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Solstice

Use this forum to suggest Good Words for Professor Beard.

Solstice

Postby sluggo » Sat Dec 22, 2007 1:40 pm

I'm surprised this one hadn't been brought up before:

sol·stice {SOLE-stiss} (noun)

1. Astronomy
a. either of the two times a year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator: about June 21, when the sun reaches its northernmost point on the celestial sphere, or about December 22, when it reaches its southernmost point.
b. either of the two points in the ecliptic farthest from the equator.
2. a furthest or culminating point; a turning point.

[Origin: 1200–50; < ME < OF < L sōlstitium, equiv. to sōl sun + -stit-, comb. form of stat-, var. s. of sistere to make stand (see stand) + -ium -ium; see -ice)]


With the clinical out of the way and into the realm of the spiritual, the Winter Solstice -which this year is today 12.22- is of course the deeply significant turning point in the year after which the days grow longer, and from which have been born innumerable and continuing festivals of lights, commonly marked by the sympathetic magic of light symbols to help the sun regain its vitality: candles, stars, bonfires etc. (e.g. Persian Yalda or Sada, for one of many). This is of course also the root of the traditions of Christmas lights and decorated trees on and in western settlements.

Ancient structures such as Stonehenge were apparently strongly connected with solstices; at Newgrange in Ireland, a shaft of sunlight, on this day of the year alone, shines into the central chamber (altar?). Another womblike chamber/cairn in the Orkneys, Maeshowe, has the same design but is only 2700 years old.

There was actually a webcast earlier today of the Newgrange event, archived here, though it comes off like a commercial sportscast :evil:
Oh well, it's their first attempt in 5000 years.

Barely a scratch of the surface of the wealth of human mysticism, traditions, history and symbolism sparked by Solstice. The reader is encouraged to note the day as a point of renewal and celebration.
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Postby melissa » Sat Dec 22, 2007 11:36 pm

though it comes off like a commercial sportscast

I think the mistake being made is that the folks of prehistoric Wiltshire were not football fans.
To me, the henge looks a lot like an arena
And I am no football fan.
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Postby sluggo » Sun Dec 23, 2007 12:59 am

Newgrange is way overdone aesthetically (a proper fit for the obnoxious tour buses) but it was the play-by-play narration that got in the way for me, as if there was some unsubtle action going on. Might have been better to run silent with a running clock.
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Postby bnjtokyo » Wed Dec 26, 2007 1:09 am

Dear Sluggo,

I agree "solstice" would be a good word of the day. The good Doctor will have another opportunity to use it in June, and in the meantime, we can look into the spiritual and metaphysical signicance of the longest day of the year.
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