The Winter Solstice: Yoga, Tarot, Astrology

Thanksgiving has passed, and winter is in full swing in Eugene, Oregon. The rains have returned to the Pacific Northwest, and we’re experiencing less and less daylight with each passing day. You've probably noticed shorter and shorter evenings (and for those of you who work traditional hours--darker and darker commutes).

Of course, this means the winter solstice is upon us.

Many of us know what the winter solstice is technically (shortest day of the year for the northern hemisphere), but what is its connection to yoga, tarot, and astrology?

Yoga:

Many of you know about the yoga tradition of doing sun salutations (surya namaskar) on the solstice. On the most basic level, this is done to recognize and greet the sun (surya namaskar literally translates to greeting the sun) as it shifts to lengthen rather than shorten daylight.

Many yogis choose to perform 108 sun salutes because the number 108 is considered auspicious in India and in many forms of yogic practice. In particular, this number is linked with a wholeness of being, a sort of completion of a cycle, making it an appropriate way to mark the solstice as the sun completes its shortening cycle.

Tarot:

 An example of a Hermit tarot card, looking to his lantern. In this example, the lantern also contains time itself (another metric of the sun associated with the card).   Note that the Hermit looks remarkably like Father Christmas, a modern-day herald of the solstice.

An example of a Hermit tarot card, looking to his lantern. In this example, the lantern also contains time itself (another metric of the sun associated with the card). 

Note that the Hermit looks remarkably like Father Christmas, a modern-day herald of the solstice.

Through the Indo-European trade route, cultures have shared auspicious symbols for years, and 108 is also sacred among tarot readers and numerologists from many cultures as it represents the Hermit in the major arcana (face cards of tarot). The Hermit is associated with a wholeness of being as well, linking its symbolism back to yogic numerology.

The Hermit has further associations with the solstice, as the card is a representation of the divine aspect of ourselves. This divine aspect has the power to look within him/herself in the darkness to pull out an inner guiding light, mimicking the natural process of the sun creating longer days out of the shortest, darkest day.

Astrology:

My regular clients know that the cards of the tarot have certain zodiac connections as well, and the hermit is associated with virgo, or the virgin. This of course ties to certain yule myths including that of the Christian Christmas story where in the Virgin Mary gives birth to Christ beneath a bright star (also a symbol present in the Hermit card).

The sun’s location remains important, and leading up to the winter solstice it stays in Sagittarius. 

Sagittarius is the sign associated with deep spiritual contemplation, looking to the stars in the sky (again, a myth adopted in the Christmas tale) and choosing action that feels both spiritually right and personally meaningful. 

At the end of the sun in Sagittarius is the moment of the winter solstice, wherein the sun moves into Capricorn.

While Sagitarrius energy looks into the dark night to pull out certain truths, Capricorn energy begins the practical task of climbing out of the darkness, bringing the sun back, and getting to work.

In particular, this year may feel Capricorn energy even more strongly, as Saturn moves into Capricorn at the beginning of December, creating a strong pull toward practicality, boundaries, and building both metaphorical and physical shelters. 

While getting to work might not seem like the most exciting thing, it brings us such practical traditions as setting new years resolutions and starting new fiscal years (in some professions). Children go back to school, and we all return to work, leaving behind (for the moment) the task of looking into the darkness. Yet, we still carry into the light of the new year/sun cycle all that we learned. 

Of course, the winter solstice propels us into the year ahead.

We have time to set our intentions and see what we create and grow during the year. The solstice can be a wonderful time to schedule a tarot or astrology reading to see what tools are at your disposal in the year ahead. Please note that I will be holding limited in-person readings in the coming month but will be available by Skype.

In the new year I'll also look forward to sharing with Eugene locals my newest workshop: The AstroPractice. It will take place at Mudra Yoga on January 28, 2018. Mark your calendars! More info here, or on my site later.

Happy holidays, all!