Spiritual Significance of the Solstice and Equinox

Article by Jon Alswinn and Jenny Belikov.

Angkor Wat Spring Equinox Alignment

The Sun crowning the pinnacle of the central tower of Angkor Wat on the equinox. Photo by take… (CC BY 2.0), via Flickr.

The sun — the source of life and light to every living physical thing — is a unifying force, a blazing fire, and the giver and destroyer of life. So it’s not surprising it has held so much importance through the ages, across distant continents, times, cultures, civilizations, and religions – tracing right back to the original global religion of the sun.

Throughout time people gathered to honor and celebrate the sun during the solstice and equinox with special ceremonies, rituals, and observances.

The solstices and equinoxes are astronomical events marking the sun’s seasonal movement in the sky each year. At the summer solstice the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, while at the winter solstice it descends to its lowest point. The spring and autumn equinoxes mark the mid points in the sun’s movement between the two solstices.

solstices-and-equinoxesThese solar events mark four equidistant points in the cycle of the sun through the calendar year, and indicate the change between the four seasons. Yet to some ancient cultures they also signified much more than that: they saw a deeper mystery to these solar movements.

So what made these cosmic events so important to these ancients? Why did these civilizations align their altars, temples, households, courts, and monuments to the journey of the sun? The answer lies in understanding the deeper significance of the spiritual meaning of the sun.

A Deeper Symbolism

Sun Halo

A common symbol of the sun is the dot within a circle: ⊙. This symbol can be found amid a myriad of ancient civilizations (For example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_(hieroglyph)) and is used today in astronomy to symbolize the physical sun. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomical_symbols#Symbols_for_the_Sun_and_Moon.) Interestingly, this symbol mimics a pattern found imbued in various elements in nature, as depicted in this photograph of a sun halo and pillars. Photo CC BY-SA 2.0 by Martyn Gorman.

The harvest and the changing seasons are certainly key points in the cycle of life, death, and resurrection in nature, but within this cycle some ancient cultures perceived a powerful deeper message.

Research reveals that these ancient cultures saw in the celestial movements of the sun a cosmic reflection of the spiritual journey they could undertake on earth within themselves. This explains why monuments, cities, and lifestyles were modeled around the solstices and equinoxes and aligned to the journey of the sun and the stars. These ancient civilizations based on the religion of the sun saw spiritual enlightenment as the real purpose of life, and sought to orient their entire societies to the spiritual principles they saw displayed above them in the heavens.

Some examples of types of ancient sites, temples, and monuments that align to the sun can be seen below:

The spiritual significance of the sun’s journey also explains why deities throughout history have been linked with the sun, and sun gods and sun men have been venerated.


A representation of the Lord Krishna, a sun-Christ deity from the Hindu tradition.
Photo by: By VedSutra [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

For example, sun-Christ savior figures have emerged time and time again within various traditions derived from the original ancient religion of the sun, and key stages in their lives often correspond to solar events. Researches have noted how many of these figures – such as Jesus, Mithra, Krishna, Quetzalcoatl, among others – often share similarities.1 They may be associated with the sun, born at the winter solstice, teach and perform wonders, die and resurrect at the spring equinox, and ascend to the heavens at the summer solstice. The future return of a sun-Christ figure is also often foretold, who will come again at a winter solstice (when the world is at its darkest) and bring light into the world once again.

Some say these similarities are the mere cultural transference of myths and tales. But when one examines these stories from a cosmic perspective, and traces the origins of cultures associated with these figures, it seems more likely the similarities exist because these figures, through their own lives on earth, illustrated the solar path to enlightenment that is literally part of creation — depicted by the sun above us to illuminate the path to enlightenment on earth. This cosmic correspondence reflects the hermetic axiom: “as above so below.”2

Celebrating the Solstice and Equinox Spiritually

Those who understood the spiritual messages encoded in the sun’s physical journey were empowered to take up the journey it symbolized in their own lives. Various ancient societies that inherited the knowledge of the religion of the sun therefore celebrated and marked these cosmic events in the fashion of their culture, although over time, their deeper understanding of these astronomical events generally diminished, and celebrations tended to lose touch with the metaphysical aspect.

