The Dance of the Lights, the Moon gives a gift to the Sun. Visiting the solstice and the relationship between the two lights and considering the Jupiter Neptune conjunction at this current solstice and some from history.

The Guiding Christmas Star - A look at the fixed stars that bring Joy and what this means in terms of the Winter Solstice.



Season Greetings from the Visual Astrology Newsletter

A Happy Solstice to all our readers from Darrelyn Gunzburg and Bernadette Brady.


If you want to learn more about Visual Astrology then take five minutes and consider the 2nd Visual Astrology Conference 9-13 September, 2010 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. StarLogos >>> 2010.

And.... you can buy Starlight, the software that returns the sky to your horoscopes for a discount price in the next few weeks.

The Dance of the Lights
The Moon gives a gift to the Sun

Bernadette Brady M.A.


The solstice for many of us is a time of light. We seek to bring light to the world either spiritually or physically through the act of lighting candles, and in both public and private ways, through the displays of Christmas lights. This is not just a Christian festival, for within the Jewish culture it is the time of Chanukah, another celebration of light. The Jewish festival remembers what is known as 'the miracle of the container of oil'. At the time of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem around the year 165 BCE there was only enough sacred olive oil for the wick to burn for one night. Miraculously it burnt for eight nights, allowing time for more oil to be prepared.

In the time of pagan Rome the solstice was known as Sol Invictus, (Unconquered Sun) but the major festival of this time for the Romans was Saturnalia, the feast dedicated to Saturn which was held for a week and ended around the day of the solstice. It was celebrated with feasting, school holidays and the exchanging of gifts, all in association with the symbolic reversal of social roles between slaves and masters. This reversal was aided by the wearing of different hats which visually changed one’s rank in society. 

Whatever the cultural overlay or beliefs around this time in the northern hemisphere, it is of course the time of the longest night and the ancient battle of the Sun god struggling to be reborn.

When the heavens were the main source of light, then apart from household lamps, one was acutely aware of the movement of the Sun and Moon, and thus of the annual dance of the weaving of light and dark that these two celestial lights performed every year.  

Sun Rise
Figure 1. Sun rise during the course of a year, At the summer solstice the sun rises in the North East after which each successive sunrise occurs closer to due east. At the equinox the sun rises due east, after which the location of sunrise moves towards the south. At the winter solstice the sun rises at its extreme south position for that latitude.

The Winter Solstice – the battle of the Sun

If you stand in the same place and watch the sunrise over the course of a year, you will notice that at the time of equal day and night the Sun will rise due east (see Figure 1). If you continue to watch successive sunrises, you will notice the point where the sun cuts the horizon is drifting relentlessly towards the south east. Furthermore as this drift towards the south occurs, the light and warmth of the sun reduces. Eventually the sun rises seemingly in the same place on the horizon, and thus appears to stop. From this visual phenomenon we gain the word 'solstice' ( sol, sun, and -stitium, stoppage).

At this time it was believed that the Sun god was fighting with the forces of darkness that sought to drag him down to the south and thus to death - no daylight, no warmth, no sunrise. The battle lasted, and still does last, for three days, when finally Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun, emerges rising once again, not in the same place, nor having been dragged further to the south but victoriously having broken free of the grip of darkness, rising a notch further to the north. This was cause for celebration.

The Gift from the Moon

With our cultural focus on the Sun we have tended to ignore the role of the Moon in this struggle with darkness. Just as the Sun takes a year to mark out the arc of sunrise along the horizon from summer to winter solstice, so the Moon’s risings, over the course of one single month, will follow the same arc (with small variations depending on its location north or south of the ecliptic). Thus what the sun takes twelve months to do along the line of the horizon the Moon does in one month.

Now the time of the greatest light of the Moon is, of course, the time of the full Moon, and a full Moon occurs when the Moon is in the opposite zodiac sign to the Sun. Hence when the Sun is in late Sagittarius and fighting its battle with the forces of darkness, the full Moon will be in Gemini-Cancer and will be rising around the place on the horizon which marks the summer solstice.

Winter Full Moon

But this place of summer solstice rising is not just the place where the Sun is at its strongest and brightest. It is also the place where the Moon will gain her greatest length of time above the horizon.

The full Moon at the winter solstice will rise higher and appear longer in the night sky than any other full Moon in the year. Just when the Sun is at its weakest, the other celestial light –the Moon - it is at its strongest.

Long before humanity began to light candles to help defeat the forces of darkness engulfing the Sun, the Moon was and still is coming to his aid and every year she gives to him more of her precious light by rising higher and lasting longer than at any other time of the year.

The opposite is also true. At the time of the summer solstice when the days are long, the full Moon rises in the place on the horizon of the Sun’s winter solstice and will be low in the sky, staying above the horizon for the shortest amount of time of any full Moon in the year. In converse deed, when the Moon is struggling for light, the Sun aids her.

It is the dance of the heavenly lights and when you light a candle or hang one of your Christmas lights in the window of your home, you too are partaking of this beautiful dance, helping the Moon to come to the aid of the struggling solstice Sun.  

The 2009 - Gifts between Sun and Moon

The Capricorn solstice is also the birthday of the Sun, and thus the annual solstice chart is also the Sun’s solar return. This particular solstice is marked by the tight conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune sitting in the tail of the constellation Capricorn, the great civilising sea-goat Ea who brought law, order and education to his people. With Jupiter representing the Crown Prince in visual astrology, this beholds a year where the succession of power is orderly, a time where the young contenders abide by the rules and aid the ruling party, rather than rebel against it.

In order to better understand this conjunction, we can consider a few previous winter solstices which occurred as Jupiter was forming a conjunction with Neptune.

At the winter solstice of 1536 there was a Jupiter-Neptune conjunction in the constellation Pisces, on the edge of one of the fishes (Figure 2).

