Weekdays Explored – Tuesday

31 January 2012

Tiw for tea, and tea for Tiw.

We’re already at the midway point of the week (not in the above illustration, as theAbysmal Calendar is misaligned with the Gregorian week until Dec 22nd 2012). Tuesday is associated with our friend Mars. There is much to think about in our relationship with the red planet, so read on, dear friends, read on.

The red planet is fourth from the Sun, and the last of the inner planets before the asteroid belt. It takes Mars 687 days to orbit the Sun. Its synodic period is 780 days. Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos (panic/fear and terror/dread respectively). These are also the names of the God’s war-hounds.

Mars has been the subject of  a great deal of speculation and exploration, most recently in discussions of manned missions to colonize the planet, to the point where a Martian Calendar has been developed. Moreso than any other planet, Mars has been the subject of a disproportionate amount of fiction in the 20th Century compared with the rest of our solar system.

Olympus Mons (Mount Olympus), a volcano 22 km (14 mi) high (three times the height of Everest). It is believed to be the tallest volcano and mountain in our solar system.

The Valles Marineris (Mariner Valleys) is a canyon 4000 km long and up to 7 km deep – compare this to the Grand Canyon of 446 km long and 2km deep.


Mars is named after the Roman god of War, as is the month of March. His Greek counterpart, Ares, gives his name to the astrological sign of Aries, which overlaps March for 10 days from the 21st to the 31st. Whereas Ares represents the brutal, blunt force, Mars represents military discipline, and the vitality of life. For these relatively positive associations, his hands are no less bloody. Rome did conquer the lands around the Mediterranean, after all.

We get our weekday Tuesday by way of the Germanic peoples of Europe, and the god Tyr (Old English Tiw). He is the god of combat, victory and glory, and has one hand. His role has changed, as with many longstanding pantheons, and ultimately became associated with Mars and Ares.

Tuesday falls in the middle of theAbysmal Calendar week, preceded by Saturday, Sunday, Monday, followed by Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. This reflects the midpoint of theAbsmal Year at the Northern Summer Solstice, and the midpoint of the Moon’s synodic cycle at the Full Moon as Mars also represents a peaking of energy. Furthermore, the midpoint of each of theAysmal Year’s quarters falls on a Tuesday. This repeated pattern is crucial in scheduling events and activities to set-up and take fullest advantage of our collective energy.

Significantly, Mars is the father of the twins Romulus and Remus. They were abandoned to die in the wilderness, and famously raised by a she-wolf, until they were adopted. Proving themselves their father’s sons, they grew to be influential leaders. Remus was killed in a dispute, and Romulus founded the city of Rome in 753BC, which he named after himself (accounts vary).

Mars’ weapon is the spear, appropriately phallic, as he represents the virility (life-force) of the male principle.

Once more, here is a list of War deities. Some more commonly associated with the god or planet Mars, and Tuesday:

What’s in a Name?

dies Martis, martedì, terça-feira, martes, marţi, mardi, dimarts, martars, martis, Martedi, Mardio, mardo, An Mháirt, Dé Máirt, Di-Màirt, dydd Mawrth, Dy’ Meurth, Dimeurzh, Jemayrt, E martë, Tīwesdæg, Zîestag, Dienstag, Ziestag, dinsdag, Tiisdei, tysdagr, týsdagur, þriðjudagur, tirsdag, tysdag, tirsdag, tisdag, tiistai, भौमवासरम्, मंगलवार, අඟහරැවදා, मंगळवार, মঙ্গলবার, منگل,ថ្ងៃអង្គារ, મંગળવાર, އަންގާރަ, செவ்வாய்க் கிழமை, మంగళవారం, ചൊവ്വ, ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ວັນອັງຄານ, วันอังคาร, ангараг, Anggara, ਮੰਗਲਵਾਰ, 火曜日, 화요일, གཟའ་མིག་དམར།, þriðjudagur, יום שלישי, feria tertia, terça-feira, Τρίτη, Երեքշաբթի, (ngày) thứ ba, Selasa,  يوم الثُّلَاثاء, It-Tlieta, Selasa, Slasa, Salasa, سه شنبه, salı, üçünç kün, Damóo dóó Naakiską́o, вторник, Аўторак, вiвторок, wtorek, utorok, úterý, úterek, Torek, Utorak, Уторак, Antradienis, Otrdiena, kedd, teisipäev, хоёр дахь өдөр, Мягмар, jumanne, utorek, asteartea, martitzena,

325 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Weekdays Explored – Monday

30 January 2012

Mooning like a Lunatic over the Moon.

Monday has become one of the most dreaded days of the week (take that Friday the 13th!). Why don’t blue Mondays occur once in a blue Moon? Good tides and tidings to our capricious, delicious satellite of green cheese (maybe a blue cheese gone off), as it dances about us in its own time.

There are a few competing theories as to the Moon’s origin. I find the giant impact hypothesis the most compelling. Essentially, about 4 billion years ago, a body collided with Earth, ejecting a huge mass from what is now the Pacific Ocean, which became our Moon. The colliding body has been named Theia.

Monday’s Moon, the second brightest object in the sky (provided you’re not in the flight path of a downed communication satellite) at the Full Moon. It has long been observed, well beyond history, civilization and humanity, by the beasties in the ocean, who come up to spawn when its at its brightest. Sad to say that we have fallen out of rhythm with the Moon, maybe because our calendar doesn’t follow it, maybe because we are surrounded by artificial lights which dim our view of the skies. Nevertheless, it is still a fundamental means for us to measure the passing of the days, and with theAbysmal Calendar, we’ll pay closer attention from here on out. Deal?

