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Stonehenge ( Gail Johnson / Adobe Stock)

Dark Lords And Winter Queens Of Solstice

Christmas is for obvious reasons a thoroughly Christian holiday, that overlies the darkest time of the year around the Winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year with the least light in the Northern hemisphere. The morning after the Winter solstice the light begins to return and this time was celebrated by Pagan cultures as a period of hope, new life, endless birth, death and rebirth. And because the Winter solstice was associated with new life and death a wide range of light-controlling deities emerged across ancient cultures to symbolize this momentous annual occasion.

Diagram of Earth's seasons, right: winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. On the left: winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. (CC0)

Solstice Science Is Really Quite Simple

Solstice science is not difficult and was practiced in Neolithic times.  Vast stone built Neolithic monuments like Newgrange in Ireland, Stonehenge in England and Maeshowe in Orkney, were all aligned facing the place on the horizon where the sun rises on the solstice. This fact leads many archaeologists to conclude that these monuments and tombs served secondary religious purposes, wherein prehistoric people held rituals to symbolically capture the sun on its shortest day, to save the dying light, to assure survival.

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