The Origins of Midsummer’s Eve and the Summer Solstice

The Oracle’s Library reveals the tradition behind the summer solstice observance. The summer solstice also known as Midsummer’s Eve is an ancient tradition that dates back to the Neolithic Era.

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Many observances of the summer solstice holiday include traditions involving bonfires, flower wreaths and fertility rites for young women depending upon where you are in the world. For anyone living in the Northern Hemisphere, this date marks the longest day of the year, when the Sun hovers just above the Tropic of Cancer to welcome the summer season. At this time, Cancer the Crab rises in the east at sunrise, and the sun finds itself at a cozy position nearest those who live in north.

Why Celebrate the Summer Solstice?

The summer solstice was once a date reserved for ritual observance and festivities practiced by many of the people throughout Europe—especially in the northern-most latitudes. That is because the summer solstice acted as an excellent astronomical marker to track time and keep in touch with the seasons, when accurate calendars were not yet invented. Summer solstice celebrations now take place between June 21st and June 25th to echo the festivities once held in the distant past. Some know the summer solstice as St. John’s Day derived from the nativity of John the Baptist. Early pagan tradition would call it Lith or the Fire Festival.

Stonehenge and Midsummer’s Eve

One of the most mysterious architectural sites of the Neolithic world is Stonehenge—the location of a summer solstice alignment. Stonehenge was once a happening place on the solstices, and it is speculated many would flock to this particular spot for a ritual of some sort. The avenue that leads from the river to the wooden circle aligns with the setting sun on the Summer Solstice. It is thought that the avenue was a link between both the stone circle and the wooden circle and acted as a procession route on the solstices between the land of the living and the dead.

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The Heel Stone—also known as “Friar’s Heel” or “Sun-stone”—located north-east of the sarsen circle also tracks the sun’s position on the solstice. If a person stands within the stone circle on the summer solstice, the Heel Stone appears to hold the place of the sun as it ascends over the horizon at sunrise. It is thought that perhaps the word “Friar’s Heel” was actually once “Freyja’s He-ol”—the Germanic goddess Freyja and the Welsh word for “track”. The Summer Solstice is a fantastic time to visit Stonehenge, since the equinoxes and solstices are some of the only dates the site is open to ‘roaming’ visitors throughout the year. Keep in mind, the observance will be in full effect at sunset on Midsummer’s Eve. For more into the solstices, check out Winter Solstice Celebrations.

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Ophiuchus and Orion: The Lost Zodiac Signs

I'm On Astrology By Answers.comThe Oracle’s Library sheds light on the hidden star signs that lie along the zodiac belt. What is the 13th sign, and why does it hold such an important position in the zodiac?

Every year the Sun transits through the constellation Ophiuchus, and each phase the Moon graces the top of Orion. If these two constellations are located along the zodiac belt, why are they not considered part of the traditional zodiac? Although Ophiuchus remains virtually unknown to astrologers of the Tropical Zodiac, the thirteenth sign holds a special place in the night sky. That is, “the serpent bearer” is the location of the Galactic Center of our Milky Way Galaxy.

To learn about the 13th sign and its complimentary opposite, check out my latest article on astrology.answers.com, Ophiuchus and Orion: The Lost Zodiac Signs.

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Since these two signs occupy locations along the zodiac belt, Ophiuchus is considered a Sun sign and Orion, a Moon sign.

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What’s the Story behind April Fool’s Day?

Torigin_3536187338he Oracle’s Library explores the origins behind April Fool’s Day. Back before the Gregorian Calendar was established, people in the middle ages celebrated the New Year following the return of the vernal equinox around the 21st of March. From as early as the 4th Century BCE up to the medieval era, societies across Europe reserved March 25th for the New Year’s celebration named the Feast of Annunciation.

The Annunciation and Equinox

The Feast of Annunciation—also known as Lady Day—was one of the only two celebrations permitted by the Roman Catholic Church to be held during Lent just before Easter. In some places in England, no work was to be done in observance of this holiday. The feast celebrates the day the angel Gabriel visited Mary to mark the day of Incarnation of the Second Person into the Holy Trinity. The angel said, “Ave, gratia pena, Dominus tecum” or “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee”(Luke 1:28). This salutation has been shaped into the words of the common “Hail Mary” prayer with her response, “fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum” or “Let it be done to me according to thy word”.

