Friday, December 20, 2013

Winter Solstice and the Spiral Dance of the Sun

Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2013 at 9:11 am, pacific standard time

Newgrange and solstice spiral dance of the Sun

Excerpt from the traditional Irish poem, Lord of the Dance

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun;
I was called from the darkness by the song of the earth,
I joined in the singing and she gave me birth. . . 

We danced ever slower as the leaves fall and spin
And the sound of the Horn is the wailing of wind;
The Earth is wrapped in stillness and we move in a trance,
but we hold on fast to our faith in the dance.

The sun is in the south and the days lengthen fast, 
And soon we'll sing for the winter that is past,
Now we light the candles and rejoice as they burn,
and Dance the dance of the sun's return. . . 

The arrival of the Winter Solstice at on Saturday, December 21, 2013 heralds the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and the first official day of winter. This moment marks the end point of the contracting forces of yin and darkness, and the birth of the expansive forces of yang and light.  At this time of year, the Sun appears to stand still for three days in declination, its lowest annual altitude above the horizon at noon. 


After three days of stillness, the Sun will appear to reverse direction on this annular path, gaining altitude until it reaches it pinnacle of yang at the Summer Solstice in June.  This solar dance may be described by the abstract construct of the analemma, an infinity sign inscribed by the Sun as it crosses the noon sky over the course of a year.

Solar Tracks, solargraphy photo by Jan Koeman from Wired

When observed on a sundial, or gnomon, the sun's shadow displays convex and concave curves over the year that correspond with the winter and summer solstices, respectively, forming a double spiral.  The spirals shift direction at each solstice, and straighten out at the equinoxes.

Martin Brennan, The Stones of Time, pg. 90

Thus it should come as no surprise that spirals are found on many ancient sacred sites that are aligned to the solstices.  For example, during the Winter Solstice two "sun daggers" frame a spiral near the top of Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon, NM. It is believed these markers were used as an agricultural calendar by the Ancient Pueblo People between 500-900 AD.

Sun Daggers Fajada Butte, Chaco Canyon, NM

Spirals are also found across the ocean in Ireland and England, in megalithic stone circles like Stonehenge, and passage tombs like Newgrange.  Moreover, these monumental architectural structures reveal a profound astronomical knowledge that goes back before written history.

Winter Solstice at Stone Henge

Newgrange is a Neolithic monument in County Meath, Ireland which dates to approximately 3,200 B.C. making it older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.  While archaeologists classify it as a passage tomb, there is plenty of evidence that it was also a place of astronomical and ceremonial significance.

Each year at dawn on December 19-23, the tomb and chamber become illuminated by the light of the Winter Solstice sunrise.  A shaft of light pierces through the roof box over the entrance, penetrates the passage, and lights up the spirals engraved on the chamber walls, connecting the living with the spirit world, and perhaps symbolizing the promise of rebirth by a resurrecting Sun.

It is an amazing feat of engineering that this structure continues to function as a solstice marker, even with the shifting procession of equinoxes.  

Furthermore, during the past thirty years, the Winter Solstice Sun has also been aligning with the mysterious center of the galaxy, which is imprinted with an energy field that bears a remarkable resemblance to the analemma described above.  

In a strange "twist" of science, astronomers using the Herschel Space Observatory have discovered that a suspected ring at the center of our galaxy is warped for reasons they cannot explain. Could it be the "dance" of a central Sun? Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech

In the Vedic tradition, this galactic center is called the Vishnunabhi, the navel of Vishnu, the home our the enigmatic central galactic Sun.  It is believed that this Central Sun, located behind a wall of interstellar dust in the constellation of Sagittarius, emits waves of energy that direct the evolution of consciousness here on Earth, and throughout the galaxy. 

Some researchers believe that the alignment of the Winter Solstice Sun with the Central Sun, which occurs once every 25,800 for a period of 36 years, marks a shift in consciousness away from darkness towards the light. It is an intriguing coincidence that since the 1980s, the roles and meaning of these sacred sites have entered the collective consciousness at exponential speed, perhaps restoring the connection of modern man to understand his true and natural place in the universe.  Could this alignment of the Winter Solstice with the Galactic Center be a Grand Galactic Solstice? In other words, a point in the galactic seasons of our solar system that indicate a shift from the winter of sleeping consciousness, to the promise of a summer of awakened consciousness?

