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Merry Solstice, Capricorn Season & Yule

This year the solstice will occur when the sun enters Capricorn on the 22nd of December at 3:28 am GMT. Mercury retrograde will be conjunct with the sun at 1° in Capricorn and Pluto is still retrograde in the last degrees of Capricorn bringing his divine Judgement and enabling us to close out old cycles and karmic patterns in regard to the father, government, systems and work. Mercury retrograde may ask us also to go within and look at what needs to be expressed or how we are communicating ourselves particularly in these themes as mentioned. The divine feminine moon in Taurus will be greeted with blessings by Jupiter and they will be seen close together in the sky, before the moon prepares to become full in Cancer on the 27th of December.

The date for this solstice is significant - 22/12/2023 - which is 223/223 for those aware of this number and its Capricorn relevance. May the highest timeline of truth, empowerment, peace, love and alignment with the divine unfold regarding our systems and governance. May the Father energy of Saturn and Capricorn continue to unfold according to its divine blueprint of truth and love.

The Yule goat of Gävle in Sweden.

I am sharing some words here from an old blog about Saturn, Capricorn and Yule. I will share some more astrological connections regarding Christmas (and the Solstice) in the next post for Christmas and am wishing you a beautiful Season. This is the time when the sun stands 'still' for three days and the word Solstice is Latin for the 'sun' and 'standing still' or 'stationary' - this is when the sun reaches the end of the ecliptic at the Tropic of Capricorn. After three days, the sun is then 'born' (on the 24-25th of December) and begins to turn and rise upwards towards the equator where it will emerge for the spring equinox. More can be read about the nature of solstices and equinoxes regarding the ecliptic (pathway of the sun) in this blog.


In Roman times, Saturn was celebrated every year with the festival of Saturnalia with feasts and gift-giving on the 17th of December, and these festivities were later extended until the 23rd of December, covering the time of the Winter Solstice. We can see the similarities here regarding gift-giving. Saturn is associated with fatherly energy and this Roman god set up systems of agriculture and civilisation in Roman mythology. Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn in astrology and is often symbolised by the goat which appears throughout Yule folklore. Goat energy is amazing - there is incredible footage online of goats climbing steep heights or even dams to obtain salts and minerals for their bones, nervous systems and muscles. Goats are courageous, coordinated, agile, strong, yet also incredibly gentle and loving beings when they are respected.

Illustration by Pauline Baynes

This strong goat energy of Capricorn can also be seen in the faun elemental beings, most famously with Pan (this word means 'all' in Greek) - they carry the joy of the forest which they care for - the fauns know how to celebrate and have fun so it is apt that their energy can be sensed in the solstice when the sun moves into Capricorn. Fauns are also great poets and their energy can be sensed in many poems including by Milton, Plath, Shelley, Keats, Wilde, Graves, Verlaine and Rimbaud. Capricorn is the Latin word for 'horned goats' with capri meaning goat. The 'cornucopia' is the 'horn of plenty.'

The goat-fish was part of the Babylonian zodiac for Capricorn which was adapted by the Greeks to fit their own pantheon and two myths were used to explain the goat symbology – the first was that the goat was connected to the goddess Amalthea who was either a goat or a goat-tending nymph who had raised Zeus as a child and was placed in the stars in gratitude.  The second myth was that Capricorn the goat was connected to Pan: in this story, Zeus was being attacked by a monster and jumped into a river, with his bottom half turning into a fish - the monster pulled the muscles out of Zeus’s legs and with the help of Hermes, Pan replaced the damaged muscles.  As a thank you, Zeus placed Pan in the stars as Capricorn.  

Illustration of fauns dancing with Prince Caspian by Pauline Baynes.

In the previous blog I spoke about the strong theme of the 'father' at this time of year. Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn and he was the father of Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres and Vesta. Saturn was also the founder of the first Latin tribe - he strongly embodied 'father' energy. He was the god of time, wealth, periodic renewal, agriculture and liberation – his name was derived from satus meaning sowing. Chronos was the Greek equivalent of ‘Father Time,’ who was often associated with Saturn as well. Father Time was a personification of time, portrayed in the arts in more recent centuries, and was usually depicted as an elderly bearded man, holding an hourglass or scythe.

