Skip to content

Happy Solstice to all, and to all a good night.

  • by

Today is the Solstice, an occasion that has held profound significance throughout human history. It’s a reminder of the enduring cycle of life, the ebb and flow of time, and the pivotal role the Sun plays in our existence. The Winter Solstice is a celestial event that has long been a symbol of rebirth, a turning point where the days start growing longer, heralding the gradual return of the sun’s warmth and light as longer days lie ahead.

The Giant Impact Theory is the current leading explanation for the formation of our moon and also played a major role in Earth’s axial tilt. While science continues to explore, what we know with certainty is that axial tilt is the reason for the season.

As we in the Northern Hemisphere experience the Winter Solstice, our counterparts in the Southern Hemisphere are simultaneously celebrating the Summer Solstice, marking their longest day of the year. This duality highlights the beautiful balance of our planet. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice is a time of abundance, energy, and vitality, reflecting nature in its most exuberant form. It’s a period often associated with growth and fertility, mirroring the peak of the sun’s journey across the sky. Just as the Winter Solstice symbolizes renewal and introspection in the north, the Summer Solstice in the south embodies celebration, warmth, and the triumph of light at its zenith. This global juxtaposition serves as a reminder of the Earth’s interconnectedness, our reliance on the sun, and the bond we all share on this remarkable planet we get to call home.

Today at Stonehenge in England we’re reminded of our interconnectedness through the passage of time and bonded by our star as builders over 4000 years ago set stones in a pattern so that the sun would rise today in frame of the central stone.

Newgrange, a Stone Age monument in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, was built between 3200 and 3100 BCE. This makes it about 500 years older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza.

Today in Newgrange Ireland a monument created 5,500 years ago will astonish tourists. “Visitors immerse themselves in the ancient energy of Newgrange, marveling at the ingenuity of those who, thousands of years ago, designed this sacred place as a testament to their understanding of the cosmos. Feeling the weight of history, they trace their fingers over the megalithic art that adorns the stones, recounting tales of a bygone era.

The Winter Solstice sunbeam is channeled through the roofbox to the chamber

The winter solstice at Newgrange transcends being merely a celestial event; it becomes a profound journey into the heart of human connection with nature and the cosmos. As observers stand amidst the ancient stones, witnessing the dance of light and shadow, and absorbing the collective awe of those around them, they carry with them a piece of the timeless magic that defines this extraordinary experience at Newgrange.”[1]

Today, during the Summer Solstice at Machu Picchu, the sun’s rays, as they did in ancient times, will pass through one of the windows of the Temple of the Sun, highlighting the Incas’ deep connection with Inti, their revered sun deity. This event mirrors the striking phenomenon that occurs during the Winter Solstice when at the break of dawn, the first light of the sun pierces through the temple’s other window, illuminating the ceremonial stone within. The Temple of the Sun, with its central rock altar, was a sacred site where the Incas performed rituals and animal sacrifices, hoping to ensure bountiful harvests. Interestingly while religion divides the world today, our connection to the sun has bound us for our entire existence.

The great George Carlin once said:

“I became a sun-worshipper. Several reasons. First of all, I can see the sun, okay? Unlike some other gods I could mention, I can actually see the sun. I’m big on that. If I can see something, I don’t know, it kind of helps the credibility along, you know? So everyday I can see the sun, as it gives me everything I need; heat, light, food, flowers in the park, reflections on the lake, an occasional skin cancer, but hey. At least there are no crucifixions, and we’re not setting people on fire simply because they don’t agree with us.

Sun worship is fairly simple. There’s no mystery, no miracles, no pageantry, no one asks for money, there are no songs to learn, and we don’t have a special building where we all gather once a week to compare clothing. And the best thing about the sun, it never tells me I’m unworthy. Doesn’t tell me I’m a bad person who needs to be saved. Hasn’t said an unkind word. Treats me fine. So, I worship the sun.” – George Carlin

At the Goseck Circle in Germany constructed 7,200 years ago the Sun aligns with the openings of the circle at sunrise and sunset. Another reminder of how we’ve revered the sun throughout human history and well before we invented the Abrahamic and Hindu Gods that control so many minds today.

The southwestern and southeastern entrances of the ancient Goseck Circle face the direction of sunset and sunrise around the winter solstice. Pic: Pierre Lesage/Flickr

In Mexico at Tulum, the Mayan Temple El Castillo will cast a serpent-like shadow during the solstice. In Egypt and around the world, the sun will dance with various pyramids and temples, reminding us of how the sun has been a common bond in every life throughout Earth’s history. These ancient monuments stand as testaments to humanity’s awe and appreciation for our star. They symbolize our innate connection to the cosmos, and as Carl Sagan poignantly put it, “we are made of star-stuff.” The very elements that compose our bodies and the world around us were forged in the bellies of ancient stars, just like our own.

Our ancestors needed to understand the Sun for agricultural purposes. This early reliance on the sun’s cycles for survival arguably sparked one of humanity’s first forays into the realm of science. As ancient civilizations meticulously tracked the sun’s journey across the sky, aligning their planting and harvesting with its path in the sky.  When we ponder the precise knowledge of sun positioning by ancient peoples, we may be, in essence, tracing the early footsteps of human scientific thought.

The Solstice’s importance historically ties back to agriculture – it was a signal of changing seasons, a time to prepare for the coming growth and renewal. It’s a day that reminds us of the balance and rhythm of nature.  In the Northern Hemisphere today, as we reflect on the year that has passed, the Winter Solstice presents a moment to celebrate, as each day to come will bring incrementally more light. Conversely, in the Southern Hemisphere, people are embracing the joy of abundance.

The Sun is a universal binder, a source of life that transcends all cultural and religious divides. Throughout time, while various religions have emerged and evolved, reverence for the Sun has been a constant, a universal thread in human existence. As we celebrate this Solstice, let’s take a moment to appreciate the Sun – our life-giving star, the reason we exist, and the symbol of our shared origins and future. Let’s take a moment to appreciate all that it provides, the lives of the people we care about, the food that it provides, and our ability to flourish on this planet. If you gather with friends and share gifts of the season as many have done throughout the history of civilization, I hope you enjoy the festivities.

Let’s embrace this Solstice as a time of reflection, renewal, and recognition of our place in this vast, beautiful universe. I wish all of you a great solstice and a reason to celebrate this season.