As Indian Country Media Network noted earlier today, it’s officially spring! Today’s daylight will be almost exactly equal to the length of the night as the sun passes over the equator in what’s known as the vernal equinox.
Today is also when many people head down to Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico to take in some of the world’s most incredible solar calendars. As the sun’s positions changes throughout the day, ‘sunwatchers’ who visit this ancient center of Puebloan culture can see the same signals the Pueblo Indians saw as far back as 850 AD, letting them know when it was time for summer and winter solstices, a swell as spring and vernal equinoxes.
“Interplay between the sun’s shifting position and marks on interior kiva walls, building alignments or spirals pecked into rock walls told ancient “sunwatchers” when it was time for summer and winter solstices and spring and vernal equinoxes,” writes Stacey Wittig, Examiner.com’s ‘Hiking Examiner.’
Just over the pond there’s an equinox tour that brings all sorts of folks to Stongehenge, an “ad hoc celebration that brings together England’s New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans, Wiccans) with ordinary families, tourists, and travelers,” the website StonehengeTours.com states.
Chichen Itza in Mexico is another famous locations for equinox travelers, sunwatchers, and your general lovers of incredible destinations. This ancient Mayan capital draws thousands of visitors, especially during the equinox, when the Pyramid of Kukulcan in the Great Plaza becames a quite literal stairway to heaven where ancient gods descend and return to earth. This pyramid functions as a giant solar clock, aligned to catch the rays of the setting sun during both the fall and spring equinox. As light and shadow merge along the side of the north staircase, the figure of a snake appears and combines with the head of a stone serpent at the foot of the structure. Visitors are blown away by the sight as the huge serpent slithers down from the heavens towards the Sacred Cenote, a massive natural well that was once the site of sacrificial rites.
And here you see the doorway of the ‘Temple of the Seven Dolls’ at Dzibilchaltun, also in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. This was once a great Mayan city, with settlements here from 500 BC until the Spanish conquest around 1540 AD. Approximately 8,400 structures form a round enclave which is believed to have once housed as many as 40,000 Mayans. When the sun rises on the day of the equinox it bursts through the window of the temple, an incredible feat of engineering from the Maya. The site is named after the seven small effigy dolls found in the interior of the temple.