[Return to Article Gallery]

Millennium Dance

The Sun, Moon and Earth create a Y2K, Cosmic Style!

by Bob Berman

A better time to celebrate a truly once in a thousand year event arrives some nine days earlier than the official end of the millennium. This year's December 22 winter solstice coincides with a full moon -- a combination that happens only every 3 decades or so. But that's not the only celestial oddity for the day: the moon also reaches perigee, its closest point to the Earth. So this solstice, which brings together the year's lowest sun and longest night, comes at the same time as the closest moon -- and a full moon to boot. The last time the full moon, lunar perigee, and winter solstice fell on the same day was in 1866.

But even then the moon merely reached its closest approach of the month. On this December 22, the moon will be at its nearest point of the year. It's the kind of event that would have driven [so called] "primitive" cultures bonkers!! And believe it or not, there's more... The day of Earth's maximal tilt (when the axis is directed most fully away from the sun) will also combine with a very CLOSE sun...which reaches its nearest point to the earth, 12 days later. The confluence of all these forces at "the very least" will brew up huge proxigean tides, also called "closest of the close moon" tides. They will extend a few, but crucial, inches farther then normal, ranging from reaching the boardwalk highs to lows that uncover rarely exposed marine life. [...snip...]

The cosmic culprits responsible for all this drama -- the moon and sun occupy opposite ends of the sky on December 21 - 22. A full moon will rise just as the sun goes down in its leftmost position of the year along the horizon. This exceptionally plump moon will seem a full 14% wider then than it appeared at apogee, its farthest point from the Earth.

Long ago and early on in the experience of using calendars, year's end always coincided with the winter solstice. That changed during the switch from the Julian to the more accurate Gregorian calendar, beginning in the sixteenth century. What seems to have been lost was a much more appropriate time, from a celestial point of view, to celebrate the passing of 1,000 years... on December 22, when the sun, moon and Earth perform a truly, genuinely, once in a millennium dance......


And some more from a forwarded message of unknown origin:

Subject: Winter solstice Moon

This year the full moon will occur on the winter solstice, Dec. 22, commonly called the first day of winter. Since a full moon on the winter solstice is occurring in conjunction with a lunar perigee (point in the moon's orbit that is closest to Earth), the moon will appear about 14% larger than it does at apogee (the point in its elliptical orbit that is farthest from the Earth). Since the Earth is also several million miles closer to the sun at this time of the year than in the summer, sunlight striking the moon is about 7% stronger making it brighter. Also, this will be the closest perigee of the Moon of the year since the moon's orbit is constantly deforming. If the weather is clear and there is a snow cover where you live, it is believed that even car headlights will be superfluous.

On December 21st, 1866, the Lakota Sioux took advantage of a similar combination of occurrences and staged a devastating retaliatory ambush on soldiers in the Wyoming Territory. In laymen's terms it will be a super bright full moon, much more than the usual AND it hasn't happened this way for 133 years!

Our ancestors 133 years ago saw this. Our descendants 100 or so years from now will see this again.

Enjoy your moon.


And more, from...

Dan Furst, hermes3@lava.net

Universal Festival Calendar

The Winter Solstice will be very highly charged this year, as it coincides with the Full Moon and with the exact midpoint of the Cosmic Birth cycle that began on 8/11/99, and will come to completion on 5/5/2000. For global meditations and ceremonies, this will be the most auspicious day since the Eclipse and Grand Cross week of last August. ...[The Winter] Solstice is traditionally the most important festival of the year as it marks the birth of the Solar Child at the time of receding Winter light, and is thus the moment of affirming faith in the re-emergence of earthly life in the Spring, and also, symbolically, of the soul's survival beyond death.

Dec 22: Full Moon in Cancer, opposite Sun in Capricorn. This opposition -- at 7:33 am HT [Hawaii Time] / 5:33 pm UT -- embodies the classic tensions between disciplined intellect and wealth of feeling; perseverance in pursuit of professional goals and the inner nurturing energy of domesticity; the mature male and the youthful female, symbolized by, among other things, Father Time and the New Year Baby.

In some Native American calendars, the Month of the Snow Goose begins on this day. Soyal, first day of winter, in the Hopi calendar. Among the Hopi, Zuni and other native peoples of the American Southwest, this day is the feast of Soyala, the annual festival of purification and renewal.

This Full Moon is also one of the five great annual festivals in the Chinese Taoist calendar: Wang Mu, or the Empress Mother through whom the Tao of Creation and Destruction manifests on Earth. As Wang Mu is honored at the year's strongest moment of Yin, or feminine energy, she is also identified as the Shen, or Deity of the Earth element, North, Winter and the color White.

In the Japanese Shinto calendar this day is sacred to the Sun Goddess Amataseru-no-Mikuni, heroine of one of the world's great and typical festivals of the retreat and return of the Sun. When her brother, the raucous storm god and trickster Susanoo-no-Mikuni, insulted and ridiculed her, she withdrew into a cave and caused Earth to suffer in cold and darkness until other gods gathered to sing and dance outside Amaterasu's cave until they charmed her back out. Among the universal symbolisms of such stories is the principle that light avoids wild and violent action, and can tame it only by limiting it in patterns of order, symbolized by the music and the dance.

This is, in addition to all these other things, an especially beautiful night for overnight meditations and ceremonies, with the Moon Full and Venus brilliant as the evening star.


[Return to Article Gallery]