December’s Capricorn New Moon comes just two days after the Solstice, that time twice each year when the Sun stands still, marking the beginning of an increase or decrease of light on Earth.
Every New Moon is a new beginning. This one, on December 23 at 2:16 a.m. Pacific time, is particularly striking, coming between Solstice and Christmas.
Mercury and Venus, the two planets that travel closest to the Sun, are in Capricorn as well. Pluto, too, is at 27 degrees of Capricorn, approaching the final pass of the United States’ Pluto return on December 28.
Capricorn is one of the four cardinal signs (along with Aries, Cancer, and Libra.) These are the initiatory, turning-point signs at the beginning of each season. Capricorn’s element is earth. Its totem animals are the goat and the mythical sea goat. Capricorn is forward-moving, with an agenda, and it’s prepared for the necessary effort to build and achieve a great work. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn. Its opposite sign, Cancer, is ruled by the Moon. Together, Capricorn and Cancer form a parent-child axis. It’s about taking care of someone innocent and needing care. For one of the world’s great religions, this is the time of year to celebrate the divine birth of a baby born in a manger.
Adding to the message of a new beginning is the December 20 ingress of expansive and benefic Jupiter into Aries, the cardinal fire sign. Jupiter has most recently been making its once-every-12-years sojourn through its watery home sign of Pisces. Jupiter in Aries now until May 16, is a call to action, like the old sports shoe slogan: Just do it. Aries is headstrong, and so the message is also to choose one’s battles wisely. Still, Jupiter in Aries for the next five months may have us feeling like charging full steam ahead.
That’s tricky right now because with Jupiter at 0 degrees of Aries and the New Moon at 1 degree of Capricorn, this is a square, an approximately 90-degree angle of dynamic friction. Aries wants quick results. Capricorn is in it for the duration. It’s fine to light the fire of Jupiter in Aries, and it’s also fine to heed a more Capricornian long view of what is responsibly possible.
There’s another sky player in the mix at this New Moon. It is Ceres, discovered in 1801 and considered either a “dwarf planet” or an asteroid. On December 18Ceres entered 0 degrees of Libra, the cardinal air sign that zeroes in on all types of relationships. Ceres is now opposite Jupiter at 0 degrees of Aries and square to the New Moon at 1 degree of Capricorn. The three cardinal positions form a T-square, an aspect of maximum pressure on the Capricornian Sun and Moon.
The dwarf planets include Ceres, Pluto, Eris and some more recently discovered objects. Though very small, Ceres is one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, making it relatively close to Earth. Its symbolism is close to Earth as well.
Ceres is the Roman name for Demeter, the Great Mother goddess of the ancient Greek religion. She feeds the world with grain and other crops, sustaining life even while she also has the power to end it. As it happens, this past week, I’ve been reading and reviewing an inspiring, short book called Demeter, in which author Robin Corak outlines the complex myth of Demeter and applies the myth’s lessons to some universal quandaries.
In the myth, Demeter/Ceres’ daughter Persephone is abducted into the underworld, leaving her mother beside herself with grief and rage. Persephone is returned to her mother only through a bargain made with Hades that Persephone will spend half the year in the underworld and half the year in the fertile fields of spring and summer. It’s a myth about the origins of the seasons, and it is also a myth about mother-daughter grief and loss and the strength it takes to persevere even when one has lost a part of oneself. As an enduring Goddess figure, Ceres/Demeter offers solace to all, including and maybe especially for those of us who grew up without a loving mother here on Earth.
At the December 23 New Moon, with Ceres opposite the fire of Jupiter in Aries and square to the Sun and Moon in Capricorn, the tension of this T-square highlights themes of winter barrenness and parental sacrifice. There’s pressure on the Capricornian planets to carry out the mission of building and sustaining something solid in the middle of winter. The T-square is a crossroads. Which way shall we turn at this ending of one year and beginning of another?
Classic astrological advice with any T-square is to seek relief from the pressure of this aspect by looking to the themes of the sign opposite the apex planet. Opposite Capricorn is Cancer which, like Ceres, is the sign of the Great Mother, including the power to mother oneself and heal.
The Christmas holy days are a time for spiritual people of all stripes to honor and celebrate the birth of divine consciousness in human form. From the pre-Christian mythos of the ancient Greek mystery schools, Persephone gives us the promise of continual rebirth, from the depths of despair into the light of the Sun and the arms of a loving mother.
Both teachings are about miracles. Astrology, too, is a miraculous language, allowing an observer to catch a little glimpse of eternity in the motions of the wandering stars.
Bright blessings for Christmas and the Solstice Capricorn Moon!