Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Welcome the Winter Solstice - Lunar Eclipse and the Ursids Meteors

Image Source: Redbubble.com.

Winter. The solstice marks the shortest day and longest night in the calendar. Winter begins in the northern hemisphere on December 21 at 6:38 p.m. EST (2338 UT) and summer begins in the southern hemisphere. It is marked in several cultures. In Greek mythology, it was the one night when Hades, god of the Underworld, was permitted to enter Mount Olympus and walk with the other gods. Christmas, on the 25th, was the original Roman celebration of Brumalia, heralding the winter solstice under the Julian calendar. The festival honoured the god Dionysus (Bacchus), the god of wine, and typically involved role inversions, that is, reversals between master and servant, or man and woman. In Germanic cultures, the solstice was closely followed by Yule, the beginning of the heathen year.

Image Source: Big5.china.com.

Chinese tradition similarly picks up on the idea of the solstice representing a turning point as an extreme of feminine power is reached (mentioned briefly here): "In the Chinese idea of Yin and Yang, Yin symbolizes feminine, negative and dark qualities of the universe, and yang masculine, positive and fiery qualities, and when something goes to one extreme it then goes to the opposite. Winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is the shortest day and longest night. After it, days become longer, which ancient Chinese thought meant yang qualities would become stronger, so should be celebrated." In East Asia, the Dōngzhì Festival (冬至) is celebrated, where people eat coloured rice dumplings that symbolize the coming together and reunions of families.  In Taiwan, they also make glutinous nine-layer cakes made in the shape of auspicious animals.

Winter Romance (Dong Zhi Lian Qing 冬之戀情) Sung by Teresa Teng. Video Source: Youtube.

The mystical aspects of the winter solstice, as the beginning of a season which demands a psychological journey inwards, are evident in many famous works, such as Robert Frost's 1922 poem, On Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.  The poem is a contemplation of the silent promise of death.

On Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

In 1934, the American writer Conrad Aiken published a famous frightening story entitled Silent Snow, Secret Snow, about the onset of schizophrenia in a young boy who retreats further and further into silent, clean, wintry hallucinations. It was dramatized (see below) in 1966.

Silent Snow, Secret Snow (1966). Part I. Video Source: Youtube.

Silent Snow, Secret Snow (1966). Part II. Video Source: Youtube.

In 1942, Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) picked up on the same theme of winter-driven introspection, and published a famous collection of short stories called Winter's Tales.  The stories deal with themes such as estates and inheritances, war and the psychological turmoil of refugees, isolation, nostalgia, love and longing. Finally, one story in the collection, A Consolatory Tale, also explores the theme of opposites that the solictice brings. One commenter (here) remarks: "It is supposed to console us that everything needs its opposite to be itself in the most essential manner possible: the poet needs the merchant, the king needs the beggar, woman needs man. And so we who are one need to be grateful for the other. If this doesn't console you, the story also suggests that the whole lesson is a load of crap, served up on a wintry night, of course."

Laurie Anderson has a great spoken word account about her attempt to get to the North Pole. It was included on her 1995 Warner Brothers album, The Ugly One with the Jewels.

The Geographic North Pole (1995). By Laurie Anderson. Video Source: Youtube.

In astronomical and astrological terms, this Solstice is a whopper because it includes a total lunar eclipse (see the Wiki site here) tonight, the night of December 20-21, as well as the appearance of the Ursids Meteor Shower, which peaks on the nights of December 20 and 21. In addition the moon will be coloured blood red (reported here and here).  And to top it all off, the moon is turning to a full moon in the earliest hours of December 21 (see report here).  Normally, the moon would be too bright to see the falling stars, but because of the eclipse - on the longest nights of the year, no less - you will be able to see the eclipse, and then the meteors.  The eclipse will be visible just after midnight in North America.  The visibility of the lunar eclipse across the world is explained in the illustration below.

Image Source: Wired.com.

Wired explains how rare this Solstice eclipse is:
A total lunar eclipse will be visible (weather permitting) across North America Monday night, just in time for the longest night of the year. This will be the first time a lunar eclipse has fallen on the winter solstice since 1638. The Earth’s shadow will begin to blot out the moon at 1:32 a.m. EST (10:32 p.m. PST). During totality, when the Earth is directly between the moon and the sun, the moon will turn a rusty orange-red for 72 minutes from 2:41 a.m. to 3:53 a.m. EST (11:41 p.m. to 12:53 a.m. PST). Sky watchers in Europe, West Africa and South America will see only part of the eclipse before it is interrupted by sunrise (see chart below). This is also the last time a total lunar eclipse will be visible from North America until April 2014.
According to Wiki, this is also only the second total lunar eclipse to occur on a Winter Solstice in the Common Era.  Perhaps the heavens are trying to tell us something?  Astrologers are referring to this Solstice eclipse as 'the Turning of the Ages,' and are convinced that 26,000 years are just revolving now into a new era.  They believe that eclipses collapse time, and are also focussing on the fact that there is additionally a 'Galactic Cross' in the skies tonight. There's a blog piece on it at Evolutions (here):
A great moment of truth approaches. Over the next seven days, our Sun aligns with the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy. On Monday night, just hours before the Solstice, the Earth's shadow will cross the face of the Full Moon, collapsing time in a dimensional portal of infinite possibility.

Welcome to this year's Solstice. Standstill. Night of creation, ancient home.

The total eclipse of the Moon will be visible throughout the Americas. The effects will radiate beyond time and space to all sentient life, everywhere, carrying our hopes and prayers into the next millennium.

The alignment of the eclipse with the galactic core is a rare cosmic phenomenon and not a coincidence. It's connected with 2012 and the Mayan calendar, the cycles of Venus, the Earth and the Moon. This opening in the heavens signals a time of great change on Earth, of purification and enlightenment.

Deep, unmasked truth lies at the heart of this eclipse. Whatever darkness remains within our own hearts will be revealed. Within the interplay of shadow and light, secrets from the individual and collective unconscious are exposed in tones of raw emotion. Suffering is transformed by the caress of perfect love. This is likely to be an uncomfortable passage through the heart of darkness and into the ultimate bliss of self-realization, the galactic consciousness that awaits our embrace.
There are plenty of astrological discussions on this, including the video below.

Video Source: Youtube.

Needless to say, all this is a big deal at Stonehenge, which English Heritage will open to the public for this event.  The Winter Solstice is also important at the Irish site, Newgrange. Both Solstices are critical to the design of Stonehenge.  For a good site on archaeoastronomy at Stonehenge, go here. For a blog on this event at Stonehenge go hereWiki:
The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise (New Grange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge). Significant in respect of Stonehenge is the fact that the Great Trilithon was erected outwards from the centre of the monument, i.e., its smooth flat face was turned towards the midwinter Sun. The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter.
There's an animated piece below which shows how Stonehenge 'captures' the Solstice's setting sun.
Video Source: Youtube.

And finally, the Ursids.  There's a report on this year's shower here. NASA will be staying up all night chatting with people about these events - go here and chat will apparently start here, "a few minutes before midnight EST. The chat module will appear at the bottom of this page. After you log in, wait for the chat module to be activated, then ask your questions. See you in chat!"
See my earlier posts on Falling Stars.
See all my posts on Calendars.


  1. Until this post, I was convinced you viewed mythology as purely folklore and basis for culture. But it seems here that maybe you think there's something more to it than that?

  2. No - I view mythology purely as folklore and a cultural phenomenon.