Winter Solstice comes around December 21 or 22 each year in these parts (the Northern Hemisphere). Astrologically that's the same time the Sun leaves the warm and outrageous philosophical sign of Sagittarius and moves into Capricorn. And just like hard-working Capricorn, winter starts to get downright brutal right before Christmas. Things get bitterly cold and cracked, including your lips (especially if you forget your chapstick). The contrast of the happy-go-lucky sign of Sagittarius to somewhat crusty Capricorn really epitomizes the energies of a Winter Solstice.

Putting aside the more obvious observations about the Sun's movement from sign to sign, let's take a more scientific look at this winter event -- the thing called a solstice. It's the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Wow. Paris Hilton would be happy -- as would any other hard rocker who can't stand the light of day. Winter Solstice appeals to those who like to stay up all night and sleep all day. The desire to party hard in some kind of Pagan festival with the lights turned down seems to be of global appeal, too. Look at all the shindigs that happen around the solstice; Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's, Pongal and of course Christmas. It's as if less light means more time to get wild and crazy, shop until you drop and drink out of the family punch bowl until you accidentally sit on Aunt Agnes.

But what about this Festival of Lights thing-a-ma-jiggy? All kidding aside, we must remember now to celebrate the Winter Solstice by letting our creative minds run free, like a late night comic, a traveling circus or a midnight writer. Explore the depths of your creative spark, your very own festival of lights in the dead of winter's early snow. Remember, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. That candle is you, your passion, your message. Start writing that book you always wanted to pen. (You can't get out of your driveway anyway ... with all that snow in the way and your snow blower in the repair shop.) Make up rituals to celebrate this short day's journey into the longest night, and know from this day forward, the days start to get longer, so we are on our way back. So celebrate the darkness while you can, because it will be light before you know it. Then we'll all have to go back to our day jobs. 

Overall, what does the movement of the Sun from Sagittarius into Capricorn mean? Most of us will feel the hardening affects of the Capricorn solar placement during this transit: overspent, overfed and constantly ready to take a nap. It's so interesting how Sagittarius, which is ruled by Jupiter, precedes Saturn-ruled Capricorn. Jupiter signifies luck and good fortune -- the candy of life. Saturn is the taskmaster, the crystallizer, the grim reaper himself. From November 22 to December 21, the Sun resides in Sagittarius, making us all jovial and excited as the holidays approach. Thanksgiving is a great time, with the Jupiter vibe expanding our time together with our family, our laughter and our waistlines. Then comes those few weeks before Christmas: we buy the gifts, tell stories of a big fat man who comes to deliver gifts under our artificial tree we bought from Wal-Mart … and all the while we're so excited about planning to get together with family and share old times. Then the old times hit; it's December 22 and it's almost time to move on to the actual day itself.

Some people find the sign of Capricorn to be a difficult time to feel festive in. (Maybe that's why we force ourselves to go to office parties.) Saturn rules the roost, leaving us judgmental of what we did or didn't get as gifts, sometimes even wishing we could trade our family in for the one across the street (with a nicer car parked in the driveway). The bills start coming in January, we've over-eaten and played most of November and December and now Saturn steps in to remind us how broke we are, how many extra pounds we put on and what we didn't mean to say to our sister about that horrible haircut she came home with this year. Things get a little tricky when Jupiter, the great gift-giver, is back to back with Saturn, the great gift taker-awayer. Never fear: the Sun enters idealistic Aquarius on January 20.

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Authorlaura banks