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Happily Ever After with Blue Moon and Venus: This week on The Storyteller's Night Sky

In this image by Arthur Rackham from 1909, Hansel is shown gathering the glittering stones in the moonlight, to free his sister Gretel from the witch, for their happily ever after.

This week brings the last full moon of summer, and it’s a blue moon, if we abide by the definition that the second full moon in one month is blue.

This presents us with a unique opportunity, because also later this week, Venus resumes direct motion, after nearly six weeks of retrograde, which makes it time for fairy tales and mythologies, and for happily-ever-afters to be realized.

Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Underground” is a perfect fit for all this. Here he makes clever use of Apollo and Daphne, Hansel and Gretel, Orpheus and Eurydice, in the moonlight, in the underground, in that place of hopes and dreams and longing.

For now, summer is ending, and in that ending something as-yet-undefined calls to us. For Heaney, it’s the plight of oftentimes ill-fated couples, lover and beloved, that they might somehow find their way to happily ever after, in the moonlight, with the help of Venus, guardian of love.

Heaney writes:

There we were in the vaulted tunnel running, 
You in your going-away coat speeding ahead 
And me, me then like a fleet god gaining 
Behind you before you turned to a reed 

Or some new white flower japped with crimson 
As the coat flapped wild and button after button 
Sprang off and fell in a trail 
Between the Underground and the Albert Hall. 

Honeymooning, mooning around, late for the Proms, 
Our echoes die in that corridor and now 
I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones 
Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons 

To end up in a draughty lamplit station 
After the trains have gone, the wet track 
Bared and tensed as I am, all attention 
For your step following and damned if I look back.

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.