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Winter Solstice & Capricorn Season

Pagan & Ancient Roman roots, rituals & embodiment practices

christmas tree

As the Sun enters the territory of the sea goat at 10:30pm EST, Dec 21, it brings with it Winter (in the Northern hemisphere) & a slow return of longer days.  This shift also marks the Winter Solstice & beginning of Yuletide, an ancient pagan celebration lasting from Dec 21 to Jan 1.


The traditions of today’s Christmas celebrations are deeply rooted in Yule, celebrated in Nordic countries & British Isles.  During this time, trees were brought indoors to represent prosperity, protection and eternal life, and to shelter nature spirits in winter; mistletoe was used by druids in fertility rituals, while wreaths were made by Celts to symbolize the wheel of the year turning.  Gift giving, feasting & drinking wine were also prominent in the 3 day festival Saturnalia, an ancient Roman holiday honouring the God Saturn in late December.  During this time, all social order (ruled by Saturn) completely turned upside down, all rules virtually abolished for 3 days. The two major themes of Saturnalia were abundance and equality, as no one (not even the slaves) had to work, and sometimes masters even served the slaves.

The planet ruling Capricorn is Saturn… coincidence? I think not.
saturn glyph astrology

Saturn’s symbol (right) in astrology is represented by the cross of matter (representing earthly living) being ‘held down’ by the personality or mind.  It’s a representation of the challenges or hardships that may test our patience and endurance during our time on earth.  At the same time, it’s important to recognize that Saturn represents hard work, authority, dedication, self-preservation, social order, and responsibility; while we can easily be weighed down by these - they are the necessary structures within which we can manifest our physical reality.  Without walls, the roof of your house cannot stand on its own. 


Saturn represents the limitation or the container necessary to make something out of ourselves and to contribute to society.  In that sense, you can see why the ancient Romans credited Saturn with the harvest & bountiful feasts, as they made a sacrifice to the God during Saturnalia.  It’s also interesting that part of the celebrations entailed completely reversing the structures of society imposed by Saturn’s energy.  My understanding is that this was done to help us understand that Saturn’s energy, although potentially quite intense & limiting in our life, was not in fact eternal.  While Saturn can wear down our mind or personality, it cannot touch our eternal selves.  There is something that survives this life that is free & unlimited.


Similarly, Capricorn, ruled by the planet Saturn, sometimes gets a bad reputation.  Most pop astrology will have you believe that Capricorns are obsessed with status, driven by ego and material gains, but this largely has to do with our society largely being constructed on patriarchal principles that hyper-focus on earthly achievements which Capricorns tend to be gifted at (possessions, accolades, status).  Yes, less evolved Capricorn energy can be driven primarily by status & ego - because the sea goat’s job is to climb the highest peaks, BUT what is often missed is that it’s also its job to swim the deepest seas.  This is where the highest expression of sea goat energy arises - from becoming intimate with the water AND earth elements.  From being in touch with the element of creation, and being able to navigate these waters with emotional intelligence and intuition.  Through this wisdom, they can achieve great feats and contribute to making our society a better place for all.

It's time to keep the inner flame burning.

wheel of the year

In the Wheel of the Year, when the Sun arrives in Capricorn, it is a time of stillness and of saving our harvest to last through the coldest months of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere).  It’s an energy reflective of Saturn and Capricorn - drawing a focus to our earthly resources and inviting us to preserve and ration them.


As the cold descends, the days simultaneously start to grow longer, reminding us that even in the depths of winter, new life is awaiting to be born in the Spring.  That’s why we celebrate the light this time of year, lighting up our homes, our trees, having fires, using warming herbs like cinnamon nutmeg and cloves, and adorning our homes with citrus, a solar fruit symbolizing joy.

During the cold winter months, the Sun’s strength is weaker, so we are reminded to keep our internal flames burning brighter - by gathering around the hearth, and retreating to practices that keep the fire within lit.

Capricorn season brings potent shifts.

art of capricorn constellation

As the Sun enters Capricorn on December 21, it illuminates Mercury retrograde in the same sign.  As it forms a harmonious aspect to the Moon in Taurus and Saturn in Pisces, this energy will shine a light on the fruits of your labour.  Capricorn draws attention to the past - so what have you achieved in this last year? How might you have broken through the limitations placed on you, particularly ones that make you feel like a victim in your own life?  Knowing that Mercury is asking you to reassess your definition of success and the conditioned beliefs that may influence it, how can you allow yourself to see your success in a new light?


As we move through Capricorn season, we’ll experience several alignments that will force us into the unknown territory of spiritual evolution.  On Dec 27, retrograde Mercury in Sagittarius and Mars will meet up, in a difficult aspect to Neptune in Pisces.  Fog or illusion may descend, and you’ll need to be conscious of unfiltered honesty.  Take the time to feel before you speak, as it will be difficult to rely on a clear mind.


On Jan 1, Mercury will station direct, so any reassessments you may have been moving through in Sagittarius & Capricorn-ruled areas of your life will now begin to gain forward momentum - perhaps you’ll feel more ease following your personal definition of success.  As Jupiter stations direct in Taurus on Dec 19 in a harmonious aspect to the Sun, you may feel more rooted & secure within your own resources and the hard work you have put in since this summer.  As we near the end of Capricorn Season, activation of Pluto, Uranus, and the Lunar Nodes will trigger sudden shifts of perspective that allow us to break free from codependent situations and people pleasing tendencies, one step freer to follow our own path.

Embodiment practices

As we celebrate this potent portal over the coming days, I encourage you to spend time reflecting on your year, and the things that you have been able to release.  Are there more things that finally need to be cleared to make space for new life in the Spring?  Now is the time to shed them, so have a bonfire or light a candle (the Capricorn Ritual Candle is perfect for this!), write down the things you are ready to leave behind (think conditioning & belief systems particularly), and burn them on the flame. 

Take some time to be in nature, dispersing the ashes and giving thanks to this years’ lessons.  Have a bonfire or gather around the fireplace with loved ones, sharing festive food, drink and aspirations for the coming year.


If you’re curious what 2024 has in store for you, I’ll be releasing limited mini forecasts soon. Sign up here to be the first to know.

xx, Vanja

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