Heavenly Cycles In Christchurch Harbour
Heavenly cycles are rarely on our minds these days but let’s change that.
Firstly, choose the right day in the month; the evening of a full moon in a cloudless sky. Just before sunset, find a bench on the west side of Mudeford Quay. Your face will reflect the sun falling away over the Purbeck hills. The water in the harbour will denote progress, sparkling initially and then dulling to a rosy glow punctuated by bobbing boats. A moment of deep calm will arise and the world will seem a sweet place. The rosy glow will quickly fade as another day falls over the edge of the world.
Once the sun is beyond the hills, move around to the left until you have a clear view seawards and across to the Needles at the tip of the Isle of Wight. You need to see beyond the sand dunes on the other side of the run. There is an ideal bench against a wall and opposite the ferry landing. That assumes the bench is not obscured by a pile of lobster pots. In summer, a glowing orb will rise out of the water around the Needles, as in my photograph. It seems to mirror the sun, as if it were its dim acolyte of the night. It will appear large at first but smaller as it lifts above the horizon. Imagine people seeing the same scene in 2200BC; how could they make sense of these heavenly cycles?
The Revolving World
The quay is an ideal place to see the fall of the sun and rise of the moon, a scene that requires big open skies. You could however not sit here in Zuri’s time when it was all marsh. That’s why I put her great henge on the promontory beneath Christchurch Priory in my forthcoming book, My Pagan Ancestor Zuri. That is where they celebrated the changing seasons. Any trees will have been removed so they would have massive open skies. That will have enabled them to track the heavenly cycles and see the world moving around them. Their henge circle would also mirror the sun, or was it the moon?
In my book I refer to the sun and moon as the twin sisters. Their spiritual significance to Zuri was profound. They were her only understanding of the different spheres of the world before the insight of science.
Out of Kilter
The heavenly cycles do not move in unison. One year of the sun does not equate to an equal number of moons. This year, 2018, we have 13 moons, with two in January. Twelve lunar months are eleven days short of what we call a year. Did Zuri’s people know this? Was it a reason why Stonehenge was reconfigured a number of times? Stonehenge is the only stone circle said to track the sun. The issue over whether it tracked the moon is more controversial.
My description of the moon’s track from the quay applies only in summer. As we move into the winter the moon rises further across the Isle of Wight, which is not so dramatic. That said, the quay is a wonderful place to visit. No wonder so many people can be found there photographing the sunset. Unfortunately, few of them are interested in the sun’s sister.