Solstices, Equinoxes, & the Journey of the Soul

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Solstices, Equinoxes,
and the Journey of the Soul

 

Leoni Hodgson 2008

PMAFA, DMNZAS, MSE (Psych), PhD Esotericism

 

 

 

 

The seasons of the year are caused by the tilt of the earth’s axis. Because the earth is rotating like a top, the North Pole points in a fixed direction continuously – towards a point in space near the North Star. So during half the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the summer solstice — the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. The lowest elevation, and the first day of winter, occurs when the night time hours reach their maximum.

The Autumn Equinox – daily sunlight is waning, day and night are equal in length.
The Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year.
The Spring Equinox – daily sunlight is waxing, day and night are equal in length.
The Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year.

These four points are related to soul unfoldment and certain initiations. The ancients celebrated them in four great Festivals. Adopted into Christianity they became the chief religious festivals of the Church.

The Autumn Equinox is associated with Michaelmas, the Mass or Feast of St. Michael.
The Winter Solstice is associated with Christ Mass or Christmas.
The Spring Equinox is associated with Easter.
The Summer Solstice is associated with Feast of St. John and Pentecost (Whitsuntide or the Ascension).

1. The Spiritual Festivals and the Solar Cycle

These festivals are fixed points in the annual calendar and are celebrated universally at the same time. However, the astronomical events of the equinoxes and solstices occur at different periods depending upon where one happens to be upon the planet.

Interpreted esoterically, the festivals are four fixed stages of spiritual development which all have to pass through in one incarnation or other. But the timing of this for individuals is represented by the changing seasons – spiritual progress is dependent upon personal effort.

In the northern hemisphere – which gave rise to the earlier Mystery schools, the festivals fall in, and are associated with certain astrological signs and this northern relationship will be continued in this essay.

In the Northern Hemisphere
The Autumn Equinox – Libra-Michaelmas
The Winter Solstice – Capricorn-Christmas
The Spring Equinox – Aries-Easter
The Summer Solstice – Cancer-Feast of St John.

This relationship of solar phase – sign – festival set in the north is reversed in southern skies, and this has interesting implications for the development of consciousness of humanity in the future. The south might be considered as the developing frontier, and the reversed combinations – and new developments in consciousness will surely at some time future start to show.

2. Waxing-waning light and the journey of the Soul on the Wheel of Life

On one level, the annual cycle of the sun, and the increase and decrease in light, symbolise the processes of involution and evolution. This process can be seen more clearly if light is associated with spirit or soul illumination, and darkness with the instinctual forces of matter.

The period of decreasing light – from summer to winter solstice, can be seen to represent the descent of the Spiritual Spark from its spiritual home, into incarnation, and the gradual obscuration of its glory and expression, as it is embedded in layers of substance.

The period of increasing light – from Winter to Summer Solstice, then would symbolise the release of the soul from its physical tomb, and its ascent back to its spiritual home.

But we understand from the Wisdom Teachings, that it takes hundreds of incarnations to achieve this. Many, many cycles of the Earth around the Sun must occur before a soul achieves what one annual cycle symbolises. Additionally, the process is complicated by the fact that there are two ‘Paths’, or directions in which human souls travel, on the Wheel of Rebirth.

The masses progress around the ordinary wheel from Pisces to Aries, via Aquarius, (going backwards through the signs to the ordinary astrologer). This cycle is also called the Mutable Cross, because the mutable signs – Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces, govern evolution on this wheel. The goal is to go ‘into the depths’ and fully experience material life.

Aspirants and disciples travel in a reversed direction, a movement which impels them back towards their spiritual origins. This wheel is often called the Fixed Cross because the fixed signs – Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, govern evolution at this stage of the soul’s journey.

       NB. Spiritual status is not determined by the sign one happens to be born in. As we “grow”, we continue to incarnate cyclically through all the signs.

3. The Journey of the Soul on the Mutable Cross of Ordinary Man

On the ordinary path of evolution, the Sun’s light represents the growth of the personality or ego consciousness.

