Each year, the Earth orbits the Sun in an ellipse or oblong circle. This and the tilt of the Earth’s spin axis accounts for the annual change in day length, thus the seasons. Humans, and other species, have observed this repeated cycle for time immemorial. If a human culture remains at the same location over years and they create a fixed observation point, then they can anticipate points in seasonal time at which the Sun appears to be at its furthest northern or southern point (summer or winter solstice), the midpoint (equinoxes) or points at which the rate of day length change changes (cross-quarter dates). Today, June 20, 2020, is the summer solstice.
Amongst the “Ancestral Puebloan” cultures, this is a time of great reverence. For the Hopi, this is the Nimanywa or the time at which the Katcinas, the spiritual essence of those who lived and passed away, return to the San Francisco Peaks. These Katcinas will return as wind carrying clouds that bring rain and provide for the growth of their crops. To the Hopi, “Water is Life.” To the Navajo, who wandered about and did not have consistent points to observe the horizon, they predicted this time by constellations. For the Navajo, this is the time by which you better have your crops planted or you’ll lose them to a fall frost. To the Euro-American culture, this is the monsoons. For more on this, join me Monday, June 22, at 7:00 pm for Coconino Community College’s broadcast on www.coconino.edu/community-education.
As we observe this seasonal time and begin the slow march back to the winter solstice with the first apparent northward shift of the Sun on December 25, let’s take a few moments to appreciate our friends, community, and natural beauty that we live in. Let’s recognize that the differences between our ancestral histories come largely from observing nature’s cycles and using obtained information in ways that helped those of that culture survive and celebrate. Let’s respect the diversity of cultures just as we respect the diversity of life. Let’s take the time to talk with others who may have different skin colors, different behaviors, different abilities. Talking with and learning from each other will help us reunite as a community, a nation, and a planet. Let’s respect that each one of us and all cultures matter.