December Full Moon rises exactly at sunset on the opposite (NNE) horizon - latitude 57ºN
New Year’s Eve – the last day of 2009 or Hogmanay, as the Scots call it – will be triply auspicious. Not only is it the eve of a new year, a new decade no less, but it will be graced by a full moon, a partial lunar eclipse, and the Moon will be Blue. In celestial spheres you might say we are being given the royal treatment; or at least being sent a signal.
When a month is graced with two full moons, the second one is called a blue moon. You know, the ‘once in a blue moon’ blue moon? Because our modern calendar calculates by the sun (annual orbit of the Earth round the sun takes 365.25 days), its 30- and 31-day months take us out of synch with our nearest neighbour, whose cycle is 29.53 days. Only the female menstrual cycle and the oceans remain in touch with our lunar companion. The rest of humanity seems to have forgotten what cosmic rhythm is.
Blue moon of May 2007 seen at 40ºN latitude USA
Because of the lunar/solar anomaly, only 41 months in every century can be called true blue moon months, hence a fairly rare occasion. The blue moon cycle of 2.72 years, therefore, makes it something special. December 2009 already had a full moon on the night of December 1st/2nd. The last blue moon month was May 2007 and the next will occur in August 2012.
This New Year’s Eve, because the full moon always rises at the moment of sunset on the opposite horizon and because the moon will not be full this December 31st until 7:13pm GMT, those of us in the Old World will be able to witness the full orb of Luna rise at sunset in the Northeastern skies on Hogmanay night. That’s 4pm GMT in London, home counties, Midlands and Birmingham and about half an hour earlier (3:20pm) in Edinburgh where Hogmanayers will only just be starting their all-night revelry. Four hours later, as Jupiter prepares to set in the southwestern sky, the moon’s disc reaches its fullest and the Earth moves between her and the sun to cast a shadow over her in partial eclipse. This moment of maximum partiality occurs at 19:23 UTC, 7:23pmGMT or 11:23am PST. In astronomical terms it is not a full (total) eclipse because earth’s shadow (eclipse magnitude) will only reach 0.0763, but for us earthlings in the eastern hemisphere it will still be a singular sight.
Solar system planets from outer orbits looking in
At midnight when Hogmanay reaches crisis point in Scotland’s capital, when they shoot off fireworks from the battlements of Edinburgh castle to welcome the new year to the screech of bagpipes, very few, I suspect, will note that the ‘New Year star’, Sirius, reaches its zenith in our northern skies. Sirius will stand behind Orion in the south with the Moon, in Cancer, followed in close proximity by our secondmost close neighbour Mars, the ‘red’ planet, retracing its steps through Leo as we enter 2010. The ringed giant does not arrive on the scene until late when the revellers are wending their weary way home: Saturn is a ‘morning’ planet right now, best seen in the east in the hours before dawn, with its spectacular rings just starting to ‘open’ to our view.
That’s the astronomical picture.
The astrological one is a little different. It reflects a vastly complex array of planetary influences to which our ancestors paid heed, but which Technological Man tends to ignore. However, like the menstrual cycle affecting the female population, it is well, occasionally, to pay attention to heavenly bodies and the way they appear to sway our passage through the cosmos.
At winter solstice the Sun enters the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn, having played and filled us with optimism in late November while in fiery Sagittarius, encouraging us to look to the future, fulfill our dreams. Capricorn Sun and Cancer full Moon bring those dreams and our grasp on reality into sharp focus: both make us examine our ‘outer’ career, capabilities, achievement potential and ‘inner’ love of family, home, need for a peaceful centre: their polarity challenges us to fix our relationships. Cancer may be content to be dependent, Capricorn urges us to be grown-up and responsible. Cancer represents the origin, Capricorn looks to the goal. In this mix stands the astrological giant Saturn in Libra, exerting discipline, demanding that we find balance. Mars, because of retrograde motion in Leo, is teasing us, telling us ego fantasies, diverting our attention from the path of loving acceptance. Our usual mental messenger, our Mercurial helper is currently useless; he is doing a backwards dance through Capricorn and being uncommunicative. It is up to us to review how well we’re using our own natural-financial-mental resources. However, on January 5th, Mercury is joined by loving Venus, so all is not lost. There is hope in the days ahead. The loving, healing solution may show us a way through our planetary difficulties.
