Spring in the Belly of Winter
IMBOLC: CROSS-QUARTER STATION OF THE SUN Feb 3, 2018
By early February, here on the north coast of California, there are signs that winter — mild as it is — is losing its grip. In the vineyards that cover much of our rural valley, rows of winter cover crops show the first haze of bloom. They form careless bands of incongruous, shaggy growth between the neat, ordered lines of hard-pruned vines. Where the vineyards end in open pasture, newborn lambs walk on tentative legs. They hang close by their mothers who munch grass a shade of impossible green, luminous in the warm afternoon sun.
At this time each year, our little corner of the world transforms into an emerald earth, a vivid reminder of how miraculous plants really are. Soaking up the increasing sunlight and nourished by winter rain, their green pigment waxes with the sun and functions as a natural solar panel that absorbs energy for alchemy: the transformation of sunlight into sugar. In the process, they perform another feat: "inhaling" carbon dioxide and "exhaling" precious oxygen. The ewes both breathe and eat the products of their green meadows, and in turn perform their own magic, converting green grass into milk for their young.
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The Still Point
THE LEO FULL MOON & LUNAR ECLIPSE January 31, 2018
In just a few days, we arrive at the Full Moon, culmination of a cycle that began at the Capricorn New Moon two weeks ago. But no ordinary Full Moon is this!
As the second Full Moon to fall in January, it is a Blue Moon PLUS a Super "perigee" Moon — falling near Luna's closest approach to Earth and bringing more of those especially high King Tides. It also falls on Imbolc eve, one of those four powerful, cross-quarter days (more on that in a separate post); and, last but not least, this Leo Full Moon is also a TOTAL lunar eclipse.
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THE CAPRICORN NEW MOON January 16-17, 2018
Luna will soon catch up with the Sun in Saturn-ruled Capricorn to begin a new lunar month. One of four cardinal signs — boundary posts that guard the seasonal gates of the year — Capricorn's ruling planet, Saturn, was for millennia the outermost "wandering star," marking an ancient boundary: the outer limits of the known solar system. Relatedly, Saturn and Capricorn rule our personal boundaries and physical structures: foundations, walls, fences — what supports, but also delineates and separates: this from that, inside from outside, mine from yours.
And Capricorn is especially emphasized at this New Moon with a very large group of Olympians here, including the Old Devil, Saturn, himself, newly in his own sign. So Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Pluto are all here amplifying the Capricorn signal.
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Something in Me, Dark and Sticky
THE SUN-VENUS-PLUTO TRIPLE CONJUNCTION January 8-9, 2018
The Sun, our central star, will soon form a perfect conjunction with Pluto, distant dwarf planet that represents the chthonic, underlying, sometimes devastating forces of Mother Nature. Profound change, death, rebirth, power issues of survival, the use and abuse of resources, sexual power, all things hidden and taboo — everything buried deep in the vast underground circuits of the psyche are associated with this small, outlying planet. And all of these Pluto-related themes of life are currently being stirred up right now, illuminated by the vital Sun in formidable "take no prisoners" Capricorn.And this year, Venus joins the party, making the annual Sun-Pluto conjunction a triple one.
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Beware of Darkness
THE CANCER FULL MOON + VENUS-PLUTO January 1-2, 2018
We begin a New Year on a big beautiful Full "Wolf" Moon beaming from the cardinal, water sign of Cancer: the Moon's own sign, where Luna is STRONG. A "Super Moon" or perigee Moon, and one that falls right on the yearly "perihelion" point, at the time of the Full Moon, the Earth will be at its closest point to the Sun (perihelion), and the Moon at its closest point to Earth (perigee).
So this Full Moon will bring those particularly powerful "King" tides, which I wrote about in the previous December Solstice article. If you live close enough to a coast, a special way to ring in this New Year, and witness the power of Mother Nature, is to catch, and work a little magic, on this impressive, astronomical King tide.
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Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New
THE CAPRICORN SOLSTICE December 21, 2017
When our central star glides into the cardinal, earth sign of Capricorn, it marks an important turning point in the solar year: the winter solstice and longest night — for those of us north of the equator. At the Capricorn solstice tomorrow, the Sun concludes its long, half-year descent into the southern sky. High noon on this day, it shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn, its southern-most extreme: 23.5° latitude, south of the equator.
The triumph of darkness over light at this time of year is tempered with the knowledge of the never-ending, turning of the wheel. For after the December solstice, our days gradually lengthen until eventually summer solstice arrives, six months from now, marked by the Sun's entry into Capricorn's polar complement: the feminine water sign of Cancer.
While those of us in the north huddle by the fire sipping hot toddies and peering out at a stark winter landscape, our friends in the south are enjoying the peak of the Sun's strength, the lush, high greening of the land. If there's ever a time when the fundamental, dual nature of life here on planet Earth is most evident, it is at the two solstices — the "Sun extremes" of the year.
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Back Into Port
SATURN ENTERS CAPRICORN December 19, 2017
When Saturn leaves lofty Sagittarius for formidable, no-nonsense Capricorn, his very own earth sign, we somewhat reluctantly bring our ship back into port and return to the more mundane realities of life. The last two and a half years while transiting Jupiter's horizonless realm, Saturn has helped us glean a larger perspective in some way, clarify our personal truth. And now it will be Capricorn's important task to help us transform these new, somewhat fragile insights into something of practical value in the REAL WORLD.
Sagittarian heady idealism and the high value it places on abstractions and other forms of open-ended adventure is all anathema to solemn, grounded Capricorn, who sees this as rather frivolous. And indeed it is frivolous to stay in Sagittarius's realm of ideas, neglecting to do anything tangible or realistic with our grand visions. (Mind-f&%king as Saturn calls it.)