The Wheel of the Year has turned again. From the wee hours of June 20, 2021, I’m here to wish you a merry Summer Solstice!
This sabbat (holiday), Litha, is one of my favorites. I love the summer, and I love observing Summer Solstice. On this holiday, the year’s longest day and shortest night, we celebrate the Divine Masculine and masculine energies, in general, as this is the God’s most powerful day. Masculine energies are at their strongest on this day!
(Just when new-agey culture had you thinking that Wicca and neo-paganism were all about the Goddess and the Divine Feminine. They’re not. In these nature-based religions, the God rules the Sun, and the Goddess rules the moon. The two hold equal importance.)
Summer Solstice is a day for giving special thanks to the Sun for his life-giving energy, for here on Earth, the Sun gives us life. The Sun is so powerful, he can give life to the inanimate, too. I’m grateful to the Sun for all that is solar-powered, all that runs on solar energy.
Speaking of giving thanks for and celebrating masculine energies and the Divine Masculine, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of you Dads out there, including Dads of fur/feather/scale/fin kids! I love that Summer Solstice and Father’s Day fall on the same day this year.
For me, personally, there will be morning Sun salutations, the solar-charging of crystals, and the making of sun water, among other things. On the cosmic side, I’ll be working with the Summer constellation of Aquila, The Eagle (whose alpha star, Altair, is one of my favorites)!
Sharing a passage from Sandra Kynes’ Star Magic (“Aquila: The Eagle/Power of the Sun”):
As a symbol of the sun, the eagle embodies the spirit of summer. It is one of the most sacred of animals to Native Americans. In Celtic lore, the eagle is one of the oldest and wisest creatures, and it is associated with prophecy and power.
I’ve had my wreath for Litha/Summer Solstice on my door for several weeks now in anticipation of this day:
One needn’t be a follower of the Wheel of the Year to celebrate Summer Solstice. If nothing else, Litha is a wonderful call for a cook-out. It’s the longest day of the year, after all!
If you were born between May 20 – June 21, you’re a Gemini, as you’re probably well aware. We’re happy to be in your astrological sign in the Zodiac right now. We’re in the thick of Gemini season!
A little Astrology 101, for those who don’t know: In terms of the elements, Gemini is an air sign (swift, cerebral, communicative). In terms of the qualities, Gemini is a mutable sign (adaptable, agreeable to change, easily go-with-the-flow). Gemini’s governing planet is Mercury, the planet of communication, information, intellectual curiosity, and learning.
Gemini is a brilliant sign, and Geminis are some of my favorite humans. They’re quick-thinking, bright, and interested in everything. They’re likable people, and they’re fond of people, themselves. They’re keen observers and good conversationalists. My Mom is a Gemini!
In the zodiac, Mercury is currently stationed in Gemini… and it happens to be in retrograde. Mercury retrograde can be annoying, but it’s such cosmic shenanegans that make things interesting and instructive for we Earthlings. Retrograde is a time for us to review, reflect, reassess, and recalibrate, and we are wise to take the opportunity.
Regarding the retrograde, though, what is it, exactly? What is Mercury doing? It’s orbiting the sun, like we do here in our solar system, but it’s eased up on the accelerator. It’s slowed down, so from our viewpoint, it appears to be moving backwards. Mercury retrograde is a circumstance that impacts us here on Earth. This tomfoolery occurs about three times each year.
I mean, other planets go retrograde, too, and they all have an impact in one significant way or another. Saturn and Pluto are also in retrograde right now!
But Mercury retrograde is the notorious one. It’s the one that we notice, because it messes with our daily lives on a topical level. It’s the one that causes our technology to go haywire in any number of ways. Right now, with Mercury being the planet of communication and the planet that rules Gemini, and this being Gemini season, and Mercury retrograde happening in its home sign of Gemini, we may be feeling the retrograde’s effects more intensely than usual, especially with technological snafus and user-error mishaps related to communications. Communications programs and devices glitching and crashing. Texts and emails sent to the wrong person by mistake. Replying “to all” by accident. Phone connections dropping and notifications settings mysteriously turned off, causing us to miss calls and texts. Message transmissions delayed. Internet connections slowed down, or otherwise disrupted.
