Rillito Sun Circle: They Call it Stonehenge

rillito 2photo by Rachel Aschmann, with permission

Well, we’ve held out as long as we can to keep the Newark, Ohio post at the top, but today is the celebration at the earthworks there, so we will move on to another site. The cultures in North America before Columbus opened the place up for exploitation were in some cases as different from one another as the English from the Chinese, but since we’ve been thinking about indigenous Americans this week, we present the Rillito Sun Circle, a curious and wonderful Stonehenge/kiva hybrid located in Arizona.

All prehistoric cultures were aware of the movements of the son, moon, planets and stars. They were their clocks, their calendars, part of their entertainment and one of the ways the world/spirit/gods spoke to them. For a leader, building something that channeled those movements was basically a way to impress the pants off the people and make it seem as if you were connected to the divine. Even today people flock to these constructions to observe the movement of light at certain times of year, some as a part of their spiritual practice.

Two of the many places people go to see prehistoric structures that have this function are Chaco Canyon and Stonehenge. Chaco’s Casa Rinconada has a reputation, right or wrong, for being a sort of sundial, with light passing through a hole on one side to strike a niche on the other at summer solstice (certainly other parts of the Chaco complex did mark out celestial movements). The Rillito Sun Circle, above, cleverly combines the look and functions of Stonehenge and Casa Rinconada, adding a few tricks of its own. The fullest explanation of it that we could find is, alas, only available on a cached page, which you may see here.

Its name is the Rillito Sun Circle, but of course people call it Stonehenge, even though only one structure in the circle even resembles a trilithon. We like the benches set around the circle and the open space around it, which will have to be kept open in order for it to function as it should. Our score: 6 druids! It doesn’t look like Stonehenge, but marks out the sun and its movements elegantly, actively relating to its landscape and the area’s history.

Note: You don’t need to build a structure to do this, you know. Start observing the sun as it loves through your house. Note where it strikes, for example, on winter or summer solstice at noon, or on your birthday or anniversary for that matter. Find a way to mark that, subtly or with something obvious like a picture or a crystal on a string, and then remember to check it next year on that day. All who care to can make this kind of observance a part of their lives and their homes. That is, if the sun shines enough where they are. (Sorry, Scots and Seattle-ites! 😉 )

[Programming for Indigenous Peoples’ Day ends here and we will return to our regular silliness with the next post.]


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