by Nan DeGrove


Our days are short now, with dark coming earlier every evening, until the Winter Solstice, December 21st, when the Sun appears to stop and rest at the Tropic of Capricorn. Gradually, imperceptibly at first, the days grow longer, and once again the blessing of light rekindles a spark in our hearts. We take in the light through our pineal gland, the third eye, a master gland that regulates many functions, including our circadian rhythms. It was once considered to be the seat of the soul, sensitive to metaphysical influences. We become more attuned to the subtle, invisible realms, and more aware of emotional currents as we slow down and turn inward. The need for rest and reflection is greater than usual as this year ends. The times are extraordinary; the world seems to be changing suddenly and drastically. The sacred time of the Winter Solstice urges us to gather in spirit with people all over the world who struggle against oppression and inhumanity. Advent, Hanukkah and Christmas inspire a universal spirituality that transcends creed or race. Christmas and Hanukkah coincide this year, indicating that the time is ripe for these two great faiths to reclaim their origins of social justice, tolerance and goodwill.

The Messenger: Mercury

The full moon of December 14th fell in Gemini, Mercury’s sign, with the Sun, until December 21st, in Sagittarius, ruler by Jupiter. These are the signs of learning and teaching, speaking and listening, knowing. How do we know what we know? We have some strange ideas floating around of late: “post-truth,” “fake news.” Mercury, Hermes in Greek myth, is the messenger of the gods, guide in the underworld as well as trickster. We can expect to see more of the trickster this month, as Mercury is conjunct Pluto, just before turning retrograde in Capricorn on December 19th. The Winter Solstice follows on the 21st. Mercury’s tricks could have unpredictable, devastating effects this month. The unfolding evidence of Russian meddling in U.S. elections is a Mercury-Pluto story, and an example of the unusual drama of this Mercury retrograde cycle, coming so near the Solstice.

Be careful with words, and respect their magic—unwise speech can undo alliances and wound unintentionally. Write about your thoughts, preferably with a pen and paper, and see how ideas reveal hidden meaning through writing. Read and recite prayers, poems and sacred texts. Mercury turns direct on January ninth. Always critical to the management of daily affairs and communication, Mercury is a major influence this month and into the new year.

The Star of Bethlehem
There have been many speculations among astronomers and astrologers about the star that led the wise men to the stable. One theory is that it was a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus near the royal star, Regulus, that occurred near that time, and would have been spectacularly bright. The wise men, the Magi, being astrologers, would have seen this as a sign of a great event. This year, Venus and Jupiter form a harmonious trine on Christmas eve, a portent perhaps of a birth of hope in a dark time. Venus will be visible in the west after sunset as the evening star, gaining in brightness each night before turning retrograde in early March.

Love, Peace and Goodwill,