The winter solstice is more than a date on the calendar. While December 21 may be the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, indicating when one of the Earth’s poles is as tilted away from the sun as possible, some speculate that there’s a more supernal significance to this seasonal celebration.
The relationship between the winter solstice and alien activity originates with Stonehenge. The ancient, monolithic array is seen as marking the solstices, with the stones aligning on a sight-line that points to sunset on the winter solstice and sunrise on the summer solstice. To that end, the site has been home to ancient, festive ceremonies for both winter and summer, celebrating humanity’s relationship to the seasons. But indeed, the roots of stonehenge-solstice may run deeper than any human relationship to the cosmos, and perhaps humans, themselves, have less to do with it than we think.
According to some theories, alien assistance is the reason behind Stonehenge, as well as other solstice-celebratory monuments like the Mayan pyramids. Indeed, if humans today require so much technology to even comprehend where the sun and moon move within the sky, then indeed, perhaps the idea that ancient humans could figure it out on their own is as plausible as the idea that aliens helped them.
Swiss writer Erich von Daniken was the first to submit a theory that aliens were involved in the creation of Stonehenge. His 1968 book Chariots of the Gods? posits that “ancient astronauts” came to earth and influenced early humanity, as “evidenced” by not only Stonehenge, but also the Egyptian pyramids, art, and other artifacts that supposedly illustrated alien spaceships and the like. He even interprets the origins of ancient religion, abounding with different “gods” as rather reactions to an alien race that visited our planet.
Von Daniken theorized that Stonehenge served as a solar and lunar calendar, modeled after our solar system—with the help of aliens who had superior knowledge to ancient humanity. He also believed that the stone circle acted as either a landing pad for alien spaceships or as a site from which to observe alien activity in the sky.
Of course, von Daniken’s writing has been met with a fair amount of criticism, with those like Carl Sagan referring to it as “careless” or “sloppy thinking.” “I know of no recent books so riddled with logical and factual errors as the works of von Daniken,” he wrote in the foreword to The Space Gods Revealed , giving more intellectual and worldly credit to our ancient human ancestors than does von Daniken.
So while the theory that aliens play a role in Stonehenge and the solstice is up for heated debate, one thing is certain: Staring up at the sky on the winter solstice, noticing this year’s great conjunction, it’s hard not to see that there’s so much out there, and wonder who and what is making the world go around outside our little earthly universe.
Author: Madison Margolin