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A simple Winter Solstice Eclipse Ritual

winter solstice I hear there hasn’t been a lunar eclipse like this–occurring at winter solstice–for 456 years. People get excited about rare celestial events. But I’ve seen a few of these come and go. To me it seems the greater rarity now is any moment when a human fully meets the sky. Even if a lunar eclipse occurred every year on the solstice, what matters is how you meet it this time. Pause your busy or mournful or joyful life and connect with the power of the Sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun is standing still (hence “solstice”) at its southernmost point on the horizon. It is the longest night of the year when we are invited to turn from our cold mysteries to face the bright warmth of new possibilities. The days will soon get longer and the nights will get shorter. Gardens will grow, and so will our lives.

There are many wonderful Solstice rituals involving chants, costumes and Yule Logs (this one’s nice). I like to keep it simple. For my solstice ritual, you’ll need just a candle (or a fireplace or a favorite lamp) and some “Sun food.” This is a magical edible—something to symbolize the power of the Sun. You’ll take it in at the ritual’s climax. Sun cookies–anything round and yellow—will do (here’s one recipe). Lately I’ve fallen in love with greens–kales, lettuces, chard–as a juiced blend of their chloryphyl is the closest thing to liquid sunshine. Be the alchemist as you prepare what’s right for you. As you gather the ingredients, meditate on your experience of the past ninety days.

At your Solstice moment–which is that hour you can give yourself when you have absolutely nothing else to do. Nowhere to go, nothing to get, no one to satisfy. Approach your altar (or your fireplace or your table with your favorite lamp), declare a circle of sacred space. Call in the elements, the snow-capped mountains, the exhilarating winds, the roaring hearth fire, the healing warmth of a fragrant bubble bath. Light your candle or lamp. Turn so that your back faces the altar and the light is now behind you. Close your eyes and feel into the dark. Notice whatever sensations or emotions this brings. Savor it as your experience, your singular expression of the world soul at this unrepeatable moment. Do not judge it. Sink into it. And when you feel ready, turn to the light. Open your arms and draw the energy of the light into your heart. Offer your profound thanks to the Sun, the source of light, life and energy on this planet. Ask the Sun to bless you with health, creativity, and love in the coming days. Eat your Sun food. Savor this thrilling experience of light! When you’re complete, bow to the candle or lamp. Thank the elements and dissolve the sacred circle into a mist of protection that surrounds you as you re-enter the world. Extinguish the candle.

For the Southern Hemisphere, for whom the days will be getting shorter, reverse the imagery. Start with symbols or images evoking the abundance of the garden. Begin facing the altar. Celebrate the experience of warmth and light as the Sun is at its strongest. When you are ready, turn so that your back is to the light. Close your eyes and contemplate the coming darkness. Feel into it. When you are ready, with eyes still closed, eat your Sun food.

Off with their heads!

Camilla Charles It’s worth noting how the gods roamed the earth this past week, as retrograde Mercury rendezvouzed in Capricorn with that explosive pair, Mars and Pluto (exact on December 13). The Warrior and Underworld Lord aren’t known for their subtlety or grace. Their conjunctions can ignite passion, anger, violence, war, revenge–all of which had Messenger Mercury working overtime. There he was at a Florida school board meeting, spray-painting a red V for “vengeance” on the wall, before going out in a blaze of gunfire that luckily missed all targets but himself. In New York, the Messenger brought news from the underworld, as four bodies were found scattered along a highway, likely the remains of prostitutes, victimized by a serial killer. The most poignant Mercury-Mars-Pluto message may be the final words of the dying US diplomat Richard Holbrooke: “You’ve got to stop this war in Afganistan.” But perhaps the most resounding message heard around the world was the frustration of protestors at the widening divide between the Haves and Have Nots. Stuffy Capricorn leaders got served–in Italy, Russia, Greece, and England. Pictured above are Charles and Camilla, heading to a performance in their state-bought Rolls Royce as students (whose tuition just tripled) shouted “Off With their Heads!”

In the Shadow of Her Retrograde

imagesCAISSNQVAstrologers do talk. And we noticed during the weeks of Venus retrograde (October 8 to November 18) that many of you were possessed by a certain Venus madness: An urgency to strike against your bad relationships with fierce precision. Or a lonely wringing-of-hands, unable to tolerate a lack of love. For some this retrograde brought profound forgiveness and healings. Others got motivated. “I need more money! More beauty! More free time! More passion!” During her retrogrades, Venus often names what’s missing from your life–the shiny thing that would make your days happy and more fun. This need is a precious souvenir from Her journey through the underworld. What should you do with it? You have options. You can throw it in a drawer, and by the time Her post-retrograde shadow ends (December 20), you will be back into the familiar stream of your life, having forgotten what all the fuss was about. Or you can write about it, make treasure maps and post them on your wall. You can give your desire to the receptive Mother in your Moon. She’ll pull your cranky Venus child onto her lap, soothe her, and suggest something wise to do next. When Venus and the Moon agree to pursue the same desires, your creativity, confidence, and power to attract what you want increases. That’s the secret of their monthly conjunction. The next one arrives on December 31.

Venus rules diplomacy and Scorpio rules secrets. In the shadow of Her retrograde, we’ve seen some of her feisty mischief, in the WikiLeaks release of sensitive diplomatic documents, much of it gossip about world leaders. Also in the shadow of Her retrograde, she sent us a frank and unashamed sexual message through her emissary, Eve Ensler, urging nothing less than a revolution in the treatment of the vagina. Sensitive to power and intimacy, Venus in Scorpio has her priorities!