This article first appeared on Mooncircles. It is reprinted here with permission of the author.

As Sagittarius gives way to Capricorn, we move from jubilant Fire to sober Earth. If we have been graced with visions of a better world, we now turn from dreaming to building. Capricorn, the last of the Earth signs, is the master of time and material. It transforms the aspirations of Sagittarius into clearly articulated goals and patiently carries out all the steps necessary to achieve them.

The transition to Capricorn can be a difficult one, as it is also the Winter Solstice, the darkest time of year for those of us in Northern latitudes. While the Sun is in Sagittarius we get caught up in its fiery, mutable energy, its faith that all things are possible and all options open. This enthusiasm runs into a wall as the Sun enters Capricorn. We realize the necessity of making choices and confront the hard reality of how much our dream will cost in money and effort, the constraints that will be placed on it by time and matter, and the possibility of failure. This descent into wintry Earth is inherently depressing. At the same time it can be a relief to commit oneself to one among many possible goals and begin working toward it.

This year's New Moon in Capricorn falls just one day after the Winter Solstice, when darkness reaches the peak of its power. The balance now begins to tip toward the light, a subtle shift detected by the seeds lying under the Earth that will sprout into next year's spring flowers and summer crops. We sense it in our psychic life as well and celebrate midwinter revels and sacred mysteries of the return of the light. These festivals honor light, life and growth which are not yet visible.

The Moon in Capricorn is considered to be in its "detriment" in traditional astrology, meaning that it is placed in the sign opposite the one it rules and thus is not able to express its essential nature comfortably and easily. Cancer, the sign of nurturance, is the Moon's own sign, providing the ample supplies she needs for her archetypal function of giving bodies to things, feeding and protecting them as they develop. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, the law-giving father and principle of limitation. Saturn is old, cold and dry, devoid of milk and maternal tenderness. How is the Moon to do her mothering under his rule? This is the paradox encapsulated in many sacred narratives of the birth of the solar hero in circumstances of hardship or danger. In the New Testament, for example, Jesus, the "Light of the World," is born in a stable and threatened with death by a King who fears being displaced by the infant. Often in dreams we see babies born under similarly unpromising conditions, threatened or abandoned or exposed to the elements. These dream-babies may herald the emergence of new possibilities or healing factors in the person's life. It seems that the peril and the restrictions are somehow necessary to the birth of the new light.

Capricorn symbolizes the soul's most complete participation in the manifested world. Here we grasp the full implications of our existence and the full weight of the world seems to fall upon our shoulders. No wonder there are days in midwinter when we simply want to pull the covers over our heads and go back to sleep! We may feel tired, depressed, depleted, vulnerable and inadequate in the face of our responsibilities. The midwinter mysteries suggest, though, that these may be just the conditions needed for the rebirth of the inner light.

As the Moon joins the Sun in Capricorn, contemplate the places where you feel poor, unprotected, inept, undeveloped, restricted, or exhausted. Notice where you have lost confidence or abandoned hope. Be hospitable to these feelings of lack and let them be your quiet companions through the dark days of winter. Honor them that they may mother the light that is to come.

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