Dear, Steadfast and True Children of the Earth,

It’s time for the Autumnal Equinox!   On Friday, September 22nd at 4:02 pm e.s.t., Day and Night are of equal length.  We are turning toward the “darkening of the light” as days grow shorter and nights longer.  

Throughout human history, this has been a time of sharing and thanksgiving.  The harvest is in, our storehouses are full and it’s time to take a moment and reflect on what is asked of us.

Everywhere we look, we can see that the Earth is giving away her abundance.  Apples and pumpkins are ripening, seed husks are falling open as the leaves turn brilliant colors and begin to fall.  All of Nature seems to be giving itself away.

Mother Nature is showing us what to do when we face a darkening of the light.  Whether that’s in the physical environmental sense or in our own, personal, emotional lives.  When we face fear or uncertainty, the thing to do is connect with others and give what we have to give.

In this time of upheaval, the ancient ways are solid and reliable.  Giving thanks for what we have and giving what we can is a path we can all walk.  It will take us where we need to go.

Namaste,

Mary

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Poem

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane.
The news would pour out of various devices
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
to construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves.  We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake. 

I lived in the first century of these wars. 

                     - Muriel Rukeyser

________________________________

Read on for announcements and more information about the Equinox

________________________________

It's been a while since you've heard from me.  During the interim I've moved from Vermont to Evanston, IL. ( I love it here so much I've started calling it Heavenston). 

You can always find my current address and phone number under the "Contact" button on my website (maryswanson.net) and... 

here are the new numbers:

847-563-8713
718 Noyes St. #A-2
Evanston, IL 60201

My website has been rebuilt and I'm excited to let you know that you can now download classes directly from my site!  

And speaking of classes...  I'm so happy to announce a new, year-long class I've developed with my dear friends and amazing co-teachers, Jena Owen and Laura Tabet:


Sky Magic:   http://www.inspiredinquiries.com/p/skymagic 

In this 12 month class we approach the cycle of the year through the astrological archetypes.  Each month I introduce a new archetype through lecture and guided mediation, Laura takes us deeper into the psychological meanings and Jena shows us how to let our unconscious play through easy and fun journaling and art projects.

You can jump on the cycle at any time.  You’ll have access to the whole year at any time.  We start with the Autumnal Equinox and the archetype of Venus.  Love, balance,  and knowing what you’re in affinity with.

________________________________


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_of_the_Year
http://www.mirror.co.uk/science/autumnal-equinox-2017-season-change-11205728
https://www.thoughtco.com/all-about-mabon-the-autumn-equinox-2562286



Autumnal Equinox - Friday, September 22nd at 4:02 pm e.s.t.





Dear, Careful and Kind Children of the Earth,

Here we are again…Winter Solstice:  the shortest day, the longest night of the year.  Winter Solstice:  a moment of stillness before the light of our Sun begins its long return.  All life on this planet takes note of this unavoidable physical fact:  the darkest time heralds the return of the light.

Everywhere in the northern hemisphere there are celebrations.  Family and friends are coming together to express appreciation and love, to share what they have and to offer their wishes for peace and prosperity.  As long as there have been people, there have been celebrations of the Sun’s return.

In the Pagan world, the longest night of the year is also a time to step out of our routines and acknowledge the Great Mystery:  that we are held by something much bigger than we can ever understand.

It’s a time of letting go of Fear, a time of stepping into Trust. Faith. Belief.

It’s a Sacred time in the old sense of the word: Sacred has its roots in the idea of being set apart from the everyday.  Every culture has a way to make this time of the year Sacred, of taking a break from the material world and renewing our Faith in what really does hold life together:  Love, Compassion, Kindness.

And all of us, on Winter Solstice, have the opportunity to witness what our bodies are experiencing:  darkness does not increase forever.  Eventually, the light returns.

If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

May your Solstice take you where you need to be.

Peace,

Mary

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time  I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
…by Wendell Berry                       

   

Check out these sites for more information on Winter Solstice:

http://earthsky.org/?p=2951

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/december-solstice-customs.html

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/winter-solstice.html



Autumnal Equinox

By Mary Swanson

The Autumnal Equinox is here!  The first day of Fall is here!  This is the time when Night and Day are of equal length.  The long, hot summer is coming to an end.  In the Northern hemisphere, we’re turning toward the longer nights and shorter days.

We feel this change strongly in our bodies at this time.  We’re all aware the sun is setting a little earlier than it did a month ago, there’s a little nip in the air, leaves are beginning to change, apples are ripening and children are back in school.

This is the time of year when we take stock of what we have and make decisions about how we want to go forward.  It’s a time or sorting, planning and preparing.  But most of all, it’s a time of sharing.

In the Pagan tradition, we look at Nature to teach us.  Right now, Nature is giving it all away.  Everywhere you look, seed pods are breaking open, root crops have matured, the fruit is hanging off the vine.  Every earthly thing is Sharing.  It’s Harvest Time, a time of gratitude, thanks giving and sharing.

This Fall Equinox is followed quickly by the Harvest Moon.  This year it will be Full on September 27-28th.  It is a “Super Moon” which means it looks like it’s really big.  (Giving us lots of light to bring in the Harvest)

This year the full harvest moon will also be a full Lunar Eclipse. (at 4 degrees 40 minutes of Aries)  We’ll be able to see it in its entirety in the eastern half of the US.

In the language of Astrology, Lunar Eclipses signify an intensification of whatever’s happening.  A lunar eclipse in Aries signifies an intensification of our own need to take right action.

I can’t look at the news reports of the refugees pouring into Europe or the refugees fleeing the fires up and down the west coast without remembering how important it is to share.  Fear is a normal emotion…but so is the desire to share and take care of.

Whatever your circumstances, there’s always someone who’s living more precariously.  Here’s an easy link to Unicef.    https://www.unicefusa.org


Or, you can look up your state and country participation in refugee resettlement.  People right near you need blankets, coats, anything you have too much of, there’s a need for.

Or, you can simply share your love.


Song
Here is calm so deep, grasses cease waving.Everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us.
The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, Making them glide and sing.

The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls,and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song,our very own, and sings our love…John Muir



Read on for more information about the Equinox:



http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=52248

http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/seasons.html

http://www.holidayinsights.com/other/fall.html

Summer Solstice 2015

By Mary Swanson

Summer Solstice 2015 Sunday June 21st at 12:38 pm edt

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Dear, Adaptable and Ever-Changing Children of the Earth,

Summer Solstice is here!  The longest day and shortest night of the year.  The Great Wheel is turning and it’s the perfect time to step out of your routine.  All work and no play does serious harm to your nervous system and this Solstice is perfect for creating some new neurological pathways.  Expand your brain by looking at something you’ve never seen before.  Cleanse your endocrine system by laughing at something silly.  It’s Summer!  Time to fill up with light!

For as long as we humans have been standing up on our own two feet, Summer Solstice has been a time of Celebration.  Visiting friends, cooking outside, participating in large gatherings… all the fun activities of Summer take us out of our ordinary routine, relax us and allow us to make new connections.

There are thousands of ancient sites all over the globe that mark the Summer Solstice.  Our ancestors created these Sacred Sites as places to connect to Deities, to God, to the Great Mystery.  Sacred literally means “set apart for the worship of a deity.”  Whatever your relationship with the Mystery is, or how you define God, this is a perfect time to offer your respect and gratitude for this marvelous thing we call Life.

This Solstice, the Cosmos is giving us a beautiful Jupiter (Benevolence) trine to Uranus (Change).  Trine aspects are easy flowing and after our long, long Pluto square with Uranus, this can truly feel like a breath of fresh air.  With this aspect there’s a kind of trust that starts to happen again, a little bit of hope and sense of possibility is dawning.

Take this time to notice the simple pleasure of being alive.

Namaste, you light-filled being,

Mary


Summer Fruit
Full round apple, peach, pear, blackberry.
Each speaks lie and death into the mouth.
Look at the face of a child eating them.
The tastes come from afar and slowly grow nameless on the tongue.
Where there were words, discoveries flow,released from within the fruit.
What we call apple–dare to say what it is,
this sweetness which first condensed itself so that, in the tasting, it may burst fort and be known in all its meanings of sun and earth and here. How immense, the act and the pleasure of it.

…Rainer Maria Rilke

Check out this link to find more about the SKY MAGIC class I’m teaching this Summer!

http://jenaferjoy.com/skymagic-summer/

 

and check out these sites for more information about Summer Solstice:

http://earthsky.org/?p=3300                                                                                              http://www.mysticmamma.com/summer-solstice-northern-hemisphere-rituals-ideas-and-significance-june-20th-2013/

 

Mystic Mama has some really great rituals

  

Spring equinox 2015

By Mary Swanson

Dear, Amazing and Resilient Children of the Earth,

Spring is here!  The Vernal Equinox has arrived.  At Equinox, Day and Night are of equal length. Winter is pulling back and from now until the Summer Solstice we’ll feel the warmth and strength of the sun increasing every day.

Just as the birds are sending out their songs again, we humans feel like doing a bit of crowing! Just as the little green shoots are breaking through the soil, we’re wanting to get outside, breathe deep and feel the sun on our skin. Life is coming up fresh and new at Equinox and each of us can participate in that.

Our ancestors celebrated the first day of Spring with feasts and bonfires, symbols of fertility and praise for the resurrection of life.  In every culture on earth there is a celebration of rebirth at this time of year.