Certainly during this time, our collective understanding of the heavens has expanded from a myopic view of our local solar system of nine planets to a panoramic lens of a galaxy filled with thousands of exo-planets and a universe teaming with billions of galaxies.  For example, we now know that the static heliocentric model of our solar system is a more dynamic helical one:

as is our galaxy:

Thus with each Winter Solstice for the next few years, we have a unique opportunity to tap into these galactic currents simply by riding the waves created by our Sun's dance through the cosmos and allowing the first rays of the return of galactic light begin to warm our souls. May you be blessed with the return of the light.


Being one with life is being one with Now.  You then realize that you don't live your life, but life lives you.  Life is the dancer, you are the Dance.  Eckhart Tolle

Friday, September 13, 2013

Autumnal Equinox 2013

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~ Albert Camus

Autumn is like a second spring, in that it is another still point in the annual cycle of seasons. However, instead of the resurrection of nature, we begin to see its inevitable and bittersweet decline. Crops are harvested, and deciduous trees blaze forth spectacular displays of transformation. Many of these colors are always present in the leaf, but are "hidden from view" until the diminishing light and cooler air trigger an alchemical transformation.  As the auxin and chlorophyll levels decrease with the shifting light and temperatures, carotene begins to shine through as yellow, and anthocyanin as red and orange.  Finally, cool winds usher in crisp dry air from the North, and the brilliant leaves are released from their summer's toil and scatter towards the skies and ground, reminding us of our own impermanence in this world.

Autumnal Equinox: September 22, 2013, 1:44 pm PDT

Officially the Autumnal Equinox occurs when the Sun once again crosses the imaginary celestial equator, heading south for the Winter months of the Northern hemisphere, on September 22, 2013.  The moment marks the instance when light and dark, yin and yang, are momentarily in balance.  Soon the light will wane allowing the yin forces of contraction to overtake the expansion of yang.  Nights grow longer than days until the next tipping point at the Winter Solstice in December. 

As I have mentioned in previous posts, these turning points are illustrated in the bagua and I-Ching, the Book of Changes.  Winter is associated with the most yin -- 2 K'un/The Receptive, Summer with the most yang --1 Chi'en/the Creative, and Spring 11 T'ai/Peace and Autumn 12 Pi/Standstill with equal yin and yang. In this hexagram, the three solid yang bars on top, and three broken yin bars on the bottom represent yang energy above giving way to yin below.  It is said to indicate perseverance over submissiveness. However, when it appears in an I Ching reading, the advice is to remain still instead of acting. It is a time to take shelter in integrity, quietly remain faithful to inner principles, which may be likened to the carotene and anthrocyanin pigments in the leaves.  These pigments remain quiet and are hidden beneath the chlorophyll during the summer, and are not revealed until the contracting forces have initiated in the fall.

According to the five element theory of  Chinese Medicine, these pigments are associated with the metal (mineral) element, which presides over the autumn. The Chinese character for metal, or jin, depicts a mine shaft covered by a roof containing two nuggets of gold. Similar to the Pi hexagram, the character jin portrays a shelter which houses one of the most valuable metals on Earth, gold. Historically gold has been reserved for kings as it was considered a manifestation of the light of the Sun on Earth, and symbol of divine kingship.  Now modern astronomy has discovered that gold is only created in the supernova explosion of a dying star. It seems fitting that the metal element is associated with a season of the Sun's decline. Gold is also the exchange token of the merchant class that is also ruled by the metal element.  A merchant must be able to assess the value of his wares, decide whether to keep it for him/herself, and then determine a price if it is to be sold.  The merchant knows what to hold onto, and what to let go.

Thus metal season is characterized by ripening, contraction and slowing down, harvesting, judging, and finally letting go.  It is the letting go process that may give rise to the emotions of grief and disappointment which can deplete the body of its reserves. In the oldest acupuncture text, the Neijing Su Wen (The Yellow Emperor's Classic on Chinese Medicine), the wise acupuncturist Qi Bo advises:

