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Seasonal Astrology – Winter: Bare Trees

by April Elliott Kent baretreesEach season of the year has its devotees.  Summer people are invariably thin and look great in a bathing suit. Spring folks are almost disgustingly optimistic.  Fans of autumn are romantics who enjoy wearing wool. And winter people…are there any? Even here in San Diego, where a low temperature of 39° Fahrenheit constitutes an unbearable cold snap, people rarely have anything good to say about winter. “The days are so short,” they whine.  “And it’s cooooolllld.”

Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. Sun, and especially heat, are vastly overrated in my book. I hate to sweat. I fear skin cancer. And most of my favorite activities are centered around the great indoors—so what do I care if the sun comes up a bit later and sets a bit earlier?

But to be fair, most who revile this noble season do so less for the harshness of the weather than for winter’s somewhat harsh manner of exposing the failures and shortcomings of our current circumstances. Has your relationship with your family deteriorated into bitter contentiousness? Winter and its three major holidays will provide ample opportunity for the invective to flow freely.  Have you failed to nurture warm and supportive friendships? A dearth of holiday party invitations will showcase this deficit to optimum advantage. Maybe you rely upon your physical attributes to attract suitors, then complain they only want you for your body; obscuring  your comely figure with thirty pounds of sweaters, and down jackets might diminish such attention and force an examination of how best to cultivate personality traits which would attract a more satisfying kind of relationship.

Winter’s cold, short days winnow out the weak from the strong, the complainers from the doers. And those born under winter’s constellations serve a similar, tonic function.

Capricorn‘s steely pragmatism; the ferocious independence and prickly individualism of Aquarius; and even Pisces‘ ability to simply disappear when they’ve had enough of you, cut us no slack whatsoever. Try cornering one of these people at a holiday party and rattling off a self-pitying litany of life’s injustices; watch their eyes glaze over as they time their defection to the refreshment table (about five seconds, tops). “If things are so bad,” their demeanor implies, “why not do something to make them better, instead of blaming the world for your problems? Self pity is boring.”

People born in the winter were welcomed by a world of brisk and biting air, holiday celebrations of dubious origin and misguided ritual, and a tough and scraggly landscape with bare trees and nature’s bounty in short supply. They grasped instinctively that the world could be a harsh place, that it was up to them to make a happy and comfortable nest for themselves, and that complaining was a waste of time.

Those who dislike winter might glance at a stand of bare winter trees and find them ugly without spring and summer’s lush green camouflage. But look again—stripped to their essence by winter’s harshness, don’t they make a spare and elegant forest? Aren’t they beautiful without their fancy green clothes, naked in winter’s dazzling light?

This season can be harsh, cold, and lonely. But it can also reveal the truth about ourselves and the lives we are choosing to live, and about what is missing. Without this kind of self-examination, we have no chance for future growth. Unless we prune  back to bare wood in winter, we won’t blossom in the spring.

Winter, and those born during it, teach us that while life can be difficult, it is possible to fashion something of enduring beauty from life’s most inhospitable physical and spiritual landscapes. We need only endeavor to be truly ourselves, to stand without artifice, embellishment, or tawdry ornamentation; like bare trees, awkward and spindly but strong, and oddly beautiful.

© 1999 April Elliott Kent.

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