The Yin of Capricorn

Tuesday December 28th 2010
Winter Moonlight by George Inness captures
the stillness of this time of year.
The end of December. In the northern hemisphere, the darkest, quietest and stillest part of the year. The time when the earth’s energy is at its weakest and we have a little more time to think – reflecting on the year that is ending, and making plans for the year to come.
In the Taoist tradition the winter solstice is when yin – the calm, soft, feminine dark force opposed to shiny, hard, lively masculine yang – is at its fullest. The associated element is water: think of a cool, deep, placid lake. The cool moon is yin, while the fiery sun is yang.
It’s important not to get too hung up on gender when you are thinking about polarities. All of us need a mixture of these oppositional forces, but we will be inclined to be more one way than the other. The aim for a Taoist is to achieve a balance between the yin and yang, using each type of energy appropriately.
So how does this fit with our western zodiac, where at the very moment of fullest yin, the Sun moves into Capricorn?
Our zodiac is also divided into positive and negative signs, styled as masculine and feminine. These alternate, starting with the positive fire sign Aries and ending with the negative water sign Pisces. All the water and earth signs are negative and all the fire and air signs are positive.
You can think of the zodiac as breathing – out with Aries, in with Taurus and so on. Energy is pulled in and then pulled out with the rhythm of the Sun through the year.
Earthy Capricorn is a negative, feminine sign ruled by the “coldest” traditional planet Saturn. It’s also one of the Cardinals that signal the start of a season.
This should be a moment of pause and planning for all of us. Nature herself has asked us stop this year – and stay still.

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