In the months of Fall all things in nature reach their full maturity. The grains ripen and harvesting occurs. The Heavenly energy cools, as does the weather. The wind begins to stir. This is the changing or pivoting point when the active phase (yang) turns into its opposite, the passive phase (yin). One should retire with the sunset and arise with the dawn. Just as the weather in Fall turns harsh, so does the emotional climate. It is therefore important to remain calm and peaceful,refraining from excess sadness so that one can make the transition to Winter smoothly. This is the time to gather one’s spirit and energy, be more focused, and not allow desires to run wild. One must keep the Lung energy full, clean, and quiet. This means practicing breathing exercises to enhance Lung qi. Also, one should refrain from grief, the emotion of the Lung. This will prevent Kidney or digestive problems in the Winter. If this natural order is violated, damage will occur to the Lungs, resulting in diarrhea with undigested food in Winter. This compromises the body’s ability to store in Winter.
This sound advice to gather one's spirit and energy is quite profound if we wish to stay in alignment with nature's eternal rhythms.  Just as the leaves have collected and stored the sunlight deep in a tree's core, we too must consider how to keep our energy strong when the sunlight is weak.  Thus the autumnal equinox heralds not only the fall harvest, but also the metal season in which we may assess what we have collected, what is worth keeping, and what needs to be released. Just as the sap of a tree begins to contract towards it roots, and releases its leaves that become compost for the next year, we too must slow down, turn our focus inward, and let go of what no longer serves us, returning to our core, our roots, our essence. 

Moon in Bharani

One way of understanding what themes might be the focus of this particular season of contemplation is to look at the event chart for the moment of the Equinox. At the moment of equanimity we are imprinted with the starlight that is rising above the Eastern horizon and the Moon. Although each location on the Earth will see a different constellation rise at that time, and will experience its own unique energetic imprint from those stars and related planetary rulers, the Moon be in the same sign and nakshatra effecting our collective consciousness with the same stellar message.  

The 2013 Autumnal Equinox occurs under an Aries Moon transiting the second nakshatra, Bharani, which means "she who bears" indicating its innate ability to endure hard work. Although its symbol is the yoni, or vagina, 'bearing' does not necessarily mean 'bearing' children, but rather the capacity to receive, hold, nurture, and destroy. The yoni also represents a doorway through which a soul enters the physical plane. The deity connected to this nakshatra is Yama, one of the eight gate-keepers and god of death. Yama guides souls back to the astral plane where they may realize the results of karma from the present life, and prepares for the next. Bharani's power is to cleanse and remove impurities, apabharani shakti, which it accomplishes through hard work, and sometimes by pushing to the extremes of life and death.  

This nakshatra is ruled by Venus, the planet that rules the metal season.  During the Equinox, the Evening Star will be in its own sign of Libra traveling with the lord of hard work and brother of Yama, Saturn, along with the unpredictable Rahu. Both Venus and Saturn will inspire Rahu to express its higher vibration.  In Hindu mythology Shukra/Venus is known for performing long austerity practices, which ultimately gave him the power to raise the dead. Thus, it may be a great time to do a cleanse, release toxins, and let go of what no long supports our well-being, and protect the inner gold we wish to keep. And last, but not least, since the Moon will be in the sign ruled by Mars (Aries), and Mars in the sign of the Moon (Cancer), there will be a strong exchange of energy between them, called Parivartana Yoga. The mutual exchange of signs binds the planets together in a special union in which each planet then acts as though its in its own sign, or mulatrikona. A parivartana yoga will both increase the power of the two houses that each planet rules and is placed and the power of the two grahas (planets) involved, for good or bad. Thus the upcoming equinox may be especially intense, and potentially transformative.  Let's remember the wise counsel of the Yellow Emperor: 

This is the time to gather one’s spirit and energy, be more focused, and not allow desires to run wild. One must keep the Lung energy full, clean, and quiet. This means practicing breathing exercises to enhance Lung qi.
May the great Iyengar further 'inspire' you to strengthen your lungs with pranayama. Remember "the mind is the king of the senses, but the breath, the breath is the king of the mind."  

And if yogic breathing is not your thing, perhaps the melodious metal magic of Chet Baker's Autumn Leaves might get you into the mood to appreciate the things of value in your life.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Solstice 2013

Image from Getty images and BBC online

The word solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) as the Sun appears to pause in its analemmic path before reversing direction at the change of season. This year the sun "stands still" on June 20-21, 2013 (10:04 pm pacific daylight savings time), the Summer Solstice in northern latitudes, graciously beaming its vital light as it reaches its highest declination. We experience this turning point as the longest day, and shortest night, of the year.

Stonehenge is perhaps the most recognized ancient monument dedicated to the solstice cycles.  Ancient sky watchers observed the sun rising from the same northeast position on the horizon for three consecutive days, and noted its highest elevation in the noon sky.  When viewed from the center of the circle, the midsummer sun rises over the Heel (Helios?) Stone heralding its highest ascension in the northern skies.  The Druids called this summer turning point Alban Hefin meaning "the light of the shore," referring to the mystical dimension where three realms meet: earth, sea and sky.  During this time the Sun, represented in myth by the Oak King, is at his peak of its power.  However, this moment of glory is fleeting as its path starts to decline after three days, until the Summer King's influence "falls" to his dark twin, the Holly King, in the autumn.

