The end of July marks the halfway point in the season, known traditionally as “cross quarter day.” But before we get to that point this year, we pass through a dramatic close encounter with the planet Mars, especially Thursday this week, July 26th.
Traditionally the summer cross quarter is a celebration of the first wheat harvest and includes the sacred ceremony of offering up the first loaf of bread baked from the wheat, to secure blessing for the remaining harvest.
Symbolically this is also the time when we begin to reap what we have sown ~ and here’s where Mars steps in.
Since early Spring, the red planet has travelled toward us at a rate of 900,000 miles a day! At Summer Solstice, Mars began its apparent retrograde, and this week, Mars arrives at its opposition with the Sun, rising in the east with the Moon Thursday night.
At this opposition, Mars is like the Red Listener from the Celtic creation myth. In the myth, the hero must cross a mighty river to the Plain of Wonder and win the King’s Cup in order to restore his beloved to health and happiness. She has lost three drops of her heart’s blood, and now she’s at the end of her life unless he can restore them to her, but only from the King’s Cup. But the river he must cross is wide, and no hero has ever made it in time or with memory for his quest in tact.
Standing in the river is the Red Listener, a giant whom I’m imagining is the planet Mars. The Red Listener is there to lend a hand, but his action will be determined by what the hero brings to this moment, whether good or ill, for when it’s cross quarter day and the first harvest is brought in, that which is done unto us will match that which we have done unto others.
Watch for all of this Thursday night, when the nearly Full Moon rises at 8:36 pm, followed by Mars, the Red Listener, below and slightly left. The Sun will set about half an hour later, with Venus above and left. Jupiter and Saturn will appear later in the sky to the south. It's as though all of them have come to witness our engagement with what we have sown.
Follow this link for Lady Gregory's version of the Celtic creation tale "King Under Wave's Daughter".