Saturn's Connection with the Fauns

In Roman mythology, Saturn arrived as a fugitive but brought agriculture and civilisation and had a strong connection with the nature spirits including the fauns.  The poet Virgil wrote the following in Aeneid:


In these woodlands dwelt Fauns and Nymphs sprung of the soil, and a tribe of men born of stocks and hard oak; who had neither law nor grace of life, nor did they know to yoke bulls or lay up stores or save their gains, but were nurtured by the forest boughs and the hard living of the huntsman. Long ago Saturn came from heaven on high in flight before Jove's arms, an exile from his lost realm. He gathered together the unruly race scattered on the mountain heights, and gave them statutes, and chose Latium to be their name, since in these borders he had found a safe hiding-place. Beneath his reign were the ages named of gold; thus, in peace and quietness, did he rule the nations; till gradually there crept in a sunken and stained time, the rage of war, and the lust of possession.” 

The Three Graces Dancing with a Faun by Scalbert Jules, 1851.

Saturn's energy is connected with the theme of systems, rules, limitations and discipline. These limitations enable us 'freedom to' do things and give us 'freedom from' certain things (for example 'freedom from' crime through law.) Rules are helpful and can give us structure and safety - for example speed limits for motors. Yet when these systems are no longer empowering and become overbearing or overly controlling and when limitations become self-limiting and negative then the Saturnic energy can become 'Satanic.'

The World Card and the Devil Card

In Tarot, Saturn is associated with The World card and Capricorn (ruled by Saturn) is connected with the Devil card and portrays a faun-like being (based on Eliphas Levi's illustration of the 'Sabbatic goat') with two lovers who are tied up in chains and have become demonic with horns on their head - they are limited by negative 'downward forces' and their willpower has been tested. This energy can tempt and test us - we can see this shadow side in some of the mythological stories of the fauns regarding lust. Yet in the light, the faun/Capricorn energy can embody the joy and perfection of the World card with its energy of wholeness, completion, liberation, soulful living and the closing out of an old cycle.

It is by overcoming the tests of the Devil that we can embody our wholeness and win back our freedom from forces which may have attempted to control or sabotage us. In the depths of this wintry season (the darkest time,) when the days have the shortest amount of sunlight, we may be tested and be tempted to go into a negative mind-frame at times - we see this in the classic case of 'family drama' at Christmas. Yet this all gives us space to grow and release the chains which have been revealed to us and enter a new cycle with the World card. If we can, it is vital to keep up the spirits during these dark hours of winter and bring in the joy and celebration of the fauns as we prepare for a new cycle of the World and the birth of the sun - this is why festivities during this time are so vital and nourishing for the soul. After the solstice, the sunlight steadily begins to increase once again - we have seen the darkest point (which is just as vital as the lightest point) and are ready to rise once more.

"FEAR is the tool of a man-made devil. Self-confident faith in one's self is both the man-made weapon which defeats this devil and the man-made tool which builds a triumphant life. And it is more than that. It is a link to the irresistible forces of the universe which stand behind a man who does not believe in failure and defeat as being anything but temporary experiences." Napoleon Hill.

For those in the southern hemisphere, I have written about the poles and polarities here - you will be working with the polar opposite energy of Capricorn, which is Cancer, as you celebrate your summer solstice.

The Yule Goat

'Julbocken' by John Bauer

The Capricorn symbol of the goat can strongly be seen at Yule which was a festival celebrated by Germanic people and had customs including the Yule goat, Yule log, Yule singing and feasting. In Scandinavia in the 19th century, the Yule goat was seen as a 'Christmas gift-giver' and men would dress up as the goat, but this custom was later replaced by Father Christmas who took this role. Father Christmas in the UK was also depicted with symbols of Yule such as the Yule goat of Scandinavia and Northern Europe - it is thought that its popularity came from the Norse God Thor who was drawn by two goats in his chariot.

A 19th century Yule card.

In older traditions, the goat was seen as a spirit which appeared to ensure that all the Christmas preparations were going well. Goats were made out of wood or straw and from the 17th century, wassailing celebrations in Scandinavia included the Yule goat. Nowadays, the goat is often seen as decoration for the Christmas tree or as decoration in the town.

The Yule goat of Gävle in Sweden.

In his writings J.R.R. Tolkien described a Yule-like Log-drawing festival of the elves which occurred in mid-winter, known as Turuhalmë and Tolkien wrote the following about their own solstice celebration which involved storytelling and a crackling fire at the Cottage of Lost Play:

‘The Arrival of the Yule Log.’ Drawing by Mary Evans

"Twill be a fitting day,' saith Lindo, 'for the sports of the morning in the snow and the gathering of the logs from the woods and the songs and drinking of Turuhalmë will leave us of right mood to listen to old tales beside this fire.'...and the company from Mar Vanwa Tyaliéva went into the snowy woods to bring back firewood on sleighs. Never was the Tale-fire allowed to go out or to die into grey ash, but on the eve of Turuhalmë it sank always to a smaller blaze until Turuhalmë itself, when great logs were brought into the Room of the Tale-fire and being blessed by Lindo with ancient magic roared and flared anew upon the hearth.’

