31 October 2016 – Astro-Weather: There’s no Moon this Halloween. Vega is the brightest star high in the west. Less high in the southwest is Altair, not quite as bright. Just upper right of Altair, by a finger-width at arm’s length, is orange Tarazed, looking like Altair’s little sidekick but actually a much bigger & brighter star far in the background.
If you like observing challenges, head outside this evening to look for Uranus, bright enough to glimpse with the naked eye from under a dark sky. The planet reached opposition & the peak of its 2016 apparition earlier this month, & it remains a fine sight. Around 8pm CDT, Uranus lies about halfway from the southeastern horizon to the zenith. The distant world resides in southern Pisces just northwest of Piscium.
The Moon reaches apogee, the farthest point in its orbit around Earth, at 2:29 pm CDT- 252,688 miles (from Earth’s center
Buddha on thought sprung from love
The thought manifests as the word.
The word manifests as the deed.
The deed develops into habit.
And the habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care.
And let it spring from love,
Born out of concern for all beings.
Rudolf Steiner’s Lectures on this day
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Hop-tu-Naa is a Celtic festival celebrated in the Isle of Man on 31 October. Predating Halloween, it is the celebration of the original New Year’s Eve (Oie Houney). It is thought to be the oldest unbroken tradition in the Isle of Man
Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season & the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is the cross quarter between the autumn equinox & the winter solstice.
The Mound of the Hostages, a Neolithic passage tomb at the Hill of Tara, is aligned with the Samhain sunrise. It is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature & many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain.
It is the time when cattle are brought back down from the summer pastures & when livestock are slaughtered for the winter. As at Beltane, special bonfires are lit.
Like Beltane, Samhain is seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world & the Otherworld can more easily be crossed. This means the Aos Sí, the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies’, can more easily come into our world, so offerings of food & drink are left outside for them.
The souls of the dead are also thought to revisit seeking hospitality. Feasts are had, at which the souls of dead kin are beckoned to attend, & a place set at the table for them.
Mumming & guising were part of the festival in olden times, which involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food.
Divination rituals & games were also a big part of the festival.
Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) Theis multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family, to pray for, & remember thise who have died, to help support their spiritual journey.
Traditions connected with the holiday include building altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, & the favorite foods & beverages of the departed, & visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.
Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world, being absorbed within other deep traditions for honoring the dead.
475 – Romulus Augustulus is proclaimed Western Roman Emperor
683 – During the Siege of Mecca, the Kaaba catches fire & is burned down. The Holy Kaaba also referred as “The Cube”, is a building at the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, al-Hejaz, Saudi Arabia. It is the most sacred site in Islam. It is considered the “House of Allah” & has a similar role to the Tabernacle & Holy of Holies in Judaism. Wherever they are in the world, Muslims are expected to face the Kaaba when performing salat (prayer)
The Kaaba is a stone cube structure which is made of marble & limestone. The wall directly adjacent to the entrance of the Kaaba has six tablets inlaid with inscriptions, & there are several more tablets along the other walls. Along the top corners of the walls runs a green cloth embroidered with gold Qur’anic verses. Caretakers anoint the marble cladding with the same scented oil used to anoint the Black Stone outside. Three pillars stand inside the Kaaba, with a small altar or table set between one & the other two. Lanterns or crucible censers hang from the ceiling. A golden door—the Babut Taubah meaning “Door of Repentance” on the right wall (right of the entrance) opens to an enclosed staircase that leads to a hatch, which itself opens to the roof. Both the roof & ceiling (collectively dual-layered) are made of stainless steel-capped teak wood.
Each numbered item in the following list corresponds to features noted in the diagram image.
- Al-Ḥajaru al-Aswad, “the Black Stone“, is located on the Kaaba’s eastern corner. Its northern corner is known as the Ruknu l-ˤĪrāqī, “the Iraqi corner”, its western as the Ruknu sh-Shāmī, “the Levantine corner”, & its southern as Ruknu l-Yamanī, “the Yemeni corner”. The four corners of the Kaaba roughly point toward the four cardinal directions of the compass. Its major (long) axis is aligned with the rising of the star Canopus toward which its southern wall is directed, while its minor axis (its east-west facades) roughly align with the sunrise of summer solstice & the sunset of winter solstice.
- The entrance is a door set 2.13 m (7 ft) above the ground on the north-eastern wall of the Kaaba, which acts as the façade. In 1979 the 300 kg gold doors replaced the old silver doors in 1942. There is a wooden staircase on wheels, usually stored in the mosque between the arch-shaped gate of Banū Shaybah & the Zamzam Well.