The Moon takes 27 d 7 h 43.1 min to orbit the Earth, and about 29.53 days to go through its phases from New to Full and back again. Because of its synchronous orbit with Earth, we only see the one side. The Dark Side of the Moon is an interesting phenomenon linked to the occult, and Pink Floyd. Also, because the Moon appears to be of similar size to the Sun from Earth, solar eclipses are possible.

The effect the Moon’s gravity has on tides is particularly important in terms of biological cycles. The tidal period is 12.4 hours, just a little more than half a day. Not that it matters. Fish don’t wear wristwatches.

So the Moon brings us Monday. Where did the O go? Maybe it got together with the N from Saturday. NO?

Cycles of the Moon

The 12.4-hour tidal period, the 29.53-day synodic period, the 19-year Metonic cycle, 76-year Callipic cycle and the 345-year Hipparchic cycle are the most important in terms of earthly and calendrical observation (less so with the Callipic & Hipparchic, but there they are).

The tides and lunar phases go without saying (unless you want to leave comments), however, the Metonic cycle is of interest, as it tries to find some means of tying the Day, the Lunation (Lunar Month) and the Year together. 19 years works out to be 235 Lunations or 6940 Days. The Lunations to Year isn’t quite exact, as it falls short by a few hours.

The Callipic cycle is a little more accurate. Callippus multiplied the Metonic cycle by 4, which brings the Years and Lunations closer: 76 Years, 940 Lunations, or 27,759 Days. Although, it isn’t any more accurate, depending on how you do the math. The Moon continues to frustrate these poor integer-seeking stargeezers.

Then our friend Hipparchus multiplied it by 4 yet again, and so we end up with: 304 years = 3760 lunations = 111035 days which is one day off from equal. That’s about as good as it gets in that respect. However, his cycle is properly: lunations (4267), anomalistic months (4573), years (345), and days (126007 + about 1 hour); it is also close to the number of draconic months (4630.53…), so it is an eclipse cycle.

Fortunately, theAbysmal Calendar doesn’t nearly this complicated, and besides, we’re talking about Weekdays here.


As with the Sun, there are numerous Lunar Deities. Too many to catalogue (well, for me it is, but fortunately, somebody else is on it). Often the deities or personification of the Moon is akin  to the Sun, often siblings, sometimes parent-child.

Some of the more common Western deities, plus other widely recognized entities:

In many instances, the Moon is given a feminine persona, and the Sun a masculine one. This is not universal, and deities have been known to change their sex as it suits them.

As with the Sun, there are numerous stories that involve the Moon, so it is a challenge to narrow it down. The Moon is ever evasive.

What’s in a Name?

dies Lūnae, lunedì, segunda-feira, lunes, luni, lundi, luns, dilluns, llunes, lunis, Lunedi, Lundio, lundo, An Luan, Dé Luain, Di-Luain, dydd Llun, Dy’ Lun, Dilun, Jelune, E hënë, Mōnandæg, Mânetag, Montag, maandag, Moandei, mánadagr, mánadagur, mánudagur, mandag, måndag, maanantai, इन्दुवासरम्, सोमवार, සදුදා, सोमवार, সোমবার, پی, سوموار, ថ្ងៃចន្ទ, સોમવાર, ހޯމަ,திங்கட் கிழமை, సోమవారం, തിങ്കള്‍,ಸೋಮವಾರ,  ວັນຈັນ, วันจันทร์, сумъяа, Soma, Coma, ਸੋਮਵਾਰ, 月曜日, 월요일, གཟའ་ཟླ་བ།, mánudagur, יום שני, feria secunda, Δευτέρα, Երկուշաբթի, (ngày) thứ hai, Isnin,  يوم الإثنين, It-Tnejn, Senin, Senen, Senén, دوشنبه, pazartesi, ikinç kün, Damóo Biiskání, понедельник, Панядзелак, понедiлок, poniedziałek, pondelok, pondělí, pondělek, Ponedeljek, Ponedjeljak, Понедељак, понеделник, Pirmadienis, Pirmdiena, hétfő, esmaspäev, нэг дэх өдөр, Даваа, jumatatu, lur, astelehena, astelena

326 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Weekdays Explored ~ Sunday

29 January 2012

The Sun, Sunday and observation of that big glowing ball in the sky.

Continuing on our little look or two at the planets (in ancient terms, we call the sun a star, but so it goes, it still gets its own day) that define our weekdays. Saturn, that dark, distant piece of work is in the books, time to turn to something brighter.

There’s so much to be said about the sun, where to begin?

Our Sun is a Population I star, which means that when it formed about 4.57 billion years ago out of a stellar nursery, it contained the elements up to and including Uranium (named after Uranus). Much of this material was ejected from the sun to form the planets and other bodies orbiting the Sun.

It takes the sun 225-250 million years to orbit the centre of the milky way, which is about 26,000 light years away. Light from the Sun takes 8 minutes 19 seconds to reach earth. The solar cycle of sunspots has a periodicity of just over 11 years. These cycles affect our weather, and electromagenetic storms can affect our electronics and satellites. We are currently in cycle 24.

Most importantly, it is the brightest object in our sky, its light and heat support almost all life on earth, and it is the basis for our measures of the day and year, and indirectly the phases of the moon. Another word for it in German is Zeitgeber – time giver. And although Saturn starts off the week, the Sun is the most fundamental astral body in our understanding of time as an abstract idea, as well as a circadian biological rhythm.

