Solstices & Equinoxes: what's going on?

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This is a big gap in my knowledge, these seasonal points: solstices & equinoxes.  Looking up minimal now (below), but I know that these times have energetic, alchemical effect ... but I really don't know (beyond a guess) what those energetic gestures are.  And I don't know what rituals (casual, personal, traditional) are typical, useful for each time.


As we approached the end of the year, I felt a drive to clean up and loose ends of the year.  Certain things nagged at me to address and resolve before year's end, otherwise I kind of feel that those things get sort of 'folded in' to the energy of the year.  Also, along the way, an urge to summate my previous year.


It occurs to me that it TDBs might have seasonal threads each year at/around the solstices & equinoxes.  Not sure exactly when the right dates (I'd expect a week or so before each), and it seems there might be some boiler-plate starter post for each of the four, then let 'er rip with whatever everybody might want to say.  I think it might be an interesting way of community learning.  ... but I don't have knowledge in this area to produce such boiler-plate posts.


If *any*one would like to step up and share their knowledge, feelings, thoughts, experience, around solstices & equinoxes, glad to hear it.

( @Taomeow comes to mind as someone who I'm betting could give a good lecture on this, if you wanna).


Basic non-esoteric definitions:



noun: solstice; plural noun: solstices

    the time or date (twice each year) at which the sun reaches its maximum or minimum declination, marked by the longest and shortest days (about June 21 and December 22).

What does solstice literally mean?
Solstices. ... The solstice (combining the Latin words sol for “Sun” and sistere for “To Stand Still”) is the point where the Sun appears to reach either its highest or lowest point in the sky for the year and thus ancient astronomers came to know the day as one where the Sun appeared to stand still.

noun: equinox; plural noun: equinoxes

    the time or date (twice each year) at which the sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of approximately equal length (about September 22 and March 20).

The term equinox, like solstice, finds its origin in Latin with the roots aequus meaning “Equal” and nox meaning “Night.” Astronomers define the equinox as the moment the Earth's Equator on its axis passes the same plane of the Sun's equator.



And here's a brief scientific explanation, with cool graphics:




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Here’s what Sadhguru has to say about the winter solstice (called uttarayana in India, or Northward movement) —



During the southern run, what is below the anahata can be purified very easily. During the northern run, what is above the anahata can be worked much more easily. That is why in terms of sadhana, Dakshinayana is for purification. Uttarayana is for enlightenment. This is the period of receptivity, of grace and enlightenment, of attainment of the ultimate. This is the time to harvest, and it is also the reason agricultural harvests begin during this period. Pongal is the harvest festival. So it is not only the time of harvesting food grains, but also the time to harvest human potential.


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I don't have much embodied experience to share about the equinoxes and solstices but what I've gathered from lectures by Michael Winn (not everyone's favorite source of alchemical information, I know) is that these are dates when it's especially easy to sense Yuan Chi, a harmonious mixture of yin and yang energies which is deep, balanced, closer to the empty/full center of...well you get the point.  


The year is like the breathe.  There's the yang of inhalation followed by that empty moment before the yin of exhalation -- a mini summer solstice.  There's the yin of exhalation followed by that empty moment before the yang of inhalation -- a mini winter solstice.  


And not unlike the day with it's sunrise and sunset, similarly potent turning points.  Not unlike the beach where land meets water or the mountaintop where earth meets sky.  Perhaps not unlike birth...and death. 


The balanced chi that's more easily perceived in these places and times is, of course, available always but there's something magic about aligning our personal practice with the cycles of the universe.  Most of us have our own favorite practices/methods for touching in with the deepest center.  Whatever that is for each of us, I'd say that's the best possible solstice/equinox ritual. 

Edited by liminal_luke
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Well, I have a fair bit of western esoteric knowledge about it, if you are interested in that .


Also I am 'winter born king' , birthday is on winter solstice .  There are strong pagan / Wiccan usages of it , being the main' crossroads' , and then they are divided up into the 8 magical  ' festivals '.


The Hermetic Order of the  Golden Dawn  ( a main stream influence in magical tradition ) used them strongly and had specific rights .


Also they mark very interesting areas of space (  eg , my birthday , siderally is on a grand cross of constellations ( 4 of them ) and intersected by solsticial colure , and two other 'great circles' .


plus a whole lot of agricultural stuff from bio-dynamics .




Edited by Nungali
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Yup, I think it's a cool idea.    


Taoist sciences discern (among many other things related to timing) the 24 solar terms based on the sun's position in the zodiac.  These have been used since ancient times and were originally exceedingly practical, because all planning/preparation, agricultural/farming, hunting/fishing activities were guided by the lunisolar calendar -- which reflected millennia of observations in nature and meticulously kept records. 


And, yes, there's some kind of ritual activity associated with each change too, though only a few are observed today.  E.g., I was surprised to learn, five days ago and too late, that the 10th day of the Chinese New Year is known as the "Stone Day."  You are not supposed to move any stones on that day or use stone tools (like stone mills and mortars) and some would go as far as to perform the Honoring the Stone ritual, a simple one (some incense and offerings in front of your favorite stone or object made of stone).  I said "too late" because, strangely enough, I decided to rearrange some pebbles adorning some of the mini landscaping arrangement in my patio on that very day, of all days.  And then the next day found out that I had 364 better options but something prompted me to choose the only day of the year when I wasn't supposed to do it.  Go figure.


The 24 solar terms reflect the changes in climate, natural phenomena, agricultural production, and many other aspects of human life.  Humans (at least the smart ones) mirror these changes in their clothing, food, housing, transportation, etc.. 


List of the 24 Solar Terms in 2022


Solar Terms Chinese Month and Date  
Start of Spring lì chūn
Feb 4th  
Rain Water yǔ shuǐ
Feb 19th  
Awakening of Insects jīng zhé
Mar 5th  
Vernal Equinox chūn fēn
Mar 20st  
Clear and Bright qīng míng 清明 Apr 4th  
Grain Rain gǔ yǔ
Apr 19th  
Start of Summer lì xià
May 5th  
Small Full (Grain) xiǎo mǎn
May 21st  
Grain in Ear máng zhǒng 芒种 Jun 6th  
Summer Solstice xià zhì
Jun 21st  
Minor Heat xiǎo shǔ
Jul 7th  
Major Heat dà shǔ
Jul 23rd  
Start of Autumn lì qiū 立秋 Aug 7th  
Limit of Heat chù shǔ 处暑 Aug 23rd  
White Dew bái lù 白露 Sep 7th  
Autumnal Equinox qiū fēn 秋分 Sep 23rd  
Cold Dew hán lù 寒露 Oct 8th  
Frost Descent shuāng jiàng 霜降 Oct 23rd  
Start of Winter lì dōng 立冬 Nov 7th  
Minor Snow xiǎo xuě 小雪 Nov 22nd  
Major Snow dà xuě 大雪 Dec 7th  
Winter Solstice dōng zhì 冬至 Dec 22nd  
Minor Cold xiǎo hán 小寒 Jan 5th, 2022  
Major Cold dà hán 大寒 Jan 20th, 2022  


The terms consist of 12 pairs of major (sectional) and minor (middle) solar terms interlaced with each other.  The 24 solar terms divide the circle into 24 segments, with each segment being about half a month long.

Edited by Taomeow
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