The Moon is carving an interesting path through the sky this week, calling to mind a significant event in history, both in the Christian world and in the world of astronomy. Image detail from Abram's Planetarium Sky Calendar. Edit | Remove
So it’s election week in the United States, and what, you may ask, are the stars doing? For me, it’s not so much what they portend, but what they call to mind from the past.
November begins with All Hallow’ds Day on the 1st, followed by All Soul’s Day on the 2nd, days for celebrating and honoring loved ones who have died.
This “ancestor worship,” is rooted in the idea that the dead know better than we what is needed as action on the Earth in order to lead forward harmoniously. But because they’re no longer physically incarnate, the dead need what my friend Gretchen calls “allies of understanding” among the living.
This relationship across the threshold between the living and the dead is celebrated now because we are crossing through the half-way point in the season. The Autumn Cross Quarter stands opposite the Spring cross quarter, which celebrates new life and fertility, when the sunlight is growing stronger. Now, the sunlight in the northern hemisphere wanes.
Which brings us to the Moon, now also waning, through the region of Taurus. On Monday the Moon is closest to the region of Pleiades; on Tuesday, the Moon is near Aldebaran, the bull’s eye, when we all hope to hit our mark; then on Wednesday, the Moon passes Zeta Tauri, the star that marks the southern tip of the Bull’s horn, known in ancient Chinese astrology as the Celestial Gateway.
This region of stars bears the memory of the Great Schism between the Christian Churches that occurred in July of 1054, when a supernova exploded into what is now known as the Crab Nebula. What the Moon hopes to remind us is perhaps best described then by the 17th century Dutch philosopher Spinoza: “Schisms do not originate in a love of truth, which is a source of courtesy and gentleness, but rather in an inordinate desire for supremacy.”