Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Winter 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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There are hundreds of ancient sites, and were many thousands, that align to the winter solstice. However, the following sites mark this solstice alignment in a symbolic way. By doing so, they have encapsulated a profound esoteric wisdom that can still be grasped even in our modern world—outlasting books and texts, which are easily lost and destroyed. These monuments speak to us through thousands of years about the true spiritual significance of the winter solstice.

Someone who understands the symbolic language used to build these sites can see the builders knew the winter solstice was the cosmic embodiment of the process of creation and the birth of the divine Son. The significance of the birth of divinity pre-dates Christian times, which reveals that spiritual deities born at the winter solstice, such as Jesus, Horus, Krishna, Dionysus, Attis, Mithras, etc., symbolize something much greater which no religion owns exclusively. These sites were built around the universal knowledge of the process of awakening in which the birth of the divine Son within a spiritually prepared individual is a central event.

Glastonbury Tor ~ England

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor rising out of the mist (photo copyright Edwin Graham, 2007)

This ancient site is undated and unexcavated, and is believed by many to be the mysterious Isle of Avalon from the legend of King Arthur. It is a giant man-made seven terraced mound, which was once surrounded by water. Today it is topped by a Church tower, which may have been built in place of a much earlier site.

From what appears to be an ancient man-made observation mound on nearby Windmill Hill, someone can watch the winter solstice sun appear at the bottom of the terraces of Glastonbury Tor, and “roll” up the Northern side of terraces until clipping the top of the tower.  In approximately 3,000 BC, only the top rim of the sun would have been visible, allowing someone to observe this incredible event without being blinded by the sun.

The constellation Orion rises over the Tor in the winter months, followed by the star Sirius, which rises soon after. During the period around 3,150 BC, Sirius rose in the same place as the winter solstice sun. Orion is associated with the Egyptian father god Osiris, and Sirius is associated with his wife, the Egyptian mother goddess Isis. Horus, their son, is associated with the sun, and is born at the winter solstice. Thus at Glastonbury Tor, during the winter solstice someone could witness a cosmic nativity of Father, Mother, and Son, along with the symbolism created by the Tor (discussed in The Spiritual Meaning of the Winter Solstice).

There is said to be a fabled treasure that exists in the very lowest chamber within the inner terraces of the island. The rising sun on the winter solstice connected with the birth of the divine son at the base of the terraces, reveals what the meaning of this treasure. It is the golden fleece, the symbol of the Christ/Son.

Goseck circle ~ Germany

A diagram of Goseck circle from above. The two yellow lines show the alignment of the winter solstice sunrise and sunset through openings in the circle to reach its center.

A diagram of Goseck circle from above. The two yellow lines show the alignment of the winter solstice sunrise and sunset through openings in the circle to reach its center.

The Goseck circle is an ancient Neolithic henge, and lies on the same latitude as Stonehenge. Like Stonehenge, it too had prominent solar alignments to the solstices. It is dated to 5,000 BC and was a series of concentric circles constructed out of wooden posts and ditches. Two of the openings to the circle aligned to the sunrise and sunset on the winter solstice, funneling the rays of sunlight through wooden posts into the center of the circle.

Nebra Sky Disk ~ Germany

The Nebra Sky Disk. The outer gold rim on the right was also matched by one on the left, which is now missing. These marked the sunsets and sunrises of the winter and summer solstice. The moon and sun are represented in the middle, and are surrounded by stars, which are believed to represent a number of constellations, including possibly the Pleiades. (photo copyright wiki user Anagoria 17 August 2012)

The Nebra Sky Disk. The outer gold rim on the right was also matched by one on the left, which is now missing. These marked the sunsets and sunrises of the winter and summer solstice. The moon and sun are represented in the middle, and are surrounded by stars, which are believed to represent a number of constellations, including possibly the Pleiades. (photo copyright wiki user, 2012)

The Nebra Sky Disk is said to be the oldest chart of the heavens in the world. It is dated to 1,600 BC and is made out of bronze with a diagram of the heavens embossed on it in gold, and was made by pre-Celtic people. It was discovered on the hilltop of Mittelberg, which is just twenty-five kilometers away from the location of the Goseck circle above.

