Thursday, September 30, 2010
Suspended over the fir trees out my door on summer evenings is the star Altair. It’s the brightest in a flat diamond of stars poised at an oblique angle over the trees, making up part of the constellation Aquila.
It’s also one of the three bright stars in what’s called in recent times the Summer Triangle: Altair, Deneb and Vega. To see the triangle around 9 or 10 p.m. this time of year, look toward the top of the sky — the brightest thing you see is Vega. Sweep left, and the star not quite as bright as Vega is Deneb. Altair toward the southern horizon is the apex of the equilateral triangle.
For quite a long time, the stars in this part of the sky have been associated with birds, or so the scholars say.
The name Altair comes from a phrase in the seventh- or eighth-century Arabic name for the constellation, Al Nasr al Ta’ir, the Flying Eagle, and means roughly “the rising one.” The Babylonians and Sumerians 3,000 years or more ago probably called it the Eagle Star, as did the Greeks later on. Aquila is Latin for eagle, the constellation’s name in Roman times. The easily visible star just above Altair is Tarazed, and dimmer just below it is Alshain, both taken from an ancient Persian name for the whole asterism, Shahin tara zed, meaning in one translation “the star-striking falcon.” Anyway it’s an image of sweeping power rendered there in the stars.
Aquila still flies there summer nights above the treetops in Maine. And higher to the east is Cygnus, the Swan, an easily spotted cross of six stars. Deneb is the top of the cross and the tail (al dhanab, in Arabic) of the swan. The central star is Sadr, the breast, and the lower star of the crosspiece is Gienah, from the Arabic al janah, “the wing,” of the swan or also the Hen for Arab astronomers. The Greeks also called the constellation Cycnos, the Swan, and simply Ornis, the Bird. Whatever you name it, that kind of grace is unmistakable there, in those stars.
Near the zenith on summer nights is Vega in the constellation Lyra, the Lyre, with one of the oldest continuously used star names from Arab sources. Indigenous Arab people called Vega Al Nasr al Waqi, variously translated as “the eagle the falling one,” or “the swooping eagle (or vulture),” or also “stone eagle of the desert.” The word Vega after a millennium of use seems to derive from waqi. The Romans called the constellation the Lyre, and the bird and music imagery were synthesized by the time Galileo turned telescopes skyward around 1610. The blue beauty of Vega, like a large bird in flight or like music, or both, is a force of grace and harmony there in the stars.
For being stationary, these powerful birds reflect kaleidoscoping wheels of motion, and they are not alone. Shot from the bow of the archer Sagittarius — who is low on the horizon (behind my firs) in these parts during July and August — and flying on a trajectory that has missed the eagle and will in some mythic future just miss the swan, is the arrow, Sagitta. Its trajectory skirted Scutum, the Shield, where one of the most graceful of all star clusters dots the sky (also obscured by trees at my house), known in the 1700s as M11 and later the Wild Duck Cluster. In a small telescope it looks, if your mind rises to its level, like a distant flock of ducks scattering, or so W.H. Smyth thought in the 1800s. The feel of it, at least, mirrors the other powerful flight taking place in the summer stars.
The ancient astronomers couldn’t see the Wild Duck Cluster, having no telescopes. And the truth is, the only constellation of all those named here whose dots connect to an image anything like its name is Cygnus. Even then, what we see there literally at a glance is a cross, not a swan. But like everything else in life, the more you watch the triangle of Aquila, Deneb and Vega, the more there meets the eye. A lot more.
Even though they’re fixed, these stars are in a special kind of flight relative to the season and the pointed firs. It’s not just that they’re enormous nuclear furnaces — so are the stars of Orion and the Big Dipper. These are revealing some cosmic motion peculiar to them that inspires a peculiar kind of awe. The awe you feel is your detection of that motion. An underlying motion, like powerful birds on the wing at night.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Aside from the gift of you in my life,the old one is so precious to me.He is here with me often and we share countless moments in silence,and wanderings;while others sleep,we watch,and dream,and wait.His presence is calming,his vision refreshing,his gift so priceless,so beyond words.Thank you Grandfather.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
From the furthest reaches of all the countless universes,there comes a soft whispering.It's vibration moves in wave upon wave of light.It's silent passage shall find it's destination. It's purpose shall be realized.Finally,the light descends,and comes to rest at the entrance of a cave.Within the cave,sits an old one.The eyes reflect the light hovering outside.
