Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays & Winter Solstice

On December 21, 2010, here in Nevada City, California at 3:38 PM Pacific Standard Time, 23:38 UTC (Universal Time) winter begins.

This first day of winter is called the Winter Solstice; likewise, the first day of summer is the Summer Solstice. The word solstice is derived from Latin and means “sun standing still.”  On this day of the year, the sun’s apparent position in the sky has reached its most southern or northern extreme.

The solstices and the seasons occur because the Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5° relative to its plane of revolution around the sun.

In the Northern Hemisphere winter, the northern half of the globe is tilted away from the sun; therefore, the sun is low in the sky giving us shorter days and longer nights. At this oblique angle, the sun’s energy is spread over a larger area of the Earth’s surface and thus is weaker than if it was hitting the surface more directly. Also, the sun’s rays must travel through more atmosphere before they reach the Earth’s surface, and some of the solar energy is reflected back into space. In addition, there are less daylight hours to warm the Earth.

Contrary to what many believe, the Earth is not farther from the sun during the winter. Actually, the Earth is almost at its closest point to the sun at the time of the northern hemisphere’s Winter Solstice. This variation in the Earth’s distance from the sun is small and does not greatly affect the weather; however it does slightly modify the severity of the Northern Hemisphere winters and summers.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice takes place on June 21, 2011 at 17:16 UTC (Universal Time). Our Winter Solstice is the southern hemisphere’s Summer Solstice..
Solstice Lunar Eclipse

Not only does the winter solstice of 2010 fall on the day of a full moon, which is a once in 30 years event, but that there will be a total lunar eclipse that night at just about midnight, Pacific time. (The eclipse makes it a 1/400 year sort of event.) A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, the Earth and the moon align. The moon is always full and it passes through Earth's umbral shadow, or the darkest part of the shadow.

That shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped components, one nested inside the other. The outer or penumbral shadow is a zone where the Earth blocks part but not all of the Sun's rays from reaching the Moon. In contrast, the inner or umbral shadow is a region where the Earth blocks all direct sunlight from reaching the Moon.

This is also a time when the sun begins to make its way toward the dark part of the year. The sun's energy, power and dominance is waning, and winter approaching.

In the days which follow, the sun's strength begins to diminish or, in a spiritual sense, descend into the Mother's womb. This continues until the time when the sun's light is reborn at Yule or Winter Solstice, when we celebrate the birth of the Son of Light during a time of spiritual darkness.

Reflect on this sacred time, and notice the season change around you. Watch the Mother Earth tuck her seeds safely within her womb and cover them over with a comforting blanket of earth and fallen leaves and later snowfall. Watch also your animal cousins as they prepare for the approaching winter. Watch the sky and the sacred waters and seas. Listen to the gentle loving promise of the Universe to Mother Earth and all of her children.
"Never fear, our beloved Daughter Earth, for though the sunlight grows faint upon you, the light of the Son will soon return, that all creation may awaken and live again."
So this December 21, remember that even though winter is beginning, and the days will now grow longer and the nights ever shorter; and as we travel through space—around the sun—our Earthly seasons will repeat again and we will now start the journey towards Spring.

Change and be reborn this solstice.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2 Years of Interdependence and Jayátu A Tale Feather of the Golden Eagle

Seasons of Interdependence
 It is hard for us to believe it  has been 2 years already since we launched the Interdependent Project web portal and when we look back on everything that has happened in just 2 years it feels like it should have been twice or three times those 24 months to accommodate the activity!

When the web portal launched it was in the midst of holiday season and we knew that any future anniversary celebrations would have to be integrated into the holiday spirit of the season...those who have birthdays in December know all too well what we mean.

So this year we were fortunate enough to catch a holiday flight on the wings of a Golden Eagle named JayátuSeThInk Media, the parent company of the Interdependent Project, has launched the Jayátu project just this last week.  Who is Jayátu?

Jayátu is a storyteller who has made the commitment to keeping the oral storytelling tradition alive and is making his art available now on the Wild West Web!

Jayátu and the 'art of storytelling' is also going to be featured in volume 2 of the Seeds of Sustainability Education Series. Volume 1: The Marche Sprouting Method was the first branch of the Tree of Sustainability: - Sustain Yourself.  The next branch is the "Path of Beauty".

If the first step on the journey towards collective sustainability is to sustain oneself, then the second one is surely to find ones personal path of beauty - that which feeds your soul, inspires you to live your dreams, and fills your heart in challenging times.   Without taking this step then our lives can be pretty colorless and appear to be dedicated to mundane survival.  Throughout history it has always been the arts and music that keep the human spirit thriving, not just surviving.  And without beauty being nurtured inside ourselves what is it that we truly wish to sustain?  Even if the world was completely powered by alternative, clean, renewable energy sources and 100% organic if humans were stuck in fear and ugly behaviors the planet would not be a better place to live.

Art, music, literary masterpieces, poetry, and storytelling are the showcases of human creativity and the dispensers of beauty into the seen world.  Many indigenous peoples walked a path of beauty because of the stories that were orally passed down generation after generation.  These stories helped them to understand their place on Earth and their interdependence with all life.  The oral tradition almost became extinct with the advent of the written word and the storytellers of modern day are a rare breed of humans who know and understand the magic of a story that is spoken from the heart of the storyteller.

All of us have a story and Jayátu is also a teacher of storytellers.  Volume 2 of the Seeds of Sustainability series will be an educational DVD intended to inspire and guide folks to birth their own storyteller into the world.  We invite you to celebrate this holiday season with us and sign up to attend the Jayátu Debut Holiday Story Event - 'The Big Jump'.