December 15, 2003
"And all the different peoples danced in this ballet of life. The Sun, like some great orchestra leader, kept the beat going. For it was the awesome power of the Sun that sustained the music through the beat of its ever-present warmth and light."
Many peoples have in the past and still in the present associate the chief deity of the cosmos with the sun. Early peoples understood and revered this omni-present object as the author of light, heat, and life, and feared its dark, cold absence. Their primitive minds and aboriginal beliefs recognized the regenerating fecundity of the sun and venerated it as the Creator. Ancient astronomers and astrologers from the ziggurats of the Yucatan to the pyramids of Egypt and Babylon closely observed the movement and periodicity of the sun and other heavenly orbs to amplify this indigenous image with philosophical complexity. They divided fixed stars into constellations and created a zodiac, from the Greek zodiakos meaning a circle of animals, to correspond to their position in the heavens, and partitioned the belt of the zodiac into twelve sections where each sign or house fenced off sixteen degrees in width and thirty degrees in length.
The sun's annual pilgrimage moves through each sign in succession, starting and returning every year at the vernal equinox on March 22nd; however, every seventy-two years it loses one degree. The ancients calculated the course of the sun in relation to the other star patterns, and determined that the bright fireball navigated through each constellation every 2,160 years and through the entire zodiac in an estimated 25,920 years. Thinkers termed the completion of this retrograde motion a Great Solar Year, assigned the passing of each sign as an age, and determined the name of the age from the sign through which the sun passed across each year as it crossed the equator.
The sun ascends up the zodiacal arc past the equator to commence the new year on the vernal equinox, hits its most northerly position in the sky on the summer solstice, and descends south until the winter solstice on December 22nd when it stops on the sundial for three days. On the 25th it resumes its journey born again on the band of the zodiac to ascend back into the northern hemisphere. As the ancient astrological calendar at the time of the life Jesus began in Virgo, the sun's rebirth in the night sky occurred in the constellation recognized as the virgin Goddess.
The twelve signs of the zodiac shine forth as jewels in the crown of the sun that glimmer and dance in cyclical procession around the Earth and human consciousness.
Some thinkers intuit that the sun adopts the personality of the sign of the age, as religious worship appears to emulate the form of the celestial sign through which the sun ritualistically rebirths. Ancient mystics like Pythagoras perceived the solar zodiac to be the generator of the soul, its dodecahedron spiritual nature incarnating in the form of the allegorical star-animal to triumph over the darkness of that age. The sun anthropomorphized into the bull in Taurus to be worshipped by the Egyptians as Apis and the Assyrians as Baal, into the lamb in Ares sacrificed upon Semitic altars to Yahweh and identified as shepherds, into the lion-slayer Hercules in Leo and the archer Diana in Sagittarius, and into the fish in Pisces as a symbol of the Semitic savior Jesus, the Hindu God Vishnu, and the African God Dogon (the pope's headdress is also shaped like a fish).
The sun embodied the transmigration of the eternal soul and represented life as a continual process of becoming, from cosmic dust and ice to humanity to the explosive essence of star matter. It will soon enter the constellation of Aquarius, the sign of the Water Bearer, both a New Testament angelic and androgynous figure pictured with a jug of water on hir (his/her) shoulder, and an Asian metaphor of the water vessel itself. The jewel of Aquarius intensifies in color as we speed to the dawning of a new age on spaceship Earth.
I hope that as we lunge forward to a new year, a little over a 1000 days into the new millennium, that we radiate the sun's jewels outwards from our own souls like bodhisattvas inviting the dawn into the darkness of our world. Peace be upon you all this new year!
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Poetry on Swans
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Scott Orlovsky is a World History & Cultures, and an American History teacher at Clifton High School in New Jersey. He has a BA in History from the Johns Hopkins University and a MA in History from the University of Colorado.
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