Once upon a time in the stars
Once upon a time with Orion
Very few constellations are visible all the world over at the same time, but in the month of March, we have just such a phenomenon.
The constellation in question is the mighty giant Orion, with his very famous belt of three stars. Because these three stars are positioned almost directly along the celestial equator, the imaginary line that divides the northern and southern celestial hemispheres, it means that every year, as we draw toward Equinox, Orion can be seen at night in the skies over both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
In the world of the storyteller, Orion and the stars around it can be easily linked to the well-known tale of "Jack and the Beanstalk." Jack and his mother live in very poor conditions, and are forced to sell even their milking cow, their one last source of food. Jack sells the cow for a handful of beans, much to the dismay of his mother.
When you look into the night sky, you can imagine that Orion is the surly giant that Jack encounters at the top of the beanstalk, and Orion's famous belt of three stars represent the three treasures that Jack must retrieve from the giant: the hen that lays the golden eggs; the two bags of gold; and the singing harp. The milking cow that Jack traded? That's the constellation Taurus, the bull, which appears above and right of Orion in the sky, where you can also find the handful of beans, also known as the star cluster of the Pleiades.
If you're looking at Orion in the sky, and you follow his belt of stars down and to the left, you see the brightest star in our night sky, which is the star Sirius. In the tale, Sirius is the fairy who sets up this challenge for Jack, to determine whether he has the courage and capacity to overcome the giant and to restore to himself his father's treasures.
Fortunately because it's a fairy tale, there's always a happily ever after. So if ever you feel you've sold your cow for a handful of beans, perhaps you can find solace under the stars of Orion throughout the month of March.
Link to the story "Jack and the Beanstalk" from Andrew Lang's Color Fairy Books: http://www.pitt.edu/~