I find myself fogbound in North Yorkshire on this Solstice Eve. Sound is muffled. Time and space are a mystery. The Sun is invisible, beyond the pale. It could be any time of day. Space indefinable: is the bent hawthorn near or far in the white?
It is all still.
At this most magical time, when we turn from fevered Sagittarius to focused Capricorn, this feels awesome, delicate — as delicate as the tiny details of the foreground: fog-spangled moss, a singing green, blackened twigs and dead leaves, and the swirling waters of the dark brown brook. All seem sharper and stranger, magnified.
We are inward now — yet another intense Solstice in this long chain of such profoundly soul-searching ones that began a decade ago when Pluto the Lord of the Underworld took up residence here, so that each time another planet ventures over this threshold, she must pay homage. This year, with Venus deep and powerful, in conversation with Pluto, ask yourself this: what is my deepest, most buried value? Is it a diamond or is it coal dust? What are my deepest relationships? Are they diamonds or coal dust?
On the other side of the pond from this cottage, directly outside the front door, strange turfy lumps erupt sullenly from the earth. These are the remains of lead mines. This metal of Saturn was dug from here for thousands of years — exported to Rome in the early centuries AD, later used for bullets and tombstones, binding stained glass and making roofs water-tight.
Once this empty hillside crawled with activity as men, women and children toiled to extract toxic metal from the earth. Now it is still and cold, and the bracken and heather, deer and sheep have reclaimed it.
Alchemists tried to turn lead, this base metal of Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, ruler of the Solstice, into gold, the Sun’s planet. A metaphor, of course, because that transformation happens every year. Now at the turning of the year, the invincible Sun begins his journey to power, gaining strength every day.
Magically, lead begins its transformation into gold.