For anyone wanting to mark, acknowledge, or celebrate the occasion of the darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, Dec 21st, with each following day to be a little longer, a little brighter, and the renewal of life's cycle, the Winter Solstice will arrive soon. In the Southern Hemisphere, Dec 21st is the Summer Solstice, marking the longest day that Earth's Southern inhabitants are bathed in radiation from the star our planet orbits in 365 day cycles.
(Image source: commons.wikimedia.org, photograph thought to be taken 1885.)
Stonehenge is thought to be more related to Summer Solstice, rather than Winter. However, the link also discussed possible winter use of Stonehenge. Others far more versed than I can correct me or elaborate. I post the image to show the fascinating attention, given to the solar cycle, as marked my our ancestors back at least into neolithic times. I wonder what thoughts went through their minds, in what language, and how well were those thoughts composed.
There is also the 5,000 year old structure at Orkney, centuries older than Stonehenge, and older than the great pyramids. ". At dawn, from December 19th to 23rd, a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the rear of the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated. This event lasts for 17 minutes, beginning around 9am."
(View from within Newgrange, image source commons.wikimedia.org)
Also about the Orkney structure, "Newgrange is a large kidney shaped mound covering an area of over one acre, retained at the base by 97 kerbstones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art. The 19 metre long inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof."
As someone who is certainly not a historian and not an archaeologist, I can only guess about the Solstice's significance for our human ancestors. For me, it's a glimmer of understanding into our distant progenitors, barely beginning to learn about their world and beyond. And the unimaginable history that would follow them, and the unknowable history that will follow us.
I also feel some relief, thinking that the Winter will have an end and Spring will follow thereafter with renew and regeneration. I know the coldest days will follow, but each will be a little longer, and ultimately Spring will come.
While there are holidays occupying the modern psyche, flavored by other ancient and modern religions and customs, for some of us the Winter Solstice is a moment to pause and ponder. As I will. I don't need a Holy Day, or a religion, or a commercial event, or other aspects of modern civilization. Just a fire in the fireplace, my human companion, and our two canine companions - the oldest friends of humans, whose ancestors have accompanied Homo sapiens since long before Stonehenge was build.
Peace. Companionship. Security. Health. Happiness. To all.
(Image source: commons.wikimedia.org)
Thanks for posting that - wonderful. I enjoy learning things
I look forward to the winter solstice for one of the many reasons you mentioned. It marks the passing of our darkest day of the year. I can look forward to, more cold of course,but above all, more light. I've come to dread the dark days of winter. When winter solstice passes the days begin to lengthen and I start thinking of planting.
The world begins to look brighter.
An absolutely beautiful post, Daniel. Thanks for spending the time to put it all together. May you and yours have a wonderful year-end and a great Spring ahead of you.
And a Sunny Solstice to everyone here!
I'm going through the usual frustration of finding appropriate greetings for my friends in New Zealand and Australia...or even here in So Cal, and other Southern climes, for that matter. I've never seen a sleigh in my life, and I have toured the US when there were piles of snow on the ground (made even the Chicago rail yards look magical to me.)
The snowy secular Santa images are leftovers from the Victorian era. I guess we could all sing "Here Comes the Sun," a lovely song.... beats the *bleep* out of "Born is the king of nothing but war..." or something like that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHK2lxS5Ivw
Oh, I highly recommend a book titled When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone. I don't know how outdated her archaeological findings and interpretations are, but there is clear evidence that our neolithic ancestors were much more sophisticated than most people believe they were. They certainly weren't the effing "Flintstones"!
Nice to see you Tonya! According to this article you are right! Which is even better!
By the way, the seedlings from your wild plum seeds grew more than 3 feet tall and very bushy! Impressive growth! Probably no plums next year but who knows?
We are having a rainbow right now, so I'm celebrating that. My (closeted atheist) Dad explained rainbows to me when I was very little, so I never believed that stupid ark story when Mother began dragging me to Sunday school. Anyway, we had indoor cats (with litterboxes filled with beach sand until commercial litter came on the market) all my life, and I knew that Noah and his family never could have kept that thing livable for 40 days and 40 nights PLUS the 300+ days they were supposed to have waited for the water to recede.
The only story in that book that is sillier is the "virgin" birth. Jesus was a bastard, IF he ever existed at all.
well.. does not mention 21st but it's every year!?