Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter Solstice

"Life, death and rebirth are inevitable."
- Rig Veda

We learn from mythology, legend, and ancient texts that there
are four days of the year which are spiritually and religiously
sacred to all ancient peoples and indigenous cultures. These
four days are the spring and autumn equinoxes and the
summer and winter solstices.

The ancients aligned the windows of their temples, and key
stones of their sacred monuments, so that the rising sun
would shine through these windows or upon the points of
these key stones on these four sacred days. For each one of
these days signified a celebratory moment, and commemorative
Change, in the birth-death Cycle of the Sun during its annual
journey through the sky.

The Winter Solstice, occurring on about December 21st, has
come to be known today simply as the "shortest day of the year".
It is also the time of the year when the festival of Christmas, which
commemorates the Virgin Birth of "The Son", is celebrated
throughout the Christian and Catholic world.

However, to the ancient societies who celebrated and worshiped
the Winter Solstice for its Esoteric significance, the rising sun of
this special day represented much more than simply "the shortest
day of the year" and the birth of "the son"; it heralded in the birth
of "The Sun".

A familiar Christmas Carole reminds us of the significance of this
special and glorious day with the words: "Hark! The herald angels
sing: Glory to the newborn king". For in mythology and Symbolism
king, Gold, and Sun all refer to the same sublime entity and essence.

But what is so important that makes this one moment of the year
so spiritually and sacredly significant? Why do people throughout
the world, at this one specific moment of the entire year, stop all
that they are doing and honor this Son, this Sun, this King, this

Simply put, this is the exact moment of "birth", or "re-birth". It is
the defining moment when The Sun is "re-born" and begins its
semi-annual conquest of coldness and darkness. For it is at this
special moment that the coldness, darkness, and barrenness of
winter finally exhausts its power and is replaced by its victorious
and eternally opposing force: the warmth, brightness, fertility and
abundance of the emerging spring and summer months.

Religious texts speak of a moment when "the sun stood still in
the heavens". This moment occurs twice during every annual
solar Cycle: the summer and winter solstices. For nothing can
reverse its course unless it first comes to a complete standstill.

When the Sun "stands still" in the heavens at the winter solstice
this is the moment when it prepares to reverse its course and
begin its return journey to the lands of the north. A journey which
will eventually "stop" and end at the summer solstice.

The word "solstice" has its root in the Latin words sol which means
"sun", and sistere which means "to come to a stop; to stand still".
Therefore solstice means "the point, or time, at which the sun seems
to stand still".

This annual solar Cycle is also referred to in mythology and legend
as the sun-god Apollo's annual journey through the heavens.

In addition, we read in myths and legends of how the sun is
restricted by means of a rope, fence, or wall: a boundary which it
is forbidden to pass beyond. This mythological rope, fence, or
wall is the Tropic of Capricorn, which is its southernmost boundary
at the winter solstice and the Tropic of Cancer, which is its
northernmost boundary at the summer solstice.

Therefore, when we celebrate Christmas, along with all of the
"gifts" which we are presented with at this festive Time, let us keep
in mind that the True gifts we are receiving are the warmth,
brightness, fertility, and abundance of the upcoming spring and
summer months which are the result of the "rebirth" of The Sun at
the Winter Solstice.

See also: "The Sea Goat [Goat Fish] and Capricorn", and
"Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh and the Three Wise Men"

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Disclaimer: None of my articles should be considered to be
either advice or expertise. They are simply personal opinions
and no more. Everyone is encouraged to seek competent
advice from a licensed, registered, or certified professional
should such advice or service be required.

© copyright Joseph Panek 2011
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