Ever wondered why we celebrate the holidays of light (Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas) during the darkest time of the year? Well, the answer, as always, is in the question. The elders, storytellers and shamans could tell that many of us experience winter blues as winter creeps in and the amount of light in the day shrinks. Who knows, maybe we call therapists "shrinks" because we tend to seek their counsel when the light shrinks. The wise men and women of the old religions found a way of combating darkness (internal and external) by invoking the presence of light. That is why most of the deities associated with the Sun and light were born on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Among these gods and goddesses: Apollo, Artemis, Marduk, Horus, Attis, Christ, Osiris and Mithra, to name a few.
One of the oldest Holidays of Light is Hanukkah, this year celebrated between Dec. 1 and 9. In Hanukkah, also called "Chag Ha'or" (Holiday of Light), Jews are asked to light more and more candles every day to help bring forth light in a time when nature is having such a hard time doing it. The Celts, on the other hand, battled darkness by lighting bonfires on Dec. 21. Christians ornament their streets, malls, front yards and houses with light decoration to celebrate the birth of Christ on Dec. 25. This is the time of the year when your inner spark of god/goddess is reborn. It is out of darkness that our light comes forth, just as the seed is planted in the deep dark earth. If you are feeling the winter blues, don't be alarmed; you are in good company. "For a tree to become tall, it must grow tough roots among the rocks," says old Friedrich Nietzsche. This wisdom will ring even truer on the winter solstice, Dec. 21, when Capricorn, the sign of mountain goats and hard rocks, begins.
If it's roots (root chakra ruled in astrology by Saturn) that need to grow in rocks (Capricorn rules mountains), then this means that we are now entering a period of germination. The seed is in the womb and the fetus is growing. We are all pregnant right now, about to give birth to a new phase in our life.
This holiday season, however, the Christmas Grinch will be a little more active, so take heed. From Dec. 9 to 29, Mercury is retrograde in Capricorn and Sagittarius, which are in the Tarot represented by the cards The Devil and Temperance. Unfortunately, shopping therapy is a common way to battle winter blues. And since Mercury retrograde can cause glitches the size of last May's Flash-Crash, exercise temperance with your purchases even though you can expect the Devil to tempt you with sales, specials, coupons, groupons and other such creatures. Adding to this drama, we have a total Lunar eclipse on Dec. 21, right on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. This eclipse will affect women more than men and will have a strong emotional component. Older women, in-laws and women of authority might act in a lunatic manner.
However, Mercury retrograde, eclipses and such tend to bring the dirty laundry out. And if it is entertainment you are seeking around the holiday season, than this is your year. In the next few weeks your life might resemble an episode from a "Postmodern Family."
Happy holidays and happy New Year.