1. The Summer Solstice:

The first physical incarnation of the soul in humanity occurs in Cancer, so the series of incarnations in Earth’s humanity, could be said to start at the Summer Solstice, which is related to Cancer in the northern Mystery Schools. This sign is called the Gateway into Life – for the personality, but ‘death’ to the soul.

Spirit incarnates into matter for worldly experience. Incarnation results in the rising of a lower intelligence – the personality or ego. The decrease in light from the summer to the winter solstice symbolises the immersion of Spirit into matter, and the growth of the ego.

The young indwelling soul totally identifies with the ego and its vehicles of manifestation – the physical, emotional and mental bodies. Thus begins a long period of identification with form life as the soul continuously incarnates through all signs of the zodiac.

2. Autumn Equinox:

At this stage the length of day and night is equal, but light continues to decrease. In northern hemispheres, the equinox falls in Libra – the sign of balance.

Since its birth in Cancer, and many incarnations through all signs of the zodiac, the ego has grown stronger. It is not yet a fully integrated personality, and therefore is not yet a dominant force in its environment. But it is enjoying the fruits of material life, and continues to learn and grow.

Libra is called “the hub” of the Wheel of Life. In this sign one has opportunity to reverse the mode of progress and step from the Mutable Wheel onto the Fixed Cross, which carries the soul back towards spirit. The Solar Angel asks the soul “Which way will you go?” The young soul who is still bound by materialism answers through the ego “I choose the lower way,” and continues its journey on the Mutable Cross.

3. Winter Solstice:

This is the longest night of the year. In northern hemispheres, the Winter Solstice falls in Capricorn, the sign which on one hand represents the deepest materialism.

The following three months after the Autumn Equinox, represent those series of incarnations which sees the soul’s complete immersion in matter, and its total domination by the ignorance of the ego, the lower psychic life. This period is symbolic of the biblical story of the prodigal son, who leaves his father’s home, and totally indulges his desires. That is, he is totally immersed in materialism.

Winter in this case, and the disappearance of flowers and foliage represents the aridness of personality life when devoid of the beauty of soul illumination and of the richness of spiritual Life.

3. Spring Equinox:

At the Spring Equinox, the length of day, and the length of night are once again equal, but light is increasing.

For the soul upon the Mutable Cross, increasing light represents the growth of the ego. It is becoming more dominant in its environment. Then the arrival of the Summer Solstice, and the Cancer-Leo period, sees the crowning glory of personality development – the fully self-conscious personality blazes gloriously in the summer sky.

Deep immersion continues through many incarnations, and through all the symbolic seasons and cycles of the zodiac. However, through this process, soul wisdom is growing until eventually it is of equal strength with the personality. Then the Libran point is reached again.

3. The Journey of the Soul on the Fixed Cross of Discipleship

1. Autumn Equinox:

Once again the Solar Angel asks “Which way will you go?” But the response now is very different to that given previously. Now the wise soul answers “I choose the way which leads between the two great lines of force,” and steps onto the reversed wheel, the Fixed Cross of Discipleship.

2. Winter Solstice:

The period between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice now represents one of tremendous spiritual effort and striving – to purify the lower life so that it becomes a fit temple for use by the Solar Angel (man’s higher Self).

This period represents that very difficult period when the Angel battles the full power of the lower psychic life called the Dweller on the Threshold. This creature represents all the residue of unresolved “stuff”, from all incarnations – all unresolved negative thoughts, emotions and actions. This battle proceeds until with the arrival of the whiteness of winter, the personality has been completely cleansed and stripped bare.

Capricorn now represents the Gateway into Life for the soul, and the 3rd initiation is taken on the ‘mountain top’. The Dweller of the Threshold is obliterated by the light of the Angel. Spirit dominates matter, and the higher rules the lower. The Christmas birth now represents the ‘transfiguration’ of the soul, where the initiate knows himself to be a true Son of God.

3. Spring Equinox:

Light is increasing. The dominance of the Soul-Angel in the lower worlds is evident, with the flowering of creative talents and faculties, and service to the whole. The Soul-Angel in all its glory, beautifies the outer life – the Christ spirit blossoms.

