Don’t be existentially depressed. Look… it’s summertime, and there’s a comet!
The summer’s fully here and I’m so incredibly grateful to be able to get away from the heaviness of the city and into nature for a time. Yet why did I still feel off, at first, not as joyful, not as immersed in natural communication as I did in the past? A week of sun and swimming in the ocean, garden veggies and visible stars at night, tree blessings and mosquito bites brings a state of wonder and bliss, right? Not right away. It took a week for the heavy protective layers of Covid-fear-and-tension armour to peel away like arbutus bark. This global pandemic and all the other stuff it brings in its trail had dragged me down along with it, imperceptibly numbing. When I read the phrase “existentially depressed” on Twitter the other day, that summed it up for me. But a week of summer in nature and I’ve started feeling again. And don’t forget - there’s a comet!
I’m so happy to be writing to you all from a place of more clarity, more love, less tension. How is it possible? Well, for one thing it is the peak of summer. The sun is feeding us all great rays of energy brilliance. For another, I’m away from the city and so everything feels a little more like heaven. There’s a comet somewhere in the sky every night, but I’ve only seen photos of it.
It’s enough to know the comet is there. Reminds me of The Book of Miracles, a miraculous collection of portents - all compiled and painted in the 16th century. Or the band, The Comet is Coming.
And if you love older versions of words and language, try Webster’s 1913. Here’s their definition of comet:
Com"et (?), n. [L. cometes, cometa, from Gr. ? comet, prop. long-haired, fr. ? to wear long hair, fr. ? hair, akin to L. coma: cf. F. comète.] (Astron.) A member of the solar system which usually moves in an elongated orbit, approaching very near to the sun in its perihelion, and receding to a very great distance from it at its aphelion. A comet commonly consists of three parts: the nucleus, the envelope, or coma, and the tail; but one or more of these parts is frequently wanting.
My childhood fascination with the planets did not entertain the complexity of the stars. I just wasn’t ready to take in the constellations, but there was one exception to my “Only Planets and Maybe Some Moons” rule: the comet. I love thinking about the comet, just as I liked thinking about the planets when I was 8 years old. They came into my life when we moved away from the home I’d always known and my dad had a new business in a northern town. It was stressful at a new school, mum was distressed, my brother was little and dad was always away. So I went to the library and got out books on the planets. I studied the hell out of them.
If we lived in a time that decoded life’s meaning by the celestial entities coming into our view, being in relation to them or receiving their messages and portents, then today’s comet, Neowise, is one important celestial being.
How does it participate in the influences we are now battling? Does it create them, or give us respite by bringing us news from the heavens? Is this phenomenon of science also a sky messenger? How can something this extraordinary be simply an inert photo op? Once in 6800 years!
It fires my imagination to transpose myself by thought back in time, watching the comet from the window of my alchemical workshop. It could be bringing something we have been waiting for, perhaps, rays that could enliven the lead and sulphur, activating the mercury, helping the gold’s emergence. Or I imagine the astronomer from an earlier century who sees portent in the sky, prognostication proving lines drawn on earth of star-journeys. Or in a circle by a fire, the shaman of all the people understands. She has been there before, and was told exactly what the signs would be to know and is now ready when the comet comes. And others have flown near, or have ridden within it to other parts of its circuit - they all telepathically connect beyond language.
Something unusual in the sky and we are in awe of it. What is it, why is it here, where did it come from? All that. We wonder in magical thinking. Maybe all the chaos and disease and despair comes from it? Or does it feed somehow as it draws all those forces up and out of us into it? Gurdjieff would have had a theory on that. These times hold a strange resonance with the comet-fears of 1910, when people rushed to buy protective anti-comet pills and face masks for protection against the supposed gas of the comet’s tail. Now we are all masked as we collectively extend from our small selves to look out into the wonder of a night sky. It seems to me that the comet feeds us by its presence. It is something beyond us, something new to know, beautiful to see.
If we hadn’t reopened from the lockdown, the skies in all cities and polluted areas would have been clear, and the comet visible even there. Just imagine if our culture were set up to view extraordinary celestial events! If we lived in a comet-friendly world, cities would hold comet-viewing nights with all street lights off. Our current comet festival is a distanced one, with viewers spaced far between one another. And viewable in our mind’s eyes, and on our screens.
Images: from Public Domain Review - 1. Kometenbuch, 2. Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch, 3. J.J. Grandville's Un Autre Monde
Summer schedule: Look for a new issue in your inbox at the start of the week. This one was a tad later, since yesterday was my birthday!! Thanks to all for your kind good wishes.
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