It's going to be an exciting one this year. Yule (21st December) coincides with a total lunar eclipse. The total eclipse will be visible over Asia, Australasia, NW Europe, Africa and the Americas. The Moon will be well within the Earth's umbral shadow in a total eclipse that will last for over an hour. The prenumbral eclipse (the hardest bit to see) will begin at 05:29, and end at 11:06. The partial eclipse will begin at 06:32 and end three and a half hours later at 10:01. The total eclipse begins at 07:40 and ends at 08:53, with 08:16 marking the moment of greatest eclipse. Due to the umbral magnitude, the Moon should be stained dark red by the Earth's atmosphere. It should be spectacular, so don't miss out. It's the only lunar eclipse that will occur over this 36 year period during which the Winter Solstice sunrise is directly aligned with the Galactic centre. On Winter Solstice this year, due to the eclipse, and for the only time during this period of Solar alignment, the Moon, the Earth, the Solstice Sun, and Galactic centre will all be in perfect alignment.
But what does this mean for the Pagan? Yule is the marker for the darkest part of the year, but it marks the rebirth of the Sun God. The old mumming plays which in some places are still part of Yule celebrations, are linked with the rebirth of the Sun. St George in his shining armour does battle with the dark Turkish Knight. St George is the Sun, and he is victorious in his battle with the darkness. The dark Knight falls, but St George cries out that he has killed his brother. Darkness and light, winter and summer, are complementary, thus the mysterious wise man appears and revives the Knight and the people celebrate. For many, the dual event of the eclipse will illustrate the balance of masculine and feminine, with the Moonset and Sunrise, thus making an exceptional symbol of death and rebirth. If the current temperatures are going to hang around, it could disrupt the celebrations for some, but it will certainly be obvious that our Winter Queen has come to view the spectacle.
Astrologers are calling it a 'make or break' year. Between 30th July and 7th August this year, we experienced a specific planetary configuration of the highest potency, prompted by Saturn and Mars entering the sign of Libra, and a cardinal t-square forming into a grand cross. It's many years since we experienced a cardinal grand cross of this magnitude. It could signify that decisions and choices we make this year are of more importance. Perhaps we seem to be at a pivotal point, taking on the lessons of the past and the fact that we are responsible for the future. Maybe a time to fix things that aren't all right with the world, take action on them now and stand up for what we believe in - be counted. A time to sort the wheat from the chaff and find the truth at the heart of all matters. Our world today seems to change more rapidly as the years pass, and these events can be startling, whether political, financial, geographical or spiritual. It could signify a challenging time, but the alignments seem to suggest a rare opportunity that's not to be missed.
I personally find that the dark half of the year makes me reassess everything. It's a time for getting it all out of the box and having a good look at it. If it's outdated, throw it out. If something's missing, find it. If it's messy, bring a bit of order and tidy it. Make some decisions too, about what to do with next year. What to attract? What challenges to invite? What changes to make? I've found my challenge, and only time will tell what my first lessons with my Wiccan teachers will bring. But, hopefully, with a little help from my planetary friends, it will be a year of rewards and revelations.
Here's to a wonderful Yule for all, with a toast to you reaping your rewards, and enjoying the benefits of this years labours. I hope the new year brings you luck, health and happiness.....(chinks glass).