Geocentric view

The apparent path of the Sun across our sky in relation to the variations of the length of the day, the seasons, as well as the zodiac. These have since been replaced by the heliocentric astronomy, however, the galactocentric point of view is also coming into the fore (it’s all relative after all). Since for the most of us our view is constrained to the planet itself, the apparent sight of the sun is most common.

Here’s a lovely schematic (not to scale, but you get the idea):


We’ve been paying attention to the Sun for so long, this endeavour could take a lifetime to flesh out with any depth. As it stands, here are a few deities associated with our big fusing mass:

The Aztec calendar stone features the sun at the centre.

the Living Sundial of the Inca

The Sun’s apparent motion across the sky over the course of the year is the basis of more than just mythological stories, it has also inspired a number of solar-based innovations, the most noteworthy of which was the Inca system of ceques, which turned the city itself into a sundial-calendar system. (quotations from Empires of Time by Anthony Aveni)

[The Imperial Incan] timepiece was the city itself. … the Inca had built, into the natural landscape surrounding their capital city, an orientation calendar. It consisted of specific sight lines directed to the sun moving at the horizon, and even a scheme for counting the days. … 41 invisible radial lines, called ceques; that crossed the landscape, each emanating from the Coricancha [temple of the sun]. These lines were marked out by huacas, or sacred places. … certain huacas were larger stone monuments positioned at key sun positions along the horizon, like the minute markers on a clock dial [incl. the Sun Pillars]

The whole ceque system looks strikingly like a quipu, an array of knotted strings bound together on a common cord… its very structure invokes radial and hierarchical ways of representing space and time used on a grand scale.

… the Inca had converted the landscape into a natural, self-operating calendrical device powered by the movement of the sun, a system with no need of formal writing to articulate it – only the celebrated Inca sun pillars.

ceques and huacas are parts of an orientation calendar that graphically follows the solar cycle, they also function as a calendar in the way we are acquainted with the term – as a mnemonic scheme for counting the days.

the Tao of the Sun

the Taoist yin-Yang symbol (taijitu) was derived from observing shadows cast by an 8′ pole during the course of the year. It is perhaps yet the most elegant symbol to represent the interplay of light and darkness. Here’s the method of derivation.

What’s in a name?

dies Sōlis, domenica, domingo, duminică, dimanche, diumenge, domingu, domenie, dominiga, Sundio, dimanĉo, An Domhnach, Dé Domhnaigh, Di-Dòmhnaich, dydd Sul, Dy’ Sul, Disul, Jedoonee, E diel, Linggo,     Sunnandæg, Sunnûntag, Sonntag, zondag, Sondag, Snein, sunnudagr, sunnudagur, søndag, sundag, söndag, sunnuntai, pühapäev, भानुवासरम्, रविवार, ඉරිදා, रविवार, রবিবার, اتوار,ថ្ងៃអាទិត្យ, રવિવાર, އާދީއްތަ,ஞாயிற்று கிழமை, ఆదివారం, ഞായര്‍, ಭಾನುವಾರ, ວັນອາທິດ,วันอาทิตย์, адъяа,     Raditya, Redite, ਐਤਵਾਰ,  日曜日, 일요일, གཟའ་ཉི་མ།, יום ראשון, Dominica, Κυριακή, Կիրակի, chủ nhật, chúa nhật , Ahad, يوم الأحد,Il-Ħadd, Minggu, Ngaat, Akad, Minggu, Minggon, یکشنبه, pazar, birinç kün, Damóo, суббота, Субота, събота, sobota, Subota, сабота, Šeštadienis, Sestdiena, szombat, хагас сайн өдөр, Бямба, jumapili, dumireca, igandea, domeka

327 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Weekdays Explored ~ Saturday

28 January 2012

The Day of Saturn, Nastier Castrator.

Taking a look at our weekdays, and the planets for which they stand. Not in every culture, but in a good many of them. Considering these are the 7 ancient planets (sun, moon, mercury, venus, mars, jupiter, saturn), all of which are visible from earth with the naked eye (in theory), they have long played an important role in our collective understanding of the celestial dance. As theAbysmal Calendar begins on Saturday, let the dance begin.

Here is our ringed wonder. It is the 6th planet from the sun, the second of the outer planets, the second largest planet. Its orbit takes about 29 1/2 years, although it only takes 378 days (1 year 13 days) to return to the same place in the sky from our point of view (the synodic period). It’s a gas giant with 9 rings (and 3 discontinuous arcs), 62 moons (only 53 have been named – it’s not easy keeping up) and all sorts of other orbiting debris. Its moon Titan is larger than the planet Mercury, and has an atmosphere. Something moody to suit that corner of the solar system no doubt.


Since Saturn can be seen from Earth, albeit dimly, it has long been part of our collective observations. Here are a few traditions with which this particular planet has been associated:

For the Romans, it was Saturnus, his festival Saturnalia, a Winter Solstice festival from which some Christmas traditions have been inherited.

Hindu Shani, the brother of Yama, the Hindu god of death. Both sit in judgment of the dead for their deeds in life and death. He is considered the greatest teacher, who rewards the just and punishes the wicked.

Chinese, 土星 (associated with the element earth). This is a particularly interesting association, as in the Greco-Roman tradition, Cronus/Saturnus was an agricultural god. Although the Chinese do not think of him as such a nasty piece of work, there are common elements in terms of Saturn’s role as an agent for social cohesion (in Roman tradition, he oversees restriction, social conformity among other things).

The Ancient Hebrews associated the Archangel Cassiel, who observes from his loneliness, and presides over the death of kings.

The Haitian practitioners of Voodoo call upon Baron Samedi (samedi is French for Saturday), who is the spirit of the dead. He is the head of the pantheon of Loa (Haitian Voodoo spirits).

