In Modern Magick I introduced the idea that modern ceremonial magicians should become more in tune with the elements, seasons, and energies of the planets. (Here’s a pre-announcement: Denning & Phillips’ classic book, Planetary Magick‚ÄĒoriginally published over 20 years ago, it went out of print and used copies are now selling for up to $75‚ÄĒwill be reprinted early next year. It includes my introduction from the first edition.) Pagans have long known this, honoring in their rites both the equinoxes and solstices. On December 21, 2010, we‚Äôll experience the shortest day (and longest night) of the year, the winter solstice. Also known as Yule, it is a time when Pagans perform rituals to bring back the light. It may be that at one time the Hindu/Tantric Diwali or Festival of Lights was associated with this time. The same is true of the Jewish Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. For Pagans it is a time for the burning of a Yule log, and decorating trees with candles. Just a week earlier, a young girl is selected as ‚ÄúSt. Lucia‚ÄĚ in some European countries and wears a crown of candles.
Doing a ritual for the coming year on the solstice is a great idea. It‚Äôs also a great time for doing divinations, reading omens (perhaps the source of bobbing for apples), and protecting the home. And speaking of the home, this is also a time for smaller celebrations with friends and family. It‚Äôs a time of feasting, sharing personal stories (and tales!) and giving small gifts. The new year is coming! The sun will return!
But There‚Äôs More
This year there‚Äôs more to the 21st than the solstice. There will also be a full moon known as the Oak Moon.
Full moons are ideal for doing magick with the purpose of bringing things to you. It‚Äôs perfect for doing magick to bring health and abundance. This is also a good time to release things that are no longer needed, including anger and disappointment. Forgive yourself and others.
But There‚Äôs Even More
The conflux of full moon and solstice makes this a powerful conjunction of solar and lunar influences. This year, on the winter solstice, there will also be a total lunar eclipse. Is a winter solstice with a full moon and a lunar eclipse rare? The last time this occurred was¬† in 1638, over 380 years ago! The next time this even will occur will be 84 years in the future! This is a special day and requires a bit more analysis.
A lunar eclipse can be viewed as a miniature version of a complete month. As the shadow of the earth passes over the moon you can see the size of the moon begin at full, wane, go dark, wax, and return to being full again. That makes this a great time to get a broad view of life: perform divinations this night. As the eclipse makes the appearance of the moon wane, perform rituals to eliminate anything undesired. As it returns and waxes, do rituals for gaining health, abundance and the increase of anything. In this case, increasing psychic and magickal skills would be ideal. Witches and Wiccans might invoke the triple Goddess as we can see her faces, Maiden, Mother, and Crone the the increase, fullness and decrease of the moon in the sky above us.
Ask the Astrologer
Since the solstice and eclipse are astronomical events, and since this blog is about magick, I asked my friend Lola Babalon (who wrote a section in Modern Sex Magick) about this situation. Lola is an Astrologer, Shaman, and Herbalist. She heads the Department for Divination and Tantric Studies at Arcanorium College online,¬†offers consultations, ‚ÄúInstant Palmistry!‚ÄĚ classes and ceremonies.¬†As a long time columnist of the Topanga Messenger newspaper, she is passionate about helping people know themselves and understand what life is all about.¬†She writes:
On Dec 21, 2010 a Lunar Eclipse at 12:13 am P.S.T. coincides with the Winter solstice.¬†It’s a rare occurrence when solar and lunar cycles meet, here the Sun and Moon are at 29¬į of Sagittarius & Gemini.¬†Around midnight the shadow of the earth crosses the face of the Moon. Eclipses are highly charged, emotional events, take care to prevent burn out and sensory overload.¬† Look out for radical weather events and tectonic activity.
In the last degree of a sign [each astrological sign has 30 degrees] things have run out of steam and need completion. We’re tired of the old and ready for something else.¬†The eclipse squares [has a 90 degree relationship to] Uranus and Jupiter in [the sign of] Pisces and activates the psychic, intuitive realm. Think outside the box and watch the ever shrinking, blurry gap between reality and fiction.¬†Every exit is an entry way to something else.
The Winter Solstice occurs at 3:39 p.m., when the Sun enters [the sign of] Capricorn. The chart has the Moon at 8¬į Cancer in opposition to Mars, a polarizing push and pull dynamic.¬†Self versus family, comfort versus discipline, collective needs versus company needs, local versus global perspectives, it’s all on the table.¬†Mercury rules the chart and is the only planet in retrograde motion [appears to be moving backwards in the sky]. It is conjunct the galactic center, and provides a hotwire for inspiration, and Aha! experiences on a grand scale.
Overall this portends another year of major “shift happens.” It also provides a magical gateway, a time for celebrating, ceremony and ritual.
This is not a time to hesitate, or hang on to the status quo. Instead, adapt to the ever changing set of circumstances.¬†Trust your instincts, remember your values, skills, tools and resources. Love freely and unconditionally, don’t hold back. Eat as clean and green as possible.¬†Plant gardens, sow seeds, enjoy the unity of community, and the passion of compassion.¬†We are all in it together, and may as well enjoy the ride.
Mercury retrograde traditionally implies communication challenges. However Lola says that Mercury being retrograde and being conjunct with the galactic center does not necessarily indicate an impediment to communication. She says it is ‚Äúmore likely sensory overload and getting carried away.‚ÄĚ People who have their Mercury in Sagittarius are famous for their foot-in-mouth style of saying blatantly out loud what’s on everybody’s mind.¬†‚ÄúThat can either be funny, refreshing, or quite problematic. Venus and Mars are in a friendly sextile aspect with each other, so expect steamy passion, rather than discord.‚ÄĚ This implies to me that the solstice would be an ideal time for sex magick. But what kind?
Being the middle of winter, it is unlikely that the planting of gardens and sowing of seeds in Lola‚Äôs last paragraph is meant to be taken literally. Indeed, she added that there‚Äôs ‚ÄúNot much gardening going at the Winter Solstice, unless it’s cleaning up, or sowing of Intent.¬† =) It’s¬† a ‚Äėhow to best approach the year at large.‚Äô‚ÄĚ So this is an ideal time for magick that will set goals for the coming solar cycle (year).
From Death to Life
Since this is the longest night of the year, it is as if the sun has metaphorically died. Over the next few months the days will grow longer, like a child growing by leaps and bounds. Thus, this also marks an ideal time to begin any study. One of the things I like to say is that ‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt die when we stop breathing, we die when we stop learning.‚ÄĚ
So if you don‚Äôt want to do ritual, I‚Äôd suggest spending this special day learning. To that end, you might want to spend some time at the online Conference on Hermeticism and Freemasonry. It’s one of the most inexpensive conferences I’ve ever heard of. At that conference the new book, Secrets and Practices of the Freemasons by Jean-Louis de Biasi (a 32nd Degree Freemason and a member of the Masons for over 20 years).
Since the publication of books by Dan Brown such as The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, there has been a huge growth in books claiming to reveal the “real” secrets of the Masons. This book is by a member of the Order and includes actual Masonic rituals and meditations.