Seasonal Rites of Passage
Personal achievements in life can be enhanced when aligned with the cycles of the sun and moon. The equinoxes and solstices provide profound energetic gateways as observed in many ancient and indigenous cultures. The Sacred Geometry in the 8-pointed star of MorningStar provides a symbolic compass of seasonal solar festivals that are observed in our educational programs.
Astronomy: There are two moments during the year when the path of the sun is farthest south in the Northern Hemisphere (December 21 or 22) and farthest north in the Southern Hemisphere (June 20 or 21). At the Winter Solstice, the sun travels the shortest daylight path with the longest night. In the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole is tilted 23.4° away from the sun and its vertical noon rays are directly over the Tropic Capricorn. Six months later, the South Pole is inclined 23.4° away from the sun and its vertical overhead rays progress over the Tropic of Cancer. The ancient astronomical site, Newgrange, is a neolithic monument in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, Ireland. Constructed about 5,200 years ago, it is considered the jewel in the crown of Ireland’s ancient past, and its celebrated passage tomb. At dawn on the Winter Solstice, a shaft of sunlight enters the “roof box” opening above the passage entrance. Its rays illuminate the entire 56 foot passage into the inner chamber, symbolizing nature’s renewed life to crops, animals and humans. (Sunlight entering Newgrange through the roof box) Observances: Celebrated by world cultures for thousands of years, this start of the solar year at the Winter Solstice, is a celebration of light, rebirth of the sun and renewal of all life. In old Europe, it was known as Yule, from the Norse, Jul, meaning wheel, and was celebrated in a series of rituals with music, feasts, and joyful social activities through the New Year. It continues in many cultures as a sacred alignment to peace and wellness. For many NW Native Americans, New Year is a time to honor traditions; the renewal and new beginnings as longer days bring foods sacred to life. In China and East Asia, the return of longer daylight and the increase of positive energy traces back to the yin/yang philosophy of balance and harmony, leading to the new moon, and starting their New Year.
Astronomy: There are two moments during the year when the path of the sun is farthest north in the Northern Hemisphere (June 20 or 21) or farthest south in the Southern Hemisphere (December 21 or 22). At the Summer Solstice, the Sun travels the longest daylight path with the shortest night. In the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole is tilted 23.4° toward the Sun and the vertical noon rays are directly over the Tropic of Cancer. Six months later, the South Pole is inclined 23.4° toward the sun and its vertical overhead rays progress over the Tropic Capricorn. The Ancient Astronomical Site, Stonehenge is a Neolithic monument on the Salisbury Plane of England. It has drawn crowds in recent years of over 30,000 to witness the precise moment of the Summer Solstice, the midpoint of the solar year. During the salient celestial events of the sun and moon, we may observe the natural continuum that inspires our sense of time and place. The Great Saracen Stone Circle of Stonehenge
The Flower of Life Symbol
In full bloom during the Summer Solstice, this symbol represents the the 5 stage cycle of a fruit tree – from tree, flower, fruit, seed, to the rooting of a new tree. This symbol parallels the geometries of life leading into and beyond physical existence. This is a time to celebrate continuity.
Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes
Astronomy: There are two moments during the year when the path of the sun is exactly above the equator, and day and night are equal length across the world, as the ecliptic (the sun’s annual pathway) and the celestial equator intersect. The Vernal Equinox falls about March 20 or 21 in the Northern Hemisphere as the sun crosses the celestial equator going north. In the Southern Hemisphere the equinox occurs on September 22 or 23, when the sun moves south across the celestial equator.
The Seed of Life Symbol
Awakening to the light of early spring, the seed of one tree germinates into another tree of its kind. This symbol also represents the seeds within us that parallel this natural continuum, as our children reflect the genetic diversity that makes us each unique. This is a time to honor the springing forth of nature’s gift: a new beginning.
The Tree of Life Symbol
As the Tree of Life (red overlay) is also contained within the Seed of Life, this symbol has numerous meanings across world cultures including knowledge, inner wisdom, immortality and insight. It represents gratitude and the quest of awareness. This is a time of giving thanks for nature’s bounty.
May the Light Always Shine on Your Path
(Native American prayer)
(photo credit: Leah Storkson)