 'Old Christmas' riding a yule goat. The original illustration was accompanied by a verse: "In furry pall yclad, / His brows enwreathed with holly never sere, / Old Christmas comes to close the wained year: Bampfylde". From the "The Book of Christmas" by Thomas Kibble Hervey, 1836.

‘Christmas with the Yule Log.' The illustration was accompanied with a verse:

"WHAT? Father Christmas! here again?

With Yule Log on your back,

And mighty store of racy things

Well stuffed within your pack"

From Illustrated London News, 23 December 1848

Christmas Mummers Plays

Mummers plays were an old tradition for Christmas in the UK and often performed out on the street - they were usually based on the legend of St George and the dragon and the character of Father Christmas often appeared. Evidence of mummers or performers in disguise has been traced back to 1296 where the marriage of Edward I's daughter at Christmas included mummers in the court.

‘Mummers’ from "The Book of Christmas" by Thomas Kibble Hervey, 1836

Saint Nicholas

The mythology of Father Christmas began to merge with the ‘Santa Claus’ of America who grew out of the legends of Saint Nicholas who was a real Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra. After the death of his parents, he distributed their wealth to the poor – in one story it was said that he threw three bags of gold into a poor man’s house to enable his daughters to have a dowry for marriage and avoid a life of prostitution.

Portrait of Saint Nicholas of Myra from the 13th century at Saint Catherine's Monastery in Egypt.

‘Odin in the guise of a wanderer’ from the 1893 Swedish translation of the Poetic Edda.

Santa Claus - the 'Father' of America

It is also thought that the images of Santa were inspired by the Germanic god Odin or Wodan who was associated with the pagan midwinter celebration of Yule and led the Wild Hunt through the sky – he was a sorcerer often depicted with a spear, a long beard and his animal familiars. Santa Claus became popular in the USA and Canada and his image was cemented by a civil war cartoonist, Thomas Nast, who first drew Santa Claus in January 1863 in a Union Army camp, distributing presents.

Thomas Nast's famous drawing, "Merry Old Santa Claus", from Harper's Weekly, 1st January, 1881.

The Reindeer

Santa eventually became depicted as living at the North Pole where he made gifts for children with the help of his elves and delivered them across the world with his sleigh and flying reindeer. It is believed that this image was largely inspired by an anonymous poem from 1823 in which Saint Nicholas was described as a jolly elf who was pulled in a sleigh by eight tiny flying reindeer. Clement Clarke Moore later claimed authorship of this poem called "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Although the first publication to mention Santa’s sleigh and reindeer was an anonymous children’s poem "Old Santeclaus with Much Delight" published two years before in 1821 in New York which included illustrations by an unknown artist and these depictions predate the images of Thomas Nast.

Illustration to verse 1 of the anonymous children's poem "Old Santeclaus with Much Delight."

These poems of flying reindeer may have been inspired by a deeper memory in the collective of the Sámi reindeer herders of North Scandinavia who gave their reindeer Psilocybin mushrooms (Amanita muscaria) and then drank their urine in shamanistic ceremonies in which they may have experienced a sense of flight.

The Sámi People and Reindeer Herding

In 1894 to 1898, hundreds of Sámi people travelled to Alaska in the United States to teach the indigenous people there how to herd reindeer with sleds. The ensuing reindeer ‘industry’ boomed with some companies organising parades of reindeer pulling Santa Claus on a sleigh in order to sell reindeer meat and fur in the early 20th century. Eventually Walt Disney and Coca Cola adopted these images, gluing the relationship between Santa Claus, reindeer and the North Pole.

By Wilhelm List.

As Santa also grew popular in the UK, Father Christmas began to adopt his attributes and by the late Victorian period his costume had changed and was invariably red. Eventually their roles began to blur until in the 20th century there seemed to be no longer any significant distinctions made between them and modern dictionaries categorised the two terms as synonymous.

Christmas card from the 1890s.

Victorian card from the 19th century.

Faun by Robert Graves

Here down this very way,  

Here only yesterday  

    King Faun went leaping.  

He sang, with careless shout  

Hurling his name about;  

He sang, with oaken stock  

His steps from rock to rock  

    In safety keeping,  

    “Here Faun is free,  

    Here Faun is free!”


Today against yon pine,  

Forlorn yet still divine,  

    King Faun leant weeping.  

“They drank my holy brook,  

My strawberries they took,

My private path they trod.”  

Loud wept the desolate God,  

    Scorn on scorn heaping,  

    “Faun, what is he?  

    Faun, what is he?”

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