Mercury retrograde drama isn’t limited to communications technology, though. Basically, it’s open season on any kind of technology or machinery. I personally know four people who’ve had to deal with car problems since Mercury went Retrograde on the 29th of May. Thankfully, Mercury goes Direct again soon, on the 22nd, the day after the Sun moves out of Gemini. Mercury basically spent its entire time in its own zodiac sign in retrograde. I’m sorry, Geminis.
JUNE 10, 2021 ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE
Now, about that slinky, glamorous solar eclipse that just occurred on the 10th. (Which I did not see, by the way.) While we were focused on the “Ring of Fire” eclipse, the event was, first and foremost, a New Moon. It was Gemini’s New Moon. (Solar eclipses happen on the New Moon, while lunar eclipses happen on the Full Moon.) New Moons mean new beginnings and fresh starts, renewed resolve, setting intentions, and getting action plans underway. Eclipses amplify all of this and clear the path for big changes. Our Gemini New Moon was supercharged by the eclipse!
NORTH NODE IN GEMINI
For me, though, the most interesting factor in the picture of the Gemini New Moon Solar Eclipse was that it was a North Node eclipse… and that the North Node is also currently in Gemini. (Clearly, Gemini is having a moment.)
Our karmic path follows these Nodes of Destiny. When the Moon is ascending toward the North Node, we’re moving forward into our destiny. When the Moon is descending to the South Node, we’re reflecting on the past or even living in the past. (We all have baggage, if not from this lifetime, than from previous ones.) We cyclically move from one to the other, learning and growing and evolving on our journeys in this lifetime, though it’s important to keep a balance between the two. If you have your natal (astrological) chart done, make sure that it includes where the Nodes of Destiny were when you were born. It matters. Knowledge is power, as they say.
The June 10 solar eclipse being a North Node eclipse indicates that we’re looking ahead and moving forward. A North Node eclipse combines North Node energy with New Moon energy, which heightens the emphasis on new beginnings, fresh starts, the setting of intentions, starting new efforts, and so on. That the North Node is currently in Gemini (with the South Node in its opposite sign, Sagittarius), indicates that as a people, we’re moving toward our destiny on the strength of Gemini’s intellectual gifts, those gifts being our purpose. Gemini is about learning, and we do indeed have a lot of learning to do.
This is why I’m most fascinated by the Nodes of Destiny aspect of the Gemini New Moon Solar Eclipse. Thanks to bright and intellectually curious Gemini, we may well make forward leaps toward the betterment of humankind and the health of the Earth, itself. The North Node in Gemini gives me hope. It inspires me to see our destiny as a planet and as a people in a positive light.
This, as someone I know would say, is the Gemini effect!
I tried to write and post about last night’s Gemini new moon solar eclipse. I cancelled and/or postponed plans with two friends on two different nights so I could focus on it. I skipped two workouts. I stayed up superlate at my laptop. But it just didn’t gel. I studied my ephemeris and online transit calculators and such until my eyes bled, and in the end, I’d gathered so much data that I ended up overwhelming myself. I’m sorry for this!
At any rate.
The eclipse is over, but the magic of it isn’t. New moon energy is here, and I’m finding myself making changes automatically… specifically, changes to my after-work routine in my ongoing effort to get to bed earlier.
The new moon is a time for setting intentions and getting your action plan underway, and this is what I’m doing without even thinking about it. When my behavior naturally aligns with cosmic events without any conscious thought, I know that I’m receptive and balanced; I know that I’m in the right place, on the right path.
Starting today: Rather than waiting until later at night to do necessary things, I’m doing them immediately after getting home from work. Removing my eye makeup. Making dinner (so it’s there when I’m ready to eat it). Making my (PBJ) sandwich for the next day. Filling up my water bottle for the next day. Putting a fresh face mask (yes, I’m still choosing to wear one) in my bag for the next day. And so on.
I won’t sit down to work on blog posts until all of this is done. I’m hoping that relieving myself of the pressure (of knowing that there are mundane things to be done for the next day) will help me here with my writing, and also, of course, with getting to bed earlier.