This has been a long winter in Vermont.  Months of sub-zero temperatures have been wearing everybody down.  Now,  everywhere you look you can see life coming back to the trees and bushes, rivulets of water cascade down hillsides.  Birdsong is nearly miraculous after the silence of deep snow.

In the language of Astrology, this is a time of great change.  As we step through the portal of this Spring Equinox we’re being guided by a spectacular Pisces New Moon/Solar Eclipse about 13 hours before the exact moment of equinox.

The next time a solar eclipse happens on the same day as the Spring Equinox is on March 20, 2034.  After that, this combination of events will occur only twice more in this century.

On March 16th, we came through the final Uranus/Pluto square. For the past three years we have all been experiencing a kind of revolution.  In the macrocosm of world events and in the microcosm of our own lives, we have been experiencing the tumult & chaos of established power (Pluto) being challenged by the need for change and growth (Uranus).

As we celebrate this first day of Spring, we do so with a strong wind at our backs.

During these past three years of turmoil we have all gone through our own personal meat grinders– letting go of what we thought we needed to survive, in order to enter into our new lives.  Solar eclipses tend to reveal things that have been hidden & signal deep and profound change.   The completion of this Pluto/Uranus transit signals a new world order, whether we’re talking about the world out there or the world inside.

May you be experiencing a resurrection.

Namaste,
Mary


"For Longing
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease.
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging- in love, creativity, and friendship
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.
John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us~All rights reserved."


“Robin” oil on canvasboard by Mary Swanson

check out these links for more information about Equinox and the Solar Eclipse:

 

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/total-solar-eclipse-vernal-equinox-spring-new-supermoon/44013327
http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/ostarathespringequinox/a/AllAboutOstara.htm
http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/spring.html

 

 

Winter Solstice 2014

By Mary Swanson

Dear, Gentle and Resilient Children of the Earth,Winter Solstice is here again!  
The longest night of the year is here.  There is cause for great celebration and rejoicing: the Sun will come back just a little earlier the day after Solstice and nights begin to shorten.Here, in the great pause (Solstice literally means “the-sun-stands-still”) is a perfect time to take a deep breath and reorient yourself.  It’s time to make “Sacred Time” which is time out of your ordinary routine.  In Sacred time we have the ability to look at a larger picture, to literally look up & connect with the great Mystery in which we exist.

Throughout all of time, people have taken Sacred time at the Winter Solstice to take care of each other, to rejoice in Life itself and to give thanks for all that supports us.

On December 15th we had the seventh and next to last Pluto/Uranus “Gate”.  For three years now, Pluto (Power and abuses of Power) has been challenged by the need for freedom and change (Uranus). Whether we’re looking at the world stage or our own belief system, pressures are nearly unbearable.

But if you look closely, there are little break-throughs happening everywhere… and what is breaking through is the light of new ways & new ideas that can solve the tensions created by change.

All we have to do is notice them.

Blessed be,

Mary

More Information on the Solstice:


Longing And Belonging
by Jon Jackson
There is something which longs for me,
Longs to belong to me.
A life which enters with each breath,
Yearning to absorb the splendor
Into my soul.This lover pursues me, sustains me.
This lover knows that I still cannot see,
And, so, pursues me with smell, and taste, and sound.
Anything, to get my attention,
To wake me up.To dance  with my heart,
Surrounding me with healing arms.There is something so close to all that I am,
Which sings a love song when I can’t sleep.
There are messages in the rain, in the sun.
The moon reflects it’s glowing light,
And spins around, saying, “Look at me!
Here I am!  And now you can see your way!”And, of course, I take those steps,
Accepting the rose that appears in my hand,
And hoping the doorbell is going to ring.
While something waits patiently by my side,
Keeping me warm, and knowing the beauty.- Jon Jackson 
Enjoy my reading of a Winter Solstice StorySingebiss and the North Wind
This story was found at: http://healingstory.org as retold by Fran Stalling.

JOIN US (online) for the Winter Quarter of SKYMAGIC – starts December 23rd

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Dear Everybody–
I am so excited about this class!!  If I weren’t teaching it, I’d be taking it.  My dear friends and collaborators, Jena Owen & Laura Tabet have me dancing in the aisles.  All the ways I love to connect deeply into life are in this class:  learning about mythology, astrology & psychology and how they intertwine, group meditations and sharing, art journaling, shifting my own energy and perspective. Each month is a ritual that takes us out of our stuck places!  I really, really hope you’ll join us!!

Find out More and Register at: http://artandmagicclub.ning.com/skymagic

L
ove,
Mary 


Autumnal Equinox 2014

By Mary Swanson


Dear, Powerful and Gentle Children of the Earth,

Summer Solstice is here!  The longest day of the year, “Mid-Summer” has arrived at last.  All over the northern hemisphere, people are responding to the urge to get outside and enjoy this amazing world we live in.

As long as there have been people, people have celebrated this time of year.  After a long, long, long winter and bone-chilling spring, the Sun at it’s fullest calls upon us to go outside and feel it’s warmth and invigoration.  Longer days mean more time to be out and about and Summer Solstice is a time of family gatherings, camping with friends, hittin’ the road and pow-wows of all denominations.

We’re having this Solstice during a Mercury Retrograde.  In the language of astrology, retrogrades are about slowing things down and taking another look.  Mercury is all about communication & travel, whether that’s on the physical or intellectual plane.

So take a little time for yourself this Solstice, to think, to feel, to find a way into your own experience of life.   Take a pause from all the necessary tasks while you let yourself feel the Sun.  And Air.  And Earth.  And your own being.

No matter how intense or pressured your life feels right now, Mother Nature is waiting for you to come out and, if not play, at least let her make you smile.

Love and more love,

Mary

PS My new Vermont # is 802-989-7222 (more info on my website maryswanson.net)

PPS Check out my new collaboration at http://artandmagicclub.ning.com   It’s a wonderful community that’s building!!

_______________________________________


Arms Full of Wildflowers

Gratitude means showing up on life’s doorstep,

love’s threshold, dressed in a clown suit,

rubber-nosed, gunboat shoes flapping.

Gratitude shows up with arms full of wildflowers,

reciting McKuen or the worst of Neruda.

To talk of gratitude is to be

the fool in a cynic’s world.

Gratitude is pride’s nightmare,

the admission of humility before something

given without expectation or attachment.

Gratitude tears open the shirt

of self importance, scatters buttons

across the polished floors of feigned indifference,

ignores the obvious and laughs out loud.

Even more, gratitude bares her breasts, rips open

her ribs to show the naked heart, the holy heart.

What if that sacred heart is not, after all, about sacrifice?

Imagine it is about joy, barefoot and foolhardy,

something unasked for, something unearned.

What if the beat we hear, when we are finally quiet

is simply this:

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you

… Rebecca del Rio
_________________________________


Check out these sites for more information on the Summer Solstice:

Summer Solstice 2014  Saturday, 6:51 am edt

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/summer-solstice-2014-what-its-significance-how-it-celebrated-around-world-1453360

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/06/07/when-is-summer-solstice-2014_n_5456782.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/0/22956681

http://www.tarot.com/astrology/equinoxes-solstices

Vernal Equinox 2014

By Mary Swanson

Dear, Kind and Caring Children of the Earth,

The Vernal Equinox is here! The first day of Spring is here! The time of year when day and night are of equal length is here. The sun is getting stronger, the days are getting longer and it’s time to shake off our winter doldrums, go outside and breathe a little fresh air!

Even if it’s still cold and snowing where you are, sap is rising. If you take a walk in the woods, you’ll see all kinds of life coming through the remnants of nature’s compost. The ends of every branch and twig reach out with new growth.

This Equinox finds us at the 6th gate of a long-grinding and seemingly endless period of recalibration. In the language of astrology it’s called Pluto square Uranus. It’s been going on since June of 2012. Some are more affected than others but we’re all going through a process of change. We’re letting go (Pluto) of what no longer works and opening to new ideas (Uranus). It’s not easy. But each time we do it, a kind of magic happens: Sudden, unexpected breakthroughs.

Whatever you’ve been having to let go of, take a walk outside and see what’s trying to get your attention.
Life may be trying to reach out to you.

Namaste,
Mary
ps The photo was taken by Janna Fournier in Big Sur, CA
pps As some of you know, I’ll be heading back to Vermont in June of this year. You can always find me under the “contact” button on my website: maryswanson.net


Hokusai Says

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,

every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.

He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive –
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if yo sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.

It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.
–Roger Keyes

Here are some links to more information about the Equinox:

http://belsebuub.com/articles/the-spiritual-meaning-of-the-spring-equinox
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/riteofspring1.html
http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/errata/a/equinox_eggs.htm

Three months ago we experienced Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Now, Summer is ending and Fall Equinox is here, when day and night are of equal length.  We can all sense the change of season.  Everywhere around us the Earth is giving of herself.  Apples fall from trees, leaves give back their light in the gorgeous fall colors and late crops are being brought in from the fields. It’s Harvest Moon, Halloween and Thanksgiving time. Our ancestors have always know the importance of coming together at this time of year to celebrate, give thanks and share.For Pagans, the Autumnal Equinox is celebrated as Mabon–  A time to celebrate and share, of course, and also a time to reflect upon the truth that all things must come to an end– that death is part of the cycle of life. We can watch Nature letting go, dying back, bursting open.  Change is happening.  This is the realm of the Crone, the Crossroads and navigating the terrifying darkness of the unknown.