And the Greeks called him Cronus, his festival Kronia.

In terms of the Greco-Roman tradition we have inherited here in the West and in English, here’s a version of “Cronos the crafty counsellor”

Theogony by Hesiod is a good source for the origin of Cronus (and the source of the following quotations):

The union of Gaia (the earth) with Uranus (the sky) resulted in the birth of the titans “deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.” She birthed other creatures besides, whom Uranus loathed and hid in Tartarus.

But vast Earth (Gaia) groaned within, being straitened, and she made the element of grey flint and shaped a great sickle, and told her plan to her dear sons. And she spoke, cheering them, while she was vexed in her dear heart:

`My children, gotten of a sinful father, if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.’

So she said; but fear seized them all, and none of them uttered a word. But great Cronos the wily took courage and answered his dear mother:

`Mother, I will undertake to do this deed, for I reverence not our father of evil name, for he first thought of doing shameful things.’

So he said: and vast Earth rejoiced greatly in spirit, and set and hid him in an ambush, and put in his hands a jagged sickle, and revealed to him the whole plot.

And Heaven came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Earth spreading himself full upon her7.

Then the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father’s members and cast them away to fall behind him.

From the blood of the castration, the Erinyes and Giants and Nymphs emerged. From the discarded member, foaming in the ocean, rose Venus/Aphrodite.

This tale follows an oft-used device in the world’s mythologies, the separation of earth and sky, which sets time into motion. So we get Cronus as the agent of time (hence Chronology, Chronometer, Chronobioloty, etc…). As such, he is an appropriate entity to start theAbysmal Week, as he is traditionally the furthest from the sun, lurker in darkness (i.e. the Abyss), and the bloody originator of time.

He also devoured his children. And you thought you had father issues.

Now for something lighter.

What’s in a name?

dies Saturnī, sabato, sábado, sâmbătă, samedi, sábado, dissabte, sábadu, sabide, sappadu, Sabbato, Saturdio, An Satharn
Dé Sathairn, Di-Sàthairne, dydd Sadwrn, Dy’ Sadorn, Disadorn, Jesarn|Jesarn, E shtunë,     Sabado, Sæternesdæg, Sunnûnâband, Sambaztag, Sonnabend, Samstag, zaterdag, Saterdag, Sneon, Saterdei, laugardagr, sunnunótt,     leygardagur, laugardagur, lørdag, laurdag,     lørdag, lördag, lauantai, laupäev, स्थिरवासरम्, शनिवार, සෙනසුරාදා,  शनिवार, শনিবার, سنیچر, ہفتہ, ថ្ងៃសៅរ៍, શનિવાર, ހޮނިހިރު, சனிக் கிழமை, శనివారం, ശനി, ಶನಿವಾರ, ວັນເສົາ, санчир, Tumpek, Saniscara, ਸ਼ਨਿੱਚਰਵਾਰ,  יום שבת, sabbatum, Σάββατο, Շաբաթ, (ngày) thứ bảy, Sabtu, يوم السَّبْت, Is-Sibt, Sabtu, Setu, Saptu, شنبه, cumartesi, yetinç kün, Yiką́o Damóo, суббота, Субота, събота, sobota, Subota, Субота, сабота, Šeštadienis, Sestdiena, szombat, 土曜日,  토요일, གཟའ་སྤེན་པ།, хагас сайн өдөр, Бямба, jumamosi, simbota, larunbata, zapatua

328 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Reformulating Western Astrology (updated)

27 January 2012

13 Constellations on the ecliptic – why not 13 signs of the zodiac?

Never one to leave well enough alone, I’ve been playing with the zodiac (moreso in terms of its more superficial qualities. Several thousands of years of development are not reformed overnight). First, we have the reintroduction of Ophiuchus, the 13th sign of the zodiac, which the International Astronomical Union acknowledge among the constellations of the ecliptic back in 1930. Astrology and astronomy are tenuously related, however, the signs of the Western Zodiac are set in their place in the heavens, whereas the constellations shift over the centuries.

While looking at the 7 ancient planets we have long associated with the week (Saturn, the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus), I decided to take another gander at planetary influences over astrological signs (granted, I’m no astrologer, so take this with as much salt as you like).

First, I added Ophiuchus back into the zodiac, following Scorpio and before Sagittarius. Then I considered the elements associated with each sign (fire, earth, air, water). There is also a fifth element, aether/void/space, which has been neglected. I tied it to Libra, the only object in the zodiac of living things. This shifts air to Scorpio (where it was previously water) and water to Ophiuchus. Like so:

It retains its symmetry, however, if we place Libra at the centre, then it becomes even more evident.

Fair enough. Another change you may notice is the location of each sign. If we associate a sign with each of the months of theAbysmal Calendar, then the sun passes through each sign for 28 days, starting with Aries from December 22nd to coincide with the Solstice. The sun currently enters the sign of Aries at March 21s at the Equinox.

To sum up the initial changes: from 12 to 13 signs, from 4 to 5 elements, Libra from Air to Aether, Scorpio from Water to Air, Ophiuchus gets Water, Aries from Mar 21st to Dec 22nd.

The rulership of the 7 ancient planets over the zodiac are as follows:

  • Sun symbol.svg – Sun rules Leo.
  • Moon symbol crescent.svg – Moon rules Cancer.
  • Mercury symbol.svg – Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo.
  • Venus symbol.svg – Venus rules Libra and Taurus.
  • Mars symbol.svg – Mars  rules Aries and Scorpio.
  • Jupiter symbol.svg – Jupiter rules Sagittarius and Pisces.
  • Saturn symbol.svg – Saturn rules Capricorn and Aquarius.