A non-negotiable in my nightly routine is going out to look at the moon and the stars and any planets I can find. Speaking of which!!! I took a phonecam pic of my beautiful Vega (alpha star in the constellation of Lyra) the other night, and to my surprise, her blue color came through!! I didn’t expect this, especially since Arcturus’s orange color never comes through.
I wish I could get a phonecam pic of Scorpius, as that’s one of the few constellations that I can view almost in its entirety. Scorpius is the first cosmic body that I see when I step outside these nights, because it’s so close to the horizon. Antares, Scorpius’ alpha star, is the front-and-center jewel of the night. When I look higher up and elsewhere, I can see other beloved characters: Arcturus and Vega and Spica and Altair.
Behold Vega looking as blue here as she does in person! I cropped the photo just enough to enlarge Vega for our viewing pleasure:
I love my stars.
I added this phonecam pic of Vega to my post about the stars, as well, as I also have phonecam pics of Arcturus and Spica there.
That is all for tonight, my friends. I looked through my THREE drafts of what was supposed to be last night’s Gemini new moon solar eclipse post, and I like a lot of what I’d written. I did a lot of work on that post, so I’m thinking I might go back in and get it together for you this weekend. It’s after-the-fact, but the energy of the celestial event is still with us, and there’s more to the picture than the event, itself. Much more. Stuff we need to know about, actually.
I thought I’d finally share a certain passion with you… one that’s been a huge part of my life for a while. I’ve written quite a bit about the moon this year, but I don’t think I’ve written about the stars. Not more than a mention, anyway.
I’ve taken my stargazing up a notch in the last twelve months, most avidly since winter, when I’d go out to the backyard to admire the constellation of Gemini in the night sky. I watched with fascination as Gemini and other winter constellations gave way to the spring ones. But it was my adoration of the orange star Arcturus that heightened my already intense interest in the cosmos.
Arcturus here in the northern hemisphere is a commanding star, radiant and bold. Arcturus is 30 light-years away. Night after night, I gaze up at Arcturus with my mind blown as I think about how the starlight I’m seeing emanated from the star back in 1984. The speed of light (in a vacuum) is calculated at 186,282 MILES PER SECOND. It took 30 YEARS of travel at this speed for the starlight to come close enough to illuminate the star for our naked eyes to view from Earth today. That’s how far away Arcturus is. I can’t even come close to fathoming it.
The alpha star in the constellation of Boötes, Arcturus is the brightest star in that constellation, the brightest star in the northern hemisphere, and the fourth-brightest star in the entire night sky. You can’t miss Arcturus if you live north of the celestial equator. Look up at night when the sky is clear and find the large, bright orange star shining down on you!
Another star with whom I feel very closely connected is Vega, a luminous bluish star of the constellation Lyra. Vega is 25 light-years away. Vega’s light began traveling through space in 1996 in order for us to view the star today.
Noting the celestial transition from winter to spring was awe-inspiring. I do miss Pollux and Castor, the bright twin stars of Gemini, but the spring constellations held me – some of them still – just as fast. I’m thrilled anew as we transition from spring to summer, delighted to see the summer constellations array the night sky while some of the spring constellations hang around.
Summer constellations I’m currently watching: Lyra (The Harp); Draco (The Dragon); Serpens (The Serpent); Aquila (The Eagle); Scorpius (The Scorpion); Cygnus (The Swan); and Hercules (The Strongman/Dagda and Odin).
Hercules’ supergiant star Ras Algethi is the constellation’s alpha star. Ras Algethi is 380 light-years away. In the year 1641, Ras Algethi emitted the light that we see when we look up at the star. This starlight has been barreling through space at 186,282 miles per second for 380 years in order for us to see the star today… and there’s an infinity of space with myriad other stars and galaxies far beyond that.
Space is unfathomable, I say again. Limitless and unfathomable. This is why I believe in the existence of life-forms outside of Earth. It simply doesn’t make sense to me that in the entire universe, the magnitude of which we can’t begin to comprehend, the only sentient beings are here on our little speck of a planet. Our little speck of dust of a planet in the grand scheme of the cosmos, I should say. If exhaustive study ends up proving that there are no other sentient beings in our solar system, well, our solar system is but a speck in the entirety of the universe, too. Our little solar system is far from the end of it.