–We all experience fear.  Fear, the neurobiologists tell us, is the strongest human emotion.  And fear of the unknown is the strongest human fear.

In the language of astrology, we’re deep in the long transformation of Pluto (Power) and Uranus (Innovation) learning to work together.  For all of us, some more shockingly than others, our “chickens have come home to roost.”  We’re all dealing with choices we’ve made as we’ve responded to life’s challenges.  Somewhere in our lives, something’s falling apart or ending.  Somewhere in our lives, change is trying to happen. How can we cope with the change?  What do we do with the fear?

It’s scary, the letting go when you can’t know what happens next.  As scary as ghosts in the trees and witches on broomsticks.

This time of year, Mother Nature shows us her face as the old hag, the Crone.  Intimidating and very wise, she shows us how to navigate the Crossroads.  She shows us how to draw inward and stay connected to what is most nurturing even as she gives away everything.   It’s the perfect time to go outside, into the lengthening night and take a deep breath.  And then allow the possibility that though you can’t see how,  yet…  everything might turn out just fine.

Kind of like trusting Spring.

Happy Changes Everyone,
Mary



The Thing Is
by Ellen Bass

The thing is..
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hand,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you again.


Read below for more information about Equinox & Mabon______

What is an equinox? The earliest humans spent more time outside than we do. They used the sky as both clock and calendar. They could easily see that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shift in a regular way throughout the year.

Our ancestors built the first observatories to track the sun’s progress. One example is at Machu Picchu in Peru, where the Intihuatana stone, shown at right, has been shown to be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and other significant celestial periods. The word Intihuatana, by the way, literally means for tying the sun.

Today, we know each equinox and solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and ceaseless orbit around the sun.

Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23-and-a-half degrees, Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. We have an equinox twice a year – spring and fall – when the tilt of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun.

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Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the sun’s rays equally now. Night and day are approximately equal in length. The name ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). Image credit: Przemyslaw Idzkiewicz.

But, since Earth never stops moving around the sun, these days of equal sunlight and night will change quickly.

Where should I look to see signs of the equinox in nature? The knowledge that summer is gone – and winter is coming – is everywhere now, on the northern half of Earth’s globe.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can easily notice the later dawns and earlier sunsets.

Also notice the arc of the sun across the sky each day. You’ll find it’s shifting toward the south. Birds and butterflies are migrating southward, too, along with the path of the sun.

The shorter days are bringing cooler weather. A chill is in the air. In New York City and other fashionable places, people have stopped wearing white. Creatures of the wild are putting on their winter coats.

All around us, trees and plants are ending this year’s cycle of growth. Perhaps they are responding with glorious autumn leaves, or a last burst of bloom before winter comes.

In the night sky, Fomalhaut – the Autumn Star – is making its way across the heavens each night.

Does the sun rise due east and set due west at the equinox? Generally speaking, yes, it does. And that’s true no matter where you live on Earth, because we all see the same sky.

No matter where you are on Earth, you have a due east and due west point on your horizon. That point marks the intersection of your horizon with the celestial equator – the imaginary line above the true equator of the Earth.

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At the equinoxes, the sun appears overhead at noon as seen from Earth’s equator, as the illustration at right shows. This illustration (which is by Tau’olunga) shows the sun’s location on the celestial equator, every hour, on the day of the equinox.

That’s why the sun rises due east and sets due west for all of us. The sun is on the celestial equator, and the celestial equator intersects all of our horizons at points due east and due west.

This fact makes the day of an equinox a good day for finding due east and due west from your yard or other favorite site for watching the sky. Just go outside around sunset or sunrise and notice the location of the sun on the horizon with respect to familiar landmarks.

If you do this, you’ll be able to use those landmarks to find those cardinal directions in the weeks and months ahead, long after Earth has moved on in its orbit around the sun, carrying the sunrise and sunset points southward.

New Albany, Indiana. Photo credit: EarthSky Facebook friend Duke Marsh

So enjoy the 2013 equinox – September 22 or 23 depending on your time zone – a seasonal signpost in Earth’s orbit around the sun!
http://earthsky.org
Mabon Lore Autumn Equinox, around September 21, is the time of the descent of the Goddess into the Underworld. With her departure, we see the decline of nature and the coming of winter. This is a classic, ancient mythos, seen the Sumerian myth of Inanna and in the ancient Greek and Roman legends of Demeter and Persephone. In September, we also bid farewell to the Harvest Lord who was slain at Lammas. He is the Green Man, seen as the cycle of nature in the plant kingdom. He is harvested and his seeds are planted into the Earth so that life may continue and be more abundant. Mabon (“Great Son”) is a Welsh god. He was a great hunter with a swift horse and a wonderful hound. He may have been a mythologized actual leader. He was stolen from his mother, Modron (Great Mother),when he was three nights old, but was eventually rescued by King Arthur (other legends say he was rescued by the Blackbird, the Stag, the Owl, the Eagle, and the Salmon). All along, however, Mabon has been dwelling, a happy captive, in Modron’s magickal Otherworld — Madron’s womb. Only in this way can he be reborn. Mabon’s light has been drawn into the Earth, gathering strength and wisdom enough to become a new seed. In this sense, Mabon is the masculine counterpart of Persephone — the male fertilizing principle seasonally withdrawn. Modron corresponds with Demeter. From the moment of the September Equinox, the Sun’s strength diminishes, until the moment of Winter Solstice in December, when the Sun grows stronger and the days once again become longer than the nights. Symbols celebrating the season include various types of gourd and melons. Stalk can be tied together symbolizing the Harvest Lord and then set in a circle of gourds. A besom can be constructed to symbolize the polarity of male and female. The Harvest Lord is often symbolized by a straw man, whose sacrificial body is burned and its ashes scattered upon the earth. The Harvest Queen, or Kern Baby, is made from the last sheaf of the harvest and bundled by the reapers who proclaim, “We have the Kern!” The sheaf is dressed in a white frock decorated with colorful ribbons depicting spring, and then hung upon a pole (a phallic fertility symbol). In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called the Maiden, and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.

Mabon Activities * Make grapevine wreaths using dried bitter- sweet herb for protection. Use ribbons of gold and yellow to bring in the energy of the Sun, and decorate with sprigs of dried yarrow or cinnamon sticks. * Make a Magickal Horn of Plenty. * Make Magickal Scented Pinecones. * Make a protection charm of hazelnuts (filberts) strung on red thread. * Collect milkweed pods to decorate at Yuletide and attract the faeries. * Call upon the elementals and honor them for their help with (N-earth) the home and finances, (E-air) school and knowledge, (S-fire) careers and accomplishments, (W-water) emotional balance and fruitful relationships.

 

http://www.earthwitchery.com/mabon.html

 




Dear, Hopeful and Courageous Children of The Earth,

It’s finally here… Midsummer, Solstice, Litha, The First Day of Summer.  The Longest Day and Shortest Night are upon us, calling us out of our well-worn old ruts to try something new, blow off the dust, join with some other people and have some fun.

Throughout all time people have celebrated this time of year.  Outdoor bonfires, sharing the bounty of food, staying up late in the gentle night… we all celebrate in our own way the good fortune of being able to enjoy our friends and families.

In the pagan world, Midsummer is a time to rejoice in the life-giving warmth of the Sun.  remember the little folk, the invisible ones and make offerings of gratitude.  Everyone can use a vacation, even if it’s just for an afternoon.

Namaste,

Mary


Allow

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado.  Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel.  Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground.  The only
safety lies in letting it all in —
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures, and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.

by Danna Faulds


The Summer Solstice

Each year, the timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. This occurs annually on June 20 or June 21 in North America, depending on your time zone.

The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) andstitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice).

In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer. In the winter, just the opposite occurs: The Sun is at its southernmost point and is low in the sky. Its rays hit the Northern Hemisphere at an oblique angle, creating the feeble winter sunlight.

The Sun is directly overhead at its most northern point at “high-noon” on the summer solstice, creating more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere on this day then any other. See your local Sun rise and set times—and how the day length changes!


www.almanac.com

LITHA – CELEBRATION OF THE SUMMER SOLSTICE


Litha – Celebration of the Summer Solstice
By Jennifer Bones

The summer solstice has long been a time of celebration and festivity for cultures dating back to ancient times and stretching through the present day. For those of us on the Northern Hemisphere, this day falls approximately on June 21st. During this time the Earth is tilted closest to the Sun giving us greater exposure to the Sun’s light and, subsequently, the longest day of the year.

The themes of Summer Solstice are sex, love, creativity, energy, luck, health and wishes. “Solstice” comes from the Latin “sol” meaning sun, and “sistere,” to cause to stand still. As the summer solstice draws near, the noonday sun rises higher and higher in the sky each day. On the day of the solstice, it rises an imperceptible amount, compared to the day before, thus appearing to “stand still.” In the magical sense, Summer Solstice brings us to the halfway point of the Wheel of the Year. The sun is in full reign, reaching a peak in the sky and shedding beams of truth. The brilliance of the sun allows us to see things clearly, banishing shadows and releasing the past.

This day has special meaning to all societies. For those who follow Faerie Magik, this is an especially meaningful event as it is said that all the faeries come out to celebrate this day with all the creatures of the forest. An elaborate feast is held with endless goblets of ale, festive music and dancing. If you’re familiar with faerie lore, you won’t be surprised to learn that these Summer Solstice parties are clothing optional and last until the wee hours of the following morning. Shakespeare centered his faerie-packed tale of love and trickery, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, around this mystical day.