Taking a look at the heptagram used by the Babylonians for the planets, we get this thing:

If you start with Saturn at the bottom right, and trace the star upwards to the Sun, you’ll follow the order of the weekdays through the Moon (Monday), Mars (Tuesday), Mercury (Wednesday), Jupiter (Thursday), Venus (Friday) and back to Saturn (Saturday). If you follow around the circumference, starting with the moon, the planets are arranged in order of their sidereal orbital period, from the Moon (29.53 days) to Saturn (29.5 years). For the Sun, use 365 days. At any rate, this is an ancient arrangement.

So, the next step is to figure out how this heptagram lines up with the zodiac. Given that the Sun is the centre of this system, as is Libra, I associate those two with each other. That leaves us with 12 signs of the zodiac with 6 planets. Easy enough to do the math. We end up with this:

The planetary rulership changes to:

  • Sun symbol.svg – Sun rules Libra.
  • Moon symbol crescent.svg – Moon rules Aries and Taurus.
  • Mercury symbol.svg – Mercury rules Gemini and Cancer.
  • Venus symbol.svg – Venus rules Leo and Virgo.
  • Mars symbol.svg – Mars  rules Scorpio and Ophiuchus.
  • Jupiter symbol.svg – Jupiter rules Sagittarius and Capricorn.
  • Saturn symbol.svg – Saturn rules Aquarius and Pisces.

Some of these are unchanged, but there is a great shift in these associations. It felt to me that Virgo & Venus went together, as they both represent the feminine, whereas Scorpio & Mars represent the masculine (the phallic symbols give them away). I don’t know what astrologers might make of this, but in terms of symbolic symmetry, this appears to be a workable system (well, almost anything is workable, human ingenuity being what it is).

Now, we are neglecting the two modern planets that remain, Uranus and Neptune. If we add those to the preexisting seven planets, we get this:

This gets a bit trickier, but it’s not hopeless (where there’s life and all that). The  left side of the circle contains the inner planets, and the right side the outer planets. Each planet (except the sun, as before) rules a sign and a half. therefore each planet rules a sign, and four signs share planetary rulership. The four signs in question are the fixed signs.

The months in theAbysmal calendar that share these signs also happen to fall midway in each of the year’s quarters. So in a sense, the planets can be associated with the four quarters of the year. Anyway, the new planetary rulership looks like this:

The planetary rulership changes to:

  • Sun symbol.svg – Sun rules Libra.
  • Moon symbol crescent.svg – Moon rules Aries and semi-Taurus.
  • Mercury symbol.svg – Mercury rules semi-Taurus and Gemini.
  • Venus symbol.svg – Venus rules Cancer and semi-Leo.
  • Mars symbol.svg – Mars  rules semi-Leo and Virgo.
  • Jupiter symbol.svg – Jupiter rules Scorpio and semi-Ophiuchus.
  • Saturn symbol.svg – Saturn rules semi-Ophiuchus and Sagittarius.
  • Uranus's astrological symbol.svg – Uranus rules Sagittarius and semi-Aquarius.
  • Neptune symbol.svg – Neptune rules semi-Aquarius and Pisces.

I’m not entirely satisfied with this arrangement of the planets. There may be a more workable solution, however, it bears contemplating.

What do you think? Is this something to consider, or does the absence of Uranus & Neptune make this whole exercise moot?

329 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Magnetic North

26 January 2012

News of the world from the magnetosphere.

A couple of geomagnetic articles in the news of late. Just thought that aurora watchers might want to head out to the darker reaches to gawk at the celestial show. This particular sunspot cycle was relatively inactive at its start, but has since become increasingly active. There are a number of websites dedicated to this phenomenon, and our current Sunspot Cycle 24.

Solar Cycle 24 begins Jan 2008 with the Solar Maximum in February 2013, which is expected to be lower than recent solar maxima.

INCOMING! Sun Blasts Another CME at Earth and Mars

ORIGINAL: You may not know it, but there’s an epic magnetic battle between the sun and Earth raging over our heads.

On Friday, the sun hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) at our planet that sparked a strong geomagnetic storm and beautiful aurorae at high latitudes on Sunday. Late last night (EST), the sun unleashed yet another CME… and it’s heading our way.

One Fast-Moving CME Coming Right Up

A particularly angry-looking sunspot (1402) on the solar surface erupted with a strong, long-duration M9-class flare Sunday night at around 11 p.m. EST. “M” stands for “medium,” but the explosive energy was just shy of an X-class solar flare — the strongest kind of flare the sun can produce.

Electric Material in Mantle Could Explain Earth’s Rotation

When it comes to Earth’s rotation, you might think geophysicists have pretty much everything figured out. Not quite. In order to explain some variations in the way our planet spins, Earth’s mantle—the layer of hot, softened rock that lies between the crust and core—must conduct electricity, an ability that the mantle as we know it shouldn’t have. Now, a new study finds that iron monoxide, which makes up 9% of the mantle, actually does conduct electricity just like a metal, but only at temperatures and pressures found far beneath the surface.

follow the link for more.


Flights rerouted as massive solar storm slams earth.

US carrier said it had adjusted flight routes for transpolar journeys between Asia and the United States to avoid problems caused by the , a spokesman said.

NASA confirmed the (CME) began colliding with Earth’s magnetic field around 10:00 AM (1500 GMT) Tuesday, adding that the storm was now being considered the largest since October 2003.

Radiation storms are not harmful to humans, on Earth at least, according to the . They can, however, affect satellite operations and short wave radio.

