The moment of Winter Solstice arrives Monday morning, December 21st, when the Sun seems to rest in quiet stillness, waiting for the Earth to complete its seasonal in-breath. Through every age of humanity, this has been observed as one of the most sacred moments of the year, and when we add to it the fact that this year, the two largest planets in our system will come to their once-every-20-years Great Conjunction on the same day, then it starts to seem like we’re being given a divine clue.
So how do we understand the clue? Whom do we ask? An astrologer? An astronomer? A druid? My approach is to consider the phenomena within the context of this moment in world history.
For the past nine months we’ve been physically distancing and donning masks, which seems a bit like what a caterpillar does when seeking its own space to weave its cocoon. But cocooning is only one stage in the metamorphosis of this creature, because eventually, a moment comes when something is magically quickened, and the wings appear. For me, the Solstice Great Conjunction has the mood of this moment of magical quickening, and even if at first we are only dimly aware of it, the metamorphosis will have happened.
So this week, as preparation, I’m taking Emily Dickinson’s poem “From the Chrysalis” as my contemplation:
My cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I'm feeling for the air;
A dim capacity for wings
Degrades the dress I wear.
A power of butterfly must be
The aptitude to fly,
Meadows of majesty concedes
And easy sweeps of sky.
So I must baffle at the hint
And cipher at the sign,
And make much blunder, if at last
I take the clew divine.