Like the Goseck circle, it too marks the dates of the solstice, but the Nebra disk is handheld and transportable. Two arcs which run along either side of the Nebra disk mark the sun’s positions at sunrise and sunset on both the winter and summer solstice from Mittelberg hill where it was discovered. Additionally, if the Nebra disk is laid flat on this hilltop and faced north, one of these arcs points to Brocken mountain, the highest peak of the Harz massif. When viewed Mittelberg hill, the sun sets on the summer solstice precisely behind Brocken mountain.

Chichen Itza ~ Mexico

Chichen Itza

The pyramid of the feathered serpent (which is a symbol of the union of the earthly and heavenly) at Chichen Itza (photo copyright Claude Belair, 2005)

At an ancient Mayan sacred site called Chichen Itza, there is a pyramid dedicated to Kukulcán, the feathered serpent. At spring and autumn equinoxes the sun creates an undulating pattern of light on the nine terraces of the pyramid to display seven triangles of light which link up with a stone serpent head at its base. As the sun sets on the autumn equinox, the pattern created by the movement and alignment of the sun appears to be of a snake descending down the pyramid steps, and at the spring equinox, it creates the impression of the snake ascending the pyramid.

At the winter solstice the interaction between the sun and the temple is very similar to that of Glastonbury Tor. When one looks at the western face of the pyramid, the sun appears to climb up the terraces until it rests momentarily directly above the pyramid on the pinnacle of the temple room that sits on top of the pyramid, before beginning its descent down the other side. Like Glastonbury, it’s as if the sun rising from the lowest point of the structure ascends the terraces, until crowning the tower.

The Temple of Karnak ~ Egypt

Temple of Horus at Edfu

This is the Temple of Horus, but the design of the entrance to the Temple of Karnak follows the same architecture, where the front wall is clearly divided in two from which the sun emerges (photo copyright Steve FE Cameron, 2006)

At the temple of Karnak, known as the most hallowed of places, is the very center of the world dedicated to Amun, where he first brought forth creation. Construction is said to have begun during the Middle Kingdom, dated between 2,055–1,650 BC.

The Goddess Mut is also found at the temple of Karnak in probably one of the most ancient areas of it. Enclosed in her precinct is a sacred lake in the shape of a crescent, symbolizing the waters of creation and the womb. Here we have the presence of the father and mother god, at a temple aligned to the winter solstice sunrise, which is the date of the birth of the son.

In Egypt we find incredible symbols that reveal the knowledge of the process of birth and creation. Even temple architecture symbolized the division of the male and female forces to create the son. The entrance to many temples, including that at the Temple of Karnak, shows a raised wall on the left that lowers over the entrance flanked by a winged solar disk, which then raises to form the right wall. Here is represented the division of the two forces, with the solar disk rising in the middle.

Karnak Temple Sphinx

Ram-headed sphinx at the Temple of Karnak with the figure of a pharaoh between its paws (photo copyright Hedwig Storch, 2009)

This temple is aligned to the winter solstice sunrise. When the sun rises on this day, it appears between the left and right walls on either side of the entrance. Its rays are then funneled through multiple temple areas, which narrow until reaching the sanctuary of Amun. This sanctuary is reminiscent of a womb, which is penetrated by the creative force to give birth to the divine Son. Interestingly, this sanctuary aligns to the temple of Luxor nearby, which itself is laid to the proportions of a human body. Sometimes called the Temple of Man, the Luxor temple depicts an annunciation scene in which the God Amun announces to the mother Goddess Mut that she will give birth to a divine child. This site shows pictures of the winter solstice sun rising through the Temple of Karnak.