- Meezab-i Rahmat, rainwater spout made of gold. Added in the rebuilding of 1627 after the previous year’s rain caused three of the four walls to collapse.
- Gutter, added in 1627 to protect the foundation from groundwater.
- Hatim, a low wall originally part of the Kaaba. It is a semi-circular wall opposite, but not connected to, the north-west wall of the Kaaba composed of white marble.
- Al-Multazam, the roughly 2 meter space along the wall between the Black Stone & the entry door. It is sometimes considered pious or desirable for a hajji to touch this area of the Kaaba, or perform dua here.
- The Station of Abraham (Maqam Ibrahim), a glass & metal enclosure with what is said to be an imprint of Abraham’s feet. Abraham is said to have stood on this stone during the construction of the upper parts of the Kaaba, raising Ismail on his shoulders for the uppermost parts.
- Corner of the Black Stone (East).
- Corner of Yemen (South-West). Pilgrims traditionally acknowledge a large vertical stone that forms this corner.
- Corner of Syria (North-West).
- Corner of Iraq (North-East). This inside corner, behind a curtain, contains the Babut Taubah, Door of Repentance, which leads to a staircase to the roof.
- Kiswah, the embroidered covering, is a black silk & gold curtain which is replaced annually during the Hajj pilgrimage. Two-thirds of the way up is a band of gold-embroidered Quranic text, including the Shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith.
- Marble stripe marking the beginning & end of each circumambulation.
- The station of the Archangel Gabriel
802 – Empress Irene is deposed and banished to Lesbos. Conspirators place Nikephoros, the minister of finance, on the Byzantine throne
1517 –Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg
1711 – Birthday of Laura Bassi, Italian physician, physicist, & academic. The first woman in the world to earn a university chair in a scientific field of studies.
1876 – A monster cyclone ravages India, resulting in over 200,000 deaths
1922 – Benito Mussolini is made Prime Minister of Italy
1926 – Magician Harry Houdini dies of gangrene & peritonitis that develops after his appendix ruptures
1979 – Western Airlines Flight 2605 crashes on landing in Mexico City, killing 73 people.
1984 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots break out in New Delhi & other cities and around 3,000 Sikhs are killed.
1994 – American Eagle Flight 4184 crashes near Roselawn, Indiana, killing 68
1996 – TAM Transportes Aéreos Regionais Flight 402 crashes in São Paulo, Brazil, killing 99 people
1999 – EgyptAir Flight 990 crashes into the Atlantic Ocean near Nantucket, killing all 217 people on board
2000 – Singapore Airlines Flight 006 crashes on takeoff from Taipei, killing 83
2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion. This day is now recognized by the United Nations as Seven Billion Day
2015 – Metrojet Flight 9268 is bombed over the northern Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board
Brown Bough & Besom
STRADDLE THE THRESHOLD JANUS STYLE
THE MYSTIC FACE PIERCING THE VEIL
DIVINING THE FUTURE
THE SCORCHING EYE SIDE SEEING INTO THE GRAVE
PLEASURING THE PAST TO CELEBRATE THE DEAD
& REMIND THEM OF THE WOMB OF THE GREAT MOTHER
THE LORD OF MISRULE PRESIDING
WITH THE MISTRESS & LADY OF THE TOMB
ADORNING THE TRANCE MASK
SEKHEM, DIS & NEFERTUM
THEY SET THE BALEFIRE
& PRONOUCE THE SPELLWORK BY THE MOON
TO ROAST THE SLAUGHTERED STOCK
OF THE FINAL HARVEST
SET EXTRA PLACES AT THE TABLE
LEAVE OFFERINGS FOR THE FEAST OF SPIRITS
GINGERBREAD & POMEGRANTES
BEETS & PUMPKIN PIE
MUGWORT, SAGE & ALLSPICE
YARROW, CAMPHOR, RYE
DUNK THE NOVICE HEAD
IN THE CAULDRON OF REGENERATION
FOR THE APPLE BOBBING BAPTISM
TO MARK THE HIGH HOLY DAY
WHEN THE SCORPIAN BECOMES THE EAGLE
& THE SAINTS COME OUT TO PLAY
BREATHE IN THE MIST
THAT RISES AT MIDNIGHT
FROM THE BURIAL MOUNDS
& SPEAK WITH THE VOICE OF THE ABYSS
AN ORACLE FOR THE NEW YEAR
GREETING CHAOS WITH A KISS
THE GATES OF FAERY STAND OPEN
IN TIME OUT OF TIME
EVERYWHERE & NOWHERE – HERE & THERE
WHEN EVERYTHING IS GATHERED
THE FIELDS LIE FALLOW
& THE ATMOSPHERE IS RARE
ALL SOULS MUST RETURN AT COCK-CROW
WHEN THE TRICK CAN NO LONGER DARE
LET THE DEAD WALK
TO SHOW THE LIVING
THAT EVERY ENDING
IS BUT A NEW BEGINNING
Halloween 2016 (The election & the Cubs aside)
I walk up my garden path, across a carpet of red & gold maple leaves, reflecting on how this stunning beauty comes to be. From bud break in early Spring, green predominates, as chlorophyll absorbs the sunlight & powers growth. Then, as the outer life-force slackens, the true colors appear from behind their green mask.
