I was recently back in contact with Dennis Price, a marvelous combination of archaeologist, writer, investigator, storyteller, and scientific and spiritual explorer, whose forthcoming book next month is all about where Jesus likely spent those missing 18 years before coming back to the Middle East. Where? Clue: his cousin Joseph – you know, the one from Arimathea. Go find out the rest at Dennis’s site Eternal Idol along with lots more about all kinds of research and extrapolation of classical and archaeological sources that are mind-openers. The specific article that specifically set my wheels to turning was about Stonehenge and its “astrological” or in general skyward implication . Definitely worth a read, especially because he recognizes the multiplicity of sky-pointing artifacts, stone and wood circles, sky temples, stellar rock inscriptions, you name it, from earliest times and the many different (and often totally misplaced) explanations that have been and still are being given for them. What were they actually made for, as opposed to what we surmise looking back in time with too little evidence? Astrologers claim it at least in part for our own, but we aren’t the only ones who seem too sure of just what these mysterious monuments of ancient times were all about. Explanations vary from calendars for crop planting, sky worship temples, ritual healing centers, earth power shrines, even space alien ports. You can see lots more (too much for a blog entry) here – but you don’t have to go seek out Neolithic monuments to see spectacular solar alignments which involve and thrill millions of spectators every year.
Take Manhattan (the Bronx, and Staten Island, too – but mostly Manhattan). Stonehenge, Aztec and Mayan Temples, and maybe the Great Pyramid of Giza are all precisely aligned with the position of the Midsummer sun, so that a long, dramatic ray of light will pierce a long avenue or sacred chamber only on Midsummer day (June 21). From that, some conclude that ancient astrologers guided the destiny of these civilizations and that they held great festivals to honor the yearly event.
So how about New York City? Walking to work one spring a number of decades ago, I discovered that our own humble Big Apple Druids (an 1807 three-member commission made up of New York Governeur Morris, lawyer John Rutherfurd and surveyor Simeon De Witt) had set up the streets in similar fashion to dazzle and decorate future festivals and perhaps befuddle archaeologists to come looking for deeper meaning.
If the sky is not cloudy on May 28 or July 11, you’ll be treated to that magical shaft of light streaking down the east-west streets of Manhattan. It’s really a sight to behold, and blinding if you’re driving west, but just spectacular if you’re on foot. I first noticed it many years ago, and being an astrologer wondered if there was any significance – the Sun is at about 8 degrees of Gemini on one, about 21 degrees Cancer on the other. What does it mean? What will future archaeologists make of it? Will they discover that they nearly coincided with Memorial Day and the All-Star baseball game? War and the national sport…an insight into the culture?
Well, to add fuel to the fire, that long-worshipped summer solstice celebration of the ancients falls exactly between those two days – but, of course, that’s just the nature of the Sun on either side of its north-south journey. But we do have those suspicious celebrations – and lately, the phenomenon has become labeled “Manattanhenge,” so can a dedicated street festival, with fortunetelling booths and a New Age parade be far behind? It may be hard to notice the influence of the stars from our light-polluted night skies, but this one’s a no-brainer…let’s celebrate! If you live here, or are visiting either day, mark it on your calendar!
You can see a nice pic and more technical explanation from Neil Tyson at AMNH, who noticed it only lately…