The Christian Festival of Easter is celebrated at this time – the Festival of the risen, living Christ.

The Spring Equinox falls in Aries. It is ruled by Uranus on the Hierarchy level, relating it strongly to Aquarius. The journey of the soul in incarnation, which begun on an impulse in Aries, has been consummated with the appearance of a World Server in Aquarius. This the Spring Equinox also represents.

4. Summer Solstice:

On the reversed Wheel (the Fixed Cross), the summer solstice now represents the complete liberation and spiritual glorification of the soul.

On cosmic levels, the Creative Hierarchy[1] ruled by Cancer is no longer in physical incarnation. Its densest point is anchored on cosmic astral levels, illustrating the high potential which this sign represents. Neptune rules Cancer[2] on the higher level, relating it to Pisces. Additionally, Neptune is related to the Christ.[3]

In Pisces we have the emergence of a World Saviour such as the Christ, and this the Summer Solstice with its blazing Sun, now represents.

4. The Summer Solstice – Capricorn-Christmas combination in the southern hemisphere

At present man’s spiritual development follows the symbology represented by the solar – sign combination for the northern hemisphere. But over time this should change and then the Summer Solstice – Capricorn-Christmas combination in the south will become more potent. This new combination of forces would signify an evolutionary development in consciousness for humanity as a whole – the previous information relating more specifically to individual soul development.

A key which provides understanding about this new combination of forces, is found in Alice Bailey’s Esoteric Astrology.

Capricorn, the "birthplace of the Christ," the place of the "second birth" and the scene for the emergence of the fifth kingdom in nature … [4]

The fifth kingdom is the Kingdom of Souls, and this sentence is referring to the emergence of the Kingdom of Souls through the medium of the fourth kingdom in nature – the Human Kingdom. This amazing spiritual event for humanity is represented primarily by Capricorn. So when this sign – which represents the second birth of the Christ, unites with the solstice which marks the “greatest Light”, the goal for humanity is clear – potential enlightenment, a second birth of Christ consciousness and this time through the race as a whole.

This would appear to be the promise of the Capricorn – Summer Solstice combination, and one day it will become an attainable goal. However, this is probably thousands of years away. At the moment, the weight of spiritual power remains anchored in the northern hemisphere at certain sacred sites. But gradually this should shift to the south, and when this occurs, then the race of man will be approaching the threshold of initiation at the Capricorn Gate. Then the glory of the Christ Spirit as it births through man will illuminate the race and all kingdoms in nature with radiant supernal light, transforming the whole planet into a place of great beauty and sacredness.

 “The Summer Solstice is to the esoteric Christian a Festival of the Ascension of the Christ. The joy of the cosmic Ascension sets its impress of ineffable loveliness upon the whole earth, with each tree, each shrub, each plant, crowned in glory; while Angels chant and fairies frolic in a perfect abandon of delight.” [Corinne Heline].

 



[1] “Each of the seven Hierarchies of Beings, found within the Twelve, Who are the Builders or the Attractive Agents are (in their degree) intermediaries; all embody one of the types of force emanating from the seven constellations. Their intermediary work, therefore, is dual: 1. They are the mediators between Spirit and matter. 2. They are the transmitters of force from sources extraneous to the solar system to forms within the solar system. Esoteric Astrology, Alice A. Bailey.

[2] Refer to Esoteric Astrology, Alice A. Bailey

[3] In certain ancient formulas, the great Teacher of the West and the present world Initiator, Christ, is spoken of as Neptune, Who rules the ocean, whose trident and astrological symbol signifies the Trinity in manifestation and Who is the ruler of the Piscean Age. The formula runs as follows, speaking esoterically: "… the fish goddesses who have leapt from earth (Virgo) to water (Pisces) unitedly give birth to the Fish God (Christ) who introduces the water of life into the ocean of substance and thus brings light to the world. Thus does Neptune work." This is, however, a great mystery, revealed only at the time of the second initiation in which the control of the fluidic astral plane is demonstrated. Alice A. Bailey 219-220

[4] Esoteric Astrology p 103-4.

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