winter sulstice

tootswisc(z4/5Wi)December 18, 2005

On wednesday the sun rises at 7:23 am and sets at 4:26.I read this in the paper today:

"It's time to finish our last Christmas card with calm and solace. Time to give our respects to the mounting snow as the world keeps erasing itself. Time to dream of sleeping seeds and all their possibilities. All too soon the darkness will fall out of our bones. The growing light will bring a thousand new beginnings. And we'll want to be awake to every one of them"

The shortest day of the year seems so powerful to me. I say the same thing on the longest day of the year. But I am always a bit sad as the days get shorter.

Rejoice...we have longer days ahead!

BTW...We spent some time in New Grange when we were in Ireland. That is the tomb that was built 3000 years before Christ was born. The rising sun of the winter sostice passes light thru a narrow slot above the doorway. Then is sweeps down an 80-foot passageway onto the burial hearth. It took generations to build the structure and is made from stone that had to be brought from many miles away. How in the world did they figure out how to build this structure. These people were sun worshipers..I guess I am one of those people also as I feel the power of god so stongly during this time of the year.

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OMG-do I look stupid... sulstice? The sun god was not shining on my brain I guess

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 10:36AM
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I'm always amazed by the knowledge of the ancients when it comes to things like astronomy ...charting the sun and other stars. You'd think they'd be so busy with the day to day struggles of life that they wouldn't even notice. I like to think that I'm fairly observant, investigative and interested in the world around me, but if I were living an iron-age existance, I'm quite certain I'd never think of marking time such that I could tell one day was a minute longer or shorter than the last, let alone think of constructing such an edifice to take advantage of the sun's position.
It is exhilarating just to know that the days will be getting longer soon. The increase is pretty small through Jan., but just knowing we're headed in the right direction is good :)

My dad was born on the winter solstice, and 59 years later, he died just a few days after it. He was an avid grower, who sowed the seeds of my plant hobby.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 10:49AM
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fishies(Ottawa z4a or 5)

What a beautiful quotation... I always get the winter bluesies around Dec/Jan, and that quote just made my morning. "a thousand new beginnings" - what a loving way of reconciling with sleepy-suns.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 11:20AM
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Lovely post, thank you.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 1:59PM
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Happy Winter Solstice everyone!


    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 2:19PM
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Hi all,

Having lived in Boulder, Colorado I am very familiar with winter and summer solstice celebrations. Paying homage to the east, west, north, and south. I have a friend who has a group of friends who dance around some holy relic of sorts, with smudge sticks and such. In the summer solstice they dance around nude. I'm not sure if they do that during the winter solstice though. I have never been invited to This friend is always trying to find a reason to get naked. Not in a sexual sense, she just likes to take her cloths off. She always prefers being nude in a hot tub situation. We have to tell her that we would prefer that she wear a bathing suit. I'm surprised she has one. I'm not a prude and my modesty has been assaulted numerous times by doctors and healthcare professionals because of my health issues. I just find being nude with the opposite sex an intimacy that I only share with my wife. I don't feel comfortable sharing that experience with anyone else, even in a group setting. Wow, from solstice to nudity. How did that happen? lol


    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 6:06PM
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There does seem to be a relationship between the soltice and being naked. I am getting my haircut on Wed. I asked if we could do it naked. She thought I was nuts.

I have yet to get naked and dance on the soltice but I hope sometime in my life I will. I was invited once to a women's summer solstice gathering and wiccans were also going to be present. Nudity was part of the ritual. The gathering sounded really interesting and I was impressed to get an invitation but was not able to attend. I do think about what I might have missed nearly every solstice and was never invited again. But for now, I don't really understand what being naked has to do with it and while I am questioning things, what is the relationship between women, the solstice and being naked. It sounds powerful.

I think I am rambling off the direction of my original post. I agree with fishies, it was just a lovely quote!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 10:05PM
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fishies(Ottawa z4a or 5)

hee hee - naked is funny :)

And speaking of funny nakedness... I had a roomate a few years ago who's Wiccan. We were renting an apartment in a house that backed onto woods and swampland. She decided one moonlit night to practice her religious tradition in the nude, not even thinking that she's allergic to mosquitoes. Mosquito allergy + woods/swampland in New Brunswick = a really big laugh for me the next morning. What a weird coincidence - I was just talking to her on the phone this evening and brought that up.

But I think that a big part of the appeal of nudity in that type of ritualistic setting is the freedom and vulnerability - to be vulnerable to a union with the world around you. We spend so much time and energy sheltering ourselves from our environment, that I think it's liberating to be able to redirect that energy.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 11:33PM
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I hate being vulnerable! I like at least a few strategic spots covered around most people...