Both in the Temple of Karnak and Luxor the golden number, phi, and the Fibonacci sequence are found. These sacred numbers are key to the growth and development of all life. In fact, the temple of Karnak was built upon and expanded over hundreds of years, according to the Fibonacci sequence. The entrance to the temple is flanked by rows of giant ram-headed sphinxes, which each hold images of a pharaoh between their paws. The Fibonacci sequence can be found in the growth of a ram’s horns, just as it is in a nautilus’ shell. This temple was dedicated to life, its growth, and creation—and was specifically aligned to the winter solstice.

Newgrange ~ Ireland

Newgrange

Newgrange (photo copyright wiki user Shira, 2006)

Newgrange is a giant one acre mound, resembling a grass-topped temple, said to have been built around 3,200 BC. Once a year, at the winter solstice, the rising sun enters the mound through a specially built roofbox above the main entrance and shines directly along the nineteen-meter-long passage, gradually widening until illuminating the inner chamber for about seventeen minutes. Today the first light enters about four minutes after sunrise, but calculations based on the precession of the Earth show that five thousand years ago first light would have entered exactly at sunrise.

The inner chamber of the mound is laid out in the shape of a cross, and beautiful Neolithic artwork can be found etched into the stone both on the inside and outside of the mound. Particularly prevalent are spiral designs, including the famous tri-spiral design found inside the chamber. This site has photos of the artwork inside the chamber.

Newgrange tumulus chamber cross section

A diagram of the chamber inside Newgrange showing its cross shape

Here the symbol of the cross appears in connection with the winter solstice, the time of the birth of the divine Son, long before the birth of Jesus. The cross represents the crossing of male and female forces, which give birth to all life. The tri-spiral symbol also shows the union of three forces of Father, Mother, and Son; positive, negative, and neutral, which give rise to all creation. The single spiral is often referred to as “the spiral of life” as it shows the expansion of life.

And all of it is enclosed in a mound which appears to be like a great womb of the earth. Just as the birth of Jesus, Mithras, and Viracocha was said to have taken place in a cave, so too at Newgrange the birth of the sun is enacted inside the dark chamber of the mound. As at Glastonbury Tor and the Temple of Karnak, we see the three forces of creation present at the moment of the birth of the divine Son, and the creation of all life on the winter solstice.

Maeshowe, a similarly built and designed mound north of Scotland on the Orkney Islands, also receives a beam of sunlight to its central chamber on the winter solstice.

The 4-handed Moai Statue ~ Easter Island

A lone Maoi statue in the center of the island, at a site called Ahu Huri A Urenga, faces the rising sun on the winter solstice. Unlike any other statue on the island, it has four hands instead of the usual two. This appears to be no coincidence, as the number four has a symbolic meaning related to the sun and the process of creation. This Maoi is seen as one of the most important astronomical observatories on the island, as it appears that the altar together with five cupules etched on a nearby rock functioned as a “solar-ranging device” which marked the winter solstice and possibly the equinoxes.

The Great Pyramids ~ Egypt

diagram of the Great Pyramid of Egypt showing passages and chambers

Diagram of the Great Pyramid of Egypt showing its interior passages and chambers. Both the ascending passage (leading to what is called the “King’s Chamber”) and the descending passage (leading down into the subterranean chamber) are at an angle of 26 degrees, 33 minutes, and 54 seconds.

As the sun sets on the winter solstice, the second largest pyramid casts a shadow on the southern face of the Great Pyramid beside it at the same angles as the ascending and descending passages inside the Great Pyramid—thus alluding to what’s inside. The angle of the shadow and the passages in the Great Pyramid is 26 degrees, 33 minutes, and 54 seconds, and is the only angle that is produced in the only triangle constructed by means of the “golden ratio.” This angle was used throughout the design of the site of the Great Pyramids and in Egyptian artwork in relation to the process of spiritual resurrection. It is the divine Son born on the winter solstice that will later resurrect, and so perhaps the illustration of this passage was to symbolize that the journey toward this spiritual resurrection would now begin.

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

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Copyright © Belsebuub & Angela Pritchard 2011

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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