To the right of the old one rests a young one sleeping.The old one nods his head,and awakens the young one.With eyes full of sleep,the young one arises and approaches the cave's entrance.The light takes the form of a woman.The young one goes to her and receives that which rests upon the palm of her extended hand.The young one nods in respect and thanksgiving.The woman speaks,"Look at the ring. Allow it to touch your inner-vision. It will speak to you with great clarity."
The young one looks at the ring,which then begins to form a spiral of light around the young one.Still focused on the ring,the young one notes gems of diamond,garnet,jade,and pearl. Again the woman speaks,"Within you are the elements of each gems power...it's voice and it's vision.Hear it's voice and behold it's vision.Both will guide and sustain you." The young one answers with a smile,as the light ascends back into the deep night skies.Returning to the cave,the young one finds the old one gone;and,in the stead of the old one wait two pillars of fire.
The young one places the multi-gem-ed ring between the two pillars. A sudden vortex lifts the pillars of fire,with the ring,and carries all to the outside of the cave.
The young one runs to the outside of the cave,finding only silence and rocky ledge. The young one falls to trembling knees,crying out to the night skies,"Where is the old one? Why am I left here alone?"
Again,a whispering reaches the young one,"You are not left alone. Never is mine left alone. Sleep. The dawn comes soon. At first light begin your journey. Find your way to where the multi-gem-ed ring will lead you."
The young one lay prone at the entrance of the cave,drifting ever deeper on wave after wave of light . The old one sits near the sleeping one...softly humming.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Hear me whisper your name. I am here on the cliffs-the moon rides silently high above...It's light dances with reverence upon the slow moving waters.There is sweet stillness here. The mingling of pine and cedar with the salty air cleanses every particle of our beings,and the glorious power rising from the depths of the mighty sea surges on and on-rushing ever deeper in each of us,flowing in and tru us. It is so right and so good to be here,beloved Sister.
Your smile says as much as you begin the dancing.So aligned are you with the resounding heartbeat rising from the deep living waters below.
I would dance with you,but,for now it is sufficient for me to watch.So awesome is the life energy emanating from you.The graceful movement of the higher you comes forth,until I no longer see the physical- only the ecstatic fire building-rising above the earth,moving outward over the waters;and the sound of your tears decends with incredible tenderness upon the earth. The hushed sound of tinkling bells echo with each tear as it touches down.
In the distance the sound of drums,(barely audible,)drift upon the waves.You turn toward me. The light in your eyes are actual torches of camp fire,and the drums echo a Thank You to you for your visit.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Full Moon Names and Their Meanings
Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full Moon dates shift from year to year. Here is the Farmers Almanac’s list of the full Moon names.
• Full Wolf Moon – January Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.
• Full Snow Moon – February Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February’s full Moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult.
• Full Worm Moon – March As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.
• Full Pink Moon – April This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.
• Full Flower Moon – May In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.
• Full Strawberry Moon – June This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. Also because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!
• The Full Buck Moon – July July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month’s Moon was the Full Hay Moon.
• Full Sturgeon Moon – August The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.
• Full Corn Moon – September This full moon’s name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked when corn was supposed to be harvested. Most often, the September full moon is actually the Harvest Moon.
• Full Harvest Moon – October This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice the chief Indian staples are now ready for gathering.
• Full Beaver Moon – November This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.
• The Full Cold Moon; or the Full Long Nights Moon – December During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.
