her web and was connected on the spiritual plane. Touch any point on the web and all other points were affected. This is similar to the Butterfly Effect: The butterfly effect concept has been used as a broad term for any situation where a small change is supposed to be the cause of larger consequences.

“The card foretells the manifestation of a desire, project, or situation though putting in hard work now, leading to abundant rewards. At this time a harmonic and coherent structure is forming on our behalf – the investment of labor in an external or physical direction will soon be rewarded and our goals will be reached.” [1]


Celebrate Yule by roasting chestnuts while sipping this:

Holiday Nog

Wet the rim of a glass and dip it in cocoa powder
Fill 1/3 full with your favorite red wine
Fill the rest of the glass with good quality eggnog (My favorite brand is Strauss.)
Cheers!

Adapted from this recipe.


Yule Fires

In ancient days the folk of old
When chilled with fright by the winter’s cold,
Did kindle up a great Yule fire
With leaping flames in its’ great pyre
So to entice the waning sun
To rise again and wider run;
Its’ fiery course across the sky
To warm them so they would not die

So we, whose minds now sense a chill
of anger at the evil will
The human conflict, hate and strife
Which holds a menace over the life,
Would kindle up a flame of love
That we within our hearts many move
In Yuletide joy with love embrace
And thus abide in peace and grace

– John G. Mackinnon

Finally, revisit my Post of last December 21st for it contains an important message at the very end.

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[1] Daniels, Ian (2010). Phantasmagoria. Llewellyn Publications. p. 270.

Winter Solstice, the Great Conjunction and a Christmas Star

December 21st brings much excitement this year! (I know, as if we haven’t had enough excitement already…) So let’s get started…

Winter Solstice

In the Northern Hemisphere December 21 marks the longest night of the year – also known as the Winter Stolstice. Darkness has reached its peak and will soon give way to longer days. The rebirthing of the sun. For our ancestors who lived by the seasons this was a time of rest and renewal. Crops had been harvested and enough food “put by” to last through the (often brutal) winter. Nowadays, the twelve days of Yule – which begin December 21st and last through January 1st – can be a time of symbolic renewal. Everything about Yule honors light, life, and hope.

  • Yule Log
    The familiar custom of burning the Yule log dates back to earlier solstice celebrations and the tradition of bonfires. The Christmas practice calls for burning a portion of the log each evening until Twelfth Night. [source]
  • Evergreens symbolize renewal. Hang garlands of spruce, fir, cypress, pine, or juniper around doorways and windows. Burn pine branches to purify and heal. Make your own evergreen wreath.
  • Another evergreen, holly, was also used to decorate doors, windows, and fireplaces. Its leaves represent the Holly King and because of their spikes were believed to ward-off unwanted spirits.
  • Mistletoe was revered by Druids for its magickal properties. It would be carefully cut from sacred oaks to ensure it never touched the earth, for if it did it was believed the plant would lose all its magick power.
  • Long before electricity candles were used to keep the night at bay. Red, green, gold, and white candles are traditional colors of Yule.
  • Burn frankincense, mistletoe, or sage incense.
  • As some scholars connect Yuletide celebration to the Wild Hunt, it’s not surprising that celebratory feasts included hunted game such as pig and venison. Nuts, berries, fall/winter vegetables, dried fruits, and gingerbread rounded-out the meal. And let’s not forget Wassail: a mixture of ale, honey, spices or mulled apple cider. Here’s a recipe for Wassail punch. (A quick and easy way to mull-up your wine is to steep hot red wine with mulling spices. I use ready-made spice bags.)
  • Ritual: Write down things you wish to leave behind in the coming year then (safely) burn the list while you visualize those things fading from your life.
  • Ritual: Light some incense and grab a warm drink (Mulled wine, anyone?) With your footsteps, create a spiral in a clockwise direction. As you’re doing that, you’re literally aligning yourself with the pattern that the universe is creating. [source]
  • One more: A little Winter Solstice Ritual the whole family can take part in.

The Great Conjunction

The biggest astrological event of our lifetime occurs on December 21, 2020. Jupiter conjuncts Saturn in the first degree of Aquarius – 0° Aquarius 29 to be exact. Astrologically, a conjunction is formed when two or more planets enter the same zodiac sign at the same time and at the same degree. This causes their vibrations to combine and work together. Although conjunctions are common, when they involve cetain slower-moving planets they become much more rare and much more intense. A Great Conjunction only happens when Jupiter and Saturn align.

What makes the December 21, 2020 Great Conjunction so amazing is that it’s happening at 0°, which signifies a completely new beginning AND it’s the closest conjunction since 1623 (which was also in the sign of Aquarius).

