The Fool and the Return of Orion

The Fool and the return of Orion...
Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

Orion The Hunter returns, and in the northern hemisphere can once again be seen bestriding the east at sunrise. So when we say return, where has he been, then? The answer is, he has been invisible, hidden in the glare of the sun since May.

But now he is back and will rise earlier each day until he is visible all evening during the winter months. As a girl I used to like to go out on cold frosty evenings to fill the coal scuttle from the coal bunker in the back garden. Looking up at him. I knew his name. I knew he was The Hunter but wondered about him, and what he was hunting up there.

Those winter evenings still have that same kind of magic.

Orion is only the 26th largest constellation, sitting on the celestial equator, facing the constellation next door, the oncoming, charging, Taurus the Bull. So it’s far from being the biggest, and it’s smaller than another Greek hero, Perseus but Orion’s got more brilliant stars, commanding the impression of its vastness.

(The biggest constellation of all is Hydra, and the biggest constellation of the twelve included in the Zodiac is Virgo.)

Orion’s two brightest stars are the blue-white star Rigel, representing the Hunter’s left foot, and the red supergiant Betelgeuse, Orion’s right shoulder. They’re both thought to be to be about ten million years old, which makes Betelgeuse quite young to be a red supergiant, but it’s evolved faster due to its enormous mass. It is expected to go supernova in the next million years and when it does will be brighter than the Moon and the brightest supernova ever to have been visible from Earth.

Orion’s third brightest star is Bellatrix, his left shoulder, and Orions’s Belt is one of the most easily recognized asterisms with its three stars.

You can read them east to west or left to right; Alnitak (girdle), Alnilam (string of pearls) and Mintaka (area) They have many other names across the world; The Magi, the Three Mary’s, and the Mayans called them The Fire Drill, invoking them in an annual fire ceremony to delay the onset of the end of the world.

‘No other constellation more accurately represents the figure of a man,’ said Germanicus Caesar

Orion is identified as a human figure in every culture at every latitude, with countless variations of different names and legends.

Orion, also called Nimrod, was the son of Poseidon and was the most handsome man ever to walk the earth. He was a great hunting buddy and friend of Artemis.Her twin brother, Apollo glowered, seeing that Artemis fancied Orion something rotten when she had taken a vow of perpetual chastity.

Orion could be a bit of a sex pest, chasing the Pleiades, so that Zeus confiscated them to the sky for their own peace and quiet. And a fat lot of good it did them, because when Orion was killed by a scorpion (THE scorpion) Artemis in her grief, asked Zeus to post Orion upstairs to the heavens, which he did, right next door to the Pleiades, who also represent the celestial bull pen of Taurus. Thanks Zeus. You didn’t think that one through, did you?

Should Taurus ever break free of his pen, said an ancient Arabic legend, it will be the end of all things, so let’s hope he’s happy up there, and that Orion doesn’t chase the Pleiades away.

Orion bravely strides towards the Bull but although he killed the scorpion that also killed him, he still fears it, and dreads its appearance fleeing west as the autumn wears on and Scorpius rises (Scorpio)

Orion in his eternal battle with Scorpius

The stand off between Orion and Taurus the Bull, its red eye, Aldebaran glaring at him, daring him to come nearer, does not fit the Greek legend of Orion, and a question has been raised in some quarters over the identity of Orion, and whether he has become confused with Herakles/Hercules at any time in his identification with this constellation.

The reasons are likely historical. The constellation as recognized by the Greeks originated with the Sumerians, who saw in it their great hero Gilgamesh fighting the Bull of Heaven. The Sumerian name for Orion was URU AN-NA, meaning light of heaven and Taurus was GUD AN-NA, bull of heaven.

Gilgamesh was the Sumerian equivalent of Heracles, the greatest hero of Greek mythology, and one of the labours of Heracles was to catch the Cretan bull, but Orion was never in a fight with a bull. Heracles, it has been suggested, deserves a magnificent constellation such as this one, but has been consigned to a much more obscure area of sky. So has there been a mix-up, or perhaps we could see it as a mash-up, Orion and Heracles in mutual diguise?

Orion and The Tarot

The Golden Tarot by Kat Black

The Tarot card most commonly associated with Orion is The Fool. The most numinous card in the deck, its element is Air and it is ruled by the planet of revolution, Uranus.

It is the portal of the number Zero.

The Fool or as some called him, The Jester, is both beginnings and ending.

