Winter Solstice Seasonal Greetings

 

The winter solstice by astronomical definition occurs when Earths northern hemisphere is @ it’s far-most distance from the sun, which as a causal affect means the temperatures get lower and the light the northern hemisphere receives from the sun, which shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn is @ it’s most diminished or to put it another way, the sunlight daylight hours during the day of the winter solstice in the wOrlds northern hemisphere are @ their shortest …

 

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Dictionary: Solstice = Bi-annual time of the year when the sun during summer or winter is at it’s highest or lowest point in the sky round about June the 21st and December the 21st

 

Dictionary: Equator = An artificial geographical line exactly half way from the North and South Pole in equal distance

 

Dictionary: Tropic of Cancer = An artificial geographical line around the Earth at approximately 23 degrees north of the equator

 

Dictionary: Tropic Of Capricorn = An artificial geographical line around the Earth at approximately 23 degrees south of the equator

 

Dictionary: Hemisphere = One of two equal halves of the earth, from the equator to the North Pole and from the equator to the South Pole

 

The Significance Of The Shortest Day Of The Year 

 

In bygone times the shortest day of the year was met with dread and disdain, it represented a primeval fear that the light would be overcome by the darkness perhaps even until there would be no light left. However after observers discovered that the shortest day of the year did not herald the end of the light and indeed the light would invariably increase and thus so too the daylight hours, the winter solstice became a day – and night – that was celebrated.

 

Such ancient wOrldy celebrations associated with the solstice @ wintertime  included the very interesting ancient Scandinavian Yule solstice celebration that included feasting, merriment and probably drunkenness, lol, which was accompanied by burning thick logs set in a continual line, lit from one end which started on the day of the December winter solstice and carried on throughout January or until each and every last log and ember had burned out …

 

For the indigenous New Mexico American tribe called the Zuni, the winter solstice marks the start of the new year which is observed with prayer, fasting, sun watching so the exact time of the solstice is known and shortly thereafter dancing to celebrate the start of a new year !

 

In Iran, on the 21st of December the ancient annual Persian festival called Yalda is observed (in fact so old is this festival that it goes way back to the Zoroastrian period which pre-dates the emergence of Islam). Yalda is held to celebrate fresh new winter beginnings, the superiority of the light over the darkness and the inevitable ensuing waxing of the sun. To honour this natural phenomenon there is much eating of good healthful food, dancing around open fires, reading of Hafez poetry, the giving of gifts and prayers in gratitude for the blessings of the last solar year.  

 

The Longest Night Of  The Year 

 

When it’s the shortest day of the year, by default it means that the night time hours to follow will be the most drawn out and the longest … Our distant ancestors often feared the darkness and understandably so because they would have been far more susceptible and vulnerable to wild animals. Even now, when human kind is @ it’s most advanced, our primeval tendencies continue to instil in most of us a wariness of the dark and night time and so thus the winter solstice is the natural epitome of the human aversion to the possible peril of the night time and the wee hours and so peculiarly winter solstice celebrations tend to be more about the return of the light and the beginning of a new solar year, than the night temporarily encompassing the greater part of a 24 hour time period and the beauty of the nocturnal wOrld of the stars, moon and natural habitat …

 

The Winter Solstice Sun God 

 

Sol Invictus is the ancient god and official deity of the Roman empire. He is depicted on the face of ancient Roman coins and his image features on Roman Mosaics too. Sol Invictus is also known as the god of the unconquered sun. Roman folklore has it that he drove a chariot drawn by four horses in full throttle and would race his chariot across the sky every day starting @ sunrise right through to sunset. Legend tells that Sol Invictus died on the 21st of December and 3 days later arose from the dead thus conquering the night time, the darkness and death.

 

Hence the Sol Invictus festival was celebrated on the 25th of December but this date was obviously connected to the date of the winter solstice on the 21st of December as opposed to the Sol Invictus celebrations being associated with Christmas day – indeed historians are likely to agree that Christmas day in it’s very humble beginnings as a notable Christian celebration, was first connected with the Sol Invictus festivities than the other way around – or in a chicken and egg kinda way – Sol Invictus was celebrated on December the 25th long before Christmas day was …

 

The Winter Solstice And Stonehenge

 

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The place most commonly associated with the winter solstice is almost certainly Stonehenge, near Amesbury in the county of Wiltshire in the UK. This world heritage site has become a place of pilgrimage on the days of the winter and summer solstices for Druids, Pagans, Wiccans and others who practice spirituality. Indeed Stonehenge as a place of interest on any day of the year including the solstices attracts peoples of all cultures, belief systems and non belief systems, including hippies, bikers, astronomers, astrologers, clubbers, anarchists, agnostics and atheists are all equally drawn to Stonehenge as anyone else …

 

Stonehenge imbues a raw mysterious primeval energy, which transcends the pettiness of religious persuasion. The giant sandstone sarsen rocks make up the outer stone circle and the smaller but no less magnificent bluestone igneous rocks stand like obedient sentinels within the sarsen stone circle. Both these types of rock from which Stonehenge is composed – accept all who traverse the sacred ground upon which these rocks themselves proudly stand on the flat green and pleasant wide open space of Salisbury plain.

 

Only the stones themselves know how they came to be where they are today, perhaps the smaller bluestones were transported 140 miles away from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales (maybe the bluestones were moved in much the same way that the pyramid builders transported the blocks of the great pyramids of Giza) and it could be that the larger ones were sourced from a much shorter distance nearer to the Stonehenge site itself – only the stones themselves know …

 

What’s more apparent, is that Stonehenge is some sort of ancient site of worship which also doubled up as a Neolithic observatory and natural calendar. The stones are precisely placed, so the tallest stone is aligned @ an intentional angle to correspond with and point to the rising sun on the day of the winter solstice (which is on or around the 21st of December). While on the evening of the winter solstice, the sun sets exactly in between the two upright stones of the great trilithon (the stone circle of Stonehenge is aligned to coincide exactly with the rising sun on the day of the summer solstice and when an observer stands within the stone circle when facing north-east the sun can be seen @ sunrise exactly above the heel stone which stands outside of the great stone circle @ Stonehenge).

 

Dictionary: Trilithon = A large horizontal stone sitting on top of two large vertical stones 

 

Dictionary: Neolithic = When stone tools were used in the later parts of the pre historic stone age era

 

It’s the beautiful illuminating occurrence of the winter sun setting between the upright stones of the great trilithon, which draws many people to Stonehenge on the 21st or 22nd of December each year; the colossal stones are beacons on an open landscape, which guide travellers both near and far like moths to a flame, to pay homage to our nearest dearest star in the mid winter skies just as the Druids and Pagans of the Neolithic era once did …

 

The Warmest Winter Solstice Seasonal Greetings To You !

 

So amidst the winter festivities that annually fall round about the last 10 days of December in much of the western wOrld, the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is the one natural event which despite being eclipsed by it’s more famous offshoot – on December the 25th – will always be of special significance, for it is a part of mother natures calendar the day of the winter solstice is the shortest and the night time hours are the longest and thus is a time where we become especially aware of the interplay between the darkness and the light, the day time and the night.

 

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire needn’t be saved for the 25th of December, you can get outside and enjoy the winter elements and the flickering flames of a winter solstice fire and watch the setting of the sun, with the promise of the dark evening and long, long night to follow and natures covenant that the day time will come back round again and when it does, the daylight hours will gradually be on the increase until the next solstice …   XXI/XII/MMXVII   

 

Quote By

 

Gary Zukav The winter solstice has always been special to me, as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of it’s cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory   

 

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