The winter solstice (or hibernal solstice), also known as midwinter, is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. It occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the December solstice and in the Southern Hemisphere this is the June solstice.
The axial tilt of Earth and gyroscopic effects of its daily rotation mean that the two opposite points in the sky to which the Earth’s axis of rotation points (axial precession) change very slowly (at the current rate it would take just under 26,000 years to make a complete circle). As the Earth follows its orbit around the Sun, the polar hemisphere that faced away from the Sun, experiencing winter, will, in half a year, face towards the Sun and experience summer. This is because the two hemispheres face opposite directions along Earth’s axis, and so as one polar hemisphere experiences winter, the other experiences summer.
More evident from high latitudes, a hemisphere’s winter solstice occurs on the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. Although the winter solstice itself lasts only a moment in time, the term sometimes refers to the day on which it occurs. Other names are “midwinter”, the “extreme of winter” (Dongzhi), or the “shortest day”. In some cultures it is seen as the middle of winter, while in others it is seen as the beginning of winter. In meteorology, winter in the Northern Hemisphere spans the entire period of December through February. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening hours of daylight during the day. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates differ from winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth’s elliptical orbit (see earliest and latest sunrise and sunset).
Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied across cultures, but many have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.
Beyond The Door – Poem by Clark Ashton Smith
Alas! the evanescence of a dream,
That, like a rose, shall never blossom more!
A glimpse of unguessed things, and then the door
Of waking sense clangs to. Alas! the Gleam,
The visioned Secret and the Light supreme,
That one at moments nears, when, lo! the pall
Of veiling darkness drops and covers all –
The darkness of the daylight’s aureate beam!
Leaving but an elusive memory –
A heavenly cadence, a supernal word,
Never but half-recalled. In dreams are heard
Who knows what tidings from Eternity,
Transcendant, strange! Alas! we may not bring
Aught past the gateway of Awakening!
Clark Ashton Smith
AT THE GATE
In the dream
at the gate to your grave
you stopped me
with the same words
I had spoken in a dream
where I died before you
so now I can no longer dream.
Rusty, and on squeaky hinges
all the gates I have ever
seen, heard, or described
closed one by one
under a grey sky.
That is all there was
in my mind, earth.
What can I say about the world
in which your ashes sit in an urn
other than that?
On every trip you stay ahead of me.
On platforms I see your footprints in fresh snow.
When the train starts to move
you jump out of the back carriage
to reach the next station ahead of me.
Outside the small towns with their sleepy street lights:
stadiums bright as capitols.
The lights glinted off your glasses.
Where else should you look for the ring
which, the night the power went out,
rolled under the bed and was gone?
“I miss you, too”
were my last words
on the telephone
when you said you missed me.
I miss you too, Forever!
You are gone.
Three words. And not one
exists now in any other context.
Born 6 April 1917
Clayton-le-Woods, Lancashire, England
For me leonara Carrington is one of histories great Artists, Personally and I feel the best female artists of all time(IMO), although correctly she fought all her life again the label of “Female Artist” and just wanted to be call an ARTIST period !
Her work should be much better known and would be so but for a few facts , she was producing art at the same time as some the now best known European artist, who would later become house hold names but also she lived and worked during the Nazi period of European Art theft and art control, because of this she ended up in the end making her home in Mexico in a period when no one took anyone not working in Europe or America seriously.
In 1936, Leonora saw the work of the German surrealist Max Ernst at the International Surrealist Exhibition in London and was attracted to the Surrealist artist before she even met him. In 1937, Carrington met Ernst at a party held in London. The artists bonded and returned together to Paris, where Ernst promptly separated from his wife. In 1938, leaving Paris, they settled in Saint Martin d’Ardèche in southern France.
The new couple collaborated and supported each other’s artistic development. The two artists created sculptures of guardian animals (Ernst created his birds and Carrington created a plaster horse head) to decorate their home in Saint Martin d’Ardèche.
With the outbreak of World War II Ernst, who was German, was arrested by the French authorities for being a “hostile alien”. With the intercession of Paul Éluard, and other friends, including the American journalist Varian Fry, he was discharged a few weeks later. Soon after the Nazis invaded France, Ernst was arrested again, this time by the Gestapo, because his art was considered by the Nazis to be “degenerate”. He managed to escape and, leaving Carrington behind, fled to America with the help of Peggy Guggenheim, who was a sponsor of the arts.
After Ernst’s arrest, Carrington was devastated and fled to Spain. Paralyzing anxiety and growing delusions culminated in a final breakdown at the British Embassy in Madrid. Her parents intervened and had her hospitalised. She was given “convulsive therapy” and was treated with the drugs cardiazol, a powerful anxiolytic drug (eventually banned by some authorities, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)), and Luminal, a barbiturate. After being released into the care of a nurse who took her to Lisbon, Carrington ran away and sought refuge in the Mexican Embassy. Meanwhile, Ernst had married Peggy Guggenheim in New York in 1941. That marriage ended a few years later. Ernst and Carrington never resumed their relationship.
