At this New Moon and Winter Solstice, we celebrate change: a time when the sun takes a pause from its path in the sky, like the space between breaths; and a moment of stillness, for regrouping, before we advance forth again. In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is low and the solstice marks the time when the days begin to gradually stretch out again (albeit by one minute/day), reminding us that each moment counts. My Papou (grandfather), who was in his element during the long, warm days of summer and tending to his vegetable garden, noted this truth every solstice. The implication was: it may be dark now, but today we get one extra minute of light.
The New Moon (exact yesterday, Dec. 23rd) is in the sign of Capricorn, which sparks our ambitions and longterm goals. It can also cause feelings of defeat or discouragement when goals are not realized — but if I know one thing about the mountain goat (and I do! – I am one), we don’t give up easily, no matter how futile things may seem (and, boy, can they sometimes). Giving up, simply, doesn’t seem to be an option for children of Saturn (Capricorn’s ruling planet). A line from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot comes to mind: “You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”
During Capricorn season, you may feel a bit like the character from Beckett’s play: I can’t go on, I’ll go on. Capricorns, luckily, have a knack for seeing the humor in life situations – a dry humor cultivated over a lifetime, and a trait that may be rooted more in survival than anything else. Despite any feelings of life weariness you may currently feel, you may also be in the process of reconnecting with your ambitions, devising new plans and goals or, perhaps, revamping something that didn’t quite work in its former state.
Beckett is also famous for his “fail better” line (“try again, fail again, fail better”). Although this line may not have originally been meant as inspirational, it highlights that failure is an important part of life that bears its own, let’s say, interesting kind of fruit (can you hear my Capricorn humor?), whether or not it leads to recognizable or worldly success. We may only deem our failures worthwhile if they transform into big wins, but perhaps there is something redemable in them either way. These are the two faces of the mountain goat (Capricorn): failure and success.
With so many planets in Capricorn at this New Moon, failure and success are themes you may be revisiting, along with the patterns that lead you there. Can you look at the things that didn’t work out as you had hoped or intended in a different way (I know, that’s annoying) … even if it is just to laugh at it? It is important to shift feelings and emotions around failures, or perceived failures, because we can only move on from experiences and emotions when we have accepted and integrated them. Feelings of failure or disappointment that get stuck or stagnate in the body/mind can cause trouble.
Capricorns are said to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. When, many years ago, I had my first Astrology Reading, the man reading my natal chart looked at my shoulders and smiled: they were raised up by my ears in full-on Capricorn fashion. He told me, jokingly, he could spot Capricorns from a mile away by looking at their shoulders.
If you are feeling tension or pain in your shoulders or upper back it may be a signal to release what you are carrying on an emotional level. Slow, stretchy yoga poses and movements, accompanied by steady, consistent breaths, can help to relieve some of the tension. You can start with jaw stretches, gentle neck stretches (side to side), shoulder rolls. You may want to interlace your hands behind your head, leaning your head into your hands and opening, gently, your elbows. Side body leans may feel nice, as well as Cat/Cow and modified wide-arms Cobra rolls. Really tune into your body and breath as you move. I will work on recording and posting a short video for releasing upper body pain.
Just like the slow but steady lengthening of each day that my Papou liked to point out, Capricorn energy spurs us to get back to work with the knowledge that our efforts, although tedious, may result in something akin to those long, blissful summer days. Failure can (and often does) contribute to something meaningful that you are unaware of at the time. And, if it doesn’t pan out the way we’d hoped … well … there’s always humor.

Tonight, I picked one of my Osho Zen Tarot cards for inspiration. I chose Innocence. Here is what Osho has to say: “The old IMG_1667man in this card radiates a childlike delight in the world. There is a sense of grace surrounding him, as if he is at home with himself and with what life has brought. He seems to be having a playful communication with the praying mantis on his finger, as if the two of them are the greatest friends. The pink flowers cascading around him represent a time of letting go, relaxation and sweetness. They are a response to his presence, a reflection of his own qualities. The innocence that comes from a deep experience of life is childlike, but not childish. The innocence of children is beautiful, but ignorant. It will be replaced by mistrust and doubt as the child grows and learns that the world can be a dangerous and threatening place. But the innocence of a life lived fully has a quality of wisdom and acceptance of the ever-changing wonder of life.”

An astrologer once told me that I was aging backward. As a Capricorn, he clarified, I become more youthful with age. “You are old when you’re young and young when you’re old,” were his exact words. Sounds about right, I thought. I was a cautious and shy child. My parents both worked full-time when I was young, and I missed my mother with urgency and desperation; in fact, I cried every morning when I remembered that she had already left for the train. My sweet grandmother, my Yiayia, soothed me and braided (and re-braided until I approved) my hair, made me breakfast  which included tea with milk and honey, just how I liked it.

I associate my warmest childhood memories with Yiayia and Papou. I was deeply loved. But nothing compared to having my mom around and I pined for her during those years. My dad was absent so often (he worked in the restaurant business) that I was accustomed to it, but it was a treat when he was home; we always did something fun, like searching for the Banshees, the magical, little creatures who lived in the woods, or going on a drive to Sleepy Hollow to catch a peak of the Headless Horseman (sometimes, he let me sit on his lap in the car and help steer) or even shopping (I once, around the age of 5, randomly requested a maroon colored woman’s purse; I still remember the scent of the leather and my mother’s disapproval.).

But as a young girl, I had, in true Capricorn form, the metaphoric weight of the world on my shoulders. Intuitively, I knew that something was very wrong in my parents’ lives and I carried that with me, a heavy backpack full of fear. I questioned my mother at a young age about the man in the moon. I could see the round, luminous globe in the sky and had spotted the outline of a figure inside it. He was an evil entity who would prey on us, a force threatening our safety and security. I wasn’t satisfied by my mother’s flippant response: “The man in the moon? Who told you that?” she laughed. She didn’t seem to understand the weight and urgency of the subject. “So he won’t hurt us?” I repeated.

When you live in a fearful state, the world is dangerous. The moon is not bright: it’s ominous.

As I age, that backpack lightens and I begin to see again, as if through a child’s eyes, the wonder around me. I have taken to placing my hands on trees when I pass them just to feel their tree-ness, looking up at the sky as often as possible, connecting with children and animals. I have no problem barking like a dog when I’m teaching a children’s yoga class; something you would have never caught me doing in my teenage or even young adult years; I would have felt too embarrassed, too self-conscious. I’m letting go of old, outworn items in my backpack. They were never my items to begin with. Pretty soon, I might even lose the backpack all together and, just possibly, replace it with wings. Wheeeee.

Here is the second card I picked: