20th June 2016
A magical thing, the calyx: if you open it up intrusively, before the flower is formed, it seems to be an empty green space. Given a bit more time you may see an embryonic green flower. Give it its own time and the calyx opens of itself to reveal a beautiful, colourful blossom. It’s nothing short of miraculous. The calyx is the tangible space of creation or manifestation. The word ‘calyx’ shares its root with ‘chalice’, the sacred cup, symbol of feminine power: receptive, holding, creative and manifesting. Ruskin wrote, ‘The calyx is nothing but the swaddling clothes of the flower.’ But a baby is placed into swaddling clothes; it does not magically appear inside of them. The calyx is more rightly the womb, the cauldron of the mother.
This is a very fitting symbol for the Summer Solstice, defined as it is by the passing of the Sun into the sign of Cancer – sign of the mother, ruled by the Moon, and signifying the umbilical connection between mother and child. The divine idea initiated in Aries (fire) at the Spring Equinox comes into manifestation in Cancer (water) at the Summer Solstice. This time of reckoning under the eye of the Sun, now at the peak of its powers in the northern hemisphere, asks us to be conscious of what is developing within the calyx – what qualities, exactly, are we fostering inwardly and outwardly? These things will soon be visible and will come to fruition as we head towards the Autumn Equinox. Past intentions and actions are the seeds of our future.
The Summer Solstice is charged this year with power and intensity. A series of three squares between Saturn and Neptune (in Sagittarius and Pisces respectively) began in November last year as the oceanic force of Neptune erodes the established order as represented by Saturn. The second square occurs on 18th June, two days prior to the Solstice. (The third and final square will come just days before the Autumn Equinox on 10th September.) Things cannot remain the same; the tide is taking us whether we will it or not. Neptune, god of the sea, brings both inspiration and sacrifice. We see the seas taking many lives as desperate people seek a place of refuge from radical insecurity. Established authority on this little island of ours seems hellbent on interpreting this phenomenon as an economic question. Neptune calls upon us to develop compassion and empathy; if we cannot raise our game, Neptune will deliver its goods in a different register, as deceit and delusion. Old certainties and obsolete power arrangements will change regardless of our responses; ‘a torrent cannot stay upon a mountain.’
The Solstice is preceded by a Full Moon, less than 12 hours earlier, on the unstable 29th degree of Gemini(Sun) and Sagittarius (Moon). This brings aggravation and tension caused by the need for change as we seek a new orientation and a new way of relating little local perceptions to a broader context of meaning that allows us to understand our place in the wider world.
Faith and wisdom are what we need; what we seem to have is a media hoopla surrounding our relationship with our neighbours. When we don’t know what to think and reason has gone to hell in a handcart, a return to principles is required. What is the ethical imperative at this time? What serves social responsibility and social justice?
The astrology of the Summer Solstice indicates nothing less than a crisis of confusion and nervous strain as the titanic forces of Neptune and Saturn battle it out in the company of Mercury and Jupiter: all four being involved in a tight Grand Cross at the time of the Solstice, making the calyx feel more like a padded cell, a place of absolute restriction. When stress levels spike we need to find our ground and our centredness.
Pluto, the powerful planet of radical regeneration, is aspecting this Grand Cross: ineluctable destructive/regenerative force is at work; the wheel is turning. It seems as if we are about to come face to face with aspects of our national cultures that have not been consciously acknowledged. Poised at this point of stasis, fraught with strain and tension, the oak king is slain by the holly king and the descent towards darkness begins. Becoming aware of the qualities and intentions we are individually holding is inestimably valuable; grounding our disquiet and tension, likewise. Life supports us totally in whatever it is we choose to believe. Let’s choose well.