Week of February 2 to February 8
Morning and Night Sky Viewing Monday morning before Sunrise see Mars near Spica, the brightest star in the Virgin Constellation. Mars begins the month of February rising at about midnight and by the end of the month is rising in the east by 10:00 pm as it approaches opposition with the Sun in April signaling the beginning of a new 26 month Libra Mars Synodic Cycle.
The waxing crescent Moon continues to fatten and appear higher and higher in the sky each night, reaching first quarter in the sign of Taurus on Thursday at 11:22 am. It approaches the Pleiades Thursday night and will have passed the star cluster by Friday night and begun to approach Aldebaran, which it will have passed by Saturday night.
Imbolc and the Inner Flame–It’s an Amazing Time to Be Alive Today (Sunday, February 2) we celebrated Imbolc, the Cross Quarter Day between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. It was the day of Brigid, a Goddess who spans three cultures—the pre-Celts, the Celts, and modern day Catholics. She was known as a poetess, a fertility goddess, and most especially as the priestess who tends the sacred flame of hearth and home.
As we feel the first stirring of spring Brigid asks—what warms us at the core? Where is the bright flame that lives within us, and what practices do we maintain to keep it lit and vibrant? As we come to know ourselves more intimately through our lives we begin to see how rapidly our moods and desires change tone and intensity, dependent on external circumstances, or internal thoughts. As human beings we are first and foremost here to be light-keepers, and the daily remembrance of this fact helps us weather inevitable tumult that life brings.
How do we maintain healthy humor, positivity, vitality, and passion through life’s passages: even those which take us apart? I look to the elders in the global community and my life personally who maintain a strong sense of inner vitality, passion, and open heartedness for life’s experiences. When I see Pete Seeger sing “If I Had a Hammer” in his later years I am always moved to tears because I consider the hopefulness of that song contrasted with the political cynicism of our times. He kept his inner flame alive through great times of change. I heard him in an interview just last year: “This is an amazing time to be alive.”
My mother, who seems to grow brighter and deeper each passing year, through many personal hardships and after midwifing the deaths of her mother, father, and husband in succession, has always loved to read biographies and passed that on to me. I grew up reading about the lives of Helen Keller, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and many others. It is a powerful practice because we begin to see how many difficulties and setbacks these individuals lived through—and how the most powerful individuals had moments where their flame faltered or even appeared to go out.
The truth is that the flames we carry were first ignited by our ancestors. When we acknowledge that we stand on the shoulders of these great women and men—many unnamed, yet courageous in their own dark times and carrying their own bright lights—our flames stir a little brighter, and we recognize the sacredness of our own lives and our individual and collective mission as part of a larger whole and continuum.
It is indeed an amazing time to be alive, as Pete Seeger said. Yet these are also days of great darkness, as we consider climate change, the perilous gap between the wealthiest and poorest among us, dwindling water supplies and the continual devastation of our Earth to extract and burn every last vestige of fossil fuel at any cost, to produce nuclear power in the face of massive fallout, and to continue to polarize along dangerous political fracture lines.
Let us remember what we are made of and those great spirits who have come before. Like them, yet in our own way we are here to light up the dark corners of our own worlds and to bring forth creative solutions and positive change for the generations who will follow. Let us remember the greatness that stirs within, wanting to be expressed and embodied, and let us honor its deeper origins.
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