December 20th, 2010

A Rare Winter Solstice Eclipse Welcomes the Mysteries of 2011: A Dialogue with Heather Roan Robbins

“The cycle of life does not allow static fulfillment. Everything turns into its opposite. The wheel moves everlastingly and the Day-force interplays with the Night-force in an ever-renewed drama which is life itself.”
— Dane Rudhyar

 The sense of levity and joy that so many of us respond to, perhaps unwittingly, during the Christmas season, has a cosmic correlation with the return of the light, which the Winter Solstice celebrates in the Northern Hemisphere. Dane Rudhyar describes the Winter Solstice as a turning point, where the personalizing Day-Force overtakes the in-gathering effects of the Night-Force. He associates the increase of the Day-Force with the embodiment of the spiritual impetus: spirit that is actualized, grounded and set to work. Thus the traditional association of the Day-Force with the Christos, born as Jesus, at the Solstice. A birth that re-occurs, with the return of the light each year.

Rudhyar explains that each Solstice sets in motion a process that transforms “the scattered and disintegrated remains of the previous cycle into a new organic whole.” And after living through another year of Pluto’s dismantling process in Capricorn, Rudhyar’s words sound doubly refreshing to me. I’m ready to connect with the stirrings of a new organic whole. Aren’t you?


To study and appreciate this year’s Solstice, I asked one of my favorite astrologers, Heather Roan Robbins (right) to participate in a dialogue about this very unusual and rare Solstice event. I’ve read Heather’s weekly Starcodes reports for years now, and have appreciated her commentaries; Heather communicates to her readers from a place of wise understanding and offers down-to-earth, creative ways for us to align with the daily celestial motions. Heather and I connected via email to compare notes and impressions about this year’s dynamic Solstice chart.

Please, pour yourself some tea and join us:

Frederick:What caught my attention about this year’s Solstice — which is the chart that marks the commencement of the upcoming new year — is the Full Moon eclipse that occurs in tandem with the Sun’s entry into Capricorn, which initiates the Solstice. So we have the solar awakening on one hand, and a fruition of the lunar light on the other. A cosmic opening and closing if you will.

winter_2010Heather: I agree Frederick, we are ending one chapter and beginning another. Eclipses act as astrological acupuncture — energizing and intensifying the patterns already in motion. They also precipitate a sudden shift where one is already in motion, the eclipse shakes the ripe fruit out of the tree. It is important to note that this eclipse happens at the last degree of Gemini — the last degree of the mutable signs, the point so often set off by the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto T-square over the last few years, and finishes that T-square into a Grand Square. As this happens hours before the Winter Solstice point, if feels like it punctuates the story of the last few years and clears the ground for our next phase. So I would ask us to think about where that eclipse-enzyme hits our personal chart, or what we feel is time to dissolve so we can begin our next phase of evolution.

Frederick: Yes, given that the last lunar eclipse married to a Solstice occurred way back in 1638, I’d say we’re in for a new chapter in an entirely new book. I love your acupuncture metaphor. As we shift from the Cancer Capricorn eclipse series, which has corresponded to so much agitation to our survival instinct, to the Gemini Sagittarius series (which this eclipse sort of commences), it should feel like a new healer or shaman has entered the room; with a new set of needles, instruments and instructions.

The eclipse series shift — from earth and water, to air and fire — mirrors the start of a metabolizing process. We can actually begin to digest and understand the level of apprehension and fear many of us have felt throughout the year. We’re ready to move into psychic adulthood and sobriety — an awakened state, if you will. A state of consciousness that can creatively guide us during trying times (when it’s often easier to fuzz-out or cry like a baby). The Cancer Capricorn eclipse series was a very slow, diligent process of bringing forth our maturity, exercising our understanding and wisdom — and we’ve one last component of this series upcoming, a Solar Eclipse on January 3.

Heather: Yes, a new healer, or a whole new set of issues to heal. I think this metaphor is echoed by Neptune (which mythologizes whatever it touches) conjuncting Chiron (training from wounds we overcome, to work we have to do next) all this month. Metabolizing, as you say, our immaturity and our illusions until they become food for our progress.

Frederick: I remind my clients that it’s now time to take their seat, to not wait for the perfect set of conditions to exercise their particular gifts. 2011 is going to entail preparatory work, from all of us. There’s a crescendo beginning to build towards the big 2012 Grand Cross. 2011 will involve finding one’s place and particular gift of service for when that big alignment clicks into place. How will we exercise our will and our personal power at that time?

Heather: We always have the choice — it feels like these aspects say we can become a birth-defect, and refuse to let go of our old delusions, or move into the next phase of our adulthood. I think the human race is being asked the same thing — are we willing to move out of the personal family dynamic and into our global citizenship, suggested by the Gemini-Sag eclipses, and the Neptun –Chiron conjunction in Aquarius.