Like other cross-quarter holidays such as Beltane and Samhain, Alban Hefin, also called Litha, was seen as a point in time when the veils between the worlds was thin.  It was a time to collect magical and healing herbs like elderberry, stonecrop, vervain, yarrow, and most importantly Hypericum, more commonly known as St. John's Wort, whose yellow flowers are filled with energy of the sun at it peak. As its name indicates, the namesake of this herb is John the Baptist, whose feast day follows three days after the solstice on June 24 when the cheery flower is in full bloom.  Not only are the forces of light, symbolized by the sun, present in the plant, but under the additional association with St. John, it becomes especially potent.  According to R. Folkard, the plant is "a preservative against evil spirits, phantoms, specters, storms and thunder." In Biblical traditions, St. John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus Christ, astronomically marking opposites ends of the Milky Way.  Like the Ancient Celtic counterparts, the Oak and Holly Kings, St. John and Jesus are solar deities whose coronations coincide with the solstices.  Whether pagan or Christian, these two male forces reign over the solstices in a perpetual cycle of life, death and rebirth.

As I described in my previous post on the Winter Solstice, the Earth-Sun relationship is one of infinite expanding and contracting energies.  Like a great cosmic breath, the Winter Solstice is the completion of the exhale, and the Summer Solstice is the fulfillment of the inhale. Furthermore, there is a similar shifting of the seasons of our galaxy known as the Great Year or Yuga cycle.  The 2012 Winter Solstice coincided with the last day of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which tracks the five worlds or galactic seasons of the Great Year.  It marked the final breath of the contraction of consciousness, and the initial breath of the next inhalation towards the expansion of consciousness.

During the final thirteen years of the last baktun of the Mayan Long Count, the Winter Solstice has aligned with the Galactic Center in Sagittarius, while the Summer Solstice has occurred at the opposite point, the "anti-galactic center" in Gemini. Many researchers believe this period has marked a change of world ages and potentially signals the return of expanding consciousness.  Thus it seems that the 2013 Summer Solstice may be the first galactic "refill" station in which this new breath of consciousness transmit a higher frequency to our local Sun as it aligns with the anti-galactic center located  in the constellation of Gemini.

The bright yellow circle to the right of the galaxy's center is our Sun (not to scale).   Amazing artist's impression of the four tails of the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy (the orange clump on the left of the image) orbiting the Milky Way.   The Sagittarius dwarf galaxy is on the other side of the galaxy from us, but we can see its tidal tails of stars stretching across the sky as they wrap around our galaxy. Click here for article.   Credit: Amanda Smith, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge

These crossing points between the Milky Way and the Earth's solstices on the ecliptic are understood in shamanic traditions to serve as doors to the spirit or underworlds.  Just as there are portals that link the Earth and Sun, there appear to be energetic "star gates" that link our Sun to its galactic counterparts -- especially at critical points in time and space.  Mythology of the stars associated with these portals may help us understand the galactic wave of information that is transmitted and downloaded to our local star as it aligns with two nakshatras of Gemini: Mrigashira meaning "deer head" and Ardra "meaning "tear drop." Both of these nakshatras are associated with the constellation of the great hunter, Orion whose stars have been depicted and described in mythological legends throughout the world. From prehistoric cave paintings in France, to the neolithic Cernunnos of the ancient Celts in Europe, to Osiris in Egypt, Orion in Greece, Mithras in Rome, and Shiva-Rudra in India, the deer (or bull) hunter is portrayed a shamanic protector of life.

Like his counterpart archer, the Centaur, who stands at Galactic Center at the star gates of Scorpio and Sagittarius, Orion is positioned in the stars aiming his bow and arrows across the night sky.  These mythological guardians protect both ends of the Milky Way, sometimes called the River of Heaven or Deer Jump (Hungarian),  and hold the key to opening the doorway between the seasons, ascending and descending cycles, and possible interstellar dimensions.

Se'moin, Book of Saphah
Even the Freemasons and Founding Fathers understood the power of these asterisms, aligning significant architectural structures, such as the Washington Monument, to them.  Many researchers, such as William Henry and Wayne Hershel, propose that the design of these buildings draw in stellar energy from specific asterisms in order open star gates here on Earth.

