Why You Wish You Were Born on the Solstice

When preparing to write my upcoming epic fantasy series, The Rifts of Renjian, I did a lot of research. Celestial workings matter because summer and winter children become magic wielders, or Enchanters. Children born in spring and fall (known as the Meridian seasons) have no magic powers. So I studied the seasons and how planetary bodies move.

 

Seasonal calendar illustrating equinoxes and solsticesThe Astronomical Calendar

Our current calendar doesn’t measure seasons very well. Here’s how the seasons work relative to the solstice and equinox. (Click or tap to enlarge)

 

From an Earthly viewpoint

  • Equinox: the sun passes directly over the equator in the sky
  • Solstice: the sun passes farthest from the equator in the sky
  • Equinox: daytime is equal to night
  • Solstice: the day is longest (summer) or the night is longest (winter)

 

Axial tilt

Axial tilt and the seasons

Created by Rhcastilhos for public domain

Based on the diagram above, you might think solstices happen when Earth is farthest in our elliptical (oval) orbit from the sun. But actually, the seasons (and equinoxes and solstices) are based on the axial tilt of our planet, NOT our orbit. When our southern pole is pointed as far as it can toward the sun, that’s the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, or winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. Again, a diagram is helpful.

 

Tying it back to my epic fantasy

So in the Rifts of Renjian, children born in the summer in their hemisphere become casters who produce heat when they cast a spell. Children born in the winter in their hemisphere become makers who use body heat (chilling their bodies and the surrounding air) to craft enchantments such as charms and wards.

But those lucky children born on the solstice itself are the most powerful of them all. Those born on the equinox are completely powerless, along with all the other children born in the spring and autumn seasons.

 

The planet Renjian

Cover art showing cloaked figure with a magic sword headed toward castle ruins: Riftblade by Traci Loudin (Rifts of Renjian Book 1)All this means that Renjian must be rather Earth-like. I didn’t want to create a world  too dissimilar to our own. Nor did I want to verge on writing a science fiction novel. This is an epic fantasy series after all!

But in case you’re wondering, YES, Renjian does have a similar axial tilt to Earth. This means the four seasons and solstices and equinoxes like ours.

Orbital dynamics come into play at the end of Book 1, and especially in Book 2. But I can’t tell you much more than that.

As you can imagine, planning your child’s birth date is a pretty big deal on Renjian. More about the calendar in a future post!

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About Traci Loudin

I believe stories help us understand the world and ourselves better. They help us live a fuller life. But that doesn’t mean we need to read stuffy “Literature” with a capital L!

Stories should be fun and adventurous! They should capture our imaginations and take us far from here. They should excite and terrify us.

That’s why I write dark epic fantasy. It’s fun, it’s adventurous, and sometimes it’s terrifying.

 

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