Consider, if you will, the first people in the northern hemisphere to become conscious of the sun’s annual, north-south movement.
As far as we know, they lived back at the upper end of the Stone Age; and we may imagine that as they watched the sun rising against the fading morning constellations—say, on several consecutive mornings late in summer—they would have soon grown aware that it was rising further and further south; until indeed, they might well have trembled just a little as they wondered where it was going—and especially, whether it might be coming back—since the farther that it went, the colder that it left everything in their part of the world!
But then just as they might have begun to fear that for some reason, it intended to abandon them altogether, they’d have found it rising at exactly the same point on the horizon as the day before: it would ‘stand still’ there, so to speak.
After which, to their enormous relief, they’d see it start back toward them—gradually warming the days, melting the snow, starting all the rivers flowing, and ultimately rejuvenating everything; except, in time it would come to another, northern standstill—and then turn south once more.
In other words, its migration up and down the eastern horizon was actually delimited by these two turning points, or tropics—meaning ‘to turn’.
And so they would have carefully circled those two dates on their calendar as solstice days: ‘the sun stands still’.
And then by counting the number of days between the solstices and simply dividing it in half, they could have gone on to determine the rough halfway point of the sun’s journeys from one tropic to the other over the course of the year—and circled the days on which it crossed that ‘equator‘, first in one direction and then the other, as equinoxes.
And so people came to declare that there were actually four seasons, rather than the traditional three—the fourth one, called Winter, beginning when not only the sun, but the Divine One herself in her well-known Fall guise as the Hag, finally reached the southern tropic and died.
After which, she’d spend the entire winter in the afterworld before ultimately being re-born as a young woman with her northerly crossing of the equator—or as people now had it, on the real first day of Spring and the new year—when the sun would rise against a new constellation that came to be called the Virgin.
And then in an effort to tidy everything up, people divided the stellar round into twelve evenly spaced constellations, and marked the moments when the sun entered the first, fourth, seventh and tenth of these as the official beginning of spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Which in turn, became the basis of a new, twelve month solar calendar; with the new first month called April—from an old root meaning ‘after’, as in right after the end of the old year—and the months themselves divided into four seven day weeks, irrespective of the lunar phases, or of whatever number of extra days might fall at the end of the month either.
And of course, there were now more of those to deal with than ever: because in the interest of doing away with that old, partial thirteenth month that had caused the old, lunar calendar’s New Year to jump all over the place, why, after leaving the old first month at twenty-nine days in honor of a month’s original meaning, they simply did away with the thirteenth by distributing its days throughout the remainder of their own calendar—unfortunately again marking that number as, well, somehow unlucky.
And finally, when further observation revealed that the year was actually three hundred sixty-five and a quarter days long, they found themselves forced to deduct a day from that shortest month every four years.
But while this new calendar was about as perfect as anyone could possibly hope to make it, its proponents still had considerable difficulty getting people to accept it—mainly due to resistance from the old lunar establishment, whose own credibility and influence in the world was now at stake.
For instance, the lunar community wanted to associate the Divine One’s death with the last waning moon of winter—meaning the one just before the spring equinox—and celebrate her re-birth a few days later with the following new moon. But at first, the solar people just didn’t see it that way.
And even some of the solar people had proposed that she was really re-born at the winter solstice—rather than three months later, at the equinox—but while no one liked to think of the world as left without its Ultimate Sustainer for three whole months, their leaders were most reluctant to move New Year’s Day, with all its wild celebrating, from spring to that miserable time of the year.
While still others complained that since the solar calendar left May Day—the old first day of summe—well short of the new first day of that season, what was formerly the year’s most important Holy Day had now been reduced to little more than a traditional ‘holiday’.
Hardly to mention that some who still relied on the original, stellar calendar for marking the arrival of the spring rains remained so suspicious of both the lunar calendar and the new solar one that they’d started up this little story: if the hibernating groundhog should poke its head out of its winter den during the old first month of the year and find rain—or so much as cloudy skies—it would assume that spring had already arrived and remain above ground accordingly; modern calendar or no.
But in time, people discovered a problem with their new calendar that was a bit puzzling—and more than a little disconcerting!
For as they continued observing the sun’s entry into the Virgin year after year on the first day of spring, why, they couldn’t help but notice that this most important day of the annual round was slowing moving westward!
Meaning that spring wouldn’t always arrive in the Virgin—but would eventually pass over into a constellation called the Lion; and then into the Crab; and then the Twins, Bull, Ram, Fish, and so on.
And so their calendar would eventually lose ground—with the first day of spring gradually falling back to March thirty-first, then to the thirtieth, twenty-ninth, twenty-eighth, and so on—until hopefully, before spring started arriving in February again, someone would get around to addressing the situation!
Because as sure as there were rude young in the world, some would come to regard those who continued to look for the arrival of spring on April first—if only their elders—as side-splitting old fools, and thus fair game for some ‘April Fool’ tricks.