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 11:44PM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

I like solstice. It is really the holiday that we all celebrate, in one form or another, on one day or another. "Seasons Greetings" to me really is all out celebrating this time of year, the beginning of winter, dedicated to "Joy on Earth", "Goodwill to Man", remembering friends and relatives etc.. Lets just be all inclusive for a change. I like to think that solstice is one holiday that isn't owned by anyone, group, religion, nationality, or anything. It's nothing more than the shortest day of the year. It's the darkest, gloomiest weather day. We would be sad, if we didn't celebrate--to assert our spirit as mere humans in all powerful nature. We also celebrate the turning point, as days now lenghten for the next six months. We look forward to a new encircling of the sun; and wish for good things to come.

Tomorrow night the San Francisco Succulent and Cactus Society celebrates their annual Solstice Party (potluck). We won't be naked, however (brrrrrrr), but it is encouraged for everyone to wear hats, of some sort. Hmmm, I look especially silly in silly hats. But, many of the members now have harlequin;/jester style hats just for this party. I'm not sure what the hats thing is about. But, festive is the key word.

May your solsticeday be short and sweet,


PS: My friend, Ingrid, in Northern Sweden has no daylight now. Her houseful of houseplants will be eagerly anticipating next week's sunrise.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 4:11PM
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fishies(Ottawa z4a or 5)

Jen, it's always all about strategy...

Jon, I like your take on the solstice.

And speaking of inclusive traditions, all you Americans must be getting pretty sick of the holiday/seasonal greeting kerfuffle down there, eh? Up here in Canada we like to pride ourselves on our "diversity" and "multiculturalism," especially as it exists in contrast to the American "melting pot." Can't say as how I think we're all that different from our southern neighbours, though. Well, except maybe for how we spell "neighbours."

Anyway, I'd better watch myself... getting political... do we still get disney-ed here?


    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 5:08PM
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How was your sunset today? I really did not get a chance to drive away form work and watch the sunset, but the sky was just brilliant tonight as was the sunrise this morning. One thing about short daylight is that if you take the time, you can really celebrate the beginning and the end of the day. Don't you JUST LOVE NATURE!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 8:50PM
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jeffrey_harris(San Diego, CA)

Y'all probably already know this, but just in case you don't...It's been lifted from the Web, so you know it's factual.


Solstice Time
Wed., Dec. 21, 2005, marks the solsticeÂthe beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere

by Ann-Marie Imbornoni


The precise moment of the 2005 solstice will be December 21, 2005 at 1:35 P.M. EST (18:35 UT).
In astronomy, the solstice is either of the two times a year when the Sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator, the great circle on the celestial sphere that is on the same plane as the earth's equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs either December 21 or 22, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn; the summer solstice occurs either June 21 or 22, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Cancer. In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter and summer solstices are reversed.

Reason for the Seasons

The reason for the different seasons at opposite times of the year in the two hemispheres is that while the earth rotates about the sun, it also spins on its axis, which is tilted some 23.5 degrees towards the plane of its rotation. Because of this tilt, the Northern Hemisphere receives less direct sunlight (creating winter) while the Southern Hemisphere receives more direct sunlight (creating summer). As the Earth continues its orbit the hemisphere that is angled closest to the sun changes and the seasons are reversed.

Longest Night of the Year

The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, and its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice. Hence the origin of the word solstice, which comes from Latin solstitium, from sol, "sun" and -stitium, "a stoppage." Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 1:53PM
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Thanks Jeffrey. You've smartened me up a bit

Today on NPR they said something like 50% of us do not know that the earth revolves around the sun and it takes a year for it to do that. I do think most people take the complexity of life for granted. It is all so complex but so well tuned to put it simply. It's weird about the sunset-today it was out of sight by 4:15. Who can actually view the sunset at 4:26. And how do they come up with that exact time.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 6:37PM
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It is basically calculated at Greenwich mean Time. Hardly anyone will experience a sunset exactly at 4:15 p.m. for instance Chicago and Lincoln, Nebraska are both in the Central time zone but since Chicago is approximately 500 miles west from Lincoln, Lincoln will experience sunset about 30 minutes later.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 6:47PM
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I mean that Chicago is around 500 miles east of Lincoln. That was confusing.