"Stairway to Heaven," First Degree Masonic drawing board depicting Sirius, the Pleides, and the "Blazing Star"

Image from Wayne Herschel's site Key of Solomon

This summer the solstice occurs in the gentle nakshatra Mrigashira, whose deity, Soma, is the god of the shimmering white nectar of immortality. With its special prinana shakti, the power to give fulfillment, this nakshatra promises bliss and enlightenment.  In addition, the Sun is traveling with three benefics in Gemini, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, creating a powerful yoga that imbues those planets with galactic blessings of fulfillment as well.  Last weekend, as the Sun entered the Gemini degrees of Mrigashira to joined these benefics, Seattle was blessed with a rare sun halo or rainbow around the sun.  I was fortunate to view this rainbow light which opened my heart and filled me with a inexplicable bliss. This phenomenon seemed like a positive omen for the upcoming blessings of this year's Summer Solstice.  Researcher William Henry describes the rainbow as representing a vehicle or doorway to ascension.

Sun halo around space needle: Beam me up Scottie! Image from Seattle Times.

In Scaling the Path of the Shimmering Gods, Chad Stuemke recounts his alien abduction experience as journeying across a "rainbow bridge."  His quote from Steve McFadden's Legend of Rainbow Warriors resonated with my experience:
For some traditional native people including the Navajo and Hopi, the Sunbow or Whirling Rainbow is considered to be a sign from the Creator, marking a time of great change or transition on the Earth. This full-circle rainbow around the Sun, some elders say, can be understood as a sign to people of the necessity to live a life in respect to harmony with all the creations that make life possible: plants, animals, waters, minerals, fires, winds, and other human beings.

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes! May the light of the Summer Sun fill you with bliss and open rainbow doors to your own expanding consciousness! Namaste! 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Spring Equinox 2013

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

—Percy Bysshe Shelley
- See more at:
And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

—Percy Bysshe Shelley
- See more at:
And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

—Percy Bysshe Shelley
- See more at:

Spring - an experience in immortality.  ~ Henry D. Thoreau
And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

—Percy Bysshe Shelley
- See more at:

The unpretentious crocus vernus quietly awakens in the early hours of spring heralding the resurrection of nature. Thoreau witnessed the immortality of the earth from the woods of Walden Pond and suggests that we all may share in its experience of eternal life: Shall a man not have his spring as well as the plants.  All across the world, the Spring Equinox marks the beginning of a new year. It is the season of planting, the time of year when people and animals come out of hibernation, venture outside to enjoy the fresh air, and reconnect with the stirring earth and warming Sun after a long, cold winter.

This year Spring arrives on March 20, 2013 at 11:02 am U.T (3:02 am PDT).  As the Sun crosses the imaginary celestial equator, it marks the Vernal Equinox when day and night, light and dark, are momentarily equal.  During the past three months, the light (yang) has been slowly increasing as the darkness (yin) recedes, reaching this point of equanimity. The spring equinox is one of four turning points of the year marked by the path of the Sun: spring equinox, summer solstice, fall equinox, and winter solstice. The solstices mark the most and the least daylight in any given year, whereas the equinoxes mark momentary equilibrium of light (yang) and dark (yin).  In Taoist philosophy these four points are illustrated in Fu Xi's bagua and hexagrams of the I-Ching, the Book of Changes. Winter is associated with 2 K'un/The Receptive (six broken bars - most yin), Summer with 1 Ch'ien/The Creative (six solid bars -- most yang), Spring with 11 T'ai/Peace (three broken, three solid) and Autumn (three solid and three broken) with 12 P'I/Standstill.

The spring hexagram T'ai denotes a time in nature when heaven is upon the earth.  The trigram of heaven (three solid bars) is placed beneath the trigram of the earth earth (three broken bars), and their powers unite in deep energetic harmony.  According to the I Ching, its meaning is as follows:

Heaven exists on earth for those who maintain correct thoughts and actions. . . See yourself as a young tree now.  The ground around you is fertile; sun and water and wind are plentiful.  By maintaining your focus on moving upward toward light, clarity, and purity, you can reach great heights. If you become entangled in inferior things, you will not enjoy the full benefit of this gracious hour.  Stay balanced, innocent, and correct, and good fortune is assured.