A Christmas Star

On December 21, 2020, Jupiter and Saturn will appear to hover in the fading twilight – visible around the world. In the Southwestern U.S., these two planets will be low in the sky about a half-hour after sunset. They are aligning so close to one another that to the naked eye they will appear as a single, glowing star – the first visible “double planet” in 800 years! Because of this and the timing of the event, many are calling this a “Christmas Star.” (Some have even speculated that the so-called “Star of Bethlehem” was a Great Conjunction that occurred c. 7 BCE.)

EarthSky has been posting photos taken from around the world of Jupiter and Saturn, showing their progression towards this once-in-a-lifetime-event.

Watch the Great Conjunction LIVE online
via The Virtual Telescope Project

So what does all this mean? Let me break it down by entity first, and then tie everything together. Ready? Let’s do this!

Jupiter

Planetary Trump:
Wheel of Fortune
(Rules Sagittarius)

Fate and destiny. Change and movement. Expansion and momentum. The end and beginning of a cycle. Developments, continued growth, and success. Unexpected gifts or opportunities. Enterprise. Creativity. Wholeness. Personal vision. Faith, humility, and acceptance.

Known as the Great Benefic, Jupiter symbolizes growth/expansion, healing, prosperity, good fortune, and miracles. It inspires us to grow, expand, and take risks; but can also expose our flaws and weaknesses. In addition, Jupiter governs wisdom & higher truth, the law, and higher education.

Shadow side: Disappointment, withheld feelings, lack of opportunity, extremes of fatalism.

Colors: Darker shades of blue, violet, and deep purple.
Stones: Lapis Lazuli, sapphire, and amethyst.
Metal: Tin.
Incense: Copal, nutmeg, sage, red sandalwood, and pine.

Jupiter’s influence may be brought into any magickal workings that deflect Saturn’s chaotic and destructive energies.

Saturn

Planetary Trump:
The World
(Rules Capricorn)

Pure harmony. Completion and wholeness. The end of the quest. Synthesis between earth and spirit. Divine unification. Absolute peace and happiness. Fulfillment. Emotional pleasures, sexual love. Tranquility, luxury, security. Discovering our true self and our purpose. Self-identity. The cosmic plan of creation.

Known as the Great Malefic, Saturn symbolizes contraction, restriction, structure, discipline, and authority. It is sometimes referred to as the cosmic taskmaster and always represents the cold-hard reality of a situation.

Shadow side: injustice, dogma, lack of insight, prejudice, preconception, stagnation, indecision, irresponsibility, obstinacy, false judgements, holding on to the past, and refusing to accept that the past is gone.

Colors: Black.
Stones: Jet, obsidian, onyx, and smoky quartz.
Metal: Lead.
Incense: Myrrh.

Pewter mixes the energies of both Saturn AND Jupiter.

NOTE: Both planets deal with large-scale issues of authority and leadership but in different ways. (Power struggles?)

Aquarius

Zodiacal Trump:
The Star
(Ruled by Saturn)

Crystallization of inspiration. Spiritual insight. Wishes. Liberation, fulfillment, and promise. Imagination. Peace and tranquility. Calm and perfect faith. Rejuvenation. A unity of thought and spirit. Carefree, optimistic. Union with the Everlasting. Following our star. Living in the perfect present moment. Siren songs and haunting beauty.

An Air sign, Aquarius symbolizes social change, humanitarian efforts, justice for all, progressiveness, independence, and idealism, freedom. Aquarius governs innovation, technology, and surprising events. Note: Aquarius is ruled by Uranus (originally Saturn).

Shadow side: Detachment, rigidity, aloofness, lack of empathy, and unpredictability.

Colors: Aquamarine, electric blue, and violet.
Stones: Amethyst, garnet, turquoise, jade, labradorite, and aquamarine.
Metal: Uranium.
Incense: Sage, lotus.

The Sabian symbol for Aquarius 0° is An old adobe mission. “It is almost inevitable that we will, at some point, be called upon to defend and protect what we think of as home, family and community. […] An aware person is tested to remember their own true spiritual state at all times…In a world of deceit and illusion, where nothing is ever completely fixed in time, this presents a prodigious challenge.” [source]

2020 sees the end of a 200-year era of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in Earth signs, with the focus being on material security and a resistance to change. This could explain society’s “obsession with material things, conquering land, and money“. We may be entering the Age of Aquarius where we will shift our focus to the collective and humanitarianism, creating new forms of group consciousness, cultural change, innovation, and reform. This Great Conjunction also marks changes within ourselves, for this is where true change in the world begins.

Set intentions. Focus on the positive. AIM HIGH and fly like an Eagle. Act honorably. What we do as we enter this new era – individually and collectively – will set in motion that which will be actualized over the next 20 years.


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