Perhaps there’s a lesson here that we can apply to our lives here on earth: the green being our physical self – our earthly concerns, where we are caught up in the material matters of our daily lives – and it’s only when we reflect & go inside that the rich, deeper colors can appear.
When we pass the threshold into the spiritual world in our meditative life we see that these are not two worlds apart.
Since ancient times this cross-quarter time is considered one of the high holy days of the year. It’s a time to meditate on our link with the Other Side, that realm we slip into when we dream, or die, or dance with ecstasy, or loosen the binds of our logical minds, to hopefully negotiate a smart new treaty with our dark side.
Many people are so frightened of this realm that they avoid ever knowing it, consequently ensuring it will always haunt them like an ominous shadow. That must be one of the reasons why Halloween has taken on such a gruesome aspect. But when we create the safety of sacred space, the power of All Hallows is a source of power & renewal for us.
During this season the veil between the world of the living & realm of the dead is thin. It’s an opportunity to communicate with our ancestors, to heal old wounds, to open to their blessings. One of your dead relatives may have something to share, if you are open to hear their message.
You could also catch a glimpse of yourself as you were in the distant past, or will be, in the far future -for what is time, but a construct to mark the circle of eternity..?
Contemplate the fact that there will come a time when you will die…Imagine yourself as the person you will be on that day…
Look back on your life & think about all the things you wish you would have done that you didn’t do…Then come back in time to the person you are today & perhaps you will chose to get started on accomplishing these things sometime in the next three months…the dark of the year…
Let this time inspire you to catch a glimpse of the other side of the veil & pay reverence to your ancestors.
You have two biological parents, four grandparents, & eight great-grandparents. You wouldn’t be you if it weren’t for those 14 people. The legacy they bequeathed you plays a major role in determining your virtues & vices, your attractions & aversions; & this is a perfect spiritual & astrological moment to get to know them better. In fact, deepening your connection to your family’s history will provide crucial clues, as you seek to reinvigorate your tired old perspectives on long-running dilemmas.
Look within…to evolve your understanding of where you came from & where, therefore, you belong…
Think on those ancestors aligned with love & light that you would like to honor…Maybe you have unresolved issues that you would like to work out…?
Think on them that made us…call out their names, speak their stories if you will, as you cook their favorite foods & light incense as an offering to the dead…
Or maybe you’d like to skip right over the direct bloodline thing & honor a historical ancestor that has inspired your life…?
Here in America, Halloween calls for an interaction with spooky strangers, that come out of the night, knocking on our door, shouting, give me a treat or you’ll get a trick. On a spiritual level, trick-or-treat, can be seen as a demand that strangers – a symbol of the unfamiliar parts of ourselves – give up their gifts to us – There is a lot of energy that gets locked up in the dark, & Halloween is an opportunity for us to dialogue with the dark, the shadow side of The Self, & call that energy back.
Light & dark are not opposites, but 2 parts of the same cycle…In order to fully appreciate the festivals of light, that return with the winter solstice, we must 1st grow in the dark womb of our perennial inward journey; & with the veil between the worlds so thin, great transformations are possible, since the power of all the dimensions are available to us.
And it’s not only the veil between the physical & spiritual worlds that thin, it can also be the division between any 2 polarities, like the left & right hemispheres in our brains for instance; or between any 2 realities that are struggling to coexist – like war & peace for instance.
This dark night can represent a resolution of paradox, a respectful meeting of the different sides of the same coin, which can initiate the healing transformation required, in order to let the light back into our lives, once we’ve come to understand -& own our side of the dark…
Homework: Dress up as who you want to be in the coming year