The storm’s radiation, likely to continue bombarding Earth’s atmosphere through Wednesday, and its possible disruption to satellite communications in the polar regions prompted the flight rerouting, airline officials said.


Reminders of the temperment of sun gods.

330 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Arctic Dreams

25 January 2012

the life of the Arctic in the dreams of one of its travellers.

Arctic Dreams – Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape (1986)  by Barry Lopez

Chapters 2, 3 and 4 deal with particular species native to the Arctic, and although Lopez’s writing is excellent, his attitude sympathetic and humble, and his observations fascinating, I didn’t take many notes until the latter chapters. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in living in harsh climates, the Arctic, or our relationship to the world around us. I am better for having read this.

1. Arktikos

p 29 “Virtually all of the earth’s biological systems are driven by solar radiation.”

“The Arctic receives, strangely, the same amount of sunshine in a year as the tropics, but it comes all at once, and at a low angle of incidence.”

“The average temperature fluctuates over a period of 365 days, not twenty-four hours…”

p39 “[Eskimo] call us, with a mixture of incredulity and apprehension, ‘the people who change nature.'”

2. Banks Island – Ovibos moschatus

rough notes: muskox and American bison survived the ice age, unlike the mammoth, dire wolf, North American camel, short-faced bear which are all extinct.

3. TornarssukUrsus maritimus

p96-7 “[Eskimo] are uneasy they manage to say, about the irrevocability of decisions made by people  who are not sensually perceptive, not discriminating in these northern landscapes, not enthusiastic about long-term observations.”

p97 “…in spring [polar bears] would not cross melt pools, where needle ice can puncture a bear’s foot.”

p110 “…a harsh land where life took insight and patience and humor.”

4. Lancaster Sound – Monodon monoceros

5. Migration – The Corridors of Breath

p154-5 “What absorbs me in [lesser snow geese], beyond their beautiful whiteness, their astounding numbers [250,000], the great vigor of their live, is how adroitly each bird joins the larger flock or departs from it. And how each bird while it is a part of the flock seems part of something larger than itself. Another animal. Never did I see a single goose move to accommodate one that was landing, nor geese on the water ever disturbed by another taking off, no matter how closely bunched they seemed to be. I never saw two birds so much as brush wingtips in the ar, though surely they must. They roll up into a headwind together in a seamless movement that brings thousands of them gently to the ground like falling leaves in but a few seconds. Their movements are endlessly attractive to the eye because of a tension they create between the extended parabolic lines of their flight and their abrupt but adroit movements, all of it in three dimensions.”

p162 “Watching the animals come and go, and feeling the land swell up to meet them and then feeling it grow still at their departure, I came to think of the migrations as breath, as the land breathing. In spring a great inhalation of light and animals. The long-bated breath of summer. And an exhalation that propelled them south in the fall.”

p174-5 “…fluctuations in the arctic climate that were responsible for shifts of land and sea animals north and south over prolonged periods were tied to a lunar cycle of 18.6 years (the time it takes the moon to intersect the earth’s orbit around the sun again at the same spot). Because the length of this lunar cycle is not a whole number, the maximum and minimum effect it has on the earth’s tides (and therefore on ice formation and weather) can occur at different seasons of the year, in successive 18.6-year periods. This led [Danish Scientist Christian] Vibe to posit a primary period of 698 years for the Arctic’s weather pattern, with secondary periods of 116.3 years, and what Vibe calls a basic ‘true ecological cycling period’ of 11.6 years.”

p200 “A fundamental difference between our culture and Eskimo culture, which can be felt even today in certain situations, is that we have irrevocably separated ourselves from the world that animals occupy. We have turned all animals and elements of the natural world into objects. We manipulate them to serve the complicated ends of our destiny. Eskimos do not grasp this separation easily, and have difficulty imagining themselves entirely removed from the world of animals.. For many of them, to make this separation is analogous to cutting oneself off from light or water. It is hard to imagine how to do it.”

p201 “A second difference is that, because we have objectified animals, we are able to treat them impersonally. this means not only the animals that live around us but animals that live in distant lands. For Eskimos, most relationships with animals are local and personal. the animals one encounters are part of one’s community, and one has obligations to them. A most confusing aspect of Western culture for Eskimos to grasp is our depersonalization of relationships with the human and animal members of our communities. And it is compounded, rather than simplified, by their attempting to learn how to objectify animals.”

“Eskimos do not maintain this intimacy with nature without paying a certain price. When I have thought about the ways in which they differ from people in my own culture, I have realized that they are more afraid than we are. On a day-to-day basis, they have more fear. Not of being dumped into cold water from an umiak, not a debilitating fear. They are afraid because they accept fully what is violent and tragic in nature. It is a fear tied to their knowledge that sudden, cataclysmic events are as much a par of life, of really living, as are the moments when one pauses to look at something beautiful. A Central Eskimo shaman named Aua, queried by Knud Rasmussen about Eskimo beliefs, answered, ‘We do not believe. We fear.'”

p201-2 “To extend these thoughts, it is wrong to think of hunting cultures like the Eskimo’s as living in perfect harmony or balance with nature. Their regard for animals and their attentiveness to nuance in th landscape were not rigorous or complete enough to approach an idealized harmony. No one knew that much.. No one would say they knew that much. They faced nature with fear, with ilira (nervous awe) and kappia (apprehension). And with enthusiasm. They accepted hunting as a way of life – its violence, too, though they did not seek that out. They were unsentimental, so much so that most outsiders thought them cruel, especially in their treatment of dogs. Nor were they innocent. There is murder and warfare and tribal vendetta in their history; and today, in the same villages I walked out of to hunt, are families shattered by alcohol, rugs, and ambition. While one cannot dismiss culpability in these things, any more than one can hold to romantic notions about hunting, it is good to recall what a struggle it is to live with dignity and understanding, with perspicacity or grace, in circumstances far better than these. And it is helpful to imagine how the forces of life must be construed by people who live in a world where swift and fatal violence, like ivu, the suddenly leaping shore ice, is inherent in the land The land, in a certain, very real way, compels the minds of the people.”

