Sunday, 3 July 2011

The little dark house...

Bryn Celli Ddu is old, older than it looks. The post holes at Bryn Celli Ddu were dated from remains of pine charcoal as belonging to 4000 BC. So Bryn Celli Ddu was in use before the Neolithic period. Wooden posts (or stones) placed in line seem to be a Mesolithic feature.

But 4000 BC is usually considered to be the beginning of the Neolithic, a time of cattle, bread, barley and stew...farming and settlements.

The post holes are located some five yards beyond the entrance, and archaeologist Julian Thomas (1991) made the logical connection between them and the 'A' holes at Stonehenge:
"It seems likely that (they) record a series of observations upon the rising of some heavenly body in order to ascertain its standstill position."
Considering the moon, Clive Ruggles wrote:
"The only possibility is the northern minor limit of the moon, and while the adjacent posts are ranged on the correct side to record the position, say, of the midwinter full moonrise in years before and after the minor standstill, many other interpretations of these posts are doubtless possible."
Posts are difficult, one would like to know how tall they were and to know what else was contemporary with them. I'm reminded of the Mesolithic post holes covered over by Stonehenge car park.

During the Neolithic, a stone circle and henge were added; at the time when the ring of Stenness, and Maes Howe, and Newgrange (Meas Howe aligned to the midwinter setting sun, Newgrange aligned to rising sun of midwinter) were being constructed (around 3,000 B.C.) a henge was built, consisting of a circular array of 14 standing stones, surrounded by a ditch about 30 metres in diameter and 5 metres broad. There may have been a causeway across the henge to where the burial chamber now stands. The 1928 excavation revealed a pit at the centre of the henge in which a fire had been set. This had been covered over with a stone slab and a human ear-bone was found.

Bryn Celli Ddu also has a carved stone:

So a midsummer alignment is odd...

Lets turn the diagram around:

The entrance is north-east (as usual).
What are the differences and similarities between the sun's positions at midsummer, and midwinter?

Midsummer sunrise: 21 Jun 2011 4:55 am. Azimuth 47° degrees.
Midsummer sunset: 21:33 pm. Azimuth  311° degrees.

Midwinter sunrise: 21 December 2011. 08:16 am. Azimuth 128° degrees.
Midwinter sunset: 16:06 pm. Azimuth 232° degrees.

This means that the midwinter sun sets directly opposite to its sunrise.
The midsummer sun rise is in the north-east.
But there is no midwinter sun set or sun rise is within the north-east.

For the equinox:
Spring -21 Mar 2011.
Sunrise at 06:14 am. Azimuth 89°.
Sunset 18:27 pm. Azimuth 272°.

Autumn -22 September 2011.
Sunrise at 06:58 am. Azimuth 88°
Sunset at 19:12 pm. Azimuth 271°

So the equinox sun (which rises and sets in more or less the same place twice a year) may well shine into the tomb. I personally find the equinox time more interesting as far as sun and moon are concerned, especially the equinox full moon. The equinox full moon is always in the east, this year, the September full moon and sunrise are both in the north east, at practically the same azimuth -so, is it true to say, as a rule of thumb when the full moon rises in the same place as the sun, that marks the Autumn equinox?

And then there is Venus...with its eight year cycle.
When Venus is a morning star it rises in the east.

Using the chart for this year's autumn equinox, at the time of sunrise -about 7 am, I see that Venus morning star, is located at an azimuth of −83.325° (!). The chart says:
Azimuth in the above table follows the astronomical convention: zero degrees is South with positive angles toward the West and negative angles toward the East.
So that means an azimuth (when north =0) must be 97° degrees. One hour before, Venus is in the north east at 85° degrees. Each transition from an evening, to a morning star takes nine months, but it isn't very easy to find out where Venus actually is! Other than to say that Venus is in the same place once every eight years, possibly there are four out of eight years when Venus may shine through a light box.... and the chart I'm using doesn't make much sense to me.

As ever, the only way to really know is to be there and see.

And then there is the Venus transit, this takes place next year in June and wont happen again 121.5 years have passed, definitely a last chance to see.

But finally, regards the idea that a child conceived or born (I'm not sure which?) under the light of the morning star (or better still, of Venus and Mercury) will be super bright -like the star- comes I think from a mistaken understanding of how the Akkadians understood the connection between kingship and Venus. A king had to be the beloved of Ishtar to reign; everyone has a personal god, but kingship was more than the fate of an individual, it was the fate of the city. Hence the hieros gamos, the sacred wedding between the king and the goddess's representative, be it symbolic (a statue) or with a priestess. The rite continued in Carthage, where the king became Melqart and married Tanit. The idea of the fortunate star is played out in the story of the three kings following a star...

In Akkadian understanding, it is quite possible that the god may leave you bereft and at the mercy of ill winds and demons. A god is responsible for all good things that happen to one, for your good reputation, and personal power and health. But I don't see any record of the stars in the sky affecting which god chooses you, or the positions of the stars changing your intelligence or personality.

As I said before, the stars show the god's will. Celestial events can be predicted, sacrifices made, crisis averted. But the notion of celestial events affecting personality or what happened to an individual, via gravity of flux, didn't seem to be there...

I may well be very wrong about that, but astrology as we know it, seems to be born of a scientific age.