Wednesday, December 21, 2011


In the northern hemisphere Winter Solstice this year will occur, for us in US Central Time Zone, at at 11:30 PM - tonight. In the UK, at the same point, clocks will say 5:30 AM GMT on 22 December. We've arrived at the shortest day, longest night - after which light will begin, slowly, to return. In the southern hemisphere, of course, Summer Solstice is being celebrated. Wherever you are,

An urge to mark and honour solstices and equinoxes - has to figure somehow in our DNA. Humans have been doing so for as long as we are able to see into the distant past. Indigenous people of every corner of the world had an awareness of the Sun's changing path through the sky. Their lives relied heavily on the Sun's lighting and warming of the land, and on its part in producing life-sustaining vegetation and crops.

Countless structures, still visible, served ancient civilisations as natural calendars to mark solstices, equinoxes, and sites of sacred ceremony, honouring the Sun. Britain's Stonehenge is one of the most famous of these. I read an article just this week on the BBC website, concerning expert research on the source of the stones. It appears that some of them originated in Wales. How the dickens those massive stones could have been moved to Wiltshire in England remains a fascinating mystery to which we shall never know the answer.

Here in Oklahoma, nearest natural structure used for tracking the Sun's path is in New Mexico, the state adjoining Oklahoma's panhandle, to the west.

At the southern entrance to an area known as Chaco Canyon stands 443ft high Fajada Butte, where in 1977 Dr. Anna Sofaer discovered the "Sun Dagger" - a petroglyph thought to have been carved some 1000 years ago by an ancient people, the Anasazi, who inhabited the area. Archaeologists still debate when a distinct Anasazi culture emerged, but the current consensus suggests they first appeared around 1200 B.C. The Ancient Puebloans first settled in the plateau area where water was plentiful, with their initial locations at Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Kayenta. Later they spanned across the entire Colorado plateau including northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado.
The Anasazi were ancestors of modern Pueblo peoples. (See also HERE)

We haven't visited Chaco Canyon, but we've been close to it. In 2005 we visited Mesa Verde, in the same general area, though now it lies across the manmade state border in Colorado. The Anasazi abandoned the area around 700 years ago, for reasons unknown, one possibility is crop failure due to climate deterioration.

It was about a 40 minute drive from the highway, along winding roads up to Mesa Verde, then a long walk downhill to reach the dwellings site, and an exhausting one back up, at 7,000 ft. above sea level, and in the heat, the thinner air gets to you! We explored the remains of ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings, 3 photos from our trip are below - that's my back in #4. the first photo is not one of ours, but from HERE.

Artwork at THIS website gives an idea of the populated cliff dwellings in ancient times.


Anonymous said...

GP: Very intriguing, T. and I want to immediately comment on your nice post, because:

Had just finished reading a passage in a mythological book about "Gods and Angels" which says (I translate from the French):

"When humans became more learned, and their crops improved, they kept them all for themselves. Before, when it was all more difficult, they offered the best grains to the Gods - who sent them rain in return.

As the Gods did not receive any attention anymore, the rains ceased, the land dried and the people had to move elsewhere..."

Is that what happened to the Anasazi 700 years ago? No doubt in my mind.

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~
Hmmmm - not sure, GP. The concept of "Gods" doesn't sit well with me.

From what I've read there are several theories as to why the anasazi abandoned the area:

Drought from about A.D. 1275 to about 1300;

a "nuclear winter" caused by a
volcanic eruption;

climatic fluctuations;

increased violence and warfare;

the rise of the kachina religion

Any - or a combination of all - of those, plus your own theory could be near the truth, I guess.

Anonymous said...

GP: This thing with "Gods" is very much a question of concepts. Once I red a very credible book written by an Australian farmer about a "pact" he made with the wild kangoroos who spoiled his land to the point that even with a big tractor he could not drive over it any more, so many holes they had made.

He mentally "spoke" to the kangoroos, told them that one side of the valey which was his farm was going to be entirely theirs (again). On the other half he intendet to plant his crops.

A relatively short time thereafter, the "deal" started to work. "His half of the valey became arable and practically untouched by those animals. The farmer (not a writer) was so impressed that he thought he hd to tell others about it, by writing a (small) book about how humans, by not wanting all for themselves, can find unexpected returns...

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~

Ah - now that I find easier to accept, GP! I suppose, though, that most people would prefer to believe in Gods or higher power(s) than that man could communicate mentally with other creatures, or other humans.

I'm sure we have, hidden somewhere in our grey matter, an ability (or many) as yet untapped, or possibly still evolving.

Anonymous said...

GP: By the way, liked your new picture! Would even be better if you took the "car-frame" away. No need to be framed by such an un-natural thing. Probably your husband can arrange that...

Twilight said...

Anon/Gian Paul ~~~ Oh! Well thank you GP! I've cropped it to eliminate the car window - (all by myself) ;-).

James Higham said...

Very special day and sad that the days are now to get longer. Oh well.

libramoon said...


quiet fall

of snow

whitens night's field

unwritten, sandlike

upon tomorrow's shore.

Tomorrow is the blessed eve

Lords and Ladies, leaping,

dancing, holy abandon, ecstatic rites.

In dense, secret forest, legends gambol, rise

honorably to masters, age in inebriates.

Spirits imbue damp, fresh scent.

Words melt, evaporate, flavor brew

of ancient melodies, renewed

each Winter's Eve.

Picture each animated creature enlightened
Each candle warmly, brilliantly ignited
Animated faces dance with excitement
Creature comfort gifts encircle trees
Enlightened pleasures whirled in peace

Winter's doorway

The magick of night
The clearness of cold
Stars glittering tales so old
Cradle, caress, with blessing
Saints, sages, wizards, mages
Message writ on high, in constellations
we stop to see, to read.
Cold is slowness, a force
of inertia, a space,
a pause in time.
Dark carries reflection -- any
fancied face or fortune
could be in reach.
Seasons speak
call in hues, in moods.
We praise passages, echo rites.
Children chasing Moonbeams
to believe in hope, joy, love
because we need the light,
the warmth, the colours.

Joyful Season to all ~

Twilight said...

James Higham ~~ Yes, I'd agree, if the darkness didn't often bring with it intense cold - and ice.

Twilight said...

libramoon ~~ Beautiful, as befits your screen-name :-)!
Thank you !
Warm seasonal wishes to you and yours.

Anna Van Z said...

Happy Solstice to all!! Personally I can't wait until the days gets longer, because I'm a mini-farmer!

p.s. I lived in AZ for years, and always wondered about what happened to the Anasazi...

Twilight said...

Anna Van Z ~~~

Hi there Anna - and seasonal greetings back atcha!

I hope the weather is kind regarding your mini-farm - you'll be someone able to make the best of a bad situation if a really big financial or environmental crash comes. :-) The Anasazi possibly experienced an early version of something similar to what it might be like - though we'll never know for sure.