Of the modern religions, it is the Pagan & Wiccan societies that celebrate this day with the most passion. This holiday is most commonly known as “Litha” (the ancient Germanic name for Summer) and it is believed to be the time when the Sun God is at his strongest. He is also the God of the Forest and is often depicted as seated at on a green wood throne. During the time in which Christianity and Paganism was merging, images of the Sun God wearing masks made of leaves were included in the architectural features of many early churches. This God has become more commonly known to modern Wiccans as The Green Man.

Herbs are at their most potent state during this time. Now is the time to gather and dry your herbs for use during the rest of the year. Be sure not to wait too long past Litha or the plants will begin to seed and lose potency. Gather roots as the Moon wanes and leaves & flowers as the Moon is waxing. Thank each plant as you harvest it, keeping in mind our debt to Mother Earth and Her children.

The many sacred stone circles found around the globe (e.g. Stonehenge) were believed to have been built to celebrate this time. On a practical level any agricultural society would hold this time in very high regard. Not only does this longest day of the year offer a welcome break, it also marks the transition from cultivation to harvest. The significance of this day was not only practical but also held a much deeper, spiritual meaning. If you are lucky enough to live near a sacred stone circle plan a picnic and bring whatever supplies needed for your individual spells and rituals.

Alternatively, one can create their own stone circle by selecting stones that you are able to feel a vibration from or are otherwise attracted to and placing them in a circle. Choose eight large stones and place them equidistant at each spoke of the wheel. Fill in the spaces with smaller stones. Cast your circle as you normally do prior to performing any spellcraft.

This is the time of year to write down any wishes you have and tossing them, along with a Litha inspired offering into a well, spring, or cauldron. For example, simply hold a small stone along with a special feather or sprig of herbs in your right hand and meditate on the wish (or reasons to be thankful). Once you have filled up the stone with your meditation, toss it with intention into the water. If a cauldron was used, empty the contents into a stream or other body of running water when the spell is complete.

Litha has long been a time for unadulterated joy and pleasure. Lengthy and detailed scripted rituals seem to contradict the spirit of this season. Rather, we should celebrate with intention but with an open heart. Focus on how grateful one should be that the Sun continues His tireless journey each year providing so much to all of us. Pick a few themes (below) and simply set out to have a great time. Rise early with the Sun and plan a bonfire for later that night to further lengthen this day. In other words, party ‘till you drop!

The following themes and recipes are utilized in Pagan ceremonies, rituals, and spells:

Herbs – basil, chamomile, daisy, elder, pine, St. John’s wort, tyme, yarrow, frankincense, fennel, lavender, and lily

Essential oils and incense – frankincense, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, lotus, jasmine, rose, wisteria, and myrrh

Colors – yellow, white, red, blue, green, tan

Decoration – anything reminiscent of the sun (yellows, reds, oranges), dried herbs, potpourri, fruits, summer flowers

Gemstones – any green stone (e.g. emerald)

Foods – mead, fresh fruits and veggies, lemonade, cookies and cakes decorated to honor the Sun, and of course plenty of ale

Spellwork – Litha is the perfect time for any magick but is especially good for Animal Protection and Marriage & Vow Renewal spells

Litha Incense – 2 parts Sandalwood, 1 part Mugwort, 1 part Chamomile, 1 part Gardenia petals, several drops of Rose oil, several drops of Lavender oil, several drops of Yarrow oil

Orange Honey Butter – 2 Tablespoons grated orange zest, 3 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter, softened, 1 – 2 Tablespoons honey, Combine ingredients and chill until ready to eat. Yum!

Easy Honey Mead – This recipe can be considered cheating but if you’ve ever tried to make honey mead at home, you’ll appreciate this recipe’s simplicity. First heat 1 part water with 1 part wildflower honey until the mixture is smooth and the honey’s completely incorporated. Sprinkle some rose petals into the mixture and let it cool. Strain the mixture (optional). Mix 2 parts honey water with 1 part grain alcohol and serve chilled over ice. (Alternatively, mix 1 part honey water with 1 part vodka).

Jennifer Bones is a long time practitioner of the Nature / Pagan religion. Her writings span from spiritual fiction to historic studies of women’s issues. She is owner and manager of her current website, http://goddessgiftshop.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jennifer_Bones

Main article: Wheel of the Year


Dear, Cherished and Beloved Children of the Earth,

 

The Vernal Equinox has arrived! The First Day of Spring is a time for celebration. Winter is over, the sun is getting stronger and all of life is responding.  From now until the Summer Solstice days get longer and nights get shorter.

 

For as long as there have been people, there have been celebrations at this time of year. It’s nearly impossible to ignore the increase of light or the quickening of Nature.   This is a time of joy and renewal, a time of cleaning out, starting over, birth, rebirth and resurrection.  Spring cleaning isn’t just about housework (Though it’s a really good practice to clean your house from top to bottom) it’s also about cleaning our your internal cobwebs.

 

For Pagans, this Equinox is a time of bringing things back into balance.  After the long winter’s dreaming, healing, visioning… it’s time to put ideas into action, plant some seeds  and dare to believe that your deepest desires are sacred & responded to by Life itself.

 

In the language of Astrology, we are at the Aries Gate.  We all have Aries somewhere in our charts and right now Aries is being visited by Uranus.  Somewhere in your life, you’re being asked to trust the urge to create in a way that’s unique to you.  We’re all being asked to believe that what makes us different is actually a good thing. It’s time to let go of doubt and dare to take a step towards being who we really are.

 

Whatever you have been wrestling with, the Spring Equinox is the perfect time to go out into Nature and experience what the Earth teaches us:  that no matter how terrible and unpredictable Life may be,  there is always a Rebirth.  Take yourself outside this week, take off your shoes and put your feet in the grass or dirt or sand or water.  Ground yourself in the physical reality of your being: Resurrection is the natural flow of Life.

 

Blessed Be & Happy Spring!

Mary

 

 

 

Song of the Nations

    by Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Out of

Night and alarm,

Out of

Darkness and dread,

Out of old hate,

Grudge and distrust

Sin and remorse,

Passion and blindness;

Shall come

Dawn and the birds,

Shall come

Slacking of greed,

Snapping of fear–

Love shall fold warm like a cloak

Round the shuddering earth

Till the sound of its woe cease.

 

After

Terrible dreams,

After

Crying in sleep,

Grief beyond thought

Twisting of hands,

Tears from shut lids

Wetting the pillow;

Shall come

Sun on the wall,

Shall come

Sounds from the street,

Children at play–

Bubbles too big blown, and dreams

Filled too heavy with horror

Will burst and in mist fall.

 

Sing then,

You who were dumb,

Shout then

Into the dark;

Are we not one?

Are not our hearts

Hot from one fire

And in one mold cast?

Out of

Night and alarm,

Out of

Terrible dreams,

Reach me your hand,

This is the meaning of all that we

Suffered in sleep, –the white peace

of the waking.

 

 

 

Read on for interesting information about the Spring Equinox:


 The Vernal Equinox, also known as the March Equinox, begins on Wednesday, March 20th. On the first day of spring, the sun will shine directly on the equator and the length of the day and night are almost exactly the same.


Why is it called equinox?

On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning “equal night”.

The March equinox occurs the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. This happens either on March 19, 20 or 21 every year. On any other day of the year, the Earth’s axis tilts a little away from or towards the Sun. But on the two equinoxes, the Earth’s axis doesn’t tilt neither away from nor towards the Sun.

Cultural Importance of the Vernal Equinox


Modern astronomy aside, people have recognized the vernal equinox for thousands of years. There is no shortage of rituals and traditions surrounding the coming of spring. Many early peoples celebrated for the basic reason that their food supplies would soon be restored. The date is significant in Christianity because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. It is also probably no coincidence that early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on the day of the vernal equinox.

The first day of spring also marks the beginning of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The celebration lasts 13 days and is rooted in the 3,000-year-old tradition of Zorastrianism.

There is an urban legend that you can balance an egg on its point during the equinox.

 

http://www.examiner.com/article/first-day-of-spring-2013-vernal-equinox-begins-march-20th

 

Stonehenge Spring Equinox 2013

This is the second of the four ‘sky points’ in our Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens. At the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox the sun rises exactly in the east, travels through the sky for 12 hours and then sets exactly in the west. So all over the world, at this special moment, day and night are of equal length hence the word equinox which means ‘equal night’. Of course, for those of us here in the northern hemisphere it is this equinox that brings us out of our winter.

Here in Wiltshire (as with the rest of rural Britain), it was traditional to drink dandelion and burdock cordials at this time as these herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after its winter hardships.

As the Vernal Equinox heralds the arrival of spring, it is a time of renewal in both nature and the home, so time for some spring-cleaning!

This is more than just a physical activity, it also helps to remove any old or negative energies accumulated over the dark, heavy winter months preparing the way for the positive growing energy of spring and summer.

As with all the other key festivals of the year, there are both Pagan and Christian associations with the Spring Equinox.To Pagans, this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility.

The exact time for the Spring (or Vernal) equinox at Stonehenge 2013 is:

March 20th 2013 @ 11.02am BST

http://www.stonehengetours.com/stonehenge-spring-equinox-tour-2013.htm

 

The spring equinox is one of the four great solar festivals of the year. Day and night are equal, poised and balanced, but about to tip over on the side of light. The spring equinox is sacred to dawn, youth, the morning star and the east. The Saxon goddess, Eostre (from whose name we get the direction East and the holiday Easter) is a dawn goddess, like Aurora and Eos. Just as the dawn is the time of new light, so the vernal equinox is the time of new life.             