However, a true celebration of the cosmic meaning of the solstices and equinoxes is not mere worship or an enactment of old rituals lacking life; rather, it commemorates the divine plan of life, displayed in the heavens so that it can be enacted in our own lives on earth. It recognizes the divine and creative powers latent in the cosmos, nature and within the individual, waiting to be kindled.

Celebrations, bonfires, gatherings, sacred dances, and re-enactments of cosmic events took place at the solstices and equinoxes through the ages as a way to teach and connect with this cosmic journey of the soul, and feel and understand its significance in a more profound and intimate way. These sacred occasions stimulated people’s souls, inspiring them to strive towards this journey to enlightenment, become one with the universe, and embody on earth what is shown in heaven, through walking the inner path of the spiritual sun/son in their own lives.

This sacred understanding has largely been lost to modern cultures, but it can rekindled today and illuminate the world once more.

How to Experience Solstice and Equinox Celebrations in the Modern Day

A Romuvan solstice celebration in Latvia

If you’re interested in exploring solstice and equinox celebrations first-hand, there are many ways to do so. One simple way to get started is to find a traditional revival ceremony or group near you. These events are organized independently and in many different countries by groups interested in reviving the ancient celebrations once more, and each group celebrates according to the ancient customs and traditions of the sun from their own cultural heritage. See the link below to find groups near you:

Learn more about traditional revival groups here

celebrating-solstices-and-equinoxesAnother way to explore solstices and equinoxes is to organize it on your own — be it a small scale version for yourself or with a group of friends or interested people to get together for solstices or equinoxes. Below is a guide for how to celebrate solstices and equinoxes:

Learn more about how to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes

Buzovgrad Megalith

An example of a Megalithic site in Bulgaria that can be visited at Summer Solstice.
Image copyright: “BuzovGrad_Megalith” by Filipov Ivo – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Visiting ancient sites aligned to solstices and equinoxes is also a great way to experience and connect with these times of year. You can attend an already-existing ancient site in your area, or create a shrine or even your own sacred site if you like based on the same principles that the ancient builders of sacred sites around the world employed.

Ancient Sites Listed by Location and Alignment

  1. For example of some of these similarities compared, see: Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Chapter: The Cross and the Crucifixion — In particular, from The Crucified Saviors section onward. Text is available via http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sta/sta45.htm
  2. For the source of this saying see verse two of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus http://www.sacred-texts.com/alc/emerald.htm


  • Altar is misspelled in your article — you have is spelled alter. The misspelling diminishes the entire content of the article. Maybe you should spell check everything.

    • You have a serious problem. They are courteous enough to not have told you what you need to hear. If this simple error diminishes the wealth of the article, there is no saving grace for you and you are clearly not benefitting from.your spiritual practices. Keep it moving! What have you created beyond superficiality and criticism???

  • hi, great site message , just one thing about the sun , it is not as is described here “a blazeing fire” for there is no oygen in space no oxygen = no fire , to further ones research , search “the electric universe”

    • Hi gnostic,

      The issue you raised is quite complex, but I appreciate you bringing it up. You’re right there in the sense that according to scientific theory the sun’s burning mechanism is different to the burning of a terrestrial fire. Nonetheless, there is a visible analogy between terrestrial fires and the “fiery” nature of the sun, and to a natural observer the sun gives off light and heat, as does fire and electricity. In this article, my description of the sun as a blazing fire is based in that easily observable quality and the spiritual connection of the sun and fire — something that has been observed by many spiritual traditions from very ancient times.

  • Thank you so much for your information and the way you spread them. 😉
    I am grateful for that.
    I am discovering time after time the need to connect with the nature’s cycle through ceremonies by these 4 portals.

