As the year nears its close as we enter December, it is timely to consider a highly energised point in the sky – the Galactic Centre. The exact degree of the Galactic Centre is debated by many astrologers, but the consensus is that it occupies an area of the sky greater than a single degree, and is currently at 26°-27° Sagittarius. The Sabian Symbols for these two degrees are The Sculptor’s vision is slowly but surely taking form and A splendidly built bridge, a heritage of unknown ages, still spans the beautiful and wildly primitive stream.

This is significant at this point in time as Mercury and Saturn are both sitting in this area of the zodiac at the beginning of this month, with Mercury stopping at 29° Sagittarius on 2nd December and retrograding back over the Galactic Centre until he reaches 13° Sagittarius on Christmas Eve when he assumes forward motion. He will re-cross the Galactic Centre on 10th January 2018 as he retraces his shadow. Mercury’s retrograde occurs on the same day as the Gemini Full Moon, which happens to be a Super Moon, when the Moon is at its closest to the Earth, heightening emotions. The affirmation for this Full Moon is “think before you speak”.

Retrograde Mercury usually elicits a groan, a “oh no, not again” period when things go awry, communications are confused, travel is disrupted, technology goes on the fritz and it seems nothing goes to plan. Erupting Balinese volcanos aside, this Mercury retrograde is giving us a wonderful opportunity to bring closure to 2017 before we embark on a New Year after the Solstice. This is the time to review and reflect on the year that has just passed, what was good, what was not so good, and what we may have done differently given the chance. It is an opportunity to rid ourselves of regret, sort out the closet of our negative emotions, and begin anew. Saturn conjunct Mercury and the Galactic Centre at the beginning of the month is giving us the discipline and resolve to tackle this soul-searching project.

The Sabian Symbols are reminding us that our reality is what we make it; we are the sculptors of our own lives, bringing to form who we are and what we do. The Splendidly built bridge is inviting us to take the journey across the beautiful and wildly primitive stream of our unconscious, to travel the path that our spirit instinctively knows, to cross to a newer, better, empowered version of ourselves.

Make a diary date for December 18, when the Sagittarian New Moon at 26° conjuncts the Galactic Centre – a wonderful time to write your new year’s resolutions.

On 1st December Venus moves from Scorpio to Sagittarius, swapping her sexy persona for that of the party girl. Have you noticed how every year in the lead up to Christmas seemingly sane, rational people become obsessed? They go into a panic mode, buying too much food, expensive presents for people they hardly know, and live under a retailer-generated time bomb of “only X number of shopping days to Christmas”? Well, that is the energy of Sagittarius. With Venus in Sagittarius the urge to spend up big may overwhelm, but stop, take a deep breath, and know that yes, you will live to survive another Christmas, and no, the family will probably not starve if you don’t buy four of everything. Thankfully Jupiter, the ruler of Sagittarius is in circumspect Scorpio at this time, so he may help to rein in the credit card abuse somewhat.
Saturn moves from Sagittarius to his own sign of Capricorn on 20th December. Saturn has been transiting Sagittarius for three years, since 24th December 2013. In Sagittarius he showed us where we do not have the necessary knowledge for achieving our goals and invited us to improve our study strategies and skills. With Saturn in Capricorn we become more focused on our career and social status. Self-discipline becomes one of the most appreciated qualities at this time.

At 2.28am on 22nd December the Sun moves into Capricorn. This is the Summer Solstice, the pivotal point in the Earth’s year when it momentarily pauses in its northerly tilt before heading south once again. The word Solstice derives from sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). It is the day when the sun appears to momentarily stand still in its journey from south to north (or vice versa) relative to the celestial equator and change direction. The latitude where this takes place in the Northern Hemisphere is the Tropic of Cancer and in the Southern Hemisphere it is the Tropic of Capricorn. After the summer solstice the days get progressively shorter as the sun rises a few minutes later and sets a few minutes earlier each day.

As covered in my June Skyvibe, in days gone by the northern Winter Solstice is aligned with the festival of Jul, a time when the tribe or village knew whether they had enough food and fuel to sustain the whole community through the dark, cold days of winter. If not, the oldest and weakest were sacrificed to ensure the survival of the clan as a whole. Jul became Yule, Saturn became Santa and the whole morphed into the Christian holiday of Christmas.

Whilst we celebrate Christmas on 25th December in summer in Australia, the whole Yule thing has never sat well with my southern hemisphere sensibilities. Christmas occurs in the middle of summer, the days are hot, the drinks are cold, Santa wears shorts and the only life-and-death struggle is who gets the last prawn. Our lives in Australia seem to be out of sync with the celestial calendar. Or are they?

In Ancient Rome they had an annual festival called Saturnalia, celebrated from 17th to 22nd December each year. Saturnalia celebrated the god Saturn in his guise as an agricultural deity from the Golden Age who benevolently ruled over a world where food was abundant without the need for labour and mankind frolicked in a state of innocence. The festival began with a religious ceremony at the temple of Saturn in the Forum, followed by a free public banquet. Stores and businesses were closed and the populace partied. Families gathered for private feasting and gift giving. Gambling was allowed, and masters waited on their servants. It was the Romans’ favourite festival with good reason, as it was a time of merriment and fun. This is the softer, gentler side of Saturn, the god who rewards for hard work during the year, the planet who leaves a gift at the door as he leaves one sign and enters the next.

I intend to do as the Romans did and honour Saturn in Capricorn, the Summer Solstice and the rewards of a year of hard work by celebrating over a feast with my family and loved ones, by sharing food, good times and the odd gift or two. I hope you and your family have a safe and joyous Christmas, Solstice, Saturnalia and journey across the Galactic Centre.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Sydney Astrology School.
(And don’t forget to write your New Year’s resolutions on 18th December!)

— Joanne Rixon Dec 2017