Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!
~ Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:
Dec.02, 2013, 7:22 PM EST
Dec.03, 2003, 12:22 PM GMT
Dec.03, 2013, 11:22 AM AEDT
At this time of year, many of us have "visions of sugar plums" dancing in our heads.
In Western culture, dominated by Christianity and the traditions of Christmas, it's not easy to miss—or escape—the massive push to join in the gaiety.
The weeks of preparation for Christmas festivities are full of optimism, celebration, partying, good food and libations.
This is a time full of messages of hope and joy, peace and renewal. This is symbolized by the birth of Jesus of Nazareth on whose teachings the Christian religion is founded.
To those who relate to and revel in these messages, this is usually a time of great idealism, excitement and the warmth of spirit, emotion and social connection.
To anyone not caught up in the groundswell, the atmosphere of "sweetness and light" can feel gushingly sentimental, watching others overcome with near-hallucinogenic expectations of perfection.
If not already cynical, it can push some people to become that way out of sheer defensiveness. Scrooge becomes the patron saint of Christmas anti-euphoria, with his ability to resist the hypnotic trance of Christmas ecstasy. "Bah! Humbug!"
A couple of thousand years ago, followers of a god named Mithras celebrated rebirth in much the same way as the followers of Jesus do today. Mithras was an early Roman god of the sun, who was born around the time of the winter solstice and then experienced a resurrection around the spring equinox. Sound familiar?
~ Patti Wigington, The Legend of Mithras
This specialness of this time of the year is not exclusive to the Christian religion. There are many religions and spiritual traditions predating Christianity that also practiced similar customs, honoured similar stories and celebrated the seasons in much the same way as Christianity. From Mithras to Saturnalia to Diwali to Hanukah to Yule to the more recent Kwanzaa, this is a very significant time of year. And all are or have been celebrated with a display of lights in the darkness.
In the case of Christmas, the key is the December Solstice and the changing of the balance between day and night. This is the season when the Northern Hemisphere experiences the time of longest nights and shortest days, as we approach the Winter Solstice (exact on Dec.21). In the Southern Hemisphere it is the opposite – shortest nights and longest days, approaching the Summer Solstice (also exact on Dec.21).
Either way you look at it, it is a time of stretching ourselves to our limits and acknowledging the greatest potential of our environments. Those South of the equator are enjoying the peak of their season of abundance, as new growth achieves fruition. In the North, we are reaching maximum darkness where the balance between light and dark will begin to shift gradually back toward times of greater light.
Western culture has largely emerged out of the North Hemisphere, Europe in particular. As a result, many modern traditions at this time of year echo the northern environment of the cold, dark, winter season and its imminent transition into a warmer, lighter spring season. In modern European Pagan traditions, the turning point of the December Solstice is called Yule, and in fact, many modern Christmas customs have evolved out of ancient Pagan practices.
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator
for all I have not seen.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The importance of this time of year, especially for those living far north of the equator, is not trivial! People could die during those frozen winter months due to the harshness of the elements, insufficient nutrition and other environmental factors. Even today for many of us, persistent cold and darkness can cause our bodies to slow down (just ask a hibernating bear) and our minds to become depressed (SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder).
When facing months of this kind of existence, it can be tempting to get started on the winter blues early. The hugely hyped promise of Christmas and other December holidays can alleviate this for a while, which coincides with the Sun being in optimistic Sagittarius. We're busy making cookies and holiday treats, visiting friends and imbibing in "Christmas cheer" (and not driving home afterwards, please!). We're shopping for gifts, imagining the joyous faces of friends, family and children as they open wrapped presents that we have picked out for them. And we're decorating our homes and workplaces with pretty lights, trees and sparkly things.
In general, we may be thinking about the New Year and what we want next year to bring to us. It's important not to get stuck focusing on the coming cold darkness—whether that is played out in your immediate northern environment or just thinking about all the things in the near future that could go wrong. In this time of year we tend to anticipate the return of the light which inspires a reassuring sense of hope and a vision of better times to come. Literally and/or figuratively, darkness will become light once more. Bad times will resolve and become easier. What is old, stale, stuck or broken will become new, refreshed, free and whole once more.
This shows the archetypal roots of Sagittarius, and especially while the Sun travels through that sign. It is a time of optimism and celebration of what we believe will be the best that is to come. This is the faith and hope that can sustain us as we face the impending time of greatest darkness and difficulty, literally or figuratively. Archetypally, we have survived the transformative struggle in Scorpio and now experience the release and freedom of rebirth. We made it! Time to celebrate!!
