Halas to Helios

3,000 YEARS AGO the sun passed through the constellation Libra during the Autumnal Equinox, the day when light and dark hours are equal, which marks the 1st day of fall. Skies have shifted since then, so the sun passes through Libra halfway between autumn and winter now, on the cross-quarter day.

Some fun facts about Libra,

  • Libra appears the only inanimate constellation in the Zodiac (meaning circle of little animals, girdle of signs, 12 parts, or celestial calendar)
  • Babylonians viewed Libra as an extension of Scorpio’s claws, while Greeks and Romans see it as the scales of justice, balancing warmer and colder halves of the year
  • Some drawings show Virgo holding the scales (the virgin, from the previous month)
  • Ancient Egyptians imagined Libra’s three brightest stars as a boat
  • Libra’s pivot is Zubenelgenubi, a star that rhymes with Obi Wan Kenobi (minus the Z)
  • The symbol for Libra is omega, which looks like a sunset, Ω
  • After today, there are only three more Sundays on this year’s church calendar: Christ the King Day (Nov-20) completes 2016, and Advent (Nov-27) starts the next

The tipping of Libra’s scales toward darkness has been significant to humans since pre-historic times. Some observances are,

October 3oth – when the sun enters Libra in 2016

  • Samhain (or Summer’s End) – for European Celts, was the end-of-year harvest festival and reminder of the thin veil between this world and the next
  • Day of Hella (the Covered Place) – for Scandinavians, was a day they prayed for Hella to open the passage graves so they might see their loved ones again, if even in dream
  • Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) – for people around Mexico, is a day to honor departed loved ones by visiting cemeteries, picnicking, and celebrating with them in memory
  • All Saint’s Day (All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween) – is a day the Christian church honors the deceased in gratitude, and guising traditions recall children trading door-to-door blessings for soul cakes
  • Cheshvan – for Abrahamic traditions, is the rainy month associated with the flood and also Rachel’s yahrzeit, or burial, after she died giving birth to Joseph’s youngest brother, Benjamin; Cheshvan means rest

Telshemesh conveys the spirit well, “In this time when the world appears to die, the root of life remains, ready to sprout forth when the spring comes again. So too, the Shekhinah goes into exile — into the places of our pain and suffering — in order to enliven us again. This is the theme of autumn — death in the service of new life.” ª

In another 3,000 years, as skies continue to shift, the sun will eventually pass through Libra on the Winter Solstice. It’s a liberating thought.

“he hurried down” – Luke 19:6

Title: All For One
Artist: The Stone Roses, Studio Album (1989)

“but once, we were here” – br. Uncas

(a) cheshvan @ telshemesh


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