Remember back before Christmas when some of us were counting the days and longing for The Light like medieval villagers? Then there was the onslaught of Christmas and New Year. By now we are well on our way towards it being light earlier in the morning until Congress robs us of even that when in March daylight savings time plunges us morning people into another month of darkness.
The sun entered Capricorn at the Winter Solstice, Dec 21. In astrology, Capricorn is associated with the Greek Titan Cronus who had a makeover in Italy and became the god Saturn. Here’s a little terrifying mythology for you:
When Cronus and his brothers and sisters were born, their father, Uranus (sky god), was so unprepared to have children that he depressed them deep into their mother, Gaia (earth goddess). Gaia got tired of her children being forced back inside of her so she colluded with Cronus at his birth to emasculate his own father and free his brothers and sisters.
Cronus became the Big Daddy. When he and his wife Rhea began to have children, Cronus was fearful that what he had done to his own father would be done to him. Evidently Rhea had a bit of the women’s liberation about her because there would be no stuffing children back into her. Instead, Cronus ate them. Rhea conspired with her youngest, Zeus, who overthrew and exiled his father.
Know any families like this?
Like anything else, astrology is deadly in the hands of fundamentalists, but it can be a wonderful language for playing with ideas and thinking about life. I prefer to think of the astrological signs as symbolizing different kinds of human energies.
We all have Capricorn energies. Our personalities all have rooms that accommodate the moodiness we sometimes associate with this month and with the fearful pessimism of Saturn. When we enter those rooms we cope with fears of being usurped or oppressed by grabbing for control and by trying to be vigilant in a world so unsafe that fathers eat their own children. When we get too invested in this self-protection we sometimes can’t afford to see all the ways the world is safe, and the ways that earth supports her own creations. In an effort to keep things congruent, we end up eating our own creative children, sabotaging ourselves, if only to prove that our pessimistic view of life is correct.
The Saturnine Heathcliff in WutheringHeights is almost comical:
“What’s to do now, my lad?”
January is just one month and gloomy pessimism is just one of many feeling states. After the mania of Christmas, our modern day Saturnalia, January sometimes seems empty and stark. Yet outside, the still and muted world feels pregnant. There’s a gestation going on. Out of the quiet, dark dis-satisfactions comes something new, something organic. It’s a matter of trusting our own unconscious processes instead of trying to control what we’re conscious of. This can get lost in the silliness of New Year’s resolutions.
In astrology, Capricorn is symbolized by the goat. The cornucopia, the horn of plenty, is a goat’s horn. Within emptiness is its own polarity, fullness. The goat climbs slowly up the mountain, making sure the foot is secure before moving on. Within cautiousness is its own polarity, trust.
January named after Janus, the two-faced head, is another image of polarity. January is like a door that swings both ways. We may be in a new year, but I think “closure” is a meaningless notion. We can’t help but look back at the same time we look forward. We continually return to the full experience of being alive.