News & Classical Music from Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

In the Secret Retreat of Light: This week on Storyteller's Night Sky

2022-8-29_In the Secret Retreat of Light.png
Leto is said to have been always mild, gentlest among the Olympians, and kind to both mortals and immortals, granting whatever is asked of her. As mother of Sun and Moon, she was often seen playing the lyre in the midst of the gods.

The Moon came to New Phase early Saturday morning, and this week, we’ll see it as a beautiful waxing crescent in the West after sunset, making its way among the stars that are below the celestial equator.

The exceptional thing about the late August New Moon is that not only is it the last New Moon of the Summer, but it also grows during the next two weeks from New Phase to Full Phase along the exact path that the Sun will take for the six months from Autumn Equinox to Spring Equinox. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the place among the stars where sunlight makes its retreat ~ where the outer light transitions to the inner light.

At this same time every year, as the Moon slips into this secret retreat of light below the celestial equator, the constellation of the lyre touches the zenith. The lyre is the instrument of Leto, ancient Greek goddess, mother of Sun and Moon. When her constellation touches the zenith it’s as though she sounds a note that summons a cosmic rainbow, a shimmering veil of many colors, to nourish the soul as we head toward the darker time of year.

Part of Leto’s story includes her childbirth being delayed until the goddesses attending her wove a necklace of golden threads for Iris, goddess of the rainbow. Like Mercury, Iris was a goddess of communication and would take whatever form was necessary to deliver messages to human beings from the divine.

So Leto’s constellation highest now, and the story of her giving birth to Sun and Moon is stirring while the waxing crescent Moon moves through the evening sky.

This is a subtle time of year, given its mood of transition from what has been to what will be ~ a gentle time, like the shimmering rainbow, meant for wonder and listening.

Mary Stewart Adams is a Star Lore Historian and host of “The Storyteller’s Night Sky.” As a global advocate for starry skies, Mary led the team that established the 9th International Dark Sky Park in the world in 2011, which later led to her home state of Michigan protecting 35,000 acres of state land for its natural darkness.