The moment in the earth's annual orbit at which the north pole points most directly towards the sun (the June solstice, which is summer solstice for the northern hemisphere) is rapidly approaching, and will occur at the time designated 9:24 pm on June 20 in the Pacific time zone in North America, which is 12:24 am just after the start of June 21 in the Eastern time zone in North America, or 4:24 am on June 21 in the time zone of the Greenwich meridian (which is now designated UTC).
The ancient wisdom given to all cultures on our planet uses a sophisticated system of celestial metaphor to convey profound truths for our benefit, truths about the nature of this human condition in which we find ourselves during this incarnate life, and it does so using a code or language which is built upon the great heavenly cycles, marked out for us on earth by the motions of the sun, moon, stars, visible planets and other celestial features including the band of the Milky Way itself.
The points of the two solstices and two equinoxes form extremely important "signposts" along the annual cycle of the year, created by earth's interaction with the sun -- one of many heavenly cycles which all may be used by the world's ancient myths and sacred stories to depict the reality of an Invisible Realm, a spiritual realm, and its constant interaction with the more familiar and more obvious visible, material realm.
The world's ancient myths use the infinite heavens as a means of "showing" us this Infinite Realm, this Invisible World or Other World: the realm of infinite potential -- the realm of the gods. The ancient wisdom given to all the world's cultures proclaims that this Invisible Realm is very real, and that it is in many ways the actual real world, which gives the pattern to this visible world through which we are presently traveling. Everything in the visible world is connected to the Invisible Realm, and is constantly "unfolding from" the Other World, in an endless "folding and unfolding" or interplay between that Invisible Realm and this visible one.
Previous posts have highlighted the teaching of the Lakota holy man Black Elk, who called that Other Realm "the real world behind this one," and said that "everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world."
And yet, if we had to characterize the outlines of the paradigm which is endlessly reinforced by the conventional education system and corporate media, it would be quite accurate to say that this paradigm is characterized by the denial of the reality of the Invisible Realm, the Infinite Realm, the Other Realm, the realm of the gods.
And yet, the ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories given to cultures on every inhabited continent and island of our planet teach us that one of our primary goals here in this incarnate life is to recognize the reality and importance of the Invisible Realm and become more and more integrated with that spiritual aspect of the universe, and that spiritual aspect of ourselves.
Numerous previous posts have elaborated on this important theme, including "You may have a Higher Self, and He or She wants you to know it," and "Why divinities can appear in an instant: the inner connection to the Infinite," and "The incredible importance of the INNER connection to the Infinite," among dozens of others.
The contrast between ignoring or denying the existence of the Invisible Realm, the Infinite Realm, and realizing that one of the primary goals in our incarnate life is the recognition of its reality and importance, and the quest to integrate and harmonize with this Invisible Realm in every aspect of our incarnate life, could not be more stark. One approach acknowledges the importance and indeed the primacy of the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods, and the other denies its very existence.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the most horrible problems we face in this "modern age" can be traced directly to a widespread and deliberate campaign to deny and denigrate the reality and primacy of the Invisible Realm, the Infinite Realm, the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods.
Previous discussions have shown that the mythical King Midas, whose signature characteristic was his failure to acknowledge the primacy of the Invisible Realm, was not some external figure whose terrible judgment was unique to him: on the contrary, his legendary bad judgment characterizes much of our own age, in which the primacy of the realm of the gods has been ignored, denied, forgotten, or deliberately suppressed.
The ancient wisdom given to humanity in the form of the various myths, scriptures and sacred traditions of the different cultures across our planet is the antidote to this failure to recognize the importance and indeed primacy of the Other World: these ancient stories emphasize again and again, from every possible angle, the positive benefits of acknowledging the Invisible Realm and its importance, and the negative consequences of denying the primacy of the realm of the gods.
With this in mind, the existence across the surface of our planet of ancient monuments which align with the cycles of the celestial realm (representative of the Invisible Realm, the realm of the gods), can be better understood. These monuments constitute ongoing, tangible evidence of the importance of aligning our lives in this seemingly material existence with the realm of heaven: in other words, they demonstrate the ancient acknowledgement of the primacy of the Infinite Realm, the vital importance of remaining connected with that Infinite Realm, and the refusal of the ancient people to allow themselves to become disconnected from that Other World.
By creating durable, monumental, and awe-inspiring sites which are undeniably aligned to the solstices and equinoxes, they show us their recognition of the critical need to align and integrate our "physical motions" with the Invisible World from which everything in this material realm has its source and origin, according to the teaching of wisdom-keepers such as Black Elk.
