Guest Post: Solstice

Mr. Mouse here, doing a guest post for the solstice.

The Ohlone Indians, who used to live around here, had a legend about the solstice. It tells how the souls of all beings were brought from the ocean by Turtle. When the time came for all beings to come into the world, a beam of light from the sun cracked open Turtle's shell and the souls of all people and animals were set free.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains at the highest point of Long Ridge are two rocks. One rock is vertical and has a notch in the top, the other is rounded and low with a deep crack in it. At sunset of the winter solstice, a beam of light shines through the notch in the vertical rock and onto the rounded rock, which symbolizes Turtle's shell. The only day of the year when the sun sets far enough south to shine through the crack is December 21, the solstice. This place was a gathering place for all the shamans on the Bay side of the mountains, where they conducted sacred rituals on the winter solstice.

I've known about this legend for a couple years and have wanted to check out whether the sun did, in fact, shine onto the rounded rock as described and pay my respects to those old shamans. Unfortunately, the weather around here at this time of year is likely to be cloudy at best. At worst, it can be pouring rain, and that's what it was doing today when I went up to look at the spot:

It was near sundown and there was a small group of people waiting at the entrance to the trail holding umbrellas to protect them from the rain. At first, I ended up going in the wrong direction, where I found a group of rocks that weren't the right ones. After I got back to the car, I took another look at the map and realized that I had missed it, so I went out again. I had left the map in the car so it wouldn't get wet. By this time, it was getting dark and the wind was blowing the rain around.

On the way to the spot, I met the people who had been standing at the entrance coming back. The spot was easy to find, as you can see, there is a fence around the rocks:

And here is the rock with the vertical crack:

Maybe next year the sun will shine and I can check out the legend. Hope you all enjoyed the solstice.


Randy Emmitt said…
Mr Mouse,
Really enjoyed hearing about your local history and solstice. Hopefully we'll hear more from you in the future!
May you and the family have a wonderful Christmas!
ryan said…
That's a good story; I hadn't heard it. I've always wanted to see the sun line up for something like that.
Susan Morrison said…
What a wonderful idea. Disappointing that the weather did not cooperate this year. I wonder if the other folks waiting were first timers like you, or if some go every year.
Gail said…
What a great story and wonderful tradition to embrace each year...It's a great looking rock~~I do love rocks. Thank you, gail
I enjoyed the post, Mr. Mouse. I've done a few runs of volunteer archaeology at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico where they have a number of solar calendering sites, including the famous Sun Dagger, up on Fajada Butte. Unfortunately with that one the earth shifted under the one of the special rocks and the alignments gone all haywire. If only the earth were as unvarying as the moon and stars. Your site looks on much more solid ground. Here's wishing you a great belated solstice and sun next year.
Country Mouse said…
I have not ever heard of this place - thanks for all that info. Maybe next year I'll try to get up there too. Sunny the day before and the day after, too bad not on THE day!