Just like seedlings pushing against the resistance of the soil, up and around rocky obstacles, with shoots reaching toward the light, we too may focus on new growth and goals for the new year. The warning against becoming involved with "inferior things" during this season is intriguing as many political leaders of this age have used the high energy of spring to begin wars and invasions.  Both George Bush and Barack Obama chose to become entangled in the military attacks on Iraq (2003) and Libya (2011) on March 19th, and thus lost the opportunity to take the higher road of heaven, risking the good fortune of the American people.  Instead of celebrating life, these two administrations consecrated death.  In Chinese Medicine, the season of spring is associated with the element of Wood and the emotions of anger and frustration.  When the impulse for growth is obstructed, anger and frustration arise.  The high road is to remain flexible, gently bend and grow around the obstacle; and the low road is to bomb the hell out of the obstruction.

Thus in a time of high energy, there is sometimes a feeling of restlessness in the air manifesting in nature as wind and storms.  This year Spring may "come in like a lion" as it begins under an airy Gemini Moon in the nakshatra of Ardra, which translates as "the moist one" revealing its association with tears and stormy events. Ardra nakshatra is ruled by Rudra, the fierce form of Shiva who brings destruction of old ways, and transformation through yatna shakti, or effort.  Thus struggle brings rewards.  Often compared to the air after a cleansing spring thunderstorm, Ardra promises clarity and a fresh start.  In addition, the Moon is deposited by Mercury, which has been transiting the air sign of Aquarius for two months, and will be picking up speed after having stationed direct on March 17, 2013.  During the equinox it, along with Neptune, will be receiving the bheshaja shakti, the powers of healing, generated by Varuna, the god of rain and cosmic water who presides over the airy Aquarian nakshatra Shatabhisha. Varuna also has a reputation as the keeper of drowned souls and one who grants immortality with soma, the fountain of youth flowing from the water bearer.  In this case, water is not so much liquid as pranic.  And if that is not enough air and storm metaphors to make you run for solid and high ground, Mars and Uranus may stir things up and shake your emotional foundation as they makes an exact square to the Moon during the moment of equinox, jarring us from the peace of equilibrium.

Thus all attention this Spring may be on unusual celestial and meteorological conditions. In particular, Comet Pan-STARRS, which is due to light up evening skies in the northern latitudes, will spark a bright cosmic display as it dives toward the sun.  Will it burn up, or be resurrected and return from the other side?

2013, The Year of the Comet

When beggars die there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes. ~ Shakespeare, Julius Caesar II

Comet PanSTARRS, 2/15/13 by Ignacio Diaz Bobillo in Buenos Aires, Argentina from

2013 has been dubbed the Year of the Comet because three approaching comets promise to brighten the heavens above the earth: Comets Lemmon and PanSTARRS in March and ISON (SION) in October/November. While these comets may be bad omens for kings and queens, the rest of us may have an opportunity to witness history in the making.  Astronomers believe that comet ISON may be the brightest comet in history to pass by human eyes in the late fall of 2013. In the meantime, its little brothers Pan-STARRS and the green Lemmon have been putting on a fantastic shows of their own in the southern hemisphere and will be prominently displayed in the evening skies of the Spring Equinox.

Comet Lemmon is a five-mile-wide visitor traveling a great distance from furthest edge of our solar system. It was discovered in the constellation Leo on March 23, 2012 and has been categorized as a long-period comet.  Long-period comets originate in the spherical Oort's cloud and approach the inner solar system at random angles; and their orbits may be prograde (clockwise) or retrograde (counter-clockwise) around the Sun. (Short-period comets originate in Kuiper's belt, have an orbit of 100 years or less, and travel orbit roughly along the plane of the ecliptic. 60% of these are part of Jupiter's family.) Therefore, this loop is not Lemmon's first sojourn into the inner solar system. This comet has an ancient track record:  it has been about 11,000 years since its last dive towards the Sun -- during the Neolithic Age or Satya Yuga (golden age) depending on your point of view.  Under the night skies of the southern hemisphere, Comet Lemmon reached naked-eye viewing in February.  It has been dazzling astronomers and stargazers with its green hue and diaphanous tail.

Comet Lemmon 2/17/13; credit Phil Hart, Australia

This eery green color is produced by two gases boiling off its nucleus: cyanogen and diatomic carbon.  Cyanogen is a poison gas released by many comets, and diatomic carbon is vaporized C2.  Comet Lemmon is traveling from south to north, and will reach the closest point in its orbit around the Sun called perihelion on March 24, 2013, Palm Sunday in the Christian tradition. By April it may be visible with the naked eye from the northern hemisphere.