In a real life reading it may detect or forecast a birth of a child, or a new offer or a launch or opportunity of some kind. And change happens all the time but this is always major or significant in scope. But although is not associated with Death, unlike the famous Death card, it can mean a death too, representing infinity, the ouroboros.

An ouroboros

The Fool lives in the moment. He may be fun, he may be joy, or he may be frightening. There’s every reason a lot of people are scared of clowns as the living embodiment of The Fool. He represents the wisdom of innocence, or mistakes made through impulsiveness or ignorance rather than stupidity. But he may represent a threat, whether direct or existential, clearly sensed but not as yet clearly identifiable. The fear is visceral, not lightly to be dismissed.

He may be a shamanic, gnostic figure; the stranger, the outcast, the wise Fool or the Fool on the Hill. He dances to his own tune. He takes chances, risks, and sometimes these pay off, but sometimes he steps over the edge of the cliff, heedless of his dog’s most urgent warning.

The dog in the card is not biting the Fool, but desperately trying to get his attention. If someone asks the Tarot’s advice and then I draw this card reversed….someone needs to draw back from the precipice and look again before they leap.

I may bark like the Fool’s dog but will they act on this advice? CAN they? Will they even really hear it, let alone find a way to use it? We are who we are, and we do what we do, based on who we are. It is a rare person who can step back and see things anew once they are committed to Opinion A or B or they are emotionally invested in outcome A or B.

Advice, to be heard, must be sufficiently timely, before the paint dries.

Everywhere the Fool goes, his dog follows, just as Orion is followed in the skies by his two hunting dogs, Canis major and Canis minor. Sirius, the Dog Star is in the constellation of Canis Major and is THE brightest star in Earth’s night sky.

The only objects that outshine Sirius in our skies are the sun, moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Mercury – and Sirius will usually outshine Mercury too.

All Mankind is Orion.

We were hunters at the dawn of man (The Fool) And gatherers too, but we were never gorillas, and never herbivores on our ancestral line.

“We were risen not of fallen angels but risen apes, and they were killer apes besides” – Robert Ardrey, in African Genesis.

Hunting was what brought us together in teams, then communities. Co operation meant compassion.

Fatboy Slim tells a version of that story here (except that we were apes but not on the gorilla branch). See Orion in the final frame of the video.

Until next time 🙂

Bringing in Beltane…Magical May Eve

Today, 30 April marks the beginning of May Day celebrations, ushering in the month of May, the festival begins at dusk on 30 April. These celebrations were, and to many are known as Beltane, and is matched by its celebratory European counterpart, Walpurgis Nacht or St Walpurga’s Night in Germanic tradition.

The month of May is named after the Greek goddess of spring and new abundance, Maia, (also called Flora) the oldest of the seven sisters known as the Pleiades. Maia was the mother of Hermes (Mercury.)

Flora, or Maia by Botticelli

The name ‘May’ has been used in English since about 1430. Before this time the name of this month was spelled Maius or Mai. The Anglo- Saxons called it Tri-Milchus because all that lush new grass meant cows could now be milked three times a day.

May Day has its roots in astronomy, celebrating the halfway arrival point (at least approximately) between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It has been celebrated in the British Isles and through much of Europe as a fertility festival since the Dark Ages, and probably before that, with many stories and superstitions attached.

Like Halloween, May Eve and May Day is a magical time of year, liminal, when the veil between different worlds and realities is thinner than at other times of year.

This is a time for ghosts but this is also the time of year when folklore suggests you are most likely to meet a supernatural being from the realm of ‘faery.’

Such an encounter might be friendly, but probably it won’t be. Such encounters are dangerous and are best avoided – or you may never be seen again. Do not, whatever you do, go to sleep on a fairy hill at any time, but especially not on May Eve or May Day. Especially beware of going to sleep under hawthorn bushes.

Beltane

The two greatest Celtic festivals were Samhain (Halloween), marking the start of winter, and Beltane (April 30/May 1) marking the start of summer.

Beltane ‘the fires of Bel’ began as an ancient fire festival celebrated since at least the Dark Ages if not long before. The celebrations began at dusk on April 30th when great bonfires were lit to welcome the height of spring now associated with the zodiac sign of Taurus the Bull, representing the fertility of spring in full bloom.”Traditionally,” writes Glennie Kindred (in Sacred Celebrations), “all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane. This was the ‘balefire’ or the Teineigen, the ‘need fire.’

