image: Wikimedia commons (link).
We are now drawing so near the point of solstice that some of the great monuments of deep antiquity are already beginning to hint at their stunning alignments to the sunrise of that significant day.
For instance, if you have the opportunity to visit Stonehenge this week, and if the weather conditions permit a view, you can station yourself near Aubrey Hole 40 and look back across the stone circle between Sarsens 22 (on the north or left as you look east) and 21 (to the south or right as you look east), on through the gap between West Trilithon Sarsens 58 and 57 (likewise left and right, respectively) and past Bluestone 69 just beyond them (framing the right edge of the gap, along with the edge of Sarsen 57), you will be able to see the sunrise sight line for the winter solstice as it would have appeared 4,000 years ago, according to the analysis of Professor Gordon Freeman in his landmark text Hidden Stonehenge (you can see all this in the sample chapter he provides online here, beginning at page 93 and illustrated with full-color photos in image 4-13, 4-14, and 4-15, captured in 1997).
Even if you do not have the opportunity to visit Stonehenge in person, you can still contemplate the silent, massive stones, patiently marking out the great pivots of the year, as they have been doing year after year, as centuries draw on into millennia, and the earth wings its course around the fiery ball of the sun.
You can consider the vision and the skill of those incredible and now-unknowable minds who conceived of this incredible monument, who placed the stones and engineered those alignments which still remain in effect to this day, through all that has come and gone in between -- alignments (some of them) which remained hidden and all but forgotten, until new souls such as Gordon Freeman came and unlocked them to share with humanity once again.
And, considering this almost inconceivable concept, you can also cast your mind around the planet to other ancient places, where temples face the sunrise on winter solstice or mark our sun's rising point with similarly precise alignments: the great Temple of Karnak in Egypt, the mysterious observatory known as the Caracol in what is today called Belize, the incredible passage mound of Newgrange in Ireland, the more recently-discovered Goseck Circle in northern Europe which is thought to date to as early as 4,900 BC (an amazing 6,900 years ago), and many more.
All testify to the ancient and enduring importance of the great turning points of the annual cycle -- turning points which, according to the inspired analysis of Alvin Boyd Kuhn, were marked primarily for their spiritual significance as a metaphorical "map" of the circling path of the soul itself.
When we understand the ancient allegorical outline of the year as a representation of our own soul's journey down into the physical body (the first birth) and a state of spiritual amnesia (a form of spiritual sleep or even, metaphorically speaking, spiritual "death"), followed by the awakening of the realization of our true spiritual nature and the spiritual nature of the seemingly-material universe around in which we find ourselves, followed by our increased communication and communion with our inner divine nature and eventual return to the invisible realm -- then the importance of the great cycle of the year as a beautiful, visible, ever-present reminder to us becomes clear.
Alvin Boyd Kuhn sketches the outline of this ancient spiritual map most clearly and succinctly, perhaps, in his essay entitled Easter: The Birthday of the Gods, discussed in this previous post and available to read online in various places such as here and here.
The description is so important that it is worth citing at some length:
Using solar symbolism and analogues in depicting the divine soul's peregrinations round the cycles of existence, the little sun of radiant spirit in man being the perfect parallel of the sun in the heavens, and exactly copying its movements, the ancient Sages marked the four cardinal "turns" of its progress round the zodiacal year as epochal stages in soul evolution. As all life starts with conception in mind, later to be extruded into physical manifestation, so the soul that is to be the god of a human being is conceived in the divine mind at the station in the zodiac marking the date of June 21. This is at the "top" of the celestial arc, where mind is most completely detached from matter, meditating in all its "purity."
Then the swing of the movement begins to draw it "downward" to give it the satisfaction of its inherent yearning for the Maya of experience which alone can bring its latent capabilities for the evolution of consciousness to manifestation. Descending then from June it reaches on September 21 the point where its direction becomes straight downward and it there crosses the line of separation between spirit and matter, the great Egyptian symbolic line of the "horizon," and becomes incarnated in material body. Conceived in the aura of Infinite Mind in June, it enters the realm of mortal flesh in September. It is born then as the soul of a human; but at first and for a long period it lies like a seed in the ground before germination, inert, unawakened, dormant, in the relative sense of the word, "dead." This is the young god lying in the manger, asleep in his cradle of the body, or as in the Jonah-fish allegory and the story of Jesus in the boat in the storm on the lake, asleep in the "hold" of the "ship" of life, with the tempest of the body's elemental passions raging all about him. He must be awakened, arise, exert himself and use his divine powers to still the storm, for the elements in the end will obey his mighty will.
