The Saturnian Strangeness of the Winter Solstice

Saturn rules Capricorn, the zodiac sign which became associated with the dates of Christmas. Bright lights, good cheer, a nosh- up, a knees-up; the Romans celebrated Saturn as the god of agriculture, and also because, according to their theology, Saturn was the god who ruled the world during the long lost Golden Age, and they wanted it back, please.

The Saturnalia was celebrated 17 December, with festivities usually culminating round 23 December.

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Outside of this context, Saturn is not usually so jovial in aspect. It is the planet of great virtues, but stern and serious. Life is a serious business, and requires effort, is the message of Saturn.

Caesar must be rendered to. The bottom line safeguarded. Nothing came from nowhere, nothing is for nothing. Even the birds don’t sing for fun. The birds especially do not sing for fun. They sing to win and stake a territory, and keep it. They sing to win a mate, they sing to ward off threats to their nests, but is their song less beautiful for that?

Saturn is all about the bottom line. Food is the bottom line, and the solstice meant the return of the sun for the new year’s crops. It wouldn’t do to take Saturn for granted.

The face of Janus, past and future, could be seen as another face of Saturn himself. Janus, the primordial god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, is the god of endings. An ancient legend said the souls of the dead returned to their origin, rising through the gates of the constellation of Capricornus, where the souls of newborn descended to arrive on Earth through the gates of Cancer, zodiac sign of the summer solstice in a never-ending wheel of souls.

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For all of us there comes a point where every year, a familiar face or name will leave the orbit of our lives, and we revisit the memories. Maybe it is a person, or maybe it is a place. Perhaps it is something we used to do, or used to wish for. The ghosts have their own pictures, particular songs, sounds and smells.

They are many, bittersweet, the ever-more crowding ghosts of Christmas past.


The ghosts of the Displaced

Those who could have been

Those who never knew

What else where else

To whom they could belong

Not here or now where else

They could have been

What else around us all

The ghosts of Might Have Been

Behind the lives behind the claims

Their space not yet but come their time

Make way

Margaret Whyte, December 2019

Christmas 1972

Author: Katie-Ellen

Tarot, runes and cartomancy. Reader, consultant and writer.

2 thoughts on “The Saturnian Strangeness of the Winter Solstice”

  1. Have you had any thoughts comparing the Winter Solstice with NYE celebrations. (New Year used to be in the Spring didn’t it?) I seemed more sensitive to the New Year this year, following it from Auckland on timeanddate, took a day or two for me to adjust, if that’s what I felt.


  2. Happy New Year to you 🙂 Well, of course calendars are artificial models, somewhat cobbled for workable purposes, just as astrology is out of step with astronomy owing to the Earth’s precession, so that constellations don’t match sun signs in terms of the date range. Though they may have done 2000+ years ago Ptolemy created his arithmetic model of the zodiac, and the sun signs are based on that model, simply by treating the zodiac…the observable path of the sun…as a wheel, 360 degrees divided by 12, not strictly based, even at that time, on the actual positions of the constellations.

    I tend to feel the New Year logically ought to start the day after the solstice, whether that occurs on the calendar dates of 21 or 22 December. But it’s all a hotch-potch, isn’t it, not least the way Christianity assimilated older religions in its calendar.

    The bottom line is what is going on outside our window, the light, the birds, animals, vegetation…and our own circadian rhythms reflecting hours of daylight. In this case, Capricorn, which in astrology is ruled by Saturn, was ‘born’ as a sun sign story by matching a sign in the sky with the ibex on the ground, battling for dominance on the mountainsides in the northern hemisphere during December.

    Coming back to your own observation, I often feel quite bad, physically out of sorts in May (and I’m a Taurus sun sign) I have a rheumatoid illness, longstanding and quite severe, and joint pain is often bad that time of year, just when everything looks so glorious. I have often wondered why I can feel so rotten then. But apparently humidity spikes in May, would be interesting to see what that might look like on a weather map, . All the sap rising, all that budding, requires high humidity, and that’s perhaps also the reason for the worsening joint pain. Humidity and changes in air pressure. More of a factor than temperature, within reasonable limits of variance.

    Such a tragedy, truly apocalyptic, what is happening right now in Australia, and I don’t see the end of this horror nearly as soon as it is so desperately needed.

    The flight at this time of year in particular, maybe at the summer solstice too, represents a fundamental environmental adjustment in a shockingly short time frame, in terms of conditions of nature, a shockingly abrupt transplantation outwith of what nature allows, though the flight probably feels anything but short or abrupt 🙂


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