6. Ice and Light

p210-11 “In the absence of any wind or strong current, sea ice first appears on the surface as an oily film of crystals. This frazil ice thickens to a kind of gray slush called grease ice, which then thickens vertically to form an elastic layer of ice crystals an inch or so thick called nilas. Young nilas bend like watered silk over a light ocean swell and is nearly transparent… When it is about four inches thick, nilas begins to turn gray and is called young ice, or gray ice. When gray ice finally becomes opaque it is called first-year ice. And in these later stages it thickens more slowly.”

“by spring, first-year ice might be four to six feet thick. If it doesn’t melt completely during the summer, it becomes second-year ice in the fall, tinted blue and much harder. … Second-year ice continues to thicken… If it remains unmelted, … it is simply called multiyear ice, or polar pack ice.. A formidable version of multiyear ice, paleocrystic ice forms in the open polar sea and may be 50 feet thick.”

“Pack ice may be consolidated in great expanses of rubble called field ice…”

p211 “If a swell comes up in a sludge of grease ice, for example, the crystals congeal in large, round plates that develop upturned edges from bumping against each other – a stage called pancake ice.”

[Note: also needle ice, candle ice, shorefast ice, polynyas, embayed ice – I don’t know how many words we may have for snow, but we certainly have a lot for ice. It is crucial for surviving the changing Arctic landscape.]

p221 “It is snow that cuts some animals off from their food, makes heavy energy demands on others, and insulates a third group.”

p228 “The land retains an identity of its own, still deeper and more subtle tha we can know. Our obligation toward it then becomes simple: to approach with an unalculating mind, with an attitude of regard. To try to sense the range and variety of its expression – its weather and colors and animals. To intend from the beginning to preserve some of the mystery. Within it as a kind of wisdom to be experienced, not questioned. And to be alert for its openings, for that moment when something sacred reveals itself within the mundane, and you know the land knows you are there.”

p235 “[Aurora] easily evoke feelings of awe and tenderness; the most remarkable effect they seem to have, however, is to draw a viewer emotionally up and out of himself, because they throw the sky into a third dimension, on such a vast scale, in such a beautiful way, that they make the emotion of self-pity impossible.”

Fata morgana – mirages

7. The Country of the Mind

p257 “In the modern age, one of the most irksome, and ironic, of political problems in North America is the promulgation of laws and regulations from Washington an Ottawa that seem grossly ignorant of the landscapes to which they apply. We all, however, apprehend the land imperfectly, even when we go to the trouble to wander in it. Our perceptions are colored by preconception and desire The physical landscape is an unstructured abode of space and time and is not entirely fathomable; but this does not necessarily put us at a disadvantage in seeking to know about it. Believing them to be fundamentally mysterious in their form and color, in the varieties of life inherent in them, in the tactile qualities of their soils, the sound of the violent fall of rain upon them, the smell of their buds – believing landscapes to be mysterious aggregations, it becomes easier to approach them.. One simply accords them the standing that one grants the other mysteries, as distinguished from the puzzles, of life.”

p278-9 ‘[Yi-Fu Tuan]: a culture’s most cherished places are not necessarily visible to the eye – spots on the land one can point to. They are made visible in drama – in narrative, song, and performance. It is precisely what is invisible in the land, however, that makes what is merely empty space to one person a place to another. .The feeling that a particular place is suffused with memories, the specific focus of sacred and profane stories, and what the whole landscape is a congeries of such places, is what is meant by a local sense of the land. The observation that it is merely space which requires definition before it has meaning – political demarcation, an assignment of its ownership, or industrial development – betrays a colonial sensibility.”

p279 “For some people, what they are is not finished at the skin, but continues with the reach of the senses into the lan. If the land is summarily disfigured or reorganized, it causes them psychological pain. Again, such people are attached to the land as if by luminous fibres; and they live in a kind of time that is not of the moment, but, in concert with memory, extensive, measured by a lifetime.”

p296 “The stories that unfold against the local landscape, and that give expression to the enduring relationships of life, said [Amos] Rapoport, are as critical for people as food or water. The mythic landscape is not the natural landscape, Rapoport concluded, but the mythic and natural landscapes overlap at certain visible point in the land. And the limits of the local landscape, he emphasized, are not something that can be politically negotiated; they are fixed in mythology. They are not susceptible of adjustment.”

p297-8 “The place-fixing stories that grew out of the land were of two kinds. The first kind, which was from the myth time and occurred against the backdrop of a mythological landscape, was usually meticulously conserved.”

p298 “The second kind of story included stories about traveling and what had happened to everyone in the years that could be recalled.”

“The undisturbed landscape verifies both sorts of story, and it is the constant recapitulation in sacred and profane contexts of all of these stories that keeps the people alive and the land alive in the people. Language, the stories, holds the vision together.”

8. The Intent of Monks

p313 “what every culture must eventually decide, actively debate and decide, is what of all that surrounds it, tangible and intangible, it will dismantle and turn into material wealth. And what of its cultural wealth, from the tradition of finding peace in the vision of an undistrubed hillside to a knowledge of how to finance  corporate merger, it will fight to preserve.”

p313-4 “It seemed clear to me that we need tolerance in our lives for the worth of different sorts of perception, of which the contrasting Umwelten of the animals on the island are a reminder. And we need a tolerance for the unmanipulated and unpossessed landscape. But what I came to see, too, was that we need  to understand the relationship between tolerance and different sorts of wealth, how a tolerance for the unconverted things of the earth is intertwined with the substance of a truly rich life.”