Comet PanSTARRS was in discovered June 2011, and is a categorized as a non-periodic comet, meaning its orbit is not gravitationally bound to the Sun.  These comets move on orbits with the same shape as a parabola. Having an irregular orbits mean that the comet will not return to the light of the Sun for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years -- if ever.  Such objects generally only visit the Sun once, never to return again.
Comet Pan-STARRS on 2/28/13; Credit: Michael Mattiazzo from Universe Today

As of February 28, 2013, PanSTARRS has brightened beyond prediction, to a 2.6 magnitude, almost as bright as the stars of the Big Dipper. So far there appear to be two visible tails, and one barely visible to the naked eye.

As comets move closer to the heat of the sun, they either fizzle out or become brilliant. If PanSTARRS becomes brilliant, we may be able see it low in the western sky at twilight on March 7th or 8th -- two to three days after it makes its closest approach to Earth.   As the waxing Moon enters Pisces, it will draw our attention to the path of the comet where it will pass within 10 degrees.

By the Spring Equinox, PanSTARRS will be easily viewed at sunset, perhaps showing off its heavenly tails.

The Istanbul comet and earthquake of 1556

Omens and Comets

Historically many astrological traditions have described comets as evil omens, heralding cataclysmic events, sudden political upheaval, and even the death of kings. As this Deep Impact article from NASA points out some historical support for these beliefs:

The Romans recorded that a fiery comet marked the assassination of Julius Caesar, and another was blamed for the extreme bloodshed during the battle between Pompey and Caesar. In England, Halley's Comet was blamed for bringing the Black Death. The Incas, in South America, even record a comet having foreshadowed Francisco Pizarro's arrival just days before he brutally conquered them.

From Lubinetski’s book compiled European accounts of the comets of 1664 and 1665, and provided a general history of cometary phenomena

Any unusual light body would have been interpreted as a message from the heavens, and as kings were viewed as agents of God on earth, they were often the recipients of these celestial communiqués.  Comets Lemmon and PanSTARRS have very interesting timing with the resignation of Pope Benedict and the upcoming convening of the Papal Conclave to select a new pope.  This rare situation of having two Popes living within the protective walls of the Vatican is simultaneously heralded by these two comets?  Furthermore, the lightning strike to the Vatican is another omen that seems to act as a divine exclamation mark pointing to the celestial significance of these events.

In some Vedic astrological traditions, comets, meteors, and asteroids are called ketus, meaning signs or signals.  In addition to the two incoming comets, news headlines were filled with stories of meteors and asteroids such as the uneventful, but highly anticipated asteroid 2012 DA14 and the unforeseen Russian fireball that rocked the internet.


Modern Vedic astrologer Prash Trivedi describe comets as the children of the dragon's tail, Ketu, the South Node.  Like their unpredictable father, the Dhumketus, or "explosive sons of Ketu," are capricious and erratic.  However, dhumketus may be a particular group of comets.  According to R.N. Iyengar, ancient scholars like Parashara (c. 1400 BC) and Ganga described 11 groups of 101 comets: the Myrtyu group, the Dditya group, the Rudra group, the Pitamaha group, the Uddalaka group, the Prajapati group, the U. Major group, the Vibhavasu group, the Moon group, the Dhuma group, and one from the anger of Brahma, the Creator. The more secular writings of the Brihat Samhita (BS) and Abdbhuta-Sagara (AS) by the 6th century AD Sage Varaha-mihira describe the many physical characteristics of comets.  In the BS comets are also named ketus (signs): Ketus are luminous, appearances resembling fire, but without the power to consume objects -- the glow worm, with phosphorescent appearances. . . like the green light of comet Lemmon.

300 BC Chinese textbook of cometary forms

Varaha-mihira reported that the ancient sages had studied the nature of 1,000 different comets.  Depending on the position of its first appearance, and the number of its tails, comets may signal different events and meanings.  The Brihat Samhita depicts comets in general as signs of great changes coming to the world, but each individual comet has it own unique message and result, and not all are harbingers of doom.  Interpretation of their nature is derived from where they were first observed by the naked eye, the direction of travel, the color, and the number of tails.  According to the Brihat Samhita:

. . . the effects to be described are various and depend upon their reappearance or disappearance (at particular times and places), their positions, the heavenly bodies with which they appear to be in contact, and on their colors.

