Something Bigger; Perseus and the Perseids

Metaphorcast for 8/9-15, 2021

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Leave it to the Leo new moon that came Sunday to set this week’s stage for optimal drama.  As the sky darkens, just like lights in a theater, the curtains lift to reveal a wondrous sight.  The annual Perseid Meteor shower, with its peak activity on Thursday and Friday, August 12th and 13th.

Perhaps the most well-known meteor shower of the Northern Hemisphere, the Perseids will radiate out of the constellation of Perseus, the Greek hero, best known for his slaying of Medusa.  

If you get the chance to see these radiant lights one of these nights (and after midnight is best with the widest amount of sky), keep in mind that what you are seeing is but a trail of something much much bigger.

Once deemed “the single most dangerous object known to humanity”, the comet Swift-Tuttle is what is known as the parent body of the Perseid meteor shower.  This comet has an orbit of 133 years around the sun, and it makes repeated close approaches to our Earth-Moon system.  Comet Swift-Tuttle made an appearance in our night sky in 1992, and is slated to make another in 2126.  The beautiful golden shower that we witness each year in these dog days of summer is but this comet’s debris.  As we ‘eat it’s dust’, so to speak, we also have the dignified pleasure of observing something radiant.  Something that for a moment, reminds us in so many ways of something bigger.

Joseph Campbell’s definition of a hero is “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

The stars above are reminders of a vast world of light, one that endures beyond the day of sun and the night of moon.  To behold a meteor shower against a dark summer night sky is to go beyond the world of day and night, beyond the mind and its tendency to break things into smaller pieces.  

Perseus is a hero who seeks to go beyond the mind’s limits, in search of something bigger.  

In his book, The Reflexive Universe, cosmologist Arthur M Young points out that Perseus’ slaying of Medusa exemplifies the trap of mind.  Medusa’s hair of snakes shows the powers of mind.  Her effect on turning people to stone is the effect of the mind as it objectifies things and makes them inert.  To deal with this problem, Perseus meets her gaze in a mirror, which is another symbol of mind as it is one step removed from the immediacy of experience.  With this ‘distance’ he is able to slay her.  In doing this he proves that “mind is the slayer of the real” and “only the mind can slay the slayer” as the Zen teachings put it.  

Mind slays the real by turning it into stone, objectifying non-objectifiable things like magnitude, beauty and truth.  The universe may be measurable, but the magnitude that it points to is beyond measure.  It is only our Medusa-within that could render such a space into stone.  But if we, like Perseus, can use our own minds to slay such a deadening tendency, we may be lucky enough to witness and experience something bigger.  

Happy star-gazing, remember to give your eyes at least 20 minutes to adjust to the light.  The best hours of viewing will be from midnight to dawn.

As always, happy astro pondering.

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

In Search of Certainty. Taurus Season Begins.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell said “What men want is not knowledge, but certainty.”  

Taurus is the sturdiest sign in the zodiac.  It is life’s way of building upon something certain.  As inventor, cosmologist Arthur M. Young says, “life can only start at the molecular level” because “molecules obey laws.”  

A new Season begins on Monday, April 19th, with the Sun and Mercury moving into sturdy Taurus.

Have you ever asked yourself, in a good grand sweep of a way, what it is that you are building?

Young sees purpose to be synonymous with light and absolute freedom.  The problem is, with absolute freedom it can’t fulfill any goals.  It must then descend into matter where it loses its freedoms in various stages until, at the molecular level it has none.  Having no freedoms it responds perfectly to natural laws, and therefore becomes something one can count on.  It becomes certain and definite in a universe built on uncertainty (freedom).  It becomes the means in which a goal can be carried out.

He talks about the particular point, when light’s involution becomes life’s evolution.  This happens at the molecular level right before plants learn to grow.  Rocks can’t grow.  The plants have managed to recapture a freedom.  Young calls this transition “the turn”, and says it is essentially a remembering of purpose.  

 Colin Wilson said, “We all instinctively turn towards meaning, towards situations that will stimulate us, as a flower turns to the sun.”

Just like these daydreaming sunflowers we must turn our heads towards the “sun” this Season, towards the stable nucleus of a sense of purpose.  If we can’t do this, we will be building something anyway, but our blueprints are vulnerable to the secret ownerships of others whose opinions we deem way too valuable.   

The Lyra meteor shower will also occur this week with its peak activity on the 22nd and 23rd.  The shooting stars will have to compete with some bright moonlight, and will emanate from the constellation Lyra, which represents Orpheus’ lyre of Greek mythology.  The most famous myth of Orpheus is his descent to the underworld to free his lover Eurydice.  After charming Hades and Persephone with his music, they allowed them to leave together, back up to the world of the living on one condition: that he not look back until they were in the full daylight.  Of course, moments before they reached the light he did look back, and she disappeared forever.  Orpheus, in his doubt, lost everything he had worked so hard for.  

Voltaire said “Doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is an absurd one.”  Heisenberg eradicated certainty from the measurable world.  Yet, at some level, certainty is needed.  Just as life builds on the law-abiding molecules, people build upon the certainties of meaning.  

Do you know what you are building?

Happy building and happy astro pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand

https://www.happyastropondering.com/