I am so enraptured with the cosmos that I’m without words when I try to convey the depth of my emotion. Star energy is powerful energy; I now work with it and with the moon and other celestial bodies almost exclusively. The stars create connection and love as expansive as the universe itself. I go outside every night and look up at the magnificence overhead, and suddenly, I’m richer than I ever thought I could be. There are times that the sight of the cosmic bodies of moon, stars, and planets move me to tears. I may live alone, but I’m the farthest thing from alone.
Carl Sagan said, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” I feel the truth of these words at the very core of my being.
The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.
And I can’t think of a material thing in the world that I want more than a telescope.
(There are telescopes that can take pics of what you’re viewing and send them to your computer…?!!)
While I can’t photograph the celestial bodies with my phone, I can at least take screenshots of the stars and constellations as they appear on my SkyView phone app while scanning the night sky. All of the celestial bodies I’m featuring here are those that I’ve been able to view with my naked eye. I have the camera enabled on this app, so you can see my point of reference as I view these stars. (You’ll see parts of my backyard, treetops, any clouds that may be in the sky, etc.) I’ve been using SkyView for several years now, so it’s about time I share some screenshots here, right?
One thing to note: I often can’t view an entire constellation. When SkyView picks up a star that I can see, it lights up with its complete picture.
I had to start with Gemini, of course. I’m so glad that I took screenshots of this constellation, because that was the last night that I could view it. It will be around six months before I’ll see these brilliant twins again.
Castor is Gemini’s alpha star, even though he’s the second-brightest of the constellation. Evidently, this designation was a mistake. Quoted from Wikipedia: “Castor’s Bayer designation as ‘Alpha’ arose because Johann Bayer did not carefully distinguish which of the two was the brighter when he assigned his eponymous designations in 1603.”
So Pollux is the brightest, but his twin got the alpha crown by mistake. No cause for sibling rivalry drama there at all. Nope.
Arcturus is Boötes’ alpha star.
Boötes is a spring constellation, but I’ve been admiring Arcturus since at least winter. Here’s my attempt at a pic of Arcturus with my phone cam:
Polaris is Ursa Minor’s alpha star. Also known as the North Star, Polaris is likely one of the oldest instruments of navigation in the history of humankind. Polaris is the closest star to the North Pole!
Spica is Virgo’s alpha star. Spica is one of my three favorite stars (along with Arcturus and Vega). Here’s an attempt at photographing Spica with my phone:
Centaurus is a southern hemisphere constellation, but if you’re located at a latitude between +30° and -90°, you can view it. Down here in Phoenix, AZ, my latitude is 33°. I can see the northern part of the constellation, where Menkent is situated. It’s the only star that I’ve been able to view in Centaurus. I would love to see Centaurus’s alpha star Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centaurus), but alas.
Regulus is Leo’s alpha star.
Gemma is Corona Borealis’ alpha star.
Cor Caroli is Canes Venatici’s alpha star.
**Are you noticing that the stars I’m able to see with my naked eye are mostly the alphas of their constellations?**
Vega is Lyra’s alpha star, and she’s my second-favorite star… a very close favorite to Arcturus. Vega is a cool blue-white color, and she is the brightest star in the summer sky. [ETA: Since I posted this, I attempted to photograph Vega with my phonecam… and lo, her blue color came through!! I enlarged this image so you can really see her color.]:
Unuk is Serpens’ alpha star. According to some sources, “Unuk” is obsolete, and the star goes by “Alpha Serpentis.”
Altair is Aquila’s alpha star.
Antares is Scorpius’ alpha star.
Deneb is Cygnus’ alpha star.
Ras Algethi is Hercules’ alpha star.
This was a magickal early morning! At 4:30am I went out and looked at the moon in the breaking dawn, and Jupiter was right there next to her, large and bright and magnificent. You would think, what kind of a star could be so large and bright in broad daylight? The answer is that it’s not a star. It’s Jupiter.
I hope you enjoyed (or at least tolerated) my geeking out over the cosmos!