The Sun enters Capricorn tonight at 8:06 pm EST, bringing with it the Winter Solstice Under the tropical zodiac system*, the Sun enters Capricorn on the date that coincides with the shortest day of the year which we call the Winter Solstice. Associating the sign of Capricorn and its ruler Saturn with the time of year, the ancient Romans celebrated the Saturnalia festival which marked the end of darkness and a return to light.
There are many “dying and resurrected” gods that are associated with the Winter Solstice, most likely due to the short day and long night. In the Celtic Old Religion, the Holly King and the Oak King are two faces of the Greenman, or nature deity. The Holly King rules over the half of the year when the sun wanes, and at the Winter Solstice he dies and the Oak King is reborn and rules during the waxing sun.
The Winter Solstice is associated with a number of different dying and resurrected gods: Osiris, Dionysus, Mithras, Attis, Tammuz. The cults of these gods knew that the god must die in order to be resurrected and assure the continuation of mankind.
Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, called in ancient times the “Greater Malefic” (with Mars being the “Lesser Malefic”). Saturn, called Kronos by the Greeks, is the god of time and therefore the god of death. In modern times we view Pluto as the Lord of the Underworld, of death and rebirth, but Saturn reminds us that our life is short, that death awaits. Capricorn carries some of this burden as well with a deep awareness of the seriousness of life and the burden of time so it is appropriate that the Sun’s entry into Capricorn marks the Winter Solstice – the death of the Holly King and the resurrection of the Oak.
This year the Capricorn ingress follows shortly after the New Moon in Sagittarius, deepening our sense of responsibility and practical application of understanding. It is interesting that the last few New Moons have been in the last degrees of a sign: Virgo, Libra, Scorpio and now Sagittarius. This trend will continue into 2007, with Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces New Moons at 28 degrees. There is a sense of completion here combined with difficulty moving forward. It has been difficult to move forward and we find ourselves still retracing our steps.
The Winter Solstice is a time to remember that just beyond the darkness is the light. Happy Solstice!
*The tropical zodiac system keeps the cardinal egress points of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn at the solstices and does not allow for the precession of the equinoxes which have moved these points over time. Many consider the sidereal system, which follows the current alignment of the equinoxes with their actual point in the zodiac, to be more accurate but this has not been true for me and most western astrologers. Vedic astrology does use the sidereal system.