by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Persied Meteor Shower 2013

Star trails photographed at the peak of the 2012 Perseid shower (25 second images taken
every 30 seconds) above Santa Fe and Algondones, New Mexico
(photo credit: John Fowler, August 2012)

Earth passes through something like six or seven different comet trails during its yearly orbit around our Sun. And since comets – in particular the ones we talk about in this sense – come from way, way out there in the solar system, astrologically we think of them (and the trailing bits they leave in their wake for Earth to pass through) as ideas from afar.

In other words, the streaking of ‘shooting stars’ are the twinkles of inspiration – the flash of something we’ve never thought about or perhaps simply haven’t considered – catching our attention as it flies through our mind.

Each meteor shower is named for the ‘radiant point’ from which these ‘showers of light’ appear to radiate from. You would think the comet would get the metaphysical credit, right? No, egocentric (er, geocentric) Earth-bound beings that we are, we think of this ‘shower from the heavens’ from our own terra-life perspective.

Which astrologically makes sense – and which, (oh, incidentally) is one of the biggest factors which separates astrology from astronomy. Though astrology fully acknowledges that the Earth (and by and large, everything else) orbits our local star (the Sun), astrology is geocentric (Earth-centered). That’s because unlike science – the effort to study What Is, astrology asks a slightly different question. Yes, as astrologers we factor in (or we should factor in, let’s say) the physical positions, cycle lengths and nature of the celestial objects we’re talking about.

But astrology is about our life here on Earth. Astrology posits that everything which Exists is a continuum, and thus all works in sync. Nothing changes but that all is changed somewhat. We are born at a moment in time as thus each one of us represents a unique manifestation as part of a Whole we will never know the fullness of, but which we contribute to nonetheless.

So it’s natural…even sensible that from the astrological point of view we would think of meteor showers in terms of their radiant point – that place in the sky where they appear to come from.

In this case, the Persied Meteor Shower which begins on July 23rd and which continues on until August 20th appears to originate in the constellation Perseus.

 Constellation Perseus

As soon as we say ‘constellation Perseus,’ two things seem worth mentioning. The first is that the best known star in this constellation is Algol, a star which doesn’t have this world’s spiffiest reputation. Embodying the energy of the ‘feminine’ (read: responsive) Algol is all about how we tend to respond based on previous experience…and/or in terms of what our personal aims in any given situation really are. Currently situated at 26 Taurus with dwarf planet Sedna close by at 24 Taurus, this pairing would seem to refer to the temptation to be all about ourselves which is so richly seen at this time…and how much better we, the people so busily wanting what we want, would actually be if we let go and ‘dove in’ to that which seems to be rocking our boat.

The Sedna part of this combination seems to surface in that sense that if we do let go, something will ‘drown’ us. And yet, ultimately the Sedna lesson is that only by letting go can we ultimately achieve the self knowledge and personal power which is based not on what we’re used to, but a whole new experience of Self which requires that we surrender to be willing to adapt to…and to adapt the deeper parts of our personality to purposes we cannot know nor fulfill without releasing the expectations, images and habits built into our psyches early on in life.

The other Perseus concept which bears recalling is the idea of who Perseus was: a Greek hero born of a ‘common’ mother who under great duress and substantial daunting handed out by a most unkind and selfish king (who no doubt had a handlebar mustache he enjoyed twirling, as that’s what villains do, right?) …who undertook to journey far from home and with the help of the gods (our purer Self) undertook to slay the gorgon Medusa.

And who is Medusa? Yes, she’s the gal with the dreadfully snaky hair-do. But she’s far more than that. If you’ve never read the full myth of Medusa, I heartily urge you to do so – of all the myths I’ve read as an astrologer, the story of Medusa taught me the most about what it takes to be a human being.

So yes, here’s the link to that page here at Ye Olde Astro-blog:

There are many parts of the Medusa myth which could fit in here. But I’ll choose to cite one in particular, namely how Medusa’s tale embodies the idea of how fearful we all can be when called upon to face in part who we are…but even more so the truth of our personal nature. We will often surrender to being willingly seduced and led astray, undermining the simplest part of being of service to that which we know our mind tells us we should be because accepting our mortality and being the best person we can be (in spite of all) as a member of the human race is just sometimes so incredibly frightening.

As fearful as we are of failing, many of us are also equally fearful – if not more so – of succeeding at something which doesn’t measure up to our most fantastical dreams.

