Celebrating the Solstices

21 March Sun in the window of lightThe 2017 June Solstice, featuring the Galactic Cross at the Galactic Edge, is exact at 9:24 pm PDT on June 20 and 12:24 am EDT on June 21. The 2017 December Solstice, featuring the Galactic Cross near Galactic Center, takes place on Thursday December 21, at 8:29 am Pacific Time.

Our zeitgeist whispers that the planet is alive;
that spirituality is based far more in the body and the earth
than we’ve conceived in centuries;
and that to sustain ourselves,
we must live more simply, more cooperatively,
and bend our energy technologies to tap directly Sun’s power.
~Sun Stories Tales from Around the World to Illuminate the Days and Nights of Our Lives
by Carolyn McVickar Edwards

Note: Zeitgeist refers the prevalent ideas of the time and place as well as the spirit of the times we are living.

The Solstices occur when the Sun is rising either at its southern or northern extreme. When the Sun rises at its southern extreme in the Northern Hemisphere we have Winter Solstice or the longest night and the shortest day. When the Sun rises at its northern extreme we have Summer Solstice or the longest day and the shortest night. The opposite seasons are occurring in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Solstice and Equinox points form the four gates or four directions of the celestial medicine wheel and are activated by the Sun in a rhythmic seasonal cycle. Solstice literally means “stand still of the Sun” meaning the Sun rises and sets at the same place on the horizon for three days appearing to stand still.

Tucson Sky Temple

Windows of Light at Equinoxes and Solstices

Many of our ancestors had an active and conscious relationship with these cycles and seasons, creating standing stone circles and other monuments to assist in tracking these timings for the purpose of capturing or maximizing the incoming energies activated during these seasonal shifts. Working with these seasonal gates strengthens our own relationship with the magical mysteries of the seasonal cycles between the Earth and the Sky.

The seasons marked by the Solstices, Equinoxes and Cross-Quarter points repeat themselves once each solar year. This repetition is part of our experience here on Earth, just as the Moon cycles repeat going from New to New or Full to Full or any other phase every 29.5 days.

The Sun at the Winter Solstice reaches an ending or death, dying to the previous yearly cycle. The Winter Solstice is marked by the longest night and the shortest day of the year. This time marks the beginning  of the Solar cycle when the days slowly begin to lengthen and the nights slowly grow shorter.

The Sun at Summer Solstice is reaching a point of fullness or the mid-point of the Solar Cycle. The Summer Solstice marks the longest day and the shortest night of the year and the turning point where the days slowly begin to shorten and the nights slowly begin to lengthen.

The Solstice Sun is rising on what is referred to as the Galactic Cross, where the Milky Way (the plane of the Galaxy) and the Ecliptic (the path the planets travel and plane of our Solar System) intersect forming a cross in the sky. There are two Galactic Crosses. One is near the center of our Galaxy located between the constellation of the Archer and the Scorpion. The other is at the edge of our Galaxy located between the Twins and the Bull.

This means that the Sun is located on one of these crosses for three days during the Solstice or stand still of the Sun. It is interesting to contemplate the meaning of the Sun on the Cross for three days. In Shamanic Astrology we understand this is one of the primary factors alerting us to the current Turning of a 26,000 year cycle of time.

The Great Year or Galactic Year

Seeing Galactic Center from Side View

In the bigger picture, we are also ending a Great Year that has lasted nearly 26,000 years, suggesting it this is a time when we are witness to the beginning of an entirely new 26,000 year cycle. The ending and beginning of a Great Year occurs over many years.

Shamanic Astrology proposes that this window of time lasts at least 72 years (from 1962 to 2034) as the processional cycle moves one degree every 72 years. This window could also be extended to last 144 years using a one degree orb on either side of the exact alignment. The dates for that then would be 1926 to 2068, using 1998 as the center point of the window. (Astronomer John Muess calculated the exact center point to have happened in 1998.)

In every death or ending of a cycle, there is also a birth and a new cycle begins, a new year is born. The December Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere typically marks the end and beginning of the Solar Cycle and with this point now aligned on the Galactic Cross near Galactic Center it suggests we are also at the end and beginning of a “Great Year” or Galactic Year that lasts 26,000 Earth years.

Winter Solstice is a time in the natural rhythm of the year that helps us remember the importance of endings and dying to the old, while also experiencing new beginnings and being reborn anew. 

The Galactic Cross Near Galactic Center where the December Solstice Sun Now Rises

The Sun at the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere represents a fruition point where the intent set at the Winter Solstice is fully illuminated. The warmth of the Sun, the abundance of the plants and the fruits of this time of year remind us of the fullness of life and the fullness of the light that gives us life here on Earth.

Attuning to the yearly cycle of the Sun and the mysteries of the pure life force the Sun represents through the magic and power of the light and illumination the Sun provides, is one way to consciously participate with these changing times. Without the Sun we would not have life on this planet as we know it. The Sun is essential to our existence and has much to teach us about life.

Finding ways to honor the rising or setting Sun at these significant gateways is highly recommended. This can be done in many ways either by yourself or with others including: drumming, singing, dancing, speaking prayers out loud, or simply being witness to the Sun with gratitude for the life giving light we receive every day.

The Galactic Cross at the Galactic Edge where the June Solstice Sun rises.

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