Steve Nelson’s Mythic Times: Winter Solstice / Yuletide 2010-11

The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D. & Marion Ross, Ph.D.) are thrilled to have our good friend and guest blogger Steve Nelson return to share his wisdom on The Yuletide Season. Steve is an astrologer who follows a Jungian mythological tradition. He was raised by a part Cherokee shaman Aunt Maude who learned much of her lore from Molly Runningwolf, the mother of Amanita Sequoyah, the last Cherokee medicine man officially recognized by the Eastern Tribe. Steve’s Indian name is Steven Red Wolf, his lineage is of the wolf clan, one of the 7 tribal groups of the Cherokee. Steve follows many of the Cherokee traditions especially as these relate to celebrations, the use of ritual fire and star lore. For more information about Steve Nelson see

Mythic Times: Winter Solstice / Yuletide 2011

Light returns on Winter Solstice for a New Year on planet Earth. At Winter Solstice the Druids celebrated their “Festival of Liberation,” a time when the soul is set free to dream a new world. This “day out of time” belongs to none of the 13 Druid tree months but stands apart as the Day of Mistletoe. The “golden bough” or Mistletoe is gathered on this day. Mistletoe symbolizes the Sun for the Druids and it is sacred to the Norse Sun god Baldur. By tradition mistletoe prefers to grow on lightning struck oaks and in places of natural power. The gathering of mistletoe on this day may be seen as a clever way to have people be in places of power at this special time. Gathering mistletoe on its day (Tuesday December 21st) brings us to be in a location where soul liberation can more readily occur and the path before us can be made clear.

Winter Solstice is considered especially auspicious because whatever is seeded this day determines the nature of the year. The Druid calendar year is 13 months of 28 days, a total of 364 days. Winter Solstice, the “day out of time“, is the “day” of the magical “year and a day.” This 13-month calendar appears symbolically as 13 stars with 28 rays over the eagle on the U.S. dollar bill. Much of America’s symbolism comes from Masonic tradition and a good part of this in turn derives from the Druids. Such is the ancient gnosis coded into our western world. In truth the Druid wisdom was not vanquished but was internalized in our culture and the internal is closer to the eternal than are external forms.

Solstice means “still standing Sun.” Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere sets the course of the New Year on Earth. Winter Solstice is a moment in time (7:42 am EST, 12:42 pm GMT Tuesday Dec 21) and it is a 7-day period (Dec 18-24) when the Sun appears to rise and set at approximately the same points on the horizon. During this time the limb of the Sun touches the Tropic of Capricorn the lowest point in the annual cycle. Winter Solstice is to the year as the New Moon is to the lunar cycle. These cycles have similar phases so just as a new lunar cycle becomes conscious and viable when the crescent appears on the evening after New Moon so the New Year spirit or zeitgeist becomes conscious on Epiphany Jan 6.

Sunrise and Sunset are important times during the days of Solstice and megalithic structures throughout the world align with these times. Only during Winter Solstice does the rising Sun strike the deep interior wall of New Grange, a great megalithic chamber north of Dublin. Only on Winter Solstice does the rising Sun fully light the interior of Calendar One, a megalithic stone chamber in southern Vermont. In Washington DC the Winter Solstice Sun rises along Pennsylvania Avenue to illuminate the Capitol Dome. These alignments were created more for their energetic effects than astronomical symbolism.

Mithras, the Persian god of Light and guardian against evil, was born in a rocky cave at Winter Solstice. King Arthur was born in a great stone castle high on a bluff on this darkest of nights.  Arthur’s Round Table of 12 Knights has become a template for the evolution of egalitarian societies, and national aggregates (e.g. the original 12 nations / stars of the European Union, 12 nations of the Russian Federation and the 12 Nations of the new South American union). King Arthur’s Round Table is the prototype of a global Round Table of Nations to be formed in the new Aquarian Age. This cosmic Round Table turns on the pivot of the north pole of the heavens and this polar center is directly connected with the Winter Solstice.

The Yuletide season is our time to dream and shape the future year. The year is seeded during the Capricorn solstice (Dec 18-24) so events of this time hold special import. The new year unfolds its theme and story through the Twelve Days of Yule/Christmas (Dec 25-Jan 6) and the reflection wave that follows (Jan 7 – 18). Dreams of this time provide guidance for the coming year.

