Wednesday 21 June in the southern hemisphere marks one of our annual turning points, the winter solstice, which is the shortest day and the longest night of the calendar year. The term solstice comes from the Latin “sol” meaning the sun and “sistere” meaning to stand and at the winter solstice the Sun does seem to stand still very low in the sky for a period of 3 days.
The ancients honoured the Sun as a life giving force and worked in harmony with nature and the seasons. During the winter months as the crops became dormant and life seemed to slow down, the ancients relied on faith and the hope that the Sun would reappear and life would return. The winter solstice, as the shortest day, marked a time of spiritual rejoicing and celebration at the promise of renewed life associated with the days increasing in length and new hope symbolised by the rebirth of the Sun.
Astrology was developed in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice takes place around 21 / 22 December as the Sun moves into Capricorn. This is marked by festivals such as Christmas, Yule and Hanukah which are often celebrated with lights, thought to balance out the lack of light in the winter months and remind us of our inner light.
In the southern hemisphere, our winter solstice coincides with Sun moving into the sign of Cancer (ruled by the Moon); emphasising yin energy and as the Sun energises this receptive watery sign. As the Sun stands still, so we slow down physically, conserve our energy and reorientate our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual energy. It’s a time to rest, renew and nurture ourselves, in sympathy with nature resting.
In tune with the season of winter, the increased darkness and nature dormant and buried beneath the earth, we have the opportunity to explore that which is dark and buried within ourselves. It is a time to turn inward, embrace the darkness and explore the unknown. We feel our way as we connect more with our intuition, trusting that it will guide us as the ancients trusted that the Sun would reappear. As the Sun symbolises our potential to shine in the world and express our authentic Self, the solstice reminds us to pause and reflect on what holds us back from fulfilling our unique potential. What lurks in our shadow that holds us back from sharing our light?
This can be a good time to gently unearth some of our shadow side and to set intentions for new ways of being and shining in the world with renewed energy.
The Sun moves into Cancer at 2.25 pm AEST on 21 June. Happy Solstice.