The Colors of Dawn that Dance on the North Wind: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Sep 2, 2019

In art Aurora is usually depicted in the prime of youth and fertility, carrying a rose as she departs for her daily round, leaving her aged husband Tithonis asleep in a blanket of clouds. By Julien Simon (1783)

Though most of the aurora activity has settled down by now, there’s still cause to be hopeful if you want to see it, because statistics show that the elusive lights are more active around the time of Equinox each year, and that’s where we’re headed. What’s more, the coronal hole that caused this weekend’s wild forecasts is rotating around the surface of the Sun and may face earthward again in about 28 days, so stay tuned.

The term “Aurora Borealis” was first used by Italian astronomer Galileo in the early 1600s, which gave poetic wings to the idea that they were colors dancing on the wind in the northern sky before the dawn.

He built the term out of Roman mythology, where Aurora was the goddess of the dawn, the personification of the very first daylight. She drove a chariot pulled by winged horses, scattering rose petals along the way to announce the arrival of the Sun.

Aurora was also the mother of the four principle Winds, which were worshipped as gods in classical times. Boreas, god of the North Wind, was by far the most fearsome, for "he made the Earth shiver and shook the sea."

Aurora was deeply in love with her her husband, Tithonus. Sadly, he was slain by Achilles, so she begged Jupiter to grant him immortality. But she forgot to also ask for eternal youth, so he became eternally old and shrunken.

This myth is reminiscent of the tale of the Star Maiden and her beloved from the Great Lakes tribes, in relation not only to the colors of the dawn, but to the morning star. When the planet Venus is morning star she bears youth and beauty; as evening star she bears age and wisdom ~ as though the single planet demonstrated the unity of the beloveds despite their changing aspect from dawn to dusk.