The New Year is born in the heart of Gaia when the northern (yang) pole of the Earth is in deepest darkness, the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. The Yule celebration season begins with (northern) Winter Solstice and culminates on Epiphany, the 12th Day of Christmas/Yule, January 6th. These aren’t arbitrary times set by historical precedent or convention. These dates derive from the cosmic order of time and space. At each Winter Solstice a new solar cycle begins as a pulse of solar prana streams down through the magnetic field lines converging at the North Pole to unite with the heart of the Earth. The spirit of the New Year or zeitgeist is here conceived and grows through the four days of Solstice until on Christmas Day this New Light is born in the heart of Gaia. From this New Light born on Christmas Day, the Twelve Days of Yule roll out (yule means “wheel“) the New Year to Be. The 12 days of Christmas or Yuletide Dec 25 – Jan 6 represent the zodiacal year to be, this is the New Year in embryo, it is our time to dream and shape what is coming to be.

The 12 Days of Christmas / Yuletide Dec 25 – Jan 6

Yule means “wheel.” The Season of Yule is the time from Winter Solstice until Epiphany January 6th. Yuletide is more specifically the 12-day period beginning at Sunset on Christmas Day and ending at Sunset Jan 6. These 12 Days are like spokes on the wheel of the year to be. The 12 Days of Yule or Christmas are the New Year in microcosm with each day representing a zodiacal month, Aries to Pisces, in the year to come. The 12 Days of Christmas song is an astrological key: The “partridge in a pear tree” of the 1st day of Christmas is the renaissance Phoenix in the World Tree at the start of each new cycle. This day is Aries Dec 26. The two turtle doves of the 2nd day are birds of Venus, the ruler of Taurus Dec 27Three French hens day 3 is Gemini (tarot card the Lovers). Calling Birds day 4 is Cancer, a sign of reflection. Gold rings day 5 is Sun (gold) ruled Leo, etc.

Christ, the solar logos, is born/reborn on Christmas, the Romans’ Dies Invictis Solis, “the Day of the unconquerable Sun.” Jesus, the initiate prepared to incarnate the Christ, was born on Epiphany Jan 6, according to America’s psychic Edgar Cayce. This date is recognized and celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox religion. Epiphany is the 12th Day of Christmas, the 3 Kings Day when the Magi come bearing gifts for the new born child. This is a day to exchange gifts. Epiphany means “manifestation of divinity” and it celebrates 3 magical manifestations: the birth of Jesus, the baptism in the river Jordan and changing water to wine at the wedding feast of Cana.

In ancient Egypt, January 6th, was celebrated as the Korion. It is the day each year when Kore (Persephone) gives birth to the Aeon, the sacred child of the new cycle. Interesting details of this celebration are described by Carl Jung in his book Aion, p 103-5. The wooden figure of a boy with crosses on hands and feet is brought up from a dark crypt and bathed in the Nile in the early morning of January 6, our Epiphany. (This wooden figure was very old by the time Jesus was born.) Immersion in the River Nile was customary this day when all the waters of the world were believed to be imbued with healing power.

Epiphany, the Feast of Fools, became so effective for lampooning and disempowering the established order of church and state that it was banned in Medieval Europe. The Twelve Days of Christmas observances were outlawed because this time was being effectively used to recreate the order of things in ways undesirable to the established rulers. Neglect of the 12 Days of Yule / Christmas resulted in entirely too much material emphasis being placed on Christmas Day.

The ideal time for physical gift giving is the 12th Day of Christmas, the Festival of the Three Kings. Epiphany means Manifestation of Divinity. Waters of the world are blessed and objects are imbued with mystical powers on this day. “Gifts presented at this time fix a magic power sublime.”

“Inner Christmas” 12 Holy Nights Dec 25 – Jan 6

Inner Christmas, a practice of inner renewal and development, begins on December 25 and unfolds nightly through January 6, the day of Epiphany. These are the 12 Holy Nights, a yearly time when our souls experience a unique connection with spiritual forces, the veils between heaven and earth lift and powerful inner insight and growth are possible.”  ~ Lynn Jericho Inner Christmas

Winter Solstice 2010-11 6:39 pm 12/21/10 New York, NY

The order of the heavens at Winter Solstice determines what will become as the year unfolds. The Moon’s fortunate placement in Cancer following a Total Lunar Eclipse indicates a clearing of consciousness and coming to be of a new creation mediated by numerous individuals working in dyad as depicted in the Tarot key 2 of Cups, the card for 1st decan Cancer. The Moon focused “mystic triangle” with Pluto and Hygeia indicates a deep collective healing that will help set the whole world right. Also visible in this evening’s sky is the bright planet Jupiter close by the borderline invisible planet Uranus in 3rd decan Pisces. This last decan of  the zodiac is symbolized by the 10 of Cups, one of the most fortunate cards of Tarot. Jupiter/Uranus square Mercury and the Sun evoke world need and world hope. Jupiter/Uranus in harmonious sextile with Ceres, the goddess of abundance and revelation, reveals the way to realize the hope of the world. Jupiter/Uranus biseptile the Moon means all that stands in the way of realizing this vision can be transformed through the 2 of Cups dyad work.

