Oscar Wilde said famously “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking up at the stars.”
I am sure the origins lie in being introduced to Greek Mythology at a very tender age of 7 at primary school. Mr Parker, thank you. I loved learning the names of all the Greek Gods (and their Roman counterparts) hearing their stories, finding out what they symbolised. Odyssey is an epic story of a man’s ten year struggle to return to his wife and child after the end of the Trojan War. A tale that has been told over and over again in myriad of different ways and yet is as true and as relevant today as it was to the Ancient Greeks. Indeed I believe my love of Shakespeare first started because I delighted in all the references to the Gods and Goddesses in his texts. It was an exciting code to puzzle over to unlock the meanings. I worry Shakespeare will become less and less accessible to children today, if these universal stories are no longer taught we will lose the foothold into those great works.
So what does this have to do with the stars? Well there is Orion The Great Hunter isn’t there.. eternally chasing Diana across the heavens. He stands over our house every Winter like a guard, his belt and dagger so clear on those cold, hard, black nights. I am totally seduced by him, you can keep the Plough and the North Star, as long as I can see Orion, everything feels it is in its place. The Universe is functioning as it should. The clockwise procession of the Solar System is keeping time.
I love to look up at Orion and know that all of mankind has gazed up at wonder at him too. Homer, The Egyptians, Shakespeare every single person on this planet. Such an infinite connection to the past and the future. It gives me goosebumps every time.
This week though even Orion has been outshone. Last Friday I noticed two startling large bright stars in the Western horizon. Just after dust. They were beautiful. Diamonds in the sky.
I remembered that Venus is very visible to the naked eye at this time of year. The Evening Star is well named. But the light beside it dwarfed it, could it be a satellite? A quick consultation with Twitter yielded a very rapid response. Jupiter. JUPITER. How can we see Jupiter unaided? That we can, lead me to wonder how I had never seen it before. It is an unmistakable beacon of light. Every night I look up, my eyes are magnetized. I can’t tear them away. I feel spellbound.
My mum and I, not living close to each other, often refer to the beauty of La Luna, especially when she is full, as a way of feeling more connected. The distance doesn’t feel so great when you can see the same beautiful moon rising each night. This month we now have Venus and Jupiter to marvel at too. Apparently you can see Mars (near the Moon) and Mercury very low on the horizon at this time of year. I am surprisingly excited to learn this. I am even thinking about buying some binoculars!
And as I always like a soundtrack maybe I can listen to this and dream about the heavens as I star-gaze away.