Once, on a visit to New Zealand, I stepped outside on a cool, clear evening and looked up at the sky. What I saw made me a little dizzy: not just a thick blanket of stars, but constellations so different from the ones I’m used to! As an urban dweller, I had no idea that I’d become so familiar with the night sky – until I saw one that was utterly foreign.
Sagittarius rules encounters with the unfamiliar. Some of them take us as far away as the other side of the world, where the sky is upside down. But simply traveling to an unfamiliar part of your own city will do the trick as well. Whenever you find yourself feeling a little bit uncomfortable, like a proverbial fish out of water, then you’re doing Sagittarius right. Whatever makes you look at the world, or even just your own life, with new eyes and wonderment – that’s Sagittarius territory.
It occurred to me, watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for maybe the 40th time, how many of the stories we enjoy revisiting each year during the holiday season – as the Sun moves through Sagittarius – are tales of heroic journeys. Rudolph hits the road with his fellow misfit, Hermey the Elf, in search of a place where they fit in. The three wise men embark on the ultimate road trip, with only a star to lead them to the newborn savior. George Bailey and Clarence, and Ebeneezer Scrooge and his ghostly tour guides, travel to alternate universes to better grasp the importance of a single human life.
For each of us, Sagittarius represents our own Hero’s Journey, complete with tortuous paths, ordeals and rewards, and the promise of redemption. We recognize ourselves in Rudolph, in George, and even in poor old Scrooge. We understand their dissatisfaction and despair, and the feeling that there’s no better way to reboot our lives than to launch ourselves into the vast unknown. We know the fear of failure and the sadness of feeling like a stranger, and we know that there are times in life when proving that we can overcome that fear and sadness is exactly what we need in order to feel truly alive.
In the Northern Hemisphere, December tends to be one of the coldest months of the year. For most of us, its weather is better suited for bundling up in front of the fire with cocoa, safe and warm, than for taking off into the unknown. Even our winter holidays shine with a slightly desperate brightness, their songs and parties a kind of spiritual CPR meant to coax us into staying alive through the long, cold season.
Perhaps it’s the faint karmic memory of some recent Scorpio lifetime, but Sagittarius is better equipped than most to handle December’s cold, dark solitude. He doesn’t scare easily. He is exhilarated and dizzied by the long, dark nights; their stars are proxies for the faraway lands he may never see, silent and twinkling assurances that no matter how much of the world he explores, there will always be new lands waiting to be discovered.
At the Winter Solstice (December 21, 3:03 pm PST), the Sun enters Capricorn and reaches its lowest point in the sky. There is, we feel, nowhere to go but up. The calendar year is almost finished, and we begin to plot our resolutions for the new one that lies ahead.
But at the Sagittarius New Moon, we’re not yet ready for resolutions; we’re still exploring possibilities. We stand beside a frozen lake in the flat, white winter light, wearing a scarf knitted for us by some tender, Cancerian sort of person, pondering questions big and small. What happens after we die? What happens if we forget to live? Overhead, a few straggling winter birds fly in formation; we wonder where they’ll end up, and whether it might be worth following them on their journey.
After December 23, when Saturn enters Sagittarius (through December 2017), the baggage we carry will feel heavier, and journeying will seem like serious business. But during this Sagittarius New Moon season, let yourself yearn for a life that’s larger and a little more inclusive than the one you’ve been living. Ponder the big questions. It’s time to embark on your Hero’s Journey – wandering bravely into a half-frozen world, crowned with a hat full of unfamiliar stars.
© 2012/2014 April Elliott Kent