Naturally, there’s a twist on the theme…
And here’s an interesting article from the Boston Globe that confirms the astrotheology of the ancients as well:
TODAY’S DARKNESS is tomorrow’s light. Contemplations of the winter solstice once opened into religion, which is why the cultic festivals of light define the secular space this week. “Here comes the sun,” as the Beatles told us, and they could have been singing of Sol Invictus, the Roman sun god whose celebration was preempted by Christmas, songs of a different Son. Sure enough, the days will get longer now. Does it matter that the sun, actually, is not “coming,” but that the earth, in its elliptical revolution, only adjusts the tilt in its rotation? Contemplations of the solstice opened equally into what we call science.
Religion and science occupy separate and opposed spheres, no? Not to our distant forebears, from whom all of our illumination festivals derive. They could not afford the facile dichotomy between the sacred and the profane that defines thinking since the Enlightenment, when people of the West sought to free themselves from the bane of superstition. For most of history, though, religion was not taken to be a flight from rationality, but a mode of it….
In the beginning, though, the winter cults by which the gods were worshipped were part of a generalized marking of the calendar that served the immediate purpose of survival. When humans had replaced opportunistic scavenging (“hunters and gatherers”) with agriculture (planting and herding), close attention to the sun and other heavenly bodies became a necessity, since livestock take mating cues from the quality of light, and cycles of the harvest equally depend on celestial predictability. Knowing how the moon wanes and waxes, and where the sun is in relation to the horizon had become ways to fend off starvation. The creatures who honored the gods with light in winter were honoring their own ability to think….