 

The New Year

In many traditions, this is the start of the new year. The Roman year began on the ides of March (15th). The astrological year begins on the equinox when the moon moves into the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries, the Ram. The Greek God Ares is equivalent to the Roman Mars for whom the month of March is named. Between the 12th century and 1752, March 25th was the day the year changed in England and Ireland. March 25, 1212 was the day after March 24, 1211.

I like to celebrate the festival of Nawruz, Persian New Year, which falls on the spring equinox. We fix a special dinner of seven food dishes that begin with ‘S.’ Since we don’t know the Arabic names for food, we use English words and eat salad, salami, soup, squash, etc. The table is decorated with a mirror, a bowl of water with one freshly-picked green leaf floating in it, a candleabra containing a candle for every child in the house, a copy of the Koran (or other sacred text), rose water, sweets, fruit, a fish, yogurt and colored eggs.


The Coming of the Spring

Although we saw the first promise of spring at Candlemas in the swelling buds, there were still nights of frost and darkness ahead. Now spring is manifest. Demeter is reunited with her daughter, Kore (the essence of spring), who has been in the Underworld for six months and the earth once again teems with life. The month of March contains holidays dedicated to all the great mother goddesses: Astarte, Isis, Aprhrodite, Cybele and the Virgin Mary. The goddess shows herself in the blossoms, the leaves on the trees, the sprouting of the crops, the mating of birds, the birth of young animals. In the agricultural cycle, it is time for planting. We are assured that life will continue.

Gilbert Murray in Five Stages of Greek Religion writes about the passion behind the Greek celebration of Easter:


"Anyone who has been in Greece at Easter time, especially among the more remote peasants, must have been struck by the emotion of suspense and excitement, with which they wait for the announcement, “Christos aneste,” “Christ is risen!” and the response “Alethos aneste,” “He has really risen!” [An old peasant woman] explained her anxiety: “If Christ does not rise tomorrow we shall have no harvest this year.” We are evidently in the presence of an emotion and a fear which, beneath its Christian colouring and, so to speak, transfiguration, is in its essence — a relic from a very remote pre-Christian past".

Resurrection from the Dead

Murray then goes on to recount the myths of the Year Gods — Attis, Adonis, Osiris and Dionysus — who like Christ die and are reborn each year. These gods are always the son of a God and a mortal woman. The son is a savior who saves his people in some way, sometimes through sacrifice. He is the vegetation, dying each year (at harvest) to be reborn in the spring.

In ancient Rome, the 10-day rite in honor of Attis, son of the great goddess Cybele, began on March 15th. A pine tree, which represented Attis, was chopped down, wrapped in a linen shroud, decorated with violets and placed in a sepulchre in the temple. On the Day of Blood or Black Friday, the priests of the cult gashed themselves with knives as they danced ecstatically, sympathizing with Cybele in her grief and helping to restore Attis to life. Two days later, a priest opened the sepulchre at dawn, revealing that it was empty and announcing that the god was saved. This day was known as Hilaria or the Day of Joy, a time of feasting and merriment.

Sound familiar? Easter is the Christian version of the same myth. Even the name Easter is stolen. It comes from the Saxon dawn-goddess Eostre, whose festival was celebrated on spring equinox. The date of Easter is still determined by the old moon cycle. It is always the first Sunday on or after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

On Good Friday, Christ is crucified, a willing sacrifice. Altars are stripped, candles extinguished to represent the darkness of the grave. But on Easter, light springs from darkness, Christ rises from the tomb. If you’ve never attended an Easter vigil, I highly recommend it. (I usually go to a Russian or Greek Orthodox church, so I don’t know what the ceremony is like in other Christian churches.) Shortly before midnight all the lights are extinguished and the thronged church is dark and silent. Everyone is holding an unlit candle. The priest lights the Paschal candle, which has been ritually blessed and inscribed with the year. He then lights the candles of those nearby, who light the candles of their neighbors, until the church is ablaze with light and filled with song.

According to my Catholic missal, one of the prayers used during this part of the service (which is called the Service of the Light) goes like this:

"We pray you, therefore, O Lord, that this candle, consecrated in honor of your name, may continue endlessly to scatter the darkness of this night. May it be received as a sweet fragrance and mingle with the lights of heaven. May the morning star find its flame burning, that Star which knows no setting, which came back from limbo. Christ is like the morning Star because he descended into Death (the Underworld) and emerged again, like Attis, like Kore, like Inanna and Ishtar."

Eggs and Seeds

Eggs are one of the symbols of this festival since they represent new life and potential. Folklore tells us (combining two themes of the season) (and Donna Henes has demonstrated in public egg-balancing ceremonies in New York City) that eggs balance on their ends most easily at equinox. Z Budapest in Grandmother of Time says that eggs were dyed red (the color of life) on the Festival of Astarte (Mar 17). The beautifully decorated eggs from the Ukraine (pysanky) are covered with magical symbols for protection, fertility, wisdom, strength and other qualities. They are given as gifts and used as charms.

Seeds are like eggs. While eggs contain the promise of new animal life, seeds hold the potential of a new plant. In ancient Italy in the spring, women planted gardens of Adonis. They filled urns with grain seeds, kept the in the dark and watered them every two days. This custom persists in Sicily. Women plant seeds of grains — lentils, fennel, lettuce or flowers — in baskets and pots. When they sprout, the stalks are tied with red ribbons and the gardens are placed on graves on Good Friday. They symbolize the triumph of life over death.


Celebrating

Blend ideas from the many traditions described above to create your own ceremony to honor the spring. Decorate with budding twigs, flowers, willow catkins, sprouting bulbs. Red and green are the colors of this festival. Red represents blood, the blood of sacrifice and life. Green symbolizes the growth of the plants. Honor various spring deities with their flowers: Narcisus and Hyacinth with those blooms, the red anemone for Adonis, violets for Attis, roses and lilies for the goddesses.

This is the traditional time for a great spring feast and the decoration of the table is as important as the food. There are many traditions from which to choose: Nawruz, Passover, Easter, St Joseph’s Day, Maimuna — all are variations on the theme of the spring feast, in which every item is symbolic.

Helen Farias in her seasonal newsletter, Octava, points out that certain foods are associated with springtime festivals: cheese, butter, eggs, pancakes, wheaten cakes, hot cross buns. Since this is a time when young animals are being born, milk is now available for making cheese and butter. In Poland, according to Dorothy Spicer in The Book of Festivals, a little lamb made of butter or sugar is placed in the center of the Easter table, which is laden with food and decorated with eggs, red paper cut-outs and festoons of green. Eggs symbolize new life, of course, and wheaten cakes, grain. In Italy, colored eggs are baked in braided loaves of bread on Easter, combining the two symbols. Hot cross buns, a traditional Easter food, may be very ancient. A wheaten cake marked with a cross was found in Herculaneum, preserved since 79, and may have been used in the spring rites.


Decorating Eggs

This is one of my favorites ways to celebrate spring. I’ve decorated eggs with nail polish, with food coloring and vinegar, with commercial egg dyes and with natural dyes. Pauline Campanelli in The Wheel of the Yeardescribes many natural substances that dye eggs. One of my favorites is boiling a single onion skin with a few eggs to get a soft orange. A handful of onion skins produces rust, a half teaspoon of turmeric gives a sunny yellow and beet juice and vinegar make pink. If you boil eggs with vinegar and several of the outer leaves of cabbage and allow them to cool overnight, the eggs will be a bright robin’s egg blue, but they must be handled carefully since the dye comes off easily.

A few years ago, I finally purchased the appropriate tool, a kitska (I got mine in the art supply department of our local university bookstore), and started making pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs). You place a bit of beeswax in the funnel of the kitska, then melt it over a candle flame and draw on the eggshell. It helps to have a lathe to hold the egg if you want absolutely even lines. Begin with a white egg and put wax on all the areas you want to stay white, then dye the egg yellow and cover all the areas with wax which you want to remain yellow, and so forth through orange, red and a dark color (brown, purple or black). When the egg is done, place it in a low temperature over for a few minutes to melt the wax, which is then rubbed off to reveal the intricate designs and glowing colors of your egg. I love the delicacy of the designs, the smell of the wax and the candle, and the trance-like quality of the whole process.

This is a great project for doing with a group. In the Ukraine, only women created these special eggs and they did so at night, when the children were asleep. If you want to use the eggs as talismans, they should be raw and whole (not blown out). Decorate them with symbols of the qualities you wish for yourself and your family and friends in the coming year. For example, draw sprouting leaves on an egg and bury it in your garden to help stimulate your plants.

Blessing and Planting Seeds

Several years ago, my family celebrated with a very simple but effective ritual, based on the ceremony suggested by Nancy Brady Cunningham inFeeding the Spirit. Each person chose a seed or bulb that was meaningful to them. We blessed the seeds with a prayer from Campanelli: Now is the dark half of the year passing Now do the days grow light and the Earth grows warm I summon the spirit of these seeds Which have slept in darkness Awaken, stir and swell Soon you will be planted in the earth To grow and bring froth new fruit Blessed be! We sat quietly and visualized our plants in full bloom. Then we invoked each of the four elements necessary for the plants’ growth. We placed the seed in a pot of soil and patted down the earth, poured water on it, breathed on it to represent air and held the pot over a candle (or up to the sun, if outside) to represent the element fire (the warmth of the sun).