This is shown in the Sagittarius New Moon chart not only by the Sun and Moon conjunct in Sagittarius, but also in their trine aspect (120°) to Uranus. Freedom, release and a belief in better times is the name of the game, baby! We're facing months of frozen tundra? Bring it on! Feeling sad knowing there are people who can't afford toys for their kids or food for their table? Be generous! Give to the food bank, donate to a local Christmas toy drive, volunteer for a charity and do what you can to help fill in the gaps.
All we are not stares back at what we are.
~ W.H. Auden
Naturally, for every ray of light there is a shadow. Every sign has its luminous side, and also its shadow side—the part of its energy that is everything the sign is trying not to be. And yet, trying to lose that negating side is as futile as trying to escape your own shadow (which may be where the term came from).
If the shining side of Sagittarius is a belief in hope, release and freedom, then the shadow side is about that lightness being driven by an even stronger belief in hardship, cynicism, despair or imperfection. If Sagittarius believes in the ability to expand beyond your boundaries, then the shadow side is convinced those boundaries will always win the battle in the end.
The bright side of Sag has faith in the inherent goodness of all people and the ability to rise above our imperfections, but the shadow side is convinced of the inherent sinfulness of Man, in the persistence of those imperfections and/or our inevitable failure to conquer them. Sag seeks a code of moral guidelines that will enable us to cope with suffering, improve our lives and fulfil our potential, but the shadow side of that is forced, rigid moralism that serves more to reinforce a belief in our own suffering, inadequacy and failure than to transcend it.
In other words, instead of seeing the best in each other, we tend to see the worst. The Sagittarius shadow often shows itself as a tendency to blame and condemn others for the difficulties in their lives, rather than to stretch our understanding toward a compassionate truth that will shed light on the frailties and flaws that is part of our shared human nature. Or we might think we're seeing the best in others but we may mostly be trying to project our own best potential onto them instead of being open to their own unique potential. For instance, we might make a misguided attempt to help those in need by trying to impose on them the solutions that make sense to us, rather than supporting their ability to discover or develop their own.
As another example, when we try to "help" someone, it can sometimes send the opposite message. Rather than "I feel for you, so I'm going to tell you what would be good for you to do," the sub-text message is often more like "I can't bear to watch you suffer, so I'm going to fix you in a way that works best for me" or "I don't think you're capable of figuring it out for yourself, so I'm going to tell you what to do."
Our intentions may not always match the effects of our actions, and with Sagittarius' expansively optimistic view of things it is especially important to keep checking on what our own motives are to catch times when we think we're doing one thing but it's coming out a different way.
A traitor may betray himself
and do good he does not intend.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
This pretzel-like path of intention versus action is shown in two ways in the New Moon chart. First, the Sun and Moon are in tight semi-sextile aspect (30°) to Pluto. The semi-sextile can be tricky. On the positive side, it can join similar energies and provide an opportunity to expand our awareness and inspire new understanding. On the tricky side, it can also look like there is a commonality or compatibility between two different energies (the planets involved, as well as the signs) when there really isn't any beyond the surface appearance.
At its best, this twist of fate could generate something unexpectedly good. Pay attention! Uranus trine the New Moon can bring surprising insights and opportunities, which you might miss if you are too focused on what you think good fortune will look like.
At its worst, since this involves Pluto in Capricorn, it could allow the more controlling, dogmatic, rigid side of Sagittarius to emerge. At its best, though, this combination could encourage a more transformative, authentic side of Sag to come out. For example, it might make it easier to "take the high road" when faced with a moral dilemma, choosing a more productive long-term solution that expands the growth potential of all concerned, rather than falling back on quick answers that might work in the short run but fall apart in the long run. On the other hand, short-term surface "fixes" could work well with the semi-sextile, as long as they don't have long-term consequences that could create more problems than they solve down the road.
The other aspect in the chart that reflects the intentions-versus-actions quandary is the Chiron square to the Sun-Moon conjunction. With Chiron, especially being in Pisces, what you aim for is not always what you wind up with, and at its worst the result can be a difficult burden to bear. This combination speaks of sacrifices that might have to be made in order to reach a higher or farther goal.
This could involve the need to accept delayed gratification, or learning to be satisfied with something less appealing or different from what you were hoping for. Like a child waiting for Santa Claus to come, it doesn't mean you'll only get a lump of coal in your stocking, but it might mean you get a stuffed toy instead of a real live puppy. Or, you might get the doggie bed, leash, brush and chew toy, but have to still work toward getting the puppy. Or, you might get the puppy but discover that you have to find time to walk, feed, brush, play with and take care of it, which you don't really have to spare in your busy schedule. Something's got to give.
