Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Summer Solstice

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This article is an extract taken from the eBook called The Path of the Spiritual Sun, which you can download free here.

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Some of the most famous ancient megalithic sites in the world align to the summer solstice – in numerous different cultures: Egyptian, Pagan, Mayan, Essene, Buddhist, Native American, and Easter Islander. Below are some examples – there are many others that have not been included, and may be many more that have not yet been discovered.

Sites such as the Great Pyramids and Easter Island are speculated to be some of the most ancient in the known world, and to have links to the civilizations of Atlantis and possibly Lemuria. Others trace their lineage back to the original spiritual knowledge of the Mayans and ancient peoples of Britain.

These sites indicate the existence of a cosmic spirituality, sometimes referred to as an ancient solar religion, shared by people’s separated by vast distances and time who tapped into the same universal knowledge and understanding.

The Great Pyramids ~ Egypt

An artist's depiction of the sun setting between the two Great Pyramids and crowning the Sphinx on the summer solstice.

An artist’s depiction of the sun setting between the two Great Pyramids and crowning the Sphinx on the summer solstice.

At the Great Pyramids of Egypt, when standing looking back at the front of the Sphinx, the sun on the summer solstice sets precisely between the two largest of the Great Pyramids. The sun’s descent between the two pyramids seems to enact the moment of creation where the sun emerged from between two mounds, but in reverse, perhaps signifying the return of the divine Son/sun to the source of creation.

The Osirieon ~ Egypt

The temple of Osireion at Abydos in Egypt

The temple of Osireion at Abydos in Egypt. It shares many architectural similarities with the Valley Temple beside the Sphinx, as well as a connection to the deity Anubis as head of the underworld in alignment with the sun and constellation of Leo. (photo copyright wiki user RsAzevedo, 2008)

There is an incredibly mysterious temple at the ancient site of Abydos in Egypt. For thousands of years Abydos was believed to be the final resting place of the Egyptian god Osiris. Then in AD 1902 the Osireion temple was unearthed, which many believe could have been the tomb of Osiris.

The Osireion shares incredible similarities with the Valley Temple that lies next to the Sphinx. Both the Valley Temple and Osireion are made out of huge unadorned granite blocks, which also look very similar to Stonehenge, and share the same construction methods and a number of mathematical characteristics (for example, both feature the number seventeen). The Valley Temple was built at the same time as the Sphinx, and its similarities with the Osireion seem to indicate that the Osireion may too have been built by the builders of the Sphinx.

The Osireion is dated to between 6,000 – 3,100 BC, although it is possibly much older. It had been unearthed at least once before when the Pharaoh Seti I uncovered it during the construction of his temple in around 1,280 BC.

The Valley Temple located beside the Great Sphinx of Egypt

The Valley Temple located beside the Great Sphinx of Egypt. It shares remarkable similarities in building style with the Osireion, another ancient temple. Both are made out of huge unadorned granite blocks. (photo copyright Daniel Mayer 2008)

Like the Great Pyramids and Sphinx, the Osireion has a summer solstice sunset alignment. On the summer solstice, the light of the setting sun shines through a nearby gap in the Libyan Hills, which intersects the Osireion temple.

The temple was constructed near a natural spring, which was used to feed a pool of water inside the temple that forms a moat around its central part. Some believe this was intended to symbolize the mound that rose from the primeval waters at the beginning of creation in ancient Egyptian texts, while others draw similarities to the sacred pagan healing well springs of the ancient Britons.

Other mysterious aspects of the site include a flower of life symbol found inscribed on some of the pillars of the temple, believed to have been left there by Greeks possibly around 300 BC. Ancient hieroglyphs of what appear to be hovercraft, and various flying machines like helicopters, can be found in the temple of Seti I next door.

The Essene Monastery ~ Qumran, Egypt

The ruins of the Essenes community at Qumran (photo copyright 2011 wiki user MotherForker)

The ruins of the Essene community at Qumran (photo copyright 2011 wiki user MotherForker)

Said to be the inheritors of the ancient initiatory knowledge of the esoteric schools of Egypt, the Essenes were a mystical Jewish group which followed a solar calendar (rather than the traditional Jewish lunar calendar) and like the sites of ancient Egypt, had a sacred place aligned to the summer solstice sunset.