The New Year of the Gregorian Calendar

In 1582, when the Gregorian Calendar replaced the old Julian Calendar of Caesar under Pope Gregory XIII, the earliest New Year’s celebrations held on Lady Day were also shifted to the new calendar start date on January 1st. The implementation of the Gregorian Calendar also immediately changed the date by 10 whole days from October 5th to October 15th to make up for the discrepancies between the calendar seasons and the vernal equinox. This discrepancy is a natural phenomenon caused by the precession of the equinox (precession occurs at a rate of about 1 degree every 70 years).

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In one day, the New Year’s celebration was hacked and switched to January 1st in the Roman Catholic world. The Eastern Orthodox tradition did what many of the people living across Europe did in response—nothing. They continued to hold a feast just after the vernal equinox on March 21st to celebrate the Annunciation and the return of the New Year. Hence, March 21st became the day of fools, when those who were uniformed by the Pope were still celebrating Lady Day. After the Julian Calendar was replaced, March 21st became April 1st and Voilà! We have April Fool’s Day.

Quarters of the Seasons and Lady Day

In history and across various civilizations, festivities are often held near each quarter of the seasons. The significance of Lady Day to the early Europeans was not only about a ritual practice, but also about civil contracts in agrarian society. An echo of this old practice remains in the end of the UK fiscal tax year. Other celebrations that fall during this season are the celebration of Holi in India—with colorful powders and mischievous pranks. To read more on the shifting calendars, check out The History of the New Year.

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How was the Equinox Observed by Early People?

sunsymbolThe Oracle’s Library explores the earliest observances of the spring equinox. The equinox is just a fancy word for the day that the hours of light and dark become balanced once again. This milestone initiates the entrance of the season of spring each calendar year.

An explanation behind this change can be found in the apparent movement of the sun throughout the year. At this time, the Earth’s wobble causes the sun’s rays to be directly centered at the equator. At other seasonal quarters throughout the year—such as the winter or summer solstice—the rays would be directed at the latitude of either the Tropic of Capricorn or the Tropic of Cancer in the dead of winter or the height of midsummer.

The Great Sphinx and the Egyptian Sunrise

The Sphinx is the most mysterious colossal statue that guards the western gate of the heavens in myth and can be seen situated at the edge of the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. What makes this statue so intriguing is the speculation behind its origins and the purpose of its existence. On the day of the equinox, the Sphinx gazes at the eastern sunrise to capture a glimpse of the astrological sign of the age.

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The Precession of the Equinox

Each year the sun can be spotted occupying a sign—and year after year it can be seen inching its way through this same sign, when just about 2,160 years pass. For hundreds of years the sun occupies the same sign on the day of the spring equinox—then one miraculous day at sunrise, the sign is replaced by the next zodiac sign! This movement is caused by precession, and it was once widely considered to signal the dawn of a new age in ancient times.

This cycle takes a total of 26,000 years to complete for all twelve astrological signs, and in this way, the zodiac give us an easy visual representation of the cycles of the Earth’s wobble or precession.

Higan—A Buddhist Tradition of Japan

During both the days surrounding the spring and autumn equinox, Japan is touched by a spell of mild weather between the peak of the seasons. This holiday falls at a time when there is much tranquility in the minds of many Buddhists.

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The tradition of higan dates back to the 8th Century CE, and the name itself is reminiscent of a euphemism found many times over in Buddhist literature. While Shigan means “this shore,” Higan is “the far shore” or the other side of the river, which is always a much more rewarding though daunting of a task to reach. But the story behind the tradition is themed with Enlightenment or the Buddhist utopia of Nirvana—a path to Pure Land at the other side of the bank.

In this case, the equinox is a time to observe the higan of life—or the purest thoughts that draw us to the ideal side of the riverbank. At this time of year, Buddhists in Japan shed the shigan or ego-driven thoughts that bind them to the shore from the dreams that lie on “the far shore”. This equinox observance helps the Buddhists of Japan cross from the side of ignorance and suffering into the promise of peace and tranquility.

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Photo Credit: Elisofon, Eliot. The Great Sphinx at Smithsonian Collections
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Elements and Archetypes of the Zodiac

I'm On Astrology By Answers.comThe Oracle’s Library dives deep into the explanation behind elemental archetypes. What do the elements of the zodiac actually mean?