Bel or Belenus (Celtic: possibly, Bright One) was a deity associated with pastures, meadows and animal husbandry and other agriculture. He was a fire god rather than a sun god as such, though the sun was used as a common motif in religious imagery.

The cattle were walked between two bonfires in a symbolical purification ritual, to be protected by the smoke from Bel’s fire before being put out to the open pastures for the summer.  Bonfires were lit on sacred hills too, and the smoke was considered a magical blessing on the fields, animals, and community, and was also supposed to maintain a fragile balance, keeping up a smokescreen, literally, between the human and faery realms.

The Christian church made several attempts throughout history to ban May Day festivities because of its overtly pagan nature and “lewd” context as an open celebration of male and female sexuality and fertility ‘a heathenish vanity generally abused to superstition and wickedness.’ 

May Day meant drinking and fighting, another reason for the church’s disapproval, but this in itself harks back to the ancient traditions of the sacrifice of ‘The Green Man’ – a mythical figure representing the eternal battle waged between summer and winter, feast and famine. Many pubs in England are still named The Green Man.

In Padstow, Minehead and some other places in the UK, mischievous hobby-horses (‘osses) roamed and still do roam the streets in search of unsuspecting young ladies to ‘carry away’ for nefarious undisclosed purposes.

Image: Morris dancers with hobbyhorse up to no good, Richmond embankment,1620

Men disappointed in love would make straw men representing their rivals and stick them on bushes. These depictions were needless to say, often deeply unflattering, and fighting might well follow once they were discovered and identified and the maker was known.

May Day harks back to the ancient traditions of the sacrifice of ‘The Green Man’ – a mythical figure representing the eternal battle waged between summer and winter, feast and famine. Many pubs in England are still named The Green Man.

The Puritans banned it altogether under Oliver Cromwell but Charles 11 brought it back into custom after the Restoration.

Recorded evidence of Maypole Dancing goes back at least to the 14th century, the texts suggesting the custom was very old even then, although the dance as we know it today, so pretty and decorative, children dancing in village squares, is probably an innovation of the Victorians, rather than ancient tradition. The maypole is generally assumed to be a phallic symbol, but the Norse had another story for it, connecting it to ancient tree worship. This connects the British with the Germanic tradition and before that, a shared proto-germanic culture which is part of the common root culture in British life even today.

Walpurgis Night/Walpurga’s Night

In the Germanic tradition, Walpurgis Night, on April 30th, is a moon festival sacred to the goddess Freya.

“Walpurga” is another one of Freya’s names. The re-dedication of the holiday to “St. Walpurga” was a later Christian addition.

Freya (Old Norse, Freyja, and “Lady”) is one of the pre-eminent goddesses in Norse mythology, also known as Freyja or Frigg, but almost certainly the same deity. She was the goddess of love and beauty in Norse mythology, the goddess of marriage and family and a great prophetess – a seeress. She taught her husband Odin how to read the runes, and like Odin, had a darker aspect as a patron deity of war and death in battle.

Freya wears a cloak of falcon feathers and a magical gold necklace called Brísingamen, and rides in a chariot pulled by two cats with a sacred boar called Hildisvíni running alongside. The boar is not present in this picture, and the cats, it has been speculated, were two male kittens found by Thor. Their mother had abandoned them apparently and he took them and gave them to Freya. We understand the kittens were grey-blue in colour, and it has been speculated they may have been Russian Blues. I can’t be the only one who would like to know how Freya taught them to do this….but she was after all, a mightily knowing goddess, and clearly a cat whisperer extraordinaire.

The Maypole dancing which so upset the Church and especially the Puritans with its overt phallic symbolism, and the associated misbehaviour by the time the dancers had downed a few drinks, comes down to us from the rites of spring dedicated to Freya.

The maypole originally represented a living tree, in particular the giant ash tree Yggdrasil, the great “world tree” of Norse myth, linking the nine worlds of the Norse cosmology including Asgard, land of the gods, heavenly world, Midgard or the earth and Hel, the underworld.

“Ygg” means terrible. The image and Music below, suitably ominous, is shared with permission from composer Sam Marks. It was on this tree that Odin chose to hang nine days and nights, thirsty and fasting in exchange for the knowledge of the runes. The Norns sit beneath it and when every new person is born, carves their names into its bark…and with it, their destiny, although this can change. The Norns will allow us to rewrite it, unlike the destinies woven by the three Fates of Greek mythology.