Once in the body, the soul power is weighed in the scales of the balance, for the line of the border of the sign of Libra, the Scales, runs across the September equinoctial station. For soul is now equilibrated with body and out of this balance come all the manifestations of the powers and faculties of consciousness. It is soul's immersion in body and its equilibration with it that brings consciousness to function.
Then on past September, like any seed sown in the soil, the soul entity sinks its roots deeper and deeper into matter, for at its later stages of growth it must be able to utilize the energy of matter's atomic force to effectuate its ends for its own spiritual aggrandizement. It is itself to be lifted up to heights of cosmic consciousness, but no more than an oak can exalt its majestic form to highest reaches without the dynamic energization received from the earth at its feet can soul rise up above body without drawing forth the strength of body's dynamo of power. Down, down it descends then through the October, November and December path of the sun, until it stands at the nadir of its descent on December 21.
Here it has reached the turning-point, at which the energies that were stored potentially in it in seed form will feel the first touch of quickening power and will begin to stir into activity. At the winter solstice of the cycle the process of involution of spirit into matter comes to a stand-still -- just what the solstice means in relation to the sun -- and while apparently stationary in its deep lodgment in matter, like moving water locked up in winter's ice, it is slowly making the turn as on a pivot from outward and downward direction to movement first tangential, then more directly upward to its high point in spirit home.
So the winter solstice signalizes the end of "death" and the rebirth of life in a new generation. It therefore was inevitably named as the time of the "birth of the Divine Sun" in man; the Christ-mas, the birthday of the Messianic child of spirit. The incipient resurgence of the new growth, now based on and fructified by roots struck deep in matter, begins at this "turn of the year," as the Old Testament phrases it, and goes on with increasing vigor as, like the lengthening days of late winter, the sun-power of the spiritual light bestirs into activity the latent capabilities of life and consciousness, and the hidden beauty of the spirit breaks through the confining soil of body and stands out in the fulness of its divine expression on the morn of March 21. [. . .]. (pages 8 - 11 as paginated in this version).
A couple quick things to point out might include, first, the fact that Kuhn does not intend to exclude women when he uses the masculine pronoun (as was the custom in grammatical usage when he was writing) -- he specifically makes this clear at numerous different points in his voluminous writings.
Second, the ancient sacred myths, scriptures, and traditions of humanity from all over the globe can now be conclusively demonstrated to use the above heavenly cycle (and many other heavenly cycles, including those of the moon and planets but most especially the motions of the stars and constellations) as part of their inspired method for conveying to us the most profound and necessary spiritual knowledge to aid us in this incarnate life.
Alvin Boyd Kuhn wrote the above incredible explication of the annual solstice and equinox points as spiritual analog for the "soul's peregrinations round the cycles of existence," but while he correctly tied the esoteric stories of the Bible to these stations on our spiritual pilgrimage, the level of celestial correspondence to the specific constellations that can be demonstrated in the stories of the Old and New Testament, and in the other myths of the different cultures all around the globe (probed more thoroughly later by Professors Hertha von Dechend and Giorgio de Santillana in Hamlet's Mill, published in 1969, but without perceiving their spiritual depth in the same way that Kuhn had decades earlier) had not yet been fully appreciated.
The more we begin to understand the specific celestial correspondences of the various gods and goddesses and spiritual beings who are found in the different myths of the world, the more we can begin to see where they might fit and what roles they might play in the great spiritual cycle elucidated by Alvin Boyd Kuhn in the passage above, and better understand their significance and meaning for our own spiritual growth.
This is actually a matter of absolutely the utmost importance, I am convinced, and opens tremendous new avenues of communication with the incredible ancient wisdom given to humanity in the "high and far off times" (as Giorgio de Santillana called it) -- perhaps in the same millennia that the great stone henges and circles and towers and temples were being erected, or even millennia before that.
I hope that as we approach the powerful and significant turning point of December solstice this year, you will have the opportunity to contemplate these matters at some length and that meditating upon this ancient wisdom will be a blessing to you in your life and in the years to come.