Capricorn Solstice — December 21, 2008, 12:04 UT

At the powerful Winter Solstice on Dec. 21, 2008, the Sun enters Capricorn and conjoins Pluto in the first degree of the sign. In the Northern Hemisphere we have the shortest day of the year. After the Solstice the days get gradually longer and the light starts to increase.

The conjunction of the Sun and Pluto marks a potent time of transformation and rebirth. In mythology Pluto was the god of the underworld. He is the great renewer, bringing hidden truths from depths to the surface and into the light.

The Solstices are times when the Sun, in its apparent annual motion along the Ecliptic, reaches its most northern and southern points. At the Winter Solstice, the Sun is at its southern extreme. It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. The Winter Solstice takes place around Dec. 22 each year.

In the honor of Pluto I am linking Charles Tait’s Maeshowe Winter Solstice page, on which the last rays of the setting midwinter Sun are streamed live on the internet from a Neolithic tomb in Orkney, Scotland.

Maeshowe was built about 5000 years ago in the Neolithic period. It was constructed with great care and aligned so that at the Winter Solstice a beam of light shines through the entrance and along the corridor, illuminating the back wall of the chamber for a few minutes.

The Vikings stopped by during the 12th century and sheltered in Maeshowe. They carved a series of runic inscriptions on the stone walls of the chamber. They left here the largest collection of runes anywhere in the world.

The original usage of Maeshowe remains uncertain. The place gives an idea of a temple. The cycles of nature played important role for the pagans, so it is possible that people used to gather in the tomb for midwinter ceremonies.

The average age of a human at the time was extremely low, and the connection to the dead was cherished to gain continuity. Tombs established a passage to the underworld. Archeologists have suggested that people possibly believed that in Maeshowe their ancestors were aiding to restore the light and break the back of the winter.

To the readers around the world, I want to wish you a happy Solstice!


Maeshowe Winter Solstice Sunset

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