  • Thank you so much for all this valuable information and highlighting all the meanings to help us all understand and pursue a more spiritual life and understand the true meanings of the spiritual sun, its
    been a truely wonderful help.

  • “HETEPU!” (Peace & Blessings) & a Blessed Vernal / Spring Equinox to all “Brothers & Sisters of LIGHT” herein! … I’m humbly Grateful to the creators of this site, and to the Many & Growing Seekers / Servants of The LIGHT, Grace & LOVE of Our SOURCE ~ CREATOR ~ Mother/Father GOD (e.g., “Abraham H.,” Satguru, Michael Beckwith, Marianne Williamson, & too many others to Name here … like YOU – each reader / Seeker of The Great “I AM that I AM”! ) … as one herein said, “NAMASTE!” ~ as I humbly bow to the GOD (Christ / Krishna / Buddha / Heru, etc.) within You!

    … Unfortunately, so many “Christians” know not that when they end a Prayer with “Amen” they pay Homage to an Afrikan Deity; as in “AMEN-RA” *[ RA being the Outer Manifestation (The SUN / SOL), of the Causal, SPIRITual (Hidden) POWER within the Sun; that Being AMEN (or Amon, or Amun, or Amin … as our Muslim brothers might say! ) ] ~*~ ShemHotep, Beloved “Brothers & Sisters of LIGHT,” at this BLESSED Equinoctial “See-SUN” ~ May ALL Our “GOoD Intentions / Desires” come to their Full Manifestations / REALizations; in their due SOLstitial Bloomage!!! ; )

  • Wow very inspiring
    I just wish the ancient ceremonies they talk about which helped inspire the people to walk the path of enlightenment where still around today, I think they would be of great help to people of our time who are pursuing a spiritual life but are lost.

  • Its quite amazing thinking about how these practices and worships to the sun has gone on for hundreds of years, it really signifies the deeper meaning behind the ancient practices, I hope to understand this deeper meaning in a more profound way one day

    Thanks for the info very interesting

  • I feel that we are so lucky to have this information. I remember when in school we were told that people of the old ages didn’t know much and that they venerated the sun because it gave them the food and the light and therefore they worshipped it and developed the idea of good and bad gods that corresponded to the good and and bad weather. And now we have it all unravelled for us and not just that but we are also given a way to experience this truth for ourselves – truly amazing!

  • Since Childhood days,there r Strange Feelings like Dejavu or Mystical Feelings
    which diverted Me like a Strange in a Strange Land(Non Citizenship)but just
    realised tht it’s frm Spiritual SunTransformation Energy

  • Those images capture a snapshot into a vast hidden spirituality that really evokes a sense of connection that is hard to express but more subtly extracted by the heart. It’s also interesting to see that the halo was 22degrees, that it just makes me wonder how much more there is to the Spiritual Sun that is our life force both within ourselves and all around us!

    On my morning walks I feel that light of the sun connecting to the light within me, my consciousness and I feel that I am part of that light, and fortifies my connection and my journey ahead.

    Thanks for this interesting article and the symbols shown.

  • Thank you very much for this revealing article. I think it is so beautiful that the sacred meaning of the Sun is becoming more known today, after so much suppression.

    I really like the connection you have made between the 2 symbolic depictions of the Sun – the cross encircled, and the dot in the middle of the circle. Its interesting, in my opinion, to contemplate how the “blazing inner fire” in the middle of the circle has been created by the intersection of the 2 lines of the cross. It even made me think, that the second image (the point within the circle), would be a natural continuation of the first image (the cross encircled), and that at the end, the cross would not even be needed, and just the dot in the middle of the circle would stay, as a symbol of the Absolute Sun, and the accomplishment of the Spiritual work.

    • I know what you mean, Lucia. I found the symbols very powerful as well. I was especially taken aback seeing it reflected in the halo and pillars — a beautiful example of a physical glimpse into the wisdom imbued into nature all around.

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