For further information on Christmas
see Mystical WWW Christmas Special.
The name ‘December’ is believed to derive from the Latin word for‘ten’ which is ‘decem’ so the name literally means the ‘tenth month’ in the Roman calendar (having the vernal equinox) after March. As part of the seasonal calendar December is the time of the ‘Cold Moon’ according to Pagan beliefs and the period described as the ‘Moon of the Popping Trees’ by Black Elk (Black Elk Speaks, Neihardt).
In Celtic traditions, this was a time to keep light alive in the darkness, to maintain the burning fires and a time for families to reunite as the light began to return following the winter solstice. The return of the ‘Sun’ and ‘Bel’s’ triumph was upon the people despite the reality of the hard frosts. December, the second month of the ‘Samhain’, was a time to reflect upon the year past and the future, with the beliefs of November equally as important on the spiritual nature of man, his relation with the earth, and the hope of eternity in the isle of the blessed souls. There are numerous examples of tree and animal folklore (See Mystical WWW Trees; Plants; Mystic’s Menagerie for more information) which indicate an awareness of the sun and earth’s ability to triumph over evil influences, to lead the people through to the spring, to ‘Easter’and the ‘Resurrection’at a time when the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated (See Mystical WWW Easter Special for more information on the origins and traditions of Easter), to the time of ‘Imbolc’ and on further to the glorious summer, towards ‘Beltaine’.
As part of the astrological calendar, December has many associations. This is the month of the house of Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21) and the house of Capricorn (December 20 - January 20).
Sagittarius is the ninth sign of the zodiac symbolised by the ‘Archer’, the ‘centaur’, known as ‘Chiron’ who is half-man and half-horse, considered to be as wise as a sage. The bow is half-drawn and has three heads reflecting how the Sagittarian ponders the meaning of all that exists. The arrow should be further examined as it is pointed to the Heavens, indicating the potential of Sagittarius to inspire others, and a personal desire to ascend to a more spiritual level. Sagittarius is further associated with the demonic archer ‘Sagittary’which was half-man and half-beast. In ancient Greek mythology the centaur was seen to be a symbol of the healer who is capable of bringing solace to others, being compassionate as a result of their own experiences which have left healed wounds (hence one more reason for the symbolism of the arrow). Sagittary was also known to be able to pounce upon enemies and triumph with such speed that he was dreaded. His glance was also believed to have the power to quell attack. Perhaps this speed of action and display of energy is one reason why Sagittarius is considered to be excellent at sport but always with a sense of fair play. Further associations exist with ‘Sagittifer’, the ‘Arrow carrier’, and ‘Semivir’.
The ruling planet of Sagittarius is ‘Jupiter’,also known as the‘Prince of Light’, ‘Jupiter Optimus Maximus’,and the‘Shepherd of the Stars’. Jupiter was revered by the Romans as their lord, being a highly dignified deity with the ability to communicate with all other signs, and thought to be able to see the future. This ability is perhaps associated with the belief that Jupiter provided omens of what was to come through the flight of birds. The qualities of Sagittarius are seen to reflect the intellectual, generosity, competitiveness, the extrovert, the ability to communicate, outspoken, philosophical, a lover of travel and passionate. On the negative side Sagittarius can be seen as restless, changeable, preoccupied with the need for a higher truth and must remember that to rest is vital to avoid burn-out. The ninth phase of the journey of the Sun is experienced here, that of the empowered adult who wishes to begin to explore their own interests, similar to that of the retired individual, once family and work are settled. Sagittarius is a mutable and positive fire sign associated with the statements ‘I need freedom’, ‘I explore’ and ‘I philosophise’. It rules the hips and thighs. Sagittarius has many floral associations, with Asparagus, Pink Carnations, Dandelions, Dried Fruits, Golden Rods, Grapefruits, Narcissus, Pinks, Reeds and Soybeans, and many bulb vegetables (See Mystical WWW Plants, & Language of Flowers). Sagittarius is further associated with the Ash, Birch, Chestnut, Elder, Mulberry, Oak, Plum and Yew (See Mystical WWW Trees). Colours associated with Sagittarius are beige, bronze, denim blue, indigo, rich purple, red and violet. The main stone associated with Sagittarius is the Turquoise, whilst the main stone associated with the month of December is also the Turquoise (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Rhymes & Time - Language of Gems).Lucky number is three, lucky day Thursday (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Days of the Week). Metal associated is Tin.
‘You are old...and your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head -
Do you think, at your age, it is right?’
Capricorn is the tenth sign of zodiac and depicted by the symbol of the ‘Goat’. The resolve to achieve is evidenced by Capricorn’s who work hard and long, like the goat, slowly but surely to reach the top of their mountain until they wish to move on to new and better pastures. The sign is said to embody authority and maturity being associated with the stage of latter life of the adult. Here is the chance for a Capricorn to work and rework ideas to get it right, as second best is not bad but things can always be better. In ancient Babylonian mythology Capricorn was depicted as the ‘God Ea’, fish-tailed, also known as the ‘Antelope of the Sea’.Capricorn is also known by the name the ‘Gate of Death’ (opposite sign Cancer, ‘Gate of Birth’). This is the time when the Sun enters its tenth phase of the journey and a time of new wisdom; Ea is seen to rise from the deep waters and instruct Man on the divine wisdom.
‘Saturn’ is the ruling planet of Capricorn bringing with it the qualities of wisdom, security, self-control, discipline, determination, responsibility and limitation. Saturn is also known as ‘Lord of Saturday’, ‘Kronos’or ‘Time’ (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Days of the Week). Capricorn is a cardinal and negative earth sign associated with the statement ‘I master’and‘I will refine’. It rules the skin, knees and bones. It is associated with the Aspen, Elder, Elm, Pine, Poplar, Weeping Willow and Yew (See Mystical WWW Trees), and with Burdock, Hemlock, Holly and the Black & Red Poppy (See Mystical WWW Plants, & Language of Flowers). Colours associated with Capricorn are black, earth tones, indigo and orange. The main stone associated with Capricorn is the Garnet, and the main stone associated with December is the Turquoise (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Rhymes & Time - Language of Gems). Lucky number is eight, lucky day Saturday (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months). Metal associated is lead.
‘The Holly-King dies, and the Oak-King is born.’
1st Monday in December
Brigthlingsea, Essex, England : Cinque Port Deputy Election.
Tanad Valley, Denbigh and Montgomery, Wales : Traditional ‘Welsh Carol Singing’.
Pen-coed, Glamorgan, Wales : ‘Mari Lywd Mummers’ (See Mystical WWW Arts : Drama & Mumming : Dance & Morris).
Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur
Sikh holiday and festival : (1997 December 4, 1998 November 24).
Christmas Day and New Year's Day
Kirkwall, Mainland, Orkney, Scotland : Traditional ‘Ba' Game’ activities.
Unlucky December Dates
6. 7. 9. 15. 22. 28.
According to the English historian Richard Grafton these certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day. Exactly why these dates are unlucky is unclear today but by looking at the calendar of days an idea of the major occurrences can be seen. It is suggested that December 28 (Return to December 28) has become known as the day in the whole year of most misfortune as it is believed that the ‘Slaughter of the Innocents’ as told in the bible was instigated by King Herod on this day.