December 17th, 2014

A Mystical View of the Christmas Tree

An Astroinquiry Favorite
from December 2009

I’ve always put up a Christmas tree. Despite the halfhearted participation (and groaning) of my boyfriends, I’ve faithfully, right after Thanksgiving, headed out and bought (or here on Vashon, cut down) a tree to lug home. It’s a ritual I rarely miss.

After visiting India some years ago I returned home in the winter and the notion of putting a bauble-laden tree on display felt absurd. This is a rite of passage for anyone who ventures to India: Your brain cells are rearranged and you never view your world, or its customs, the same. I know that was true for me as a Westerner. Christmas in America, after the dust and squalor of India, felt gluttonous. So I skipped the holidays that year — though I missed having a tree in the house.

Read the entire essay here.

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Filed Under: Christmas and Gurdjieff
December 20th, 2013

A Solstice Mix: Sacred Music, Chants & Hymns

The exact moment of this year’s Winter Solstice occurs early morning tomorrow, here in Washington, though many of us will celebrate tonight.

I created this mix several years ago — a collection of hymns, chants, Medieval carols and songs — a music compendium to mirror and celebrate this sacred moment in the Earth’s time cycle.

The Solstice, the night of the longest night, also marks the return of a slowly growing luminosity, as Winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere and radiance gains in prominence.

Light has always symbolized awareness and consciousness, as well as life-giving, creative properties. And in a very real sense we are each bodies of light, with the Sun Absolute as both our source and sustainment. And that link is not simply symbolic, it is literal.

For many astrologers the Winter Solstice is a demarcation that defines the start of the New Year. How we experience this evening (and tomorrow morning) provides an essential hint as to the theme or signature of the year ahead. Both universally and personally.

I will take a more sporadic approach to posting on Astro Inquiry in the coming week, as travel and gatherings with friends will shorten my time on the computer.

Solstice Blessings to each of you!

If you would like to hear more details pertaining to the Solstice, from an astrological perspective, I highly recommend my friend and colleague, Jessica Murray‘s recent radio interview (from December 19) where she shares a slew of insights into this magical moment — and the upcoming year, 2014.

The art work featured on this mix is by the talented Krista Hout. Ms. Hout spent her formative years in the forests of British Columbia, where she trained in fine arts and classical animation. Her paintings explore the relevance of archetypes in folklore, using inspiration from storybook illustration, folk art, animation and vintage kitsch. Krista’s work has been shown at galleries throughout the United States. You can explore more and order prints directly from her website

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Filed Under: Christmas and Cosmix and Music
December 09th, 2013

A Christmas Mix That Will Not Make You Want to Kill Yourself Vol. 1

December 15th was always a big day for me when I was a kid, it was the date a small radio station in West Covina, California, not far from where we lived, converted their playlist to non-stop Christmas music. Holiday tunes that played 24/7 until the stroke of midnight on December 25.

Today, that sounds like one of Dante’s Circles of Hell, but back then (and when you are 13-years-old) it was novel and something unique to anticipate. Christmas music hadn’t been commodified into a haunting, unrelenting prompt to shop.

Both of my parents in that household (my dad and my stepmom) were heavy drinkers, especially around the holidays because my dad despised the season (it meant spending money; my dad being a parsimonious Aries, with Moon in Cancer [why are Cancers so often cheap?]) and my stepmom, a sort of ‘fallen’ Catholic, liked to throw ’em back to forget about having abandoned Jesus.

As the oldest sibling (and most sober person) in the household I had to manage everything “Christmas”: Pestering my dad to purchase a tree, goading my brothers to help decorate it, forbidding our two Dobermans from entering the living room to gnaw on the garland. Have you ever seen tinsel entwined in a dog turd? I have.

Anyway, that station that played Christmas music non-stop kept me on point. Aside from the usual excitement kids have about that “magic day”, I was also a music aficionado — so a cycle of songs that returned annually, always sounding pristine, fascinated me. It also honed my ear for really good Christmas songs versus the obnoxious shrill stuff — which eventually mutated into an epidemic right around the time of Mariah Carey‘s first holiday album. Nothing against that LP, but it seemed to open the floodgates on all of the glissando-manic, glory note-chasing kitsch that’s ubiquitous today.

I’m putting together three mixes for you this Christmas. This is the first one. Volume 2 will follow next week sometime, and then towards solstice I’ve a collection of sacred music that should make for a perfect audio detox after you’ve dragged your ass home from the last mall to chill and attempt to connect to that eerie voice of the silence that coincides with the longest night.

In the interim, enjoy some profane stuff today. Here’s volume one:


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Filed Under: Christmas and Cosmix