Add another layer of meaning to this ceremony by choosing seeds which represent the things you want tog row during the new year- — wisdom, understanding, patience, etc. Visualize those qualities coming into full bloom in your life as you plant your seeds.

Sources

Budapest, Zsuzsanna E, The Grandmother of Time, Harper & Row 1989

Campanelli, Pauline, The Wheel of the Year, Llewellyn 1989

Cunningham, Nancy Brady, Feeding the Spirit, Resource Publications 1988 [I believe this is out of print]

Farias, Helen, Octava no longer exists but some of Helen’s writings on seasonal holidays can be found in back issues of The Beltane Papers.

Murray, Gilbert, Five Stages of Greek Religion, Doubleday 1955

http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/spring.html



Dear, Cherished and Precious Children of the Earth,

Winter Solstice is here again.  It’s been three months since the Fall Equinox and the great Wheel of the Year is turning.   The longest night of the year, that holy and silent night is upon us. After Solstice, the sun will be born anew, strengthening its light till Summer stretches into the longest day.  Since we are all human, we’re affected by this cycle whether we think about it or not.  As the dark increases we grow anxious, we need more sleep, more time with loved ones.  We fully expect the sun to return, but you never know….

Our ancestors marked this time of year with merry-making, gift giving, singing and making sure everyone was included.   I think there is great wisdom in that.  And there is great wisdom in standing outside, under the stars,  with reverence for that vast Mystery all around us.

This Solstice is becoming famous for being “the end of the world” and it does seem as if everything is becoming more extreme and polarized.   If we’re not experiencing fear, we’re not paying attention.  But at the same time, if we’re not experiencing hope, we’re not seeing what’s right in front of us.

In the language of astrology, we are caught between Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, Power Incarnate and Inducer of Great Fear –and Uranus, the Great Awakener,  our most inspired possibilities.    These two planets appear to be in a square (90 degree) angle to each other.  Square aspects are always asking the question:  How can these two parts learn to respect each other and co-exist?

Whether we’re talking about our individual lives or the world’s crisis, we need to find a way for our fears and our hopes to come into balance and work together.

The procession of the Equinoxes has brought us to the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.   For that past 2,000+ years we have been in the Age of Pisces, a merged, co-dependent kind of consciousness that likes to feel part of something that differentiated us from the vastness of the infinite universe.  Religions, Nations, Tribes…. there was a kind of security in feeling “it’s us against them.”

The Age of Aquarius is said to be a view of life that begins to include a consciousness of our individual independence and our mutual interdependence. We are all in this together. And we are all separate. Adamantly independent, Aquarius is the part of life that values freedom above all else and yet desires to collaborate and create something that works for everyone.

A “world” is ending, it’s true.  We are evolving, learning, growing.  Of course we are all afraid.  But don’t forget the hope.  Because amazingly wonderful things are being born.

Happy Solstice, Everyone.

Blessed be,

Mary

 



Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

by Mary Oliver

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

“Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness” by Mary Oliver, from A Thousand Mornings.



See below for more information about the Precession of the Equinoxes, Solstice Celebrations and an interesting article from NASA.  (all information to be digested with a ‘grain of salt’)



Precession of the Equinoxes Determines Astrological Ages and Mayan Great Ages

By Sandra Musser

Precession causes much more than changes in our view of the night sky. When a Mayan Great Cycle or Astrological Age changes it affects everything on earth including us, physically and psychologically. This may surprise you, but if you really think about it, the full moon has been proven to have dramatic effects at times on a person’s mood. Many doomsday prophecies are based on these sometimes massive cycle changes including the Mayan prophecies for 2012.

The common thread that creates the uncanny resemblances between the Greek/Egyptian Astrological Ages and the Mayan Great Ages is the ancient people’s knowledge of precession. Our ancestors were much closer to nature than we are today, and they realized over time that what happened in the cosmos above affected events on the earth and all life below.

Add to this the Hindu yugas, you have a number of galactic and planetary indicators that point to great change coming in and around 2012. The fact is, it has already begun.

I’m not going to give you the heavy technical data about precession. There’s lots of information available already. Instead my concentration will be on the “effects” of precession and “trait or value changes” that come during Astrological and Great Age changes on the Earth.

So what is precession?

The stars and constellations appear to slowly rotate around the Earth. This is caused by the earths own rotation within the greater rotation of the universe. Like a wobbling top, the orientation of the Earth’s axis is slowly but continuously changing as it traces out a conical shape over a 25,625 years cycle.

About every 2,160 years the sun moves into another new zodiacal constellation. The years between constellation changes, which are caused by precession, are approximate because constellations are of different sizes. Other planets cause planetary precession due to their gravitational force on the Earth. This occurs because of the small angle to Earths orbital plane, the ecliptic. These factors cause the plane of the ecliptic to shift slightly, so the Sun crosses the Equator at a little different point every year.

This movement is called precession of the equinoxes. As it shifts, the present constellation in the pre-dawn eastern sky slowly edges out the next constellation, which moves in to take it’s place. Right now we are in the Age of Pisces. The Aquarius constellation, for the Age of Aquarius is slowly replacing the Pisces constellation. It is through precession that the ancient people became aware of Astrological Ages and the Mayan Great Ages. Most ancient cultures looked to the night sky to anticipate changes that would happen here on earth.

Astrological Ages and Mayan Great Ages have many similarities.

The twelve Astrological Ages all last about 2,160 years. Each is marked by a radical change in the environment or cultures or both. A great cycle which includes all the twelve zodiac signs lasts about 25,625 years. I find it very interesting that a full Astrological Age cycle of twelve signs, lasts the same amount of time as the Mayan Grand Cycle of five ages. The Egyptians and the Mayans who recognized these cycles were on opposite sides of the world with no physical contact. Both types of Ages record the progress of precession.

The difference between the two, is the Mayas five Great Cycles each last about 5,125 years. For both, when completed, the cycle begins again in a never-ending circle of repeating Ages. The Aquarian Age also marks the beginning of the next Mayan Great Age.

Why you should care about precession and it’s effects.

Precession occurs gradually, and its influences on humankind as well as the earth also occur gradually. When one Astrological Age officially changes to the next, the influences of the coming age are felt far before the change actually occurs. But, the earth doesn’t necessarily move through the zodiac at the same speed for each Astrological Age. This makes an exact calculation of a calendar date difficult.

I’m going to give you an example of precession you can pinpoint yourself in the night sky. Right now, the star Polaris is at about the north celestial pole. Polaris is the bright star located straight up from the far lip of the Big Dipper. Over time it shifts position in our vision and other stars will eventually replace it as the North Star. It’s in a much different position now than it was before Christ. The Maya have a myth about the shifting pole star. It’s called the Popul Vuh.

The zodiac is a belt or band of constellations or star through which the Sun, Moon and planets transit across the sky. The changes we’re experiencing right now in our climate, socially, and personally are not unique. The world has gone through massive changes many times. What’s interesting…they appear to occur when the dominant constellation in the pre-dawn night sky changes through precession.

We are living in an era of change. This occurs before the dawn of the next Astrological and Great Age slated to take place about December 21, 2012 on the solstice.

Precession is the reason the Earth is changing so quickly socially, economically and environmentally.

“When we understand what the darkness of our cycle means and why it’s necessary, we begin to see the great challenges of our time in a new light…our response to the changes that come with it take on a new meaning. With these ideas in mind, it becomes even clearer that “now is the best time” for us to go through such a cycle. The reason is that “now is the first time” we have the understanding, the need and the technology to reach into the realm of all possibilities and choose the kind of future that will arise from the chaos of the present.” Fractal Time, Gregg Braden

The Maya called this moment in precession, “The Time of No Time.” It’s during this period that the completion of the transition from one Age to the next occurs. It’s not just a change in Ages either. A whole new set of values replaces the old values before the cycle begins again. The changes are more obvious in the Astrological tendencies of different Zodiacal signs in each person.

The darkest moment is just before the dawn of the next Astrological and Great Age…We are in the darkest moment right now.

The Egyptians and the Maya were a world apart. But, they were synchronized with their views on precession and it’s relationship to the earth

The ancient cultures and astrologers today believe that what happens above in the cosmos, happens here on earth. Below is a summary of significant changes that occurred from one Astrological Age to the next during our human history. All dates are approximate. A lot of this information came from a seminar I attended by Dehyana Lim Lee from Anchoring the Light called Esoteric Teachings.

 

The Age of Leo

ca. 10,970 BC to 8810 BC, The Golden Age.

It was believed by many geologists that the Sphinx was constructed in the 4th Dynasty. But that theory has been dispelled because the erosion patterns on the Sphinx are not of sand and wind, but clearly of water. So it’s much older than earlier thought. What is most interesting is the construction of the Sphinx pre-dates civilization. Humans were still hunters and gathers at this time. Since civilization as we know it didn’t exist then, who built it? Hmmmmmmm!

The fact that the Sphinx is in the shape of a lion with a human head gives it major astronomical significance. The Sphinx appears to have been created just prior to the beginning of the Age of Leo, the lion. Leo was the pre-dawn constellation in the eastern sky during the spring equinox an hour before dawn where the sun rose. The Sphinx gazes directly east where the constellation of Leo would have rose through precession of the equinoxes in 10,970 BC to 8810BC.

