Monday, June 20, 2011

Mongolia | Zaisan Tolgoi | Summer Solstice

As most of you know, the Summer Solstice is rapidly approaching. Here in Mongolia it occurs on Wednesday, June 22 at 1:17 in the morning. The sun will rise at 4:53 and set at 8:55, making for a day of  16 hours, 2 minutes, and 3 seconds. 

The Solstice is of course a big day for Pagans and we can expect a replay of the usual Lalapolooza at Stonehenge. The ancient Romans too made a big deal of the Solstice and the Roman Emperor Hadrian even lined up the buildings of his villa in accordance with the Solstice:
Hadrian's villa 30 kilometres east of Rome was a place where the Roman Emperor could relax in marble baths and forget about the burdens of power. But he could never completely lose track of time, says Marina De Franceschini, an Italian archaeologist who believes that some of the villa's buildings are aligned so as to produce sunlight effects for the seasons. For centuries, scholars have thought that the more than 30 buildings at Hadrian's palatial country estate were oriented more or less randomly. But De Franceschini says that during the summer solstice, blades of light pierce two of the villa's buildings. In one, the Roccabruna, light from the summer solstice enters through a wedge-shaped slot above the door and illuminates a niche on the opposite side of the interior (see image). And in a temple of the Accademia building, De Franceschini has found that sunlight passes through a series of doors during both the winter and summer solstices.
I must thank the Mesopotamian, who it appears will be celebrating the Solstice, for pointing this out (also see the Mesopotamian’s Take on the recent Syrian Gay Girl blogger fiasco).

This year I will not be celebrating the Solstice, as I often do, at the Summit of Bogd Khan Mountain. I may venture up to the top of Zaisan Tolgoi. I will not be engaging in any Bacchanalias, however. Zaisan Tolgoi is not the Rambles in Central Park and Ulaanbaatar is not Manhattan or Richmond, Virgina. Instead, I will limit myself to Orisons suitable for the somber times in which we live.