Dark Sky Park: Scorpius

May 23, 2013

IPR: There will be a Full Moon on Saturday in the early hours, just past midnight, and while full moonlight can diminish stargazing, it's great for storytelling. What stories are connected with the May Full Moon?

MARY: With this particular Full Moon we will witness the barest type of eclipse possible, known as a "penumbral eclipse." This means the Moon is passing through the edge of the Earth's shadow which means it won't go through Total Eclipse. This won't be visible to the naked eye but the region where it's occurring in the sky makes it pretty interesting.

This Full Moon will occur in the region of the four naked-eye stars that make up the claw and head region of the constellation Scorpius. Scorpius is related to the underworld region in Greek and Roman mythology and it's the area where the Sun appears to move after it has moved into the Southern Celestial Hemisphere which is during the end of Fall for us in the North. In addition to its mythological relationship with the underworld Scorpius was also regarded as the region of desire and passion (even addictions) so it's no wonder, then, that each May, when the Moon comes to Full phase in this region of the sky, Buddhists celebrate the birth and enlightenment of the Buddha at this time. His enlightenment is related to the supreme overcoming of the earthly desires that Scorpio represents.

But it doesn't end there because Scorpio is also likened to the eagle, or the Phoenix, the firebird that is consumed in the ashes and then rises up out of those very same ashes.

There is a saying attributed to the Buddha that is quite fitting for this month's Full Moon, especially because it's a slight eclipse: Three things cannot long be hidden: the Sun, the Moon, and the Truth.

IPR: Are there any other indications about this, from the individual stars themselves, and not just from the constellation?

MARY: One of the four stars nearest the Full Moon is the delta scorpii star known as "Dschubba". Along the Euphrates this star was regarded as the "Light of the Hero" or "The Tree of the Garden of Light," which was placed in the midst of the abyss. This has suggested to star historians its connection with the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden of Eden, and what we are experiencing here is the way former cultures understood what the stars were saying to them: the Astro Logos is the star word, literally. The predictable rhythm and motion of the Moon and the planets in the region of certain stars and constellations, regarded as part and parcel of events happening on Earth, sounded forth with opportunity and omen. A Full Moon in this region, where the hero stands as a light in the midst of the abyss, or where the Buddha overcomes Earthly desire, signals a significant opportunity that is marked by the rhythm of this month's Full Moon.