By Len Wallick
Music is immediate, it goes on to become.”
— W.H. Auden
The Sun calls on us to become. We reach the Vernal Equinox at about 7:21 pm EDT this coming Sunday. Earth is reaching one of the two points in its orbit where the axis of rotation is not tilted either towards nor away from the center of the solar system. When that happens, the direction of Sol’s incident light is perpendicular to the equator. At that time the entire surface facing the Sun is exposed to the light equally. Equator, equal, equinox.
At the Vernal Equinox, the Sun enters Aries. Proceeding from that the next seasons go on to become: spring in the northern hemisphere, autumn to the south of the equator. On Earth the experience of the equinox is equal light. Not only equality between day and night but an equal amount of radiance and dark to every inhabitant of the globe. We also see the Sun rise and set at the midpoint between the northern and southern limits of its motion along the Eastern and Western horizons.
Over uncounted millions of years, life on this planet has become as a cycle in rhythm and harmony with the seasons. Our own kind, humanity, became as a part of those cycles. We developed a story to account for the rhythm, mythology. We also formulated a method to keep track of the harmony, astrology.
In the tradition of western culture, the mythology of how the rhythm of the seasons came to be is dominated by Ceres. The rage and grieving brought on by the abduction of her daughter compelled her to abdicate her role as the goddess of earthly nourishment and abundance. It looked bad for humanity as perpetual growth and harvest became interminable darkness, suffering and want.
Fortunately, Ceres relented to mediate her grievances before human beings were driven to extinction by starvation and cold. The compromise resulted in half a year when the earth would yield nourishment. The other half, the bounty would be withheld. Thus injury would be honored. It also meant that humanity would have to adapt to new circumstances in order to survive. According to myth, Ceres helped us by teaching the arts of agriculture that would provide enough food to sustain life through the seasons of dearth. With that we went on to become something different for the most part, social and settled.
We also became responsible for our stewardship of the planet. For a long time we watched the luminaries, planets and stars so as to be in harmony with their cycles. Our cooperation yielded ever greater abundance, allowing our numbers to grow. Somewhere along the way, we became more miners than stewards. Motivated by greed and gain, we ignored cycles and the limits that went with them. Eventually, observing the sky was discredited as a lie and truth became only that which would yield power from its knowledge.
Now, like Ceres, we stand on the brink of losing one of our own children. One of the planet’s oldest continuous national cultures is being threatened by darkness, suffering and want; a culture that had spontaneously honored and cooperated with the Earth for thousands of years. This nation (in Kurt Vonnegut’s words) had the new version of the truth dropped on it and then was seduced into accepting the means of its defeat as the means of its salvation.
But the cycles are still there. The recurrence of the Vernal Equinox is evidence of that. Our task at this point is to be present to that and go on to become.
This is our task precisely as we are being challenged to expand how we think and transcend what we have previously allowed ourselves to conceive; exactly as we are required to pay attention to where we are, so that we can remain present to what we are, as one-with; as fear drives reaction and we are driven to distraction. Just as all that is happening, we are called to the moment in order to become.
By the time of the equinox, all the objects discussed this week will be in cardinal signs. The Moon will have moved on from its fullness in Virgo to cardinal Libra. Jupiter and Mercury will no longer be conjunct but both will be in Aries to welcome the Sun after Uranus does. The cardinal signs are where the the zodiac goes on to become in a new season, as we must also do.
And Ceres? The asteroid named after the goddess will observe the equinox from an auspicious place. Even now it approaches the last degree of Aquarius, where the Sun was for the Full Moon in February. The day after the Sun moves to Aries, Ceres will enter Pisces as if to mourn, as it seems we all will have occasion to do. But it will not be there forever. After observing the rhythm of its own cycle, Ceres will go on to become; just as so many, planets and people, are being called upon to do now.
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