Social Media Management by Symphony

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Winter Solstice: Turn the Darkness into Light

A science blogger known as The Renaissance Mathematicus and I completely disagree on the status of Pluto (he supports the IAU planet definition), but there is something we do agree on, and that is that the solar year runs from Winter Solstice to Winter Solstice, making today the true beginning of the New Year.

When he created the Julian Calendar, Julius Caesar moved the New Year to January 1 to roughly coincide with the Winter Solstice, allowing a few extra days between the two to extend the annual seasonal celebrations.

The solar cycle can be viewed as analogous to the lunar cycle. One lunation begins at the first sight of the waxing crescent Moon moving away from its dark phase, in which the Moon is conjunct the Sun. The waxing half of the cycle lasts until the full Moon, after which, the Moon begins to wane. The lunation ends when it wanes into complete darkness.

With the Sun, from Earth’s point of view, at least from the Northern Hemisphere, a new solar orbit begins at the moment we move away from the darkest point, the Sun at its nadir, much like the dark Moon. The first half of the year can be seen as the waxing year, as the Sun appears to grow stronger. Summer Solstice corresponds to the full Moon, the peak of light, after which the Sun appears to wane until it returns to its weakest point.

According to this view, the New Year began today following the Solstice at 10:59 AM EST.

Like the one before it (2020), the past year has been a difficult one. The Earth continues on a dangerous trajectory toward climate crisis, and the signs have been stronger than ever in the form of wildfires, extreme storms, extreme heat waves, melting ice at both poles. Some areas experienced severe drought while others endured major floods—extremes predicted decades ago as the effects of global warming on Earth’s hydrologic cycle.

And yet, in the face of all this as well as a global pandemic coming up on two years, those with the most power have been unable and/or unwilling to commit to the bold changes we need to save the habitability of this planet. If 100-degree Fahrenheit temperatures in Siberia won’t motivate us to change, what will?

The answer is that change begins with each one of us. During the darkest time of the year, we make our own warmth and our own light. No other season so drives home the truth that we all need each other to survive.

Maybe what we really need to do is look at this time period through the lens of the Winter Solstice. Dispelling the dark has to begin within each one of us. We can’t wait for action by those in power. We are the people who can save the habitability of this planet, both for ourselves and for its numerous plant and animal species. We need to stop waiting for those in power to act, find our own power within, and come together to bring light to the darkness, to fight for a better world. This song, sung both at protests and at the Winter Solstice says it best:

“We are the rising Sun!
We are the change!

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,
And we are dawning!”

And as the song, “Yule, Bless this Night” states:

“Hey, hey, bless this night

Turn the darkness into light!
“Hey, hey bless our way,
Lead us to a brighter day!”

No comments: