War on Solstice, Part B

Observed in many ways in many places since prehistory, the Winter Solstice celebration resulted from discovery of a natural phenomenon that can be observed and verified in two ways, one with light and one with shadow. A cave dweller or a person living in a hut of ages past likely squatted at morning meals and eventually noticed how light and shadows moved across the floor as the day progressed. This apparently happened all around the world as a common occurrence that we still share in our own time. It catches the eyes. It gives the mind something to ponder at times when it is otherwise unoccupied.

It required especially observant persons to notice how the starting and ending points of these daily sojourns changed in a pattern that matched the seasons. Or, maybe not. For me, the light beam from a knothole disappeared one winter day when a cross-brace got into its path. I had noticed its fading appearance on previous days, but gave it little thought until after it disappeared. I missed its company as I gathered up the daily hay I had tossed down from the mow, and watched to see if it would reappear.

Over ages of time, maybe millions of men and women have watched a beam of light’s daily trek across a floor. For most, life goes on and other requirements take them elsewhere, away from the hypnotic effect of a beam of light. A few, however, got to stay with their beam. One of them invented the sun dial, a way to use the sun for telling time.

The sun dial was not an accurate clock, and entirely useless at night. It suffered from a major problem that required constant adjustment of its dial, or the seasons to be marked to correct for seasonal changes. Days seemed long in the hot seasons, really short when the weather turned cold. Thus, the sun dial verified what people had known for generations, that the sun shone on the Earth at different angles as days passed, that the variation progressed smoothly, that the extremes could be predicted, and so, they could know, within reason when they could expect berries, apples, grains and other foods would return to the fields and meadows. This provided knowledge of utmost importance, that enabled them to ration whatever they had stored to prevent starvation.

The sun dial used shadows to indicate relative time and to roughly indicate the seasons. My knothole, given a clear pathway to the barn’s floor, could have done the same using a beam of light. Had I cleared a large enough area to encompass its annual sweep, and calibrated at the same exact moment every day, it would have made a quite accurate calendar by moving the sunbeam though a painted row of calibrated marks. There would, of course, be only a few minutes each day that it would work. I can hear Mom now: “Quick, Lloyd. Run fast to the barn and see what day it is.”

For sentient animals such as the human species, most of history has seen the concern for food as a high priority, especially during the dark months, and especially for those whose ancestors had wandered far from the equatorial lands. The important Winter Solstice announces the date of expectation of spring’s imminent return, Nature’s Day of Promise for the ending of increasing darkness, and a Day of Promise for the increasing light. On the 24th or 25th the days begin to lengthen, but the brunt of winter still remains to be endured. The promise has been made and noted amongst humankind. “We feel well and strong. We have stock to trade and share. We will endure and overcome. The return of the son is upon us. Let us celebrate!”

That a small minority, with the arrogant power of wily tongues given access to limitless wealth, now strive to infect history with their commercial revisions and turn us all against a healthy respect for Nature and our forebears should fill us with grave concern. They instill fear to sell protection. The make us sick to sell us cures. They tell us lies to sell us truths. They pollute our lives with toxins, then make us pay a profit so they’ll clean the air, the land, the rivers and the seas. They make us stupid while their chemicals dull our minds, then promise wealth while they scoop away our money and demand we pay them more. They own our government and most industry. We are the villains, do you hear? We enabled them with support, grinned at their ravishment of nature and theft from our heirs, and gave them our vote at the polls, just as they, our masters, bade us.