“Voyages of a very different sort were undertaken eight years later by John Davis, perhaps the most highly skilled of all the Elizabethan navigators, a man of a more seren disposition than the volatile Frobisher, much less the disciplinarian among his men, less acquisitive and less self-promoting of his achievements – part of the reason that he, of all the West Country mariners, was the one never knighted.

“With the backing of adrian Gilbert, a prominent Devonshire physician, and William Sanderson, a London merchant-adenturer, and under the patronage of the Duke of Walsingham, Davis outfitted two small ships, the Sunneshine and teh Mooneshine, the former with a four-piece orchestra, and sailed from Dartmouth on the Devon coast on June 7, 1585.

“Their first landfall was near present day [mid-1980s) Cape Walloe on the southeast coast of Greenland, but fog and the ice stream in the East Greenland Current held them off. “[T]he irksome noyse of the yse was such, that it bred strange conceites among us, so that we supposed the place to be vast and voyd of any sensible or vegitable creatures, whereupon I called the same Desolation.” The two ships stood out from Cape Farewell (Davis would so name it on his second voyage) and came to shore, finally, near th eold Norse settlement at Godthab on July 29. And here took place one of the most memorable of meetings between cultures in all of arctic literature.

“Davis an several others were reconnoitering from the top of an island in what Davis had named Gilbert Sound when they were spotted by a group of [Inuit] on the shore, some of whom launched kayaks. They made “a lamentable noyse,” wrote John Jane, “… with great outcryes and skreechings: wee hearing them thought it had bene the howling of wolves.” Davis called on the orchestra to play and directed his officers and men to dance. The Eskimos cautiously approached in kayaks, two of them pulling very close to the beach. “Their pronunciation,” wrote Jane,” was very hollow through the throate, and their speach such as we could not understand: onely we allured them by friendly imbracings and signes of curtesie. At length one of them poynting up to the sunne with his hande, would presently strike his brest so hard, that we might hear the blowe.” John Ellis, master f the Mooneshine, began to imitate, pointing to the sun and striking his breast. One [Inuk} came ashore. They handed him pieces of their clothing, having nothing else to offer, and kept up their dancing, the orchestra playing the while.

“The following morning the ships’ commpanies were awakened by the very same people, standing on the same hill the officers hand stood on the day before. The Eskimos were playing on a drum, dancing and beckoning to them.

“(Davis’s courteous regard for the [Inuit] is unique in early arctic narratives He found them “a very tractable people, voyde of craft or double dealing….” He returned to the same spot on his second voyage; the moment of mutual recognition, and his reception, were tumultuous.)”

p337 “Between 1769 and 1868, the Hudson’s Bay Company sold at auction in London, among other furs and skins, the following: 891,091 fox, 1,052,051 lynx, 68,694 wolverine, 288,016 bear, 467,549 wolf, 1,507,240 mink, 94,326 swan, 275,032 badger, 4,708,702 beaver, and 1,204,511 marten. During parts of this same period two other companies, the North West Company and the Canada Company, were trading furs in numbers as large.”

p339 “Teh yearbooks of the Sung dynasty record a much earlier journey in the [Bering Straight]. In AD 458 a Buddhist monk, Hwui Shan, together with four other monks, sailed north past the Kuril Islands and up the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, then east through the Aleutian Islands to mainland Alaska.”

9. A Northern Passage

p405 “One of the oldest reams of mankind is to find a dignity that might include all living things. And oe of the greatest of human longings must be to bring such dignity to one’s own dreams, for each to find his or her own life exemplary in some way. .The struggle to do this is a struggle because an adult sensibility mus find some way to include all the dark threads of life. A way to do this is to pay attention to what occurs in a land not touched by human schemes, where an original order prevails. “

“The dignity we seek is one beyond that articulated by Enlightenment philosophers. A more radical Enlightenment is necessary, in which dignity is understood as an innate quality, not as something tendered by someone outside. And that common dignity must include the land and its plants and creatures. Otherwise it is only an invention, and not, as it should be, a perception about the nature of living matter.”

Epilogue: Saint Lawrence Island, Bering Sea

p411-2 “We tend to think of places like the Arctic, the Antarctic, the Gobi, the Sahara, the Mojave, as primitive, but there are in fact no primitive or even primeval landscapes. Neither are there permanent landscapes. And nowhere is the land empty or underdeveloped. It cannot be improved upon with technological assistance. The land, an animal that contains all other animals, is vigorous and alive. The challenge to us, when we address the land, is to join with cosmologists in their ideas of continuous creation, and with physicists with their ideas of spacial and temporal paradox, to see the subtle grace and mutability of the different landscapes. They are crucibles of mystery, precisely like the smaller ones that they contain – the arctic fox, the dwarf birch, the pi-meson; and the larger ones that contain them, side by side with such seemingly immutable objects as the Horsehead Nebula in Orion. These are not solely arenas for human invention. To have no elevated conversation with the land, no sense of reciprocity with it, to rein it in or to disparage conditions not to our liking, shows a certain lack of courage, too strong a preference for human devising.”

p413 “No culture has yet solved the dilemma each has faced with the growth of a conscious mind: how to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in all life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s own culture but within oneself. If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. one must live in the middle of contradiction because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of a leaning into the light.”

331 Days to Dec 21st 2012