Global warming was a major event at this time causing melting of ice caps and a rise of 300 feet in sea levels. This rise in sea level eroded the Sphinx. This all makes sense when you realize that Leo is a “Fire” sign and is ruled by the Sun astrologically marking global warming. It was also during this time that carved stone oil lamps with a continuous burn were invented, which represents light and heat.

 

The Age of Cancer

ca. 8600 BC to 6450 BC – The Age of the Great Mother.

 

The feminine was revered at this time as the creator of all life…birthing, nurturing and protecting. This is the age of the goddess and is ruled by the Moon. Cancer is a water sign and people started to realize the connection between the tides and the moon. Massive loss of coastal areas was still in effect on earth from the elevated sea levels.

Civilization and the domestication of farm animals like pigs, goats and bees began at this time. Various food plants were also domesticated starting the agricultural era. Cancer is associated with the home. People started to settle into permanent dwellings.

The transition seems to have been everywhere with the development of civilization in Sub-Sahara Africa between 9000-7000 BC. These areas went from being largely nomadic hunters and gatherers to a settled domesticated lifestyle.

There’s evidence of the widespread use of boats representing Cancer’s water sign. An increase in the making of pottery signifies the protective vessel, which is one of Cancer’s archetypes.

 

The Age of Gemini

ca. 6450 BC to 4300 BC – The Age of Communicate, Trade and the Twins, duality.”

The role of men and women in reproduction was starting to be understood.

Adam and Eve came into being at this time, presenting duality and the division between the masculine and feminine energies within. The transition was starting to move away from the feminine as the revered symbol.

Language and symbols were coming into being, making this Age a time of writing. Trade between cultures started to accelerate. the constellation of Gemini was seen as two people holding hands, which could have been symbolic for trade and communication as well as duality.

The wheel was used for the first time for transportation. Shakti Energy (Milky Way), and how the energy moves through the signs and the chakras was starting to be understood. Also, how the Universe is the same as the body was recognized. All are connected.

 

The Age of Taurus

ca. 4300 BC to 2150 BC – The Age of Earth, Agriculture and the Bull.

Bull worshiping cults began to form in Assyria, Egypt and Crete. The building of pyramids began signifying the bull through solidity, stability, and attempts at eternity. Figures on Egyptian pyramids and temples had bull’s horns at this time.

Avatars were now here, and there are more attuned individuals or spiritually realized people.

Taurus is associated with the smelting of copper, tin, and bronze. Swords came into being in the early phases of this era. Papyrus was invented enabling improved writing techniques. One can envision within the Taurus glyph the image of the partially unrolled scroll.

Many of the traits representative of Taurus start to appear such as stubbornness and strength. But on the other hand, sensuality can also be seen as in the Ancient Egyptian civilizations. In fact the sacred bull, the Apis, was the Egyptian symbol of life.

The followers of Moses worshiped a golden calf when he descended from the mountains with the ten commandments in this time period.

 

The Age of Aries

ca. 2150 BCE and ending about AD 1. – The Age of War, Fire and the Ram.

People revered the sun in Egypt. Aries represents a Fire symbol as well as bold actions. The Ram is the patriarchal society of butting heads. This age is known for courage, initiative, war and adventure. The Chinese, Persian, Greek and Roman empires expanded during this age. Aries is associated with the metal iron, which was smelted and made into swords at this time, replacing bronze.

There was an upsurge in originality with the development of the sciences and the arts.

The earliest attempts at the idea of one God came into being with Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharaoh about 1350 BC, when he decreed the Sun God Aten, as the supreme deity. Freud felt that Moses was inspired to embrace the idea of one God who favored his people through Akhenaten’s lead.

Hackear, the goddess who dressed like a man, built Carnack temple in Egypt. She knew the age of the goddess was coming to an end and masculine dominance was coming in. Luxor temple was built at this time. It’s the body of a human with the different chakras.

And, it’s possible that during the transition from Taurus to Aries, Moses condemned his people for worshiping the golden calf. It was Moses who used his will to part the Red Sea.

The sacrifice of Abraham’s ram occurred most likely at the end of the Age of Aries.

 

The Age of Pisces

Present Age: AD 1 to AD 2150 or less – The Age of Monotheism, Spirituality and the Fish.

 

The Age of Aquarius

Beginning about 2012 or possibly 2150 – The Age of Freedom, Technology (especially electricity), and the Water Bearer.

There is some dispute about when the Age of Aquarius begins. Some astrologers place it as far out as AD 2600.

Watch for more on the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius in another set of articles…coming soon. To read about the changes that occurred during the beginning of our present Great Age, read my article on the cultural changes around the world in 3100 BC.

Conclusion:

The goal of God/The Universe is to create a perfect human being through our evolution of consciousness. At the beginning of each new age, the tendencies from history are reset and replayed. These tendencies are reintroduced with the values of the new Astrological or Great Age in a continuous cycle.

These cycles will continue till the goal of the divine is achieved. There are negative as well as positive traits to each Astrological sign and Mayan Great Age. It’s up to us to figure out which we choose to live from…the positive or the negative. What we choose will be our experience.

Research
Astrological Age, Precession of the Equinoxes, John McBrewster, Frederic Miller, Agnes Vandome
Age of Aquarius, – answers.com
Esoteric Teachings Seminar – Dehyana Lim Lee, Anchoring the Light
Fractal Time – Gregg Baden
Precession of the Equinox – Western Washington University Planetarium
Esoteric Astrology – by Alice Bailey

http://www.2012-spiritual-growth-prophecies.com/precession.html

 

The Winter Solstice and Winter Holidays:

The Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice, between December 20 and 23, is the time of year when the night is longest and the day shortest. What happened to the sun? If, in ancient times, you believed in gods and goddesses who take an active interest in human life, you might have thought it smart to do something to make the gods happy again so they might bring back the light. Why not honor them either with a great festival to persuade them to bring it back or a kind of gift-giving birthday party for the sun’s annual rebirth? This may be at the origin of the winter solstice holidays.

The Saturnalia:

The Saturnalia was a major holiday for the ancient Romans, with drinking, gift-giving, bonfires, candles, role reversals for slaves and masters. It lasted a variable number of days from 3-7 or more, depending on how successful the emperor was at legislating. Saturn (Cronus in Greek) was the original creator of man in the Golden Age, when there was no winter and everyone was happy. Saturn was ousted by his son Jupiter (Zeus) and life took a decidedly downward turn. See Saturnalia.

Hanukkah – Jewish Festival of Lights:

Hanukkah (Hanukah / Hanuka / Chanukah) is a festival of lights that is symbolized by the candelabrum known as a menorah. Hanukkah celebrates a lighting miracle when one night’s worth of oil lit candles for 8 days. Special foods and gift-giving are also a part of Hanukkah. See Hanukkah.

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti :

Mithras was an Iranian Zoroastrian god who was popular with Roman soldiers. Mithras was created by the chief deity, Ahura-Mazda, to save the world. The day of the virgin birth of Mithras was December 25 (the solstice) it was also referred to as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, which means the birthday of the unconquered sun.

Brumalia:

Brumalia was a Greek winter holiday associated with Dionysus and wine. By the time of the winter Brumalia, the wine was ready to be poured into jars for drinking. Although a Greek holiday, the name Brumalia is Latin, bruma being the Latin for Winter Solstice.

Christmas:

In A.D. 354, the birth of Jesus Christ was set on December 25. The date is not believed to be accurate and is the same as the birth date of Mithras. Like the other holidays, Christmas is celebrated with festivity and gift-giving. It seems to have taken over Mithras and Saturnalia traditions.

Sankranti:

The Hindu Sankranti historically takes place on the Solstice, although the date is January 14, which gives evidence to how much time has elapsed since it started. It is believed that people who die on this day end the reincarnation cycle, for which reason it is very lucky. Gifts are exchanged, sweets and other special food are consumed, and bonfires are lit on Sankranti eve, which is known as Lohari.

Boar’s Head Carol:

Besides light and gift-giving, food is a big part of the millennia of holiday tradition. The English Boar’s Head carol relates to the presentation of a boar’s head to royalty. In Norse mythology, a boar was presented to Freyr at the solstice. For more on the boar, and the song lyrics, see Boar’s Head Carol.

More About Winter Holidays

Mythology and Religion about Winter Holidays

Solstice Celebrations

Related Articles

 

 

http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/winterholidays/p/WinterHolidays.htm

This guest article on 2012 was written by E. C. Krupp, Director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and is reprinted with permission from Sky & Telescope Magazine. The publisher and the author reserve all rights. All opinions are the author’s own.


The year 2012 is acting like a badly behaved celebrity. Frightful rumors and gossip are spreading. Already more than a half dozen books are marketing, to eager fans, astronomical fears about 2012 End Times. Opening in theaters on Friday, Nov. 13, will be 2012, a $200-million disaster movie that seems designed to break all records for disaster spectacles — with cracking continents, plunging asteroids, burning cities, and a tsunami throwing an aircraft carrier through the White House. The movie’s ominous slogan: “Find out the truth.” Two other major movies about the 2012 doomsday are also reported to be in the works.

Anyone who cruises the internet or all-night talk radio knows why. The ancient Maya of Mexico and Guatemala kept a calendar that is about to roll up the red carpet of time, swing the solar system into transcendental alignment with the heart of the Milky Way, and turn Earth into a bowling pin for a rogue planet heading down our alley for a strike.

 

None of it is true. People you know, however, are likely becoming a bit afraid that modern astronomy and Maya secrets are indeed conspiring to bring our doom. If people know you’re an astronomer, they will soon be asking you all about it.