One of the most striking alignments at this Winter Solstice is brilliant Venus located at the midpoint power gate of Scorpio, the sign of transformation, death and rebirth. Midpoint Scorpio is represented by the Ace of Cups in Tarot. Venus here represents the return of grace, beauty and love and the power to restore natural law and divine order to the world. Venus is empowered to transform all shadows through her biseptile to Neptune and septile to Pluto. She’s got big frame transcendent planetary helpers. Close by Venus in the morning sky can be seen bright blue Spica, the star of Virgo and the Empress Queen of Tarot. Virgo represents the virgin mother of Christ and Virgo symbolizes Kore or Persephone the maiden mother of the Aeon, the zeitgeist of the New Year and the new avatar to be.

Several constellations are prominent at this turn of the age and these include the hero giant Orion called Menelmacar by JRR Tolkien. “[The Star Queen] Varda set the constellation, Menelmacar, with his shining belt, that forbodes the Last Battle that shall be at the end of days. The belt would be a sword belt warning that the Valar will join the struggle.” This brings us to one of the most important alignments of our time. During this Yule season and in months to come, the Aquarian age planet Uranus closely aligns with Alnilam and Alnitak, two of the bright stars in Orion’s Belt. These stars (and their sister belt star Mintaka) stand out in the heavens because of their brightness and striking alignment on the celestial equator. They’re also special in being Super Stars over 10,000 times the luminosity of our SunIn the medieval Yuletide tradition these stars are the Three Magi, the astrologer kings who announce the beginning of a new age. There is a mystery here to be revealed in coming months and we may find some understanding in the writings of Tolkien.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Silmarilion were written in the early fifties for this time of transition between the era of Neptune ruled Pisces and the new Age of Aquarius ruled by Uranus. Neptune transiting Aquarius in mutual reception (harmonically connected) with Uranus in Pisces, is one of the astrological factors that make 2009 – 2012 critical years in the transition between these eras. The partnering of these great transpersonal forces well symbolizes the current passage of the torch of civilization from one age to another. This transition is guided by certain constellations and stars that are active at this time. These include Orion (Menelmacar), Ursa Major (Tolkien’s Valacirca), Arcturus and Spica, the bright star of Virgo.

Tolkien’s writings hold clues for us now: “…when first Menelmacar strode up the sky and the blue fire of Helluin [Sirius] flickered in the mists above the borders of the world, in that hour the Children of the Earth awoke….” The Silmarillion, pg 45; “As Menelmacar rose, the elves burst into song, lit a fire, and said it was time for speech and merriment. Then Melkor [the dark power] was shaken by the laughter of Tulkas and fled from the earth.” Silmarillion, The Coming of the Elves.

In Tolkien’s cosmology the bright stars of Ursa Major are the Valar, the 7 great creator gods. Manwe is the greatest of the Valar. “With Manwë dwells Varda, Lady of the Stars, who knows all the regions of Ea….. Of all the Great Ones who dwell in this world the Elves hold Varda most in reverence and love. Elbereth they name her, and they call upon her name out of the shadows of Middle-earth, and uplift it in song at the rising of the stars.” – The Silmarillion, Valaquenta, p 26 According to Tolkien, Varda created the stars, and placed them innumerable in the heavens. “And high in the North as a challenge to Melkor she set the crown of seven mighty stars to swing, Valacirca, the Sickle of the Valar and sign of doom [to the dark powers of the earth].” – The Silmarillion, p 48.

It is the Valar Manwe who guides and powers the coming of the great wizard Gandalf or Mithrandir. Gandalf is identified with the “hermit star” Arcturus described as “a Lamp, translucent, set in Ilwe on the edge Middle-earth’s breathable air.” In Tarot, Arcturus is the Hermit standing alone on a high mount holding a lantern. Arcturus is located in the 20th Parallel North as this star casts its influence on Earth. The current eruption at this parallel of the two great volcanoes Popo in Mexico and Kilauea in Hawai’i represents an activation of this Hermit / wizard archetype. The ascendancy of the star Arcturus and the arrival of Gandalf  portends the coming of the Avatar or divine consciousness for the new era.