A powerful star, [Antares'] presence in your chart will imply that you will go to extremes, intentionally or unintentionally. Success will come, as this is one of the Royal Stars, but only through continually putting your efforts to the test and honing them through the fires of experience. The danger is that you will seek drama simply for the thrill, and if this happens, it can lead to the loss of all that has been gained.
~ Bernadette Brady, Brady's Book of Fixed Stars
The Sagittarius New Moon is conjunct the fixed star, Antares, which is a major star "in the heart of the Scorpion." (Remember, the tropical zodiac signs are not aligned with the constellations due to precession. Therefore, although Antares is located at 09:57 of Sagittarius in the tropical zodiac, for our purposes, it actually occupies the constellation of Scorpio.)
Antares has a powerful, sometimes volatile reputation, as does Algol which we saw aligned with the Full Moon in Taurus (Nov.17). Bernadette Brady paints a potent picture of Antares having great potential but not easy to handle constructively. Similarly, the work of Elsbeth Ebertin (published in Fixed Stars and Their Interpretation) describes "mental alertness, strategic ability, and courage" as traits gifted by Antares. This seems to echo and reinforce the warning to watch how you use the very persuasive, perhaps even compelling ability that could be within reach during this lunar cycle. A little can go a long way, and the effect could be other than what you were intending.
My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.
Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?
~ Bob Hope
This combined energy puts an extra spin on whatever vision you invest your energy in. Therefore, choose your investment wisely. Aim to expand your higher understanding that can lead you to a universal view of love and compassion. If you get snagged in a net of blame, resentment or discouragement, take some time out in order to disengage your actions from the feelings until you understand better what's going on. Give yourself some love, support and forgiveness (and maybe for the other guy too, if you can).
Now: think about something that reminds you who you are in your best moments. Spend a few minutes bringing into your awareness a vision of yourself in those best moments. What do you look like? What does it feel like inside your body? What does your voice sound like, including inside your own head? What sounds do you notice around you?
Then: know that you are that same person now—even when you're all tied up in knots of anger, blame, intolerance or discouragement. That part of you is always there, whenever you're ready to reach out and connect with it again. Then let that natural, higher impulse guide you in your next move.
Fear behind you,
Life before you,
Faith befriend you,
Prayer becalm you,
Truth be with you,
Love become you,
God be in you.*
(*This be for you. Repeat until chanting for others; then begin again.)
~ author unknown (if you know who wrote this, please contact me)
There is a potential now to find the courage to speak your mind and say what needs to be said, if you focus consciously on doing so. In fact, your ideas and words may come so quickly and easily that it's hard to stop them from tumbling out of your mouth before you've had a chance to evaluate the best way to say them. Communication is probably easiest and most effective when it's direct, concise and quick, although it might also be a bit blunt or pointed. If you need to confront someone about a difficult situation, this transit can provide courage and clear words to help you do that – although perhaps a bit too forceful when a more delicate, sensitive touch is called for. It is a time when you might find the nerve to take risks, or to defend yourself if the need arises (especially verbally). This is a good transit for creative problem solving and trying on decisions to see if they fit.
Communication, ideas, thoughts and perceptual "spark" become expanded in Sagittarius. Your mental focus tends toward a philosophical and spiritual outlook that seeks the highest truth in the broadest context. However, it's not always easy for the conscious mind to assimilate and digest such a vast territory of knowledge, or to find the higher meaning in mountains of raw information. You might feel a bit overwhelmed by trying to take in such a panoramic view of your world, but the gifts from doing so are abundant and inspiring! To get the most out of this transit, try learning something new that expands your horizon. Or pick a situation in your life and imagine that you're looking at it from a mountaintop – what do you see from way up there that you can't see when you're closer to the ground? Just remember that whatever visions and insights you get from doing this, these are SOME of the truths to be found, but not necessarily the only truth. Leave room in your new understanding to remember that every mountaintop shows a slightly different view and that this doesn't make one mountain right and the others wrong.
