In the wee hours of the shortest day of the year, greeting dark cloaked Winter- Winter, leaving all withered and bare in its path, a pearl among jewels, the Winter moon, will be veiled by the Earth's shadow. Tomorrow night, December 21, 2010, we will be the furthest from the sun; it will be the beginning of the darkest eves of the year. I am so inspired by these two occurrences! I plan to stay up to watch this spiritual experience.
Solstice means "standing still sun." Ancient cultures all over the world from the Mayans to modern pagans have observed the skies for guidance and knowledge. Our Neolithic ancestors carved notches in bone that appear to be tracking the cycles of the moon.
Stone Henge, a most famous observatory for viewing celestial activity, aligns with both solstices and equinoxes.
Ireland is home to a lesser known observatory, older than Stone Henge and even the pyramids- Newgrange. This site is 5,000 years old!(3200 BC)
A beam of sunlight peers down into its deep chamber at the dawn of the Winter Solstice. Celtic-like carvings can be found on its walls, even though the Celts would not reach Ireland for another 2500 years. Among these carvings can also be found eye shapes and solar discs.
In Zimbabwe, there is a circle of crumbling of stones, known as the African Stone Henge. The position of the tall tower causes researchers to believe that this ring was used like other ancient observatories to study the moon, sun and planets. Some of the monoliths line up with the bright stars of Orion on the morn of the Winter Solstice. There is a tower among the monoliths, which one researcher, Richard Wade, thinks may have been built to observe an exploding star in the year 1300 AD.
When modern telescopes observe the area now, there seems to be evidence of a supernova that occurred at the time Wade suggests. Even though there is no written record of it, for lack of literacy of the region hundreds of years ago, Zimbabwean legends tell that their ancestors migrated from the north to the south by following the bright star in the southern skies.