Here is what you need to know.

Birth of a Notion

We”ve had similar scares in the recent past, but none quite like this. The last time the world got all worked up over the mystical turning of a calendar was the false Millennium of Jan. 1, 2000. Never mind the actual Y2K computer-date bug. True-believer authors (and their imitators) published scary and/or hopeful books about the moment’s prophetic potential to catch an immense cosmic wave and change everything for either good or ill. Borrowing a forecast from Nostradamus, the 16th-century French riddler, author Charles Berlitz predicted catastrophe in his 1981 book Doomsday 1999. Berlitz (fresh off books on Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle), warned that 1999 could inflict flood, famine, pollution and a shift of Earth’s magnetic poles. He also spotlighted the planetary alignment of May 5, 2000, and warned that it could bring solar flares, severe earthquakes, “land changes” and “seismic explosions.”

In the 1990s an entire “Earth Changes” movement swelled into being as the end of the century neared, with all sorts of Millennial expectations — earthquakes, plagues, polar axis shifts, continents sliding into the sea, Atlantis rising and more. In England, the Sun tabloid predicted a “marvelous millennium of joy, peace, prosperity.”

When Jan. 1, 2000, came and went with nothing worse than ski-lift passes printing the date as 1900, the focus shifted to “5/5/2000” several months later. Most believers in the power of planetary alignments forgot the failure of earlier lineups to induce disaster. The “Jupiter Effect” cataclysm predicted for March 10, 1982 (named for the 1974 book about it by John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann) commanded headlines but never materialized.

Throughout history, end-of-the-world movements missing their mark number in the “hundreds of thousands at the very least, says Richard Landes, historian at Boston University and director of its Center for Millennial Studies. But people eager for the world to end are not to be denied, and this time, of course, all will be different.

The Rollover

What exactly is the Maya calendar about to do? On Dec. 21, 2012, it will display the equivalent of a string of zeros, like the odometer turning over on your car, with the close of something like a millennium. In Maya calendrics, however, it’s not the end of a thousand years. It’s the end of Baktun 13. The Maya calendar was based on multiple cycles of time, and the baktun was one of them. A baktun is 144,000 days: a little more than 394 years.

Scholars have deciphered how the Maya calendar worked from historical texts and ancient inscriptions, and they have accurately correlated so-called Maya Long Count dates with the equivalent dates in our calendar. Just as we number our years counting from a historically and culturally significant event (the presumed birth year of Christ), Maya times were numbered from a date endowed with religious and cosmic significance: the creation date of the present world order. A Long Count date is the tally of days from that mythic startup. Most experts think the start point corresponds to Aug. 11, 3114 B.C.

Most of the Maya calendar intervals accumulate as multiples of 20. An interval of 7,200 days (360 × 20) was known as a katun. It takes 20 katuns to complete a baktun (20 × 7,200 = 144,000 days). Although some ancient inscriptions turn 13 baktuns into an important reset milestone, others imply that the calendar simply keeps running. For instance, it takes 20 baktuns to make a pictun.

No one paid much attention to the end of Baktun 13 until fairly recently. In 1975 Frank Waters, a romantic and speculative author, devoted a brief section to the subject in his book Mexico Mystique. He identified the 13-baktun interval as a “Mayan Great Cycle,” overestimated its duration as 5,200 years, and equated five such cycles with five legendary eras, each of which ends in the world’s destruction and rebirth. There is no genuine Maya tradition behind any of this.

Waters also miscalculated the date when the calendar would supposedly pull down the shades. “The end of the Great Cycle . . . will occur Dec. 24, 2011 A.D.,” he announced, when the world “will be destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes.” Exact date aside, the doomsday ball was now rolling.

Another book in 1975 also spotlighted the Maya calendric roundup. Dennis and Terence McKenna discussed it in The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching. That book at least got the Baktun-13 end date right: Dec. 21, 2012. It also noted that the date is the winter solstice, when the Sun will be “in the constellation Sagittarius, only about 3 degrees from the Galactic Center, which, also coincidentally, is within 2 degrees of the ecliptic.” The McKennas continued, “Because the winter solstice node is precessing, it is moving closer and closer to the point on the ecliptic where it will eclipse the galactic center.” In reality this event will never happen, but it hardly matters. The McKennas linked the whole arrangement with the concept of renewal and called 2012 a moment of “potential transformative opportunity.”

Broader interest in 2012 caught on beginning in 1987. In The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology, José Argüelles (an “artist, poet, and visionary historian” according to the dust jacket) linked the 13-baktun period with an impalpable “beam” from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. According to Argüelles, the Maya knew when we entered this beam and when we would leave it, and set their 13-baktun cycle to mark our passage through it accordingly. The beam, he asserted, operates as “invisible galactic life threads” that link people, the planet, the Sun, and the center of the Galaxy. Neither Maya tradition nor modern astronomy supports a belief in any such beam. It stemmed instead from Argüelles’s personal philosophy, which emphasizes “the principle of harmonic resonance.” Argüelles also concluded that the planets are “orbiting harmonic gyroscopes” that “play a role in the coordination of the beam,” which advances the development of anything with DNA. The year 2012, therefore, will bring a rosy version of the apocalypse.

If this sounds a bit familiar, you’re right. In 1987 Argüelles and his followers predicted, with worldwide fanfare, that Aug. 16–17 of that year would bring a Maya-Galactic “Harmonic Convergence.” That event turned into a global phenomenon, with thousands gathering at Earth’s “acupuncture points” to create a “synchronized and unified bio-electromagnetic collective battery.” Unfortunately, the date passed with nothing more than colorful newspaper stories and a Doonesbury satire. (A character explains earnestly that that the alignment could bring either “mass unification of divine and earth-plane selves,” or perhaps nuclear annihilation. “Either way there will probably be a crafts fair.”)

Galactic Guessing Games

Fast-forward to 1995. That year John Major Jenkins packaged several of these themes into Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. According to Jenkins, the winter-solstice point and the centerline of the Galaxy will line up exactly on Dec. 21. Arguing that this motivated the Maya to contrive the calendar to end on that date, Jenkins concludes that it will be “a tremendous transformation and opportunity for spiritual growth, a transition from one world age to another.”

In fact, astronomy cannot pinpoint such a “galactic alignment” to within a year, much less a day. The alignment depends on the rather arbitrary modern definition of the galactic equator, and/or the visual appearance of the Milky Way. There is no precise definition of the Milky Way’s edges — they are very vague and depend on the clarity of your view. (Jenkins says that he personally established the Milky Way’s edges by viewing it from 11,000 feet, far above anywhere the Maya lived.) So to give a precise visual position for its centerline is not meaningful.

Jenkins did acknowledge that the winter-solstice Sun actually crosses the center of the Milky Way anytime between 1980 and 2016. Elsewhere he expands this approach zone to a 900-year period, and settles for an imprecise alignment to which Dec. 21, 2012, is arbitrarily and circularly assigned. Real astronomy does not support any match between the Baktun-13 end date and a galactic alignment. The advocates both admit and ignore this discrepancy.

It’s almost a sidelight that the winter-solstice sun will never actually “eclipse” the galaxy’s true center, the pointlike radio source marking the Milky Way’s central black hole. Moreover, the winter-solstice sun won’t even pass closest to it on the sky for another 200 years. What did the Maya themselves think about End Times? There is no evidence that they saw the calendar and a world age ending in either transcendence or catastrophe on December 21, 2012. Some Maya Long Count texts refer to dates many baktuns past 13 and even into the next pictun and beyond. For instance, an inscription commissioned in the 7th century A.D. by King Pacal of Palenque predicts that an anniversary of his accession would be commemorated on Oct. 15, 4772.

In all of the Long Count texts discovered, transcribed, and translated, only one mentions the key date in 2012: Monument 6 at Tortuguero, a Maya site in the Mexican state of Tabasco. The text is damaged, but what remains does not imply the end of time.

The Secret NASA Conspiracy

Some advocates for the 2012 catastrophe say that what will actually cause the devastation is an alignment of planets. There is no planet alignment on the winter solstice in 2012. Nonetheless, advocates of doom connect the fictional alignment to astrological predictions or groundless claims about a reversal of Earth’s magnetic field and unprecedented solar storms. Many internet postings and guests on all-night apocalyptic radio have elaborated on these themes.

In particular, several threads of irrational thought have created an internet phantom, the secret planet Nibiru. It’s the bowling ball, and Earth is the pin. There is no such planet, though it is often equated with Eris, a plutoid orbiting safely and permanently beyond Pluto. Some insist, however, that a NASA conspiracy is in play and that Nibiru, looming in on the approach, can already be seen in broad daylight from the Southern Hemisphere. It was supposed to become visible from the Northern Hemisphere, too, by last May, but like a fickle blind date, it stood up those awaiting it.

Others on the Web, confused about the supposed alignment of the winter-solstice sun with the Milky Way’s center, have declared that the Sun is now plummeting to the Milky Way’s center and dragging Earth with it. The predicted result? Earth’s polar axis will shift. Most of what’s claimed for 2012 relies on wishful thinking, wild pseudoscientific folly, ignorance of astronomy, and a level of paranoia worthy of Night of the Living Dead.

So maybe the Maya were on to us after all. The clock is ticking. And it’s the end of the world as we know it.

 

 

 

E.C. Krupp, a Sky & Telescope contributing editor, is Director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-guest.html

 

 

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