Arcturus can easily be found in the early morning sky now: Follow the Arc of the Big Dipper’s handle to the right eastward to bright Arcturus, the star of Gandalf. Continue this arc further on to find Spica, the lucida of Virgo and the star of Arwen, the elf queen. In the Tarot, Arcturus is identified with Key 9 the Hermit and Spica is Key 3 the Empress. Spica also represents the world mother, the all provider with her abundant cornucopia. Brilliant Venus, the bright star of this Christmas season, shines just below and left of Spica. The alignment of these celestial bodies now bodes well for the world in the coming year. Witnessing their alignment augments their power to bring prosperity and peace to our lives.

Events of Winter Solstice seed what will be unfolding in the coming year. Never complete within themselves, these events represent potentialities to be realized. Their realization depends on what we do individually, in dyad and in the many magical working groups that will be forming in this very special year.

The Truth About Santa Claus

Yggdrasill, the great Ash tree, the World Tree, omphalos or navel of the world, is ‘Yggr’s steed’. Yggr is Odin; his steed, an eight-legged horse (Sleipnir) that he rides to the underworld. The eight limbs of Sleipnir are the eight spokes of the Wheel. As Plato suggests, the 8 spheres of heaven are fastened to a spindle that ‘turns on the knees of Necessity”, all things birthed by Nature revolving about the World Tree..”  – Fruits of the Moon Tree, p 77 by Alan Bleakley.

Santa Claus is a Mercurial figure much like the Norse wizard Odin who travels between worlds on his 8 legged horse Sleppnir. Santa brings gifts from the North Pole, Odin hangs suspended from the World Tree (at the north pole) to bring the magical gift of the runes.

Odin or Woden is equivalent to our Mercury. Mercurious is described as inhabiting the northern pole in Jung’s great classic Aeon. Odin’s horse and Santa’s 8 fleet footed deer represent the 8 turning points of the year marked by solstices, equinoxes and the cross quarter days. These 8 radiants or spokes of the zodiacal wheel converge at the North Pole.

Santa Claus is real and he lives at the North Pole. St Nicholas travels throughout the world on Christmas Eve to bring gifts to children. Santa enters homes through chimneys, through fire places and through the human heart.

Santa is an anagram for “Sanat.” Sanat Kumara is the presiding spirit of the Earth residing at the North Pole in an etheric city called Shamballa. This is the City of Revelation (Rev.21) on its “sea of glass” surrounded by the rainbow of northern lights (Rev.4). Humans in the Lord of the Rings call their sacred capital the White City, another name for Shamballa. The twelve stones in the foundation of this City represent the twelve signs of the Zodiac as these are oriented over the Earth. The zodiacal lines and other degrees of longitude converge at the northern and southern poles. The North Pole, the spiritual center of the world, is called the Irminsul Pillar by the Norse. This primeval Pillar or World Tree is our Christmas Tree with its bright star of promise. It is also the Tree of Life that bears “twelve  kinds of fruit, yielding one each month” (Rev.22).  Winter Solstice is the gate to the garden of the sacred city where this Tree grows.

As each soul is anchored through the light above the crown of the head (the soul star), so the soul of the world (the “anima mundi”) appears as a spiritual light above the North Pole of the world. The North Pole is the pivot around which turns the mandala of creation. Dancing or whirling clockwise (Sunwise) helps align and synchronize with the world soul.

Arrayed around the North Pole are the “seven spirits before the throne” spoken of in Revelation. These are the 7 Kumaras of Hindu tradition, the 7 Planetary Logoi of esoteric teaching and the Christmas Elves of our Santa mythology. Sanat or Santa, their leader, is the biblical Ancient of Days. Love enters our world through an alignment between Sanat Kumara and the Christ. (Initiation Human and Solar p. 44, AA Bailey). Love is the Lord of this creation and the Spring of love is refreshed in the Season of Yule. This revitalizing spirit travels from its polar source and – like an etheric electric charge – seeks out the high places on Earth finding connection with mountain tops, holy sites, standing stones, and yes, chimneys!

Christmas or Yule Trees also attract and anchor the incoming spirit of Solstice as each tree resonates holographically with the world tree of the polar axis wherein flows solar prana. The new spirit of love moves from these anchoring points, channeling through fire elementals and through human hearts to spread its magic throughout the world. Hearts opening and responding one with the other will always have a Merry Yule.

During Winter Solstice the light of the Sun is reborn in the heart of the Earth and in the heart of everyone. “Christ in us, the hope of glory” is the Christian invocation. The Druid way is to open all secret chambers to the light of the Sun at this special time. Most importantly, the rays of the spiritual Sun are allowed to penetrate our innermost hearts at this most dark and sacred time of year.