The Essene community is believed to have existed between around 200 BC to the first century AD and lived together in various places in Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. They are the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls—a set of ancient mystical texts discovered in Qumran in Egypt in 1947 in the caves nearby one of their settlements.

The largest room of their stone communal building at Qumran is aligned so that the rays of the setting sun on the summer solstice illuminate the eastern wall where there are two altars. Two ancient historians had written that the Essenes worshiped the sun (just as the Egyptians did), and the discovery of this alignment along with their texts now confirms this.

Additionally, a limestone sundial was discovered there, designed to measure the sun throughout the year rather than the day, and which could measure the solstices and equinoxes.

They appear to have been a solar religion, as many of the most ancient religions were—each morning they would begin their day with a prayer to the sun and they called themselves the Children of Light. It is believed that Jesus spent time with the Essenes who had been awaiting the arrival of a messiah, and the life of Jesus also follows the solar year (e.g. Jesus was born at the winter solstice, John the Baptist killed at the autumn equinox, Jesus crucified at the spring equinox).

Stonehenge ~ England

The summer solstice sunrise aligns with the avenue off the circle around Stonehenge. At sunrise the sun shines down the avenue into the center of the stone circle.

The summer solstice sunrise aligns with the avenue off the circle around Stonehenge. At sunrise the sun shines down the avenue, between the two heel stones, into the center of the stone circle.

The giant megalithic stone circle of Stonehenge aligns most prominently to the summer solstice—with alignments at sunrise, midday, and sunset.

At sunrise on the summer solstice, the sun rose between two Heel Stones outside Stonehenge, and penetrated into its center to the altar stone.

A giant ancient avenue leading from Stonehenge to the nearby River Avon also aligns to the summer solstice sunrise. The ancient stone circle called Bluehenge lies where this avenue and the river meet.

At midday on the summer solstice, the sun shines directly overhead Stonehenge into its center.

Next to Stonehenge there is a large area called the Stonehenge Cursus which is an area of earthen ditches and banks around 3 km long and 100-150 meters wide. Within this area are two huge pits around 16 feet across and 3 feet deep that, when viewed from the Heel Stone just outside Stonehenge, align to the summer solstice sunrise and sunset.

Yet another ancient site called Durrington Walls lies two miles northeast of Stonehenge. It contains a henge called the Southern Circle consisting of six concentric circles that would have been made out of large timber posts. The circle is aligned to the winter solstice sunrise, but like Stonehenge has a paved avenue leading to the River Avon and a post which acted as the Heel Stone aligned to the summer solstice sunset rather than sunrise.

It is possible that Stonehenge was part of a sacred landscape in which a number of sites were used ceremoniously during various celestial occasions, but it appears, particularly the summer solstice.

Nabta Playa ~ Egypt

A replica of the stone circle at Nabta Playa from the Aswan Nubia museum (photo copyright wiki user Raymbetz 2009)

A replica of the stone circle at Nabta Playa from the Aswan Nubia museum (photo copyright wiki user Raymbetz, 2009)

Nabta Playa is the name of a location in the Egyptian desert where there is an ancient stone circle dated to around 4,800 BC that acts as astronomical calendar, much like Stonehenge. A number of other large stone megaliths are located around the circle and also align to the stars. Together it is claimed they have some astonishing stellar, solar, and even galactic alignments, including to the summer solstice—marking not only the positions of the stars but even the distance of these stars from Earth!

The stones align to the rising sun on the summer solstice, as well as the star Sirius (the brightest star in the night sky), Dubhe (the brightest star in Ursa Major), and stars in the belt of the constellation Orion. Interestingly, the summer solstice, Sirius, and Orion were also used in the design of the Great Pyramids and Sphinx—these and other similarities have led many to theorize that the builders of the site at Nabta Playa and the site of the Great Pyramids at Giza (around 800 kilometers away) are connected. Additionally, the site was built in the Tropic of Cancer, which many believe was done on purpose so that the vertical stones at the site marked the sun’s zenith passage at the summer solstice (which occurs three weeks before and after it) so that they cast no shadow at all during this time.

