This is something that occurred to me from thinking about the old astrological rulerships of the signs, and how they spread out throughout the year, specifically with relationship to Summer and Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
We’re used to thinking of four seasons, and there’s a lot to be said for thinking in terms of four seasons, but there is also a way of thinking of the year divided in two, between Summer and Winter. Where we are in the UK, the pretty clear boundary points are around when the Sun goes into Taurus (or at Beltane, a little after but still in Taurus), and when the Sun goes into Scorpio (or at Halloween, likewise but still in Scorpio).
This gives us four periods at the boundaries, ending of Summer (Libra), beginning of Winter (Scorpio), ending of Winter (Aries), beginning of Summer (Taurus). In terms of planetary rulership this gives us: beginning and ending of Winter ruled by Mars, beginning and ending of Summer ruled by Venus. Some Witches follow a scheme where Summer is ruled by the Goddess, and Winter is ruled by the God, and this could be taken to echo this in some ways.
Let’s look at Summer first: The generative, sustaining, fertile power of Venus brings in Summer with Taurus. We then go through a transitioning phase ruled by Mercury (Gemini), and Mercury is well suited to transitioning and preparing the ground for the union of opposites. This union comes at the height of summer as the Sun first travels through Cancer (ruled by the Moon) and then through Leo (ruled by the Sun itself). This pair of signs lies at the heart of the Summer in this scheme, and the pairing of the Sun and Moon suggest the sacred marriage of masculine and feminine, the Goddess and God, conscious and unconscious, etc.
After the marriage or consummation of the heart of Summer we move out in reverse order of planetary rulership, first through the transitioning of Mercury again (Virgo) which disseminates (or integrates) the fruits of union, and then on to the ending of Summer in Libra, the sign of balance and relationship under the rulership again of Venus. Thus Summer ends in the sign prefiguring the shift of balance about to take place in the natural and cosmic world.
While Summer began with the sustaining, fertile and stable influence of Taurus, Winter begins with the release of the transformational and dissolutive powers of Scorpio, ruled over by Mars. The vegetative world seems to go through a death, leaves fall, and psychically life is released of bindings and seems to go beyond life (though it is actually all life).
As the Sun travels on it goes through a transitioning sign again, this time ruled by Jupiter (Sagittarius), planet of expanding consciousness and horizons. The “soul” goes on its journey and follows its vision. Then we enter the heart of Winter, and two signs both ruled over by Saturn, Capricorn and Aquarius.
Capricorn and Aquarius lie at the heart of Winter in this scheme, just as Cancer and Leo lie at the heart of Summer. If we take the “heart signs” as unified elements, we see Sun conjoined with Moon opposite to Saturn (or Saturn-Saturn). Now in the life giving, fertile, generative world of Summer the conjunction of the Sun and Moon is in some ways self explanatory in its symbolism, an outward representation of the sacred marriage, the conjunctio, the union of opposites, the “Great Work”. But in the dormant, dark, relatively “deathly”, otherworldly place of Winter, what is the Saturn-Saturn at its heart?
Saturn is a planet of restriction and structure and testing, of time and basic foundations, of karma and lessons and understanding, and eventual wisdom. It is sometimes known as “the dweller on the threshold”, and has qualities which can be both mask and gate-like. The door is shut till the requirements of its opening have been fulfilled. When those requirements are fulfilled (which can take time, and testing, experience and understanding, awakening and rebirth) the mask can drop to reveal a very different face, and the gates open to reveal a whole world where we once saw closed doors and constriction. Saturn guards the mystery at the heart of Winter.
After the heart of Winter we emerge through the planets in reverse order: through the transition of Jupiter (Pisces) which again disseminates the “fruits” of wisdom, and on to the end of Winter in Aries, under the rulership of Mars. As Winter began in the transformation and dissolution of Scorpio, so it ends in Mars’ other sign, Aries, in the onrush of emerging new life which will be sustained and made strong in the Venusian power of Summer.
If we draw the wheel of the year with the astrological signs and planets in this scheme of Summer and Winter we can see the balance and symmetry of this scheme better (see diagram below). Here I have grouped the heart signs of Summer and Winter together to better show their positions and their polarisation with each other.