Earth is about 147.1 million kilometers from the Sun at perihelion around January 3, in contrast to about 152.1 million kilometers at aphelion around July 4 — a difference of about 5.0 million kilometers.
Where we are in central Ontario perihelion was January 4 at 09:17 AM and aphelion will occur on July 3 at 16 11 PM.
So if we are that much closer to the Sun in January why isn’t the weather tropical? From Wikipedia: Because seasons result from the tilt of Earth's axis, which is 23.4 degrees away from perpendicular to the plane of Earth's orbit around the sun. Winter falls on the hemisphere where sunlight strikes least directly, and summer falls where sunlight strikes most directly, regardless of the Earth's distance from the Sun. In the northern hemisphere, summer occurs at the same time as aphelion. Despite this, there are larger land masses in the northern hemisphere, which are easier to heat than the seas.
Okay so that’s enough astronomy. Let’s deal with the spiritual concerns... Winter solstice marks the longest dark and we know that from that point onward the amount of light increases by mere minutes every day until spring equinox when we have equal day an equal night. The light continues to increase until summer solstice at which point we have the longest amount of daylight. It all revolves around this processional shift of 23.4° on either side of the equator. This creates our seasons. From time immemorial our ancestors celebrated the return of light; the hopelessness and hunger of deep dark winter can be overwhelming without the hope of increasing light and life renewal. With the earth thawing we can plant crops. The cycles of life, birth and death follow our seasonal rhythms.
So if life thrives in the light and the growth period, why do we need the dark times? It all comes back to balance… Nothing has a shadow without light. Grandfather Sun illuminates the dark time of winter. It doesn’t happen all at once - but the persistence of just a few minutes every day eventually thaws the earth and allows life to spring forth again. Acknowledging our proximity to Grandfather Sun approximately 2 weeks after winter solstice allows us time to reflect on the nature of balance and harmony. Winter is historically a time to cocoon, save energy, be warm and deal with one’s personal issues. There are the practical things to do like repair sacred objects and similar but we are also expected to reflect on where our darkness is… Where do I need to throw light on my soul and my spirit? Do I need to illuminate my path? Are my relationships in balance? Neglecting to process in this way allows our shadow selves to jump up and dominate choices and at some point we must pay attention. It’s much better to be proactive rather than try to clean up the mess of damaged relationships, or, time lost because we’ve neglected to follow our path.
I was struck yesterday by the writings of Caroline Myss who was writing the last column for her online salon (as she called it)… She was making a post reflecting what she thinks are 12 most important spiritual truths. One of the points that she makes highlights her thoughts on sin and evil. I include this here because it is one of those light/dark opposites that seems apropos to a discussion of perihelion/aphelion. Carolyn writes:
“A basic definition of sin is this: Knowingly doing or saying something that you know will damage another person’s life OR knowingly/deliberately allowing another person to pay the price/take the consequences for a negative action of yours. The conscious act of knowing that what you are doing is wrong – and that what you are doing is harming another in any way – and yet you do it anyway – is Sin. Done. No getting around it. A conscious negative act against another human being is not just a boo-boo or a bummer. It is a Sin because it is CONSCIOUS and thus an act of CHOICE. It is a conscious misuse of your power of creation – and we are held accountable for these choices. That is why we cannot shake free of such choices. That is why the guilt from these choices sticks to us like gum on our shoes. That gum is our soul connected to the soul of the person we harmed. Never tell yourself that evil does not exist. It does. Every time you easily play with the truth, ask yourself, “How come it’s so easy to lie? What’s wrong with me? Why is telling the truth so difficult? Shouldn’t this be the other way around?” The spiritual path is a path of becoming One with Truth, which means confronting our relationship with the shadow in ourselves. It’s not easy and that shadow meets us around every corner in our life. My counsel to everyone – and the one I practice is to repeat a simple prayer whenever you feel that fragile edge of weakness or compromise-of-self coming on, “Hover over me, God – right now.” Surround yourself with grace. Live in grace.”
Where does this leave us vis à vis perihelion? Well, I suggest creating a place of reflection… I make myself a place to think – reflect – analyze – pray and especially focus my intention. Anyone who knows me and my practice, will recognize my collection of crystals, candles and prayer bundles. I call this a reflection space, rather than an altar. Altar implies worship - worship implies something “above” me. I don’t believe in separation, thus I purposely choose to consider any formal focus to be with my own soul. A true reflection. A dialogue. A communion. So, as we move toward this full moon of “Talks with Relations” (January 12) I focus my perihelion resolve on a number of things: forgiveness is a huge aspect of this focus; mediation between generations; movement to be in the “now” at all costs. I seek Peace, so I light a candle and ask Grandfather Sun to help illuminate my steps… to erase the shadows of self-doubt, and self-sabotage. As Carolyn Myss suggests, I ask for help with Shadow, in all its beauty. I am taking, for the first time in nearly 60 years, a few weeks to reflect. I’m manifesting AND cocooning.
However you chose to commune in these dark winter days, do so with a mission to create light, joy of soul and your own peace. We cannot co-create with the universe without the awareness of all parts of the process…. Include Grandfather Sun in your journey.
A blessed 2017 perihelion to everyone! Kathryn