The astrophysicist Thomas G. Brophy discovered that the stones marked the helical rising (which is the conjunction of a star or constellation with the sun as it rises or sets) of a number of stars in the constellation of Orion on the spring equinox, the star Vega on the autumn equinox, and the rising of the galactic center on the spring equinox at around 17,700 BC.

Most incredibly of all however, Brophy discovered that the distance between the megaliths that marked these helical risings matched the distance of the stars they marked from Earth on a scale of roughly 1 meter to 0.8 light years—within the margin of error found in calculating astronomical distances today.

Tallaght Hill of the Fair Gods ~ Mount Seskin, Ireland

On Mount Seskin, the tallest of the Tallaght Hills (outside of the town of Tallaght) there are a number of ancient stone ruins including standing stones and passage cairns. The summer solstice sun rises in the distance, right beside the Lambay Volcano and reflects off a pool of water on the hill called Lin Oir, meaning golden pond.

See pictures here: http://www.druidschool.com/site/1030100/page/882207

Externsteine ~ Germany

The temple atop of Externsteine near Horn-Bad Meinberg, Germany. The hole in the shrine aligns to the summer solstice sunrise. (photo copyright wiki user R. Engelhardt 6 June 2007)

The temple atop of Externsteine near Horn-Bad Meinberg, Germany. The hole in the shrine aligns to the summer solstice sunrise. (photo copyright wiki user R. Engelhardt, 2007)

The Externsteine rocks are a chain of naturally occurring sandstone spires dating from about 70 million years ago. They were a sacred place of pilgrimage in prehistoric, Celtic, and early Saxon times and a site of pagan ritual until the eighthcentury AD, when Charles the Great cut down the sacred Irmensul tree, the German tree of life. At the top of the tallest spire is a mysterious prehistoric temple; no one knows for certain who built it. It is centered around a round hole above an altar carved into a small stone shrine. This hole looks out at the surrounding landscape and aligns to the moon at its northern extreme and the sun at sunrise on the summer solstice.

Ajanta Caves ~ India

The cave at Ajanta called number 26, which aligns to the summer solstice sunrise. As the sun rises, a beam of light penetrates this cave and illuminates the stupa and the statue of Buddha within. (photo copyright 2011 wiki user dola.das85)

The cave at Ajanta called number 26, which aligns to the summer solstice sunrise. As the sun rises, a beam of light penetrates this cave and illuminates the stupa and the statue of Buddha within. (photo copyright 2011 wiki user dola.das85)

The Ajanta Caves are an extraordinary group of around 30 man-made caves cut into the side of a sheer cliff face. The cliff is naturally U-shaped and was hidden in a remote part of the jungle. The caves are believed to have been built by Buddhist monks by carving into the cliff face – what they created were elaborate shrines and temples, all cut into one single giant rock.

Work is believed to have begun on the caves in around 200 BC and ended around 480 – 650 AD. The caves contained sculptures and artwork centered around the life of Buddha.

Two of the caves align to celestial events.

Cave 26 aligns to the summer solstice sunrise. It contains a statue of Buddha seated within a stupa, which is illuminated by the rays of the rising sun on the summer solstice.

Cave 19 aligns to the winter solstice sunrise (more about this in the Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Winter Solstice). It contains a state of Buddha standing within a stupa, which is also illuminated by the rays of the rising sun on the winter solstice.

A stupa is a symbolic monument which it is said Buddha uses to ascend and descend. The stupas for the winter and summer solstice at the Ajanta Caves differ in their design, perhaps for a symbolic reason.

The creator god Amun being worshiped, seated with his feet raised above the level of the ground.

The creator god Amun being worshiped, seated with his feet raised above the level of the ground similar to the statue of Buddha at Ajanta.

