I am fortunate to live in an area far enough away from civilization that conversations in my village center around what time we are getting up in the middle of the night to watch meteor showers. I am fortunate that among us out here, speech is often stripped from our tongues in honor of the sound of running rivers and cottonwood leaves shaking in the wind and coyotes on the hunt. I am fortunate to live in a land without the annoyance of artificial lights and an ability to view the heavens without impediment. I am fortunate to know the silence that ensues when one sits in the dark without fear.
The peak of the Geminid meteor showers this night is an opportunity to set aside the artificial, computer-generated, virtual charts of the planets – the tools of trade in modern astrology – and to join our astronomical and astrological masters and teachers – the ancient shepherds of the middle east – in the simple appreciation and wonder of the dome of the sky.
It is a time to spread blankets on the ground and bundle up in woolens and watch the brief dancing of lights from the shower of meteors that live brightly for only a few moments as they live and then die within the earth’s atmosphere. Their collective placement is largely around the constellation of Gemini at this time of year, though their individual trajectories are chaotic and unpredictable. Some skim across the surface of the atmosphere, travelling slowly (relative to meteors, that is), leaving long sparkler trails behind as they wink out and enter into death. Others dive straight down through the veil of our protective stratosphere and disappear in a nanosecond blip of exuberance, leaving no sign of their prior existence. Their journey to us has taken place over vast expanses of time and space through the cosmos. For each one, however, their brief moment of light before darkness – our subjective experience of them – only occurs through and within their relationship with the elements of our fragile, protective ionosphere.
The myriad of their presentations and independent directions calls forth the animistic self of the observer, with which the meanings of nature are mused upon and from which our desire for understanding is born. It is here that one realizes the natural, wild self is alive and well, dwelling secretly within the precise workings of the astrolabe and the microscope, just as the ouroboros lies coiled within the springs of our timepieces. The atman of humanity requires our comprehension that feral, intuitive wisdom lies within the expansive boundaries of the universe and directs the hands of the discoverer, the scientist, located in a limited time and space. This union of unlimited possibility and fixed existence is our divine marriage with ourselves and others – the connection point of what physically is at any given time and what ephemerally is for all time.
Our disease in our contemporary, left-brained, solarized and “civilized” pursuits lies in the fact that, like the surgeon functioning under bright lights behind an obscuring mask, we have cut away the intangible organs that once allowed us the gift of spiritual echolocation. We have forgotten our journey through the vast night and divorced ourselves from our natural ability to feel our way through the lightless, subterranean caves of our individual and collective psyches. We have, indeed, eviscerated the part of our humanity that knows the visions and imaginings that lie beyond purely biological neuronal pathways. We have thrown away our gut wisdom and capacity for magic, just as the physician discards entrails into the biomedical hazardous waste basket after a bariatric procedure, deeming them useless, without purpose and uncomfortably dangerous. In so doing, we have truncated the inner workings of our full selves and complete relational capacities and condemned ourselves to the purgative activities of applying balms to the keratinized scars of our collective psychic wounds.
The antidote to this intellectualized and mis-directed operating room mess is simple and clear. We have only to sit down and look at our own hands and ask ourselves how it is we wish to use them. We have only to contemplate the relational integrity, morals and ethics we wish to transmit when we reach those hands out to the world around us. We must acknowledge the power of those hands and become consciously aware of what it is we offer when we extend them. Open palms or fists. Ploughs or swords. Smiling lies or sobering truths. Destruction or creation. The power lies not in the thing itself, but rather in how we choose to use it. The ability to discern the subtleties and nuances of our power exists in the dreamtime imagery and impressionistic wisdom of our right brains, whose mastery and skill we have long denied and whose abilities we would do well to nurture, cultivate and harvest again within us.
Perhaps then, when we have re-discovered that vital, vibrant and eternal part of ourselves, we may, once again, use our nimble and able hands to lie under the stars with our loved ones and progeny and point out the constellations and planets that exert their profound energies upon us. Perhaps we may summon the courage to contemplate, as our ancestors have done before us, the meaning of the void that surrounds our blue planet. And, as we do so, we might just get lucky enough to catch just a fleeting glimpse of the beauty and power and courage of being fully awake in the dark.