The Cosmological Letter
The itinerant 16th-century European physician and scholar remembered as Paracelsus Magnus has returned once again to our Valley, as he does four times a year, breaking the boundaries of time to inform us about the winter season that lies ahead.
My gentle donkey brings me back once again to your sweet valley, and though we may travel slowly upon the road we travel with purpose: to tell what will take place in the months to come. Do not misunderstand my reliance upon heavenly stars to tell what you may do about what may come, for as the ancients said: “As above, so below; and as without, so within.” The same unseen force that moves within and among each one of you, and causes what happens in your world, also moves the stars that mark the vault of your heavens. Just as the marks upon the ruler do not cause your height, the stars do not cause what takes place; they simply help us to understand.
The first month of winter, Capricorn, begins as our Sun makes his solstice on the morning of December 21st. As I wrote three months ago at his equinox, this is a time of quiet regard in the natural world. While the halcyon bird flies down to calm the wind and waves, the birds and animals rest quietly in their nests and dens, and meteors scatter from Ursa Minor although they cannot be easily seen in a night brightly illumined by a waning gibbous Moon. Saturn rules the horoscope, indicating problems that require forbearance and integrity. The retiring Moon opposes Pluto’s close embrace with a modest Venus in the company of Saturn, as all three rise in the east. So it is that we shelter our hearts from the troubles of a dark and difficult time, to find resolve rather than resentment. Saturn lies in square meanwhile to restrain a torpid Taurean Uranus, who would upset Saturn’s solemn reign if he could ever struggle to be free.
The tension eases some as gentle Jupiter leaves the confines of Aquarius to enter his own sign Pisces in the evening of December 28th, where he will be cheerful company throughout winter, like a favorite uncle who remains close by when parents become problematic. A few days later, late in the evening of the first of the year, Mercury saunters in an epimethean manner into Aquarius, and so the deliberate mind slowly considers its options.
The New Moon in Capricorn in the evening of January 2nd confirms the good path of sobriety and recovery for the following month. The Sabian Symbol refers to the ancient discipline of meditation, and in this sign signifies endurance and integrity. This is, therefore, a good time for forming resolutions, while the splendid Quadrantid meteor shower casts a falling star every minute or so in celebration.
Then, on January 8th, Capricorn Venus becomes a morning star, springing from bed to start the day with appreciation and gratitude. The mind submits to the path of the heart, Mercury becoming retrograde on January 14th. Retrogradation may be confused with incompetency, but the month of Capricorn makes of this a time to pause and reflect, rather than to speak on impulse. When Mercury is retrograde, patience is the remedy of frustration.
The Full Moon is in Cancer, her own sign, on the afternoon of January 17th. Known traditionally as the Wolf Moon and the Old Moon, she is opposite the Capricorn Sun, which has meanwhile joined with Pluto. This is therefore a time to find through those most natural parts of yourselves, your dreams and your reveries, your place within a sentient cosmos of which you are each a part, for without every one of you the cosmos would not be complete.
Two days later, in the evening of the 19th, the second month of winter begins by the Sun entering Aquarius, and events in your world begin to accumulate toward a critical situation. Uranus, ruler of Aquarius, shuffles off his torpor to go direct, becoming the bull in the china shop Taurus meant him to be. Thus, the grip of traditional values and principles is confronted by the need for reform, providing a cascade of disturbances that can produce deep and far-reaching consequences. On the 23rd of January Mercury becomes promethean, rising before the Sun as had his sister Venus, as an unleashed, eager morning star. Listen closely for good advice from unexpected quarters, for although Mercury remains retrograde and for that reason rather clumsily bungling, his brash schoolboy mind can provide the undisciplined yet perceptive thoughts of an idiot savant.
Then, thankfully, Mars enters deliberate Capricorn on the following day, and the damages and discoveries of the preceding few days begin to sort themselves out, and a focus takes shape as organization begins to set in. A few days later, in the evening of the 27th, retrograde Mercury steps back into Capricorn to gather his thoughts before returning to address the aspirations of Aquarius. On the 29th of the month Venus becomes direct in Capricorn, exchanging her hesitant timidity for artfulness. Although the mind is still unsure, the heart is free of fear, for courage comes from the heart, not the mind.
Then the Moon is new in Aquarius on the final day of January, confirming a fresh start with less constraint and more will. Soon, on the 4th of the month, Mercury is finally direct and finds his footing, eager to throw off Capricorn’s reserve and return to the open landscapes of Aquarius ten days later. Finally, the mind is fully freed of winter’s lethargy, anticipating the approach of spring. The Full Moon in Leo on the morning of February 16th is traditionally known as the Hunger Moon, for the animals that bedded down as winter began now begin to rise and look for food, which still is scarce; I would think of this instead as the Appetite Moon, yearning for eventual sustenance.
The final month of winter, Pisces, occurs as our Solar Hero moves on from the Aquarian arena of public policies to enter into the devotional cloisters of Pisces’s realm. A fortnight later, on the morning of March 2nd, the New Moon in Pisces inaugurates a lunar cycle that takes us from winter into spring. The four weeks following this day present at best a contemplative time, conscious of and attentive to the inevitability of change, and at worst a time of undisciplined surrender to the forces of disruption. As if to challenge this, Mars and Venus enter Aquarius together two days later, and excite one another in ways staid Capricorn might not have approved; while the libido may be loosened, it must find delight in ways socially appropriate.
On Sunday morning, March 13th, you are robbed of a precious hour of sleep by your strange practice of gerrymandering the faces of clocks to manipulate your measure of time with something you call Daylight Savings. Our Sun will have negotiated its passage of Neptune these few days, so moodiness will be somewhat understandable. In much the same way the Gregorian Calendar replaced the Julian Calendar, many years after my time and before yours, causing the mysterious disappearance of several days. Such attempts to manipulate the measure of time for convenience unhappily ignore the naturally healthy pulsing rhythms of earth and heaven.
The culmination of this last month of winter comes March 17th with the Full Moon in Virgo, known as the Crow Moon to the original people of your country and as the Lenten Moon to the subjects of my world. This Moon stands once again across from the satellitium of the Sun and Mercury, now in Pisces with Jupiter and Neptune, the rulers of Pisces. Thus, winter may end in a peaceful resolution of discord as the Virgoan disciplines of commitment observe the Piscean principles of compassion and devotion. Otherwise, the fog of resentment can stain the Vernal Equinox awaiting on Sunday morning, March 20th, and the difficulties of the past would be perpetuated throughout the following year.
My wish for you, dear reader, throughout this winter and in the year that follows, is that the pain and problems that have come your way may prove the strength and resilience you have gained, which you can find in one another as easily as you find within yourself. And may sharing the peace of this understanding bring comfort throughout your sweet valley.
—Paracelsus Magnus, Scholar & Doctor of Medicines