The winter solstice is upon us and with it the longest night of the year. As day wanes in the Northern Hemisphere, warmth must be made and self-reflection sought.
Equinoxes and solstices denote the beginning of a season. The spring and autumn equinoxes mark the onset of their prospective season, whereas the summer and winter solstices correspond to theirs. Solstices are especially notable, as they mark the longest and shortest days of the year. In essence, they signify how life on Earth changes in connection to the Sun and how our seasons shape our world.
When a solstice occurs, the Sun reaches its absolute highest or lowest point relative to our celestial equator. Earth’s celestial equator is the massive imaginary circle that corresponds to our actual equator. Fun fact: The word solstice means “the Sun stands still” because that is what actually seems to occur during a solstice point from our perspective on Earth.
The winter solstice is especially notable from a planetary level, as it signals the official beginning of winter, the coldest season in the Northern Hemisphere. During the winter solstice, the Sun appears to stand still at the southernmost point of the equator, also known as the Tropic of Capricorn. Finally, it will begin to start its journey north again. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year with the longest night of the year and the official beginning to the winter season. The winter solstice always occurs on Dec. 21 or 22. Gradually going forward, the days will start to slowly grow longer as the sun pulls us towards spring.
Myriad cultures, religions and spiritual traditions have long honored the winter solstice. Often, this time of greatest darkness has encouraged humanity to gather amongst loved ones and celebrate the rebirth of, and return to, the light. The winter solstice coincides with several pagan, pre-Christmas holidays and traditions including but not limited to Germanic Yule, Punjabi Lohri and Roman Saturnalia.
For inquiring minds the pagan Yule of yore was considerably less cheery and 100% more goth than the Christmas we know and decorate today. For the people of the past, Yule was the time of the year to lock your doors and light your hearth lest you step outside and catch sight of Odin’s wild hunt, a mystical stamped led by the one eyed, raven shouldered all father. According to myth, Odin thundered through an angry sky whilst riding upon an eight legged horse trailed by hell hounds and the disembodied spirits of the dead. Yikes.
Bearing witness to the hunt was, as you can imagine, a very bad omen. Yet, many scholars believe the wild hunt informed our contemporary construct of Santa Claus and his annual galavant through the night sky. In a remarkable glow up, Odin got fat and his right eye back, the eight legged stallion beget the eight reindeer and zombies rematerialized as elves. Christmas really took the balls out and put the sleigh bells on that satanic sounding holiday ride but so it goes. Some other remnants of yule include mistletoe and the tradition of decorating fir trees.
However we get to getting down, celebrating the solstice braids us into the lineage of our ancestors who have observed the dimming of days and the rebirth of the sun for centuries. The winter solstice ushers us into Capricorn season and fittingly enough, the sea goat is synonymous with tradition, emotional inheritance, father time and that which endures.
In a spiritual sense, no matter your tradition, this is a season to reflect on who you are and where you’d like to go. This is a perfect time for introspection and intention setting, fire lighting and the observance of rituals. Honor your stillness, seek solace in the dark and hope in the light of brighter days to come.
As established, the winter solstice marks the beginning of Capricorn season. Equinoxes and solstices correspond to the Cardinal zodiac signs — leaders, kickstarters and go getters that initiate each new season. Capricorn is an Earth sign, and during this period of the year, we are reminded of how we’d like to build and establish our legacy and be remembered when we shrug off the proverbial mortal coil. This establishment of self often ties to public life, professional achievement and career goals, but can also relate to the mark we leave upon the world when we depart it. During this time, we can strategize our plans, harness the sea goat’s stringency and get to work! Grind or die my dudes and invest in what will outlast.
This year, the winter solstice takes place on Wednesday Dec. 21, 2022, at 4:47 p.m. EST. Light a candle. Be grateful for what you have. Dream of where you still wish to go.
Astrology 101: Your guide to the stars
Kyle Thomas is a globally recognized pop culture astrologer who has been featured in “Access Hollywood,” E! Entertainment, NBC & ABC television, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Hulu, Bustle, Elite Daily, Marie Claire and more. He is known for his cosmic guidance for celebrities, business executives and prominent influencers. His work harnesses the power of the stars in regards to entertainment lifestyle and trends affecting people worldwide. For more information, visit KyleThomasAstrology.com.
Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture and personal experience. She is also an accomplished writer who has profiled a variety of artists and performers, as well as extensively chronicled her experiences while traveling. Among the many intriguing topics she has tackled are cemetery etiquette, her love for dive bars, Cuban Airbnbs, a “girls guide” to strip clubs and the “weirdest” foods available abroad.