Today’s New Moon occurs in sidereal Libra, which carries the Sign of the second month of northern Spring, Taurus, and once again, visibility blurs its relationship with the seasons of the two hemispheres. The Sun occupies the Sign a month earlier than the Constellation, in northern Autumn and southern Spring, but the Constellation is prominent in the night sky through northern Spring and southern Autumn. It transits at dawn in March, solar midnight in May, and nightfall in August.
The traditional view of Libra, with autumnal associations of refinement and compromise (when the Sun is nowadays actually in Virgo), is of the scales of justice, a symbol which resonates with its Southern season and surroundings. Below it is the Spring star Arcturus and the Ploughman—impossible to see as such—or the Chinese ‘Great Horn’, which unmistakably resembles a corporate tie. Above Libra, over the zenith at the back of your head when you face north, is the array of the Centaur and the Wolf skewered on his spear.
Because of its proximity to the symbol of justice, this array has always represented for me the quintessential colonial Australian conflict between indigenous people and settlers, and settlers and colonial powers. Tranquility is guaranteed by the police if you’re a squatter and some swagman or band of blackfellas kills your sheep, but how secure are you in your moral rectitude? Who is interfering with whose livelihood? Is it a sheep, or a kangaroo? Is Ned Kelly a national hero or a murderer and thief? Whatever our decisions, we Australians transfer their shortcomings onto the ‘suits’ in the big smoke (Bootes).
My life has been witness to both an evolution of ideas of what is good, and an erosion by cultural relativity of absolute meaning. My ancestors stole the children: ‘good Christians’ they were who put the interests of indigenous children—whom they regarded as tainted in indigenous communities by white blood—before the need of their mothers, because they saw only dysfunction and destitution in indigenous communities. Of course, we can acknowledge the cause of that dysfunction in our simply being here, see the missionaries as henchmen to capitalist exploiters, and believe that a guilty conscience was a poor foundation for ethical action, but my ancestors did not only think they were doing the right thing by the “stolen generation”, they were at that time also sacrificing their husbands and sons in world wars believed—naively, as it can seem in retrospect—to be defending the good against evil. There’s nothing secure about rectitude.
Saiph is sublimated. It’s Halloween! Imagine this: at the ‘stroke’ of solar midnight in a dark churchyard in the Barossa region of South Australia, directly below its graves, the Moon aligns with the Sun. Notwithstanding that, because of daylight saving, this is the only midnight on Halloween, the return of the souls of these dead and the opening of the doors to the spirit world occur in the other tonight of the 31st. And yet something is happening here. Let’s just say that the spirits are having a dress rehearsal. “And his ghost may be heard….”
To be honest, I was drawn to the Lutherans because of the German connection with the swagman [linked above], but here’s another spooky connection. What unseen power guided my search to Our Lady of Navigators? What is it about two places—two churches—which are precisely opposite each other on the globe? What other questions am I being asked to answer? Where do we go when we die? What underworld does the Sun enter after dark? Does it die? What will happen to me if I’m awake at midnight? Am I alone?
Can you see a sign in the form of a halo of light from the south side of the igreja? Peasant superstition? An uncanny similarity asserts itself with the phenomenon known as the Brocken Spectre, a magnified shadow of an observer projected into mountain mist on the very same mountain, in the Northern [see?] German Harz Mountains, where witches meet on Beltane Eve to hold revels with the Devil. The Lutherans came from Germany, and it is Beltane in the Southern Hemisphere—or near enough—on the First of November! Phew! Fortunately, I can give you these salutary lines about limerence, addressing this apparition, to calm you down:
And art thou nothing? Such thou art, as when
The woodman winding westward up the glen
At wintry dawn, where o’er the sheep-track’s maze
The viewless snow-mist weaves a glist’ning haze,
Sees full before him, gliding without tread,
An image with a glory round its head;
The enamoured rustic worships its fair hues,
Nor knows he makes the shadow he pursues!
From “Constancy to an Ideal Object“, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Coincidences? A demonstration that everything is connected? That everything happens for a reason? Or are the ‘suits’ right, and the world simply turns? On we go…
Today sees another portentous omen. Is the appearance of mighty Jupiter in the dawn sky a sign of the welcome return of the Prodigal, or is it to confirm our optimism towards the chance of a bountiful harvest untroubled by further calamities like the floods we have endured during the Spring? Is it the long-awaited sign that the ‘suits’ will stop Aleppo, the incarceration of Aboriginal youth and the global annihilation of wildlife?
And on the eve of the new month, the Moon reaches its apogee, which some foolish people believe has an influence on which things we are ashamed of and keep buried within us, instead hating their manifestation in other people, unaware that discriminating rectitude like this merely enables and perpetuates infantile, unconscious self-hatred.
So Happy Safar! The month when fighting is forbidden is finally over, and we can get stuck into it. ‘Safar’ means ’empty’, as in empty homes, when sanctions are lifted against trading and feuding. However, it must be pointed out that this coming month, regarded by some pre-Islamic Arabs as unlucky, is like all months, neither good nor bad in itself. Let there be an end to all such superstitions. No month, and no position of the stars, Sun, Moon or planets exerts any influence independent of the will of God. Does God wear a suit?
If you have ever been anaesthetized, it is not difficult to imagine Limbo. As deeply personal as your last experience might be, there might yet be something you wish to say, some further comment on an umpiring decision, perhaps. You may get many opportunities to dress-rehearse but it may be a considerable time before you are heard. I would add that we have this in common: my sincere wish in what I have written above is not to offend anyone—even if you’re wrong.