Frederick: What do you make of the Solstice point occurring so close to the Mars Pluto conjunction in Capricorn? I was meditating on that imagery last night and envisioned the Buddhist Mahakala deity (right), a deity associated with wrath in service of the truth, a fierceness that both protects and encourages the expression of truth.

Heather: The Mars-Pluto conjunction also includes the North Node. The practical form is just certain willfullness, a calling to get constructively busy, and the lame duck session on the American congress seems to illustrate. Mars-Pluto can feel so manipulative, or managerial, and also so surgical. But the North Node embedded in this aspect calls us to use these for the good of all sentient beings. Capricornian competence is an excellent skill, a real gift, if we do not use it to take away another’s self-determination. Surgery can be life-saving, if we really cut off and compost what is not needed to create a healthier environment for what is.

So this aspect asks us to get real and get busy for our growth, and to encourage but not manipulate the growth of those around us. It asks us to watch how we use our competence, our power, and with how others exercise it. Take a stand against its misuses at all levels. Which underlines your fiercely protective Buddhist Mahakala deity imagery.

Frederick: The entire Solstice chart has a very sobering Saturnian motif about it. The Capricorn placements you’ve mentioned, with the ruler, Saturn, exalted in Libra, echoes the sobriety/objectivity theme. There Saturn sits right on the fulcrum between the scales, squaring the Eclipse and Solstice points. Saturn seems to be saying: “Adjust and balance, find the middle way in 2011 — the wisdom of equanimity.”

Heather: We may see this line-up play out intensely on the historical stage, and get a clear image of both how to use, and how not to use power. What happens next will really depend on how we all respond, this is not a time to take moral short-cuts — the end does not justify the means, the means are the end. Capricorn wants us to do the clean and upright thing, or the kick back will be fierce, and we’ll have to go back and learn the lesson again.

Frederick: Let’s look at the days prior to the Solstice. Today’s eclipse and then the actual Capricorn ingress tomorrow. What do you make of it for the general atmosphere we’re all moving through?

Heather: On a more personal level — the day before the solstice, with the Moon in scattered Gemini can leave us frazzled. Feel the urge to notice what causes us to feel overextended and to cut it off — but don’t get carried away and cut off more than necessary. On Solstice day as the Sun enters Capricorn and Moon enters Cancer we’ll want to drop the busyness and return to ourselves, our roots, our most intimate relationships.

This Solstice season will have many of us reviewing what we really came here to do — that line up in Capricorn wants us to look at our life’s purpose and check out how close we are to our path. But we have to cut ourselves some slack, and trust that we are where we are for a reason, or this aspect can make us hard on ourselves. If we can do it for ourselves, we’ll be more likely to offer this acceptance to others; with kindness we are more likely to be honest and actually move forward.

Frederick: Well said Heather. And that reminded me of a statement the Dalai Lama made recently, while discussing his teachings on compassion. Simply put, he explained, compassion is nothing more than human kindness that we express towards ourselves and towards all sentient beings. He made it sound so simple. Whereas spiritual compassion can sometimes be viewed as something that’s too lofty of an aim to partake in, reserved for only the most developed souls. Whereas kindness we learned as children and it is golden and it is accessible and it is now. Kindness is the heart of compassion.

What moved my heart while studying this year’s Solstice map is that beautiful, radiant Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Pisces. Right when I brought up the chart I could actually see a point of light within the holographic mandala that is the Solstice wheel. I felt like one of the Magi discovering the brilliancy that led to where Christ was waiting. That golden white light is an emblem for this very quality of kindness and compassion I mentioned earlier. The Piscean balm for the world.

I explain the Jupiter Uranus transit to my clients like this: Clean out the dross, the closets, the crap under the bed; do away with the piles of clutter and worn out objects (both literally and figuratively) that you cling to because our security has felt so threatened as of late. Also, align with your dream realm and let its wisdom guide you, literally, through your nocturnal soul work. The way towards greater freedom — which is the gift of this Jupiter Uranus Piscean amalgam. In these new, odd times, the message is divestment, learning to be happy with less. Less things. Less psychic baggage. In the process of clearing we discover free time, and free space. More presence to notice how we are situated in our lives, to notice our friends, lovers and families. We’re able to value and honor the global family that comprises this wondrous, mysterious world we share.

That’s the heart of the Solstice message for the New Year: “Hark the Herald! There are angels amongst us.” And they are you. And they are me.

Merry Christmas!

Opening painting: The Q Symphony, 2002 by Leonora Carrington

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Filed Under: Astrology and Full Moon Watch