Quote of the Month

"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954.

“We must change our attitudes toward the ocean. We must regard it as no longer a mystery, a menace, something so vast and invulnerable that we need not concern ourselves with it … Instead we want to explore the themes of the ocean’s existence—how it moves and breathes, how it experiences dramas and seasons, how it nourishes its hosts of living things, how it harmonizes the physical and biological rhythms of the whole earth, what hurts it and what feeds it—not least of all, what are its stories.” Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1910-1997.

"It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head." Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1894.

"It is with you as with the sea: the most varied names are given to what is in the end only salt water." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections, 1833.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Stars as Teachers


The Egyptian Goddess Isis is often depicted as veiled, as noted in the picture of Auguste Puttemans (1866-1927), Statue of Isis, located at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in Iowa (Wikimedia Commons). Isis is by no means the first or the last manifestation of the Mother Goddess. Her story, with Osiris and Horus, marks the passage of the sun, moon, and planets in the backdrop of stars. As most mythical stories, theirs evolved with humans’ first encounters with stars.
Primal myths are the stuff of primal astronomy – the extended metaphors our ancestors used to describe the cyclic movement of the celestial bodies; their infinity (consistency), births (appearances), deaths (disappearances), rebirths (re-appearances). When humans first looked at the stars in earnest and unveiled the adage, as above so below, they had no words to describe what they saw. Expressions of awe became syllables, and then metaphoric stories helping us to understand the lessons from our star teachers guiding us from dark (gu) to light (ru). They taught us how to connect stars to the cycle of the seasons, animal migrations, plant sprouting, climate, and spacetime. It is the story in the syllabic ancient Sanskrit mantra, sa-ta-na-ma (infinity, birth, death, rebirth). The story behind each syllable describes the passage of the Moon, Venus, the Sun, the Constellations, as well as the passage of Life on Earth.
The largest constellation, later known as Virgo, became the Great Mother (wisdom, Sophia), upholding the law (Libra), justice (Scorpio), sustenance (the Milky Way); this being only a small section of the observable ecliptic trajectory of 12 constellations, innumerable stars and the stuff of stars (planets, satellites, asteroids, life, dark matter).
            When we stopped looking at the sky for guidance to understand Mother Earth, these metaphors degenerated into religions and history (or twistory, as The Little Prince called it), blinding ourselves from what is hidden in plain sight in nature, trading harmony for disharmony. When was the last time you saw the stars? When was the last time you laid down on the ground (or a sailboat deck away from city lights) to see the passage of stars from east to west, as we move in rapid stillness from west to east? Only when we are ready to continue the natural evolution of our ancestors, from paupers to corporate giants, will we again begin to unveil Isis.