When the summit of snow-white Kilimanjaro was reached in 1889 by Hans Mayer, a German professor of geology, the African natives living in the plains surrounding the
peak could not understand why the ”white people” want to climb up the heighs. To reach, to speed up, to develop, to go for it - many positive valued terms of our culture
could be optically described as an arrow from here and now towards the unknown, to the future, to another place. We see life as a motion from one point to the next.
This is a relatively new view. In all nature-based cultures the return plays an immensely important role. The need is taken for granted that everything comes back to the roots
after a phase of flowering and vice versa. The same for man: birth and life are only a half of the journey, the death and the traveling from death towards a re-birth are
the other part. There is no alternative in the ancestor’s mind to the view of the world traveling in a circle. The idea of the eternal return is substantial for the
understanding of the ancient cultures, particularly the megalithic one.
There are many megalithic tombs built so that the rising or the setting Sun can be seen through the entrance. The
rays of Sun, traveling through the corridor, usually touch the last vertical stone slab in the back part of the chamber. This happens twice a year, in the (rare) case of
orientation towards winter or summer solstice only one time (as for example in New Grange, Ireland).
I don’t thing there could be a greater symbol of return: as
the Sun returns to the chamber every year, the dead return from the other world through the mother’s womb (which the megalithic chambers are reminiscent of) to the Earth.
Usually, the orientation of the tombs (and the stone circles) is understood as having a calendar function. However, many of the tombs are NOT oriented exactly
towards astronomically significant points as for example winter solstice sunrise. Maybe the megaliths have had less calendaric than symbolical function. I like the idea of
some local festivals at the time the Sun (or the Moon...) reaches a particular point on horizon of a local importance.
Similarly the stone circles. There were many theories about
the genuine astronomical observations. Naturally, there ARE
astronomical connections but maybe the main purpose was...
the celebration of the circle. In this context we also can
consider ancient ring dances and stone mazes which are both
probably older than we thing. We can see - the idea of the
connection between men, Earth and sky and was very popular
in the ancient times. Maybe, this is a part of the fascination
that the old stones spreads til today.
Sincerely ..... yours Jan Bily