 The Perseus Nebula is about 1043 Light Years from Earth
(photo credit: Spitzer Space Telescope, NASA JPL-Caltech, L Cieza
at the University of Texas, Austin - October 2006)

In a fashion, that part of Medusa’s story fits very well (perhaps disturbingly so!) with Algol-Sedna in late Taurus.

Then we add in the fact that the Perseids lasting most of a month pretty much covers the whole of the time that the Sun will be passing through Leo. And when we do that, the totality of the images seem to speak eloquently to many of the things we know Leo best for…the sparkling personality, the glint of fearless drama, the undaunted potential for creativity, whether that means working with what’s at hand or going after something you desire. As in this mix of Algol, Sedna, Medusa and Perseus factors, Leo can sometimes be so all about the Leo drive that said aim gets in the Leo way. There is a vision which comes with Leo which is unparalleled… along which there’s a propensity for pride (even arrogance) and an ability to be so ‘sun-blinded’ by one’s own vision of what could be… or SHOULD be… (Leo is ruled by the Sun) that the Leo concept self-destructs. Or fails because it hasn’t taken reality (especially that of others) into account.

So we can expect these next few weeks to be dappled with moments of insight, even astonishment. In some moments we’ll be surprised we ‘didn’t think of that before’ and in others we’ll be energized by figuring ‘that’ out at long, long last.

And as all those personal moments glint by, we’ll all also be dealing with continuing water-trine effects – an emotional factor which may well suggest the Sedna challenges of this year’s Persied shower period will be more emotional and feeling than ever.

Having done my astrological homework, I can also say that just before this round’s last Perseid streaks across our skies (on August 17th, to be exact) asteroid Medusa will take its station and go retrograde at 15 Aries. One suspects the days surrounding Medusa’s station will be particularly ‘Medusa-ish.’ Yet as I say that, there are those good parts of Medusa.

Good, you say?

Yes, good. For one, there’s the matter of Pegasus. When Perseus slays Medusa, he puts the offending head in a sack and flies away, courtesy of Mercury’s winged sandals. (And no, we don’t know what Mercury was wearing while Perseus had his shoes. It’s annoying what Greek myth leaves out, but I have no idea who to write a complaint letter to.)

The point is that Medusa’s body is left lying there on the floor of a cave – which apparently was somewhere in Africa, if all the directives have come to us correctly.

In any case, from the throat of that body comes two creatures: the Chrysaor (a giant, sword wielding shepherd of sincerely questionable personality) and Pegasus, everybody’s favorite winged horse.

 Pegasus by Odilon Redon (1900)

(Which says a few things about Pegasus few of us have contemplated, m’thinks.)

But we like Pegasus. The idea of ‘galloping away on wings’ is a very apt description of many a person’s fondest dreams.

And yes – (ouch) – that is part of the whole Medusa myth, and our Medusa problems.

But we still like Pegasus.

The other thing is how Medusa’s head eventually ends up mounted at the center of the shield of Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom of the dispassionate and self-reflective kind. Isn’t it good to know that if we can just get past our fear of learning something it can end up empowering us doubly – once with the knowledge and again with the knowing we can do that ‘impossible thing’ and get past our fear?

Meteor showers are things of utmost beauty. If you have a chance, go outside one night and watch. You might have to travel to get beyond the city lights, but it’s worth it. As a resident of California, one summer I found myself in Mammoth Lakes during the Persied period. My brother was living there at the time, and he knew all the cool places.

It had been a hot day, which The Brother pronounced as ‘just perfect.’ So after sundown and supper he took me up the mountain to where huge slabs of native rock jutted out of the ground at just the right angle and pitch to make a perfect place to lie back and watch the richly dark, velvet blue sky.

Famous as a ski resort (in winter, obviously) Mammoth is high up in the Sierra Nevada, and even today a fairly small place. These are the very best places to watch meteors…there’s less of the Earth’s atmosphere above and the ambient lights of a small town are low enough that the glory of our galaxy is clear. As a band of stars none of us are likely to know personally, the Milky Way was strewn across that night sky. And there on those sun-warmed rocks my brother and I lay for a couple of hours sharing thoughts, counting stars and wondering what the rest of the universe is like.

Night sky during the Perseid Meteor shower
(photo credit: Mauro Lanari, September 2012)

Whether the universe you’re considering during these next few weeks is the great one we all live in, or the one in your mind, that’s a perfect thing to do during the meteor shower known as the Perseids. When our nature is in sync with all of nature, whether we’re watching the night sky or not, all else seems to have greater harmony, purpose and value.

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