Your mental focus may be a bit clouded, confused or lethargic right now, as your conscious mind struggles to grasp the formless, limitless expanse of the Universe and the unconscious. You may experience some disillusionment or disappointment, in your observations or communication with others. However, what is flowing under the surface of events right now is the need to dissolve away the crust of old expectations that blocks your view from seeing a greater Truth. If you're feeling off-balance, try to listen more than you talk, so that you can be receptive to your inner sensitivity. Left-brain analysis might be difficult to work with right now unless you balance it with a lot of right-brain intuition. You may have to let go of a rigid mindset, or give up what you think you understand about a situation in your life, in order to open yourself to a new perspective that is difficult to define but is ultimately in the best interest of your spiritual growth.
This is a time when aggression, anger and directness may have to be expressed gently, diplomatically and gracefully. Libra is not the most comfortable sign for Mars, since his typically sharp-edged and forceful nature becomes blunted and filtered through Libran softness and tact. It's a bit like dressing Star Trek's "Worf" in a tutu. However, when these energies combine and work well together, what can emerge is the passion to fight for justice and fairness. This is "the fisted hand in the velvet glove," and can create situations in which you must respond more like a charming but crafty ambassador than a brute force boxer. On the other hand, with force, aggression and directness somewhat blocked or unavailable as options, it may be difficult to respond decisively or purposefully to conflict and challenge. You need to rely more on your wits than your impulses, and strive for a win-win solution than a clear victory.
Yes, you read that "until" date above correctly – Mars stays in Libra for over 8 months! That's because it will go retrograde, entirely in Libra, from Mar.01.2014 to May.19.2014. So kick back, think beautiful thoughts and get ready to learn how to use your Mars (aggression, assertiveness, sexual drive, physical energy, independence, desire and ambition) in Libran ways (balanced, balancing, counterbalancing, artistic, beautifying, interactive, strategic, compromising, win-win, win-lose, lose-lose and dualistic).
Unusual ideas, flashes of insight and seeing unexpected possibilities are all part of this transit. You may find it easier to be open-minded right now, especially about insights that have eluded you. Your ability to see beyond your usual horizon of perception can bring visionary brainwaves, as well as a fun sense of humour. You might be inspired to experiment with something new or do something out of character. You might have an impulse to break free of old habits or constraints. This can be a very liberating transit that opens your mind to new possibilities and ideas. However, be careful that you don't become so liberated and spontaneous that you become erratic, hyper or reckless. Words may come tumbling out of your mouth before you've had a chance to consider their wisdom, or you might find yourself talking non-stop and interrupting, creating a bit of awkwardness in those around you. On the other hand, you might also find the clarity and vision that gives you the words to speak your truth with new conviction. It's a great time to do some writing or other form of self-expression, especially if it's spontaneous or involving technology.
Your mental focus and perceptions may feel a bit strained right now. You could find yourself locked in a struggle of indecision that stems from a "glass half empty" versus "glass half full" dilemma. It may be difficult to stay objective and evenly balanced in your perspective, but by working with this you could also find a new mental focus that gives you increased clarity. It might be tempting to sink into cynicism as a way to deal with what seems like a no-win situation. On the other hand, this transit could bring your mental perspective to a kind of "healing crisis" that forces you to get a better grip on the ideas, communication and frame of mind that have been problematic for you. Instead of reaching for extremes (hoping this will clarify the path in front of you), it will help more if you can take a few steps back to allow all the conflicting and out-of-sync elements to coexist together – creative paradox. If you have been in denial about something, this could be a turning point that allows you to grapple with the complex reality of your situation.
The expansiveness of Jupiter works cooperatively with the concise structure of Saturn in this transit. Its peak effects can be felt for up to about a week to 10 days before and after the exact date (above). This transit can bring adventure and caution into a healthy balance. You have the confidence and imagination to envision bright possibilities in your life, while also having the grounded realism to make the plans and do the hard work to make it happen.
If you have been making plans to create, build or reach for a goal in your life, this is a time when you may be able to make substantial progress. You have access to vision that can see beyond obstacles, insight to deal with problems, enthusiasm to sustain your efforts, and faith in the process as it unfolds.
It is also easier to be responsible, stable and predictable without limiting your options or potential. There's a slight possibility that this could backfire somewhat, by giving you the strength to push through your vision or opinion with such force that others find it overwhelming. Or, you might feel so reassured and confident with the way your life is unfolding that you take it for granted and don't apply any real effort to help it along ...and then wonder why it didn't bring as much as you thought. Make a point of putting this energy to productive use!
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© 2013 Wendy Guy. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied without the author's written permission. Most or all of the quotes on this page were found at GoodReads.com. Graphics of Sagittarius and Gemini from CanStockPhoto.