In 1939, Carrington painted a portrait of Max Ernst, as a tribute to their relationship. The portrait was her first Surrealist work, and it was called The Inn of the Dawn Horse. It is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The person in the painting is a cross between a male and a female, who is seated in a room with a rocking horse on the wall.
She also painting this portrait with him as the main character ..
Portrait of Max Ernst
Oil on canvas
date created: About 1939
From the very first time I viewed Leonara’s art works I was captivated, her paintings are full of mystery and magical subjects, without falling into more traditional and classical mythological stories.
I found myself wanting to understand more about the fantasy world that her painting capture, a world of hidden meanings, I still don’t fully understand and here in this video she tells us not of over analyses art and just to enjoy living in the moment. However just looking at her creations you know she must have held many stories in her mind, I will keep looking and discovering!
(6 April 1917 – 25 May 2011) was an English-born Mexican artist, surrealist painter, and novelist. She lived most of her adult life in Mexico City, and was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s. Carrington was also a founding member of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Mexico during the 1970s.
Looking at many of her painting you can clearly see that her life and work is the source for the movie Pan’s Labyrinth, Director: Guillermo del Toro, Writer: Guillermo del Toro , set in the falangist Spain of 1944, about a bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world, the very same kind of fantasy worlds Leonora Carrington imagined and reflected on in her work.
The best surrealist movie of all time 🙂
Leonora Carrington – Imagination is everything !!!
Since I returned to Ireland from a holiday in Germany during November, I have found myself turning to my drawing and painting much more again. This is only natural I feel during the winter months , so far this November and December we have had nearly 200mm of rain here in county Kilkenny, (amazing when you think that this is more than double the about for the entire summer) so its been hard to carry and use a camera as much as in a normal winter.
To help me get inspired and make a start I always find myself looking at my most admired classic painters like John Constable.
To me Constable is one of the most misinterpreted classic artist, mainly due to the fact that today his art work has become Synonymous of twee landscapes used on box’s of chocolates and for jigsaw puzzles. Yet when he was starting his carrier as a painter very few people would take on landscape painting and expect to make a living of any kind. Most of the artists of his day would paint classical works reflecting upon mythical stores or portrait works as commissions for the super-wealthy of his day.
The idea that an artist as good as John Constable was, would spend his time painting open landscapes, farms or rivers made little sense to any of his tutors or his peers, many disowned him for doing so. It is this fact that pulls me so much toward his work, he was one of the first of his kind and cutting edge!, sketching and then painting from life, mostly outside in the surroundings he was painting.
The simple truth is that he was and still is very cutting edge when it come to his abilities to capture people in the landscape, if it were not for the fact he did so and produced so much work, little memory would remain of the places and people he captured.
The Stour 27 September 1810
The Stour is one of the first of his painting I ever looked at and I still love this painting very much today, I love the loose use of the oil paint and brush work, the limited palette of colours but above all the atmosphere he has captured.
Its also painted in the format I love the most, at 23×23 a Square format. Its not easy to compose an image in a square! but I feel that the results can produces a great painting or photo with great concentration on the subjects you want to capture the most.
Painted Between 1808 and 1816 – the year of his marriage to Maria Bicknell – Constable spent most of his summers at East Bergholt, sketching in the fields and the surrounding countryside. From 1810 he began to paint images of the River Stour, and the activities associated with it, particularly in the area near his father’s mill at Flatford. Indeed, the bulk of his subjects during the first half of his career are images of Suffolk. Many of these are rapidly executed, evocative sketches, painted entirely, or substantially in the open air – often depicting transient atmospheric effects.
Constable painted this view outdoors in the vicinity of Flatford Lock at sunset. He cut his canvas to fit into the paint box he carried, and pinned it to the opened lid while painting.
The landscape around the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale had been admired by poets and artists before Constable (Tate 1991, pp. 53–54), but he made the area particularly his own by painting it over and over again. Constable wrote in later years: ‘I associate my “careless boyhood” to all that lies on the banks of the Stour. They made me a painter (& I am gratefull)‘ (Beckett VI, p. 78).
The Brandenburg Gate is a military monument that has come to symbolize peace and unity. Here are a few facts about the iconic monument that you probably won’t know.
It’s one of the most iconic scenes of recent German history: Hundreds of thousands of people celebrating before the Brandenburg Gate as the Berlin Wall fell on November 9th 1989.
The Gate has now come to represent German unity and freedom since the end of the Cold War and divided country.
Not only is it “a symbol of the German-German divide”, but it also “stands for the reunification” of East and West Germany in 1990. Despite being heavily damaged in the Second World War, the Gate has withstood the test of time.
Today, people from all over the world link the Brandenburg Gate with freedom, tolerance and cosmopolitanism
But there is far more to the famous landmark than initially meets the eye.
Here are a few facts that you probably didn’t know about the Brandenburg Gate.
1. August 6th 1791 – that’s when the Gate was opened, after having been commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II. The Gate was erected not as a political symbol, but instead for a rather more simple reason – to mark the end of the boulevard Unter den Linden.