And then of course, there also now arose a new depiction of the Divine One, or Our Lady of the Sun, typically with the red-hot solar disc framing her head; while as the ultimate symbol of fertility, the Serpent, Dragon or whatever was now said to breathe fire!
And so the sun too now came to be recognized as one of the Great Mother’s most important aspects—along with some new winter and solstice aspects—as indicated by the following names derived from the very top of our Tree (see July 28th blog).
- Aaa: a Mesopotamian sun goddess
- Aditi: a Hindu sky/sun goddess and keeper of the light that illuminates all life and consciousness; held to have given birth to the entire universe
- Aimend: an ancient Irish sun goddess.
- Aine: an Irish goddess who as the sun, was held to control the spark of life; her annual festival was held on Midsummer Eve, when she was believed to be at the height of her power; under the influence of Christianity, she has been reduced to merely the Queen of the Irish Fairies
- Akewa: the Toba sun goddess
- Akycha: an Alaskan sun goddess
- Amarerasu: the Shinto Japanese sun goddess
- Angerona: a Roman goddess of the winter solstice; also, of anguish, and fear
- Arinna: a Hittite sun goddess
- Aschtoreth: abCanaanite sun goddess
- Bast – the ancient Egyptian Lion-goddess of the sunset, among other things; she also controlled the sun’s fertilizing rays
- Beiwe: the Saami Finnland sun goddess; annual festival held at the summer solstice
- Bila: an aboriginal Australian sun goddess
- Brigid: a Celtic sun goddess whose main attributes were fire (think ‘hot sun’), light, and inspiration
- Cailleach Bheur: Celtic/ancient Scot goddess of winter; perceived as a hag who was reborn as a child at the end of October and who thereafter brought snow until she was eventually deposed by the goddess of spring
- Carlin: ancient Scottish goddess of winter; said to be born on the last night of October, when the spirits of the dead roamed the world of the living
- Catha: an Etruscan sun goddess
- Chaxiraxi: an aboriginal Canary Islanders sun goddess
- Chup Kamui: originally the Ainu Japanese moon goddess, said to have traded places with the sun because she was so embarrassed by the adulterous and lecherous behaviour that typically occurred at night
- Dou Mu: a Chinese sun goddess
- Ebhlinne: an ancient Irish sun goddess
- Eibhir: an ancient Irish sun goddess
- Ekhi: the Basque sun goddess
- Étaín: an Irish sun goddess
- Frau Holle: ancient German goddess of winter
- Grainne: an ancient Scot sun goddess
- Gnowee: an aboriginal Australian sun goddess
- Gun Ana: the Kazakh sun goddess
- Hathor: an ancient Egyptian goddess who was always depicted bearing the solar disc, indicating that this was one of her many areas of influence
- Hekoolas: the Miwok sun goddess
- Hemantadevi: a Tibetan Buddhist goddess of winter
- Hu Tu: a Chinese goddess of the summer solstice
- Igaehinvdo: the Cherokee sun goddess
- Ilankaka: the Nkundo sun goddess
- Istanu: a Hittite sun goddess
- Kagaba: a Ugandan sun goddess
- Keca Aba: a Russian sun goddess
- Koliada: the Polish goddess of the winter solstice
- Kou Njam: a Siberian sun goddess
- Janis: the Latvian goddess of the summer solstice
- Magec: the Tenerife sun goddess
- Malina: an Inuit sun goddess
- Marici: the Buddhist Chinese sun goddess
- Marzana: the Polish goddess of winter
- Meret: an ancient Egyptian sun goddess
- Metzli: an Aztec Moon goddess whose priests hoped to get away with claiming that their goddess had actually given birth to the new Sun goddess
- Mor: an ancient Irish sun goddess
- Olwen: an ancient Welsh sun goddess whose name means ‘Golden Wheel’
- Ostara: a Germanic sun goddess
- Päivätär: a Finnish sun goddess
- Pattini: a Sri Lankan sun goddess
- Poshjo Akka: Saami Finnish goddess of winter
- Rheda: a German goddess of winter
- Saule: a Baltic sun goddess
- Shams: an Arabian sun goddess
- Shapash: a Phoenician sun goddess whose name means ‘torch of the Gods’
- Shapshu: a Canaanite sun goddess
- Snegurochka: a Russian goddess of winter
- Sól: a Norse sun goddess
- Solntse: a Slavic sun goddess
- Sulis: an ancient British sun goddess
- Sunna: a Nordic sun goddess
- Tabiti: a Scythian sun goddess
- Tate Velika Vimali: the Huichol sun goddess
- Tonan: the Aztec goddess of the winter solstice
- Unelanuhi: the Cherokee sun goddess
- Walo: an aboriginal Australian sun goddess
- Wuriupranili: an aboriginal Australian sun goddess
- Xatel-Ekwa: the Hungarian sun goddess
- Xihe: a Chinese sun goddess
1: Ancient History Encyclopedia https://www.ancient.eu/Amaterasu/
2: Goddesses and Gods http://goddesses-and-gods.blogspot.com/2008/04/goddess-kolyada.html