The Birth of the Sun - Celebrating the Winter Solstice
The following article was shared with me by the wonderful Jocelyn Mercado. It is so beautifully written that I'm sharing it forward here to celebrate today's Solstice.
THE BIRTH OF THE SUN
Notes on the Winter Solstice and the Christmas Spirit
“Christmas is a door opening and reminding us forever of the soul within us. It is reminding us of the beauty, and truth, and wonder, and love that are locked within each one of us, and which can be brought out by proper care and nurturing.”
– Manly P Hall
Thursday, December 21st is the winter solstice, one of the most important holy-days of the year! The day when the Sun’s light begins its ascent marks the first of winter in the northern hemisphere and is also the first day of Capricorn season.
Astrology derives its conception of the seasons from the perspective of the northern hemisphere. Thus, the celebration of Christmas correlates with the archetypal symbolism of the winter solstice, which is the day that the Sun moves into the sign of Capricorn.
To celebrate the light’s return is a natural response to the rhythms of life on Earth. After the autumnal equinox, as the days grow darker and colder, life begins to recede, to shrivel and to hibernate. Branches grow bare and the Earth becomes hard and unyielding. The chilled hand of death rests upon the world.
With such a lack of vivifying warmth, it should be no wonder that great joy bursts forth when the light begins to return. Thus, the holiday spirit can be thought of as psycho-spiritual and a biological response to the promise of new life.
The Christian holiday of Christmas tells the story of the return of the Sun’s light through the birth of Christ. As the great esoteric scholar, Manley P. Hall put it, Christ’s birth represents the
“day when divine love was made flesh”.
The Son of God depicted in the Bible is the indeed the divine Sun and no matter what your cultural background or religious preferences may be, Christmas is a holy day worth celebrating!
As all Christians and pagans know, the story of the birth of Christ was blended with previously existing winter solstice festivals to create the state religion of Rome! Thus, the date of December 25th is well known to have originally belonged to a very ancient deity called Mithra, the Lord of Light.
Mythologically speaking, the birth of Christ and the birth of Mithra both took place in a cave, amongst the goats. (Capricorn)
According to Joseph Campbell:
“[The cave] is associated particularly with the winter solstice, when the sun has traveled to its farthest point away from the tilted earth and the light is in the nadir of the abyss. That is the date of the birth of the god Mithra, who is lord of light. He was born—we recall that his mother is the Earth…”
- Thou Art That
This cave at the nadir of the abyss is also referred to in esoteric studies as the Cave of the Nymphs, the place of the soul’s generation into physical being.
In ancient writings, human souls were described as being a bit like clouds, which condensed, rained down upon the Earth and then eventually evaporated back up into heaven.
In esoteric philosophy, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn represent the two entrances to the Cave of the Nymphs.
Note that the Tropic of Capricorn and its opposite the Tropic of Cancer represent the exact latitudes where the Sun (sol) reaches its solstices.
This Cave of the Nymphs illustrates a kind of metaphysical distillation process: the soul (sol) descends from Heaven into Earthly life and then from Earthly life back up to Heaven.
Through the gate of the water sign of Cancer, the non-corporeal Nymphic souls go through the process of descending into physical matter, growing heavy with desire and drunk on oblivion.
As Greek philosopher, Heraclitus wrote,
“moisture appears delightful and not deadly to souls; but the lapse into generation is delightful to them.” All souls, “are profoundly steeped in moisture as the spirit becomes moist and more aqueous through the desire of generation.”
The winter solstice arrives after the cold hand of death has descended upon the Earth, drying out the moisture that had attracted the soul to the Earth.
"a dry soul is the wisest."
Capricorn is just that: a dry soul, ready to leave behind sentiment and clinging desires for a wider vision and a greater purpose.
Thus, at the winter solstice, the soul begins moving away from Earthly desire, concerned now with its ascent back into the realm of the divine. This is illustrated by the mountain which Capricorn is always envisioned climbing upon.
So Christmas is a celebration of the Sun’s journey through the Tropic of Capricorn, which calls the soul (sol) to climb back into the light of divinity, beyond the realm of cloying desires and drunken oblivion.
Thus there is no better time of the year to contemplate your eternal soul.
Just as Christ’s birth once heralded the promise of salvation, the Sun’s journey through the Tropic of Capricorn illumines the story of the Soul’s ascent.
“Many streams have flowed together; many quaint practices and curious rites
have met and mingled.”
-Manley P. Hall
This week of the winter solstice, whether you exalt the Sun ... Mithra ... or Jesus Christ, feel the joy that comes with your Soul’s ascent into the light of the divine!
However your life opens up to you during the solstice, know that it represents the return of your soul’s light.
“Christmas is a mystical experience made flesh. It is something that reminds us of experiencing which cannot be entirely put into words.”
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