1536 Solstice

Generally the fishes, also known as the swallows, represent the bringing together of dissimilar themes. However, this was the period when Henry VIII of England separated his country from the Catholic Church with England.

In this return of 1536, the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction was expressed through issues of religion being pulled apart, rather than coming together.

Figure 2 - the Solstice of 1536 and Henry VIII separates England from the Catholic Church.

At the winter solstice of 1612 there was a Jupiter-Neptune conjunction in the wing of the stars of Virgo (Figure 3). This part of the sky is associated with issues of separation or exile. At this time a new crop was under experimentation in the New World.


In Virginia tobacco began to be cultivated by Europeans on a commercial level in an attempt to mass produce the newly discovered 'recreational drug'.  At this time the focus of Jupiter-Neptune was not on a Crown Prince per se but rather on the new drug being grown in the New World.

Figure 3 - the Solstice of 1612 and the new recreational drug, tobacco, is cultivated by Europeans in Virginia.


Solstice 1804

At the winter solstice of 1804 there was a Jupiter-Neptune conjunction in the stars of Scorpio, located in the mouth of this great celestial creature. This is the period of the rise of Napoleon when he was crowned King of Italy (1805). Here we see the traditional visual astrology meanings: a warrior Crown Prince coming to power through military might.

Figure 4 - the Solstice of 1804 - Napoleon rises to strength in Europe.

Now at the winter solstice of 2009 we have a Jupiter-Neptune conjunction in the tail of Ea, the constellation Capricorn. This represents a taming of any possible wildness in the 'Crown Prince'.

Solstice 2009

This, I believe, creates an environment where all Jupiter-Neptune world issues can benefit: there may be some real resolutions of the complicated issues around religious terrorism; maybe the world banking methods will become less inflationary; or it may just be possible that the climate change summit in Copenhagen later this month will actually achieve something.

Figure 5 - the Solstice of 2009 - Jupiter-Neptune in the tail of Capricorn - opportunities for solutions.

If any of this could be manifested into our physical world then it would be a very great gift indeed that the Moon gives to the Sun this solstice!

 Happy birthday Sun and may you have many, many happy returns.


The Guiding Christmas Star -
A look at the stars that bring Joy

Darrelyn Gunzburg

Matthew 2:1-2 (New King James Version) describes an enigmatic sky story that has captured academic debates, scientific deliberations, theological discussions and the lay imagination since the early years of the Common Era.

Three Wise Men

The sky story is reported in Matthew thus:

'Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.'

Despite all these questions, above all the Christmas star has traditionally been associated with the spirit of celebration and the bringer of joy, and in this Winter Solstice Visual Astrology Newsletter I thought it appropriate to look at the nature of joy and stars that carry this concept.

There are five stars which will bring joy in some form into one’s life and they are:

Acubens, the joy of life
The star in the southern claw of Cancer, the scarab beetle of life.

Sualocin, the joy of intelligent play
The northern star in the head of Delphinus, the dolphin.

Mirach, the joy of receptivity and fertility
The southern star of three above the girdle of Andromeda, the princess.

Sadalsuud, the joy of natural rapport
The star in the left shoulder of Aquarius, the water-bearer.

Sadalmelek, the joy of making one’s own luck
The bright star in the right shoulder of Aquarius, the water-bearer.

However, let us unpack exactly what ‘joy’ means.

One definition is that joy is the emotion of great happiness.[1] Another adds that it is happiness or pleasure, especially of an elevated or spiritual kind. [2] However, emotions of happiness are often preceded by difficulty. This contrast of one state (difficult) which gives way to another (happiness) highlights and gives value to the emerging state which we call joy. So we could say that joy is felt when an anticipated difficult outcome does not occur but yields instead to a successful scenario.

Biblical Joy


Joy in the Bible is also seen as more than simply an emotion but something which combines a sense of happiness with a state of blessedness. In the Old Testament it is marked by public excitement at times of festival (Deut. 12: 6f) and by relief when an individual had a grievance which he could bring to the Temple for settlement (Psalms. 43: 4). In the New Testament joy cascades through Luke's gospel (2: 10; 19: 37) and in the Acts (13: 52), where it is a gift of the spirit (Acts 8: 39; Gal. 5: 22).[2]

Here again joy is being defined as an emergent state which occurs after a period of effort or struggle. A festival is a day or period of time set aside for feasting and celebration and is in contrast with the mundane workaday world that precedes it.

Can we apply this understanding of joy to the five fixed stars above? I think we can. Since joy is not a stand-alone state, if you have a luminary or planet in paran with one or more of these fixed stars - Acubens, Sualocin, Mirach, Sadalsuud or Sadalmelek -then there must be other stars in your parans that bring difficulty. The effort given to overcoming the difficulty allows the joy to emerge.

When searching the Starlight database for people whose parans contained more than one of the fixed stars that bring joy, the most I could find was four - Acubens, Sualocin, Sadalsuud and Sadalmelek.

Duke of Windsor

This was for the Duke of Windsor who ascended the British throne only to fall in love with a divorced woman. At that time no Royal could marry a divorcee, so he abdicated in order to follow the path of his heart. This is a lovely example of someone born into the lap of prosperity with four of the five planets that bring joy prominent in his parans and who still had to undergo a time of stress and soul-searching before finally moving away from this privileged position in order to gain the joy he desired.

Let us remember, then, that joy is not a given in life but must be attained by a journey through difficulty. So when we wish joy to others at this Winter Solstice let us be aware of exactly what it is we are wishing.


[1] wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn – accessed 1st December 2009

[2] Encarta Dictionary of English.

[3] W. R. F. BROWNING. "joy." A Dictionary of the Bible. 1997. Encyclopedia.com. (December 1, 2009). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O94-joy.html