    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 7:28PM
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I too watch the solstices and the equinoxes, but can't really say that I associate nudity with any of them. (Then again, I don't associate bathing suits with hot tubs.) And from the evidence in Ireland, Egypt, China and the Americas (as well as many other places), noting these events has occupied a lot of time and energy from the earliest humans. Besides the example noted, places like Machu Pichu, Stonehenge and some Anasazi creations also have light phenomena associated with them. Even the pyramids at Giza show alignment to celestial happenings. (The pyrmids were cued to the rising of Sirius, about the same time as the flooding of the Nile).

The time of the solstice also occurs near the time of aphelion (earth closest to the sun). This changes on a geological timescale, so our distant ancestors knew the time of the summer solstice (when we are now farthers from the sun) during really hot summers when the Earth was closer to the solar mass.

Another aside, the precession of the Earth's axis, coupled with the Sun's path through the galaxy has "moved" some of the constellations. The chance alignment of the Big Dipper will be gone in 500 generations since those stars are not all close together. (The cavemen also had no dipper in the sky 10,000yrs ago.) Because of the Sun's own tilt, the Earth's precession and the passage of time, the constellations in the Zodiac do not match the calendar. There are some constellations that are almost out of the plane of the ecliptic, and some that are not included. That means that for Taurus, for instance, 30% of the time the astrologers say that we are in the House of Taurus (mid-Apr to mid-May), we are not. Also, how do you chart somebody who is born in the House of Pegasus? This is just another proof (as if any were needed) that the whole Astrology thing is bs.

Also, in a similar so-what vein, the extra second we are adding to the calendar is not added to the GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) base. Since this system was arrived at in the early 80's, the capacity of adding an extra second was not built in. For GPS, adding time means that every calculation has to be re-done, something they don't do. A watch set to GPS time is now seriously out of whack, something like 5 or more seconds off.

One more whacky thing that comes to mind as I write, did anybody else catch the drift of the North Magnetic Pole? Although it tends to wander some (reversing sometimes too), this year it took a giant step westward. For the part of the world below the high numbered latitudes, it doesn't add much to the already off-true-north point of our compasses. But how would you like to be on Baffin Is. when you compass is off by 10° more than last year!

    Bookmark   December 25, 2005 at 1:18PM
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fishies(Ottawa z4a or 5)

I don't want to be on Baffin Island!

Anyway, Pete, I found your astronomy lesson super interesting - tell me more. For instance, do you know if astronomers are predicting what types of star-scapes we're going to see once the ones we're used to have all moved around? I wonder, too, how astrologers accomodate this. I mean, sure, we can make hocus-pocus fun at astrological predictions (although, I have to say, I'm a Pisces if ever there was one), but there are mathematical formula involved in figuring these astrological charts out. They must accomodate all this movement somehow... don't they?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2005 at 10:59PM
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Math formulas for Astrology? Nah, they just wing it.

Astrology was arrived at when the night sky (the day sky too for that matter) was thought immutable. The path of the sun through the sky (from our perspective) went through the 'houses' of some of the constellations. The sky was broken up into constellations of various sizes, and star patterns were trimmed so that the path of the sun (the plane of the ecliptic) stayed in each house about the same amount of time.

This is sort of like going out with a pair of goggles with a slit cut through it. If you go out each night of the year and cock your head to the plane of the ecliptic, you would see the same stars rise and fall, each year for many years. However, as the sun takes its 166 million year stroll through the galaxy, and the Earth wobbles around 140.000 and 16,000 yr epicycles, the stars (and constellations) "move". Now, if you go out and have your slitted goggles on, the plane of the ecliptic appears to have moved, so that some of the stars that you could see through the slit are gone, and new ones are there. This is what has happened. So, while the rules of Astrology and the constellations that "rule" you are the same as the Romans learned, some of those constellations are no longer there. So while you think you were born while Taurus was rising (just an example), it could be that the ecliptic didn't even touch Taurus on that day and that Pegasus was the constellation at that appointed spot. I am not home now, and don't have a scrap of paper to explain this further, but if you go to astronomy sites ( and follow the path of the sun through the sky, you will see that it does not follow the neat 12 house approach ascribed to it.

So far as how the constellations will appear, the Sloan survey is only now figuring the distance to about 1 million stars in the northern hemisphere (is it doing both north and south?). To see what you are up against, take 3 tumblers and paint 2 dots on them and line them up a meter intervals. Then look at them with alternate eyes. While your dots may have lined up to spell Shelly from dead-on center, but looking at them with your left eye only makes them "move". (Actually this demonstrates angle of parrallax, but the effect is the same.) When you look out at the sky, some of the stars are in our galaxy a few light years away maybe, but some are in other galaxies at least several 10s of thousand light years away.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 5:31PM
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