Sun at midnight is the title of Geoffrey Ahern’s magnificent work on anthroposophy, published again about a year ago. The sun at midnight is also a phenomenon I was reminded of when reading this post at the blog of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada. The ASC quotes from SkyNews:
On the night of December 20/21, the full Moon turns rusty red as it glows high in the south in the middle of the star-rich winter Milky Way. Its position in the sky couldn’t be better. The Moon is as high as it can possibly be. However, the price we pay is that the eclipse occurs in the middle of a long winter night; indeed, the longest night of the year – winter solstice….
Which all makes sense (I assume). Though Canadians may be luckier than Europeans (see); where I live, the eclipse will be visible (if at all) during the morning hours, not in the middle of the night. Then, turning to Sergei Prokofieff, we learn of ancient mystery students watching the sun at midnight. He’s repeating, I believe, what Steiner taught, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Steiner, in turn, got it from somebody. (I don’t know; I’m sure others do.) Anyway, according to ASC’s post this midwinter night offers the opportunity to see the ‘sun’ at midnight.
The Cosmic Event coming before us in the total Lunar Eclipse on the day of the Winter Solstice, in the place in space occupied by the Sun at the Summer Solstice, offers an opportunity to “see the Sun at Midnight”.
Curious as I am, I went to the Rudolf Steiner Archive to research the topic. In ‘Signs and Symbols of the Christmas Festival’ Steiner lectures to his followers; but he talks about ‘the sun at midnight’ not as a physical, astronomical phenomenon but as a ritual, an enactment intended to induce a certain kind of spiritual experience:
Early on the previous evening the pupils gathered together. In quiet contemplation they were to be made aware of the meaning and import of this momentous happening. Silently and in darkness they sat together. When the midnight hour drew near they had been for long hours in the darkened chamber, steeped in the contemplation of eternal truths. Then, towards midnight, mysterious tones, now louder, now gentler, resounded through the space around them. Hearing these tones, the pupils knew: This is the Music of the Spheres. Then a faint light began to glimmer from an illumined disc. Those who gazed at it knew that this disc represented the earth. The illumined disc became darker and darker — until finally it was quite black. At the same time the surrounding space grew brighter. Again the pupils knew: the black disc represents the earth; the sun, which otherwise radiates light to the earth, is hidden; the earth can see the sun no longer. Then, ring upon ring, rainbow colours appeared around the earth-disc and those who saw it knew: This is the radiant Iris. At midnight, in the place of the black earth-disc, a violet-reddish orb gradually became visible, on which a word was inscribed, varying according to the peoples whose members were permitted to experience this Mystery. With us, the word would be Christos. Those who gazed at it knew: It is the sun which appears at the midnight hour, when the world around lies at rest in deep darkness. The pupils were now told that they had experienced what was known in the Mysteries as “seeing the sun at midnight.”
He who is truly initiated experiences the sun at midnight, for in him the material is obliterated: the sun of the Spirit alone lives within him, dispelling with its light the darkness of matter. The most holy of all moments in the evolution of man is that in which he experiences the truth that he lives in eternal light, freed from the darkness. In the Mysteries, this moment was represented pictorially, year by year, at the midnight hour of the Holy Night. The picture imaged forth the truth that as well as the physical sun there is a Spiritual Sun which, like the physical sun, must be born out of the darkness. In order that the pupils might realise this even more intensely, after they had experienced the rising of the spiritual Sun, of the Christos, they were taken into a cave in which there seemed to be nothing but stone, nothing but dead, lifeless matter. But springing out of the stones they saw ears of corn as tokens of life, indicating symbolically that out of apparent death, life arises, that life is born from the dead stone. Then it was said to them: Just as from this day onwards the power of the sun awakens anew after it seemed to have died, so does new life forever spring from the dying. [Source.]
Edit: National Geographic!