Yggrasil Music by Sam Marks

British  May Day Folklore…bringing in the May

I washed my face in water

That had neither rained nor run

And then I dried it on a towel

That was never woven or spun

  • The rhyme suggests go out barefoot very early on May morning, wash your face in that magical dew (or late snow) Your complexion will instantly improve.  Let the wind and sunshine dry your face and you’ll have good luck all year. Well, you can if you want to….depending on the weather, very early morning this time of year can be utterly wonderful
  • Bringing in ‘the may’ is considered lucky, and means gathering cuttings of flowering trees for magical protection of the home. Bring in branches of forsythia, magnolia, lilac, or other flowering branches. Decorate the doorway to keep unfriendly fae and other spirits away.
  • Make garlands or decorate a basket or a ‘May bush’ with flowers and coloured ribbons. This would often be a hawthorn bush but it doesn’t have to be.
  • If you need to move a bee hive, May 1 is a traditional day for doing it, hopefully clement for the bees.
  • Turnips are traditionally planted on May 1. Plant now, lovely mashed turnip later. What are you waiting for?
  • Fishermen expect to get lucky with catch on May Day.
  • It’s a powerful day for spell-casting…any spells to do with bringing in health, wealth, and abundance. Light a red or pink candle for love or passion…but be careful what you wish for, and it is unlucky to try and take what is not rightfully available to you.
  • Traditionally less lucky is to get married in May. But not to panic if you’ve got the date already booked. The writer of this article was born May Eve, Beltane and got married in May – 28 years ago this May- and has had mixed luck in life like all of us, but so far is still married.

Until next time 🙂

Candle safety

Never leave a candle unattended

Snuff candles out with a spoon rather than blowing on them

Tea-lights can melt certain surfaces e.g., TV’s. Use heat resistant surfaces.

Light candles at a safe distance from curtains etc

Heat rises. Be careful of leaving candles on shelves with other shelves above them.

Cartomancy: The Queen of Clubs

KTLN 2

Actor sprog went to meet with a casting agency yesterday. Sprog has an agent already, and likes that agent very much but 12 months on, there has been nothing as yet; not one send-out, zip, de nada. and just not much sign of activity in general. She had decided to look about for somewhere perhaps more pro-active, had made enquiries and been invited to drop in at another agency, take along her acting CV and meet the creative director (male).

How would it go?

I drew the Ace Clubs, Jack of Spades, 2 Diamonds, Jack of Hearts and the Queen of Clubs. and read it left to right  as a story board

Card 1   The basic issue or premise: Ace Clubs denotes a new work, new job, also, a cave or leaving a cave in the quest for new knowledge. It’s a fiery card, well suited to the entertainments industry.  Think of a spark, or a ‘bat out of hell.’

Card 2   Jack of Spades, this is whom we are talking about; the sprog, and in Tarot the equivalent card would be the Page of Swords. The archetype is a good fit, and she is an air sign subject; Aquarius, which corresponds with the suits of Swords in Tarot, Spades in playing card reading, or as it is more formally termed; cartomancy.

Jack of spadespage of swords

Card 3  Hinge card: 2 Diamonds; well, this is promising firstly but not exclusively because it is a red and not a black card, sitting centrally, but the card itself denotes agreements, investments, suggesting she may receive an offer of representation with this new agency.

Card 4 Jack of Hearts. So what comes next? This card also signified the sprog, I felt; a sharp but comical, quirkily humorous creature in possession of – no use pretending otherwise, a somewhat mythical but edgy beauty, and this card also suggested some ease of rapport between her and the figure in the outcome position.

Card 5  Queen of Clubs, the outcome card.

Queen of clubs

Why not a king card, I wondered, based on the preceding communications?

Sprog arrived 15 minutes early to be bang on time, shutters were rolled up at 3 o clock prompt and she was received, not by the creative director who was away on holiday, she was told, but by a fellow director, a lady.

So that then, was why I had drawn the Queen of Clubs.

This card denotes an outward going woman; honest and extremely confident in dealings. No one tells her what to do, and this living embodiment of the queen said she could make no promises, offered the sprog a few pointers, tips and some constructive criticism, and concluded with an offer of representation.

The sprog liked this clubs queen very much but also has other enquiries outstanding, and I have no wish to interfere, prophecy can be vexatious and meddlesome whether it is eventually proved correct or not, so we will see.

3 black cards, 2 red, and a majority of black cards can be taken simply as a no answer,  where a majority of red is taken as a yes, and the colour method is often accurate, but it just goes to show, in divination it’s a mistake to rely heavily on short cuts.

Until next time 🙂