Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Of the Earth

My foray into one of the more important sacred places in Europe took place after some exploration of the powerful spaces of the Grand Canyon and the ruins left behind by its indigenous peoples. A vast monumental effort, clearly tied to the visions of the skies and stars, is standing on the plain of Salisbury in England. A short history of the development of Stonehenge as we know it is here.

It is an established fact that Stonehenge was an astronomical observatory for both solar and lunar observations. One of its functions was the determination of the summer solstice date using the summer solstice sunrise. At the 21st of June the rising sun in the North East shines its light in between the Heel Stone onto the Alter Stone at the center of the Trilithons or horseshoe of Stonehenge. A more comprehensive study of its astronomical alignment and structure is here.

What struck me about this place was the strong presence of a mindfulness of 5000 years ago; the structure and scale of something that has left no imprint in history, yet has a resonance that strikes me as did the ruins of Tihuanaco in Bolivia, the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan in Mexico, and the ruins of Mesa Verde in Colorado . Human presence and intent, lost in the abandonment of a historic place because of famine or drought. Yet the patterns remain, giving up their secrets reluctantly, if at all.

Ancient folk worked with what they had in their technology and resources, but had no lack of comprehension about their ecology, their environment or its resources. While they lived more or less in concert with natural forces, there were times of extremes of weather - mostly drought - that forced them to relocate to other lands. This would tend to indicate that there is a set of boundaries within which human consumption and sustainable existence can coexist. Going past that involves the costs of technology - energy needs and its attendant pollution and carbon dump - that are now threatening the global balance of climate and biology.

I'm just hoping that we can readjust our priorities while we can.