Some have never given a second thought to the zodiac elements and what they might symbolize. The four elements that symbolize the zodiac archetypes can be found across various forms of divination. Fire, earth, air and water are the same archetypes as wands, pentacles, swords and cups that give meaning to situations in tarot, just as they build personality and relationships in astrology.

To learn more about the zodiac signs and what each assigned element means, check out my latest article on Astrology.Answers.com, Zodiac Elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water.

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When it comes to personality, the elements fire, earth, air and water give us insight into the masculine and feminine archetypal qualities found within the twelve zodiac.

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Free Personalized Compatibility Readings!

The Oracle’s Library is now taking requests for a free personalized Jungian astrological reading by a guest astrologer! To get your own synastry reading, just fill out the form below and send your request to us in an email. If you’ve never seen what a professional interpretation looks like, now is the time to try it out!

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All you need to give us is your birth location, date and time to map a nativity chart. Then, you just add a second chart for us to create synastry aspects between the pair of nativity charts. The astrologer will read these aspects and give you insight into the type of relationship the conditions indicate. This is where astrology becomes a whole lot of fun, so send us your requests by copying the form below into an email and sending it to theoracleslibrary@gmail.com.

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Free Synastry Reading

Your Email:

Natal Chart #1

Name: Example

Birth Date: Dec 16, 1988

Birth Time: @11:11 pm

Birth City/State/Country:  San Diego, California, USA

Natal Chart #2

Name:

Birth Date:

Birth Time:  @

Birth City/State/Country:

Second Email (for copy of reading):

Relationship Type: (Partners, Lovers, Friends, Relatives)

*birth time optional

————————————————————–

Your information will be kept private, and the final results will be sent to the email address(es) provided. Please send your queries to theoracleslibrary@gmail.com!

Hurry up!—this opportunity ends once we fill our quota.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Love Astrology: The Art of Synastry

heartThe Oracle’s Library wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day with one of the most popular forms of astrology—relationship astrology also known as synastry. Relationship astrology is the art of comparing the aspects between two natal charts to measure the relations of interconnected planets with angles and aspect patterns. These patterns are used to read the energy exchange between two people in order to predict the type of relationship they might manifest. The same planetary aspects used to measure fortune in birth charts are also used for astrological compatibility in synastry.

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What is Synastry?

Synastry allows us to point out the synchronicities between a pair of natal charts. We use aspects—conjunctions, trines, oppositions, sextiles and squares—to draw up a biwheel synastry chart that forms a combined chart of aspects that touch both birth charts. The bulk of these aspects give the astrologer insight into the compatibility of two people by reading the energy exchange the joining of the two charts provokes. In synastry, both the planetary aspects and astrological houses—including the ascendant, descendant and midheaven—are used to record synchronicities.

Benefic and Malefic Aspects

birthchartIn relationship astrology, the planetary aspects are similar in meaning to those used in natal chart astrology. Astrological aspects draw angles between two people that are considered either benefic or malefic in nature. Along with benefic and malefic aspects, there are certain planets and houses that define immediate chemistry or sustainable attraction between two people.

Aspects that include the planet Venus and Mars point us to areas of love and desire. If one of these planets touches a personal planet on another’s natal chart, there is said to be an initial attraction or passionate fire between the two people—this is especially true when Venus and Mars aspect each other. The Sun and Moon also play an important role in synastry, since the Sun reflects our outward expression and the Moon our emotions. Jupiter allows us to understand and forgive others, and Saturn aspects are essential for more ‘serious’ relationships that require an air of responsibility, duty and dedication toward one another for the long-term. If the outer planets like Uranus and Neptune are aspected by planets of love and desire, they can also give the relationship a sense of spontaneous excitement or imaginative fantasy. In synastry, the seventh house reveals ‘relationships’ and often contains planetary aspects that point to our most influential partners in life.

Free Personalized Compatibility Readings!

Next week, The Oracle’s Library will host a guest astrologer offering free compatibility readings to anyone interested! This is the perfect opportunity for you and your sweetheart (or anyone else!) to have your birth charts drawn up and read with a personalized Jungian-style astrological interpretation. Now is a good time to ask your significant other or friend for their natal chart information (birth location, date and time). Follow us on Facebook, WordPress, Twitter@OraclesLibrary or with your email above to get updates about this event.

Join us next week and get your free personalized compatibility reading!

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