The number of ancient sites which are clearly aligned to the motions of the heavens and especially to the various "signposts" in the important celestial cycles (such as the signposts of the solstices and equinoxes, as well as other significant markers such as the cross-quarter days or the lunar maximum points, etc), is truly beyond count. It would be far easier to compile a list of ancient sites which do not contain undeniable celestial alignments than it would be to list all of the sites which do contain such alignments.
Some of the well-known -- and little-known-- sites which include alignments to the solstices and equinoxes would include Stonehenge, Newgrange and other sites in the Boyne River Valley of Ireland, Mnajdra and other sites on the islands of Malta, the pyramid of Chichen Itza (El Castillo) in Teotihuacan, parts of the Izapa complex, Nilaskal Biyana in Karnataka, Nabta Playa in southern Egypt, the pyramids and Sphinx of Giza, the great temple at Karnak in Egypt, the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in modern-day Wyoming, the Omahkiyaahkohtoohp circle in modern-day Alberta, Ollantaytambo in modern-day Peru, the Fajada Butte sun dagger in Chaco Canyon, and many others.
Here is another little-known site, which seems to contain some solar alignments in addition to demonstrating incredible skill at balancing huge stones on top of each other, which I visited shortly after summer solstice one year ago: the Holliston Balancing Rock.
It should be fairly clear that creating monumental structures incorporating alignments with the celestial cycles can be seen as a way of "bringing the heavens down to earth," or of integrating the material realm with the Infinite Realm. Incorporating the solstices and equinoxes in these awe-inspiring constructions obviously invites us to align the pattern of our earthly motions with the motions of the heavens -- the infinite heavens, which represent to us that Invisible World.
If you can visit an ancient aligned site during significant dates on the heavenly cycles, such as the solstices and the equinoxes, it can serve as a reminder of the great importance that virtually all the ancient traditions, of cultures on every continent and island, ascribed to the recognition of the spiritual realm, and the importance they ascribed to seeing beyond merely physical or material terms (beyond seeing ourselves and others as merely physical beings, or seeing the resources of our planet as merely physical commodities to be exploited).
This week, I will be visiting the Great Serpent Mound in modern-day Ohio, an ancient site aligned to the heavens and to the solstices and equinoxes, for the fourteenth annual Summer Solstice Celebration. Here is a link to one of many diagrams available which show some of the alignments built into this ancient indigenous sacred earthwork, and here is a link to a photograph showing the summer solstice sun setting behind the horizon, aligned with the head of the serpent itself.
Even if you are unable to attend the celebration at the Serpent Mound this year, you can observe the solstice and contemplate the importance of recognizing the importance of the realm of spirit (and the folly of trying to deny its existence or detach ourselves from our dependence on the "real world behind this one") no matter where you find yourself on our planet at this time of year.
And of course, there are literally hundreds of other ancient sites around the globe which incorporate alignments to the heavenly realm -- the Infinite Realm. One of the most spectacular surviving sites is undoubtedly Stonehenge, which contains numerous subtle and sophisticated alignments in addition to the popularly-acknowledged solstice alignments. One of the best books on the subject of Stonehenge alignments is Professor Gordon Freeman's beautifully illustrated and photographed Hidden Stonehenge: Ancient Temple in North America Reveals the Key to Ancient Wonders (2012).
This sample chapter from that book describes some of the truly breathtaking alignments incorporated into that ancient megalithic site, including a summer solstice sunrise alignment. On pages 102 and 103 of that book (included in the sample chapter), Professor Freeman demonstrates that in addition to the famous Heel Stone alignment on summer solstice, Stonehenge once incorporated an even more spectacular summer solstice sunrise feature, created by the massive Great Trilithon (composed of Sarsen stones 55 and 56, with the horizontal lintel 156, only Sarsen 55 of which is still standing today). You can see Professor Freeman's diagram on page 103 which shows how that original Trilithon created an "upper window" above the Circle Lintel stones, framing the sunrise for "at least nine days bracketing the Summer Solstice" (103).
The ancient cultures all around the globe, from which we are all descended, preserved the ancient wisdom they had received as a precious inheritance, one with a vital message for our lives today. The more we can learn how to listen to this ancient message in the original language that it is actually speaking, the more we will be able to hear what it has to say to us (rather than mistakenly twisting its message to fit our modern desires and outlook, which inverts the message by trying to impose our own views upon the original ancient wisdom).
As we do so, we can perhaps begin to find ways to remedy our modern disconnection from the Invisible World, and to remedy the terrible problems that have resulted from this alienation.