2. The Propylaeum of Athens’ Acropolis – that’s what the gate was modelled on.
3. 1806 – that’s when the Quadriga (the sculpture of the horse-drawn chariot on the top of the Gate) was stolen by Napoleon’s soldiers and taken back to France as a victory trophy. But after Napoleon was defeated, the Quadriga was returned to Berlin.
4. January 30th 1933 – that’s when the Nazis held a torchlit procession through the Gate to celebrate Hitler’s seizure of power.
5. 1945 until 1957 – that’s when the Soviet flag was flown on the top of the Gate. However, the flag was ripped down during the peaceful protests on June 17th 1953, when demonstrators protested against the political and economic conditions in the GDR.
6. June 12th 1987 – that’s when the then-US President Ronald Reagan made his rousing speech before the Gate, exclaiming, “As long as this gate is closed […] it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind […] Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”.
7. December 1989 – that’s when the Gate was opened as a border crossing by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and East German Premier Hans Modrow.
8. 2000 until 2002 – that’s when the Gate was renovated by Berlin’s Foundation for the Protection of Monuments, costing a massive 6 million Euros.
9. 4000 – that’s the number of counter-demonstrators who gathered to prevent 300 supporters of the anti-Islam group Pegida from marching from the city hall to the Gate on January 5th 2015. In addition, all the lights at the Gate were switched off.
10. 26 metres – that’s the height of the the Gate, which is made up of six Doric columns on either side, supporting a transverse beam 11 metres deep. There are five walkways through the gate.
11. 130,000 – that’s the number of people who gathered at the Gate following the attacks on an Orlando gay club last year. The Gate was lit up in rainbow colours to commemorate the 49 victims.
12. The luxury Adlon Hotel, the French and the US embassies – those are the buildings which surround the Gate, in its prime location at Pariser Platz, otherwise known as Berlin’s “gute Stube” (“best room”).
13. The Märkisches Museum in Berlin – that’s where you can see the horse’s head from the Quadriga sculpture.
14. About a million – that’s the number of people who flock to the Gate every year for its famous New Year’s Eve party, complete with music and fireworks.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882
And I behold once more
My old familiar haunts; here the blue river,
The same blue wonder that my infant eye
Admired, sage doubting whence the traveller came,—
Whence brought his sunny bubbles ere he washed
The fragrant flag-roots in my father’s fields,
And where thereafter in the world he went.
Look, here he is, unaltered, save that now
He hath broke his banks and flooded all the vales
With his redundant waves.
Here is the rock where, yet a simple child,
I caught with bended pin my earliest fish,
Much triumphing, —and these the fields
Over whose flowers I chased the butterfly,
A blooming hunter of a fairy fine.
And hark! where overhead the ancient crows
Hold their sour conversation in the sky:—
These are the same, but I am not the same,
But wiser than I was, and wise enough
Not to regret the changes, tho’ they cost
Me many a sigh. Oh, call not Nature dumb;
These trees and stones are audible to me,
These idle flowers, that tremble in the wind,
I understand their faery syllables,
And all their sad significance. The wind,
That rustles down the well-known forest road—
It hath a sound more eloquent than speech.
The stream, the trees, the grass, the sighing wind,
All of them utter sounds of ’monishment
And grave parental love.
They are not of our race, they seem to say,
And yet have knowledge of our moral race,
And somewhat of majestic sympathy,
Something of pity for the puny clay,
That holds and boasts the immeasurable mind.
I feel as I were welcome to these trees
After long months of weary wandering,
Acknowledged by their hospitable boughs;
They know me as their son, for side by side,
They were coeval with my ancestors,
Adorned with them my country’s primitive times,
And soon may give my dust their funeral shade.
By Robert Frost
March 7, 1923
A winter Eden in an alder swamp
Where conies now come out to sun and romp,
As near a paradise as it can be
And not melt snow or start a dormant tree.
It lifts existence on a plane of snow
One level higher than the earth below,
One level nearer heaven overhead
And last year’s berries shining scarlet red.
It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast
Where he can stretch and hold his highest feast
On some wild apple tree’s young tender bark,
What well may prove the years’ high girdle mark.
Pairing in all known paradises ends:
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,
Content with bud inspecting. They presume
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom.
A feather hammer gives a double knock.
This Eden day is done at two o’clock.
An hour of winter day might seem too short
To make it worth life’s while to wake and sport.
In the winter forest
The trees move in the Winter Forest,
They sway with the gental breeze.
Naked as the leaves fall to the ground,
And the water will slowly freeze.
The forest casts shadows on the snowy grounds,
As the light of a thousand stars shine through.
The angels dance and sing in the snow,
As the sky turns to a midnight blue.
One angel sings of the moon and stars,
Another sings of the sun.
They play in the trees and howl with the wind,
Their wings glistening as through the forest they gracefully run.
By day the Winter Forest is quiet and peaceful,
But by night it’s alive with games and song.
The angels, fairies, moon and stars,
Beckon you to come along.
Join in with their dance in praise of the night,
Run with the wolves fast and free.
When the sun comes up they will say goodnight,
Silent again the Winter Forest will be!
As an addition to my post on Sophie Scholl and the White rose movement , here is a link to the six documents (in English) that they publish and that in the end got them arrested!