The Soul/Sol of the world is born anew at midnight on Christmas Eve.  The center candle of the advent wreath is lit, Moravians send the midnight new fire home with worshipers. Christ/Sol light is born anew in the heart of the world and of every one open to receive.

Wish/intentions for the New Year are powered through Yuletide celebration. This is a time to gather with family and friends to enjoy yuletide traditions. Celebration, simple folk customs and practices help open our hearts to the purity, love and beauty of the season.

Here are a few simple practices to help bring back the holiday magic:

* Deck the halls with boughs of holly to clear homes of astral shades. Many present day holiday customs are inherited from the Druids, the pre-eminent nature technologists of the ancient world. At the end of every cycle non-assimilable psychic energies (astral shadows) come up to be transformed, recycled or dispelled. These may appear to the psychic eye as overstuffed astral uglies which, strangely, have an inexorable urge to cast themselves onto any sharp points, e.g. holly. Folkways encode more esoteric wisdom than our books can hold. Many of these customs are easier to do than explain but in our day we often have to know why in order to do.

* Gathering around fire. Celebrate with friends and family around a fireplace, bonfire or candlelit table. Whether for “bringing back the Sun” or warming bodies and hearts, gathering around fire is a universal tradition of the season. Solar fire stored in wood through photosynthesis released now powers seed intentions for the new cycle. Christmas trees are traditionally burned on Epiphany Jan 6 to conclude the celebration.

* Singing together. Noel means “mind of God.” The root word ‘noos‘ means mind and ‘el‘ is god. French philosopher Pierre de Chardin coined the term “noosphere” for the planetary mind.  This re-inspiriting consciousness readily comes through groups singing in circle. To sing together is to breathe and inspire together. The group angel or deva formed above the center of the group in song connects each one with their higher good. So there’s reason for singing together besides the shear joy of it. Any song with which all are familiar or can be easily learned will work for group inspiration. Of course the first thing to come out when we sing together is the discord, it is really good to carry on and get the discord out, then comes the cosmic harmony.

* Dancing in circle. Carol means “circle dance song.” Yule carols were originally sung by people dancing in Sunwise circle to invoke the return of the Sun. Dancing clockwise or Sunwise causes the auric field to turn round forming a vortex of energy spinning around an axis that connects energetically with the Earth’s northern pole and the magic of Yule. As each soul is anchored through the light above the crown of the head (the soul star), so the soul of the world (the “anima mundi”) appears as a spiritual light above the North Pole of the world. The North Pole is the pivot around which turns the mandala of creation. Dancing or whirling clockwise (Sunwise) helps synchronize with the soul of the world.

* Connecting with the spirit of the north. The spring of love is refreshed during Yule each year. This revitalizing spirit travels from its polar source and – like an etheric electric charge – seeks out high places on Earth. Yule Trees attract and anchor this incoming spiritual influence as each tree resonates holographically with the world tree of the polar axis. Meditation and prayer facing north or lying head north aids alignment with the spiritual world. This practice helps to realize soul purpose for this new cycle of creation.

* Ringing bells to break shadow spells, release old stuck patterns and open to the new spirit. Jingle those bells!

This Yuletide season 21 December 2010 – 6 January 2011 is our time to dream and shape the future year. Of course what will be is shaped as much by what we do as it is by cosmic cycles. All the signs point toward 2011 being an extremely good, creative, productive and abundant year.  Just how good and how soon this all unfolds depends on what we do with the opportunities that come our way – and in how we celebrate Solstice, Yule and Epiphany. Celebration is key!

Bright Blessings to you in this joyous season!

Steve Nelson (Mythic Astrologer) with “The Shift Doctors” (Tracy Latz, M.D. & Marion Ross, Ph.D.)

-For more about Steve Nelson’s astrological services visit his webpage at Mythic Times is dedicated to more conscious living through the understanding of astrological cycles, global mythologies, and cross cultural celebration. Steve is offering a Yule Holiday Astrology Special to anyone in the Charlotte, NC area who would like a reading with him. Offer is good through Epiphany, January 6th, 2011.

*Check out The Shift Doctors’ books at the Amazon link by clicking here and the Meditation CDs at the digstation link by clicking here


  1. thank you for your very comprehensive, interesting and informative writings about this season!

    this is the first time i have connected with your writings and look forward to re-visiting and sharing with others.

    peace within and around and deep dreams realized to you!


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