The winter solstice is a time when the force known as the Son, descends into a spiritually prepared person, explained in The Spiritual Meaning of the Winter Solstice.

The summer solstice is a time of ascent. In the cave aligned to the summer solstice Buddha is seated with his feet on a pedestal. Perhaps this was symbolic of him no longer being on the earth—as ancient Egypt gods were sometimes portrayed upon pedestals to show their heavenly status.

Serpent Mound ~ Ohio, United States

The serpent mound in Ohio, whose head aligns with the summer solstice sunset. (photo copyright 2002 Timothy A. Price and Nicole I.)

The serpent mound in Ohio, whose head aligns with the summer solstice sunset. (photo copyright 2002 Timothy A. Price and Nicole I.)

The serpent mound is a giant earth work in the shape of a serpent made by an ancient peoples who once lived in the United States. The head of the serpent faces the summer solstice sunset.

The mound is around 1,370 feet (420 meters) long. The serpent holds an oval in its mouth, has seven undulating coils along its body, and the tip of its tail is coiled three times. Its coils point to the winter solstice and equinox sunrises. It is believed there was an altar inside the oval at the head, in which ceremonies could have been conducted while watching the summer solstice sunset.

Many believe—using carbon dating and studying artifacts surrounding the site—that it was built by the Native American Adena culture, who were active between 1000 BC to AD 1, and who commonly built mounds and used sacred circles, and was later refurbished by subsequent Native American cultures.

However, there exists another very similar site in a very different part of the world—Scotland. At a place called Loch Nell there is an ancient serpent mound, around 300 feet long, and which used to have a circle of stones which contained an altar at its head. It too faced west, although not to the summer solstice sunset, but so that looking back east across its body it had a special view of three mountain peaks. Someone who viewed the site in the mid nineteenth century before much of it was damaged and dismantled wrote:

A drawing published in 1883 of the Loch Nell serpent mound in Scotland. The altar in the stone circle at the head of the serpent is in the foreground, and the 3 mountain peaks in the background. The design of this particular serpent mound is strikingly similar to the one in the United States.

A drawing published in 1883 of the Loch Nell serpent mound in Scotland. The altar in the stone circle at the head of the serpent is in the foreground, and the 3 mountain peaks in the background. The design of this particular serpent mound shares a number of similarities with the one in the United States.

“The mound was built in such a manner that the worshipper standing at the altar would naturally look eastward, directly along the whole length of the Great Reptile, and across the dark lake, to the triple peaks of Ben Cruachan. This position must have been carefully selected, as from no other point are the three peaks visible.”

There are other serpent mounds in Scotland and Ireland. At least one dated to around 2000 BC used fire burnt stones, which were also apparently used in the building of the serpent mound in Ohio. The oval at the heads of these serpents may have represented the sun, thus forming the same symbol of a serpent with a sun disk on its head found throughout Egypt.

Could Ohio’s serpent mound be part of a lineage of people and knowledge that ran from Egypt, through ancient Britain and Europe, and is now barely traceable in North America?

Copyright © Belsebuub & Angela Pritchard 2013

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This is about 1/2 of the article on the sacred sites aligned to the summer solstice. Keep reading in the free eBook The Path of the Spiritual Sun.

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More on the solstice and equinox

General
The Significance of the Solstice and Equinox in Spirituality
A Guide to Celebrating the Solstice and Equinox

Winter Solstice
The Spiritual Meaning of the Winter Solstice
Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Winter Solstice
Mantras to Celebrate the Winter Solstice
A Ceremony to Celebrate the Winter Solstice

Spring Equinox
The Spiritual Meaning of the Spring Equinox
Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Spring Equinox
A Ceremony to Celebrate the Spring Equinox

Summer Solstice
The Spiritual Meaning of the Summer Solstice
Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Summer Solstice
A Ceremony to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Autumn Equinox
The Spiritual Meaning of the Autumn Equinox
Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Autumn Equinox
A Ceremony to Celebrate the Autumn Equinox

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