Fortunately, we may still call on the largest of the planets: Jupiter, which presently consorts with another friendly giant, Neptune, the bringer of change. Together they stand in forward-looking Aquarius and are guaranteed to bring abundance into our lives, fresh ideas, a new focus, perhaps even a totally unexpected way of solving our problems. Both reflect the potential for the spiritual, the mystical, even a miracle, to bring about the change we cannot perceive ourselves.
This brings us to the spiritual view.
At the time of the December solstice each year the sun approaches the heart of the Milky Way, our Home Galaxy, and conjoins with Galactic Center in the constellation Sagittarius. At this time of year the Earth also gets closest to our own star, Sol. Closest point in our orbit, perihelion, happens annually on January 2nd/3rd.
Through the ages, after solstice when the sun moves northward along the horizon again, each month setting farther and farther north, the period from winter solstice to summer solstice was festival season. In several ancient civilizations winter solstice was associated with the return of a Sun-God to save the world, the bringer of light and fruitfulness to the earth, and hope to humanity.
Spiritual communities too, mindful of ritual handed down from ancestral hierarchies, hold winter solstice sacred, meditating and communing with the silence of winter in a kind of mental hibernation which itself opens up communication with Source. It is at midwinter that many begin preparations for the three major festivals of spring and summer: in the Celtic calendar they are known as Imbolc (February 2nd), spring equinox (Ostara, Easter) and Beltainn (May 1st).
Other indigenous cultures celebrate on these dates, the Hopi, Maya, Chinese, Arab, Vedic and Zulu, but one which has gained world-wide recognition is the May full moon celebration of Wesak, the greatest festival in the Buddhist calendar. All surviving cultures which perpetuate these ancient forms begin with a meditation at winter solstice which culminates in the May celebration.
It is fascinating, then, to discover that in using an ancient technique of knowing when the planet is at its closest to Galactic Center, by aligning with cosmic energy emanating from the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, at the crossing of Galactic Center with celestial ecliptic, at a time when the Earth is herself at her perihelion, closest to her own star, and when the stella maris, the ‘spiritual sun’ Sirius is at her zenith, ancient civilizations and their modern devotees discovered a means to tuning into the cosmic Source of all energy, knowing, and guidance.
In the sacred Long Count calendar of the Maya, one of the most accessible of ancient calculations to modern man, within a period called a Great World Age, an eon, an unimaginably-huge 26,000-year timespan, there are only a few moments when we Earth people come closest to the center of this cosmic cross, the point where the ecliptic crosses the Milky Way, at precise center of our Galaxy.
Galactic Center where stars are born
This nebulous area of the Universe, where stars are born, is our own cosmic womb, from which we, as stardust emerged. It is from this hole in the Cosmos that many spiritual masters and followers believe emanates a divine energy; that the centre of the galaxy is constantly emitting and transmitting a pure energy source which may be utilized in our conscious co-creative process to amplify and transmit new programmes of operation to us, to amplify our awareness and to broadcast light energy directly to enhance human DNA.
Winged serpent sun god Quetzalcoatl of the Maya from Codex Borgia
In the mythology of the Maya, it is to this great birth canal or womb aperture that Creator-sun-god Quetzalcoatl, mythical feathered serpent, one who crawls on Mother Earth but also flies in the heavens will return on winter solstice 2012. This cosmic re-union symbolizes the joining of spirit with matter, in order to be reborn: the Shift of the Ages.
Our alignment with Galactic Center occurs only once in every 25,800 years. We have come close to it several times in the last three decades. During the so-called ‘Galactic alignment period’, or ‘era-2012’ between 1980 and 2016, the closest the Earth came to Galactic Center was on December 21st, 1998.
Galactic center is exactly where the December solstitial sun will stand at noon Universal Time on December 21st, 2012.
Is it any wonder then that we as a species are being given a few reminders of this cosmic date only a couple of years up the stellar turnpike?
If Galactic Center is transmitting messages, is it not logical for us, a technologically advanced civilization, to pick up the spiritual phone?