Gardening according to the phase of the Moon is a centuries old practice, practiced by ancient cultures the world over. It has been long known that the Moon has a strong effect on our planet and its’ inhabitants. Its gravitational pull guides the ocean tides as well as our own inner tides. Plants are no different, as with the sea and our bodies a plant’s water content is affected by the pull of the Moon. People long ago lived by the cycle of the Sun, Moon and the seasons. In today’s busy world many choose not to track the Moon phases and instead opt to purchase a farmer’s almanac. The Old Farmer’s Almanac and The Farmer’s Almanac both contain useful gardening sections that do all the planning for you. With these you have everything you need for growing a successful garden, flowerbed or orchard.
There are two methods of practice, one is by the Moon’s phase and the second is by the Moon’s phase as well as its placement in an astrological sign of the zodiac. The Moon’s month long cycle can be separated into two halves, the waxing and the waning. The first half of the monthly cycle is from just after the New Moon to the Full Moon. The Moon grows larger and brighter and it is this lighter half that stimulates growth in a plant. One common practice that has been used for centuries is to plant just after the New Moon as this gives the seed, plant or transplant two weeks of increasing, moonlight and gravitational influence to encourage germination and growth. Plants that flower and/or bear fruit above ground are best planted during the first quarter which is roughly a one week period from the day after the New Moon (or so) to the first quarter Moon. The first quarter to the Full Moon is the ideal time to plant brambly fruits such as blackberries, raspberries and the like. This first half is also the best time to water your plants. As the Full Moon nears harvest any juicy berries, succulent leafy greens or other veggies for their optimum water content. It is also best to harvest herbs at the Full Moon as their essential oils are strongest, fragrant flowers will have stronger scent too.
The waning Moon is the period from the day after the Full Moon to the New Moon, when the Moon grows smaller and the night skies are darker. This half of the Moon’s cycle discourages growth in plants. The third quarter, which is from just after the Full Moon to the last quarter, is the best time to plant trees, vines, as well as flowering bulbs and plants that bear fruit under ground (root vegetables). This phase of the Moon is beneficial to those plants which rely on strong root systems like trees, root vegetables and strawberries. The last quarter is best used to weed, till, thin seedlings and rid your garden of pests, take this last week to mulch your garden and get a handle on those weeds. By following this method you will find that once the garden is established you will be spending less time in the garden having to water and weed.
The second method of gardening involves planting and tending the garden according the zodiac sign that the Moon is passing through. For anyone unfamiliar with the astrological zodiac it consists of twelve signs/constellations in which the Moon passes through and spends a day or two in each sign during the lunar cycle, or month. The four elements each rule four zodiac signs. Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are considered “water signs” and are the best time to plant most seeds and plants. While Cancer is the best, above ground plants put in at the time the Moon passes through any of these three signs will yield the best results. Air sign Libra is said to be best for planting flowering plants. The Earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are the second best choices for planting. Plant your root veggies when the Moon is in Capricorn or Taurus, Virgo is best left for weeding and tilling. Fire signs Leo, Sagittarius and Aries are also ideal for weeding, tilling, cleaning and ridding your garden of pests. Air sign Aquarius is good for harvesting and Gemini is also good for working the soil.
If all of this makes your head spin, then you can do what many people over the last two centuries have done. Pick up a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac and head to the Outdoor Planting Table section. Right there, at your fingertips, is a handy chart that tells you when to plant what. This method is also a great science experiment for you or your children. Plant two plants or seeds one at the ideal planting time and the second at a more “undesirable” time. Watch to see how these plants grow in comparison over the season. Will your plants wither and die if you plant them at the “wrong” time? Probably not. Your garden will still plug along, but you will lack the abundant harvest and lush growth that you could have had planting by the Moon.
* Sow plants that flower or bear fruit above ground (1st quarter)
* Plant blackberries, raspberries and other caned plants (during 2nd quarter)
* Water Plants
* Feed Plants
* Nearest the Full Moon-harvest juicy fruits and greens. Herbs for optimum essential oil content, flowers for strong fragrance.
* Sow root vegetables (3rd quarter)
* Plant Trees and Saplings (3rd quarter)
* Plant strawberries (3rd quarter)
* Thin seedlings
* Divide plants
* Pest Control