As PanSTARS is a non-periodic comet, it may not be part of the ancient Indian observations of comets, but I like to believe that Lemmon may have been viewed 11,000 by ancient seers during the Satya Yuga.   As both comets are traveling from the south to the north, they may be members of the auspicious Jupiter group which are first seen in the south; however these comets have no "hair" (vikacah) perhaps referring to the tails and may be of another class.  According to Varaha-mihira, if any stars are dimmed by the comets tails, then depending on the effected nakshatra, a list of specific rulers and countries will suffer or perish.  Thus it is the tail that portends the most damage.

For the next couple of days, Comets Lemmon and PANSTARRS can be found in the south. This chart is for Melbourne at 9pm, 28 February.

Lemmon and PanSTARRS over Atacama Desert, Credit: Yuri Beletski

So far the tails of these comets are not clearly visible to the naked eye and not measurably obscuring the shakti of prominent nakshatra stars. 

Since the end of February, Comet Lemmon has been passing through the southern constellations of the Sculptor and Phoenix, both of which contain few bright stars.  However, on March 8, 2013 Comet Lemmon will pass by the bright orange star Ankaa, (meaning the "bright one in a boat") in the Phoenix constellation at a time when its tail may be quite prominent.

Comet Lemmon on March 8, 2013, click here for comet finder

The highly provocative names of these asterisms evoke images from last winter's viral, apocalyptic video called  I Pet Goat II by Heliophant.  This mysterious 7 minute video depicted a sleeping Christ navigating the dark seas in some sort of trance on an Egyptian a boat similar to that of the Egyptian god Osiris, who also is described as sailing along celestial seas.  Both their resurrections are celebrated around the Spring Equinox.  In fact Osiris' ancient feast day is celebrated on March 17th, a day which then became appropriated by the Catholic Church as St. Patrick's (Pater = father) Day.  Perhaps a green comet is destined to awaken these sleeping gods (green men) from the winter slumber of the Kali Yuga?  Or signal the death and resurrection of the Catholic Church?

According to Brady's Fixed Stars, Robinson is the only commentator to mention Ankaa, describing it as giving ambition and possibly long lasting fame.

Next Comet Lemmon continues to heads north past one of my favorite Royal Stars of Persia: Formalhaut.  Brady suggests this fixed star may give a trial or temptation to be worked through -- perhaps the upcoming Papal Conclave.  It is a very mystical star, and fortunately Lemmon's tail should not dim any of its light.  Comet Lemmon it reaches its closest point to the Sun, perihelion, on March 24, 2013.  At this time it will be about the same distance from the Sun as the planet Venus, and will be hidden from view by the Sun’s glare, but about to cruise into new territory.  By mid-April, the comet will have scooted into the constellation of Pisces, emerging ahead of the sunrise, and on April 19, 2013 it should cross the celestial equator, on its way to becoming visible in Pisces to the Northern Hemisphere as it returns home to its point of origin in the darkness of the solar system's outer limits.

Comet PanSTARRS on March 12, 2013 as it approaches the crescent Moon

Comet PanSTARRS will cross the celestial equator a few weeks earlier than Lemmon, and will be at the point closest to the Earth on March 5, 2013, reaching its perihelion on March 10, 2013.  From perihelion to the end of March, the comet moves almost due north by many bright stars in the constellations of Pisces, Pegasus and Andromeda, the daughter of the royal family.  If the comet develops a long, visible tail, it may dim a few important lights at the edge of the Great Magical Square of the winged horse.  According to Brady, Pegasus is also known as "I-iku" which was the measure used in building the perfect, cubed ark of Babylon mythology in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a pre-Biblical version f the Great Flood.

Hmmm. Isn't it fascinating that both comets are traveling through stellar fields associated with boats during the Spring Equinox, which itself is under the influence of a potentially stormy Ardra moon. Are you prepared to weather the storm(s)? You may need more than an umbrella this year. 

Remember the sage advice of the Spring I Ching:

Heaven exists on earth for those who maintain correct thoughts and actions. . . See yourself as a young tree now.  The ground around you is fertile; sun and water and wind are plentiful.  By maintaining your focus on moving upward toward light, clarity, and purity, you can reach great heights. If you become entangled in inferior things, you will not enjoy the full benefit of this gracious hour.  Stay balanced, innocent, and correct, and good fortune is assured.


Ohm namo bagavate rudraya

ADDENDUM:  It looks like the original orbital period I referenced for Comet PanSTARRS was incorrect.  According to other sources, it is not 11,000 years, but 110,000 years.