The Solar Seasons - Solstices and Equinoxes

The Solar Year

Credit: Piccell / Getty Images.

Since before recorded time, the solar year has mirrored the Zodiac’s path, a human life cycle, and the seasons of nature. Just like the Moon, the Sun has a birth, death and rebirth cycle, with myths spun and rituals created from its disappearance and return.

The equinoxes and solstices are the four turning points in the Solar Year. They coincide with the Sun going into an astrological sign, with Summer Solstice (Cancer), Fall Equinox (Libra) and Winter Solstice (Capricorn).

In the natural wheel of the Zodiac, these are the cardinal angles, and they form what’s called in traditional study a “cross of matter.” With birth (Aries), something new enters the physical dimension. Out of the void of winter, new life is created with the Spring.

At Winter Solstice, when the Sun’s rise, or arc, is lowest, and the days are dark, there is a cozy, contemplative feel, that mirrors the deep earth sign Capricorn. These turning points have been overlain with religious holidays of recent times, like the return/resurrection of the Son at Easter. The date picked for services is the Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox. The essence of these seasonal celebrations, however, is moved by the vital energies of the Sun.

Life on a Tilted Planet

The Earth, you might know, is tilted 23.5 degrees on its axis. The seasonal rhythm happens because of the tilt toward or away from the Sun's light.

Some early sky watchers thought the Sun moved around the Earth, but it's the other way around.

The Earth moves around the Sun, and in astrology, we talk of the Sun "in a sign" -- in tropical astrology, this is based on the equinoxes, not on actual astronomy.

In astrology, the year begins with Sun into fire sign Aries at the Spring Equinox.

This is the day when light equals (equinox) dark, and days grow longer. The libido of lovers is aroused and the life force of nature bursts forth. It's a season of emergence, that goes along with the Sun's growing life-giving light.

There's that upwelling in the Spring that we all feel, and is mirrored in the traits of Aries. The cardinal sign Aries is the intense thrust into new experience. It's character is the Fool who is so overcome with high spirits that he moves forward through any fear of the unknown. It's the birthing of new life, not knowing what it will bring.

Astrology is as natural as the Sun's motions and the seasons we experience each year. The solar year waxes and wanes, just like the Moon, but over its annual cycle. Plant seeds with the new Sun, at Spring Equinox (March 19 to 21, each year is different). Over the year, you can develop and refine them. Your rituals of intent can follow solar energies as they reach a peak ( Summer Solstice), call for re-balancing (Autumn Equinox) and are integrated into your deepest long term soul mission (Winter Solstice.)

Your Solar Return

When the Sun is in your astrological sign, it's a vital lighting up of your essence. It's your birthday month, and also known as the Solar Return.

Your Sun sign is when the Sun is in your astrological sign. It's the main sign that everybody knows -- the answer to "What's your sign?"

Your energetic blueprint is in synch with the season of the Sun in your birthday month. That makes it prime time to reflect on your year, and dream up the year ahead. You feel most like yourself, and able to tune in to your way of fulfilling your life purpose.


  • Stonehenge at Salisbury in Southern England has stones dating to c.3300 B.C. It's thought to be the ruins of an astronomical observatory and gathering place. With the alignments to the Sun's seasons, it's presumed that great community rituals were performed at Stonehenge, to mark these natural cycles. There are over 900 stone circles across the British Isles.
  • The midsummer Sun rises exactly over the main Heel Stone.
  • It’s an astronomical observatory, but also a sacred site, to clock the annual Sun-Moon alignments. The Druids, or priest class of the ancient Celts, still visit Stonehenge as part of their tradition.
  • There's archeological evidence that great feasts were held at Stonehenge, perhaps a seasonal coming together from many areas, at certain seasons.

The Solar Wheel

  • Spring is the season of play and creative growth spurts (Aries), cultivating, rooting in (Taurus) and dispersing, adapting to change ( Gemini).
  • Summer is the season of togetherness with family and friends( Cancer), festive sun play, ripening of fruit ( Leo) and the harvest (Virgo).
  • Fall is the dying time, which many feel as a bittersweet melancholy. It’s a season of pairing up, collaborating ( Libra), the death mysteries (Scorpio), and questing for knowledge and the inner light (Sagittarius).
  • Winter is season of purpose, wisdom (Capricorn), visioning for the future (Aquarius) and the mystical union (Pisces).

Signs and their Seasons

  • Spring starts with the Sun’s move into Aries at the Spring equinox around March 19-21, and is followed by Taurus, Gemini.
  • Summer starts with the Sun’s move into Cancer at the Summer Solstice around June 21st, and is followed by Leo, Virgo.
  • Fall starts with the Sun’s move into Libra at the fall Equinox around September 20/21, and is followed by Scorpio, Sagittarius.
  • Winter starts with the Sun’s move into Capricorn at the Winter Solstice around December 21st and is followed by Aquarius, Pisces.

Equinox and Solstice

  • The seasonal turning points are the Spring and Fall Equinoxes and the Summer and Winter solstices.
  • Equinox means equal night, and on these days in Spring and Fall, the Sun is at a balance point. The days and nights are of equal length.
  • Solstice means sun standing still, marking the longest day at Summer Solstice and the shortest day at Winter Solstice.
  • Each of these four cardinal cross points are a time to gather, celebrate the particular joys of the season.
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Your Citation
Hall, Molly. "The Solar Seasons - Solstices and Equinoxes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 9, 2016, Hall, Molly. (2016, August 9). The Solar Seasons - Solstices and Equinoxes. Retrieved from Hall, Molly. "The Solar Seasons - Solstices and Equinoxes." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 14, 2017).